Fantasy Baseball Digging Deep: Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

We’re sitting in mid-August and the chase for fantasy pennants are in full throttle.  Several trade deadlines have passed, the main 2010 surprises have already been snatched up and most of the impact rookies have been claimed as well.  Who are the guys, especially in deep and competitive leagues, that can provide you with some punch down the stretch?  The pickings are pretty slim at this point, but if you dig deep enough you will find some guys with the potential to plug a hole, patch up a weakness or simply give you the last little nudge that you need to get you to the next level.

(DISCLAIMER: The following names are recommended only for varying levels of desperation.  Over-exposure will be hazardous to your playoff chances.)

C Chris Iannetta photo by Icon SMI

Catcher – Ryan Doumit, Chris Iannetta, John Jaso, Randy Ruiz

Always one of the thinnest positions even in the best of times, catchers will certainly be tough to come by at this point.  I can’t pretend like these guys will have a particularly positive impact, but these guys could give you a sliver of support.  Doumit and Iannetta could provide some power; Jaso will help out in OBP leagues; and Ruiz is almost silently having a very serviceable year.

Corner Infield – Wilson Betemit, Alex Gordon, Chris Johnson, Kila Ka’aihue, Andy LaRoche, Justin Smoak, Danny Valencia, Brett Wallace

First of all, LaRoche is rostered in 66% of leagues so I cheated a bit, but if he’s available in yours you should stop reading and pick him up.  He’s well into his typical 2nd half form.  Johnson is also raking so grab him too and ride out his hot streak.  Aside from some streaky work from Betemit, the trio of Royals have not put up any semblance of useful numbers.  Keep an eye on them though. Each one should receive regular playing time from here on out and could be lightning in a bottle. Smoak won’t help you until September, but he’s worth keeping tabs on.

Middle Infield – Asdrubal Cabrera, Ian Desmond, Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy, Omar Infante

Finding talent at short stop and second base at this point is generally going to be nearly as tough as finding talent at catcher.  Those in need of help up the middle are in luck though because there is still some useful talent out there.  Hardy and Desmond will provide a little pop; Infante is a bench player, but he should be in line for more PT with Chipper Jones done for the year.  Escobar and Cabrera are stretches, but they have played better over the past couple of weeks and could provide a little boost on the base paths.

OF JD Drew photo by Icon SMI

Outfield – Julio Borbon, Rajai Davis, J.D. Drew, Hideki Matsui, Juan Rivera

Drew is the guy you want out of this bunch.  He can be one of the more maddening guys to own in fantasy baseball with his rotating stretches of warmth, frigidness and injuries, but from a pure talent and production standpoint, he’s got the best chance to be an asset on a playoff caliber squad. Matsui and Rivera are similar, but I like them a little bit less.  Borbon and Davis are on here for one reason: speed.

Starting Pitchers – Daniel Hudson, Gio Gonzalez, Brian Matusz, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Clayton Richard, Anibal Sanchez, Jason Vargas

Each of these pitchers’ value rests on the makeup of the league.  These guys don’t inspire much confidence in terms of consistency, but depending on your ranking and the state of your pitching staff, it could pay off to gamble on the upside of some of these guys.  Fortunately, there are a lot more pitchers available to choose from at the beginning of and throughout the season.  Hopefully you do not find yourself in a spot where you need to rely on the dregs to meet your innings pitched requirement each week.

Relief Pitchers Octavio Dotel, Brandon Lyon, Joel Hanrahan, Aaron Heilman, Ryan Madson, Mark Melancon, Alfredo Simon

I don’t subscribe to the “get saves at all costs” philosophy when it comes to relievers.  In fact, I’ll often punt saves in search for better values on draft day.  However, I know a lot of people out there are happy to roster a few crappy closers just to get the tally in the ‘Save’ category.  Lyon, Hanrahan, Heilman and Simon are likely to receive the ball if their teams had a save opportunity tonight.  Those teams are not very good, but we all know by now that even the crappy teams get some saves.  Melancon could get some chances because the rest of the options ahead of him are terrible and Dotel could get a chance or two with Jonathan Broxton temporarily demoted.  Madson is the least likely to get saves (barring a Brad Lidge nuclear implosion), but he’s the best of the bunch.  If saves are not your primary focus at this point, guys like Joaquin Benoit, Kenley Janson, Sergio Romo and Ernesto Frieri will provide strikeouts and good ratios.

Many of the names above are not very attractive (to say the least) and may stick out like a sore thumb on your roster.  Some of you are lucky and don’t have any glaring holes to fill.  Most of you, though, need to sure up an area of your roster if you plan on making a deep playoff run – if you make it there at all.  Hopefully you don’t have too many weaknesses and hopefully the ones you do have can be filled with names a little more prestigious.  Either way, good luck.

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