D.J. Short

Waiver Wired

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Will Dom Deliver?

Thursday, August 02, 2012


And just like that, another trade deadline is history. While the last-minute wheeling-and-dealing may not have been as crazy as we have seen in the past, it still brought plenty of opportunities for fantasy owners.

This might be the most fun week to scour the waiver wire during the whole season. We're seeing deserving backups getting opportunities, top prospects being called up from the minors and FAAB (free-agent acquisition budget) dollars being spent on the handful of notable players who switched leagues. All sorts of scenarios to keep your team in the hunt.

 

You'll notice that I didn't include Travis Snider under my mixed league recommendations this week. There's a good reason for that, as I just had him in Waiver Wired last week. But it looks like he'll get the chance to play every day in Pittsburgh, so he should be added where available in deeper formats. Good luck out there.

MIXED LEAGUES

Greg Holland RP, Royals (Yahoo: 34 percent owned, ESPN: 27.1 percent)

After the Royals traded closer Jonathan Broxton to the Reds this week, manager Ned Yost quickly came out and named Holland as his replacement. The hard-throwing right-hander is certainly worthy of the opportunity, posting a 3.17 ERA and 153 strikeouts over 119 1/3 innings in the majors. One concern is that has found himself behind in the count a lot this year, which has seen his walk rate jump from 2.9 BB/9 last year to 5.1 BB/9, but there's no question that he has the kind of swing-and-miss stuff you look for in a closer. Give him a look in all mixed formats.

Ryan Ludwick OF, Reds (Yahoo: 18 percent owned, ESPN: 34.2 percent)

I'll admit it, I groaned when the Reds signed Ludwick over the winter. What can I say, I was hoping the Reds would give Chris Heisey a longer look in left field. However, I'm ready to admit that I missed the boat on this one. After amassing six home runs in June and seven in July, Ludwick kicked off August by going 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI against the Padres. The 34-year-old outfielder now has 19 home runs on the year and is on pace for his first 30-homer season since he slugged 37 in 2008 as a member of the Cardinals. Playing half his games in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark, the possibly can't be ruled out.

Brandon McCarthy SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 44 percent owned, ESPN: 45.6 percent)

McCarthy was tagged for six runs over 3 2/3 innings on Monday in his first rehab start with Triple-A Sacramento, but the important part is that his shoulder felt fine. He's scheduled to make another rehab start Saturday, after which he should be cleared to rejoin the Athletics' rotation. The 29-year-old right-hander has been excellent between DL stints this season, posting a 2.54 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 52/19 K/BB ratio over 78 innings, so he should be stashed away in most mixed leagues.

Denard Span OF, Twins (Yahoo: 20 percent owned, ESPN: 36.4 percent)

Span hasn't received much attention, probably because he doesn't hit for power, so you might be surprised to learn that he's hitting .414 (29-for-70) since the All-Star break. Among players with at least 50 plate appearances, only Andrew McCutchen, Yoenis Cespedes, Buster Posey and David Freese have a higher batting average during the same time span. The 28-year-old center fielder currently holds a 10-game hitting streak, which has increased his batting average from .275 to .296 overall. It would be nice if he ran more, but at least he's getting on base and scoring runs. Use him while he's hot.

Andrew Bailey RP, Red Sox (Yahoo: 41 percent owned, ESPN: 15.9 percent)

Look who is finally on the comeback trail. Sidelined all season following thumb surgery in early April, Bailey tossed a scoreless inning Wednesday in his first rehab appearance with Boston's Gulf Coast League affiliate. He'll likely need several more appearances before being activated, but there's a pretty good chance he'll be in the Red Sox bullpen before the end of the month. Alfredo Aceves has been excellent since a couple of implosions in early April, but don't forget how valuable he was a multi-inning reliever last year. Bailey is worth a stash if you need saves.

Paul Maholm SP, Braves (Yahoo: 38 percent owned, ESPN: 38.2 percent)

The Braves were unable to land Ryan Dempster from the Cubs, but their backup plan wasn't too shabby. Maholm has a solid 3.74 ERA and 81/34 K/BB ratio over 120 1/3 innings this season, including a microscopic 1.00 ERA over his last seven outings. I don't think he's a must-start every time out, even with the recent success, but he certainly gets a boost in value now that he's no longer playing for one of the worst teams in the majors. He'll face the lowly Astros this weekend, so he makes for an excellent streaming option at the very least.

Carlos Gomez OF, Brewers (Yahoo: 28 percent owned, ESPN: 48.6 percent)

While Gomez remains one of the most frustrating talents in the game, the speedy center fielder is doing enough to warrant attention in deeper mixed leagues. The 26-year-old already has a career-high nine homers to go along with 20 stolen bases, his highest such total since he swiped 33 bags in 2008 as a member of the Twins. He's been especially hot recently, batting .321 (17-for-53) with four home runs, 10 RBI, nine stolen bases and 14 runs scored over his last 16 games. Gomez still has a pretty terrible approach at the plate, so he doesn't deserve a particularly long leash, but his speed-power combo has value.  

Shopping at the five-and-dime:

(Players owned in less than 10 percent of Y! and ESPN.com leagues)

Chris Carter 1B, Athletics (Yahoo: 6 percent owned, ESPN: 5 percent)

Carter is beginning to silence those who dismissed him as a Quad-A hitter. The 25-year-old is hitting .275/.405/.652 with eight home runs, 17 RBI and a 1.057 OPS in in 84 plate appearances since being called up from the minors in late June. While he has struck out 21 times, he has also drawn 17 walks. A lot can happen in a small sample, but Carter has mashed in Triple-A for a long time and two brief (albeit awful) stints in the majors in 2010 and 2011 shouldn't close the book on his long-term prospects. Those looking to fill a CI (corner infielder) spot in a deeper mixed league can afford to gamble.

Kris Medlen RP/SP, Braves (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 7.8 percent)

Medlen made his first start of the season Tuesday against the Marlins, allowing just one run over five innings while striking out three and walking just one. Tommy Hanson was placed on the disabled list this week with a lower back strain, which means Medlen should at least get a couple more turns in the rotation. The 26-year-old right-hander is plenty valuable out of the bullpen, but don't forget that he posted a quality 3.86 ERA and 62/16 K/BB ratio in 14 starts with the Braves back in 2010 prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery. He's worth owning for the short-term, especially with a start against the Astros this weekend.

Domonic Brown OF, Phillies (Yahoo: 4 percent owned, ESPN: 0.8 percent)

The Phillies traded Hunter Pence to the Giants and Shane Victorino to the Dodgers this week, so Brown will finally get his chance to sink-or-swim in the big leagues. Between the Phillies trying to change his swing, a broken hamate bone during spring training last year and a bum knee this year, the 24-year-old hasn't had much luck since being ranked as the game's No. 4 prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2011 season. The good news is that he swung the bat well at Triple-A after returning from the knee injury last month, hitting .362 (17-for-47) with three doubles and a home run in 13 games. Brown may never be the fantasy monster many predicted he would be, but he's still plenty intriguing. Give him a shot if you have some roster flexibility.

Mike Olt 3B, Rangers (Yahoo: N/A, ESPN: 0 percent)

We learned late Wednesday night that the Rangers were promoting Olt to the majors. The decision comes as a bit of a surprise, as Olt has never played above Double-A and there's no clear path to playing time. We can rule third base out due to the presence of Adrian Beltre, so that means he'll likely split time between first base, the outfield and the DH spot. The 23-year-old has played 13 games at first base and three in right field this year. The Rangers probably don't want one of their top prospects sitting on the bench, so the struggling Michael Young may have to accept a diminished role. Olt strikes out quite a bit, but he has big-time power from the right side of the plate, amassing 28 homers in just 95 games this season. He's a must-add in deeper formats, but those in shallow leagues should monitor the situation until there's more clarity on his role.

Dan Straily SP, Athletics (Yahoo: N/A, ESPN: N/A)

I included Straily under my AL-only names to watch two weeks ago, but now that the Athletics are calling him up to the big leagues to make his debut Friday, those in mixed leagues should pay attention. The 23-year-old right-hander has been one of the most surprising stories in baseball this season, posting a 2.60 ERA and 175/37 K/BB ratio in 138 1/3 innings over 22 starts between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. Nobody has more strikeouts this year and that includes all major league pitchers. He also saw zero decline in his strikeout and walk rates after his promotion to Triple-A. Pretty impressive considering he was pitching in the Pacific Coast League. Straily isn't available in Yahoo! and ESPN.com leagues yet, but get ready to pounce.


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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
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