Admit it. It's white flag time for a few of you out there.
The season seems kaput before the All-Star break. A variety of factors - injury, mismanagement, thin pitching, thin hitting, that week you spent in Ecuador instead of following your team, etc. - have conspired to end things really before they even got started.
In the past decade, the rise of keeper or dynasty league set-up's have managed to alleviate some of the inevitable pruning of participants that takes place every summer, just about this time. A third option is also available ... allowing FAAB funds to be traded and carried over to the following season.
Every week in this column we make mention of a player's prospective value and what it will take in order to add him to your team (Suggested FAAB Bidding). Many leagues start the year with a $100 or $1,000 FAAB operating system and once those funds have been spent, your bidding days are over. But, a few leagues (including the industry expert-laden, Tout Wars) allow for FAAB money to be traded. Not only does the ability to throw in FAAB money help to make trades happen in-season, they also work to sustain some owners who wish to continue looking under every rock for an impact talent.
And then there are those that allow you to carry-over any funds from one season and into the following season. This is another way for a down-trodden fantasy franchise to think long-term and stay involved up until at least your leagues' trading deadline. The idea of heading into a new campaign with a waiver wire war chest of $170 versus the $100 that other league mates will have is very enticing to many.
It's not a silver bullet to the never-ending fleeing of owners in July, but it can strengthen a portion of the league and carry forth some interest as football's looming shadow grows. And if you're down and out and looking for a reason to keep trying, it can also provide a lifeline to your team and a heartbeat to your summer long fantasy baseball interests.
(Note: To make the list, I'll apply a loose definition that says a player is likely be unowned in a vast majority of 12-team mixed leagues. At the end of each player note, I'll also provide a suggested bid for those that use FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Budget) for their waiver process (based on a $100 budget). Understand that this is only a suggestion ... if you've just lost your starting outfielder to injury and you have an immediate need or gaping hole in your lineup, you will find it necessary to bid more in order to get that week's top available outfielder.)
Albert Almora, OF, Chicago Cubs
The glove is back. Unlike the assortment of celebrated minor league clubbers that the Cubs have collected in recent years, Almora is a defense-first kind of guy. He's back up on the North Side while Jorge Soler deals with yet another set-back by landing on the DL. Almora has actually been hitting at AAA this season with an average well over .300. Along with that is a definite lack of power, though, and few moments that will make you believe he's ready for a nice run in a major league batter's box. Don't fall into the Cubs' hype machine or into his opening start that featured a hit, a run, and a RBI. The 22-year old is not doomed to be Mr. Leather for his entire career, but I think that will be his calling for most of this season. Plus, playing time will be a major roadblock to value all season.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox
Stolen base searchers may have found an answer with Anderson's weekend call-up. The Sox prospect should move immediately into the starting lineup, replacing the ever-aged Jimmy Rollins. A quick peek at the AAA numbers will blow you away. All we're talking about is a kid who has hit over .300 this year, with 11 steals and nearly 40 runs. May had also been a bearer of amazing news as Anderson has registered a multi-hit effort in 19 of the 30 games last month. He should hit better than most SS available and he should also be a true threat on the base paths (as a team, the White Sox are just below average in terms of AL stolen base attempts) who will be given a long leash on the South Side. He will not walk (32 total since the beginning of last season) and might not even hit more than five home runs the rest of the way. There's the obvious rookie risk, but he string together plenty of moments and help you in up to three categories for the remainder of the season (average, steals, and runs).
Suggested FAAB bid - $15
Rob Refsnyder, 1B, NY Yankees
You might as well kiss Mark Teixeira goodbye, right now. His assumed replacement, Chris Parmelee didn't even stay healthy long enough to earn a write-up in this column! But, now should you be willing to go in the hook-up booth with Refsnyder? The utility man has shown he has some sort of idea with the bat, but in limited time (67 total MLB at-bats). He won't embarrass himself, but he's also unlikely to differentiate himself, either. Expect the Yanks to only give Refsnyder a cursory glance. If he does well from the get-go, he'll see some June starts. But, if things don't click in a week or two, you'll probably see Brian McCann take off his gear and move out to first base more often. And by July 1, there could very well be a trade at hand. In other words, you're considering a guy who is hoping and praying to still be in the lineup come Independence Day. That's not a guy to be adding.
Suggested FAAB bid - $1
Will Harris, RP, Houston
How many times will I be writing about the Astros' 9th inning this year? Of course, we've run through the profiles of Luke Gregerson and Ken Giles. Just last week we spent some time on Michael Feliz. But, now the 'Stros, have fired a full-blown change-up by publicly endorsing the idea of the dreaded 'committee approach.' That means that a hurler like Harris (with his one 1 ER in 27 2016 innings) is a part of the collective. He powered through for a save at Texas this week and figures to be involved in the decision making moving forward. He's a big-time K-arm with nearly 10 whiffs per nine and he's racked up a strikeout in 10 consecutive outings. At worst, you should get some very nice ratios and if things break in his favor, you're also looking at double-digit saves the rest of the way.
Suggested FAAB bid - $9
Erik Johnson, SP, San Diego
If you want to call Johnson the main cog in the James Shields flip, then so be it. Johnson has talent (a .600 winning percentage in 6 minor league seasons with nearly 8 K's per nine), but he has not translated that to a few cameo's with his former team, the White Sox (a major league ERA of 4.50 with 19 HRs in 18 starts). Admittedly, the Chi-Sox did him no favors by refusing to give him any kind of leash on the South Side. He's now at the age (26) where the prospect tag has long since receded. The Padres aren't overly amped about his addition either, immediately optioning him down to AAA. He'll be up soon because the Friars are in full rebuild, but it's not worth waiting around for.
Suggested FAAB bid - $1
Brandon Kintzler, RP, Minnesota
Have the Twins finally given up on the idea of Kevin Jepsen as their closer?! It's taken about a month too long considering that the vet has been a far cry from what one would term even 'a decent closer.' With Glen Perkins (shoulder) in a battle just to throw the baseball, Jepsen has failed to lock down the closers' spot in the Minneapolis (3 blown saves, 5 losses, an ERA over 6, and a WHIP pushing 1.75). At last it has become too much. Enter Kintzler ... and, Fernando Abad. Kintzler got the first shot in the middle of the week and managed to snag the final three outs in a two-run victory over Miami. That marked the first career save for the 31-year old. It's difficult to be overly optimistic with Kintzler, but I do believe he's the better candidate than Abad. Outside of 2015 he has been an effective reliever for the past four seasons and has been slightly more effective than Abad this year. Beyond that, remember that he's a righty and the lefty Abad might be more useful as a situational lefty-on-lefty asset for the Twins. There are no guarantees here, but it's worth the bid.
Suggested FAAB bid - $6
Brandon McCarthy, SP, LA Dodgers
McCarthy is our latest Tommy John returnee and he is set to make his first rehab appearance on Saturday with the Dodgers Class A-affiliate, Rancho Cucamonga (I really just wanted to type that!). McCarthy has consistently tempted in his career, but has rarely lined up a good run of starting efforts that you could count on. The now-32 year old should make it back to the rotation in another three weeks if all goes according to plan. If he can bypass all the possible hiccups, he should be immediately slotted in the Dodgers' sloppy rotation. What you would have then is an average arm who can take advantage of lesser offenses with decent K-numbers and a plus-ERA. Again, I don't think you could turn to him for 15-20 starts, but if you spot him here and there, you can come out ahead. Grabbing and stashing him now is a very cheap move before too much attention turns his way.
Suggested FAAB bid - $2
Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh
The long wait is over. Everyone gets a little too excited (check that ... incredibly, positively, insanely, and overwhelmingly excited!) when any high-end prospect gets the call. After two mostly wasted years (TJS in '14 and a hernia in '15), Taillon has been slicing and dicing AAA hitters in the International League all year long. The Pirates finally admitted the obvious and gave him the ring for a start against the Mets. He showed enough to probably allow him to stick around by firing a quality start with a few K's sprinkled in. Honestly, such a normal performance lowered his waiver cost for this weekend. It's a dumb fact of life, but that's how many treat this game. Consider it a favor. If you have the SP need, if the Bucs give us fresh news that looks like he's stick around, and you have the cash on hand, make the aggressive bid.
Suggested FAAB bid - $18
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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