Sifting through your waiver wire can be a daunting task at this time of year. I mean, let’s face it…unless your league has such a limited bench or no DL spots to use, the majority of guys left out on the wire are there for a reason. Some can’t hit, some can’t run, some don’t play regularly, whatever their faults may be, the bottom line is that they are sitting there because no one else wants them. And very few of them have the ability to stay in your lineup on any kind of permanent basis if you do happen to grab one. So rather than just arbitrarily find you a moderately warm body to insert into your lineup for some indeterminable amount of time, let’s talk about two guys whose current performance and presence on the wire make them a hot topic amongst emails received over the past two weeks.
Brandon Moss, OAK |1B, OF| Ownership: ESPN – 28.9% Yahoo -20.0%
The big question here is whether or not Moss is baseball’s next big late-bloomer. We’ve seen a run of players, most recently Bryan LaHair, who have languished in the minor leagues for years, never really living up to their potential until suddenly…BAM! Huge breakout from out of nowhere. Is Moss the next one to own or is he just a mere flash in the pan who, in less than a month’s time, will be another forgotten name sitting on your waiver wire again?
Both Zach Sanders and David Wiers have recent write-ups telling you to pick up Moss and both give somewhat compelling arguments, particularly Wiers and his ballpark analysis. But I look for a few other factors in determining whether or not this guy is worthy of a roster spot on my team. I like to see if the guy is a legitimate hitter or if he is simply a home run threat. If he’s just a home run threat, then my concern lies in the fact that pitchers will start to make adjustments and stop throwing him the fastball that he is apparently just waiting on right now. If the guy has turned a corner and is really a true hitter, then he’s also putting the ball in play, racking up multi-hit games and has an early BABIP that the skeptics immediately run and point to as unsustainable.
So far, out of 11 games played, Moss has just two multi-hit performances, four games without a hit and five one-hit games. He’s got a BABIP of .235 and a line drive rate of 4.6%. Small sample size or not, they aren’t particularly encouraging, are they? Even if they do tick upwards, based on what he’s done, even in his most recent past, how much higher are they going to go and will that be enough to make him a worthwhile hitter to use? He’s pretty selective at the plate right now and isn’t swinging at much out of the zone, but what happens when pitchers stop daring him to hit their fastball? What happens when he sees nothing but breaking stuff and can’t seem to get solid wood on the ball?
But I’m not going to just outright declare him a fluke and tell you not to grab him. I’ll tell you not to grab him if it comes at the expense of rostering a better overall player. If you were stashing Manny Ramirez or hoping to squeeze something out of Casey Kotchman, then yes, grab Moss. But if you were thinking about cutting someone who is a better player and may just be in some small slump or something, then no. I don’t see you getting enough out of Moss to make him a worthwhile add for the remainder of the season.
Jose Tabata, PIT |OF| Ownership: ESPN - 3.4% Yahoo – 21.0%
Well, since I just talked your ear off about Moss, I’ll be much more brief with Tabata here. Recently, he’s been on a bit of a tear and is batting .368 with three walks, a pair of runs scored and a pair of stolen bases over the last seven days and I’ve received a few emails asking if he’s finally going to reach his potential and should he be picked up now. Is he worth the waiver claim?
Yes, there was once talk of a potential power/speed combo, but at no point has Tabata ever shown that he has some sort of legitimate developing power lurking in the shadows. Speed? Some. Not a huge amount, but good enough for 20-25 stolen bases over the course of a season. But while it looks like he might be primed for an upswing right now, based on his BABIP trends and current contact rates, you have to ask yourself two questions: 1. How much of an upswing are we really talking about? 2. How long before said upswing is interrupted by a trip to the DL?
If your answers are “not much” and “not long” then I’d say you’ve got a pretty good understanding. Tabata definitely has some skill, but his talents do not appear to be game-breaking and he has an injury history prevalent enough to help suppress any potential breakout. So long as you’re not dropping any players of significant talent and could use a handful of steals, then sure, Tabata makes for a decent short-term pick-up. But don’t expect anything more out of him other than a decent two-week run and be prepared to release as quickly as you picked up.