May 10, 2012

The Waiver Wire is here to 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.

Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox -- Coming into the year, third base was unusually shallow, and the first month of the season seemed to bear that out. However, reinforcements have arrived across the majors, most forcefully in the form of Middlebrooks in Boston. Called up when the disappointing Kevin Youkilis hit the DL, all Middlebrooks has done is go 9-for-22 with three homers, nine RBIs and a steal in his first five career games. There's no doubt the Red Sox needed a jolt of youth and energy in their clubhouse, and it looks like Middlebrooks could be that guy. That also means he could have a permanent spot in the lineup, even when Youkilis, who was only hitting .219 with a pair of homers when he went on the DL, returns to action. Middlebrooks looks like a star in the making. Snatch him up while you can.

Kyle Seager, Mariners -- We'll stick at the hot corner with our next guy. It was time to put Chone Figgins out to pasture long ago, and the Mariners finally appear ready to do that with Seager most often taking his spot. The 24-year-old has started every game for the Mariners going back to April 28, so it's safe to say he has earned a spot in the everyday lineup. Despite an unseemly 15/3 K/BB split, he's hitting .297 with four homers and 19 RBIs. What's more, he has three steals and has yet to be caught. He has a sustainable .317 BABIP, especially when you consider his line-drive rate is pushing 23 percent.

Dale Thayer, Padres -- Most baseball fans, present company included, expected Andrew Cashner to take over as San Diego's closer when Huston Street hit the DL. Instead, Thayer has picked up two saves in as many days for the Padres, so it appears Bud Black will go with him while Street is out. This one is pretty simple. If you need saves, grab Thayer. Understand that he may only carry serious fantasy value while Street is on the DL.

Felipe Paulino, Royals -- I loved Paulino coming into the season, despite starting the season on the DL with a strained right forearm. He came back last week, spinning six shutout innings against the Yankees, allowing four hits and two walks with six strikeouts. The forearm did nothing to curb his velocity, as Fangraphs clocked his average fastball in that game at 96.4 miles per hour. This is a power righty with a slider, curveball and change up, all of which he throws regularly and can throw for strikes. When healthy, he has always been able to miss bats. Further, Paulino has been victimized by disproportionately bad strand rates during his career. In 2009, his first year getting a significant amount of starts, he had a strand rate of 67.6 percent, well below the league average of 72 percent. The following year, that number plummeted to 58.5 percent, which nearly defies all logic. Paulino is about to be a fantasy mainstay for the remainder of the year. Now is the time to grab him.

Bobby Abreu, Dodgers -- The Dodgers grabbed Abreu about a week ago, and he has since started twice. He hasn't been what he once was for a few years now, but he still knows his way around a batter's box and should get a decent amount of playing time for the Dodgers.

Edwin Maysonet, Brewers -- With Alex Gonzalez out for the year, Maysonet and Cesar Izturis will share the shortstop job. Izturis can still pick it, but he's such a non-factor with the bat that Maysonet will have to take the majority of the starts, unless he completely falls on his face defensively.

Jeff Keppinger, Rays -- Keppinger's my preferred member of the group that will share third base while Evan Longoria is on the DL. He was placed on the restricted list on Tuesday, but his stay there is only expected to last a handful of days, so don't be scared off by that. If you're looking this deep, he's probably got more pop than anyone else you're considering.

Andy Dirks, Tigers -- Dirks is in the starting lineup to stay, and has celebrated with four straight two-hit games. He has been hitting second, a very lucrative spot in front of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.

Find me on Twitter, @MBeller.

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