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Monday 22nd Jan 2018

Back we are, heading into Week 4 as the major league clubs start making the moves in anticipation of their team making a move at a given spot.

If you team is off to a slow start a la Chris Davis or Mike Jacobs, I feel your pain, and though I do not have either the pair on any teams, underperformers abound on my squads. Which means I am really interested in a lot of the guys below (although if you have everyday players who are underperforming, but have a solid job, hold onto them) for some of my holes.

Starting with the big names, the Mets jettisoned Jacobs and handed Ike Davis, the 23-year old son of former Yankees reliever Ron Davis who was a first round pick in 2008. Davis has a nice resume of totals (.288-22-92 over 182 games) with a .371 OBP (89 walks to 160 whiffs, which is not bad), and was hitting .364-2-4 over ten games at Buffalo when called up. He has already whacked a homer his first week and if available, should you need to fill first, Davis is an excellent choice.

The American League counterpart would be Texas' Justin Smoak, who now has the job as Davis (as in Chris) was demoted (which suggests the regard the team holds for reserve player Ryan Garko). Drafted #11 in 2008, seven ahead of Davis (as in Ike), Smoak's minor league numbers were .293-16-68 over 135 games. He managed a brilliant 96 walks to 99 whiffs. On the Rangers, Smoak will, well, smoke. He is likewise a terrific acquisition, with a chance to contribute nicely this season and surely beyond.

Then, Washington recalled outfielder Justin Maxwell who was faring well at Harrisburg (.333-0-2 over four minor league games this year) posting minor league numbers of .258-52-195 over 363 games scattered among the three levels. Maxwell, selected in 2005 in the fourth round does not have the eye and patience of Smoak with 175 walks to 353 whiffs, but if he gets playing time those numbers will improve. Maxwell has struggled in the show before, but ideally the six walks to seven strikeouts he has garnered in Washington this year is a harbinger. Note Maxwell is a gamble, but in an NL only format he could be a help.

Don't ask me how Mitch Talbot suddenly got as hot as he did last week with a pair of wins including a nifty complete game six hitter against the White Sox. Talbot did post some good minor league numbers including 748 strikeouts to 265 walks over 905 innings. The Tribe are struggling, but Talbot will likely keep the starting role for a few more starts at this point, and he has yet to show any domination like he did in the minors, but the talent to do so is there and improves with each strong start. Talbot is a good gamble in an AL only format.

While we are at it, Toronto's Brett Cecil also deserves a look should he be available in your league. Cecil was a first rounder in 2007 who made 17 starts last year (7-4, 5.30 over 93.1 innings) but did not made the club out of the spring. Cecil was recalled last week and jumped on his first start going six plus innings, whiffing eight, allowing four runs, but grabbing a win. Cecil struck out 228 over 228 innings in the minors, allowing 73 walks, very nice numbers.

Boston suffered a double-outfield whammy with Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron inured, and the guy taking advantage is Darnell McDonald, who homered his first game as a major leaguer. At 31, McDonald could be this year's feel good story of an aged star who finally got a chance. At 31, he was a first round selection of the Orioles in 1997, a journeyman who then played for Tampa, Cleveland, back to Tampa, back to Cleveland, then Tampa again, then the Twins, Washington, the Reds and finally Boston where he hit .341-2-8 at Pawtuckett before his call up, and two homers his first week. Ride the hot hand, and I think McDonald is just that.

Next we have 25-year old Brennan Boesch, advanced this week when Carlos Guillen went on the DL, a third round selection in 2006. A big lefty, Boesch reminds me some of Matt Joyce, another Detroit outfielder who was a good FAAB buy a couple of years back/ Boesch was hitting a stellar .379-3-17 over 15 minor league games, and though he has some pop (,275-28-93 last year at Erie) he also strikes out a lot, like Joyce. For a few FAAB bucks, though he could be a good investment in a deep AL format.

In closing, let's look at a middle reliever from the Reds in Carlos Fisher. In the absence of good starters in a deep league, a good middle guy can always fill a hole and I live Fisher, 27. Last year Fisher struck out 48 over 52 innings, allowing 50 hits. His undoing was the 31 walks allowed, but that is something (400 whiffs to 142 walks over 454 innings) he has mastered in the minors, so there is a solid chance he does the same as a major leaguer and earns some wins a smattering of saves and a decent WHIP (1.25 as a minor leaguer) as a major leaguer.

In the mean time, keep the faith, you and your teams. I will.



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