By: Russell Shaffer
Feliz Dia del Padre – that means Happy Father’s Day in Spanish (at least it does, according to Google Translator). Regardless of what language you speak, Happy Father’s Day (which is this Sunday, June 16)!
I can’t think of a holiday more appropriately celebrated during the heart of baseball season. Like millions of kids have for generations, I developed my love of baseball from my dad. In his day, my dad was said to be a pretty good shortstop and was even invited to Spring Training by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late 1950′s. That wasn’t as attractive of a proposition financially back then as it would be now, and my father instead opted to go into the Air Force the proceeding winter.
Despite that often later scrutinized life decision, my dad loved baseball and taught me how to throw and bought me my first glove. He was at most of my Little League games and spent countless hours waiting in the car while my buddies and I worked the aisles of local card shows. He drove my mom and I from our home in Ohio to Arizona for Indians Spring Training (the first time they trained there) where together we met his boyhood hero, Bob Feller, and I spent an inning sitting in the Tribe bullpen during an exhibition game against San Diego. He took me to dozens of Indians games, including pulling me out of school early to catch the final Opening Day at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1993.
Even though he has been gone for eight years now and wasn’t without his flaws, I always remember my father fondly each spring as they begin to chalk the baselines and the umpire shouts “Play Ball!” for the first time. I hope I can pass on the same love of the game to my daughter (5) and son (7 months) that my dad instilled in me.
In honor of Father’s Day, this week’s “Free Agent Friday” will highlight a few unheralded Padres who could help your fantasy lineup. A big thanks to J.D. who did a great job last week with Free Agent Friday while I was on vacation.
Happy Father’s Day to all you dads creating a lasting legacy by fostering a lifelong love of baseball in your sons and daughters!
Andrew Cashner (SP – 32%): Cashner is making his 2nd appearance in Free Agent Friday, having been featured in the Losing Limbs edition about a month and a half ago. At the time, Cashner was owned in 12% of leagues and I basically noted he was a viable injury fill-in or spot starter. Since then Cashner’s ownership has climbed 20%, but I would argue that the San Diego hurler is vastly undervalued. Following a sparkling 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R and 1 BB performance Tuesday against the imposing Braves, Cashner has a solid 3.52 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 71.2 IP. His K’s are down from what you’d expect – just 51 so far – but Cashner appears to be developing into more of a pitcher than a thrower. Personally, I’ll take a slightly lower K rate in exchange for the 5 W and lower-than-expected ERA and WHIP numbers. Right now, Cashner is at worst a strong streaming consideration every time he starts, and I think he should be rostered as a matchup play in most mixed league formats.
Carlos Quentin (OF – 23%): Quentin’s 2013 will likely be remembered for the damage he did to Zack Greinke’s collarbone more than anything he did at the plate. That said, the oft-injured slugger is starting to put together a solid season despite playing at the downsized, yet still spacious, Petco Park. Entering Friday’s action, Quentin was hitting .260 with 7 HR and 22 RBI. That includes a nice 16-for-45 stretch the past 14 days that has produced 2 HR, 9 R and 6 RBI. The former MVP candidate swatted 16 HR in just 284 AB in 2012 – a rate of 1 HR every 17.75 AB – to pair with a tolerable .261 AVG. The year before he clubbed 24 HR in 421 AB with a .254 AVG. The point is, if Quentin is healthy he’s going to hit for good power and do it without killing your AVG. He’s healthy now, and that’s why if you need HR you should be looking to add Quentin to your roster.
Kyle Blanks (1B/OF – 25%): Blanks burst onto the scene in 2009 as a 22-year-old slugger who bashed 10 HR in just 148 AB at the formerly unyielding Petco Park. That kind of power surge had fantasy owners salivating, and Blanks became a trendy breakout candidate entering 2010. The breakout never materialized, and a myriad of injuries and inconsistency has plagued Blanks ever since. Fast forward to 2013 and Blanks is back in The Show – in large part thanks to the hand injury suffered by 1B Yonder Alonso. Regardless of the circumstances, Blanks is making the most of his latest opportunity. Through 123 AB, Blanks is batting a surprising .285 with 20 R, 6 HR and 22 RBI. The HR aren’t coming quite as frequently as they did in 2009, but Blanks is still on a nice pace and at 26 is just entering his peak power years. Alonso is likely to remain sidelined another three weeks at minimum, so Blanks should see the lion’s share of starts at 1B through early July. If he continues to hit like this, the Friars will be forced to find him regular playing time at 1B and OF for the remainder of the year. If you need HR, pick up Blanks and ride him until the AB dry up.
Logan Forsythe (2B – 2%): Forsythe was a chic sleeper pick for many fantasy analysts entering spring training. The reason? How about a .273 AVG with 45 R and 26 RBI in just 315 AB last season. Forsythe also flashed solid power and speed in 2012 (6 HR, 8 SB) which could easily project to a 15/15 season in a smaller Petco Park. Then spring arrived and it became clear the Padres wanted top prospect, Jedd Gyorko to win the starting 2B job. Then even when Forsythe looked to have a chance to win back the Opening Day gig with Chase Headley breaking his thumb and Gyorko temporarily moving back to 3B, Forsythe himself hit the disabled list with plantar fasciitis. This week Forsythe looked to again get his shot as he was activated from the 60-day DL to replace Gyorko who went down with a groin strain. In limited playing time thus far Forsythe has gone 3-for-9 with 2 R, 1 HR and 3 RBI. His playing time will likely evaporate once Gyorko is activated, but for now he’s the Padres starting 2B and is an intriguing pickup given his 2012 production. If you’re struggling at 2B or MI, Forsythe could give you a temporary shot in the arm.
Keep It On The DL
The Padres have several fantasy relevant players currently doing time on the disabled list. Keep an eye on the following players as they near a return to the active roster.
Huston Street (RP – 77%): The Padres’ closer began a rehab assignment Wednesday and could be activated today – the first day he’s eligible to return. Street’s pending activation is why Luke Gregerson, originally included in this article, was pulled.
Jedd Gyorko (2B/3B – 50%): Gyorko got off to a slow start before heating up the last month to raise his season totals to .284 AVG, 36 R, 8 HR and 25 RBI. I love Gyorko at a shallow 2B in the second half, and you can read more about him in yesterday’s Thursday Thoughts.
Cameron Maybin (OF – 15%): Maybin has been a tease his entire career – displaying limitless potential at stops in Detroit and Miami but never being able to put it together. It’s been much of the same in San Diego, but one thing has never been in doubt – Maybin can run. Or at least he could run prior to hitting the DL for a 6-10 week stint with a knee strain. He had 4 SB in just 51 AB this year, so when (or if) Maybin returns late this year he could be a quick boost to your SB totals should you be able to stomach the lousy AVG.
Yonder Alonso (1B – 12%): Alonso was having a productive, but not spectacular season before breaking his hand last week. Prior to the injury, Alonso was batting .284 with 6 HR, 29 RBI and even had 3 SB. He should be back in early July, and provided Blanks hasn’t supplanted him as the starting 1B, should offer mixed league value as a CI or Utility option.
Have a question about a hot free agent not covered here? Do you think we’ve got a player pegged all wrong? Ask your questions or give us your feedback in the Comments section below.
Players appearing in this column are owned in less than 70 percent of Yahoo! Standard 5X5 rotisserie leagues at the time of publication