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Waiver Wire: Belt starting to surge

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Danny Salazar caused the staff here at CBSSports.com a few headaches this week. After touting him as a strong Week 20 play, Salazar promptly went out and disappointed against the Twins, giving up three runs in four innings. He then lost his second start of the week when Scott Kazmir was brought back into the rotation.

But it might be wise to stick by Salazar. He put up ERAs of 2.36 and 2.71 the last two years in the minors, with a 1.07 WHIP and 10.2 K/9. He only threw 71 pitches in that game against the Twins, and could have recovered from the rough start to shut the team down over two or three more innings. But it seemed like the Indians wanted to keep his arm fresh and not waste the innings in a game against the Twins. And Salazar will get some extra rest with Kazmir returning and bumping him back.

It's understandable that owners would want to bail on Salazar now -- he's given up seven runs in his last two starts and is a largely unknown quantity with a history of arm trouble. And the Indians have been a little inconsistent in their treatment of him -- letting him go 100-plus pitches one game, then yanking him after 71 pitches the next. But I think talent wins out here and Salazar could come roaring back with a string of solid performances to close out the year.

The Big Leap

Brandon Belt, 1B, Giants (59 percent ownership, up from 46 percent)

As most baseball players often do, Belt revealed the reason for his recent success at the plate in the middle of a blog post centered around a review for the latest Ryan Reynolds movie.

In his Brandon and Brandon blog, (which he writes with Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford), Belt explained why he was suddenly smashing the ball: he moved back in the batter's box and began holding the bat in his fingers, as opposed to his palms. Belt says the coaches had been trying to get him to make these changes "for a long item," but it took some encouragement from Buster Posey, a few other teammates and even Domonic Brown ( if you have a few minutes, read this story about how Bam Bam Meulens has a role in Belt's resurgence) until he relented and tried the changes.

"I saw results immediately," Belt wrote in his blog. "I felt I was really tapping into my ability, like I did in spring training." Belt hit .410 with eight home runs and a 1.265 OPS in 24 spring games this year. Since that Phillies series, where he sat and worked on his adjustments, Belt is hitting .417 with three home runs and a 1.306 OPS in 11 games.

We've been waiting for Belt to really break out for a couple years. And now, with changes in his batting stance and box positioning, we may be seeing him take off. Belt is dialed in, and should be added in all Fantasy formats.

Post-Deadline Trade!

Emilio Bonifacio, 2B, Royals (Owned in 13 percent of leagues)

Bonifacio was sent to the Royals on Wednesday for a player to be named later. While it may not register more than a blip on most radars, this could turn out to be a fortuitous deal for speed speculators in Roto leagues.

The Royals have struggled to find a starting second baseman all season. Chris Getz has started 49 games with Elliot Johnson starting 36, Miguel Tejada 22 and Johnny Giavotella 10. Bonifacio, who has made 134 career appearances at second base in his career, could solidify the position for the rest of the season. He can also contribute in the outfield, where David Lough and Jarrod Dyson have gotten regular playing time, or at third base, where Mike Moustakas is currently absent as he nurses a calf injury

The question here is how effective Bonifacio will be. He averaged 35 steals in 2011 and 2012, despite only playing in 64 games last year. And he's managed 12 steals over 262 at-bats in sporadic playing time with the Blue Jays this season. And the Royals like to run -- they're second in the majors in steals with 93.

So Bonifacio has upside -- essentially everyday at-bats at second, third or the outfield with a skill that is highly valued by his team -- but you'll have to keep your batting average expectations low (.250-.260-ish) and don't expect much outside of the speed. He's worth an add in Roto leagues based on his steal potential, but I'd be wary of Bonifacio's Head-to-Head league value, with little to contribute in other categories.

Guy I Added Based on a Hunch

Jake Arrieta, SP, Cubs (Owned in 3 percent of leagues)

Most Added Players (as of 8/15)
Player % change
1. Bruce Chen, RP, Royals 25
2. Danny Salazar, SP, Indians 23
3. Brian Dozier, 2B, Twins 21
4. Yan Gomes, C, Indians 19
5. Will Venable, OF, Padres 19
6. Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics 17
7. Robbie Grossman, OF, Astros 17
8. Stephen Drew, SS, Red Sox 15
9. Tyson Ross, RP, Padres 15
10. Dan Haren, SP, Nationals 14

If you take a step back and look at Arrieta as just a set of numbers, here's what you see: a 27-year-old former top prospect who was stellar his first three years in the minors. He had a nice strikeout rate (about one per inning), with a solid ERA and WHIP. Brought up to the majors, he just couldn't put things together. Sent back to the minors for parts of the last two years, Arrieta struggled, with two seasons of 4.00-plus ERAs.

However, after a trade from the Orioles to the Cubs before the deadline, Arrieta seems to have found a groove. In seven starts with Iowa, Arrieta has a 3.56 ERA and career-high 11.6 K/9. His WHIP is high (1.58), but, well, we'll take it.

This is a gut call mixed with some research. Arrieta showed signs of promise not that long ago. He was on the fast track to the majors. Maybe the AL East was too much. Maybe he lost some confidence getting sent back down to the minors. But Arrieta is still just 27, he has some nice strikeout potential and he's getting a late-season, no-pressure chance with a new team in a league with no DH.

I added Arrieta in an NL-only league and a 17-team mixed Roto league. He's not quite ready for my 15-team mixed Roto Tout Wars squad, but I'm keeping an eye on him. If he can get a strikeout per inning -- even if he gives up four runs -- I may consider adding him to help my strikeout totals in Roto leagues. And if he finds his way in ERA and WHIP, I'll consider that a nice bonus.

AL-only fun

Dane De La Rosa, RP, Angels (Owned in 9 percent of leagues)

It's as simple as this: Ernesto Frieri has been very bad recently and De La Rosa got the first crack at the save opportunity when Mike Scioscia decided a change was needed. As the would-be closer, De La Rosa now has value in AL-only leagues.

While he's not as impressive as Frieri (the 2012 version), De La Rosa can get about a strikeout per inning while keeping his ERA and WHIP around 3.00 and 1.20-ish, respectively. But all he really has to do is hold leads late in games for the next month and a half to have across-the-board appeal, as there really isn't another obvious choice in that bullpen to fill the closer role. For now, though, he's a must-add in AL-only formats on the speculative hope that De La Rosa keeps that job.

NL-only fun

Corey Dickerson, OF, Rockies (3 percent ownership)

Dickerson's been pretty much overlooked by the masses, especially in light of Carlos Gonzalez's injury. Dickerson currently has a .297 average, with two home runs and six doubles over 74 at-bats. But those numbers include a stint in June and July that had him playing somewhat sporadically. In the 17 games since his recall, Dickerson is hitting .366 with a .996 OPS. And in 32 August at-bats, he's hitting .344 with a .934 OPS

The problem is playing time. Charlie Blackmon is currently eating into Dickerson's at-bats and both will probably get the squeeze when Gonzalez returns from his DL trip. However, Dickerson -- who had a .321 average, .980 OPS and averaged 11 steals per season over four years in the minors -- has a ton of talent. So there's a chance Gonzalez sees the steep climb to the second wild card spot (12 games, currently) for the Rockies and decides to sit out the rest of the season and fix his finger. This would make Dickerson a shallower league play.

For now, however, Dickerson has value in NL-only formats as an upside play with a chance to capture more at-bats.

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
Erik Kratz sent back to Triple-A
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:25 pm ET) The Blue Jays optioned catcher Erik Kratz to Triple-A Buffalo Tuesday, less than two weeks after he was recalled.

Kratz appeared in four games in his most recent stint, but had just one hit in 13 at-bats. He is hitting just .198 overall for the season.  


Jason Marquis on Triple-A DL due to oblique injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) Phillies starting pitcher Jason Marquis was placed on the disabled list at Triple-A Lehigh Valley due to a strained right oblique. Marquis, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, has a July 31 opt-out clause in his contract.

Marquis is 1-0 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts since joining the Lehigh Valley rotation. He has 21 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings.


Report: Mariners pursuing Starling Marte in trade talks
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:14 pm ET) The Mariners have been pursuing Pirates outfielder Starling Marte in trade talks, according to the Beaver County Times. However, it is unclear if the Pirates will trade the left fielder after signing him to a five-year, $31-million contract in spring training.

Move could be good for Chase Headley
by Al Melchior | Data Analyst
(2:05 pm ET) It's been two seasons since Chase Headley has really been an impact player in Fantasy, but Tuesday's trade that sent him to the Yankees could help to thrust him back into relevance.

Wearing pinstripes won't heal the herniated disc that has been plauging Headley this season, but even with some health issues, he has hit for decent power away from PETCO Park with five home runs over 139 at-bats. Not surprisingly, Headley has been a better power hitter on the road over his career, hitting 52 of his 87 homers in away games, and he's been a much better hitter for average and on-base percentage on the road, too.

This season, Headley's best hitting on the road has come when he's batted as a righty, and playing home games at Yankee Stadium could improve his righty splits. While his new home park is best known for being friendly to left-handed hitters, it's also a good power park for righties, while PETCO Park is notoriously tough on right-handed power hitters.

The move won't restore Headley to his 2012 form, as the flyball distance data on BaseballHeatMaps.com show that he is still not hitting flies nearly as far as he did in his 31-homer campaign. However, as long as he is healthy enough to stay on the field, he should easily be a top 20 third baseman with an outside shot at cracking the top 15 over the remainder of the season.

In other words, Headley has become relevant again in standard mixed Roto leagues, but he doesn't need to be owned in Head-to-Head points leagues other than in deeper formats.


Mariners top prospect Alex Jackson suffers facial fracture
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:54 pm ET) Mariners outfielder prospect Alex Jackson had to leave his Arizona Rookie League game Monday, after he was hit in the face by a line drive.

Jackson, the team's top pick in this year's draft, had to be taken to a local hospital for X-rays, and Director of Minor League Operations Chris Gwynn told the Seattle Times Tuesday Jackson suffered a small fracture below his eye. At this point, there is no timetable for Jackson's return to action.

"He's doing okay," Gwynn said. "It's supposed to be not really too bad. When you think about it, he could have got hit in the eye or other different places that could have been worse. We're having him see our specialist and we'll see where it goes. Right now, we don't think it's that bad. He's going to rest for a while and see some doctors."

Jackson, the No. 6 overall pick in this year's amateur draft, was hitting .289/.333/.500 in the first 20 games of his career. 


Yankees, Padres agree to Chase Headley trade
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(1:18 pm ET) The Yankees have acquired third baseman Chase Headley from the Padres Tuesday, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Headley has struggled this season, hitting just .229/.296/.355 in 77 games, though he has been hot lately. Though he has just one home run in the month of July, he is hitting .323 with a .785 OPS in the month, his best so far.

The Padres will reportedly receive infielder Yangervis Solarte and pitching prospect Rafael De Paula from the Yankees, while sending $1 million in cash to the Yankees. Solarte has slowed down from a hot start and is hitting just .254/.337/.381 this season, while DePaula has a 4.15 ERA in 89 innings for Class A Tampa this season. 


Report: Blue Jays among teams interested in Alex Rios
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:41 pm ET) The Blue Jays have expressed interest in outfielder Alex Rios, according to a report from CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The Blue Jays are dealing with injuries to the starting lineup, and could have interest in re-acquiring Rios, who spent parts of six seasons with the Blue Jays earlier in his career. He is hitting .302/.330/.435 in 96 games for the Rangers this season, with four home runs and 42 RBI.

The Royals and Mariners have also expressed interest in Rios, who has a team option worth $13.5 million for next season. 


Report: Yankees looking in on John Danks
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(12:28 pm ET) White Sox pitcher John Danks is drawing interest on the trading block, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman, but that doesn't mean a deal is imminent.

According to Heyman's report, the Yankees are among the teams who have checked in on Danks. Talks are reportedly in the early stages, but the Yankees are interest in adding the left-hander, after having lost four starters due to injury.

Danks has a no-trade clause in his contract, though it is not clear if the Yankees are on that list. Danks has two years and $28.5 million remaining on his contract after this season, and has a 4.35 ERA In 124 innings.


Gerardo Parra hits rare homer in losing effort
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:11 am ET) Diamondbacks outfielder Gerardo Parra went deep for the first time in two months Monday, in a 4-3 loss to the Tigers.

Parra, whose last homer came May 21, went deep in the sixth inning to tie the game. Unfortunately, that was his lone contribution to the effort, as he finished 1 for 4 with two strikeouts in the loss.

Parra has six home runs in 382 at-bats, and is hitting .251/.298/.356 overall. 


Billy Hamilton homers in loss
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(11:06 am ET) Reds infielder Billy Hamilton flashed some rare power Monday, albeit in a 5-2 loss to the Brewers.

Hamilton got the Reds on the scoreboard for the first time in the sixth inning, with a solo home run. He finished the game 2 for 4 overall with one run scored and one driven in.

Hamilton has six home runs in 94 games, and is hitting .281/.314/.424 in 349 at-bats.


 
 
 
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