With most people finished with their drafts, now is as good a time as any to begin monitoring the waiver wire. Like last season, this will be a weekly feature, so make sure to check back every week for the latest:
Nick Adenhart – SP – Los Angeles Angels
After his performance last season there seemed to be little to no chance of him breaking camp with the Angels. He was just that bad, both in the major and minor leagues. A rash of injuries has changed everything, however. Kelvim Escobar is not yet ready to return. Both John Lackey & Ervin Santana will be out of action early on this season.
Opportunity certainly leads to interest, if nothing else. I profiled him back in October (click here to view), when I expected him to begin the season at Triple-A. Back then I mentioned that he was not a big strikeout artist, so don’t go grabbing him expecting that from him.
The truth of the matter is that he has tremendous talent, we all know that. Baseball America ranked him as the Angels top prospect heading into 2009 despite his disastrous ’08 campaign, citing his “quality stuff” as the reason why. They talked about his “90-95 mph fastball that rides in on righthanders”, as well as “a hard curveball and a rapidly improving changeup”.
Yes, it’s a huge risk, but in deeper formats it’s worth it. Opportunity could lead to success, and with the injury concerns filling the rotation he could be there for the long haul.
Travis Ishikawa – 1B – San Francisco Giants
Need a 1B? While Ishikawa had never been your prototypical power hitting corner infielder, something finally seemed to click for him last season. The 21st Round Draft Pick back in 2002 hit 24 HR over 405 AB between Double & Triple-A last season, his career high. Couple that with the 3 he hit in 95 AB with the Giants, and maybe, just maybe, he finally turned the corner.
The power has continued into the spring, and all signs point to him winning the starting 1B job with Pablo Sandoval across the diamond at 3B. Of course, his hold could be tenuous with rumors still persisting of the Giants mulling over trade options, but for now he’s an intriguing option.
I’m not going to suggest the power is 100% for real. The bulk of it (16 HR) last season came in the high-powered Pacific Coast League. Still, if you are desperate for a corner infielder, he could be worth rolling the dice on.
J.D. Drew – OF – Boston Red Sox
He’s not likely to be available in 5 OFer formats, but in shallower ones he may be there. He’s got the potential to be among the best OFers in the game if he actually could stay healthy for an entire season. That hasn’t happened since 2004 (518 AB), which, in fact, was the only season he’s had over 500 AB. Still, as far as an injury replacement or short-term fill-in, there aren’t much better options available.
Even last season he hit 19 HR in just 368 AB to go along with a solid .280 average. He plays in one of the best offenses around, only enhancing his chances for RBI and R. If you have the room on your bench, he’s worth stashing away. Yes, the back could sideline him at any time, but that’s why he’s a bench player at this point and nothing else. If he gets hurt, you dump him and move on. If he stays healthy, you may have stolen a Top 30 OFer. Where’s the downside?
Gil Meche – SP – Kansas City Royals
What does he have to do to earn some respect? Back-to-back seasons of sub 4 ERAs isn’t enough for us? What about usable WHIPs of 1.30 and 1.32? Last season he even struck out nearly 8 batters per 9 innings!
OK, the strikeouts are probably unrepeatable, but the rest of the numbers he’s produced for two years running. Yes, he does pitch for the lowly Royals, but they are a team that seems to be primed to exceed all expectations this season. If their young hitters can produce the way they are capable of, significantly more wins can be in the future.
And what is it that we constantly say about wins? They are too unpredictable to draft based on? Yes, it’s a factor, but the other numbers are very appealing. If you came out of your draft short on starters, or have one of the many who will miss the first week or more due to injury (Ervin Santana, Max Scherzer, John Lackey, etc.), Meche is a very usable option.
What do you think of these free agent options? Would you take the gamble on any of them? Are they even available in your leagues?
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