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Fringe Options

Not all of us are looking to sell high and buy low right now. Some of us are just looking for help – any help at all – off the wire. And if you’re in an NL-only, AL-only, or even a 20-team, MI/CI, 5 OF and 2 UTIL league (yeah, that one is fun), you’re looking for any guy that might take the job and start for a while.

Let’s take a look at some of these fringe options. Every once in a while, the ‘first guy off the bench’ can really do some damage in these deeper leagues.

Edwin Maysonet
– His speed is the only skill he has that registers as decent on the scouting scale, and his contact and patience are both below average. About what you’d expect from a middle infielder with a minor league career .259/.338/.384 slash line. But you know what? He’s hot. After hitting .271/.343/.379 in his second year at AAA last year, he earned seven at-bats in the majors and got one hit. Repeating seems to work for him, as he’s currently hot in his second try at the major leagues after putting up a batting-average heavy .309/.417/.395 at AAA in his third try at the level. Of course, his current BABIP (over .400) has a lot to do with it. Why not get some stats out of the young guy, though – it’s not like 33-year-olds with injury-riddled histories come back quickly from bad hammies. (Yes Kaz Matsui, I’m looking in your direction. How’s the couch feeling?)

Jonny Gomes – The good news about Gomes is that he’s actually bettered his strikeout percentage over the last three years. Of course, he started at a Russell-Branyan
-esque 36%, and he may have made some of his gains by being reduced to a part-time role (his .219/.309/.425 slash line versus righties is just ugly, and he had twice as many at-bats against lefties as righties last year). On the other hand, Ramon Hernandez
is brittle enough – why push him with more at-bats at first base? While starter Joey Votto is out with his mysterious stress-related illness, someone has to play first. When that someone is Gomes, versus a lefty, take advantage of that .271/.371/.512 slash line against southpaws.

Sean RodriguezHowie Kendrick is struggling. Despite being a .294 hitter in a career 300 games, the fact that he has never even put together 400 plate appearances in a single season makes everyone wary. Are his current struggles injury related? Or, as the low .262 BABIP (career .346) suggests, just luck related? He really needs to start hitting better than 12% line drives, and his upside seemingly belongs along side the other high-contact-rate low-pop second basemen like Robinson Cano and Placido Polanco. Rodriguez, on the other hand, is showing mighty power for a second baseman. His .279/.364/.637 slash line shows isolated power that is well above his career .494 slugging percentage in the minors, but right in line with his .645 slugging percentage from last year. Guess he likes Salt Lake City and its 1.16 park factor for home runs in 2008. If the team gets tired of Kendrick, or – gasp – he gets hurt again, Rodriguez is worth a long look.

Ryan Roberts – With all the first basemen in Arizona hurt (what’s in that water?), Roberts has found his way into some at-bats over the past week-plus. This former shortstop’s defense is above-average, so he probably has a chance of sticking as the corner infielder, at least until even Tony Clark is back. Roberts has always been a power-and-patience guy and his major league strikeout percentage (29.8%) is not in line with his minor league one (19.8%). This year, he’s got that number down to 23.9%, which bodes well for his offense. Unfortunately, his BABIP is .471 and ZiPS pegs him for a reasonable .256/.328/.380 finish. There’s not much to like here, since the team has decided that Mark Reynolds is a fine solution at the hot corner despite his poor defense.