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Fantasy Baseball: Waiver Wire Friday

With the lighter schedule of games Thursday, we’re going to take advantage every Friday and give a look at the top talent available on the waiver wire. At each position we’ll give you the top players available in >60% of Yahoo standard leagues and for those of you in deeper games, we’ll throw out a name available in more than 85% of those formats.

We are going to try and keep things fresh here and hit on some players that we didn’t get to in last week’s edition of Waiver Wire Friday but we’ll re-list some players from time to time when their ownership rate and performance still warrants a mention.

Working the Wire

Catcher

Yasmani Grandal (SD) 2% owned: Suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season, Grandal is yet to step on a major league diamond. His time to return, however, is nearly upon us and as the 24-year-old backstops heads from extended spring training to a minor league assignment  it’s time consider scooping up the Yasmani. The first 60 games of his MLB career (.297/.394/.469 with 28 runs scored, eight home runs and 36 RBI) supported some strong work in the minors and if Grandal can keep up even 75% of that production, he’s a top-10 bat at the catcher position. The Cuban import should have little issue displacing a surprisingly productive Nick Hundley from the starting role and with only 10 more games to wait before he’s eligible to return, even those with a short bench can work around the roster spot for a couple of weeks.

Tyler Flowers (CHW) 4% owned: Flowers is an all or nothing type of player who has struck out 32 times in 31 games this season. The batting average is going to be painful, but he flashed solid power throughout the minors and has four home runs so far in 2013. Despite an 0-for-4 effort on Thursday, Flowers has five hits in his last four games and if he keeps swinging a hot stick, he could be a useful short term option.

First Base

John Mayberry, Jr. (PHI) 2% owned: A bit of a streaky bat, Mayberry has been warming at the dish. He doesn’t actually see much playing time at first base with Ryan Howard entrenched at the position, but Mayberry has been getting regular work in the outfield, platooning with Ben Revere in center while also seeing time at both corner positions on occasion. Charlie Manual has never shied away from riding the hot hand and Mayberry certainly looks to be heating up with hits in each of his last four starts and a 5-for-8 performance with three runs scored in this weeks two game series with the Indians. Big John is capable of top-flight production when he’s locked in at the dish as he showed over a 46-games stretch towards the end of last season: .301/374/.470 with six home runs. If he hits, he’ll stick in the lineup… simple as that.

Adam Lind (TOR) 6% owned: The season-long numbers are pathetic, but three home runs in an eight-day span will turn some heads. All three bombs came off of right-handed pitching and at this point in his career, Lind is clearly best deployed as a platoon bat. But as we discussed last week with Mitch Moreland and last month about Garret Jones, if you can have the flexibility to mix and match these guys into your lineup day-to-day then they can be solid gold for a fantasy team. The Jays have shown their desire to protect Lind as he’s registered just five at-bats against left-handed pitching  so why not buy into a guy who has smoked 20+ home runs three separate times already in his career and is mashing right handed pitching to the tune of .292/.422/.472 in 29 games played.

Middle Infield

Adam Rosales (OAK) 1% owned: The Athletic’s stink. Really, look at their lineup of no-names and retreads and tell me how they are the the second highest scoring offense in the Majors. It is baffling, but these guys get on base and hit when they need to. Though Rosales didn’t crack the lineup until April 25th, he’s become a regular since that time. He’s seen some time at the leadoff spot, but regardless of where he is hitting, Rosales has been producing. He’s got just one long ball over his first 18 games played, but is batting .296 (16-for-54) with an impressive .387 on-base percentage. Rosales is not going to save your team, but with the state of the fantasy middle infield, he’s worth a look in 12-team or deeper leagues right now.

Ryan Roberts (TB) 2% owned: Much to our dismay, teammate Kelly Johnson has finally broken the 40% ownership threshold and is no longer eligible for Waiver Wire Friday–still go get him if you can!–but another Ray has been putting up some passable numbers at the dish while getting a solid amount of playing time. Roberts has posted a mediocre .253/.311/.400 slash line this season, mostly due to a brutal 2-for-26 stretch to close out April, but his recent performance has been much improved. Since the calendar flipped to May, Roberts has put up a .294 average with one home run, six runs scored and seven RBI in 11 games. He’s not lighting the world on fire, but his OBP is much improved during the small sample and Roberts has been a useful fantasy piece in the past. Since his breakout 2011, Roberts has averaged 18 homers and 15 steals per 162 games played, sneaky but solid production for you middle infield.

Derek Dietrich (MIA) 2% owned: Clearly we are digging deep in the middle infield today and there is no guarantee that Dietrich stick in the lineup when Donovan Solano (oblique) is ready to return. Still, the rookie has shown solid pop in the minors and his first three major league games was enough for the Marlins to insert the Dietrich into the third spot in their order. He’s responded to his big league opportunity with hits in five of his six games (and multiple hits in thee of them) to put his season line at 8-for-22 with a home run, two runs scored and four RBI. Dietrich was  2010 second round draft selection and at 23-years-old there would appear to be some upside here. Don’t expect the average to stay above .300 for long, but double digit home runs will come if he is able to stay in the lineup long term.

Third Base

Trevor Plouffe (MIN) 22% owned: It’s that time of year, Trevor Plouffe is about to catcj fire. He’s hit in seven of his last eight games while raising his batting average 33 points over that span. Plouffe has yet to get his power stroke really going this season, but he’s very capable of a binge at any time. Go snag Trevor as he begins to heat up and enjoy his 30-homer potential.

Eric Chavez (ARI) 5% owned: When Yunieksy Betancourt is a top-10 option at your position, fantasy owners are forced to get a bit creative in filling their lineup holes. Chavez is rarely healthy and is, wisely, shuffled in and out of the lineup as a result. Still, the vet has always produced when on the field and with a .310-13-4-16-1 5×5 line over 84 at-bats, he is doing so once again in 2013. He’s got a back-to-back multi-hit efforts and Arizona remains a very nice place to hit. Chavez is a bit of a risk in weekly lineups, but if you can shuffle him in and out everyday this guy can give you top-10 production when on the field.

Outfield

Juan Pierre (MIA) 30% owned: Over his past 1 game, Pierre is on-pace to bash 162 home runs this season! We kid, of course, but the BretskyBall staff is riddled with JP supporters so it was nice to see him flash his power stroke on Thursday evening. Obviously, you want Pierre for his speed, and he has not disappointed so far this year. Through the first two weeks of the season, Pierre was giving you very little production from a fantasy perspective, but since April 15, he has swiped 11 bases in 12 attempts while batting a decent .273 for the Fish. Pierre trails just Jean Segura for the major league steals league and though he may get pushed for playing time down the road as some of the Marlins prospects get ready to take over, he’s a fantastic source of speed right now.

Raul Ibanez (SEA) 3% owned: Pierre is your choice if you are looking for some cheap speed, but if you need a bit of a bigger bat, give the veteran Ibanez a look. He’s a streaky hitter, but remains capable of putting up solid power and RBI numbers even  at 40 years old. Ibanez has slugged four home runs in his past five games, including two-homer game on Wednesday. The Seattle offense could use all the pop it can get so there’s little reason to think that Rauuuuuul won’t stay in the lineup as long as he keeps swinging a hot stick.

Still on the Wire: Andy Dirks (DET) 7% owned

Pitcher

Jason Vargas (LAA) 18% owned: We were down on Vargas prior to the 2013 season as his home/road splits from 2012 spoke to a pitcher who was taking advantage of a very friendly home park while being nothing more that league average on the road. Still, Vargas has shown ability to put up top-30 numbers over stretches and despite his mediocre 4.03 ERA and 1.46 WHIP on the year–that has dropped him from a universally owned commodity to having under 20% ownership–Vargas is turning it on of late. The Angels’ hurler has registered four quality starts in his last five turns, including a dominating three hit shutout against Baltimore two weeks ago. In that five start stretch, Vargas has a nice 2.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP to go along with a 4-1 record. The strikeout will never be elite, but Vargas can provide some solid numbers across the board when he is running hot.

Mike Leake (CIN) 6% owned: Fantasy owners will be screaming for the Reds’ to bump Leake from the rotation and let Tony Cingrani to stick around when Johnny Cueto come off the DL, but it just makes too much sense to us not to keep Leake over the exciting rookie. Cingrani topped out around 140 IP last year and if the Reds’ want to have him around down the stretch and in the playoffs, they’d be wise to send him back down to the minors where his workload can be more tightly monitored. Aside from that, Leake has actually been much improved while seemingly fighting for his rotation spot. After a pair of poor outings to star the season (9 ER in 12.0 IP) Leake has been quite solid, posting a 2.72 ERA over his next six starts. He’s a bit too hittable, and the WHIP and K-rate are not going to help you, but Mike Leake is capable of pumping out quality starts and backed by a strong offense, he should continue to rack up the wins.

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