Walden, Arencibia and Britton | Free Agent Friday

As the first full week of fantasy baseball comes to a close, it’s time to focus on some possible waiver wire pickups.  It’s been only a couple weeks since your draft and we’re already seeing new closers pop up all over the place as well as a couple of hot batters and pitchers.  With your limited roster space, the question becomes who will actually sustain this success.  One start does not make a pitcher and one week does not make a hitter but sometimes they’re hints of things to come.  Let’s take a look at the hottest pickups for this week of fantasy ball.

Thumbs Up – Jordan Walden – With Francisco Rodney out as the closer for the Angels, Walden booked his way into the role.  Aside from saves, he likely won’t blow you away with his other stats but it seems like he should get a shot to keep the job all year (unless Scott Downs steals it when he comes off the DL).  I like Jose Contreras better as a short-term cheap saves option but Walden may have the job longer.

Thumbs Down – Matt Harrison – Harrison has had a tricky career thus far as he has been consistently above average at the minor league level (3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP over 600+ IP) but consistently horrible in each trip up to the majors (5.27/1.55 over 200+ IP).  He had a good start against the punchless Red Sox to start the year but I’m still hesitant as he had two great starts at the beginning of last season as well before the wheels came off.  I’d take a wait-and-see approach with him (as in waiting and seeing what he does for someone else’s team).

Thumbs Up – Zach Britton – He had a nice intro into the majors with a good start against the Rays.  Britton has been one of the Orioles’ top prospects for a while now and should perform well this year.  From a fantasy perspective, he lacks the K potential that you’d want but he should have a respectable ERA and WHIP so he’s worth a flier.  There may be ups and downs but the ups should outweigh the downs on the year.

Thumbs Up – Sean Burnett – If we’re still comparing cheap closers, I like what Burnett will give me better than what Walden will.  However, Riggleman seems wary to completely hand the keys over to Burnett as the hope is that Drew Storen is still the closer of the future.  While Burnett will have better peripherals than Walden, the job seems a little more secure for Walden so take that for what it’s worth.

Thumbs Up – J.P. Arencibia – In two years of AAA ball, Arencibia smashed over 50 HR.  In 11 games of MLB ball last year, he even hit 2 dingers.  And, now he’s started out this year with 2 HR in 3 games.  A reasonable expectation is a .250 average with 25 HR on the year and maybe 85 RBI.  Out of the catcher position, that’s something worth rolling with.  Based on his past history and how he’s handled the majors thus far, I don’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be one of the top fantasy catchers by year’s end.

Thumbs Down – Chris Tillman – He has some similarities to Matt Harrison in that he’s gotten significant time at the minors and majors and hasn’t replicated his minor league success.  He started off the season on the right foot with six no-hit scoreless innings but then followed it up with not being able to make it out of the 5th inning in his second game after letting up 4 runs.  The second start is closer to what you should expect out of him and consider anything more a surprise.  I wouldn’t jump to the waiver wire for him until he proves a bit more.

Thumbs Up – Jose Lopez – I mentioned Lopez as the most suitable waiver wire pickup to replace Evan Longoria earlier this week and he’s kept on hitting since then.  All of that damage has been done at Coors Field so we’ll see how his home/road splits break down over the season but I think he’s worth a flier in deeper leagues if you need the 2B/3B help.

Thumbs Down – Den Francisco – Francisco not only has two homers but arguably could have hit a couple more from what I saw as he hit two good shots that got caught in the wind and landed at the warning track.  Is he the second coming of Jayson Werth for the Phils?  No, probably not.  Dom Brown will steal AB’s from him later on and this is just a rather small sample size. At 29 years old, I wouldn’t bet on him suddenly changing into a different player.  The ceiling for him is a 20/20 player but that’s wishful thinking.  I wouldn’t cut anybody with long-term value for Benny Fresh as I think he’s just on a hot streak for the time being.

Thumbs Down – Willie Bloomquist – Stolen bases are such a fickle beast as they’re largely a result of whether a manager lets a player run or not.  Well, Willie has been let loose in his time of taking over for Stephen Drew as he’s nabbed five SB’s in as many games.  Logic would have you believe that Bloomquist won’t be much of a factor after Drew returns in the coming days but you never know what a crazy manager might do.  In the expectation that his playing time will be limited, I say don’t worry about Fast Willie Bloom.

Thumbs Down – Alexi Ogando – In the Rangers’ latest reliever-to-starter experiment, Ogando is getting a couple of chances to start out of the gates this year.  He wowed everyone when he shut down the Mariners (yeah, the Mariners) in his first start but he’s not a long-term solution for your fantasy team.  Tommy Rancel had a nice writeup on him that included some reasons to be wary (trouble against lefties being one).  Once Brandon Webb and Tommy Hunter return, Ogando will go back to the bullpen.

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