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Waiver Wire: Speed, power and Ks for all

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Rangers pitcher Martin Perez is red-hot right now. In our standard Head-to-Head format, he has two straight weeks of 24-point performances. And he's sporting a 2.37 ERA and 1.26 WHIP so far this season. So it makes perfect sense that he's seen a big jump in ownership, from 15 percent to 36 percent.

Still, Perez remains a bit of an enigma. The 22-year-old has been a perennial top prospect, ranking in the top 100 (according to Baseball America) every year since 2009. But that lofty status seems at odds with his numbers -- three seasons of 4.25-plus ERA in his six minor league campaigns, which contributed to a 4.16 overall ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Additionally, Perez had a very hard-to-track strikeout rate throughout his minor league career -- while he had a 7.6 K/9 overall, his rate fluctuated between 4.9 and 9.3 over those six years.

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So this leaves us at a virtual fork in the road. On one hand, Perez is a young player who has been scouted and judged, and ultimately deemed to be a very good pitcher (ever since he was 18). We've seen some younger pitchers -- Mike Leake this year, for instance -- hit some rough patches before eventually corralling their talent and finding success. On the other hand, Perez's numbers don't exactly bear out all this high praise. Even with his very nice three-game run this season, Perez still has a somewhat-high WHIP and has struck out just eight batters in 19 innings.

So what to do? Trust the five years of top prospect status? Or the numbers that he's put up so far? I'd personally be inclined to not take the risk because of the low strikeout numbers. But if you're playing in an AL-only league or deep (14-16 teams) mixed format, Perez could be worth the gamble, on the promise that he keeps providing low ratios.

The Big Leaps

Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies (64 percent ownership, up from 38 percent)

Of all the failures in Colorado's rotation the last several years, it's easy to forget that Jhoulys Chacin has a career 3.66 ERA. Yes, it's somewhat disheartening that he's dropped his strikeout rate every year since he made his debut -- it has tumbled all the way down to 5.1 K/9 this season, a career-worst -- but his ERA is currently the second-best of his career and Chacin has been pretty much brilliant lately, going 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in his last four starts.

This may not be a total mirage. Chacin has met success before in his career, and the numbers support some degree of sustainability. Chacin's strand rate is actually below his career level, his ground ball rate is at a normal level, and his fastball velocity is right where it has always been. The only thing that may be a little worrisome is his HR/FB rate, which is currently at 2.4 percent. Even if he keeps his groundball rate up, he's probably due for a correction, but nothing wild – his career HR/FB rate is still just 9.3 percent.

All in all, Chacin is a bit of a gamble, because you cannot be sure the strikeouts will return and we know he's due to give up a few more home runs in the second half. But he should be able to provide enough in the way of low ratio to have some value in deeper (14-team) leagues.

Over/under on ERA (season): 3.80
Over/under on K/9 (season): 6.1
If Martin Perez is owned in 50 percent of leagues, Chacin should be owned in: 56 percent

Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners (57 percent, up from 31)

Most Added Players (as of 7/4)
Player % added
1. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies 26
2. Raul Ibanez, OF, Mariners 26
3. Martin Perez, SP, Rangers 23
4. Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds 21
5. Rajai Davis, OF, Blue Jays 21
6. Jacob Turner, SP, Marlins 17
7. Leonys Martin, OF, Rangers 16
8. Miguel Gonzalez, SP, Orioles 16
9. Jose Iglesias, SS, Red Sox 14
10. Brad Miller, SS, Mariners 14

Ibanez is 41 years old and is playing in a park that still has to be considered pitcher-friendly. I have no idea how he's doing this. I remember when I was working on Fantasyland doing research on him and discovering Ibanez was really into karate, so I can actually understand if he's just taking really good care of his body and maybe diving into previously-unexplored areas to prolong his career through balance and stretching hobbies outside of the game.

Here's how I'm looking at Ibanez: he hit .274 with 23 home runs per year over the past nine seasons, when his power surge really started. And he's averaged 518 at-bats in that span, with the only real drag on his playing time being a platoon situation last year with the Yankees.

So Ibanez has power, he can probably raise his average another 20-30 points from where it is right now, and he doesn't get injured. Outside of just saying he's old, I really see no reason to leave him on waiver wires in 12-team leagues.

Over/under on average (season): .265
Over/under on home runs (season): 32
Would I drop Kyle Blanks for him?: No.

Rajai Davis, OF, Blue Jays (36 percent, up from 17)

This one's simple: It's all speed here. Over the last four seasons, Davis has averaged 43 steals per season, despite getting only about 420 at-bats each year. Now that he's playing regularly for the Blue Jays, Davis is again a hot speed commodity. His average fluctuates and you can't depend on him for power (although he did hit eight home runs last year), but there's a near-guarantee of steals here.

Let's not waste the holiday weekend with unnecessary paragraphs. If you need steals, go get Davis!

Over/under on steals (season): 38
Over/under on home runs (season): 5
Is there a chance Davis could remain in the outfield after Melky Cabrera's return, and Jose Bautista could see some time at third base?: Yes

The Flavor of Next Week

Juan Francisco, Brewers (16 percent ownership)

Let's just forget about Francisco's batting average for a minute; it's never been especially good and if he manages to hit .260, we'll consider it a bonus. You don't want Francisco for his average. You want him for his power.

Since he was traded to Milwaukee a month ago, Francisco has hit five home runs, including four in his last seven games. With Corey Hart out for the season and Aramis Ramirez not in the best shape, Francisco -- who can play both first and third -- should see regular playing time the rest of the season. This recent seven-game run (which also includes two doubles and a 1.298 OPS) give a glimpse of his potential, which could be 30-homer power in a hitter-friendly park like Miller.

Francisco isn't going to rank in the top 12 when the season is through, but he will benefit enough from the regular playing time to be a useful third baseman in most formats.

Over/under on average (season): .255
Over/under on home runs (season): 29
Which other third baseman does Francisco remind us (a little bit) of?: Pedro Alvarez

American League-only fun

Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays (4 percent ownership)

If you look at Romero's overall numbers in the minors this season, you'll cringe: a 6.89 ERA with a 1.80 WHIP, with 31 strikeouts in 57 innings. But since he ditched his new mechanics a few weeks ago, Romero looks like he's turned a corner. Over the last five games, Romero has a 3.54 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, striking out 21 in 28 innings. It's not the most impressive of stat lines, but it does give a little bit of hope that Romero may be on the verge of figuring out his issues. And for a pitcher who had improved for three straight seasons (before hitting an injury-riddled wall in 2012), that could be a useful set of circumstances in AL-only formats.

This isn't a call to add him in all AL-only leagues, but consider it a heads up that he might be closer than we think, especially with Chien-Ming Wang being DFA'd. I look at Romero as a gamble that might be worth taking if there's a shortage of starters in your league.

Over/under on starts (season): 14
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.85
Could this end up being a very bad move?: Absolutely, but it's worth the risk

National League-only fun

Pedro Strop, RP, Cubs (owned in 2 percent of leagues)

Strop was traded from the Orioles to the Cubs on Tuesday, as part of the deal that sent Scott Feldman to Baltimore. With Kevin Gregg a likely trade candidate, the Cubs may end up turning to Strop to close out games.

Before falling apart this year (he has a 7.25 ERA), Strop put together two seasons of near-dominant pitching, with a 2.34 ERA in 2011 and 2012. He also served as the backup closer for Baltimore last year.

Strop may still have some issues to work out -- manager Dale Sveum suggested a balky back may have to do with Strop's struggles this season -- but if Gregg is traded, Strop suddenly seems like the next in line to serve as the team's closer.

Over/under on saves (season): 11
Over/under on ERA (season): 3.85
How much are you bidding on him in the CBSSports.com Experts NL-only league?: $8 (out of 100)

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
Report: Angels' Hamilton likely to receive suspension
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2:05 am ET) Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton will likely be suspended for at least 25 games, according to FoxSports.com.

Hamilton met with Major League Baseball on Wednesday for a disciplinary hearing. CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported that Hamilton experienced a drug relapse a few months ago, and confessed that relapse to MLB. 

This is technically Hamilton's second violation as a major-leaguer. Hamilton was on the Rays 40-man roster during his first suspension, making him a major-league player. Typically, players who violate their drug treatment program for the first time are subject to a 15-25 game suspension. Given that this is Hamilton's second violation of his drug treatment program, it's unclear how severe the punishment will be.

With that said, commissioner Rob Manfred is reportedly trying to be lenient with any punishment. The league has a "favorable view of Hamilton's efforts to remain sober." Since his return to the majors, Hamilton has spoken honestly about his struggles with addition.

On top of that, Manfred is concerned about making the punishment too harsh. Hamilton's past relaspes have come when he's been away from the game. Manfred reportedly is not close to making a final decision on Hamilton's punishment at this time. 

Hamilton was already expected to miss the beginning of the season due to a shoulder surgery. It's unclear how much longer he'll be out due to a suspension.


Angels, Huston Street haven't talked extension yet
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:11 am ET) The Angels and closer Huston Street have not talked about an extension yet, according to MLB.com.

Both sides are reportedly interested in a deal, but Street wanted to wait a week in order to settle in to camp. Once that happens, the two sides are expected to start negotiating a new deal. Street is entering the final year of his contract, and will make $7 million in 2015.

Street, 31, posted a 1.37 ERA over 59 1/3 innings last year.


Phillies' Ryan Howard working on his swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:20 am ET) Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard is working on his swing, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer

Howard has spent time working with Charlie Manuel during camp. Manuel was brought in as spring training hitting instructor. Manager Ryan Sandberg has noticed the change in Howard's approach already. "As far as making some adjustments there, to really zone in to something that can really be productive for him and a little bit more consistent," Sandberg said. "I think there has been a little tweaking going on there."

Howard apparently has looked different at the plate. His stance has been described as "looser" and his hands are much lower when he starts his swing. 

The 35-year-old hit .223/.310/.380 over 569 at-bats last year. 


Dodgers unsure how Grandal, Ellis will split time
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Dodgers aren't sure how they'll platoon their two catchers, according to the Orange County Register.

A.J. Ellis has been the team's primary option the past few seasons, but the club brought in Yasmani Grandal during the offseason. While Grandal has a much higher offensive upside, it's unclear how much he'll play once the regular season begins. 

"There’s nothing going to come out of this camp where we’re going to say, ‘OK, this guy is going to start 72 percent of the time’" general manager Andrew Friedman said. "It’s going to be much more about Donnie (Mattingly) writing the lineup each and every day for what gives us the best chance to win that day."

Mattingly admitted that Grandal has "tremendous upside offensively," so it's possible he could lead that way more often. While Mattingly has indicated that he doesn't want to assign any personal catchers yet, there's a sense Ellis could be used when Clayton Kershaw is on the mound. 

Grandal hit .225/.327/.401 over 377 at-bats last year. Ellis hit .191/.323/.254 over 283 at-bats. 


Giants sign Ronny Cedeno to minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Giants have signed infielder Ronny Cedeno to a minor-league deal, according to the PCL transactions page.

Cedeno, 32, spent most of the year in the minors. He hit .313/.368/.431 over 281 at-bats in Triple-A. Cedeno received nine at-bats with the Phillies, but failed to record a hit. 


Brewers' Scooter Gennett glad to have full-time role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Brewers infielder Scooter Gennett is glad to have a full-time role heading into 2015, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Gennett spent last season in a platoon with Rickie Weeks, but with Weeks gone, he'll assume the full-time role. Gennett said he feels far less stressed about his position on the team this spring. "Seeing as I'm pretty much the everyday guy, that eliminated the stress, or whatever you want to call it, off my back," he said. 

"Just not having to worry about stuff out of my control. I've put myself in this position where I've earned the job, I've shown them what I can do, and now it's about consistently doing it," he added. 

Manager Ron Roenicke has already said he'll give Gennett plenty of opportunities to prove himself against left-handers. 

Gennett, 24, hit .289/.320/.434 over 440 at-bats last season. 


Cubs' Arismendy Alcantara will play all over the place
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) Cubs utility man Arismendy Alcantara is going to play a lot of positions this season, according to ESPN.

Alcantara saw time in center last season, but the team's trade for Dexter Fowler will alter his role. Alcantara says he's ready for the challenge. "Mentally you have to be ready for that," Alcantara said. "They want me to play second base and the outfield." He's also expected to see some time at third base. 

Manager Joe Maddon is glad to have such a versatile player on the team. "When you get a guy like that and you want to give someone a rest, you don't feel like you're losing anything," Joe Maddon said. "And the big attraction there is also in-game. It's like having an extra guy on the bench."

The 23-year-old Alcantara hit .205/.254/.367 over 278 at-bats last year. 


Rockies ask Corey Dickerson to be more patient
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Rockies want Corey Dickerson to be a little more patient at the plate, according to MLB.com.

Dickerson had a breakout season in 2014, hitting .312/.364/.567 over 436 at-bats. He walked in 7.7 percent of his plate appearances, which was actually just above the league average. Still, the team wants Dickerson to be slightly less of a free-swinging this year.

"I talked to Corey about adding this much discipline to his game," manager Walt Weiss said. "We don't want that much, because then he wouldn't be Corey Dickerson." Weiss explained that it's difficult to deliver this type of message, as Dickerson's aggressiveness makes him effective. 

Dickerson said he would work harder to study pitchers and work on his approach during games. 

The 25-year-old is expected to open the year as the team's starter in left.


Marlins unlikely to add reliever now
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Marlins are unlikely to add a reliever now that Francisco Rodriguez is off the market, according to MLB.com.

The Marlins were involved in negotiations for K-Rod through at least Wednesday, and were reportedly willing to offer $10 million over two years. The club has been looking for a veteran reliever for some time, but may pass now that Rodriguez has signed with the Brewers.

Both Rafael Soriano and Phil Coke have been connected to Miami, but the team would likely only sign those players to minor-league contracts.


Diamondbacks' Chase Anderson a favorite for the rotation
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/26/2015) The Diamondbacks consider Chase Anderson a favorite to break camp in the rotation, according to azcentral.com.

The club wants to create a lot of competition for the rotation, and it was initially believed Anderson would be competing for a spot. General manager Dave Stewart sort of quashed those rumors, saying he perceives Anderson as a strong favorite right now. "Chase Anderson won nine games for us last year; you have to strongly consider him as part of our rotation," Stewart said. 

Anderson is expected to pair with Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson for now. The club will determine the final two spots in the rotation during camp.

Anderson, 27, posted a 4.01 ERA over 114 1/3 innings last year.


 
 
 
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