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Waiver Wire: Time to start acting quickly

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Prior to last Thursday's podcast (click here to subscribe), I was asked to provide a list of buy-low and sell-high candidates. When I first compiled the list, Pirates second baseman Neil Walker appeared to be easy pickings for a sell-high candidate. However, I started hemming and hawing after branding Walker with this distinction, and I'm still undecided about my rest-of-season expectations for him.

I started reconsidering my stance after stumbling upon a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review story that outlined why Walker is off to a fast start. Walker, who is a switch hitter, had struggled the last two seasons batting right-handed, leaving some to suggest he should consider strictly hitting left-handed. Walker gave no thought to the notion and went to work this offseason fixing the flaw in his right-handed swing.

Most added players on CBSSports.com
Player Own %
1. Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins 61 (+48)
2. Wily Peralta, SP, Brewers 73 (+39)
3. Kyle Farnsworth, RP, Mets 40 (+39)
4. Devin Mesoraco, C, Reds 84 (+32)
5. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins 65 (+32)
6. Martin Perez, SP, Rangers 84 (+28)
7. Justin Morneau, 1B, Rockies 80 (+27)
8. Eric Young, OF, Mets 60 (+27)
9. Alfredo Simon, RP, Reds 57 (+27)
10. Edinson Volquez, SP, Pirates 50 (+25)

Walker raised his hands to more closely resemble the starting point of his left-handed swing, which helped shorten the bat path. He took countless reps this offseason to develop muscle memory, and the early results have been positive.

Walker is batting .429 (6 for 14) with a .714 slugging percentage, 1.181 OPS, one double, one home run and two RBI against left-handed pitchers in 2014. It's a huge improvement after batting .246 with a .288 slugging percentage in 2012 and a .225 average and .238 slugging percentage in 2013 against lefties.

Walker has six home runs and is slugging .525 through 19 games. His career slugging percentage is .427 and he's never had more than 16 home runs in a season, so it's easy to see why my initial instinct was to say sell high. But I started to change my perspective when I realized Walker is only 28 years old and still in his prime. Also, you can connect the dots between Walker's offseason work and his early season success -- indicating it could be more than just a hot start or dumb luck.

Fantasy owners are slowly buying into Walker's surge. His ownership has climbed from 64 percent in at the beginning of the season to 81 percent. It seems the bullish view on Walker is growing.

Kyle Gibson, SP, Twins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 61 percent (up 48 percent)
This is a big week for Gibson. He makes starts against the Rays and Tigers, which could provide a good glimpse into whether his hot start is the real deal or an aberration. While Gibson didn't pitch well in his first taste of the majors last season, don't forget it was still his first full season back after Tommy John surgery. Now that he's two full years past the surgery, Gibson is beginning to showcase the potential he flashed as a top prospect prior to getting hurt. Gibson is a contact pitcher, but when his fastball and sinker are working, he has the ability to be dominant. Gibson hasn't been a strong strikeout pitcher in his young MLB career, but he did post a 8.0 K/9 rate in the minors, so there's some untapped potential there. As long as Gibson is winning, while posting a low ERA and WHIP, he's still a serviceable Fantasy arm.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Marlins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 65 percent (up 32 percent)
It's good to see Fantasy owners are beginning to buy into Ozuna's surge because he certainly has the ability and is in a good position to keep producing. It's no surprise Ozuna is doing his best work batting in front of slugger Giancarlo Stanton. In seven games batting second, Ozuna is hitting .364 (12 for 33) with a .515 slugging percentage and .936 OPS. Ozuna has the pedigree to keep producing. He slugged .487 and had three seasons with 20-plus homers in the minors. Don't forget he also slugged .488 in his first 33 games last season before hitting a rookie wall. Ozuna had a pretty bad spring while working on his timing, but it seems he got all of his bad habits and at-bats out of the way during the exhibition schedule.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Eric Young, OF, Mets


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 60 percent (up 27 percent)
Young has had quite the turnaround in a short amount of time. After opening the season with a .105 average in his first five games, Young has hit .260 with a .403 on-base percentage, 10 stolen bases and 16 runs in his last 13 games. Mets manager Terry Collins said Young's early struggles stemmed from focusing on making better contact and eliminating strikeouts. However, Collins said he's now "back to his regular swing" and the results are definitely benefitting Fantasy owners. Young totaled 29 Fantasy points in Week 2 and 27 Fantasy points in Week 3. He also entered Monday as the third-highest scoring Fantasy outfielder in Rotisserie formats the last two weeks. The eventual return of Juan Lagares will create a logjam in the Mets' outfield, but if Young keeps producing, then the Mets will find ways to keep his bat and speed in the lineup.
Leagues worth adding him: 10-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Juan Uribe, 3B, Dodgers


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Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 48 percent (up 24 percent)
While most Fantasy owners turned their attention to Fantasy Football last fall, Uribe was one of the hottest hitters toward the end of the season. He hit .326 with a .539 slugging percentage and .897 OPS in his final 42 games, then kept the momentum going in the playoffs, which included belting two home runs in the NLDS against Atlanta. Uribe parlayed his strong finish into a new contract with the Dodgers. Like many, I assumed Uribe turned it on late last season with free agency looming, but his promising start in 2014 at least gives some debate as to whether Uribe is really this good of a hitter at this stage of his career. I'd be more convinced if Uribe was in his prime and not his mid-30s and the fact that he has just a .422 career slugging percentage. There's plenty of room for Uribe to regress, so don't be afraid to dump him back onto waivers when he starts to cool off.
Leagues worth adding him: 14-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B, Rangers


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 28 percent (up 25 percent)
Kouzmanoff is finally producing at a high level in the majors. It's just too bad it came many years after the baseball world thought it would happen. It might be a distant memory, but once upon a time Kouzmanoff was one of the more promising prospects in baseball. But after productive years in 2007-08 with the Padres, Kouzmanoff began to decline offensively and disappeared from the majors for a few years before finally resurfacing when Adrian Beltre went on the disabled list. Kouzmanoff has been stellar in Beltre's absence, even winning American League player of the week honors last week. However, despite his strong run, his playing time is going to dwindle once Beltre returns, which is likely later this week. Don't get too attached to Kouzmanoff. Good short-term option, but be ready to cut bait as soon as his production and playing time turns south.
Leagues worth adding him: Stopgap option

Wily Peralta, SP, Brewers


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 73 percent (up 39 percent)
A third straight win Monday sent Peralta's Fantasy value skyrocketing. If you have listened to our podcast then you've heard me tell the story about how Peralta isn't letting his emotions get the best of him and is staying under control even when things don't go his way. Peralta always had the stuff to be a solid pitcher and now that he's coupled that with composure on the hill, the results have been outstanding. Peralta pitched pretty well over the final months last season, going 6-6 with a 3.15 ERA in his last 15 starts. The big thing for him this season has been cutting down on the walks and his slider being effective. Peralta is worth the investment for Fantasy owners, and hopefully we will see his ownership head north of 90 percent in the near future, which would mean he's continuing to get the job done.
Leagues worth adding him: 10-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie formats

Tom Koehler, SP, Marlins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 28 percent (up 22 percent)
Koehler was never considered a top pitching prospect, and his numbers in his first two years in the majors were nothing to write home about, which leaves plenty of doubt surrounding his impressive start in 2014. However, I'm ready to buy into Koehler's turnaround. The Marlins keep talking about Koehler maturing as a pitcher and learning from his past mistakes. They also talk about how he is better working both sides of the plate, and he's developing a changeup, which complements his fastball and curveball. But perhaps Koehler's key to success thus far has been the improvement with his fastball. The Marlins said he got in trouble last season because he repeatedly left his fastball up in the strike zone, but it's become a more-effective pitch this season. In 2013, the strike rate on his four-seamer was 21.5 percent and whiff rate was 4.7 percent, per BrooksBaseball.net. Batters also hit .338 off Koehler's fastball. This year, they are hitting just .220, while his strike rate is at 26.7 percent and his whiff rate is at 8.3 percent.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

LaTroy Hawkins, RP, Rockies


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 54 percent (up 17 percent)
I bet you can still remember your reaction when you heard the news this offseason the Rockies had signed Hawkins to be their closer. You wondered how Colorado could do this with the electric Rex Brothers in its bullpen. Even on Draft Day, Fantasy owners were still avoiding Hawkins like the plague because everyone felt he would be just be keeping the seat warm until Brothers was ready. Well, we're a few weeks into the season, and it's looking like Hawkins might have this job to keep, especially if Brothers can't harness his control problems. Just maybe Hawkins is turning into the next ageless wonder. He pitched pretty well down the stretch last season after taking over as the Mets' closer, going 13 of 14 in save situations and posting a 2.82 ERA in his last 23 appearances. Hawkins might not have a great strikeout rate, but he's getting the job done and that makes him useful in leagues that reward for saves.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 25 percent (up 4 percent)
Perhaps losing Avisail Garcia won't be as painful as the White Sox had hoped. Not if Viciedo keeps producing like he has to begin the 2014 season. Viciedo is generally a slow starter, but he's reversed the trend in '14 and a lot has to do with how well he's hitting against right-handed pitchers. Viciedo, who has a .247 average and .394 slugging percentage in his career against righties, is batting .350 with a .525 slugging percentage in 14 games against righties this season. Viciedo credits his early season success to his maturation as a hitter. He said he's more patient at the plate and he's getting better with pitch recognition. It's still not an impressive number, but Viciedo's walk percentage (8.5) is up this season compared to his career rate (5.3 percent, per FanGraphs.com). Viciedo was once a top 100 prospect and slugged .486 at Triple-A, so don't overlook him as a sleeper addition off the wire. I'm pretty sure I'm ready to jump on the bandwagon.
Leagues worth adding him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Derek Dietrich, 2B, Marlins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 14 percent (up 7 percent)
I know the Marlins brought Rafael Furcal in this offseason to play second base, but he's already proven he can't stay healthy and Dietrich has shown to be more than a serviceable replacement. I hope Marlins manager Mike Redmond strongly considers keeping Dietrich as the starter upon Furcal's return and move Furcal to the backup option in case Dietrich falters. Dietrich can hit. He batted .277 with a .476 slugging percentage and .824 OPS in the minors. He's got some pop in his bat and is only 24 years old. Furcal is an aging option past his prime, and the only thing he has over Dietrich is veteran savvy. However, the Marlins aren't built to win now despite a better-than-expected start, and as long as Furcal is in the clubhouse, it just seems more beneficial for Miami to see if Dietrich is the second baseman of the future. I wouldn't be so quick to give up on Dietrich once Furcal returns.
Leagues worth adding him: NL-only and 14-team formats

Alberto Callaspo, INF, Athletics


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 22 percent (up 12 percent)
There are plenty of things to like about Callaspo's game, particularly his plate discipline. He doesn't have a high strikeout rate and his walk total is pretty close to his strikeout total. So far early on in 2014, Callaspo is showing a high batting average and surprising pop. However, we shouldn't expect his slugging percentage to remain around .500. Not for a guy that has a career .383 slugging percentage. The numbers indicate the hits are falling for Callaspo (.340 BABIP compared to a .287 career rate), and he's making good contact when he chases pitches outside the strike zone. He has a 94.1 percent contact rate when he swings at pitches outside the strike zone, which is well above his 84.5 percent career rate (FanGraphs.com). Callaspo's multi-position eligibility is a bonus in Fantasy, but don't view Callaspo as a savior off waivers.
Leagues worth adding him: AL-only and 16-team formats

Josmil Pinto, C, Twins


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 25 percent (up 7 percent)
It's going to be very interesting to see what the Twins do when outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham return from the DL. Right now, their absence has created regular at-bats for Pinto, who is seeing plenty of time at DH. Pinto is cashing in on the extra at-bats with four home runs and a .535 slugging percentage in 14 games. Manager Ron Gardenhire could have trouble finding playing time for everyone since Jason Kubel and Chris Colabello have also gotten off to good starts. At some point, however, the Twins have to strongly consider bumping Pinto to the starting role at catcher if he proves too valuable to keep on the bench and they can no longer get him regular at-bats at DH. Right now, his biggest weakness is hitting lefties, which is keeping Pinto from being a must-add catcher. But if he irons that out, it could be a mad dash to waivers to add him.
Leagues worth adding him: AL-only and 14-team Rotisserie formats as a No. 2 catcher

Player you might reconsider dropping

Kyle Seager, 3B, Mariners


Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 86 percent (down 7 percent)
If you are an advantageous Fantasy owner and looking to stash a player on your bench, then head to waivers to see if an owner in your league has dropped Seager. Seager's start hasn't been inspiring, but the numbers show he's below the norm in many areas and is likely due for a course correction. Some of the more notable numbers that stand out are Seager's .222 BABIP, which is below his .287 career average; his 11.1 percent line-drive rate, which is below his career 21.7 percent rate; and Seager is seeing a career-high 67.6 percent first-pitch strikes, which is well above his career rate (58.5 percent) and the league rate (59.9 percent, per FanGraphs.com). It seems once Seager's luck starts to turn in his favor and he irons out his swing, he should start to make up for his slow start.
Leagues worth adding him: 10-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

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Player News
Royals C Salvador Perez homers in Game 1 World Series loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Royals catcher Salvador Perez went 1 for 3 with a solo home run in his team's 7-1 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Perez struck the only blow the Royals could manage on offense, finally getting a run off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after he allowed only two hits through six scoreless innings. By the time of Perez's bomb, the Royals were dug in a hole from which they couldn't escape. It's a rare sign of life from the catcher's bat, as he's hit just .135/.158/.216 in 37 postseason at-bats despite the Royals racking up win after win in the first three rounds.


Giants' Pablo Sandoval drives in two in Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBI in his team's 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Sandoval opened and closed the scoring for the Giants in the win, delivering an RBI double in the top of the first inning (and later scoring on a Hunter Pence home run) then adding an RBI single in the seventh to push the lead to 7-0. While he has yet to deliver a home run this October, Sandoval has been hard to conquer at the plate, hitting .333/.396/.438 in 48 postseason at-bats.


Giants OF Hunter Pence homers in Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence went 2 for 3 with two walks and a two-run home run in his team's 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Pence delivered a monster blast to center field in the first inning to put his team up 3-0, and the Royals would have little answer for another excellent performance by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. It was the first home run of October for Pence, who has hit .286/.388/.452 in 42 postseason at-bats.


Madison Bumgarner allows one run in Giants' Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner earned a win in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, allowing just one earned run on three hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out five in his team's 7-1 victory over the Royals.

Bumgarner (3-1) continued to look excellent fresh off winning the NLCS MVP award. He fired six scoreless innings and was up 7-0 before surrendering a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Bumgarner has delivered a 1.40 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 33:6 K:BB ratio in 38 2/3 postseason innings spanning five starts. He'll get the ball in Game 5 Sunday if the Royals can avoid a sweep. Game 2 is set for Wednesday in Kansas City.


James Shields comes up short in Royals' Game 1 World Series loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Royals pitcher James Shields was roughed up in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, taking a loss after surrendering five earned runs on seven hits and one walk in three-plus innings while striking out one in his team's 7-1 defeat against the Giants.

Shields (1-1) hadn't been having a great postseason despite the Royals' impressive run of wins, giving up 10 earned runs in 16 innings heading into his Game 1 start. His night turned south immediately Tuesday, as the Giants followed up a one-out, RBI double with a two-run home run to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Shields retired seven straight heading into the fourth, where he opened the inning with a double, walk and RBI single to get the hook. The loss, which was the first of the postseason for the Royals, puts the AL pennant winner in a 1-0 hole going into Game 2 Wednesday in Kansas City.


Yankees SP CC Sabathia nearly '100 percent'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia said Tuesday that he feels "pretty much back to 100 percent" and expects a full 200-inning workload in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"It's definitely a huge relief," Sabathia said. "I feel good enough to do all my workouts, to play catch and kind of have a normal offseason."

Sabathia, who underwent season-ending knee surgery in July, starting throwing off flat ground in late September and plans to report to spring training early.


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman likely to play first base in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Nationals third baseman/outfielder Ryan Zimmerman will likely shift over to first base in 2015, MLB.com reports. He's currently resting his right hamstring after suffering a Grade 3 strain in July.

"I'm sure I'll talk to them soon or they will talk [to the media]," Zimmerman said. "I think Anthony [Rendon] is the future third baseman. Obviously, he played great there. He played some second and some third. If he goes into Spring Training knowing that he is playing third base, he has a chance to be a very good third baseman.

"Obviously, I love playing third base. But some of the injuries over the last two or three years made it tougher for me to be an above average third baseman. It's hard to accept that, but I think that's the truth. Sometimes, the truth hurts sometimes. But Anthony has a great chance to be very good over there. I could be an above average first baseman if I work at it during Spring Training and the rest of this offseason. But that's not just my decision. Obviously, I'll talk with [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] and Matt and see what their plans are. I'm sure we'll find out in the next week or two."

The Nationals have first base open due to the impending free agency of 2014 starter Adam LaRoche.


Diamondbacks add Enrique Burgos to 40-man roster
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Diamondbacks have added pitcher Enrique Burgos to their 40-man roster, the Arizona Republic reports. He's now protected from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Red Sox OF Rusney Castillo day-to-day with hand/thumb injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo is day-to-day after suffering a bruised hand/thumb during Arizona Fall League play Monday, WEEI.com reports.

Castillo suffered the injury while getting jammed during an at-bat. He signed a $72.5-million deal in August that runs through 2020.


Report: Mike Zagurski joins Hiroshima Carp
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Pitcher Mike Zagurski has agreed to a deal with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball, SportsNet reports. He delivered a 2.08 ERA and 83:29 K:BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in 2014.

 
 
 
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