Our nightly Roto Arcade Closing Time blog feature does a good job of keeping fantasy owners apprised of the need-to-know situations on the fantasy diamond, which was the goal of the MLB Skinny in the past. Since we're now covered in that regard on a daily basis, I thought I'd keep my focus for Mondays this season mostly on the waiver wire – I may throw a changeup every so often.
The plan is to only recommend players owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues (with rare exceptions). And I'll try to cover every position on the fantasy diamond, although I make no promises for what I'll do with the catcher position from week to week.
Alright, let's get it started … here are the players that have caught my eye this week:
Over the hill? Konerko already has three homers.
Paul Konerko(notes), ChW, 1B – 53 percent owned: I think the tendency in fantasy circles is to look at Konerko as someone who is getting dangerously close to his expiration date, but in reality he's just recently turned 34 years old, and even in the pre-Steroids Era, players often enjoyed highly productive campaigns in their mid-30s. Through six games, Konerko has been dialed in – .317, 3 HR, 7 RBIs – while hitting out of the cleanup spot for the Sox. He's a legit 30/90 candidate, and it's rare that you can pick that kind of production up off the wire.
I like him more than: James Loney(notes) (68%); Nick Swisher(notes) (60%)
Chase Headley(notes), SD, 3/O – 42 percent: The PETCO concern is valid, but it shouldn't be a deal-breaker for a player with Headley's talent and advanced plate approach. He's hit .308 in 136 career road games, and if he can sustain that level while hitting at least .250 at home (a reasonable expectation), his 25/15 upside, multi-position eligibility and middle of the order residency make him a very intriguing wire flier.
I like him more than: Mark DeRosa(notes) (82%); Casey Blake(notes) (59%)
Casey McGehee(notes), Mil, 2/3 – 50 percent: I'll be the first to admit that I thought McGehee was a little lucky last season but sometimes you just have to suspend your disbelief and enjoy the ride. The facts tell us that McGehee hit 16 home runs in the final 88 games of last season and already has two through six games this season, and that's uncommon power for a 2B-eligible player. I don't think I'd drop any of the second basemen currently owned in more leagues than McGehee, but if I could find a way to bench a struggling Jose Lopez(notes) while using McGehee to fill in, I would. Or maybe you just need to cover for a DL casualty like Ian Kinsler(notes), Brian Roberts(notes) or Aaron Hill(notes).
I like him more than: Clint Barmes(notes) (45%)
Kelly Johnson(notes), Ari, 2B – 24 percent: Johnson is one of the top 20 fantasy hitters through the first week of the season, and only three second basemen (Placido Polanco(notes), Dustin Pedroia(notes), Rickie Weeks(notes)) have been better. He proved capable of hitting double-digit home runs and stealing double-digit bases while maintaining a .280-ish average while with Atlanta (at least prior to '09), and the hitting environment in Arizona should only further promote the health of his offensive numbers – especially if he can get consistent opportunities in the leadoff spot, where he has hit 20 home runs in 590 ABs in his career.
I like him more than: Clint Barmes (45%); Skip Schumaker(notes) (33%); Felipe Lopez(notes), (30%)
Alberto Callaspo(notes), KC, 2/3 – 22 percent: Royals manager Trey Hillman said a couple weeks back that he really likes Callaspo hitting No. 3 in the lineup. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that when Callaspo returned from an oblique injury last Tuesday, he was slotted in right behind David DeJesus(notes) and Scott Podsednik(notes) atop the K.C. lineup – he wound up hitting an extra-inning home run in that game. Given his ability to consistently make good contact and his spot in the lineup – with speed in front of him and Billy Butler(notes) cleaning up behind him – Callaspo could come close to replicating his breakout '09 campaign when he was one of only four 2B-eligible players to hit above .290 with at least 70 RBIs and 70 runs.
I like him more than: Clint Barmes (45%); Skip Schumaker (33%); Felipe Lopez, (30%)
J.J. Hardy(notes), Min, SS – 37 percent: While the Twins hit below .250 for the first week of the season, I really like their offense and I think it will once again be a top 5 scoring unit (fifth in '09) when the dust settles. So, while Hardy finds himself slotted at No. 8 in the lineup, he should have some decent RBI opportunities with quality bats in Michael Cuddyer(notes), Jason Kubel(notes) and Delmon Young(notes) directly in front of him. Hardy fell on hard times last year but was a .280-ish hitter with an average of 25 home runs in the two seasons prior to his '09 collapse. Not yet 28, there's no reason he can't rebound to previous levels with a fresh start in the AL.
I like him more than: Marco Scutaro(notes) (71%); Clint Barmes (45%)
Delmon Young, Min, OF – 36 percent: Said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire about Young's hot start to 2010, "I think he's finally sold on what (hitting coach) Joe (Vavra) is talking about, and he's trusting a lot more and now it's really starting to show up out on the baseball field." Attitude has often been something that has been pointed to as a big reason why Young has undelivered to his potential thus far, so Gardenhire's quote is encouraging in that regard. But another thing to consider is that Young is only 24 years old and he's probably had unrealistic expectations put on him because he was the top pick in the '03 MLB draft. There are top prospects in the minors who are the same age, like Oakland's Michael Taylor(notes) (three months younger than Young) and have yet to see a pitch in a major league game. It's unfair to write off Young because he had to cut his teeth in Minnesota. There's still time for Young to take a next-level leap.
I like him more than: J.D. Drew(notes) (47%); Corey Hart(notes) (35%)
Stubbs can be special if he improves his contact rate.
Drew Stubbs(notes), Cin, OF – 29 percent: I mentioned in Sunday's Closing Time that Stubbs looks like a special talent on the base paths. It's actually bizarre to see someone so big (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) look so fluid and graceful on the bases. It's not so unusual to see someone with his size smacking the ball out of the park with regularity – 9 HR in 50 career games with the Reds – but it remains to be seen if Stubbs can maintain his power pace given that he wasn't much of a home run hitter in the minors. Stubbs struggles to make contact – he struck out three times in back-to-back games over the weekend – so drawing walks, which he does pretty well, will be important if he hopes to maintain his hold on the Reds' leadoff spot. One thing is for sure, though, Stubbs definitely passes the eye test and it's easy to see his upside.
I like him more than: Juan Pierre(notes) (44%); David DeJesus (32%)
Jose Guillen(notes), KC, OF – 2 percent: Including Monday's bomb off Max Scherzer(notes), Guillen has three home runs in his past two games. He's hitting in the No. 6 spot right now, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him move up a couple spots before long. He's more than capable of posting a .280 average, 20-25 home runs and 85-95 RBIs if he can stay healthy, like he did in '07 and '08.
I like him more than: Pretty much all the OFs owned in less than 10 percent of Y! leagues.
There's not a catcher owned in fewer than half of Yahoo! leagues that I'd prefer over the 13 backstops currently rostered in 50 percent or more of said leagues. But I'm souring on Mike Napoli(notes) given that Jeff Mathis(notes) is getting most of the time behind the plate for the Angels at the moment. I don't own Napoli, but if I were a Napoli owner and this Mathis-heavy trend continues, I'd be keeping a close eye on Jeff Clement(notes) (6%), who homered off Dan Haren(notes) over the weekend and is playing nearly everday at first base (but C-eligible in Y! leagues).
Shaun Marcum(notes), Tor, SP – 45 percent: Tommy John surgery wiped Marcum off the fantasy map last season but prior to that he was emerging as one of the top young arms in the league – his injury-shortened '08 campaign still ranked among the top 33 starters in the Yahoo! game. Marcum compiles useable strikeout numbers and is efficient at keeping the bases clear. You can sweat the AL East residency but at least he won't face the Yankees until early June and 17 of Toronto's next 20 games are at home, where Marcum posted a sub-3.00 ERA in '08.
I like him more than: Derek Lowe(notes) (65%); Scott Feldman(notes) (54%); Justin Duchscherer(notes) (53%)
Brian Matusz(notes), Bal, SP – 45 percent: Like Marcum, you cringe a little bit because he has to face AL East hitting so often, but Matusz has the demeanor to handle it despite being just 23 years old. He's already won six of his first nine major league starts, and he can count two wins against the Rays and one against the Yankees among them. Matusz has the kind of repertoire – solid fastball and curve, and above average slider and changeup – that should yield just shy of K-per-IP results and, although he walked five hitters in his first start of 2010, command shouldn't be something that plagues him on a regular basis.
I like him more than: Justin Duchscherer (53%); Kenshin Kawakami(notes) (49%)