We all (should) realize that 'The Sopranos' is near the top of any list that ranks the best American television of all-time. We also know that if they announced a seventh season of the show, we would hope for the best, but the history of sequels, reboots, and reinventions, indicates that we'd be left underwhelmed. In other words, the new often falls short of the old, yet we'll always be intrigued by what might be, could be, or should be. Even when we readily know that the 'known' is very likely to best the 'unknown.'
Scroll down and take a view of the names listed in this week's column. You'll see a lot of 'known,' veteran, and familiar names. Guys we recognize. Guys with track records. Guys who usually don't excite. But, in many cases, they are better additions at this point in the season than is a recent call-up or a hurler with two good starts. There is always something to be said for a guy who's been there, done that, accomplished that, and performed like that. The more unknowns you can eliminate when considering a player, the more educated your waiver adds can be. A true understanding of what a guy actually brings to the table, instead of what you hope he brings to the table, leads to a more efficient expenditure of your capital throughout the summer.
Not all the vets you grab will hit their previous high's or their established marks, but don't overlook them just because you've seen them before. Again, to connect the comparison, 'the original six seasons' will probably be better than a 'freshly arrived seventh season'.
(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.)
Josh Bell, 1B, Pittsburgh
OK, so the first name this week doesn't fit my introduction at all. Damn that alphabet! Bell has yet to take a major league at-bat, but it should be coming soon. He's been murdering the horsehide at AAA with a dozen homers, 50+ RBIs, and an OPS that sits over-.950. Bell has continued to sport a strong batting average, too, as his .327 mark has raised his minor league career number to .309. So, yeah he can hit. Meanwhile, up at the bigs, Pittsburgh continues to relegate themselves under the .500 level. They're very close to tossing in the towel on this season and planning for a re-boot leading into 2017. If they play their cards correctly, they should be able to find some taker on John Jaso. Jaso has done a fine job this year as the Bucs lead-off man (an OBP of .351), but he's not a part of the future. I would expect that within the next month the team will call up Bell and give him a second-half run-through. He's similar to last week's big promotion, A.J. Reed (but, with a little less pop), but if you make your bid now, you can get him for a fraction of the cost we'll see when he is eventually promoted.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Lonnie Chisenhall, 3B/OF, Cleveland
Now, this is more like it! Chisenhall is a true vet who has been floating on and off fantasy rosters for the past four years. Seemingly every summer, he goes on an asinine roll that makes all of us take notice. Then, of course, he goes into a deep freeze and ends up right back where he started. He's currently presenting us with his '2016 streak.' His back half of June was a thing of beauty. He's had multi-hit efforts in five of his last eight games. Three home runs and 10 RBIs have bracketed the overall success. The only thing hotter than Chisenhall is his team who (entering Friday's action) has won 13 consecutive games. With a battered and bruised outfield, the team is very likely to keep Chisenhall out in right-field and in starting most every day. I have every expectation that this is a short-term grab, but it's one to ride out, right now.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
Danny Espinosa, SS/2B/3B, Washington
Way back in the first week of June many got amped when the Nats called-up Trea Turner. It appeared that a new horizon had dawned and the team would finally move away from the double-trouble duo of Espinosa and Stephen Drew. The two guys had been utterly mediocre through two months and seemed to be a black hole for the Washington offense. Well, perhaps the threat of Turner lit a spark under the rum of Espinosa. He's flying high with homers galore and even a respectable batting average. Bidding should be a competitive ordeal this weekend after his seven RBI, two homer effort on Thursday. Lo and behold, Espinosa is well-over .300 for the month (.309) and has the eye-catching totals of nine slow trots and 21 RBIs. I would suggest you slow-play this bid, though, unless you're really hurting at shortstop. I still think Turner is the future later in the summer and Espinosa has a history of being a good-power, low-average, low-RBI bat. I have little expectation his July is similar to his June.
Suggested FAAB bid - $7
Juan Lagares, OF, NY Mets
Lagares is back for the Mets after missing a couple of weeks with a thumb injury. The team is looking for any sort of spark to liven up their lineup and Lagares could be it. He's never been a truly productive bat, but he's always been just good enough. About the best you could hope for is a good average and a few runs. Seriously, he doesn't even run with a miniscule 27 steals in over 425 career games. He's a cheap 5th outfielder and with all the mounting injuries at that position (Lorenzo Cain, Joc Pederson, Jon Jay, and others this week), he provides a low-cost alternative for a few weeks.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
Kendrys Morales, 1B/UTIL, Kansas City
It is not very often that a 100-RBI bat from the previous season is on the waiver wire, but my guess is that Morales could be lounging there in variety of leagues. He's been atrocious for 3/4's of the season before coming on like gang-buster's in the past couple of weeks. His massive turnaround was highlighted earlier this week with four games against St. Louis. Morales connected for 12 hits in 16 ABs! Since June 10, he's lifted his batting average from an even .200 to a serviceable .262. He's also solidified his spot in the KC batting order as the injury to Cain has opened up a home in either the three or four-spot in Ned Yost's nightly starting nine. He's been so good in the past week that you're bid must be higher than his overall marks suggest. He won't get all the way back to 100 RBIs this year (he's sitting at 39, right now), but another 40 with low double-digit HRs is doable.
Suggested FAAB bid - $12
Mike Zunino, C, Seattle
Ughh, again? Yes, again! Mike Clevinger's broken hand has opened up a roster spot for the ever-present Zunino. He's been doing the usual at AAA. Simply put, that means he's been mashing. At the time of his call-up he was 3rd in the PCL with 15 homers and he also ranked in the top-10 with 51 runs driven in. Oh, and he's even hit .282. That batting average is mostly stunning because the former 3rd overall pick (!) is a career .193 hitter with Seattle. So, ... well ... don't expect much of him. He should only be worth consideration if you're in a two-catcher league and if your second catcher is a disaster. If that describes your current predicament, make a low ball bid and cross your fingers for a two week home run spurt.
Suggested FAAB bid - $2
Cam Bedrosian, RP, LA Angels
To fans of a certain age, the last name 'Bedrosian' conjures up memories of a bearded, lumberjack-like closer who was one of the better closers in the game during the late-80s. We're talking about Cam's papa, Steve, who registered 184 career saves and a Cy Young in his 14-year career. Cam is on the front end of his living and is still looking for his first MLB save. That's kind of a surprise when you consider he was groomed as a closer coming up through the Angels' organization. But, until this year, Cam's reputation had failed to show up in the AL West. Now, though, he comes into July with a great ERA (1.29), a good WHIP (1.11), and a solid K-rate (9.3/9). The problem is that Huston Street is in front of him. Yet, take a look at the long-time closer. He's struggled a lot since coming off the DL and he's no longer a front-line, shut-down 9th-inning man. Frankly, his value is purely thanks the raw saves total. With L-A floundering and in a mood to sell, I think that Huston could possibly be on the move. That could happen in the next couple of weeks, which makes Bedrosian a nice stash, right now. You never really know how a pitcher will handle the final three outs, but Bedrosian definitely has the pedigree, minor league experience, and statistical marks that indicate he could handle the gig.
Suggested FAAB bid - $3
Anthony DeSclafani, SP, Cincinnati
The carousel never ends in the Queen City. DeSclafani has missed a couple of months thanks to an oblique injury. He's reeled off five starts since his return and been a very strong contributor. Last night versus Washington, it was more of the same as he allowed just one run in six-plus innings of work. He'll never be much of a K-machine (under 7-per-nine this season), but he does have the skill set to avoid big trouble when guys get on (a semi-lucky 1.78 ERA). He's a back-of-the-fantasy-rotation add, but there could be a sub-3.50 ERA in your future if you dock him on your roster. Right now, the bidding will be light because he mans the mound for Cincy. He's one of the guys who you should take a shot on ... if it works, you stay. If two weeks from now, he's been roughed up, you can then move on without a major punishment.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
Adam Ottavino, RP, Colorado
Here's another stash with the possibility of cash later on. Jake McGee has the most saves in Colorado, but he's currently sidelined and is far from guaranteed a return to his job when healthy. Carlos Estevez has been fairly good since taking over, but rumblings out of the Rockies' front office say that they would rather have him be their set-up man. Ottavino is close to finishing up his AAA run after undergoing TJS last summer. He was the team's closer in the early portion of 2015 and seemed to take to the job (a low ERA and a massive K-rate in just 10 games). Colorado will not immediately give him the final frame, but it's a good bet to happen eventually. Buy now when the price is inconsequential.
Suggested FAAB bid - $5
James Shields, SP, Chicago White Sox
Only two weeks back, Shields was dead to fantasy players the world over. There had been few - if any - starting pitchers that were worse than the right-hander. From the end of May to the middle of June, Shields posted four starts that were dreadful ... 11.1 total innings, 31 earned runs!, and a 6:13 K:BB ratio. That deserved to be dropped and many owners did just that. Now, Shields has a pair of better back-to-back starts (4 ERs in 11.2 innings) and is headed into a two start week with home tilts against the Yankees and Braves. This is still a very shady player (his velocity is in the dumper), but as if you play the two-start streamers, Shields is a better-than-usual pick-up. Beyond this upcoming week, he's still a true wild card. He's a perfect example of what I noted at the beginning of this piece ... he's been too good to be this awful. He can be better and should be worthy of streaming in good matchups or in the midst of positive runs.
Suggested FAAB bid - $4
You can hear Kyle each weeknight on 'The SiriusXM Fantasy Drive' from 7-10 ET, Sirius 210, XM 87.
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