This week on I’d Roster that we have a designated hitter, a corner outfielder, a first basemen, and a right handed pitcher. Lots to get to this week, so let us begin.
Travis Hafner (35, left handed hitting designated hitter, New York Yankees) was signed to a one-year $2 million dollar deal this winter. With a pile of injuries in New York, Hafner has been penciled in as the everyday DH for the Bronx Bombers. Hafner has responded well to pinstripes and has 6 home runs through his first 115 plate appearances. With continued regular playing time Hafner could certainly sniff 25 home runs, but staying healthy has not exactly been his strong suit over the past several seasons (he has played more than 100 games just once since 2007, when he played 118 in 2010).
News on Tuesday was that Travis Hafner was held out of Tuesday’s Yankees tilt and sent to have a precautionary MRI on his surgically repaired right shoulder. Even if that was not enough to scare you out of rostering the 35-year-old, consider that the Yankees have a raft of players set to come off the DL in the near future (starting with Curtis Granderson, who made his 2012 debut on Tuesday night) and the Yankees will likely look to use the DH position as a way to give some of those players a day off while keeping their bats in the lineup. With health and playing time issues on the horizon, Don’t Roster That.
James Loney (29, left handed hitting first basemen, Tampa Bay Rays) is practically leading the entire world right now with a .376 batting average, has increased his BB% to 8.3% (his highest rate since 2009) and has a nifty little .429 on-base percentage almost a quarter of the way through the 2013 season.
Do not expect Loney to continue hitting .376 (he has an absurdly high BABIP of .404 this year), but his aforementioned BB% is trending in the right direction, and so his his K%, so he looks a lot more like the 2010 version of James Loney that ended up slashing .281/.357/.399, than the 2012 version that struggled to a .230/.264/.310 line a year ago. With the hot start to the year, he’s definitely worth riding at least until he cools off (over the last two weeks he’s still white-hot .413/.449/.630). I’d Roster That
Oswaldo Arcia (22, left handed hitting corner outfielder, Minnesota Twins) makes it admittedly hard for me to be impartial, but with this 22-year-old kid, the sky is the limit. He might not stay hot all year, and he still has plenty of swing-and-miss in his game (28.4%), but as he adjusts to the game he will take more walks (just 4.9 BB%), and you shouldn’t expect his power to go anywhere but up as the season progresses. Strike zone recognition is really the big issue with Arcia so far, as he’s swinging at almost 44% of balls OUTSIDE of the strike zone, but I think that will improve, and will likely counteract the effects of a .392 BABIP coming back down to earthly levels.
The Twins will need to figure out what to do with Oswaldo Arcia in a couple of weeks when Darin Mastroianni is ready to return from the Disabled List. But all reports out of Minnesota point towards Arcia staying with the Twins all year. If he is available in your league, snap him up, especially if you have an opportunity to hold on to him for more than just one season. I’d Roster That
Carlos Villanueva (29, right handed starting pitcher, Chicago Cubs) does not have a ton of power, throwing his fastball with an average velocity of just 86.9 miles per hour. But he does have a nice four-pitch mix that includes an excellent curveball and change up to go along with a mediocre slider.
As a pitcher that relies on movement and deception, ground balls are Villanueva’s best friend. Going into Tuesday’s start against Jeff Francis and the Colorado Rockies, he’s posting a 47.7% GB%, the highest percentage of his career, more than 8 percentage points higher than his career average. By keeping balls on the ground, Carlos Villanueva limits his exposure to the long ball (.9 HR/9), and keeps him, more or less, out of big innings.
His success so far has translated into just a 1-2 record through his first seven starts, but he has just a 3.02 ERA and a 1.007 WHIP. He won’t score you a bunch of points for strike outs (just 19.2%), but he’s averaging almost seven innings per start which has allowed him to rack up 35 strike outs so far this year.
Unfortunately for Villanueva, he’s split time between starting and relieving every year of his career, and with Matt Garza set to come off the DL, Villanueva could wind up back in the bullpen, drastically reducing his value. The Cubs will likely have to decide between Villanueva and Scott Feldman (and his 2.53 ERA), and Villanueva has more experience out of the bullpen, so it does not look good. With so much uncertainty about his role going forward, I’d hold off on grabbing Villanueva until at least next week when the Cubs decide with to do with a surplus of pitching. For now, Don’t Roster That.
If you have anyone you’d like to get a second opinion on, feel free to reach out in any way you know how. Our Twitter and Facebook pages, the Twitter pages of myself, Clave, Dixon, or Nash, as well as any of the email addresses listed.