The Wire Troll: Drawing a Blanco?
Dan Wheeler, Tampa Bay, RP: Did anyone actually believe that Troy Percival could make it through the 2008 season without at least one trip to the DL? A left hamstring strain on May 28 leaves us with Wheeler being the newest addition to the closer ranks. Wheeler, with 20 saves over the past two seasons, should be first in line for saves in Tampa until Percival returns. For those looking at short-term saves, Wheeler is a must add at this time.
Gregor Blanco, Atlanta, OF: With the injury to Matt Diaz, it looks like Blanco has secured at least four-to-six weeks of playing time in left field for the Braves. The 24-year-old left-handed hitter should provide both a decent average and speed. Blanco stole 23 bases at Triple-A Richmond in 2007 and is a solid acquisition in NL-only leagues at this time.
Jorge Campillo, Atlanta, SP/RP: This former Mariner has been nothing short of outstanding for the Braves in 2008. Since his promotion from the bullpen, Campillo has now gone three starts without allowing a free pass. In 15 innings in a starting capacity, he has allowed only nine hits and has struck out 16. Campillo has been battling blister problems and is on a limited pitch count, but he’s definitely got the job done so far, making him a solid option in NL-only and deep mixed formats.
Russell Branyan, Milwaukee, 3B: The struggles of Bill Hall have forced the Brewers into a platoon situation for now at third base. Enter into the picture a perfect mate for Hall in none other than Branyan. The Brewers purchased his contract from Triple-A Nashville on May 25 and he has already managed to go deep twice in his first six games. Don’t be misled by those strong Triple-A numbers; at 32, Branyan hasn’t figured out how to hit major league southpaws and there is no reason to believe he is going to suddenly get it. At the same time, in a platoon role, Branyan could be an asset in very deep mixed leagues at a corner infield slot and a definite asset for those playing in NL-only formats.
Chad Tracy, Arizona, 1B/3B: Activated off the DL this past week, it looks like Tracy is fully recovered from the microfracture surgery he underwent last fall. It would appear that Tracy will garner most of his playing time between first and third base at this time, but the injury to Eric Byrnes could provide some additional at bats for him left field, especially with Chris Burke struggling. Are the Diamondbacks going to turn Tracy into a super sub? As recently as 2005, Tracy has played in the outfield, so it certainly shouldn’t be ruled out at this time. For someone currently owned by only 8 per cent of teams in CBS leagues, Tracy is a must own in NL-only leagues and on the radar in deeper mixed formats.
Randy Winn, San Francisco, OF: Very quietly, Winn is putting together a very solid 2008 season. In the past week alone, he is batting a solid .310 with two homers and two steals. With ten steals already, Winn is on pace to have his best stolen base season since 2004. In most formats, he is still out there on waivers and if you’re in need of a nice power-speed mix, he’s a must own in NL-only leagues and a solid asset in deeper mixed formats as a fifth outfielder.
Justin Masterson, Boston, SP: The shoulder fatigue that has currently put Daisuke Matsuzaka on the DL has created another opportunity for Masterson to show off his talents. In two spot starts this year, Masterson has allowed only five hits and contributed nine strikeouts. This looks to be a very short-term fix for Boston, but if Masterson can continue to shine, there is no doubt future opportunities will be there. He is a solid option in AL-only leagues at this time and certainly a name that should be filed away for future reference in all formats.
Joey Gathright, Kansas City, OF: Without a doubt, Gathright is about as one-dimensional a player as one can find, but that dimension does happen to represent a category that starts getting harder to find as we pass the one-third mark in the year. The demotion of Billy Butler has opened up an opportunity for increased playing time, and for those looking to fill a void in the stolen base category, Gathright (with 14 already) could very well be the solution.
Alexi Casilla, Minnesota, 2B: Since his promotion from Triple-A, the 23-year-old Casilla has been on fire. He is currently sporting a .340 BA to go along with a couple of homers and stolen bases. There is no doubt that he can run, but the batting average is very unlikely to be maintained. At this time, Casilla is a decent gamble as a short-term injury replacement in mixed formats and a must have in AL-only formats.
Carlos Gonzalez, Oakland, OF: Just because Gonzalez’s promotion has to take a back seat this week to the Jay Bruce show in Cincinnati, doesn’t mean that we should ignore it. Acquired from Arizona in the Dan Haren deal, the 22-year-old Gonzalez has shown moderate power and a decent average at Triple-A Sacramento this year. Like many youngsters, he still strikes out too often, but Gonzalez could be an asset in AL-only leagues and is a must own in deep keeper formats.
Ryan Doumit, Pittsburgh, C/OF: Doumit was off to a great start until sidelined with a broken thumb on May 13. Originally thought to be out until the end of June, he could be activated as early as this coming week. If Doumit is available, get the jump on your league mates and acquire him before the obvious rush. The five homers and .350 batting average he’s sporting, along with the flexibility of being able to qualify at both catcher and outfield is definitely reason to jump on this one. Grab him quick before he’s gone.