I've said it before and I'll say it again: Finding value is the key to success in fantasy baseball. With the recent rash of injuries, value lies all around us, as backups become starters, and minor leaguers get called up to The Show to fill roster space. In the past week, we've seen an excess of fantasy studs and contributors hit the DL. Here's a quick list of some names now in rehab mode:
Jose ReyesGrady SizemoreJoey VottoAkinori IwamuraCarlos QuentinJason BartlettBrett MyersChad Tracy
If you've paid any attention to the Rays this year, you've noticed that Ben Zobrist has been pretty stellar in the utility role. Now that Iwamura is out for the year and Bartlett found a spot on the DL, Zobrist is playing everyday and relishing the role. Somehow, Zobrist is available in 41 percent of mixed leagues. With Carlos Quentin on the DL, Scott Podsednik has filled the vacant outfield spot and provided a .300 average and a few steals. Podsednik is available in 99 percent of leagues.
I'm not suggesting that these guys are the long-term answer, but sometimes finding a handful of short-term successes is all you need. I like to keep two or three roster spots just for guys who are in the zone, and transfer the hot hand in and out of my lineup. If you have the space, I'd suggest doing something similar, and many times these players are given a chance due to injuries.
Let's move on and take a look at this week's T.I.P.S.
All statistics through June 1.
Cool hand Luke
With the Wietersfest celebration underway in Baltimore, Luke Scott took it upon himself to provide the fireworks. In Matt Wieters much-anticipated debut, Scott hit two homers (including a grand slam) and knocked in five runs. This came a day after cracking two more long balls. All told, Scott's return from the DL last Wednesday resulted in six dingers, 14 RBI and a .444 average. The power is legit, as Scott did hit 23 home runs for Baltimore just last year. His advanced statistics are in line with his career norms, suggesting this is more of a temporary hot streak than a breakout-in-the-making. Scott's worth a flyer in leagues with daily lineup settings where you can insert him against right-handed pitchers.
It's odd when a player runs more as they age, but this seems the case with the Blue Jays' Vernon Wells. The 30-year-old stole three bases this past week, giving him nine on the young season. He's on pace for 28 steals, which would shatter his previous high of 17, set in 2006. Considering he's only topped 10 stolen bases once in six full seasons, 28 seems a bit optimistic. While the steals are nice, Wells owners are probably hoping he had more than his current 24 RBI. The Jays offense has been prolific, considering the starts of Marco Scutaro and Aaron Hill, so Wells should start racking up more RBI, and pitching in a few steals as well.
David Aardsma finally cracks
Lost in the disappointment of Brandon Morrow is the success of Aardsma. The Seattle closer blew his first save of the season on Sunday, giving up three runs to the Angels, but it came after eight successful save attempts. It should be noted that Aardsma's blowup came after pitching for the third consecutive day. Despite the rough outing, Aardsma's ERA stands at a respectable 2.13. The cause of concern, however, is the 18 walks in 25.1 innings pitched, sending his WHIP to a problematic 1.30. His BABIP sits at a fortunate .216, suggesting Aardsma is approaching choppy waters.
A Baltimore pitcher worth owning?
Jeremy Guthrie's ERA may sit at a pedestrian 4.86. His WHIP may be a less-than-stellar 1.40. But, the 30-year-old is coming off a pretty impressive week. Against the talented offenses of the Tigers and Blue Jays, Guthrie totaled 13.0 innings, 14 Ks, 1 W, a 2.77 ERA and 1.23 WHIP. Although he's pitched for pathetic teams the past two seasons, Guthrie has kept his ERA in the mid-three's while finishing with a WHIP in the 1.20 range. He's been hurt by the long ball this year, giving up 13 in 66.2 IP. He pitches in a tough division, but Guthrie has been up to the challenge for two straight years. Feel free to add him in mixed leagues and benefit from a nice four months of No. 3 starter numbers.
The Buck stops here
The Royals placed backstop John Buck on the DL with a "slight herniation in his lower back." This means that Miguel Olivo should see some extra time behind the plate. Olivo has hit over 12 homers three years in a row, and even tosses an occasional steal in here and there, finishing 2008 with seven. He strikes out far more than you'd like (37 Ks), but his power can make up for it. He's off to a slow start this season, but some extra time may allow him to find his groove. Those in two-catcher and AL-only leagues need to add Olivo immediately.
Ramon Hernandez takes off the pads and grabs his 1B glove
Now that Joey Votto is officially on the 15-day DL, the Reds have decided to move their everyday catcher to first base. Ramon Hernandez started there on Monday and should now be 1B-eligible in most leagues. He doesn't have the typical power of a 1B, but this added incentive makes him an intriguing catcher option in mixed leagues. He seems to find his name in the lineup daily, something not many catchers can claim. He's no longer a 20-homer guy, but if he can finish with 15 homers and 70 RBI, he's an upper echelon option.
Eric Stults gives way to Hideki Kuroda
A strained left thumb landed Stults on the DL and paved the way for Kuroda's return to the rotation. Stults hadn't won since May 9, and a roster spot is no guarantee once he is ready to come off the DL. Eric Milton has pitched well, and his next few starts will go a far way in determining who will get the rotation spot once Stults returns. Kuroda can be used in all formats, while Milton is worth an NL-only pickup. Considering his recent performance and upcoming DL stint, Stults can be dropped, even in deep leagues.
Reed Johnson seeing more time
As the Cubs face a handful of left-handers, Johnson is seeing his name in the lineup constantly and the uber-grinder is up to the task. Johnson finished the week with three homers, eight RBI and a stolen base. Johnson may have slight value in NL-only leagues, but the more important storyline is the lack of time that Kosuke Fukudome is seeing. Fukudome got only eight at-bats to Johnson's 22. As long as Lou Piniella employs a strictly righty-lefty platoon, Fukudome's value takes a serious hit. It's gotten to the point where Fukudome isn't ownable in anything except NL leagues and the deepest of mixed leagues.
Big Ben taking charge
A few weeks ago I talked about Matt LaPorta and the negative impact he would have on Ben Francisco. Well, LaPorta's stay in the bigs was brief, and Francisco is now reaping the benefits of everyday playing time. Francisco spent the past week hitting .478 with 4 R, 1 HR, 6 RBI and 2 steals. He now has nine steals, five more than he had his last two years, combined. Now that Grady Sizemore has hit the DL, Francisco will be needed to contribute even more, making him an excellent short-term add in both AL-only and mixed leagues. At five percent-owned, Francisco is widely available and someone who is providing five-stat production at the moment.
Clint Barmes doing it all
Expected to be one of the top utilitymen in all of baseball, Barmes has found a home at 2B and is forcing Ian Stewart into limited action. Barmes did it all this past week, hitting .364 with 5 R, 1 HR, 3 RBIs and 2 SB. Eligible at 2B, 3B, and SS, Barmes can become the utility man for your fantasy team and is probably available on your free agent list. The seven-year veteran is a serious threat to reach a 15/15 season, and is only owned in 18 percent of mixed leagues. The Rockies are on the road for a bit, where Barmes hits .222, so if you do pick him up, you may want to wait a week to plug him in.
In this week's suggestions, I will list my Top 10, in no particular order, buy-lows and sell-highs for the rest of the season.
Top 10 Buy-Lows
1. Jose Reyes2. Jon Lester3. Troy Tulowitzki4. Jose Valverde5. Adrian Beltre6. Roy Oswalt7. A.J. Burnett8. Alexei Ramirez9. Derrek Lee10. Kerry Wood
Top 10 Sell-Highs
1. Carlos Pena2. Josh Hamilton3. Zach Duke4. Miguel Tejada5. Mark Buehrle6. Heath Bell7. Edwin Jackson8. Adam Lind9. Francisco Cordero10. Brandon Inge
Follow Brad on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bradrysz
Have some T.I.P.S. for Brad? Send him your questions, comments or concerns at email@example.com.