Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fantasy Funkhouser: Deadline Passing Doesn't Mean You're Dead

Carlos Gomez apparently needs to hire a fantasy baseball PR firm. (Getty images)

Most fantasy trade deadlines have passed, so the only resource you have is what's out on the waiver wire. Before trades went the way of Brett Gardner's fantasy value, managers should have fortified their team. Top teams should have looked for proven players to make that run through the playoffs, where fringe playoff teams will be looking for more lightning in a bottle (Manny Machado, if you please). Either way, both are in the same boat...the lone bastion of fantasy value available outside of your squad is on the waiver wire.

This doesn't have to be a death sentence, nor a reason to stand pat. This time, above all else, is a time to ride streaks, ditch the "names", and be on the constant look out for players that can have the greatest impact on your team for the rest of the year. Flags fly forever, this is not the time to be stubborn and wait for Mike Napoli to make it back from the DL and turn things around. Where you drafted a player, his perceived value are all irrelevant. All that matters are hot streakers, category stackers, and toe tappers.

I made note of some value plays earlier in the year, so let's see if we can find some treasures. Here are some players to target that are available in half of Yahoo! leagues.

HOT STREAKERS

These are guys that are and have been on a tear for at least a couple of weeks. They contribute across the board, and while their star power may be limited, it should be around long enough to help your squad. This isn't uncommon throughout the year to find a guy on a streak, but finding a player that finishes the season strong is a major win.

Jon Jay, STL - OF (21%)

Did you know Jon Jay played in 159 games for the Cardinals last year? Maybe if you're Jon Jay you did, but for those of you new to baseball, that's almost a full season worth of games. Aside from hitting .297 last year, there wasn't much to write home about for Jay. In the past week, however, he's been placed atop the Red Birds' line-up and responded accordingly. He is 15 for his last 28 (.538), and he's been walking at a higher rate than he ever has.

That ability to get on base has paired nicely with a dramatic turnaround in Jay's stolen base percentage. Prior to this year, Jay was 8-19 in stolen base opportunities. This year: 13-15.

Ryan Ludwick, CIN - OF (45%)

To balance the force in the year of Josh Willingham, the NL has their own version of the Hammer, Ryan Ludwick. Both former power hitting corner outfield prospects have had some success in the bigs, but inconsistent play and injuries have gotten them off track to this point. Now, at 33 and 34 respectively, Willingham and Ludwick have come into their own. While Willingham is long gone in your league, Ludwick has only hit .344 with 8 homers in the last 30 days. Those 8 homers in that span puts him on par with Buster Posey, Carlos Beltran, and, of course, Willingham.

Now, Joey Votto has been out for much of this time, but when he does saunter his way back, Dusty Baker has no choice but to keep Ludwick in the line-up. Now, we all know Dusty can make some interesting decisions (Mark Prior was asked for an interview, but did not return Lockration.'s calls), but to bench or spot start a guy with 21 homers would be a stretch. Also, keep in mind that while Votto will gobble up RBI opportunities like Tim Tebow as Jesus gobbles up web hits, but Votto is an on base machine. Ludwick will still get his chances.


Carlos Gomez, MIL - OF (30%)

The ying to Willingham's yang (sb.mlb.com)
Initially touted by the Piano-man himself, Gomez has come on as of late for the Suds (sorry, Minny). Owned in ONLY 30% OF LEAGUES, this is perhaps the biggest head-scratcher we'll probably find on this list. There is no reports of Carlos Gomez doing something directly reprehensible to 70% of the fake hardball community, but it must be something. Even historically, Gomez may be a bit of a post-hyper, but he's not Alex Rios for god sake! Don't think that name change fooled us victims, Alexi Rios.

Gomez certainly strikes out a lot and doesn't walk. Typical WARNING signs, but in spite of that and Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke curiously dropping Gomez to 7th in the line-up the past couple of games instead of batting him ahead of formerly magnificently quaffed Ryan Braun (maybe that high testosterone test just comes from having a great head of hair?), Gomez over the last month has only [deep breath]: scored more runs (22) than Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Andrew McCutchen; out homered (6) Prince Fielder, Edwin Encarnacion, and Curtis Granderson; out RBI'd (14) Braun, Mark Trumbo, Adam Jones, Adam Dunn, and Robinson Cano; stolen more bases than anyone not named Rajai Davis (who we will get to). [Big exhale]. But, yeah, that's all. Could his run be coming to an end? Possibly, but the owners who have had him aren't regretting their decision like you may be.

Erick Aybar - LAA, SS (37%)

Started off horribly, good team, scoring runs, premium position. Could also go for Josh Rutledge or Machado. I'm still winded and annoyed that more people don't own Gomez...

CATEGORY STACKERS

If you're coming up short in one category, these guys will help push you along. Whereas the hot streakers are more overall contributors, the value for these players comes with the potential to win you a category by themselves, or provide a major boost.

Salvador Perez, KC - C (35%)

At the catcher position, Perez can flat hit. Since coming back from a knee injury that took away most of his 2012, the young catcher has already clocked 8 home runs. That's already more than pre-season faves Joe Mauer and Alex Avila. Granted the amount of people that drafted Mauer for power should be gently told it's not 2009 anymore. His hot finish to the season can provide an upgrade right now for those teams looking for power, but Perez should also be noted for 2013 as a sleeper.

Rajai Davis, TOR - OF (22%)

If the question is, "Where do I get steals from?" Rajai Davis is the answer. He clearly has the green light to do as he pleases on the base paths for the best stealing situation this side of Miami. Now, Davis is notoriously streaky. Getting hot enough at times to melt the hockey rinks in Toronto and can get cold enough, no not to zamboni those rinks to a smooth hockey playing surface, but to play himself out of a job. At the very least, if he can keep it going for a couple more weeks, he's not at risk of losing his job with the likes of Anthony Gose playing everyday.


Eric Young, Jr., COL - 2B, OF (17%)

You waited. Oh, you were complacent. You had Jason Kipnis on his way to a 30/30 year and surefire keeper status, and hey, you drafted him late, but if he got injured or whatever, ultra utility man Michael Young; owner of numerous 200 hit .300 AVG seasons to back him as well as anyone else at 1B or 3B. Yes, life was good back on June 1st.

Kipnis had you sitting pretty in June. (cleveland.sbnation.com)
Since then, not so much. Kipnis hit the wall, and I mean THE WALL for his second straight Summer derailing his momentum into future star this year and raising questions as to what the hell happens to him once the mercury rises in the thermometer. Too many Bud Light limes? He hasn't hit a homerun since June 17th, and his average has dropped 30 points. It's been dark days in Kipnisville.

MY has been more of a year long disaster. Some people, including your humble narrator, bought in to MY's early struggles as a buy low candidate. I didn't buy low enough. Young has batted .257 over the past month with zero homers and 10 RBI. That really takes away from his average for the year of .269 and 45 RBI. Young has always been consistent, the only difference is this year he is consistently bad. The Rangers have done everything outside of cut the brakes on the car he drives to the ballpark everyday to get him out of the line-up. Top prospect Mike Olt has been called up to little fanfare, and there are even rumors tippity-top prospect Jurickson Profar may make an appearance as early as Monday to challenge Young for playing time.

So after the rubble clears, there's EY. Eric Young has too been anointed the everyday lead-off man in Colorado. His speed, and recent power streak, along with 2B eligibility make him an ideal play. Of course, this recent hot streak has coincided with a Colorado homestand at Coors, but high altitude doesn't cure speed. EY can run with the best, and can help stack that category.

TOE TAPPERS

The absolute best strategy down the stretch is playing match-ups and streaming. Some teams, just by the nature of their schedule, will have better match-ups, pitchers can wear down or spring forward this time of year. This might as well be the Doug Fister Memorial because last year and this year he has basically turned into a Cy Young candidate the last 2 months of the season. It's just those other couple months of the season he needs to work on.

Lucas Harrell, SP - HOU (12%)

Buried on the worst team in baseball is a 10 game winning pitcher. Lucas Harrell has been an ace for Houston. Now, that's a little different than being an ace in Houston, where that was Wandy Rodriguez until he was shipped to the Steel City. But Harrell has been on a streak as of late. Since the All-Star break, he carries a 2.06 ERA and 38 K's in 43 2/3 IP. Now, assuming management is still paying attention in Houston, Harrell's late season explosion may be cut short due to an innings cap. He's over 140 as of now and threw a grand total of 68 innings the past two.

Mike Minor/Kris Medlen, SP - ATL (42%/34%)

The Braves have a deep staff with vets and young guys with live arms. Minor and Medlen fit into the latter category. The staff is so deep that with Tommy Hanson's imminent return from the DL and new acquisition Paul Maholm pitching very un-Paul Maholm like, the Bravos are moving to a 6-man rotation battle royale over the next 2 weeks where the best and healthiest will emerge. I'd say Minor has a bit of a lead on Medlen, since Medlen was on bullpen duty before he got thrown in, but Medlen has been pitching better than Minor over the past month. Also, don't sleep on another top prospect, Julio Teheran. He put together some strong outings in AAA, and could see a September call-up. Nothing is guaranteed, but such is life in a post deadline world.

Brett Anderson, SP - OAK (5%)

Anderson is currently on the DL recovering from Tommy John surgery. Recovery isn't pretty for many pitchers, even great one's like Adam Wainwright, but Anderson was an up and coming ace in Oakland. His rehab starts have gotten progressively better and his velocity is where it needs to be, but control is always the last thing to come back from TJ. He's worth a flier because he has the pedigree and plays in that ballpark. Make a note if you have an open DL spot (and if you do shame on you!), Anderson should be back within 2 weeks.


The Funk-man says: "You know, I thought Ryan Ludwick needs more support."(screenrant.com)


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