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Waiver Wire: Time to buy on Baez

Michael Hurcomb
Fantasy Writer
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Cubs manager Rick Renteria is a liar! A bold-face liar! He stood in front of the media Friday in Los Angeles and had this to say about highly touted prospect Javier Baez:

"Like most players, you want to make sure everybody from the developmental standpoint, everybody from the front office, everybody who has their eyes and hands on him feel comfortable with any decision that ultimately puts him in a different place other than Iowa. There's no hurry, there's not any pressure to do anything right now. When the move is made with him, whenever that is, it'll be because everybody has drawn a clear consensus that the action is right for him and for us."

OK, maybe I'm being a little harsh on Renteria. After all, roster decisions are a lot like playing poker -- you never want to tip your hand. I honestly do believe as of Friday the Cubs had no plans to immediately promote Baez, but something changed over the weekend and the 21-year-old slugger is finally getting his first taste of the majors.

It's been an interesting year for Baez, who was considered a top 10 prospect by Baseball America (No. 5), MLB.com (No. 7) and BaseballProspectus.com (No. 4) coming into the season. He got off to a terrible start offensively in the minors after a pretty impressive showing in spring training. He hit five homers and slugged .604 in 18 spring games. Unfortunately, he hit just .172 in April and .250 in May, and any chances of an early promotion quickly vanished.

The slow start also prevented the Cubs from shifting Baez to second base. As general manager Jed Hoyer said, "It was going to be the wrong time to have this guy worry about a defensive change." (per CSN Chicago).

Most added players on CBSSports.com
Player Own %
1. Brett Anderson, SP/RP, COL 44 (+30)
2. Javier Baez, SS, CHC 72 (+24)
3. Josh Harrison, 2B/3B/OF, PIT 91 (+23)
4. Yangervis Solarte, 2B/3B/SS/OF, SD 64 (+22)
5. Josh Reddick, OF, OAK 48 (+22)
6. Danny Santana, SS/OF, MIN 56 (+19)
7. Tommy Medica, 1B/OF, SD 22 (+19)
8. Jedd Gyorko, 2B, SD 59 (+17)
9. Chris Carter, 1B/OF, HOU 74 (+16)
10. Vance Worley, SP, PIT 46 (+16)

The outlook for Baez didn't get much better when the Cubs surprisingly acquired top shortstop prospect Addison Russell from the A's in early July, leaving questions about Baez's future with the Cubs up in the air.

Nonetheless, the Cubs were finally able to play Baez at second base on a more frequent basis over the last few weeks as his offensive game took off at Triple-A Iowa. Baez hit .275 with a .471 slugging percentage and 21 RBI in 28 June games. He hit .300 with a .655 slugging percentage, nine doubles, 10 home runs and 32 RBI in 29 July games. He then homered twice Sunday, which seemed to be the final signal to the Cubs that Baez is ready for the majors.

Though, given Renteria's comments over the weekend, you still have to think maybe there is an ulterior motive behind Baez's promotion. Maybe this is a chance for the Cubs to showcase Baez's talents over a big stretch of games in order to gauge his major-league potential, since the team might have to consider trading a middle infielder given the team's current organizational depth with Starlin Castro, Baez and Russell.

Regardless of why the Cubs have had a sudden change of heart, Baez has arrived and that's great news for Fantasy owners. In just his second full pro season in 2013, Baez slugged 37 home runs. Over his career, he has a .545 slugging percentage. This kid is only 21 years old and has already shown a great power presence.

However, like many sluggers, Baez has a high strikeout rate. Even when he was crushing the ball for Iowa, he was striking out on average at least once a game. That is going to hurt points league owners more than Roto owners, but it wouldn't stop me and it shouldn't stop you from taking a flier on this kid. Baez has huge upside and could be an impact bat down the stretch. He didn't get to be one of the top prospects in baseball by chance.

Dustin Ackley, 2B/OF, Mariners

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 50 percent (up 20 percent)
When Ackley homered three times over a two-game span in mid-May, I wrote in this space I didn't think it was time to add him in Fantasy leagues. My hesitation stemmed from buying into Ackley in the past to only be disappointed by the production. I also wanted to see Ackley first hit for average before power because that was his MO coming out of college. There was debate if Ackley would hit for power, but everyone anticipated he would hit for average. Well, it finally seems Ackley might be poised for his breakout run. Since July 1, he is batting .357 with a .520 slugging percentage and .897 OPS in his last 27 games. The most encouraging part of his recent hot streak is that the average came before the power. Over the first 11 games in July, Ackley hit .313, but had no homers and two doubles. Over his last 16 games, he is batting .379 with two homers and eight doubles. I said I would buy into Ackley if this trend happened, so I'd better put my money where my mouth is. It's also encouraging to see Ackley is now hitting in front of Robinson Cano, so he should see plenty of good pitches to hit.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team Rotisserie and Head-to-Head

Tommy Medica, 1B/OF, Padres

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 21 percent (up 18 percent)
Medica's numbers over the last few weeks look pretty impressive. Since July 23, he is batting .485 with a .541 on-base percentage, .818 slugging percentage and 1.359 OPS over his last nine games. He has two doubles, three home runs, six runs and nine RBI in that stretch. Even with those numbers, Medica has started just 8 of the last 12 games. Medica is definitely an intriguing player. Over his minor-league career, he produced a .289/.382/.529/.911 slash line. I compare him a lot to Allen Craig, who had similar numbers in the minors, but didn't get his chance to break through at the major-league level until later in his 20s. My only beef with Medica during his recent surge is that he has just three walks over his last nine games, but he homered and walked twice Sunday against Atlanta, which is very encouraging. Medica didn't have great walk totals in the minors, but he didn't have awful plate discipline and posted a .382 on-base percentage over 324 games. It's not like pitcher-friendly PETCO Park has been a major issue either. Medica has a .289/.513/.866 slash line at home. If you are looking for a sleeper add in Fantasy, Medica could fit the bill.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

Danny Santana, SS/OF, Twins

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 56 percent (up 19 percent)
The most surprising statistic about Santana's rookie season has been his power production. He has 21 extra-base hits and is slugging .497 in 52 games. No one saw this coming, especially after Santana had a career .391 slugging percentage in the minors. You have to figure the bubble will eventually burst, but maybe Santana is just one of those players that has taken his game to the next level now that he's in the majors. Perhaps we would be more skeptical if Santana was a much-older rookie, but he is just 23 years old and hasn't even hit his prime yet. You might recall Hanley Ramirez didn't show the same power he has had as a major-leaguer when he was coming up through the minors. However, in Ramirez's defense, he was a highly touted prospect and played the bulk of his minor-league career as a teenager. Santana has never been regarded as a highly touted prospect, so to say he has the same high-end potential as Ramirez is ludicrous. I just want to make the point that just because Santana didn't hit for power in the minors that doesn't mean he won't hit for power in the majors. He's far from a must-add, but given the promising start to his career, he's worth a look while he's putting up impressive numbers.
Leagues worth owning him: 10-team Rotisserie, 14-team Head-to-Head

Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 68 percent (up 14 percent)
Chen's production has been surprisingly steady for several weeks. He is 7-1 with a 3.12 ERA in his last 11 starts. He's allowed more than three runs just once in that span, and he is averaging 19.3 Fantasy points over the last 10 scoring periods, which includes a zero for Fantasy Week 13. Chen's Fantasy production has been lifted by his 12 wins in 21 starts. He does have a career-best 3.76 ERA, but it's not really far off from where he's been the previous two years (4.02, 4.07). In fact, I looked at all of Chen's numbers and there aren't many anomalies. He's definitely being aided by an improved strikeout-to-walk ratio, especially his career-low walk rate (1.5 BB/9) since he gives up a lot of home runs. Chen's Fantasy production really comes down to the fact he has 12 wins, and even manager Buck Showalter has been quoted as saying wins aren't the best way to judge Chen's success since victories are dependent on too many variables beyond a pitcher's control (per The Baltimore Sun). It does help Chen that his run support average is 5.19, which is the fifth-highest among qualified starters in the majors. Chen is more of a back-of-the-rotation arm to stream during two-start weeks and with favorable matchups.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

Jon Singleton, 1B, Astros

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 57 percent (up 8 percent)
There's no doubt Singleton has had a disappointing rookie campaign. A lot of folks were counting on him to be an impact bat, but he's had plenty of struggles. Though, it seems Singleton might finally be turning the corner. He has a .333 average with a .917 slugging percentage, 1.365 OPS, two doubles, four home runs and seven RBI in his last eight games. His plate discipline has even vastly improved, as he has nearly as many walks (five) as strikeouts (seven). He's starting to look a lot like the top-100 prospect he was in the minors. This might be more than just a market correction. Astros hitting coach John Mallee began working with Singleton in late July on shortening his swing path. Mallee called the results "absolutely amazing" (per MLB.com), and we are seeing the same results during games. First base is a deep position and most Fantasy owners don't need to run to waivers to add a first baseman. However, if you are a Paul Goldschmidt owner, Singleton could be your replacement option for the injured first baseman.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

Will Venable, OF, Padres

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 13 percent (up 3 percent)
Here we go again with Venable. The second half of the season is underway and Venable is red hot at the plate. He has a .340/.547/.922 slash line in 16 second-half games after producing a .201/.277/.535 line in the first half. For his career, Venable has a .230/.371/.666 line in the first half and a .277/.466/.805 line in the second half. I know many of you remember the second half Venable turned in last season, when he hit .315 with four triples, 11 home runs, 14 doubles, 21 RBI, 34 runs and 13 stolen bases in 62 games after the All-Star break. August has by far been the best month of his career as well, posting a .312/.555/.923 line over 133 games. Whatever the rhyme or reason, Venable does his best work after the All-Star break and in August. He's already started August with three multi-hit games and it appears he could be in for another big second half. I don't think Venable is a must-add at this point, but if you are looking for at least a stopgap option, you could lean on Venable and hope history repeats itself again.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

David Peralta, OF, Diamondbacks

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 16 percent (up 2 percent)
Peralta hasn't really been a standout option on waivers because he has just four home runs and the RBI production really hasn't been there. However, he's quietly got it done for Fantasy owners thanks to a high batting average and sneaky slugging percentage thanks to 10 doubles and four triples. He doesn't have a high walk rate, but Peralta also doesn't hurt Fantasy owners with a high strikeout rate. Over the last 28 days, he's been a top 30 Fantasy outfielder in points leagues and a top 60 outfielder in Rotisserie formats. Peralta wasn't a great home run hitter in the minors, but he slugged .534 at Class A and .480 at Double-A. I know some Fantasy owners might be skeptical of Peralta because of past Independent League alums like Daniel Nava and Chris Colabello haven't had the same standout production in the majors they had in the minors. But Peralta is holding his own and certainly warrants consideration in deep Head-to-Head and Rotisserie leagues as a bench option.
Leagues worth owning him: 14-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Vance Worley, SP, Pirates

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 44 percent (up 16 percent)
The Vanimal has been pretty decent over his nine starts this season, but he's really been locked in lately, going 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA in his last four starts. Given how bad Worley was last season, there's probably a lot of skepticism around his recent run. But Worley seems to be a different pitcher from last year. For one, he is healthy. For two, he said the Twins failed to diagnosis a flaw in his pitching mechanics that he's since corrected with the Pirates. Worley said he was using his shoulder more in his delivery coming off elbow surgery prior to the 2013 season, which left him "flying open" (per The Philadelphia Daily News) and gave hitters a glimpse at what he was throwing. Worley has fixed the flaw and his pitches seem to have greater movement as well. Catcher Russell Martin commented after a complete-game shutout July 28 against the Giants that Worley's two-seam and four-seam fastballs were moving "two, three inches both ways," per Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Worley has had less than 20 Fantasy points in just two of seven scoring periods this season. He's a different pitcher than he was in the past, so this might not be a fluke.
Leagues worth owning him: 12-team Head-to-Head and Rotisserie

Kennys Vargas, 1B, Twins

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 11 percent (up 10 percent)
It was pretty interesting the Twins called up Vargas following the trade of Sam Fuld. Vargas wasn't on the radar for a promotion since he just reached Double-A this year, but the Twins have been weird about their in-season promotions. They called up Jorge Polanco from high Class A, so it seems the Twins are taking a new aggressive approach to promoting prospects. Regardless, Vargas is now in the majors and that makes him an option for Fantasy owners. Vargas is an intriguing player because he's often compared to David Ortiz, and we know how valuable Ortiz has become in Fantasy. I was reading Vargas' career really began to take off when he improved his diet and conditioning. It's made him a more fit and focused player. He hit 19 home runs, 33 doubles and slugged .468 in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League last season. This year, he had 17 doubles, 17 home runs and a .472 slugging percentage in the pitcher-friendly Eastern League. Vargas showed pretty good plate discipline and had a favorable strikeout rate in the minors. He's another potential sleeper option at first base if you are looking to replace Paul Goldschmidt.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

Roberto Hernandez, SP, Phillies

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 8 percent (up 2 percent)
Since returning to the rotation in late May, Hernandez is 4-7 with a 3.81 ERA over his last 13 starts. He's won three of his last four starts, which has led to Hernandez totaling at least 29 Fantasy points in each of the last three scoring periods he's made a start. He did not make a start in the All-Star shortened Week 16. In fact, he's totaled at least 20 Fantasy points four times since Week 13 after doing so just once in the first 12 scoring periods. He's been pitching deep into games lately and has given up more than 10 hits just once in his last 13 starts. However, Hernandez still has a pretty bad strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.36), which is keeping him from being a heavily added player in Fantasy leagues. His FIP is also 4.62, so his ERA should be significantly higher than it is. The numbers indicate Hernandez has been a pretty lucky pitcher. He has a .256 BABIP on the season, which is low for a groundball pitcher like Hernandez. It seems his luck will likely run out, so Fantasy owners should be looking to add other starters.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

American League options

Robbie Grossman, OF, Astros

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 3 percent (up 1 percent)
Grossman quietly had a strong performance in points leagues during Fantasy Week 18 (July 28-Aug. 3) thanks to one home run, five RBI, seven walks and three runs. However, he hit just .200 (4 for 20) last week and is batting .258 in 21 games since his latest recall in early July. Grossman has filled in regularly in right field with George Springer on the disabled list. Springer is set to return this week, but Grossman could stick around because of his ability to play all three outfield positions. Grossman was a decent contact hitter and OBP guy in the minors. Unfortunately, he's not hitting for average and that's keeping him from breaking out at the major-league level. If Grossman sticks around, he could be worth a look in AL-only formats. But his batting average needs to significantly rise before he becomes a mixed-league option.
Leagues worth owning him: AL-only

National League options

Jordany Valdespin, 2B/OF, Marlins

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 3 percent (up 2 percent)
Valdespin has taken over at second base for the Marlins after Donovan Solano failed to hold onto the job with Derek Dietrich and Rafael Furcal on the disabled list. Valdespin has certainly provided a nice spark to the lineup, especially of late. He is batting .278 with one double, one triple, two home runs and six RBI in his last 10 games. Though, most of his production has come against right-handed pitchers, despite being a pretty even-split hitter against righties and lefties in the minors this season. Valdespin was a fast-rising player in the Mets' system player a few years ago before his immaturity led to a falling out with New York. He's definitely bringing some energy to the Marlins' lineup and seems to be doing well hitting in front of Giancarlo Stanton. I'm not sure Valdespin has a lot of upside potential, but he's certainly intriguing for deeper formats. He has second base and outfield eligibility, which are two deep Fantasy positions, so it's not like owners are short on options at those positions.
Leagues worth owning him: Deep formats

Player you might reconsider dropping

Austin Jackson, OF, Mariners

Ownership in CBSSports.com leagues: 85 percent (down 3 percent)
I know Jackson is not off to a riveting start with the Mariners following his acquisition last week. But I think it's a little too early to give up on him, especially after all the progress he made prior to being traded once he moved back into the leadoff spot for Detroit. Jackson is still hitting leadoff with Seattle, which is key. He's thrived atop the lineup over his career, and proved earlier this season he just isn't as good of a hitter lower in the lineup. If the Mariners keep Jackson in his comfort zone, then it will only be a matter of time before he gets going again. I know Safeco Field is not a great hitter's park, but Jackson is a pretty good line-drive hitter and Safeco is a good park for line-drive hitters. Jackson hit .362 with a .524 slugging percentage and .927 OPS over his final 25 games with Detroit. Jackson wasn't going to sustain that pace the rest of the season, but he was finally on a roll after a largely disappointing first half, so I'm not ready to throw the towel in yet on the 27-year-old outfielder.
Leagues worth owning him: 10-team Rotisserie, 12-team Head-to-Head

Q &A

What are your thoughts on Chris Coghlan? Can you drop Alcides Escobar for him? --@CObeast8

MH: My opinion on Coghlan hasn't changed much from the last time I wrote about him in this space. I think this is just a prolonged hot streak and Fantasy owners should treat him as a stopgap option. He has a .384/.456/.626/1.082 slash line in his last 28 games. He's not that good of a player, so he's due for a cold streak. Escobar is absolutely droppable for a player like Coghlan, so you can play the hot streak. But be ready to make another roster move once the well dries up.

Is it safe to drop Coco Crisp in a 10-team, Head-to-Head categories keeper league? I have Ben Revere and Danny Santana for center field and need a spot to stream. --@Connor_Time

MH: Crisp is usually an underrated Fantasy option when healthy, but that's always been his issue. He's had trouble staying healthy over his career, which has made him an unreliable Fantasy option. It doesn't appear he's headed to the disabled list with his latest ailment, but it's not very comforting to hear Crips is dealing with a degenerative condition in his neck. I have no problems dropping Crisp, especially if he isn't going to be one of your keepers. If there is an option you want on waivers, let Crisp be another Fantasy owner's headache.

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Player News
Red Sox want to talk extension with Yoenis Cespedes
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told MLB.com the team plans to discuss a contract extension with outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who hit .260 with 22 homers and 100 RBI. Cespedes is owed $10.5 million next season, the final year of his contract.

Josh Donaldson says his knee feels more 'stable'
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson, who's been dealing with a knee injury, said he's encouraged because it feels more "stable" than it did the past couple days, reports CSNCalifornia.com. Donaldson should be in the lineup when Oakland visits the Royals in Tuesday's Wild Card game.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis to stay in the hospital longer
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Updating an earlier report, Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis is expected to remain in the hospital the next few days while undergoing tests related to the infection he contracted, reports Newsday.

Tanner Roark expected to come out of the bullpen
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Nationals pitcher Tanner Roark is expected to be used as a reliever in the NLDS despite going 15-10 with a 2.85 ERA in 31 starts this season, reports MLB.com.

Mariners bring Jesus Montero back to 40-man roster
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) The Mariners activated designated hitter Jesus Montero from the suspended list, which puts him back on the 40-man roster. Montero was suspended after getting into an altercation in late August with a team employee in the minors.

Corey Hart designated for assignment
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) The Mariners designated Corey Hart for assignment. The designated hitter had six homers and 23 RBI in 232 at-bats.

Wade Miley, Josh Collmenter 'are locks' for Arizona rotation in 2015
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) New Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said Monday starting pitchers Josh Collmenter and Wade Miley "are locks" for the rotation in 2015, according to FOX Sports Arizona. Stewart added the team will "have a nice competition for the other spots."

A's reliever Eric O'Flaherty (elbow) throws live BP Monday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Athletics reliever Eric O'Flaherty threw live batting practice Monday after missing eight days due to a sore elbow, according to Yahoo! Sports.

Offseason foot surgery not needed for Red Sox OF Allen Craig
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told reporters that outfielder Allen Craig will not need surgery to repair his foot, per MassLive.com.

Craig suffered Lisfranc tear which interrupted his 2013 season and led to a disappointing .215 batting average in 2014. He is hopeful that a full offseason will have his foot back at 100 percent.

"He's just focused on having a good offseason," Cherington said. "I think we've done everything we can to make sure that the foot is OK going forward. No further testing needed."


Red Sox 3B Will Middlebrooks chooses not to play winter ball
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9/29/2014) Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks will forgo playing winter ball and instead spend the offseason in Dallas working out in prep for the 2015 season, according to The Providence Journal.

The Red Sox wanted Middlebrooks to make up for some of the at-bats he lost this season due to injury. However, Middlebrooks decided it was best for him to work on being 100 percent by spring training.

"He’s made a decision he’s going to focus on other things," general manager Ben Cherington said. "He feels like he can address what he needs to address without playing winter ball, so that’s the decision that he’s made. Ultimately, the offseason belongs to the players."


 
 
 
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