Waiver Wire:  NL, Week 15

Sean West | Florida | SP | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: In Triple-A
True Talent: 5.67 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 5.9 K/9, 1.29 K/BB

West has an arm that intrigues me as we enter the second half of the fantasy season. Last year West compiled 103.1 innings for the Marlins, posting a 4.93 x, which would be of little use to fantasy owners going forward if I didn’t think he could improve upon that. As you’d probably guessed, I am expecting West to improve on last year’s 4.93 x. West has spent the entire 2010 season in Triple-A and has pitched quite well. The former top five prospect in the Marlins farm system in both 2008 and 2009, according to Baseball America, has posted a solid 46.4 GB rate, 7.62 K/9, 2.40 BB/9, all good for a 3.95 F (impressive considering he’s pitching in the PCL, notorious for being hitter friendly) according to minorleaguesplits website.

With the Marlins looking like sellers at this point, the potential exists for West to replace Nate Robertson or Alex Sanabia in their rotation. Because of West’s experience at the major league level last year, I’d expect him not to be overwhelmed this go-round, and think he is capable of posting numbers similar to his Triple-A rates. Owners in keeper and dynasty leagues in which West is a free agent should give serious consideration to adding him. Even those in deeper yearly leagues should see some value from West in the second half, even if it is just a matter of using him in favorable match-ups.

Recommendation: Should be watched in 14-team mixed leagues or added by owners exceeding their IP limit who are looking to play favorable match-ups going forward. Should be owned in medium to large NL-only leagues.

Vicente Padilla | Los Angeles | SP | 17 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 4.04 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 8.73 K/9, 5.40 K/BB, 37.0 GB
True Talent: 4.49 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 6.50 K/9, 2.21 K/BB

I have a hard time buying into Padilla, given his track record of being a bad to mediocre pitcher. Regardless, Padilla’s posting fantastic numbers, and should be owned while he’s playing well. The strikeout-to-walk rate that Padilla is posting right now is elite, and the only fly in the ointment is his 37.0 GB rate (career 46.2 GB rate). That said, he’s an 83 percent unowned starter, and a lone flaw of allowing too many fly balls should not keep him from being nearly universally owned while he’s playing well.

Looking at Padilla’s spike in strikeouts, fly ball rate, and swings at pitches outside the strike zone (O-swing, 30.6 percent this year versus 20.9 percent for his career) I’d venture to guess Padilla may be working up in the zone and out of the strike zone. I’ll warn that the first guess is speculation on my part, and if anyone has actual evidence for or against my hypothesis, please post it in the comments below.

Looking further at Padilla’s numbers, I see little that has changed. Padilla still throws his fastball more than 70 percent of the time while using both a slider and curve ball (combined) roughly a quarter of the rest of the time and showing his cutter and splitter (combined) only about five percent of the time. Further surprising me when looking deeper at Padilla’s numbers is that his swinging strike rate of 7.3 percent is actually lower than his career mark of 7.7. While I don’t believe Padilla’s sterling numbers will continue to glisten as they have thus far, I do believe he is worth owning in all but the shallowest of leagues until he shows signs of regressing back to his previous form.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Ross Detwiler | Washington | SP | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: In Double-A after surgery to repair a torn hip flexor
True Talent: 5.64 ERA, 1.62 WIHP, 5.6 K/9, 1.33 K/BB

Detwiler has the feel of a forgotten bright prospect in Washington thanks to some guy named Stephen Strasburg and a rehabbing Jordan Zimmermann. Detwiler opened the season on the 60-day DL after having hip surgery to repair a torn hip flexor. He was activated after the 60 days and optioned to Double-A Harrisburg. There, Detwiler has pitched quite well posting a 3.19 F and a 48.6 GB rate according to minorleaguesplits. His K/9 is a bit low at 7.17, but respectable, but is helped by his fantastic 2.11 BB/9.

It is easy for people to forget that just three years ago Detwiler was a first round pick (fourth overall) out of Missouri State University and was rated as highly as Washington’s top prospect in 2008 and second best in 2009. The lefty has a good deal of upside, and while there is no guarantee he’ll be promoted to the parent club this year, there is a good chance he will be, based on the Nationals current spot in the standings and Detwiler’s status as a part of their future. Like West, Detwiler saw time pitching in the majors last year, and should have less growing pains thanks to that experience.

Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team mixed leagues or larger and watched in all deep leagues, should be owned in deep NL-only leagues.

Samuel Demel | Arizona | RP | 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.25 K/9, 5.50 K/BB, 52.9 GB
True Talent: 4.23 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 1.67 K/BB

The Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen has been a mess, and if have followed baseball even remotely this season that is not news to you. Like many other prognosticators, I’ve been unable to accurately peg a closer in the Diamondbacks bullpen. I don’t feel so bad because neither has their manager. For those who don’t need saves, avoiding the Diamondbacks bullpen is probably the best route, but for those in need of some down the stretch run I’ll take another stab at pegging a potential saves source and suggest adding Demel.

Demel appears to be the best person for the closer gig. He’s been a groundball machine, has a K/9 of greater than eight and is limiting the walks. Unfortunately, Demel is being used in low-leverage mo- up innings while manager Kirk Gibson shuffles among Chad Qualls, Aaron Heilman and Juan Gutierrez, perhaps better known as the three stooges.

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As one commenter pointed out when I anointed Heilman as a source of saves and saves only previously in an NL Waiver Wire column, Heilman is terrible. Qualls has been the victim of a great deal of bad luck, but the surface stats look ugly, and he is a free agent at season’s end, so he’s a good bet to be traded or used in a non-closer capacity while Gibson tries to determine if he has a future closer on his roster. Gutierrez is a young flame-thrower, but he allows a lot of flyballs and walks too many batters to feel comfortable with him as an end game stopper. Thus, Demel appears to be the best in-house candidate to take the closer gig long term eventually, (starting sometime this season, I hope). While nothing is imminent in terms of Demel taking the job, he should be of use in ratios and strikeouts while minimizing innings pitched for owners over their IP pace at this point.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team mixed leagues or larger by owners in need of saves, should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Logan Morrison | Florida | 1B | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: Has spent entire season in minors.
True Talent: .283/.359/.447

The Florida Marlins are likely to be sellers as the trade deadline approaches, and that bodes well for Morrison seeing playing time in Florida this season. With Gaby Sanchez performing well at first base, the Marlins have had Morrison playing left field in Triple-A of late, and plan on having him play there four days a week. If the Marlins decide to trade off major league talent, Cody Ross and Dan Uggla immediately come to mind. If either is dealt, Chris Coghlan stands a good chance of being moved from left field to take over the dealt player’s position, leaving left field open for Morrison.

Morrison has a great deal of raw power, but his swing lends more to hitting doubles than home runs. Working in Morrison’s favor, though, is his strong eye (37:29 BB:K) and ability to hit for a high average (.308 in Triple-A). With such strong on-base skills, Morrison’s transition from Triple-A to the majors should be much smoother than free swinging fellow prospect Mike Stanton‘s. Owners in deep leagues should be paying close attention to Morrison and snap him up when promoted if in need of batting average help and some cheap but modest counting stats.

Recommendation: Should be watched in all deep mixed leagues and stashed in some, should be owned in deep NL-only leagues.

Carlos Beltran | New York (NL) | OF | 69 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: Injured
True Talent: .292/.376/.484

Beltran is likely owned in all competitive or semi-competitive leagues, but his return to the Mets Thursday night warrants mentioning. The Mets plan to slot Beltran in the cleanup spot, but are unsure of how many days a week he’ll be able to play, according to Rotowire. Also worth noting is that he’s wearing a brace that doesn’t allow full range of motion and could limit his base stealing. Given the importance of having a strong base in driving the baseball, and the questions surrounding both Beltran’s playing time and base stealing ability, I’d suggest shopping him somewhat aggressively.

The market for players returning from serious injury is often rather dry, but an owner in a head to head league near the top of the standings, or one in the bottom of the standings hoping to throw a Hail Mary to get back into the playoff hunt, may be willing to pay a reasonable price for Beltran. I’m not sure what Beltran should fetch; that will vary greatly from league to league.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues using only three outfielders, should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Eric Young Jr. | Colorado | 2B/OF | 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .250/.351/.344
True Talent: .242/.310/.328

Young is in the midst of a rehab assignment, but is a likely call-up to play some second base while Clint Barmes fills in for Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop. Young is an absolute burner on the basebaths and has strong on-base skills, which should allow him many stolen base opportunities. Once Young is promoted, if he’s able to wrestle everyday at-bats away from Jonathan Herrera, he becomes a must-own in all but the shallowest of leagues as he’ll immediately be among the best base stealers in the majors.

Recommendation: Should be stashed on the DL in all 12-team or larger mixed leagues. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Alex Gonzalez | Atlanta | SS | 81 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .259/.296/.497
True Talent: .243/.283/.397

Much as with Beltran, the inclusion of Gonzalez in this week’s piece is to note a significant development for an NL player. In Beltran’s case, I discussed his return from injury, in Gonzalez’s case he’s switching leagues, as he was dealt to the Braves from the Blue Jays. For those in NL-only leagues, this is a significant trade, since a new name is now available to your player pool. While I say the trade is significant, I don’t believe Gonzalez to be a strong contributor the remainder of the season and caution those in NL-only leagues to keep the FAAB bids to a minimum or those with a high waiver priority to rethink using it.

Simply put, Gonzalez’ home run production in 2010 has been extremely lucky, as was discussed at length by Jack Moore over at fangraphs. Gonzalez will be moving from a home run-favorable ballpark in the Rogers Centre to a ballpark, Turner Field, that actually reduces home runs, a recipe for disaster for a player whose value this season has been tied to his home run total. When, not if, Gonzalez’ career best HF/FB rate regresses to a more normal total, he will be of little use to owners in all but the deepest of leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned only in 14-team or larger mixed leagues using a MI. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

Nate McLouth | Atlanta | OF | 31 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: .176/.295/.282
True Talent: .247/.337/.429

A fantasy darling as recently as parts of last year, and all of 2008, McLouth is now largely unowned due to his putrid start and the fact he’s currently on a rehab assignment. While the timetable for his return is uncertain, it appears that he should be back shortly. McLouth’s 2010 season has been forgettable so far: His ISO sits at a career worst .106, he has only three home runs in 205 plate appearances and he is posting a career worst strikeout rate of 27.1 percent. Why in the world am I suggesting owning this guy then?

Well, for starters, his career-worst strikeout rate looks somewhat flukey. McLouth’s O-swing hovers around 21 percent, as it has the last few seasons, his contact rate is better this year than last, and he even has a lower SwStr% this year than last. The only conclusion I can gain from that is that McLouth has been the victim of more called third strikes.

Another reason for optimism is that McLouth’s BABIP is a career worst .221 and his HR/FB rate is less than half of what it has been the past two years in spite of the fact he’s in his prime power years. It remains to be seen how much value McLouth will have the remainder of the season, but all hope is not lost, and I’d be willing to take a flyer in leagues where I had some roster flexibility. He has much more upside than your typical outfielder available in over 65 percent of leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues using five outfielders. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues.

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What shocks me about Padilla is his velocity.  The guy, according to the radar gun on TV, is throwing in the mid 90’s.  Where did that come from?  He was pretty good for LA late last year, too.

Regarding Young – I read the Rockies are making a run at Uggla – so monitor that.

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

Love that you did Alex Gonzalez! I did Yunel over in the AL WW.

Would you take Beltran+Volquez or Corey Hart for the rest of the season? Have hart, being offered the others. Don’t necessarily need pitching, but I could use trade chips i suppose

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

Oh and for the record, I ain’t touching Arizona with a 10 foot pole. I’ve kept a combo of qualls/gutierrez/demel/heilmann on my team thru out the summer in a lg where i need a handful of saves to gain 5 pts. Not worth it. That ‘pen is an awful mess

Jeffrey Gross
Jeffrey Gross

I wonder if the Rockies would shift Uggla to 3rd. Uggla’s range isnt the best, but he has a solid arm from what I hear.

Josh Shepardson
Josh Shepardson

@ Jeff
Thanks for the heads up on Uggla.

@ Jeff G
Sorry this response is delayed (and comes after the Voltron start), but I’d take Beltran/Voltron without knowing the specifics of your team. 

I’d also like to welcome Carlos Silva back to Earth as tonight makes his second start in his past two he hasn’t even completed 2 IP.