Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index from the past couple days and see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.
Buzz Index – Adds
David Ross (Cin – C) 40,600 adds
Ross has been the overwhelming leader of the Buzz Index over the last two days thanks to four home runs in his past three games and Reds manager Jerry Narron's stated intentions to continue to give him playing time. Ross' June splits have been ridiculous – in 11 games, he's batted .414 with six home runs, 11 runs batted in, and 10 runs scored while batting in the eighth spot in the order.
Takashi Saito (LAD – RP) 19,200 adds
Saito is once again a hot commodity thanks to Eric Gagne's lingering elbow problems. Saito should see the majority of save opportunities until Gagne's return, for which a clear timeframe has yet to be established. Saito has appeared in 30 games so far this season and posted a 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and recorded four saves in four chances while striking out 42 in 32.2 innings.
Ian Snell (Pit – SP, RP) 19,200 adds
Snell has won five consecutive starts, and has put up solid fantasy numbers overall while doing so. In 30 innings during that stretch, he's posted a 3.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out 28 batters. Snell is still available in roughly 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues, however, so he hasn't made believers out of everyone just yet.
Gary Matthews Jr. (Tex – OF) 18,500 adds
Matthews has hit .367 in 166 at-bats since May 1 and .426 in 61 June at-bats, and it finally appears that he is too hot for fantasy owners to continue to ignore. While he may not hit .340 all season, a .300-plus average at the top of the Texas lineup means overall numbers that deserve a place in nearly any league format.
Justin Morneau (Min – 1B) 15,700 adds
Morneau's numbers are finally coming around, and fantasy owners are taking note in the roughly 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues where he is still available. He's hit .301 and slugged .573 in 39 games since a dreadful April (.208/.416), putting up 10 home runs and 36 runs batted in the process.
Jorge Julio (Ari – RP) 15,200 adds
Julio has stepped into the void left by a struggling Jose Valverde, registering three saves in three chances since being acquired by the team via trade on May 24. He may not be the season-long solution, but manager Bob Melvin will have no choice but to turn to Julio as long as Valverde continues to flounder. Julio has allowed three hits and one earned run in nine appearances for the Diamondbacks.
Enrique Gonzalez (Ari – SP) 14,000 adds
News that Gonzalez is in the D-Backs' rotation to stay and the results of his latest start – seven innings of one-hit ball versus the Giants on June 13 – have certainly piqued the interest of fantasy owners. In his three starts this season, Gonzalez has allowed only eight hits and three earned runs in 19 innings, striking out 12 and walking four while going 2-0.
Matt Kemp (LAD – OF) 10,900 adds
Kemp has hit safely in every game that he has started (13 of 17 total), but his .375 average, seven home runs, and three steals are still available in roughly 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He is slowly but surely making his way onto fantasy rosters, but expect the momentum to increase exponentially if he maintains a pace even remotely close to what is his current.
Buzz Index – Drops
Josh Willingham (Fla – C, OF) 27,500 drops
Willingham has been making a mass exodus from team rosters to the waiver wire since hitting the DL on Wednesday due to a strained ligament in his left hand. Despite a red-hot start to the season, some owners had been contemplating this move for some time – he's hit just .246 over his past 31 games with four home runs, 14 runs batted in, and 11 runs accumulated in the process. It is worth noting that the move to the DL was made retroactive to June 7, and Marlins manager Joe Girardi does not expect him to miss more than the 15 required days.
Tyler Walker (TB – RP) 22,700 drops
Walker's trip to the DL due to a sore right elbow was followed by a trip to waivers in many Yahoo! leagues. Walker has posted decent enough numbers as the Devil Rays' closer to warrant a roster spot in most formats (4.95 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 10 saves in 20 games), but a creaky elbow and marginal production is not a combination that inspires confidence. It is likely that many of the owners who dropped Walker turned to one of the pitchers rumored to be in line for a save or two as part of a committee approach, including Brian Meadows, Ruddy Lugo, Shawn Camp, and Tim Corcoran.
Eric Gagne (LAD – RP) 13,600 drops
Gagne's troublesome right elbow has many of his now former owners bringing in some relief of their own. His most recent visit to a neurologist reaffirmed that he has an irritated nerve – he was placed on a new medication according to the Los Angeles Times and will not throw at all until he no longer feels irritation. Team officials can only estimate at this point, but have said that he will be on the shelf for a minimum of two to three weeks.
Tony Armas (Was – SP) 13,600 drops
Armas is owned in 75 percent of Yahoo! leagues thanks to a strong start – he was sporting a 3.08 ERA and 1.15 WHIP on May 20. Over his past five starts, however, Armas has accumulated a 6.31 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 25.2 innings. His most recent work appears to have been the last straw for many – he gave up seven earned runs in three innings of work at home versus Colorado on Wednesday. Fantasy owners are beginning to look elsewhere for pitching help.
Casey Blake (Cle – 3B, OF) 12,900 drops
Blake got off to a tremendous start this season, but his numbers have made a decided turn for the worse since his second multi-home run game of the season on May 24. Since that game he's hit .161 in 56 at-bats, has hit one home run, and driven in two runs in 16 games. The drops really started adding up with the news that Blake was headed to the disabled list on Thursday thanks to a strained right oblique.
Jose Valverde (Ari – RP) 12,800 drops
On May 16, Valverde recorded his eleventh save of the season, and at that point had a tidy 2.20 ERA and sparkling 0.98 WHIP in 16.1 innings of work. He's made a total of ten appearances since that game, working 9.1 innings in which he's given up 17 earned runs (16.39 ERA), 23 hits, and six walks (3.11 WHIP). Needless to say, he's at least temporarily lost his job as closer to Jorge Julio and fantasy owners have begun to look elsewhere for fantasy stats.
Eric Byrnes (Ari – OF) 11,400 drops
Some of the fantasy owners that enjoyed a monster May from Byrnes (.364 in 23 games, 23 runs, eight home runs, 16 runs batted in, five steals) have already begun to cut ties while they are ahead. He's hit just .162 in 37 June at-bats, and those with itchiest fingers on the "Drop Players" link are assuming that May will be the exception and not the rule.
Buzz Index – Recent Trades
"Buy Low" seems to be the theme for recent trade activity according to the Buzz Index. Among the most traded players over the past week in Yahoo! leagues were big names like Mark Teixeira, Jake Peavy, and Carlos Delgado.
Teixeira has been traded in one-for-ones for the likes of Carl Crawford, Francisco Rodriguez, Jim Thome, and Nick Swisher. With his power numbers well below his usual standard now 10 weeks into the season, this may be the time to hit up the Big Teix owner in your league to see if you can get him on the cheap. And with Teixeira now saying that he and his hitting instructor have identified the problem with the mechanics in his swing that he feels has zapped his power numbers, it may be the last time you will get the opportunity to try for a discounted price.
The struggling Peavy has been dealt over the past few days for players like Vernon Wells, Curt Schilling, Justin Verlander, and Dan Uggla. Peavy has been struggling with right shoulder tendonitis since mid-May, and gave up five runs or more in three consecutive starts – his most recent three – for the first time in his career following that diagnosis. Peavy and the team feel that the tendonitis is no longer an issue, pointing to the fact that he was able to work a between-starts bullpen session – his first in three weeks – without any unusual soreness this past Sunday. Now is the time to take a gamble on Peavy if you have been contemplating it. If his worst is indeed behind him, his price will never be lower and you will be rewarded handsomely for your risk.
Delgado has been traded in recent days for a package deal of Trevor Hoffman and Melky Cabrera, has been dealt along with J.D. Drew for Jason Bay, and has been traded straight-up for the likes of Bronson Arroyo and Kenny Rogers. Those managers who recently made a move to acquire him may have done so at precisely the right time. While he hit a paltry .208 in 26 May games with just 14 runs batted in, so far in 11 June games he's hitting .348 with four home runs and 15 runs batted in. It may be tough to convince a Delgado owner to trade at a discount at this point – let that be a lesson to you to strike while the iron is hot (and while the player is still cold).