Monday, July 30, 2007

Activity on the Waiver Wire - July 30th Edition

From time to time, I'll discuss some actual player add/drop activity that is occurring in one of the leagues that I'm participating in this season. This time around, I'll highlight recent activity from a keeper league with the following setup:

-16 Team Yahoo roto 5x5 keeper (5 keepers)
-Batting - 8 starters (standard lineups) + 1 utility
-Pitching - 2 SP, 2 RP, 3 P
-Bench - 5 players
-DL - 1 player

It's a very deep league, and it's also stayed relatively active throughout the season (with managers making anywhere from 6 - 88 moves on the year). Today, I'll look at the last 3 moves (starting with the most recent).

Player Add - Pat Burrell (OF)
Player Drop - Shannon Stewart (OF)

This was actually a move that I made, so I think it's a great one! My team is struggling in HR (10th out of 16 teams), and, even though I picked up Stewart only a few weeks back, he hadn't been in my lineup much. My current OF + utility includes Carlos Beltran (injured - day to day), Shane Victorino, Nick Markakis, Corey Hart, and a recent pickup, Lastings Milledge...not a pure slugger in the bunch. Burrell is a proven HR hitter (although one with a mediocre career batting average of .258), and he has just been too hot recently to dismiss.

Burrell has 62 official plate appearances in July, batting .435 with 5 HR, 21 RBI, 15 R, and a 1.328 OPS. He also has 20 walks vs. only 13 strikeouts. Stewart has been steady, but nothing more. I think Burrell will have a solid 2nd half, and should stay in the producing part of the Phillies order, especially now that Chase Utley is out with an injury. I don't expect Burrell's avg to stay above .400 over the next few months, but if he can keep his walk rate high, he'll likely hit around .280 from here on out with HR, RBI & R; solid production from a waiver wire pickup.

Player Add - Brian Bannister (SP)
Player Drop - Marlon Byrd (OF)

I've mentioned Bannister's name here before in a top performers report, and I think he's a solid pickup. The team that picked him up is relatively thin at SP, after Bedard & Harang, so Bannister will be a useful addition. Byrd has done nothing recently to justify keeping on one's roster, especially in the last month. He's hitting .275 with 12 RBI for the month of July, but there are better FA OF available in this particular league, including Milton Bradley, Reggie Willits, & Matt Kemp (only to name a few). It was wise to ride out Byrd while he was hot (he did hit .398 in June), but now might be the time to cut ties & focus on another need.

Player Add - Connor Jackson (1B)
Player Drop - Felipe Lopez (SS, 2B)

The team that made this move had Lopez on his bench & is currently starting Ryan Garko at 1B. I like the move, as I don't think Lopez is going to break out of this funk he's in any time soon. He's an interesting study, since his numbers over the last three seasons have moved up and down more than earthquake reports showing California seismic activity.

His first year as a full time starter in 2005 was a breakout season, to say the least. As a SS, he hit .291, with 23 HR, 85 RBI, 15 SB, & a .838 OPS. He had fantasy managers (like me) salivating to pick him in the 2006 draft. So what happened last season? He ended up hitting .274, with 11 HR, 52 RBI, a .739 OPS, but he stole 44 bases! If not for the steals, he might have been dropped in many leagues. Even though I was looking for a true 5 category contributor, I found his overall production adequate.

In 2007, he's seemingly taken the worst of the last two seasons & combined them into a single, below average player. Fantasy managers who drafted him this season (his avg draft position was 86 in ESPN) expected to get a lift in steals, and other numbers that wouldn't necessarily help or hurt their team. What they received (thus far) is a .239 avg, 6 HR, 40 RBI, 15 SB, and a .639 OPS. Ouch...If you haven't already, I think it's safe to cut ties with Lopez this year.

Connor Jackson was one of my favorite sleepers coming into this season (along with Adrian Gonzalez at 1B). I actually drafted him for one of my teams, trying a new strategy with 1B; since 1B is a relatively deep position offensively, I waited until later in my drafts to find a starter. I was primarily focused on three young, up and coming 1B - C. Jackson, A. Gonzalez, & C. Kotchman. This has actually paid off quite nicely for me so far (especially earlier in the year), as Gonzalez has been very steady (even though he has cooled a bit lately). I dropped Jackson earlier in the year, but I think he has the skills to be an extremely solid major league player for many years.

Jackson epitomizes the MoneyBall philosophy of finding guys that have a good eye at the plate & can flat out hit. In his rookie season last year, he hit .291, with 15 HR, 79 RBI, an .809 OPS, and 54 BB vs. 73 K. I expected this to be his break out year (hitting over .300, and launching 20-25 HR), but it hasn't come to fruition yet. In 2007, he's at .274, with 7 HR, 35 RBI, a .797 OPS, and a 41 BB to 33 K ratio. Given his keen eye at the plate, I'm still expecting him to be an excellent major league hitter, who will probably bat .300 with 20-25 HR before too long. He hasn't broken out this season like I expected (and hoped), but don't worry...because it will happen. Expect him to be undervalued in drafts next season (depending upon how he finishes the season), and target him as a potential sleeper backup 1B for your team.

Any thoughts on these moves?

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