The call of the waiver wire is as irresistible as a Siren calling me towards a rocky shore. I cannot help but peek constantly at all of the unwanted players that could be the key to a championship season. The songs are full of homeruns and stolen bases, but when you get up close you realize they are actually strikeouts and hitless nights. Unwanted relievers that look like save opportunities are actually WHIP and ERA killers dressed as shaky closers.
While it has been a long time since I have visited the baseball version of this island, my years of fantasy football have prepared me to navigate these rough waters. Some early season struggles of mid-round picks may send some GMs to dispatch their weak link early. Meanwhile, it can be a great place to buy low for the knowledgeable GM.
Some names that recently hit the waiver wire in my head-to-head league include late round sleepers, solid bench players, and even a former MVP. These players include Mike Moustakas, Kyle Seager, Brett Gardner, and Justin Morneau. None of these players are going to make or break a fantasy team, but I had to pinch myself to see if this was a waiver wire reality or a free agent fantasy.
Both real and fantasy baseball pundits have repeatedly proclaimed that “Moustakas is going to hit.” Maybe so. But for now I would rather hold the fort down with guys like Chris Johnson and Jason Donaldson until Moustakas figures it out…on my bench. Brett Gardner was supposed to fill your stolen base quota, but instead he has opened the season like he was stuck in second gear. If he’s not stealing now, he will be later in the year. Don’t let another GM reap the benefits of your quick trigger finger.
Kyle Seager has way too much upside to put on the waiver wire, even if he is batting against the wind. Seager is someone you should hold on to, especially since he is eligible at second base in some leagues. Even with his recent hot streak, his batting average hasn’t surpassed .250 which is demonstrative of how poorly he started the season. Finally, I was quite surprised to see 2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau on the waiver wire. Granted, if he is not hitting for power then he can possibly drag your team down in several roto categories. But he appears healthy and is a strong candidate to be traded at some point during the season. He would be worth your while to simply stash on your bench until he gets hot later in the year.
Moving on to the pitchers, many big names have surprisingly found their way to the waiver wire after failing to quickly rekindle their past glory. Dan Haren and Josh Johnson are two prime examples as GM’s might begin to hit their ejector seat buttons. (Chad Billingsley was originally on this list before it was revealed he required Tommy John surgery). Haren has been very shaky after a terrible 2012 season,and I see him as surplus to requirements in almost every format. Johnson is one of the most injury-prone pitchers in baseball, and is playing in a park that is not very friendly to sinker-ball pitchers. He got off to a very poor start in 2013, but he can still be a fantasy asset and is playing for a contract which is always an added motivating factor.
Finally, I must acknowledge that I have been greatly amused watching the train wreck otherwise known as the always-evolving “Closer Carousel.” Newly acquired Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan started out hot, cooled off, got hurt, and now looks like an afterthought with the job Andrew Bailey is doing. Carlos Marmol and John Axford lost their jobs during Week 1 with epic failures. Then Marmol has some success pitching in a setup role. As soon as he is given another chance to protect a lead, he fails…again. I mostly put his recent blown save on his manager, who brought him in the day after throwing over thirty pitches in a two inning outing. Not to mention Joey Votto was overdue against him and a runner was already in scoring position. I, like most GMs, are happy to avoid the headaches and indigestion that some of these bad closers can cause. The Detroit Tigers closing situation has been like a Mike Shanahan running back competition. First it is this guy, then it is that guy, and now it’s Jose Valverde all over again. There is a very good chance that this will change again by the time this article is published.
PS Axford might get his closers job back………
You can also see this article featured at Fantasyjudgment.com as Coach Dennis’s Diary