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Searching through the waiver wire and making the right pickups at the right times can result in huge fantasy baseball benefits. The Stealthy Ninjas column is here to let you know the kinds of players you’ll find available on your wire and whether it’s worth wasting a roster spot on them or not.
Each week, I’ll outline a couple hitters and a couple pitchers that had great weeks and are more than likely available on your waiver wire based on ownership rates in Yahoo’s leagues. This week’s hitters:
Ian Stewart, 2B, 3B, Rockies (25%) Key stats: .435 average, 4 HR, 7 R, 12 RBI
- Advice: Stewart leads the Rockies in homers with 11. He’s 10 for his last 17 over the course of four games. He won’t keep up the smoking average — he was hitting .177 on June 2 and has never hit above .259. Add with caution, but his streaks have been good this year.
Aaron Rowand, OF, Giants (19%) Key stats: .480 AVG, 6 R, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 1 SB
- Advice: Owner of a 15-game hit streak. Rowand is a career .284 and had 27 homers a few years ago. He’ll finish with at least 20 HRs and 70 RBIs.
Scott Podsednik, OF, White Sox (2%) Key Stats: .321, 5 R, 2 RBI, 4 SB
- Advice: There was a time when Podsednik was the name associated with baseball speed. But he’s only had 12 steals in each of the last two seasons. Podsednik is the starting left fielder in Chicago, but his lack of speed the last few years is disheartening because he will do nothing else to help your team.
Adam Kennedy, 2b, OF, A’s (17%) Key Stats: 7 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI
- Advice: A career .277 hitter, Kennedy is hitting .343 so far this year, so a correction for the rest of the season could be expected. He recently broke out of a 10-game slump, but Kennedy is not going to win your fantasy baseball league for you. He hasn’t had more than 4 homers or 7 stolen bases in each of the last three years. If your desperate for a middle infielder who also plays outfield, you could pick up Kennedy, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Jason Giambi, 1B, A’s (22%) Key Stats: 4 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI
- Advice: Here’s what you need to know about his numbers above: He only had five total hits. So, three of his five hits were homers. His batting average will bring you down, but his power will cycle up and down based on his medication cycles. Also, he left Saturday’s game with calf tightness, but played Sunday and went 1-for-3 with a double.
Mike Hampton, SP, Astros (3%) Key stats: 14.1 IP, 2 W, 15 K, 0.68 ERA, 1.12 WHIP.
- Advice: Consecutive starts against the Pittsburgh Pirates “hitters” will make you look like the 12th best player in fantasy baseball. If you picked him up, like I did for one start, now’s the time to drop him for your next spot starter.
Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox (11%) Key stats: 4.0 IP, 2 W, 8 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP
- Advice: As great a pitcher as Thornton is, I can’t recommend him to most fantasy players. He stole two wins this week, but he doesn’t typically get saves or wins. He does have 30ks in 21 IP. Players in deeper leagues and leagues that reward relievers in other categories should already have added him.
Jeff Niemann, SP, Rays (7%) Key Stats: 9 IP, 1 W, 9K, 0.00 ERA, 0.33 WHIP
- Advice: The 4th overall pick in the 2004 draft has a 3.77 ERA and 39 Ks in 59.2 innings this year. Niemann’s start this week netted him a career-high 9 Ks and his first complete game. At the end of April I told you to let Niemann on the wire and give him time to develop. You should probably add him now, especially if you’re in a keeper league.
Carl Pavano, SP, Indians (22%) Key Stats: 16.1 IP, W, 10K, 1.65 ERA, 0.73 WHIP
- Advice: And Yankees fans grimace. Pavano’s complete game on Friday was his first since May 2005. He’s 6-4 and an option for mixed leaguers.
Dallas Braden, SP, Athletics (15%) Key Stats: 13 IP, 1 W, 7 K, 2.08 ERA, 0.92 WHIP
- Advice: Those wacky A’s had a good week. Braden’s managed five wins on this horrible team and has a 3.41 ERA this year. Obviously, his team is not going to win every one of his starts, but he’s a decent enough pitcher (50 Ks in 74 innings) to add. He’s better than some pitchers who are rostered on a lot of teams. I’m looking and pointing a menacing finger at you Manny Parra.
Jamie Moyer, SP, Phillies (9%) Key Stats: 13 IP, 1 W, 7 K, 2.08 ERA, 0.54 WHIP
- Advice: I could write a whole column of Jamie-Moyer-is-old jokes, but instead we’ll concentrate on his performance. Moyer got win No. 250 this week, and I’m sure you all heard about that. What you might not have heard is that Moyer’s been downright youthful in his last three starts: 3.60 ERA, 14 Ks, 25 IPs.
J.P. Howell, RP, Rays (14%) Key Stats: 3.1 IP, 1 W, 1 SV, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.90 WHIP
- Advice: There’s a saying in fantasy baseball that somebody’s got to get the saves. Well in Tampa Bay it’s not quite that simple. Six players have saved a game for the AL’s representative in the 2008 World Series. Howell got his second of the season this week. Add him if you’re desperate in a deep league, but you’re not getting into a very good situation. [Edit]Scratch that, dude’s got back-to-back blown saves. It’s a bad situation.
What do you think? Is Rowand worth a pickup? How about Giambi? Is Carl Pavano officially a fantasy option again? What players have you targeted? Let us know in the comments, or visit our forums and start a conversation.