Over the course of the baseball season, there are several very important dates that potentially can make a huge difference for your fantasy baseball team. We are currently heading into the one weekend of the year that probably more than any other will shape and determine our fate and destiny over the balance of 2008. No it’s not a trading deadline, the callup of the newest superstar in waiting, or a short week that requires massive pre-planning to max out those at-bats. It would be Mother’s Day!
In my house, if Momma is happy, the whole house is happy. Life is all about priorities and picking them right this coming Sunday will most certainly be a worthwhile investment in not only your fantasy baseball future, but life in general. The right moves at this stage of ones’ season will ensure at least a fighting chance to survive the long haul.
For those playing in weekly transaction leagues, just a reminder that this coming weekend would be the beginning of the annual nightmare that we call inter-league play, and some careful roster planning during this period is essential. Without further ado, let’s move onwards and upwards to the waiver wire options heading into Week Seven.
Matt LaPorta, Milwaukee, OF: LaPorta is probably the premier offensive force currently in the minors. At Double-A, he is batting .331 with ten homers, 36 RBI, and an incredible 1120 OPS. LaPorta’s natural position, first base, is blocked by Prince Fielder and the outfield for the Brewers is a much crowded one. But if LaPorta continues to post numbers like he has to date, something has to give. He obviously doesn’t belong at Double-A, but where does he fit in on the Brewers? For those in keeper leagues, LaPorta should already be owned and at the very least should be on the radar in all formats.
Chase Headley, San Diego, OF: This spring saw Headley hit to the tune of .349 with four homers and 14 RBI before being a late cut and heading off to the Triple-A Portland Beavers. The problem wasn’t the offense, but incumbent Kevin Kouzmanoff blocking him at third base. After a slow start, Headley has picked up the pace, batting .463 with one homer, six RBI and nine runs scored in the last ten games. With the release of Jim Edmonds this past Friday, some felt it would be Headley and not Jody Gerut getting the call. Obviously the Padres feel Headley, a converted infielder, still needs more work on his defense in the outfield, because there is most certainly nothing wrong with his bat at this time. Headley is a must-own in keeper formats with his promotion to the Padres likely not all that far down the road.
Jody Gerut, San Diego, OF: Former Indian Gerut, having suffered through a series of injuries that limited his playing time over the past several years, finally has made it back to the bigs. He got the call this past week, a most deserving one considering his five homers, 18 RBI and four stolen bases for Triple-A Portland. A solid start is going to be important for Gerut with Headley appearing to be almost ready. At this time, Gerut would be a solid play in NL-only leagues.
Ronny Cedeno, Chicago Cubs, 2B/SS: It looks like Cedeno might finally be showing off that potential we’ve been hearing about for what seems like forever. The 25-year-old currently is tied for fourth among major league shortstop with 18 RBI. Middle infield is a very crowded spot in Chicago right now with Mark DeRosa, Ryan Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Cedeno all fighting for at bats. Cedeno’s numbers certainly warrant increased at bats, but do be cautious as we are dealing with Lou Pinella here. Currently, Cedeno would be a solid acquisition in NL-only leagues and should be on the radar in all formats.
Joey Devine, Oakland, RP: Devine, the former Braves phenom, has adapted very well to his change of scenery and has vultured three wins since his callup April 10. The 24-year-old, considered by many to be the “closer-in-waiting,” is currently demonstrating why he has been so highly touted. In the event that incumbent closer Huston Street either stumbles or is traded, Devine should be first in line for the job. In the interim, Devine is a very solid addition to your fantasy bullpen in all formats at this time.
Blake DeWitt, Los Angeles Dodgers, 3B: Is Nomar Garciaparra ever again going to be healthy enough to play third base? Andy LaRoche, the corner man of the future for the Dodgers, is still a couple weeks away from returning from the torn tendon in his thumb, leaving DeWitt as the corner man of the present. DeWitt has responded very well, posting a .306 BA, two home runs, 18 RBI, and 15 runs scored. Just be wary that this is in all probability a situation that will be short term in nature, but for now DeWitt is a great pick up in NL-only formats.
Aaron Laffey, Cleveland, SP: We are looking at only three starts, but Laffey looks more than capable of filling in for the injured Jake Westbrook until his scheduled return at the end of May. In his first start, Laffey took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, before tiring and allowing four runs. The 23-year-old southpaw is currently sporting a very solid 1.83 ERA and is coming off a strong seven shutout inning performance Saturday against a very depleted Jays’ squad. Laffey is a solid option right now in AL-only leagues and should be on the radar for mixed formats.
Chris Iannetta, Colorado, C: Manager Clint Hurdle finally tired of Yorvit Torrealba and his ugly 670 OPS, opening the door for Iannetta to move up in the pecking order. It would appear that Hurdle plans on going with the hot hand and Iannetta definitely qualifies lately. A .345 BA, three homers, and 14 RBI with a 1067 OPS are certainly solid numbers. Iannetta is looking like a very solid option at this time in NL-only formats and deeper mixed leagues requiring the use of two catchers.
Freddie Bynum, Baltimore, SS: After coming off the DL with a torn meniscus this past week, Bynum was annointed the starter at shortstop by the Orioles, replacing the largely ineffective Luis Hernandez. For those playing in deeper formats, the position of shortstop is starting to get very, very thin. A decent batting-average and the opportunity for stolen bases makes “Fast Freddie” a viable option in AL-only and deep mixed leagues at this time.
Garrett Olson, Baltimore, SP: Olson’s very solid 1.85 ERA in five starts for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides led to a promotion to the big leagues. Since the callup, the 24-year-old southpaw has now pitched two quality starts and has a very nifty 2.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 13 strikeouts. It would appear that with Steve Trachsel being largely ineffective and Adam Loewen scheduled to miss up to a further six weeks due to elbow soreness, the opportunity for Olson to enjoy an extended stay in the Oriole rotation is quite possible, making him a solid pickup in AL-only leagues and deeper mixed leagues at this time.
Mark Kotsay, Atlanta, OF: After a rather slow start for the Braves, Kotsay, acquired from the Athletics this past offseason for Devine, seems to be picking up the pace. Over the past ten games, the 33-year-old outfielder is batting .375 with two homers and ten RBI and has even managed a couple stolen bases. In deeper mixed formats, Kotsay is a decent option in the fifth outfielder slot.
Mike Mussina, New York Yankees, SP: Moose is experiencing a revival of sorts for the Yankees and is now up to five wins on the year. Mussina is no longer the hard-tossing dominant ace, but by utilizing his solid offspeed and breaking stuff, and being consistently in the strike zone, he has managed to keep hitters off balance. Coming off his fourth consecutive victory, Mussina has only allowed two free passes in his last 23 innings pitched. He’s a solid option in AL-only formats and in deeper mixed formats.
Vicente Padilla, Texas, SP: It is very hard recommending a Ranger starting pitcher, but Padilla is definitely a worthy choice this week. In winning his last three starts, he has allowed only one earned run and contributed 16 strikeouts. This coming week, Padilla is looking at starts against both Seattle and Houston, making him a solid acquisition in both AL-only and Head-to-Head formats.
Ryan Franklin, St. Louis, RP: Jason Isringhausen is struggling and coming off his fifth blown save this past Friday night. When the incumbent closer Isringhausen states that “they can’t keep sending me out there when I’m pitching the way I’m pitching”, it should be viewed as a fairly good indicator that change, even if only temporary, is imminent. Franklin, the current set-up man for the Cards, picked up his first save Saturday against the Brewers, and looks to be the closer while Isringhausen sorts himself out. It may be short-lived, but Franklin is a solid option in all formats at this time.