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AL FAAB Factor: Incremental Progress in Cleveland

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

Scott Atchison - Atchison picked up the spot start for the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday and went three innings, but doesn't
seem likely candidate to get stretched out much further than that. We don't know yet how long Dice-K will be out, but between his injury and Josh Beckett's
delayed return, the Red Sox are going to need someone to start for at least the
next couple of weeks. They don't really have an attractive immediate candidate
in Triple-A Pawtucket, either. Adam Mills has the lowest ERA among their
starters, with a 3.57 ERA in 70.2 innings, but that comes along with a mere 26
K's. Michael Bowden is treading water there, with a 4.97 ERA and 40:25 K:BB in
58 innings. The Red Sox might just go with Boof Bonser, which could get ugly. I'd
pass on all of these options. Mixed and AL: No.

Jake Arrieta - We talked about Arrieta last week, so
let's keep this brief. He should be in the rotation to stay barring a blow-up,
and his immediate schedule doesn't look too bad - at SF next week, then two
starts against the Marlins and Nats the following week. He walked four in his
first start, but two of those were intentional. He might be better suited to
pitch in the majors than teammate Chris Tillman, having thrown 160+ pitches at
the Triple-A level before his promotion. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.

Matt Harrison - With Rich Harden going on the DL with
a gluteus muscle pull (insert your own joke about getting his butt kicked recently),
Harrison is the likely candidate to fill in the starting rotation in his spot,
though that turn in the rotation doesn't take place until Saturday, thanks to
Monday's off-day. Harrison hasn't been great this year, but he also was a
little unlucky to lose his rotation spot, getting hurt right when Derek Holland
was on fire. When Holland comes back to the DL, it'll likely be either Harrison
or Tommy Hunter who gets moved back to the bullpen. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.


Daniel Cabrera - The Angels are the latest to take a
stab at resuscitating Cabrera's potential, having him pitch in relief at
Double-A Arkansas right now. Should he get the call, he'll be in a relief role,
barring an injury. Jason Bulger's shoulder injury slightly opens the door for
Cabrera to take over a meaningful role should the Angels find a way to harness
his potential. I don't blame the Angels, but his comeback won't be on my watch.
Mixed and AL: No.

Frank Francisco - Chris Ray got the save on Saturday
when Neftali Feliz struggled, but if the Rangers were ever going to consider
switching the bullpen roles, it would be Francisco (who had pitched earlier in
the game on Saturday) and not Ray who would step back into the closer's job. He
had one hiccup against the Rays on June 6 but otherwise has been superb since
his awful April. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

David Hernandez - Hernandez got the save on Thursday
against the Yankees, but Alfredo Simon is slated to come off the DL on Monday
and presumably will regain the closer's job, if not immediately then in fairly
short order. But I still like Hernandez's upside in the long-run. Since moving
to the bullpen, Hernandez has thrown 7.1 innings in relief, allowing one run on
three hits and a 6:3 K:BB, with a little added velocity. It's not the stuff of
greatness, but given the dearth of useful relievers in the O's pen, it'll do. Mixed:
$2; AL: $6.

Alexi Ogando - Ogando has racked up a 42:11 K:BB
between Double-A and Triple-A this season, giving up just 14 hits and one home
run while holding the opposition to a .130 batting average. In most other
bullpens, he'd be an immediate threat to work his way into the closer's role,
but for the Rangers, he'll likely serve as a setup man. But a job as a closer
next year could happen, especially since the Rangers are in the process of
converting Tanner Scheppers into a starter. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Francisco Rodriguez Murillo - We're listing him by
his full name here to avoid confusion with the ex-Angel pitcher by the same
name, but most often you'll see him listed as "Francisco Rodriguez". We might
start looking for him to pitch in higher profile situations if he keeps up his
current run - he's begun his major league career with 8.1 scoreless innings,
with a 11:0 K:BB and three hits allowed. He's a three-pitch reliever, though he's
relied almost entirely on his fastball and cutter, mixing in just the
occasional curve. Mixed: No; AL: $0.


Carlos Santana - It made complete sense for the
Indians to avoid allowing Santana to become a Super Two arbitration-eligible
candidate, so that they waited until this weekend to call him up won't draw criticism
in these quarters, unlike some of their other questionable decisions dating
back to the offseason. That the Tribe sent down Lou Marson to make room for
Santana indicates that he's jumping in headfirst and will play all but for an
occasional day of rest. All signs suggest that his bat is beyond ready - he was
hitting for power and average at Triple-A, to go along with a sweet 45:39 BB:K
in 196 at-bats. Catchers often start off slowly at the major league level, so
the usual bromides about keeping expectations down apply as always. I might
prefer Miguel Montero (who just came off the DL) if I had a choice in mixed
leagues. Mixed: $15; AL: $60.


Wilson Betemit - The Royals hate Alex Gordon so much
that they sent him down so that Alberto Callaspo could play regularly at third base,
and now that Callaspo is going through a slump, Betemit gets a chance to horn
in on some of his playing time. His two-homer game on Thursday and his two-hit
day on Sunday will ensure that the Royals will continue this occasional
dalliance, especially with the team back home in interleague play this week. Mixed:
No; AL: $0.

Mike Carp - With the Mariners coming to grips about
the depths of their offensive woes, they're giving Carp another shot (and
saying another shot is somewhat disingenuous, as he only managed to get 54
at-bats last year despite an .878 OPS with them), replacing Casey Kotchman on
about a two-thirds basis so far. He doesn't hit for much power, though perhaps
he has more potential there than Kotchman, and he hits left-handed, so there's
no platoon possibility for him at first base. The Mariners are short on
potential long-term solutions at first base, so it's not the worst idea that
they've had to give him more of an opportunity. Mixed: $1; AL: $7.

Matt LaPorta - I've already ranted about LaPorta's demotion, so I'll spare you here. I'll just point out that he has an OPS of 1.808 in 19 Triple-A at-bats. It's not too hard to envision him staying down the minimum 10 days, or some variant thereof. The question is whether Manny "we need to start our best lineup" Acta will actually
use him daily the next time he's up. My guess is that at some point the Indians
have to pull their heads out and start the young guys every day. Mixed: $3;
AL: $8.

Andy Marte - The Indians' reluctance to be forced to
play Marte if LaPorta wasn't fully healthy forced them into making the dumb
decision to sign Russell Branyan - and hey, "... if we have Branyan, we have to play him..." So, it's Marte's fault that they are making bad decisions! Mixed:
No; AL: $0.


Anderson Hernandez - I'm not quite sure what exactly
Hernandez has done to merit another look, posting a .555 OPS at Triple-A before his callup. At least he's younger than Mark Grudzielanek, so I suppose that
constitutes something resembling progress. He's started three of the last five
games for the Indians, all that shortstop. Unfortunately, two of those starts
have come at Jason Donald's expense. So ... what exactly are we trying to
accomplish here? Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Trevor Plouffe - With Ron Gardenhire reverting back
to his "put your worst hitter up in front of your best hitter" lineup, Plouffe
batted second all three days against the Braves this weekend, with predictable
results. Sunday was especially gnarly, with both Nick Punto and Plouffe batting
before Joe Mauer. Plouffe is up while J.J. Hardy has a return stint to the DL. While
he isn't as bad as he's demonstrated so far with the Twins, he's also never
demonstrated with his minor league numbers that he's ready for major league
pitching. Mixed: No; AL: $0.


Matt Carson - We saw Carson come up in the same role
he has now towards the end of last year - an older minor leaguer and more of a
fill-in guy and less of a prospect. Once Coco Crisp comes off the DL, he'll
probably be off to Sacramento again, pending the status of Gabe Gross and Ryan
Sweeney. Mixed and AL: No.

Coco Crisp - Crisp's chest injury has healed, now he
has to shake the flu before he begins a rehab assignment. He's likely to return
at some point during the week, and when he does he'll create a bit of a logjam
in the outfield. Keep him benched in weekly leagues this week, as at best you'll
get 2-3 games in. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.

Chad Huffman - The ex-Padre farmhand got called up by
the Yankees on Sunday because of Marcus Thames' trip to the DL. He'll probably
be limited to a handful of spot starts against lefties, though until Brett
Gardner shows that he's ready to hit again he might get a few other games in.
There's some power and some speed potential, but not a ton of either. He's
another "effort" player - at least, that's how he'll be portrayed, and read
into that what you will. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Daniel Nava - Nava is the latest Red Sox outfielder
to get a crack (after Jeremy Hermida became the latest Red Sox outfielder to
get a cracked rib or five, thanks to team OF-killer Adrian Beltre). Before we
get too excited about Nava's debut, remember that Darnell McDonald had a pretty
robust introduction to the Fenway faithful too. With the Red Sox home this
week, Nava could get copious playing time in the short-term. That short-term
could last longer than the next week, with Jacoby Ellsbury's absence likely to
last a few more weeks. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.

Justin Ruggiano - Ruggiano gets to play the role of
Gabe Kapler for the next two weeks. He's a better fit for that role than Matt
Joyce or Desmond Jennings, because he's a right-handed hitter and he's having
the better (and healthier) season so far. But he's not someone to invest in for
long-term help. Mixed: No; AL: $0.