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Waiver Wire: Martin or Uehara your priority?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Let's go back in time to May 2011. Barack Obama was in the White House. Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Rihanna topped the Billboard charts. And the Rangers signed Cuban defector Leonys Martin.

At the time, there was an idea that Martin could join the Rangers by the end of the 2011 season. He actually saw that through, appearing in eight late-season games and producing a .375 average. Last season, Martin saw action in 24 games, hitting just .174 in spot duty (13 starts and frequently sitting for several games at a time).

This year, Martin started the season in a platoon with Craig Gentry. Slowly but surely, he began to nudge Gentry (currently on the DL) out of the picture. Martin started 12 games in April, 18 in May and has already started 19 games in June. With the increased playing time, Martin's stats improved. By the end of April, Martin was hitting .250 with no steals and one home run. Since then, he's hit .304 with 12 steals, four home runs and three triples. His minor league results -- a .323 average over 533 at-bats and a 12-homer 2012 campaign (in just 55 games) -- not only suggest Martin can sustain his gains, but that there's room to improve. Owned in 56 percent of leagues, Martin should see a significant bump in ownership as he continues to dazzle for the Rangers.

The Big Leaps

Koji Uehara, RP, Red Sox (44 percent ownership, up from 10 percent)

Let's go back in time to September 2010. Barack Obama was in the White House. Katy Perry, Bruno Mars and Rihanna topped the Billboard charts. And 35-year-old Uehara was closing games for the Baltimore Orioles.

For whatever reason, I thought Uehara had saved more than 13 games for the Orioles in 2010. I'm not sure if Baseball Reference is missing some saves, if I've gone crazy or Uehara just maybe got those saves in crunch time for a team on which I had owned him [Note: for some reason, I do the same thing with Grant Balfour and his four saves in 2009]. But foggy memories aside, Uehara has the closer reins once again, this time as a 38-year-old for the Red Sox.

You can't argue with the success of a pitcher who has a career 2.79 ERA and 0.91 WHIP, coupled with his 10.2 career K/9. The question with Uehara is how long he'll be in the role. There are two ways this can go, and both have nothing to do with Uehara:

1. Andrew Bailey will straighten out whatever is wrong and return to the closer role right after the All-Star Break. This would leave Uehara out of a job and back in middle relief.

2. Andrew Bailey will go back on the DL, admit he hasn't been feeling great since his activation from biceps tendinitis in late May (his velocity has been in the 93-ish area, as opposed to 94/95 in April, and he has a 7.48 ERA since his activation), and be lost for another chunk of the season, giving Uehara even more value

Depending on which way you lean with a situation that is almost wholly guesswork, Uehara is either a tremendous steal or a short-term filler. Personally, I'm guessing more on the "steal" side right now.

Over/under on ERA (season): 2.25
Over/under on saves (season): 12

Roy Oswalt, SP, Rockies (43 percent ownership, up from 22 percent)

I won't torture you with another "Let's go back in time ..." joke. But I will give you this: in 2010 Oswalt had a 2.76 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. He pitched 211 2/3 innings, his seventh season in a row with 180-plus innings pitched, and sixth out of those seven hitting the 200 IP mark.

Oswalt still has a 3.29 career ERA and 1.20 WHIP. His K/9 is a decent 7.4. He pitched just 59 innings in the majors last year -- a disastrous stint with the Rangers that ended in Oswalt sporting an ERA over 3.69 for just the second time in a 12-year career. He made eight relief appearances, the most since his rookie season. Nothing went right for Oswalt in 2012. But 2013 may be a different story.

Some would-be owners may fear the thin air of Denver. But Oswalt actually has good career numbers at Coors Field -- 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 26 innings there. Granted, Oswalt is 35, but I think there is something to be said for knowing he will remain in the rotation and taking advantage of a career 1.46 GB/FB ratio in a park that is unkind to flyball pitchers.

Don't expect his strikeouts to stay up, but Oswalt should be more like the pitcher we saw for the first decade of his career, and not the mess he was in Texas in 2012. A Wednesday thumping by the Red Sox wasn't exactly the best of signs, but give Oswalt a few starts to acclimate and he could return somewhat close to old form.

Over/under on ERA (season): 3.85
Over/under on WHIP (season): 1.27
Over/under on K/9 (season): 6.5

The Flavor of Next Week

Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals (Owned in 46 percent of leagues)

There have been a few false starts with Moustakas this year. First and foremost was his status as a "Breakout" in the 2013 draft kit. Gaze upon the words of your preseason soothsayer:

It took Moustakas about 1,000 at-bats in the minors to get to his 36 home run season (2010), which was the same year he followed his lowest batting average (.250) with his highest (.322). Also, Moustakas is just 24 years old and has room to grow. With 1,000 major league at-bats likely under his belt by April, Moustakas will have enough seasoning and experience to take that next step in power and average. He will do more than repay his current ADP, which has him 13th among third basemen.

Most Added Players (as of 6/27)
Player % change
1. Zoilo Almonte, OF, Yankees 37
2. Koji Uehara, RP, Red Sox 35
3. Joaquin Benoit, RP, Tigers 29
4. Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers 25
5. Esmil Rogers, RP, Blue Jays 22
6. Gregor Blanco, OF, Giants 18
7. Roy Oswalt, SP, Rockies 17
8. Brian Dozier, SS, Twins 17
9. Kevin Correia, SP, Twins 15
10. Chien-Ming Wang, SP, Blue Jays 14

It didn't end there. A little over a month ago, I noted that Moustakas' BABIP was very low, while his walk and strikeout rates were the best of his career. "In short," the genius said, "Moustakas has been very unlucky." Phrases like "inevitable turnaround" were thrown around. Over the following 15 games, Moustakas hit .196 with one walk and one extra base hit.

Even though I'm starting to feel like that mouse in the little maze who keeps hitting the button that shocks him, I'm going to pump up Moustakas one more time. And I'm using this article in the Kansas City Star to back it up:

"They’ve scrapped everything. We had a talk, and we talked about what got me here. Who am I as a player? I'm Mike Moustakas, and I hit the ball to right field and right center. I'm not a singles guy who hits balls to left. I drive the baseball, and that's what I'm trying to get back to doing."

and ...

From George Brett: "When we got here and watched Moose hit, he couldn't hit a home run — even in BP. And (the other day), he hit about 10. So progress is being made. Fans don’t know that. They look at the box score and see oh-for-three. They don't see an eight-pitch at-bat and fouling off tough pitches."

Since Brett took over, Moustakas is hitting .270 with three doubles. But over his last 10 games (imagining it's taking some time for Brett to do his work), Moustakas has a .343 average and .807 OPS. It may just be baby steps, but it looks like Moustakas has the hitting thing turning itself around, meaning the power can't be too far behind.

Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on home runs (season): 18

AL-only fun

Oswaldo Arcia, OF, Twins (16 percent ownership)

In 144 at-bats this season, Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia has a .278 average, with six home runs, 10 doubles and 21 RBI. But Arcia has really come alive in the 13 games since his mid-June recall from the minors (he was optioned May 25). In 46 at-bats, Arcia has a .326 average, .957 OPS, two home runs and five doubles.

In the minors, Arcia hit .313 in 399 games, with double-digit home runs in his last three seasons. He was a top 50 prospect with solid batting average and decent, developing power. And because he can play left or right field, Arcia's bat has remained in the lineup alongside Josh Willingham, Ryan Doumit and Chris Parmelee.

Owned in just 16 percent of leagues, Arcia can offer value in average, power and counting categories because of his regular at-bats. He's AL-only because of his ownership percentage, but Arcia, who is developing into a solid Fantasy option, can be rostered in leagues as shallow as 14 teams.

Over/under on at-bats (season): 415
Over/under on average (season): .279
Over/under on home runs (season): 16

NL-only fun

Eric Young, OF, Mets (15 percent ownership)

Eric Young has never really gotten the chance to show off what he can do in a full-time role. In five major league seasons, Young has never gotten 200 at-bats in one campaign. In fact, with nine more at-bats this year, the 28-year-old will have set a new career high.

The 2003 30th round pick did get regular playing time across eight minor league seasons, though. He stole 80 bases in 2006, 73 in 2007 and had two other seasons of 40 or more steals. Those four years were the only ones which Young got 400 or more at-bats, shuttling between the minors and majors in most of the others. There's not a lot of power here, but Young did compile a .297 average and .388 OPS in 2,562 career at-bats.

The more you dive into Young's stats, the more difficult it is to figure out why he isn't more widely owned. He can hit for average, he can steal a lot of bases and he appears to be the starter in left field for the Mets, who can shift him to center when Ike Davis is recalled, sending Lucas Duda back to left.

Like Arcia, Young could have an impact in shallower leagues, but still has ownership numbers low enough to be available in NL-only formats.

Over/under on steals (season): 32
Over/under on batting average (season): .272

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS .

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Player News
Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder) 'felt very good' in spring debut
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:38 pm ET) Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin made his spring debut Thursday, and though he surrendered two earned runs in 1 2/3 innings, he "felt very good" with the outing, the Denver Post reports.

"I felt very good, and I hope I can keep going like this all year," Chacin said. "I threw a lot of changeups and sliders today because that’s what I’ve been working on. I have been working on the slider because that’s my strikeout pitch."

Chacin was making his first appearance in a game since June 28 after missing much of the 2014 season due to a shoulder injury. Manager Walt Weiss said that the pitcher was throwing with less effort than he did last spring.

"We are trying to build him back up this spring," Weiss said. "The main thing is that he’s healthy and able to bounce back. There is no reason to think he’s not going to be fine."

Chacin went 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA and 42:28 K:BB ratio in 63 1/3 innings over 11 starts last season.


Giants believe Hunter Pence has forearm fracture
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:28 pm ET) The Giants believe that outfielder Hunter Pence fractured his left forearm after being hit by a pitch Thursday, Comcast SportsNet Bay Area reports.

The team doctor diagnosed the break, but the outfielder will undergo X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. Manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that Pence is upbeat and hoping for the best.

"Silver lining is it's early in spring," Bochy said.

Pence hit .277/.332/.445 with 20 home runs, 74 RBI and 13 stolen bases in 650 at-bats in 2014, playing 162 games for the second straight season. Should Pence miss opening day, the Giants could turn to fourth outfielder Gregor Blanco to fill in regularly in the lineup.


Orioles release Suk-Min Yoon
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:20 pm ET) The Orioles announced Thursday that pitcher Suk-Min Yoon has been released, allowing him to sign with the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization.

The Orioles signed Yoon to a three-year, $5.575-million deal last February, and the pitcher went 4-8 with a 5.74 ERA in 95 2/3 innings with Triple-A Norfolk. Prior to signing with the Orioles, he pitched with Kia for nine seasons, amassing a 73-59 record along with a 3.19 ERA and 949 strikeouts in 1,129 innings.


Royals yet to decide Brandon Finnegan's role
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Royals have yet to decide whether to use Brandon Finnegan as a reliever with the major-league team or continue his development as a starter in the minors, MLB.com reports.

"It's not a decision we have to make right now," general manager Dayton Moore said. "We'll just have to see how it all plays out."

Finnegan gave up just one earned run in seven innings as a reliever last season while striking out 10, and the team could choose to keep him in the bullpen in order to make another World Series push.

"We [have] a chance to compete," manager Ned Yost said, "and you want to take your best players when you have a chance to compete."


Giants' Ryan Vogelsong happy after first spring outing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:01 pm ET) Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was satisfied after his first outing of the spring, according to MLB.com.

"All of my pitches are close to being where I want them already, so from that standpoint it was good," Vogelsong said. "Just [need to] work on the mental side a little bit."

Vogelsong had an iffy start. He was able to get through the first inning quickly, but allowed four runs in the second. Vogelsong explained that he lost his focus during the inning. "I just lost my focus a little bit, just got in the stretch and started rushing a little bit, just never slowed myself down."

The 37-year-old posted a 4.00 ERA over 184 2/3 innings last season. He's expected to open the year in the Giants bullpen. 


Braves P Eric Stults impresses in Grapefruit League win against Tigers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) Braves pitcher Eric Stults logged two scoreless innings during Thursday's 6-4 Grapefruit League win over the Tigers.

Stults gave up two hits but also got two Tigers players to hit into double plays. 

“The first time out in spring you don’t know what to expect,” Stults said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “so my mindset is, I want to stay down in the zone and make them put the ball on the ground. For the most part, I was able to do that. Guys made some plays behind me to turn two, so that was nice.”

Stults, 35, is competing with Wandy Rodriguez for the fifth spot in the Braves' pitching rotation. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez was pleased with what he saw in Stults Thursday. 

“You can never have too much pitching, like we know from the past," Gonzalez said. "And all of a sudden we get bad news, or possibility of bad news with Mikey, and you feel good that you have some depth in the rotation.”


Angels' Mike Trout to be more aggressive early in count
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Angels outfielder Mike Trout said Thursday that he plans to be more aggressive early in the count this spring, the Los Angeles Times reports.

"Gonna be locked and loaded on the first pitch," Trout said.

Trout made contact on the first pitch 24 times last season, hitting six singles and a double and posting a .292/.286/.333 line. He hit .287/.377/.561 in 602 at-bats overall in 2014.


Astros' Mark Appel goes two innings in spring debut
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) Astros pitcher Mark Appel tossed two innings in his spring debut on Thursday.

Appel allowed one run on three hits during the outing. He struck out two batters. The 23-year-old is expected to begin the season in the minors, but is considered one of the team's top prospects. The former top overall pick experienced some struggles last season, posting a 6.91 ERA over two minor-league levels. 

Appel made it clear that every inning counts this spring. "It's two innings in spring training, so I'm going to need innings if I want to show why I deserve to be here and hopefully have a shot at being in Houston at some point this season," he said. 


Indians SP Carlos Carrasco throws in 'B' game Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:54 pm ET) Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco threw two innings in a "B" game against the Reds on Thursday morning. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway was pleased with what he saw from the right-handed pitcher.

"He had a good tempo. He wasn't overdoing it," Callaway said, per MLB.com. "The thing that worried me coming into spring was we talked about intent and letting it go and pitching like you're out of the 'pen. Well, we don't want him doing that right now. We don't want him averaging 97 yet. He did a really good job of controlling his effort level."


Phils' Sandberg on Gonzalez's spring debut: Best I've seen him throw
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:47 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez didn't make a strong impression Thursday against the Astros in his first attempt to win a spot in the team's rotation. However, manager Ryne Sandberg wasn't just focused on the results of Gonzalez's spring debut.

“The best stuff I’ve seen since he’s come over here [from Cuba],” Sandberg said, per The Journal News. “It looks like he’s healthy. Looks like he has some zip on his fastball. That can get better as he goes here. Compared to last year, night and day.”

The right-hander allowed two runs on four hits in two relief innings. He entered the game after Cliff Lee threw two scoreless innings. Gonzalez struck out one and gave up a home run.

“It doesn’t matter about the line,” Gonzalez said through a translator. “My plan that I had all along was to show my work ethic today. I don’t look at the numbers.”


 
 
 
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