Author's Note: Ok, I admit it. It's been a few weeks since my last Bottom Fishing column but I have to admit I wasn't sure just how many of you actually cared. But thanks to an outpouring (by which I mean some 20 odd) of e-mails from fans and supporters, you've motivated me to get back to doing this as a weekly thing. And a special thanks to boris41@... and stevens@.. for the compliments (and yes thank you, of course I offer better advices that those better pimped sites you both mentioned). You certainly made this work feel a bit more appreciated. So without further ado...
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.
At first base keep an eye on Adam LaRoche (46%) who'll probably be playing for a contender in the next 60 days and is due to break into his second half mode which traditionally means a 30-40 point jump in average per month with an uptick in the power numbers. That means it's a good time to acquire him although he usually doesn't start raking until July.
Another top option right now is Aubrey Huff (36% owned) who also qualifies in the outfield and is hitting in the center of the Giants lineup. If we project his .296-10-34-34 out we get a pretty nice set of numbers for the season, but even if the pace slackens a bit it would be hard to complain about a .290-25-90-90 season.
Other guys owned to a much lesser extent, but worth serious consideration include Justin Smoak (11%) who has lot of upside and is rebounding after a slow start. Gaby Sanchez (8%), who's been better than expected in Florida (.280-7-28-32-2). Luke Scott (19% owned) has cooled off quite a bit recently, but still has another 10-15 home runs in his bat for the rest of the season and should keep his average in the .280s. Ike Davis (16%) has shown more power so far than I would have expected (8 home runs) but I have a hard time believing he can keep his batting average hovering near .260 the rest of the way.
As to Todd Helton, it's hard to say what's going on there. Reports of his demise have occurred before and the heat of the Summer in Coors could revive him but watching him right now, I'm not sure if he's got that much left.
In the middle infield Asdrubal Cabrera (45%) is due for a July return and could be a solid contributor in average as well as in steals. His injury was to his forearm so his legs will be fine and he did steal 17 last year. Throw in the fact he'll hit at the top of the order in front of Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Santana and Travis Hafner and you can project a very solid second half.
It might be a good time to think about making a play for 2B/3B Gordon Beckham (37%) if you are speculating at this position. I don't see a huge return to average, but the power should still be there and he has had hits in eight of his last 10 games going into last night. Personally I'd probably be more interested in someone like Mike Aviles (10%) (hitting .321-2-10 in just 134 AB) or Reid Brignac (7%) (.302-2-23-22-2), due to upside and because he plays in Tampa's high powered offense, than Beckham, but upside is pretty slender although plenty of guys like Carlos Guillen (.298-4-19-15) are available and can give you fairly predictable stats.
On the hot corner there are plenty of options for guys who won't hurt you but it's hard to get too excited about many of them. Casey Blake (45%) is on a pace for a low 20s in home runs, but his average looks to be heading back into his career .260s range. David Freese (38) is still hitting .300 but looks to have lost his power stroke. Still he's got enough runs (27) and RBIs (33) to make him a solid choice. Kevin Kouzmanoff (17%) looks like the poor man's Casey Blake in terms of power but is on a pace to drive in close to 100. But that .294 average is unsustainable for a guy with a career .265 average.
An interesting option right now might be to try to stash Mike Lowell (16%), who figures to be moved by the trading deadline and should find regular at bats somewhere.
In the outfield one of my favorite deep picks right now has to be Giants OF Pat Burrell (3%) owned who in his first 10 games back in the NL has raised his average 38 points while hitting two home runs and driving in five. He's a very solid bounceback candidate and I think 20 home runs down the stretch are very possible. More importantly is that he'll slot back into the center of the offense, so plenty of RBI chances should be waiting for him.
Also in the deeper slots it's worth being aware that Milton Bradley (5% owned) has three home runs in his past five games and has raised his average by 17 points in the last 10 games. Seems he's coming around, maybe just in time to be traded. Until then he could be available as cheap power and an RBI source. His upside makes him worth a lot more than many others owned at less than 15%
It's no secret that Delmon Young (24%) seems to have found his bat and might finally be hitting a groove. If you had the sense to stash him, good for you. His upside is tremendous, but he still scares me a bit so I probably wouldn't drop a more proven player for him yet.
As previously predicted Drew Stubbs (25% owned) has turned it around the past five weeks raising his average 69 points and stealing six bases in that span. The fact he's only at 25% ownership says a lot of folks aren't paying attention.
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