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Waiver Wire: The case for Quintana

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Back in 1993, Jeff Goldblum starred as Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park. His quirky mathematician character is probably best known for espousing chaos theory and predicting the eventual downfall of the park, but I think another scene in the film can actually help explain a strategy that I've loosely practiced (up until now, without a proper name) in Fantasy.

When Dr. Malcolm was shown a velociraptor hatching, he railed on the scientists for their hubris in thinking that they could control the livelihood of the dinosaurs. Dr. Malcolm assured the others that, while he didn't have an explanation for how it would happen, he was pretty certain that Jurassic Park would soon be home to reproducing dinosaurs. As he so eloquently put it: life finds a way.

This philosophy actually serves a purpose here. Go back and watch that scene, but replace "life" for "Tony Cingrani."

We're assuming that, when Johnny Cueto comes back -- and if Mike Leake continues to pitch well -- Cingrani will be sent back to the minors. And this makes a good deal of logical sense. However, we're being somewhat closed-minded about this -- Cueto could face a complication in his return, Leake could implode, any of the other pitchers in the rotation could get hurt. Remember three weeks ago, when the Dodgers had three extra pitchers hanging off the end of their rotation? After a trade and two injuries, they now have Stephen Fife starting for them [The same logic can be applied to Evan Gattis' playing time in Atlanta, with Jason Heyward's DL stint coming just two weeks too early. But it's a flickering reminder of how things just happen in baseball, and why these breakout players may be worth holding onto in the face of a logical argument to do otherwise].

Cingrani has been nothing short of spectacular in his two starts, with a 2.25 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, and 17 strikeouts in 12 innings. These things sort themselves out more often than not. So when I'm asked if trading Cingrani for Michael Cuddyer is a smart move, I'm a little torn. The logical side is thinking that Cuddyer has a job for the rest of the season and is a solid trade for a pitcher who may have two starts left before being sent back down. But then I think of those little raptors and their frog DNA, and it seems like a risk I'm willing to take -- hold onto my Cingrani for dear life, and just wait for something to happen that will keep him in the rotation.

The Big Leaps

Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox (72 percent ownership, up from 35 percent)

Most Added Players (as of 4/25)
Player Name % change
1. Garrett Richards, SP, Angels 33
2. Yuniesky Betancourt, 1B, Brewers 33
3. Carlos Villanueva, SP, Cubs 31
4. Chris Johnson, 3B, Braves 30
5. Daniel Nava, OF, Red Sox 30
6. Patrick Corbin, SP, D-Backs 29
7. Edward Mujica, RP, Cardinals 29
8. Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants 28
9. Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox 28
10. Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Rockies 25

This was more of a timing thing than anything else. Quintana has two starts this week, and he was coming off two previous starts where he struck out 14 and didn't allow a run. It's a tasty combination, especially this early in the season.

Quintana was pretty solid in 22 starts last year, with a 3.76 ERA in 136 1/3 innings. But these numbers included an ugly run at the end of the year, when Quintana posted a 7.52 ERA in his final seven games. This was probably from him pitching a career-high 185 innings, between Double-A and the majors (his previous high was 102, set in 2011). This also may help to explain why Quintana's career minor league K/9 of 10.0 dropped markedly, to 5.3, with the White Sox last year -- it was an effort to keep the wear on his arm low so he could last longer in the season.

This season, as far as we can tell, there are no such restrictions on Quintana. Going 200 innings won't be a huge step up from 185, and he's already struck out 20 in 22 2/3 innings. While Quintana may have been a strategic add for his two-start week, his new owners may be pleasantly surprised at how good he is, and opt to just ... keep him. If they do, they could end up having a solid, underappreciated pitcher who is efficient and can see a nice leap in strikeouts, if his minor league numbers are any real indication.

Over/under on K/9 (season): 8.5
Over/under on ERA (season): 2.85
Over/under on ownership by May 1 (season): 90 percent

Chris Johnson, 3B, Braves (66 percent, up from 30)

The widespread adding of Johnson seems a little odd. With Freddie Freeman back from the DL, Johnson will fall back into a platoon with Juan Francisco at third base. Granted, Johnson has put up some really nice numbers this season -- .397 average with two home runs and four doubles over 63 at-bats -- but Francisco hasn't exactly struggled at the plate, hitting .302 with four home runs and 10 RBI. They both have third base eligibility (Johnson also has first base eligibility, which is kind of moot considering how much deeper that position is), and can offer equal output, with Johnson striking out a little less and maybe having more value in OBP leagues.

We've also seen Johnson get hot in bunches before -- last year, after being traded from the Astros to the Diamondbacks, Johnson hit .333 with five home runs and 17 RBI in an 11-game stretch. Over his next 15 games, Johnson hit .103 with just three RBI. He's a nice player but is stuck in a time share, which eats into his value and makes him a viable start in NL-only formats. And playing at a position with plenty of options, Johnson's spot can probably be better used for a speculative adding of someone like Bruce Rondon.

Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on date when everyone realizes Johnson is in a timeshare and starts dropping him: April 28
Over/under on his ownership by May 2: 35 percent

Unadvised Drop of the Week

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, Padres (64 percent, down from 70 percent)

Gyorko has been pretty disappointing so far in his rookie season -- a .229 average with no home runs and just six RBI. A top prospect in 2011 and 2012, Gyorko won the second base job in spring training and sports a stellar minor league track record; in the last two seasons, over three levels, Gyorko has hit 55 home runs and driven in 214 runs. He has a career .319 average in the minors, as well, so he wasn't all power. Furthermore, Gyorko was drafted out of college, so he's already a more mature 23 years old.

But Gyorko has failed to deliver on the power potential thus far -- his ISO is .057, while his BABIP is sitting at around league average (.291). He's not striking out at an alarming rate (20.3 percent) and he's taking a decent amount of walks. This may just be a case of Gyorko not yet warming up. Maybe it's the fact he had to bounce between second and third base to help serve as a band-aid for Chase Headley's injury. Gyorko's also had to play 14 games without Headley in the lineup and 13 without the Padres' other power bat, Carlos Quentin. With both playing together for the first time on Tuesday, Gyorko was bumped to seventh in the order, but he at least gets some other bats in the lineup.

In short, Gyorko is a power bat eligible at second and third base, who has been playing without two 30 home run threats for most of the season. My guess is that Gyorko can now relax a little bit, focus on playing just second base, and start hitting up to his ability.

Over/under on home runs (season): 25
Over/under on batting average (season): .275

An Astrologer's take on why you should grab Tim Lincecum

We don't look at the Most Traded page too often, but toward the top of the list sits the ever-enigmatic Tim Lincecum, who is sporting a 4.04 ERA and 1.37 WHIP this season.

I'll be man enough to admit that I have no clue what happened to Lincecum last year. I don't think he was hurt, I doubt he just lost focus, and I know he didn't lose skill -- not at the age of 28. For most of the season, we were just shrugging our shoulders, telling people to start him based on his past success.

So, without a real explanation for things, I called sports astrologer Andrea Mallis (you can follow her @virgoinservice and check out some of her past work here). Last year, Andrea was a guest on our show and told us Lincecum would enjoy more success in the second half of the year, because a trying astrological transit, which would eventually pass, was the reason for his early 2012 struggles. It wasn't vintage Lincecum, but he did have a 3.83 ERA and about a strikeout per inning after the All-Star break, something we forget when throwing a "he stunk" blanket over his entire year.

I'm not asking you to believe everything Mallis is saying. You can be wholly opposed to astrology. But here's something even the biggest astrology hater cannot dispute: if Lincecum believes in it (and I don't know either way if he does), then there's value here, because it may be -- even subconsciously -- inside his head. And if you're just curious and grasping for answers for his performance last year like a lot of us were, this is, at the very least, a cool, unique opinion on what happened and what to expect.

According to Mallis, Lincecum currently has Jupiter in Gemini, which is very good for him, and was the same transit he experienced during the playoffs, when Lincecum had a 2.55 ERA and struck out 20 batters in 17 2/3 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. This period of "expansion, optimism, and confidence" will continue, Mallis says, through about June 25th (it actually began on April 20th, the same day Lincecum pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out eight batters). Mallis adds that Lincecum should be solid through September, with "no red flags" in July, August looking "very good," and September "very strong," as well.

"October," Mallis says, "is problematic." But here's the cool thing about dealing with a sports astrologer -- Mallis knows that the post-September world has no bearing on a Fantasy season. She just wanted to throw that in there for the Giants fans.

As for last year, Mallis says Lincecum has three planets in Capricorn. Saturn in Libra, and the moon in Capricorn, which made a square. The "Saturn square moon" causes vitality to diminish, reduces confidence, and the person going through it can be plagued by insecurity. "Pitching's a very mental game," Mallis says. "And you get a Saturn transit -- that's very depressing."

So, for this year, with Jupiter in Gemini, Mallis is looking for good things all around. "It's a whole different energy," Mallis says. "It's like 'all systems go.'" She explains that Lincecum has a, "when it rains it pours," chart, meaning that when it's bad, it's all kinds of bad, but when it's good -- like it is now -- Lincecum can be unstoppable. In her own words: "We're golden," when it comes to Tim Lincecum's Fantasy outlook this year.

So trade Lincecum at your own peril. And those who own him should consider starting him, at the very least, through June 25 (if you believe any of this has any relevance).

The Flavor of Next Week

Drew Stubbs, OF, Indians (21 percent ownership)

Stubbs is a perennial threat to be a 20/20 player -- although, to be fair, he's only done it once (22 home runs and 30 steals in 2010). In 2011, Stubbs hit 15 home runs and stole 40 bases (while leading the league in strikeouts). In 2012, Stubbs hit 14 home runs and stole 30 bases (in just 136 games). So far this year, Stubbs has one home run and three steals over 58 at-bats. His OPS (.701) is the highest it's been since 2010. And since Stubbs took over in center field for the injured Michael Bourn, he is hitting .320 with five runs scored, stealing two bases and hitting his home run in those seven games.

Stubbs probably won't have one of those 5-for-5 games with two home runs and two steals to catch everyone's attention; instead, he'll slowly creep up the free agent list, eventually working his way to the top and making himself unavoidable. For as bad as his batting average has been in his career (.241), Stubbs is now playing in a much larger ballpark, perhaps allowing for him to drive the ball over the larger field and increase his average. At the very least, Stubbs can offer some nice speed and power potential, and is getting hot without much fanfare right now.

Over/under on steals (season): 30
Over/under on home runs (season): 15
Over/under on average (season): .255

American League-only fun

Aaron Hicks, OF, Twins (22 percent)

Hicks was owned in 53 percent of leagues to start the season. After an exceptionally bad start to things, Hicks saw his ownership drop ... and drop ... and drop some more, until he found himself owned in just 22 percent of leagues -- and started in just five percent. He was briefly supplanted as the starter in center by Darin Mastroianni, but got the job back after Mastroianni went on the DL.

Hicks is currently batting .073. He has no extra base hits but he has walked 11 times, so there's at least a tiny, very thin, silver lining to this cloud. And while this isn't a ringing endorsement, Hicks has scored four runs in his last five games, all from the No. 8 spot in the batting order. And he is hitting .286 in his last three!

Hicks, a top prospect each of the last four years, may be overmatched in the majors. He really only broke out last year in the minors -- his first season with double-digits in home runs (13) and his best batting average in a season with over 300 at-bats (.286). But he has one big thing going for him: Hicks is pretty much the only option for the Twins in center field right now. He's going to play every day. And while he does this, his chances of catching up to major league pitching and improving as a hitter will go up.

Over/under on home runs + stolen bases (season): 22
Over/under on average (season): .245
Over/under on games played (season): 75

National League-only fun

Joe Mahoney, 1B, Marlins (Two percent)

The rotating door of Marlins first basemen may have stopped on Mahoney, a 26-year-old would-be slugger who is hitting .294 through six games.

Mahoney has hit double-digit home runs in each of the past three seasons in the minors, despite only getting 475 at-bats in one of those campaigns. He has a career .275 average over 2,311 minor league at-bats, and has stolen as many as 29 bases in a season (although his second-highest was 13, and then it's all single digits beyond that).

Like Hicks, Mahoney looks like he'll play a good amount, with Greg Dobbs able to play third base and the outfield. He adds another power(ish) bat to the lineup to help protect Giancarlo Stanton. And Mahoney has that job for a while, as both Logan Morrison and Casey Kotchman are still pretty far off from returns.

I'm not adding Mahoney in mixed leagues just yet, as he is playing at a very deep position and didn't have eye-popping numbers in the minors. But he could show enough power and average to be a solid corner infielder in NL-only formats for the next month, at the very least.

Over/under on home runs (season): 14
Over/under on average (season): .250

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Value hard to find among Red Sox rotation candidates
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:32 pm ET) The Red Sox have decided to go all-in on next season, turning the rotation over to a slew of young guys after the trades of Jon Lester and John Lackey prior to the deadline. With so many innings up for grabs, Fantasy owners will want to keep a close eye on how things shake out, especially given the team's abundance of seemingly capable young starters.

Among the group of pitchers expected to get a shot at some point down the stretch are Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Brandon Workman and Joe Kelly. The latter four all have at least some major-league experience, though Ranaudo will get at least a taste of the majors when he debuts Friday against the Yankees. Of these five pitchers, who, if anyone, should Fantasy owners have their eyes on?

For now, it looks like De La Rosa, Ranaudo, Webster, Workman and Clay Buchholz have the next five spots in the rotation locked up, though a spot might open up for Kelly at some point once he reports to the team. De La Rosa, Buchholz and Kelly all have some measure of major-league success under their belts, though none profiles as a high-upside Fantasy option, given their middling track records so far. If upside is to be found, it is likely to come in the form of one of the other options. 

Webster has the best prospect pedigree among the group, and he and Ranaudo probably have the highest ceilings for now. Of course, the obvious caveats about young pitching apply. Though their upside is tantalizing, we simply don't have any record of success at the major-league level to depend on.

The Red Sox don't have a lot of sure things for their long-term rotation, and they will need to use these last few months get an idea of who they can count on next season. The question for Fantasy owners is whether they want their roster to be the team's laboratory during the most important months of the season. 

The young guys in Boston will all get their turns, but there isn't anyone in the rotation right now that screams "must-add," either due to a lack of upside or proven track record. AL-only owners might be smart to take a flier on anyone currently in the team's rotation, but it doesn't look like anyone here is worth consideration in mixed-leagues at this time. 


Jon Lester set to start Saturday against Royals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:31 pm ET) What was speculated has been confirmed - newly acquired left-hander Jon Lester will make his Athletics debut Saturday against Kansas City.

Lester will seek to maintain the momentum gained with Boston. He has surrendered two or fewer runs in each of his last eight starts and will now pitch his home games in a far more friendly park for hurlers.


Kenny Wilson heading to Double-A Midland
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:26 pm ET) The Athletics have outrighted outfielder Kenny Wilson to Double-A Midland. Wilson had been designated for assignment on Monday.

Wilson had been claimed off waivers from Toronto last month.


Trade does little for Sam Fuld's value
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) The Athletics re-acquired outfielder Sam Fuld at the trade deadline Thursday, and will likely utilize him as part of a platoon in the outfield through the end of the season. He has been a solid contributor for the Twins since the A's cut him earlier in the season, but Fantasy owners have not yet taken notice. Should they?

Fuld is likely to play nearly every time a right-handed pitcher takes the mound against the A's, though he is hitting just .298 against them this season. He brings solid gap power but won't put the ball over the fence too often for you. And though he is a solid base stealer, Fuld isn't really a game-changer in that regard, with 13 in 60 games so far, but just eight in 119 games a year ago.

The A's might be smarter than everyone else in baseball, but it is unlikely they have unearthed a diamond here. Fuld is a solid player, but is unlikely to be much more than low-end AL-only Fantasy contributor in his new home. 


Report: Mike Foltynewicz promoted to Astros
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:04 pm ET) Struggles at Triple-A Oklahoma City have not prevented Astros pitching prospect Mike Foltynewicz from landing a promotion to the big league team. He is on the way to the Astros, sources have told the Houston Chronicle, which is further reporting that he will be used in relief.

The 22-year-old right-hander owns a 7-7 record and lofty 5.08 ERA for the RedHawks. He has given up 98 hits and fanned 102 in 102 2/3 innings, but he has also walked 52. He is also not a hot pitcher. Foltynewicz is 2-4 in his last six decisions and has allowed 35 runs in his last 41 1/3 innings pitched.


Diamondbacks going with platoon at third base for now
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has announced that the deal that shipped Martin Prado to the Yankees has Jordan Pacheco and Cliff Pennington set to platoon at third base.

Pacheco will handle the duties until Pennington returns from a thumb injury. He owns a .259/.312/.376 stat line and has yet to go deep this season.


Andy Marte makes splash in first major league AB in four years
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:50 am ET) Andy Marte made his first major league game since 2010 something special Thursday night. The Diamondbacks third baseman slugged a pinch-hit, two-run homer to help his team beat the Pirates.

Marte, who was called up from Triple-A Reno earlier in the day and arrived to the park in the second inning, became the eighth player in franchise history to blast off in his first at-bat with the team. His resurgence was fueled by a fine year with the Aces in which he compiled a stat line of .330/.384/.513 with 13 home runs, 62 RBI and 59 runs scored.

"It feels great to be back," Marte told azcentral.com. "I went there to Triple-A and worked hard to prove I can still play here (in the majors)."


Rajai Davis to be unleashed following deadline
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:46 am ET) Stuck in a role that saw him log inconsistent playing time, Rajai Davis didn't get talked about much for the first few months of that season. That should change moving forward, as the Tigers decision to trade Austin Jackson has seemingly opened up a full-time starting job for the speedy veteran in center field.

Jackson might end up stretched a bit thin as an everyday player, given his .250/.297/.333 triple-slash line this season against right-handed pitching. Still, Davis is one of the best base-stealers in baseball and has now been unleashed for an everyday role that should see him rack up steals, making him a very valuable commodity.

Davis was one of the big winners of the trade deadline, and should be worth an add in most mixed-league Fantasy formats at this point. 


Path to starting job clearer for Tommy Milone
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:44 am ET) The Twins assigned newly acquired pitcher Tommy Milone to Triple-A  Rochester Thursday, a bad break for a guy with major-league talent who was already upset with the A's sending him down before the trade. However, he is not likely to spend much time in the minors before he gets a chance to join the Twins rotation, with Logan Darnell's spot looking ripe for the taking.

Milone is the type of pitcher for whom the term "crafty" was invented, given his soft-tossing ways from the left side of the mound. The 27-year-old has logged nearly 500 innings at the major-league level with a 3.84 ERA, including a 3.55 mark in 96 1/3 frames this season. Those numbers should make him a useful Fantasy option, though he will likely need to miss a few more bats if he is to become more of an option in shallower mixed-leagues moving forward.

Given the amount of uncertainty surrounding his role at this point, Milone is not someone you should run out and grab. But, he is absolutely worth a flier in AL-only leagues right now, with a somewhat clearer path to a consistent starting job carved out ahead of him. Mixed-league owners should be ready to jump when he gets the call. 


Report: Tommy Layne promoted to Red Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:31 am ET) The Red Sox have called up left-handed reliever Tommy Layne from Triple-A Pawtucket, sources have told WEEI.com.

Layne has struggled at times with his control this season but has otherwise been solid with a 5-1 record, 1.50 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 48 innings. He also pitched 2/3 of a shutout inning for Boston during a brief stint with the team in early July.


 
 
 
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