Welcome to the latest edition of Free Agent Frenzy, which will try to steer you in the right direction when trying to fill roster spots.
Note: Ownership percentages below are from FOXSports.com leagues. We’ll try to stick to the general rule that no player will appear twice in Free Agent Frenzy during a four-week period.
Standard Leagues: With Jonathan Lucroy on the DL for another month or so, George Kottaras (1.2 percent owned) will get most of the playing time behind the plate for the Brewers. Kottaras had five homers in 111 at bats last season, and has slugged 18 in 470 career at bats. Sure, his career BA is .223. If the rest of your roster can withstand that for a month, he could hit a few homers for you.
Deep Leagues: If you’re in stash mode, it’s about time to grab Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (1.2 percent owned), who’s been out since spring training due to a knee injury. The 22-year-old Perez, who hit 10 homers between the minors and majors last season and has a history of .300-plus batting averages in the minors, is aiming for a late June return to the lineup. If you’ll recall, Perez was on many mixed-league rosters before his spring injury.
Standard Leagues: Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt (36.9 percent owned) was dropped in many leagues after his slow start, but he’s got a few homers over the past week, and his OPS is up to .821 for the season. Goldschmidt’s high strikeout rates make him a threat to be a low-BA guy – and maybe even a bust – but he has 30-homer thump potential as well. Maybe Goldschmidt went too high in fantasy drafts two months ago, but as a free pickup he’s hard to ignore.
Deep Leagues: At age 25, Toronto’s David Cooper (0.2 percent owned) isn’t a big-time prospect, and his nine home runs in 120 games at hitter-friendly, Triple-A Las Vegas last season were a low total. However, he showed 20-homer power at Double A a couple of years ago, and is the Blue Jays’ everyday first baseman for the time being. He’s been hitting well, too, with five multi-hit games in nine appearances since his call-up. There’s no guarantee that Cooper will be shipped out when Vladimir Guerrero is ready, since Guerrero is 37 and wasn’t so good in 2011. Cooper is a decent short-term option in deep leagues, and might stick around for awhile.
Standard Leagues: What’s that, Gordon Beckham (12.3 percent owned)? You had three homers with seven RBI over the weekend, and want one more chance? Instead of whining about the dearth of free-agent keystoners for yet another week, I’ll recommend a stab at Beckham’s eight homers, 28 RBI and 21 runs scored. Also, for the record, Beckham was slated for this spot before his big weekend. So there.
Deep Leagues: Jose Lopez (0.6 percent owned) has been playing plenty of third base for the Indians during Jack Hannahan’s absences, and now he’ll get time at first base and DH, especially with Travis Hafner on the disabled list. You may remember Lopez as the guy who hit 25 homers for the Mariners in 2009 before falling off the face of the Earth. I’m not asking you to make a long-term commitment – just take a flier on his decent bat and positional flexibility in very deep mixed leagues, and maybe even an AL-only circuit where some owners don’t pay attention.
Standard Leagues: Will Middlebrooks (24.6 percent owned) was probably ticketed for Triple A before the Red Sox’ outfield completely imploded. With Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford on the DL, Adrian Gonzalez is spending some time in right field, leaving first base open for Kevin Youkilis and the hot corner for Middlebrooks on most days. For now, enjoy Middlebrooks’ power. When the cavalry returns, be ready to replace him.
Deep Leagues: Steve Lombardozzi (2.7 percent owned) qualifies at third base, second base and the outfield. Lombardozzi doesn’t have much power, but he stole 30 bases in the minors last season, has a history of high minor-league BAs (he’s batting .309 now), and is getting plenty of time in the leadoff spot for the Nats.
Standard Leagues: I always thought Alcides Escobar (23 percent owned) was too fast to have batted .235 and .254 in his first two big-league seasons. His current .298 BA is probably too high, but if he keeps things near a respectable .270 level (even with his pitiful walk rate), he’ll steal 30 bases. There’s really nothing else to like about Escobar, unless you’re into defense and real baseball stuff.
Deep Leagues: Why Andrelton Simmons (0.2 percent owned)? Because the Braves just called him up to play every day. Simmons is a defensive wizard, which is useless for the purposes of this article. Simmons won the Carolina League batting title while stealing 26 bases last year, and was hitting .292 with a solid walk rate and three homers in Double A before his callup last week. Is the 22-year-old Simmons ready to hit major-league pitching well? Probably not, but he can steal some bases for you, and might not embarrass himself at the plate.
Standard Leagues: All aboard the Alex Rios (17.4 percent owned) train! Rios is on pace for a 15-homer, 15-steal kind of season, which isn’t surprising since he averaged 19 homers and 22 stolen bases from 2006-10. One bad year in 2011, and everyone jumped off the bandwagon. Rios is still solid if you need a replacement, either short-term or for the long haul.
Deep Leagues: Speedy Rajai Davis (2.2 percent owned) has an everyday job due to the Bkue Jays’ demotion of Eric Thames. Thames’ stint in the minors might be temporary, but that’s OK, because the beauty of picking up guys like Davis is that similar players are usually available. For example, Ben Revere (1 percent owned) seems to be the Twins’ everyday right fielder now, and he had three steals last week. Speed demons are everywhere.
Standard Leagues: Wei-Yin Chen (9.9 percent owned) is more a crafty righty than anything else, but he’s been pitching OK so far, with an 3.75 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP through 10 starts. Chen’s strikeout rate is average, but when hunting for starters, beggars can’t be choosers on that front. Chen is on the mixed-league border between permanent rosterdom and streaming uncertainty, but one or two good starts could get him back in the former camp.
Deep Leagues: Clayton Richard (1 percent owned) isn’t spectacular, but he’s keeping the ball on the ground, throwing the ball over the plate, and pitching half his games at PETCO Park. Heck, he’s scheduled to pitch at home on Wednesday against the Giants, and they can’t hit. Richard might just be a matchup starter with home games making him useful, but that’s OK. Since the beginning of 2010, he has a 2.75 ERA in 186 2/3 innings at PETCO.
Standard Leagues: The new White Sox closer, Addison Reed, is owned in 15.3 percent of FOXSports.com leagues. The guy has the job, and whiffs more than a batter per inning. Here’s a recommendation for owners in the other 84.7 percent of our leagues: Pay attention!
Deep Leagues: Welcome to the latest edition of “Fantasy Relievers Who Don’t Get Saves But Can Help You, Anyway!” In past weeks, we’ve featured Ryan Cook, Cory Wade and Joaquin Benoit in this space. This week’s recommendation is diminutive Royals’ southpaw Tim Collins (0.6 percent owned), who has whiffed a sky-high 41 batters against seven walks in 27 1/3 innings. Collins is listed at 5’7”, 165 pounds, but he throws mid-90s gas, and his minor-league history suggests that we’ll be seeing this kind of performance for a long time. Collins is only 22 years old, and he should be a good closer someday. He’s also an inspiration to short guys everywhere.