Free Agent Frenzy: Look past flash, boring isn't always bad
MAY 02, 2014 9:56a ET
It’s May, so you can start seriously thinking about waiving some of your underachievers. No, not the Prince Fielder types – the ones on the end of your roster. As you’ll see below, some not-so-exciting players might be available to stabilize your fantasy fortunes.
Here’s this season’s fifth edition of Free Agent Frenzy. Please note that, as in past seasons, no player will be mentioned in this space more than once in a four-week span, because we don’t want to beat you over the head all year long about the same players. Let’s get going!
(Note: All stats are through Thursday.)
Pierzynski isn’t a sexy option, but he’s batting .274 with a couple of homers and 13 RBI. If looking for a replacement at catcher, look no further.
Digging deeper: Miguel Olivo (0.1 percent owned) was called up this week when the Dodgers sent Tim Federowicz to the minors. Olivo’s usefulness will last only until A.J. Ellis comes off the DL this month, but he could hit a home run or two by then. Olivo has always had warts – a high K rate, a bad BA and no walks – but he can hit ‘em over the fence.
Boring doesn’t mean bad, people. Jones averaged 20 home runs from 2010-13, and has gone deep five times already this season. Sure, his BA will be subpar, but it probably won’t be disastrous. You want decent power from a free first baseman (who is also eligible at OF)? Here you go.
Digging deeper: The bottom of the free-agent barrel seems bereft of acceptable options, so we’ll use this slot for a grab-and-stash candidate. Prospect Jon Singleton (0.3 percent owned) is batting .293 with nine home runs, 27 RBI and a 1.045 OPS for the Astros’ Triple-A affiliate. There’s nobody good standing in Singleton’s way in Houston, and he could be up before the end of the month.
Second base: Alberto Callaspo, A’s (owned in 25.5 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Speaking of not sexy, Callaspo has never hit more than 11 home runs in a season, but he hits for a decent BA, has three home runs with 15 RBI so far this year, and carries 2B/3B eligibility. He’s not the next big thing, but as Judge Smails once said, the world needs ditch diggers, too.
Digging deeper: Chris Getz (0.2 percent owned) is now the regular second baseman for the Blue Jays. Getz can’t hit and will probably lose the job at some point, but he can run a bit, as evidenced by his two steals in three games this week.
Third base: Marcus Semien, White Sox (owned in 19.6 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Conor Gillaspie is on the DL and Matt Davidson is struggling in the minors, so Semien is gaining a bit of a stranglehold on the White Sox’ third-base job. He has three homers, three steals, 15 RBI and 19 runs so far, and those are some pretty solid fantasy numbers. Yes, I know Semien is batting .225 with a .651 OPS. He can help you for at least awhile, and his 2B/3B/SS eligibility is a nice bonus.
Digging deeper: Ed Lucas (0.3 percent owned) might have more playing time issues when Rafael Furcal comes off the DL in a week or two, but he should continue to get some super-sub level playing time, as he did with 351 at bats last season. Lucas has 1B/2B/3B eligibility along with OK power, and isn’t a bad fill-in for your NL-only squad.
Escobar should get a parade in downtown Kansas City if he maintains his current .750 OPS, because if he can pair that level of hitting with his terrific defense, he’ll be an extremely valuable player. I don’t think he’ll keep it up, but because I think he’ll steal 30 or so bases, I don’t really care. I’m not writing about real baseball here – just its fantasy counterpart. Steals are good, whether or not they come with other offensive production.
Digging deeper: This recommendation depends on whether Jason Kipnis makes a trip to the DL, and we should know more about that on Friday or Saturday. Mike Aviles (2.1 percent owned) will spend some time filling in if Kipnis goes on the shelf, and he’s always good for some modest power and speed. If you need to dig a little deeper, the Tribe should also be expected to use Elliot Johnson (0.1 percent owned) in Kipnis’ stead.
Outfield: Marcell Ozuna, Marlins (owned in 29.3 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
The Marlins aren’t as bad as we thought, huh? One of their most pleasant surprises has been the 23-year-old Ozuna, who’s batting .298 with four homers, 16 RBI, 15 runs scored and an .812 OPS. He should hit 15 home runs with a decent BA, and steal a handful of bases.
Digging deeper: With Peter Bourjos not hitting and Jon Jay not all that impressive, the Cardinals appear ready to give rookie Randal Grichuk (0.2 percent owned) some playing time in the outfield. The 22-year-old Grichuk isn’t considered a blue-chip prospect, but he had 22 home runs with nine stolen bases at Double-A last season. Grab him for your NL-only team if you need help, and hope he hits his way into a regular role.
Starting pitcher: Danny Salazar, Indians (owned in 41.8 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
I thought Salazar was overrated during draft season, but as a free-agent pickup he’s certainly worth a look. Salazar’s biggest problem is that he often throws too many pitches, thereby getting forced from starts too early. However, his strikeout numbers are still excellent (31 K in 25 1/3 IP so far this year), and his Sunday start at San Francisco (7 IP, 1 ER, 8 K, 1 BB) was encouraging. Salazar’s 6.04 ERA is going to go down, and you should hitch a ride along with it.
Digging deeper: Well-regarded prospect Marcus Stroman (0.6 percent owned) has been dominant through five starts at Triple A, posting a 1.69 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP while whiffing 36 batters in 26 2/3 innings. Rumors persist that the Blue Jays will promote Stroman very soon – perhaps next week – and he’ll be a solid AL-only target when that happens. Grab him now if you can.
Jason Grilli (oblique) might come off the DL as soon as next week, but until then, Melancon is the man for saves in Pittsburgh. And after Grilli comes back … well, he wasn’t all that great in early April, while Melancon has a 1.50 ERA in 12 appearances. My friend Patrick DiCaprio of FantasyPros911 and his Closer Identifier Algorithm think that Melancon could keep the job. Pick up Melancon for the short term, and cross your fingers for the long-term upside.
Digging deeper: Hector Rondon (1.3 percent owned) has been mentioned – along with Pedro Strop – by manager Rick Renteria as a possible closer candidate for the Cubs. Rondon throws hard, and has struck out 15 batters in 13 1/3 innings so far this season. He’s worth the speculative add.