The Wire Troll: Downs Syndrome
Joel Zumaya, Detroit, RP: Assuming Zumaya can stay away from both stacking boxes in attics and sharpening his chops on Guitar Hero, he should be returning to the Tiger bullpen as early as next week. He’s coming off a very strong outing for the High-A Lakeland Flying Tigers, pitching two scoreless innings and hitting triple digits on the radar gun twice. Anyone that can reach 100 mph can’t be all that far away from a return to the active roster. The Tigers need the heir apparent to 40-year-old Todd Jones active in what has been a very shaky bullpen so far this year. Zumaya is a solid acquisition in AL-only leagues and deep keeper formats at this time.
Scott Linebrink, Chicago White Sox, RP: Linebrink has very quietly been putting up great numbers for the White Sox this year. He’s racked up 14 holds and owns a nifty 1.38 ERA with a very strong 0.92 WHIP pitching in a set-up capacity for Bobby Jenks. With Jenks, seemingly about two cheeseburgers away from a massive coronary and the always volatile Ozzie Guillen at the helm, Linebrink should definitely be on the radar. He is a great pickup at this time for leagues counting holds and all AL-only formats.
Jose Arredondo, Los Angeles Angels, RP: The injury to Scot Shields has opened the door and Jose Arredondo has walked through big time. Since getting promoted on May 13, he has allowed only one run in 11 2/3 innings pitched, and has moved into the set-up role for Francisco Rodriguez. The 24-year-old converted starter is a solid candidate for holds over the balance of the season. Remember, that K-Rod is heading into free agency this offseason, so I’d suggest keeping Arredondo on the radar in deep keeper formats. For now, he is a good choice in AL-only leagues and all formats counting holds.
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati, SP: The 22-year-old top-tier prospect was promoted from Triple-A Louisville this past week. In his first start, Bailey allowed two earned runs against the hot-hitting Phillies. Those 32 walks in 69 1/3 IP at Louisville indicates that there will likely be some struggles this year at the major league level. Until Bailey can demonstrate that he has mastered his control problems, he probably will have limited value in standard 12-team mixed formats. At this time I would recommend Bailey for NL-only leagues, and all deep keeper formats.
Josh Banks, San Diego, SP: Banks was claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays in April, and found himself inserted into the rotation with the injury to Chris Young. He is off to a great start and has allowed only one earned run in three starts. The 0.39 ERA and 1.04 WHIP are most certainly not sustainable over the long haul, but in NL-only leagues, grab him off the waiver wire and ride him while he’s hot.
Rod Barajas, Toronto, C: For a guy that couldn’t make up his mind two years ago, Barajas seems to be enjoying his time in Toronto these days. The elbow strain suffered by Gregg Zaun at the end of May created an opportunity and Barajas has responded very well. Over the past couple of weeks, he is batting .333 with two homers and nine RBI. Currently owned by only 12 per cent of all teams in CBS leagues, Barajas would be a solid add in AL-only leagues and mixed formats requiring two catchers.
Scott Downs, Toronto, RP: In his past two appearances, both resulting in blown saves and subsequent losses, B.J. Ryan has been rocked to the tune of five earned runs. This should bring the name of Scott Downs into the picture. With Jeremy Accardo currently on the DL with a forearm strain, Downs would be the logical choice to step into the closer’s role for the Jays should Ryan continue to struggle. Downs is currently sporting a 1.75 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, to go along with the five saves earned while Ryan was on restricted duty earlier in the year. He’s a solid pick in AL-only leagues and someone that should be watched very closely in all formats, depending of course on the health status of Ryan.
Cody Ross, Florida, OF: Ross falls into the category of a very one-dimensional player. If one is looking for a cheap source of homers, he could be an asset. With the walk-off homer this past Saturday, Ross has now hit 11 jacks on the year in only 119 at bats. Now, for the bad news: he also is currently sporting a .227 batting average. It seems as if the injury to Josh Willingham is going to be of a long-term nature, thereby providing an opportunity for Ross. However, unless the batting average improves, Ross is limited to being a decent acquistion in only NL-only formats.
Miguel Olivo, Kansas City, C: Olivo found himself in just a bit of a bind this past offseason and, with few takers lining up, he signed on with the Kansas City Royals for the 2008 campaign. He’s been sporting a very hot bat lately and is currently batting .291 with seven homers and 23 RBI. Trey Hillman is currently playing Olivo at both catcher, over the always batting average challenged John Buck, and at DH. As long as Olivo is hitting, the offensively challenged Royals will be taking advantage of it, making him a great grab in both AL-only leagues and all formats requiring two catchers.
Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado, SS: What I find very surprising here is that Tulowitzki is currently owned by only 36 per cent of all teams in CBS leagues. We are talking about the same kid that is coming off a 24-homer, 99-RBI rookie campaign, aren’t we? The torn quadriceps injury that sent him to the DL at the end of April is reportedly healing ahead of schedule, and he could possibly be returning to the active roster some time in the next several weeks. Last year at this time Tulowitzki had only three homers, so it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could very easily vault himself into the top tier of all shortstops in the second half. If he is a free agent in your league, avoid the scramble to pick him up once he is activated and grab him now.