NL Waiver Wire: Week 11

Rex Brothers | Rockies | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 4.25 ERA / 1.72 WHIP / 13.5 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.46 ERA / 1.49 WHIP / 10.8 K/9

Brothers has long been hyped as Colorado’s closer of the future (he was pinned, for example, by Baseball America as the future Rockies closer while he was still in the low minors), and with a deadline fire sale looking more likely to happen, the future may be now (as they say). Relievers with high walk rates are a mixed bag—a couple of guys who walk more than five per nine and also strike out more than a dozen per nine this year are John Axford, Greg Holland, and Jason Grilli, and all three have prominent bullpen roles (at least for the time being).

Brothers has elite ability in generating grounders, and has jaw-droppingly good June numbers (among them, a 0.83 WHIP, a similar 0.86 xFIP, and 14 strikeouts in eight innings). With Betancourt and Belisle seemingly on the trade block, Brothers may get the keys sooner rather than later. If not, he’ll give you value in the K column. Sounds like a win or a bigger win to me.
Recommendation: Worth an add in save-hungry leagues (read: most).

Everth Cabrera | Padres | SS | 7 percent Yahoo ownership | 6.2 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .250 / .333 / .417
Oliver ROS: .233 / .303 / .314

I swear this is the last time I pimp Cabrera in this space (he’s been here in Week 6 and Week 10), but in the last 15 days, he’s scored seven runs, stolen seven bases, and hit .292. In other words, he’s been better than everyone who qualifies at short not named Trevor Plouffe. He’s speedy as anyone, no one in the Padres’ system is threatening his playing time, and the Padres are second in the league in stolen bases. He’s probably gone, but if not, get him.
Recommendation: Worth an add in every league.

Jose Tabata | Pirates | OF | 21 percent Yahoo ownership | 3.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .234 / .296 / .346
Oliver ROS: .274 / .337 / .380

Why has Jose Tabata been so bad this year? A quick look produces two possible answers: bad luck on balls in play and poor plate discipline (a career low .42 walk to strikeout ratio). Luckily, June has been kinder to young Jose, who’s 10.2 percent walk rate and .325 BABIP in the month are much closer to his 2011 mark in both respective categories (10.5 percent walk rate and .313 BABIP, to be exact).

He’s still running at a good enough pace to be started in all NL-only leagues (as I suspect he is) and owned in deeper mixed leagues. He’d steal 20 bases with 600 plate appearances at his current pace, and ZIPS likes him for 14 more by year’s end (Oliver agrees to the very number). We can all agree that the best days of Tabata’s 2012 are yet to come, and if we’re wrong about that, then he might be out of a major league job before he’s 25.
Recommendation: Worth an add in deeper mixed leagues and a start in all NL-only leagues.

Randy Wolf | Brewers | SP | 3 percent Yahoo ownership | 2.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 5.06 ERA / 1.58 WHIP / 5.1 K/9
Oliver ROS: 4.40 ERA / 1.36 WHIP / 5.9 K/9

Randy Wolf’s not a very good pitcher, but he’s excelled in the second half over the last year three years. From 2009-2011, his 3.47 ERA after the All-Star break is a marked improvement over his 3.89 mark pre-break. He won 21 games in 44 starts Post-ASB, while only 16 in 57 starts Pre-ASB; even his WHIP improves to 1.19 from 1.33. If you believe in playing these trends, Wolf’s month of July has consistently been among his best in the last three years—then again, you may be smart to ignore all of that noise and recognize the annoyance of an unpredictable starter upfront (and avoid). If you’re in the gutter already and need a SP, why not roll the dice?
Recommendation: Worth a look on teams in need of a SP (perhaps desperate need…)

Chris Denorfia | Padres | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .282 / .348 / .436
Oliver ROS: .266 / .324 / .400

A skilled hitter (particularly against lefties, against whom he has a .313 average over the last three years) and speedy enough to rack up double-digit steals last year in only 307 at-bats, Denorfia is a perfectly acceptable NL-only option despite his mediocrity. Like most suffering Padres, he’s been away from the embarrassment of playing in front of a home “crowd” (a .338 average on the road is welcomed, while a .234 mark at PETCO is cringe-worthy); luckily, he can hit against both sides of the plate, slapping mostly singles against lefties and generating most of his power against righties. I suggest owners in NL-only leagues start him every day and suck up the ugly PETCO average for the sake of not missing his speed (barring an absolutely stacked outfield), and deeper mixed league owners scoop him up for road trips. Platoons aren’t just for Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon.
Recommendation: Worth adding/starting in: NL-only leagues always; deeper mixed leagues on road trips.

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Benoit or Brothers?

Nick Fleder
Nick Fleder

Ryan, if you’re searching for saves, I’d go Brothers at the chance that he’ll replace the incumbent. Benoit wouldn’t rise to saves unless Valverde went down with injury. That said, he’s better for ratio stats. How much are those really worth over 50 or so innings, though? Not as much as saves normally.


Is it worth dropping Cozart to get E. Cabrera?

Nick Fleder
Nick Fleder

That should be easy, Bob: if you need power, stick with Cozart. If you need speed, go with Cabrera. Average is essentially a wash…