Back from the break and discards seem to be the name of the game.
Let's start with Dan Uggla, released by the Braves just after returning from suspension. Uggla is signed through 2015, at $13 million a year, and at 33, his skill set is very clear: he can hit for power. Still, if Atlanta is going to eat the bulk of that salary, there are teams who could use some help up the middle. As in perhaps the Giants, despite the presence of Joe Panik (inexperienced) and Marco Scutaro (broken).
Now, you might blanch at this, but while Uggla has not hit over .235 in more than three years, he does walk, something the bay area teams like. And, he does have power.
Of course I am only speculating as a bay area guy, but rest assured: as long as Atlanta is culpable for that huge portion of salary, someone will take a chance, if only to get over the hurdles that lead to the postseason.
What now Brett Wallace?
Another former first rounder (2008) of the Cards has a Crash Davis-like .301-84-313 line over 553 minor league games, but is only .242-29-102 over 336 big league contests.
Wallace was traded to the Jays, who are reeling trying to fill the hole left by the Edwin Encarnacion injury. However, since being drafted by the Cards, Wallace was swapped to the Athletics (Matt Holliday deal), then to the Jays (Michael Taylor) and then Houston (Anthony Gose). Then, Houston released him, and Baltimore signed the corner infielder, who then sent him almost full circle, back to Toronto.
I suspect Wallace has a Steve Pearce hot streak in him, and maybe the time for that to reveal itself is now. But, unless you can afford to sit on him, or take a hit in case history that has more acumen than hunch, let him go. Even if he was a first rounder.
A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece in "Bed Goes Up" where we looked at first names. That was when between the Giants and Athletics, there were seven players named Brandon. And, in it, I suggested "Dylan" was the next big wave in players names, thanks to kids born to lovers of the music of Bob Dylan.
So, Dylan Axelrod, selected by the White Sox in the 30th round in 2007, became the first with that moniker, and now the 28-year-old finds himself with the Reds.
Like Wallace, Axelrod has fine minor league numbers (40-26, 3.04, with a 1.09 WHIP) but awful big league ones (7-13, 5.36, 1.6010). But, with a new team, in a new league, Axelrod could indeed do alright the first time around the circuit, and is an OK gamble for the short term.
Keep an eye on Paco Rodriguez, the hard-throwing lefty who racked up 66 whiffs over 45.3 minor league innings with six saves in the Minors and then had a great 2013 with the big club (3-4, 2.32 with two saves and an 0.92 WHIP last year). Elbow problems messed up the first half of his 2014, but Rodriguez could be a nice stat stabilizer who gets some whiffs (78 over 69.3 innings with the Dodgers) and maybe even a win or a save here and there.
Similarly, the Braves brought forth another southpaw, Chasen Shreve, a 2010 (11th round) signing with pretty good minor league totals. As in 19-15, 3.20 over 267 innings, with 264 strikeouts, and a 1.330 WHIP.
But, this year Shreve has been brilliant, with seven saves and 76 strikeouts to 9 walks (0.939 WHIP) and a 3-2, 2.86 mark over 54.3 innings.
As noted, this time of year, especially in a deep league, generating counting stats while balancing against hurting your WHIP and ERA are essential to winning. However, the tough part is judging when the right time to move as such, for you want to be conservative enough to not hurt your team, and yet remain aggressive with active players.
Either Rodriguez or Shreve can help your squad with that at this juncture.
On the other hand, the Tigers' Corey Knebel, a first rounder in 2013, might be a real find for the seemingly ever-struggling Detroit pen, and similarly, with 6-2, 1.26 totals over just 64.1 minor league innings, that includes 84 strikeouts and 18 saves, well, the numbers speak for themselves. More than worth a gamble.
Knebel could turn out to be a real source for saves, unlike his bullpen counterparts here. Bid aggressively.