Welcome to the first edition of this season's waiver wire column. Each week, we'll offer up the choicest cuts of waiver wire goodness, paying attention to mixed, as well as AL- and NL-only leagues. Every league is different, and some players listed here may not be available if you play in a deep mixed league. However, we'll try to address everyone's needs, whether the depth of your league resembles a kiddie pool or the Atlantic Ocean. Also, you can safely assume anyone recommended for mixed leagues is even more strongly recommended for only leagues.
Adam LaRoche, Nationals -- Everyone knew power would be at a premium in 2012. Yet that didn't stop most mixed leaguers from ignoring Adam LaRoche during draft season. Well, the torn labrum that cost him most of last season is in the past, and LaRoche appears to be the cheap, reliable source of power he had been until last season. Remember, from 2005 through 2010, LaRoche never hit fewer than 20 homers or drove in fewer than 78 runs in a season. His worst isolated slugging percentage over that time was .195. All those low marks came in 2005, his second season in the majors. In 17 plate appearances this year, LaRoche already has two homers and six RBI, despite the Nats being off to a mediocre offensive start as a team. Still, he remains available in approximately 90 percent of leagues. Even if you're in a league as shallow as a 12-team mixer, he deserves a roster spot.
Hector Santiago, White Sox -- This one is pretty straightforward. All the spring training buzz had Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain or Addison Reed grabbing a hold of the closer's job for the White Sox. Instead, Santiago got the first opportunity for the South Siders and closed the door. He was subsequently named the team's closer by first-year manager Robin Ventura. That does not guarantee he'll keep the job all season, but for now, if you're in a standard league, Santiago is the White Sox's reliever you want. The other three all retain value in deeper leagues, or leagues that use holds as a category.
Fernando Rodney, Rays -- This one is similar to Santiago, though Rodney is more of a known quantity. And by known, of course I mean, "We know that Rodney is liable to blow up at any time without any warning, whatsoever. Or he could pull a 2011 Jose Valverde and be perfect all season long." The nice thing about Rodney is that he's filling in for a closer, Kyle Farnsworth, who has an equally checkered past. If he acquits himself well in the closer's chair, there's no guarantee Joe Maddon will go back to the Farns once he comes off the DL. Rodney has impressed in his first three appearances, which should help keep the talented Joel Peralta at bay.
Luke Hochevar, Royals -- Hochevar's season got off to a great start, picking up a win over the Angels with 6.1 innings of strong ball, allowing two runs on five hits, walking two and striking out four. After disappointing for his entire career, Hochevar is finally started to fulfill some of his promise after the All-Star break last season, when he went 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 68 strikeouts in 79.1 innings across 12 starts. The wins may still be tough to come by with the Royals maturing into a better team day by day, but this is undoubtedly the best team Hochevar has been a part of in Kansas City.
Randall Delgado, Braves -- Delgado beat out fellow prospect Julio Teheran to fill in for Tim Hudson while the venerable righty is on the DL. Hudson is expected back in late April or early May, so Delgado may be out of a spot in a few weeks, but he's still a worthy addition for the time being.
Daniel Descalso, Cardinals -- Descalso has started four of the Cardinals' five games, and while he hasn't done a whole lot at the plate, playing time is his best friend. So long as he's starting in what looks like it could be a dangerous lineup even without Albert Pujols, he should have a spot on an NL-only roster.
Jarrod Parker, A's -- The A's will transition to a five-man rotation next week, and while Bob Melvin has yet to tab someone at Triple-A Sacramento for the assignment, Parker is the high-upside pick. Oakland could opt for Tyson Ross, who wouldn't offer a ton of fantasy value, but the prized Parker could step right in and keep the rotation spot all season if given an opportunity.
Brent Lillibridge, White Sox -- At the opposite end of the Parker's high-upside play is Lillibridge, who has been getting consistent playing time from Ventura this season. He'll give double-digit homers and steals over the course of the season, so if you're looking for a backup outfielder, Lillibridge is ready to help.
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