In the bottom fishing column, I'll be looking for players with upside who can usually be found either for nothing amidst the free agent pool, or who might acquired cheaply via trade. Players selected will either have above average upside, or have value that has been overlooked by many players. I'll throw in some stinkers too, not to mention a few players worth being aware of at the time.
Another shallow leaguer worth keeping an eye on is Atlanta OF Nate McClouth who was 20-20 in 2008 and just missed it by a single steal last year. He's wrapped in some major struggles right now .178-2-5-7-1, but he's got too many tools to expect that to last. He's someone to watch rather than pick up at the moment especially since when he starts to turn it around he'll be a very valuable commodity.
In deeper leagues it's worth keeping an eye on 14% owned Padre OF Will Venable and his line 18-4-12-8-.222. That speed is nice and don't forget that Venable was one of the most highly touted hitters that the Padres have brought up in a while. His minor league numbers suggest that he can hit for a better average and his power numbers have been bulking up a little as he's filled out. Now at age 27 he's in his prime, 20 home runs is a real possibility -- however a .260 average is probably the most you can hope for.
If searching for some RBIs Oakland's 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff may well be your man. Owned in just 10% of Yahoo! Leagues, Kouz has inherited the cleanup spot in the rather weak lineup. His 15-2-18-0-.275 line doesn't really reflect the 25 HR power that he possesses, and before you scoff at that concept realize that he hit 41 over the past two seasons while playing half his games in the most pitcher friendly park (PETCO) in all of the game. Expect more bombs, and his average won't be too bad -- .270-275 is a reasonable expectation.
Owned in just 20% of Y! leagues, SS J.J. Hardy has been tearing it up in May hitting .389 and raising his OBP and SLG. That may not mean much, but it could well be a portent that he's rediscovered the form he had back in 2008 when he hit 24 home runs and finished with a .283 average. At the very least he's worthy of keeping an eye on. At the moment he's hitting .250 with three home runs and 11 RBIs.
One of the most frustrating players to own in fantasy baseball the last few years has been Pirates OF Lasting Milledge. The 4% owned Milledge has raised his average 19 points in the last week and doesn't look as clueless at the plate. Keep an eye on him, especially since he's managed several multi-hit games in that span. He's not worthy of a pickup yet, but if this continues the mixture of speed and power that he possesses could make him a big dividend payer down the line.
Another great speculative play is 10% owned KC SS Mike Avilas. Avilas was supposed to be a breakout candidate following a rookie season where he went .325-10-51 with 68 runs and eight steals in 2008. He lost almost all of 2009 when he had Tommy John surgery to replace a ligament in his elbow. He raked in Spring Training and only failed to make the team because they were concerned he couldn't handle day to day defensive duties. However with Yuniesky Betancourt struggling the Royals did call up Avilas who has responded by hitting .417 with two home runs in his first 24 AB. He'll be shuffled around the infield since the Royals need his bat in the lineup. It's likely that by the end of the month he'll qualify at 2B and maybe even at 3B.
On the pitching front
It's worth noting that Erik Bedard hopes to be back in the rotation by the end of the month. If you need pitching help he's certainly worth stashing and he's available in more than 50% of Y! Leagues.
In the interim it might be worth a look at Seattle's Doug Fister (44% owned) for next week, especially if they keep him on the five day schedule and match him up against Baltimore rather than Tampa. Even though he doesn't strikeout many you have to love the ERA (1.71) and WHIP (0.88) so far. He just keeps on reeling off quality starts -- milk it while you can.
I certainly wouldn't push Jon Garland (35% owned) as an every start kind of pitcher, but he's been making the most of the soft underbelly of the NL West. His 1.71 ERA isn't going to last, but his solid WHIP and the four wins he has already certainly will. He's a very solid option for any home matchup at PETCO where balls rarely leave the yard.
If you've missed out on the news, the 22% owned Mike Leake in Cincy sure looks like a quality starter. He's a control pitcher who won't get huge strikeout totals but is still averaging 6+ per nine. He's a lot better than quite a few pitchers ranked ahead of him and his 3.10 ERA and 1.20 WHIP are nothing to sneeze at. He's probably done enough to keep his spot even when Aroldis Chapman gets called up, possibly in the next three weeks.
He wasn't supposed to be this ready, but the 19% owned Brett Cecil has pitched very well so far. With 24 K's in just 26 innings he's a very interesting option if you are starved for K's. However in the best hitting division in baseball he could take some very ugly lumps once teams figure out just what he's got.
I wouldn't believe the hype when it comes to the 21% owned Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin. While he's had a phenomenal start (16 Ks, 0.00 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in his first 15.1 Major League innings) his minor league statistics just don't bear out that kind of dominance or control. Maybe he's put it all together, but I just don't believe that a guy goes from a 6.9 K/9IP at AAA to come in and dominate the Majors the way he has in his first few games.
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