Relative Waiver Wire: Oscar Taveras, T.J. House

Opposite ends of the fantasy baseball spectrum for folks in search of pickups, once again. One of these cats is basically no-duh, must-own material, but I just wanted to explain why I believe so for those who may be reluctant. The other is a flier, a shot in the dark, a cross-your-fingers type, and he just appeals to me.

OF Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals

Ownership: CBS 68% | Yahoo! 32% | ESPN 17.2%

This is a pretty easy entry. If you play this game, then you’ve surely read plenty about Taveras already. That’s kind of the main reason I’ve included him this week – that and the Cards recalled him on Tuesday. You have probably read a lot about how good he is, how you should’ve drafted him in your redrafters this past March because he’d be up before you knew it, how close St. Louis must be to promoting him because of his continued minor league success and his parent club’s struggles on offense. You may have heard enough.

I think that advice wasn’t entirely helpful. It wasn’t quite so likely that St. Louis would bring him to the bigs as soon as he passed the Super Two deadline, let alone before that. There was reason to doubt that he was up for good the first time his organization promoted him to The Show. The hype probably raised expectations to unrealistic proportions.

It’s time to move past all that. This time, barring a seriously long slump, Taveras is up for good. Manager Mike Matheny told the media that he’ll be inventive with his lineups if need be in order to have the potential stud’s bat in them more often than not. Taveras may not play every day, but he’ll play often.

It’s time to move past the disappointment that he didn’t light the world on fire right away. Forget his .175/.227/.275 showing in the 44 plate appearances he’s made thus far, after his 0-for-3 with a strikeout and a walk on Tuesday. Remember that he’s like, at worst, the second-best prospect in baseball, one who has a long-term high ceiling as well as a pretty high floor. Remember that he scored a .313/.358/.485 slash line, with 13 homers and six stolen bases, in his 448 total plate appearances at the Class AAA level. Remember that he has the tools to succeed right away, such as excellent plate discipline, the kind that seems unfair for players who can hit 30-plus homers to have.

Don’t create the possibility of great disappointment for yourself. Taveras’ production for the rest of this season is unlikely to be season-saving. It should be solid, with something like more than double his ZiPS (.279/.323/.435, three home runs and two stolen bases in 136 plate appearances) and Steamer (.276/.321/.419, four home runs and one stolen base in 136 PAs) projections – with the chance at a bit more power and a tad less speed – from here on out, I think. It could be worse. It could also be better, perhaps notably.

Either way, it plays in most mixed leagues, even if it’s only good enough for only your fifth or sixth outfielder. The talent Taveras possesses and the likelihood that he’ll succeed are simply too good to allow him to sit on wires. I have a lot of high-quality players in my outfield on my 12-team mixed league squad, but I’m going to work hard to find some room.

SP T.J. House, Cleveland Indians

Ownership: CBS 1% | Yahoo! 0% | ESPN 0.0%

The Tribe optioned Zach McAllister to Triple-A Columbus recently, and the reason seemed to have been that they wouldn’t need a fifth starter for a while. They can’t be satisfied with his performance thus far (a 5.89 ERA in 10 starts), either, and we can hardly blame them, based on the results. Of course, we look at his 8.2 K/9, an 11.2 K-BB%, a 3.86 FIP, a 4.06 xFIP and a 4.07 SIERA and think something like, hmmm, he’s been bad, but he’s not terrible. He’s probably deserved a bit better of a fate to this point. The Indians are probably aware of that, to some extent, given that they have embraced statistical evaluation in the front office.

The here and now is that Terry Francona has since named House his fifth starter for the time being. He filled in for Justin Masterson (right knee soreness) on Sunday, perhaps in part because McAllister hadn’t been in the minor leagues for the required 10 days before he could be recalled, barring a DL move from Cleveland, as Paul Hoynes pointed out. The long-time Indians beat writer also noted that McAllister and Danny Salazar have pitched well in their last couple of respective starts on the farm. House is playing with … house money, it seems.

I just kind of like House.  The 4.54 ERA in seven games (six starts, 33 2/3 innings) doesn’t make a good first impression on fantasy owners. Neither do the 5.9 K/9, 8.9 K-BB% or 1.34 HR/9. But I like that he tends to keep the ball out of the air, so I’d hope for some serious regression of his 26.3% HR/FB. I like this his swinging-strike rate is 9.5%, and the contact rate against him is about 80%, aligning with about what he’s done in the minors and opening the door for a few more K’s here and there.

I like that the left-hander has a solid four-pitch mix, with the fastball he uses most often – a two-seamer – having touched 94 but also had something serious taken off it to come in the low 80s on occasion, and it gets ground balls. I like that his heaters average around 91, 92, and his changeup averages around 82. I like that he has two distinct pitches that have generated about 20% swinging strikes – a slider and a changeup – and he’s thrown them each about 20% of the time. I like what he has going on.

House, 24, is strictly an AL-only play. He may not last long, but I like that he’s the only southpaw in the Tribe’s rotation. I think he has some good tools, and if he puts together another good start or two, then Tito would probably like to see where this goes. House has had a couple of clunkers (five earned runs conceded in each) this season in the bigs, but he’s also had four pretty darn good ones (two earned runs or fewer in each). He’s capable of earning himself a longer look. I’m intrigued.



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Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.


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KilleBrews
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KilleBrews

Im sitting 7th of 12 in keeper lg. Still outside chance at top 3 (in money). Badly in need of a CI and was able to move my $35 Braun for $3 Taveras and $7 Napoli. $3 bump each season. Thoughts on this deal?

dirck
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dirck

Not enough info to evaluate properly .Who replaces Braun in your lineup? Who is Napoli replacing ? Are you counting on big production from Taveras this year ? What is your league’s scoring system ? Unless you have someone who can come close to replacing Braun’s production it sounds like you just kissed this year goodbye ,but I like the deal a lot longer term .

KilleBrews
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KilleBrews

Standard 5×5 roto scoring. 5 OF format. Without Braun, I have now Taveras, Puig, Polanco, Marte, Calhoun, Gattis (C/OF), Gardner, Saunders, Seth Smith and soon, Mookie Betts to choose from. Napoli is replacing Luis Valbuena (yeah I know) as my CI. Im really on the outside looking on at making money this year, but wanted deal that would at least keep me competitive, but with an eye more to future.

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