Friday, April 11, 2008

Activity on the Waiver Wire - April 11th Edition

It's not always an easy decision to drop a player from your team, especially if he was someone you hand selected in the draft. But as a season goes on, there are any number of reasons you might make moves:

-One or more of your players just aren't performing as expected
-You have an obvious weakness, and you want to drop a bench player to fill a need on your roster
-A quality player is available on the waiver wire who is more valuable than one or more members of your roster
-You just want to shake things up
-A defensive measure or if you think the pickup will have trade value in your league (steals guys are a good example of this - you might not need speed, but picking up Carlos Gomez of the Twins would give you a valuable trade asset to offer to other managers who are lacking steals)

The biggest challenge, especially this early in the season, is knowing when to pull the trigger on guys who are off to fast starts. I'll look at a few of these guys below, and I'll analyze why the move either makes sense or was short sighted.

Players Added:
-Clay Buchholz (P)

Players Dropped:
-Ian Kennedy (P)

Anlayzing the Players Dropped:
This was more a move of picking up players that were better than those already on my roster than a move of desperation. Let's start by looking at the guys who were dropped, beginning with Jair Jurrjens. Jair actually has had a very solid start to the year in the Braves rotation. He's gone 5+ & 7 innings in his first two starts, and he has proven that he belongs in the major leagues, even at the ripe age of 22. I like the fact that Jurrjens is throwing the ball to the bat & relying on his defense to get outs; even though he has the stuff for a high K rate, I don't think we'll see it this year (think Verlander's K rate increase from his first season to his next - I wouldn't be shocked to see the same thing from Jurrjens next yet). Even given the pros, I think the three pitchers picked up have the potential to have better fantasy seasons this year (more on them later).

Ian Kennedy is in the Yankees rotation, and has shown excellent control in his career (he's not an overpowering pitcher like Joba, but he can regularly break 90 mph with his fastball). He's had a rough start to the season, and with Joba waiting in the wings, I'm unsure if Kennedy will hold on to his starting gig all season.

Jeremy Hermida is back from his stint on the DL to start the year. After an incredibly solid sophomore campaign last year, he's likely going to build on that to have a very 2008. He was simply a victim of the numbers, being dropped because this league only starts 3 OF (and 1 utility), and my team already includes:

-Nate McLouth
-Corey Hart
-Matt Kemp

Obviously, there is not enough room for all of them. I'm not saying that the above guys will all outproduce Hermida this season, but given Ellsbury & Gomez's steals potential, and Kemp's all around game, I was willing to part with Jeremy to gain some pitching depth. Now, if Hermida gets back to the speed on the basepaths that he showed as a minor league prospect & ends up going 20-20, this will look stupid; but it's only a 10 team league & with the existing OF depth, this move made sense.

Analyzing the Player Pickups:
Now, on to the additions. Clay Buchholz only has one start on the year, but he's going to be a special player in the league (which is obvious seeing how he dominating the minors & already has a no hitter on his major league resume). I value him greater than Kennedy, so this move was an opportunity to increase the talent on my roster while giving me more upside.

Jake Westbrook is another unspectacular pitcher in the Jurrjens mold (meaning he won't K 10 guys a game on regular basis), but I think he'll have a better all around season. He dominated in spring training, and he's been lights out his first two starts of the year. He added a nasty change up that has proven to be a very effective out pitch; don't be surprised if this leads to an increase in his K rate (which has always been below average). He will be an innings eater, and should easily get 13-16 wins this season, especially if he keeps pitching the way he has thus far this year. Grab him now if he's available; I predict that after one more solid start it will be too late.

And finally, Dana Eveland is being added to the rotation to fill in for an injured Rich Harden. Eveland was a very good minor league prospect who has excelled in his first two starts this season (although he stunk last year). I don't think his performance has been a fluke; he had an solid minor league track record, and he's shown poise & talent this season. David Chase over at Brock for Broglio gives a nice little summary comparing Eveland to the wonder-stud of the year so far, Johnny Cueto. As he states:
"For those who missed out on Johnny Cueto, Eveland is a fine alternative. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit, if Eveland ends up out producing Cueto this season."
Since David really knows his stuff, I wouldn't completely ignore the advice. Keep an eye on Eveland as the season progresses, but he's young & still has upside, so if he's available, I would look to grab him now (especially if you have any of the above "dropped" pitchers to waive).

You might also want to check out Tim Dierkes' take on Eveland (from the excellent Roto Authority); Tim proposes taking a little more cautious approach with Eveland, although he admits that by the time Dana proves himself to be the real deal (assuming he does), he'll be long gone from the wire.

In summary, my opinion is that Buchholz / Eveland / Westbrook are all > Jurrjens / Kennedy at this point. I would agree with picking up any of those pitchers in place of Jair & Ian (although they will both be very good pros as well). Of these, I'm most on the fence about the Eveland > Jurrjens projection, but I'm going to stick with it for now & deal with the consequences later; if it ends up blowing up in my face, then you can all post rude comments & call me names.

I'll have some more waiver wire analysis in the upcoming days, including a review of a move to pick up Edwin Jackson along with looking at some other drops & adds that I've seen that I wouldn't suggest making this early in the season (like dropping Matt Kemp).

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