Waiver Wire: AL

Rod Barajas (reprise) | Toronto | C
YTD: .267/.303/.434
True Talent: .249/.302/.405
Next Week Forecast: n/a
When we last visited Senor Barajas, he was slugging over .500, and the advice was, “it’s time to trade him to someone who believes in ‘hot streaks’ and ‘momentum.’” Now he’s back to Earth, and while the Jays are no longer scoring six runs per game, they’re still at nearly five, which provides enough run and RBI opportunities. He’s tough as nails, shaking off an ankle injury to avoid the DL, and is a nice AL League value pick if someone kicked him to the curb.

Brett Gardner | New York | CF
YTD: .289/.367/.421
True Talent: .261/.341/.362
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 3 Runs 1 RBI, .266 BA, 1.3 SB
A super-fast guy like Gardner, who puts 47% of his BIP on the ground, is more at the mercy of the defenses and groundskeepers than anything else. That gives reason to believe that his actual OBP may exceed the TT prediction. Yet, even at TT levels, the 50 steals would make him a dominant fantasy force if he wasn’t a fourth outfielder. Any sign of failure/injury by a starter makes this guy a must-play in all formats.

Franklin Gutierrez | Seattle | OF
YTD: .278/.346/.409
True Talent: .261/.322/.409
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, .270 BA, 0.6 SB
Nobody in Cleveland is surprised that Franklin Gutierrez is dominating the CF defensive stats this year (.986 RZR, 60 OOZ plays, both tops among CF qualifiers). With the non-Felix portion of the rotation needing all the flycatching support it can get and Endy Chavez out for the season, his job is virtually slump-proof. As TT indicates, don’t expect a star, but for AL-only leagues, just playing every game has value.

David Hernandez | Baltimore | SP
YTD: 5.6 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.19 ERA
True Talent: 7.4 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 6.17 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.1 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.52 ERA
Finally, an O’s pitcher to get excited about! Scouts have been luke warm on Hernandez for his entire minor-league career, with BA’s Prospect Handbook suggesting he gets by with “deception” and ranking him 16th. But his fastball velocity is higher than Matt Garza’s (93.4 to 93.0), and he cranked his AAA K/9 rate up to an absurd 12.4 to earn a promotion. The rough division and young pitcher fickleness (see: “True Talent” projection, for example) make him a “no go” for 1-year Mixed leagues, but in keeper or AL Leagues, he’s worth a long look.

Kenji Johjima | Seattle | C
YTD: .250/.272/.380
True Talent: .258/.300/.383
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, .266 BA, 0.1 SB
Johjima-san is returned. This probably comes as good news to the Mariners and fantasy teams (in really deep league) who had Rob Johnson (barely) active for the past month. Johjima has hit .280/.317/.421 in the second halves of seasons in his U.S. career, the increase over first-half stats being an oddity among catchers. It’s been a while since he’s been effective, but he averaged 16 HR and almost .290 his first two seasons in MLB. His BABIP should rise from .244; be cautiously optimistic.

Sean O’Sullivan | Los Angeles | SP
YTD: 6.5 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 3.00 ERA
True Talent: 4.1 K/9, 0.9 K/BB, 6.62 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Almost certainly getting bumped from the rotation (and probably the majors) upon Santana’s return this week, don’t get too excited about O’Sullivan’s birth certificate, even in a keeper league. He’s a rare “crafty righty,” who gets deserved credit for surviving the California League in 2008, but is nowhere near ready for MLB success. That he has 18 decent IP under his belt is just a fluke.

Chris Perez | Cleveland | RP
YTD: 11.1 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 5.55 ERA
True Talent: 9.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.91 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.87 ERA
Chris Perez has the best “True Talent” ERA on the Tribe. He can sometimes hit 98 on the gun. He blew through the minors in about two full seasons, after getting selected in the supplemental (1st) round in 2006. He struck out 12.0 minor leaguers/9 IP, and MLB hitters have posed little more challenge (9.8/9 career, 11.1 in 2009). He walks too many—and probably always will—but the expected slight improvement in control should make him into a relief ace sooner rather than later … perhaps in 2009 if Wood is dealt.

Andy Sonnanstine | Tampa Bay | SP
YTD: 5.5 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 6.61 ERA
True Talent: 5.6 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 5.22 ERA
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Sonnanstine is an example of how fine the line is for pitchers … the combination of two games started at the New Yankee Bandbox, some bad luck (BABIP up 18 points from ’08, HR/FB of 15%), and slightly worse control (1.7 BB/9 up to 2.4 BB/9) … and suddenly he’s back in AAA. He should still be the same pitcher when he returns; about 90% as good as he showed in 2008. Hear that, Omar Minaya?

Chris Woodward | Seattle | 3B/2B
YTD: .333/.400/.333
True Talent: .234/..296/..331
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .241 BA, 0.3 SB
Mixed-league players can skip this one. Chris Woodward is an “in case of emergency only” player for the deepest AL-only leagues. As a RH hitter whose only “plus” is that he’s hit about 11 HR per 600 PA in his career, Safeco isn’t even a good park for him. He is good enough on defense that manager Don Wakamatsu hasn’t been tempted to shift Branyan to 3b to make room for Carp, but a cold week by Woodward could result in that changing over the break.

True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.

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