Theo Epstein recently stated that scouts and executives make more mistakes in player evaluation during preseason and September than any other time. The stats during these periods mean little to nothing. It’s just not ‘real’ major league baseball. With the expanded rosters to include minor leaguers and players experimenting rather than trying to win, it’s easy to be deceived. Heck, I know this and every year I still get fooled by the mirages of March. As these assets we thought we saw on draft day vanish, and as the injury bug starts to hit, we may have to find replacements. Let’s see if we can spot a nugget or two amidst the dross on the waiver wire.
Travis Hafner is still unowned in a couple NFBC 15-team, FBPC 14-team, and plenty of NFBC 12-team leagues. He shouldn’t be viewed as an every-week fixture in fantasy lineups. That’s not exactly a revelation, but consider this. Hafner has hit 6th once, 5th once and cleanup eight times in the first ten games. Let’s not forget that he’s a lefty playing half of his games in Yankee Stadium. He is getting a little long in the tooth, but there may still be just enough gas in the tank to make him valuable as a situational spot play in his new environs. Pronk slashed .241/.361/.437 last year and .302/.404/.482 in 2011 against right-handed pitching. Those splits should receive a boost in the Bronx. Division rivals bring 13 RHP’s and 7 LHP’s in their starting rotation. The Yanks also face the Astros later this month (only one lefty) and then travel to Coors Field in May. Deep offensive teams won’t have room for him, but those with weak sticks might find him useful given two lineup periods per week for offensive players. He’ll get pushed down the lineup once Jeter and Teixeira return, but the lineup will score more runs and turn over more frequently as well.
Josh Donaldson’s ice-cold start at the hot corner in 2012 earned him a trip down to Sacramento. Owners who took a flier on him this year no doubt had a feeling of déjà vu, that is until he turned it on the last few games. If you are still scrambling for an Aramis Ramirez replacement, there are worse darts that you could throw. Donaldson has displayed patience in the Minors, can steal a base and has 20+ home run power. He slashed .290/.356/.489 with three steals and eight home runs in 47 games after being recalled for the final two months of last season.
Greg Dobbs, Alberto Callaspo and Placido Polanco are some other stop gap options while Aramis is on the shelf. They’re capable of a semi-empty .280 BA at third base and can stop the bleeding for a couple of weeks. If you prefer a tourniquet, Carlos Pena may be available, but beware that he might amputate your batting average if you start him for too long.
Hunter Morris is biding his time in Nashville. Keep an eye on this situation, as the Brewers seem content to put Yuniesky Betancourt at 1B for now, but don’t be caught napping if Morris is given a shot to start while Ramirez in on the DL. Morris hit 28 homers and posted a .303/.357/.563 line at Double-A.
I’m not sure what is keeping Jordany Valdespin from getting regular at-bats. When he does, he’s worthy of a roster spot if you like 15-15 upside and modest Runs production. Nate McLouth is a 20-20 threat hitting in a good lineup and is available in a few leagues.
If he could get enough at-bats and make enough contact against major league pitching, Michael Taylor has 15-20 potential. He may not be up for long and it’s not clear how much he’ll be used, but you just never know how these things will go. He posted a .405 OBP last year at Triple-A. Definitely worth a shot in AL-only leagues.
I dropped Chris Capuano just in the nick of time to see him get his rotation spot back. He struck out 4.9 batters per start last year and paired that with a 1.22 WHIP and excellent command, very useful in FBPC leagues with twice a week pitcher moves.