This article originally appeared on Fantasyfootballmaniaxs.com.
We now enter Week Eight of the 2009 season, as teams that had been lying low at the beginning of the year are now starting to break out.
Now with Alex Rodriguez back on the Bronx Bombers, the offense has taken off, with newly acquired first baseman Mark Teixeira leading the way.
Instead of focusing on the big-name players, though, we here at the waiver wire try to point out the guys who are floating under the radar. So, without further ado, here is the Week Eight Waiver Wire.
Craig Counsell (2B, MIL)
Recently, the Milwaukee Brewers suffered a devastating loss, as starting second baseman Richie Weeks is now out for the season with a wrist injury. Now, the question facing the organization is simple: Who will take Weeks’ place? For now, veteran Craig Counsell appears to be a viable option.
Thus far, he has hit for a .342 average, with one homer, seven RBI, and 15 runs scored in 73 at-bats. Counsell is on fire at the moment, something that any fantasy owner can take full advantage of.
While he’s on a roll, this slap-hitting infielder could fit on any fantasy bench. Just as he does in the majors, he could be a solid injury reserve player for the time being. The key with him is playing time.
How much more will he get as the season progresses? This answer is beyond my knowledge. However, what I do know is this: The Brewers are going to need someone up the middle that can produce offensively. If Counsell could be that guy, then the last thing you will need to worry about is losing him.
Pick him up immediately if you want a solid bench option.
Adam Kennedy (2B, OAK)
Sticking with the veteran second baseman theme, Adam Kennedy finds himself in the same situation as Counsell does in Milwaukee. The A’s starting second baseman, Mark Ellis, has found himself on the 60-day disabled list with a calf injury, and now the team is calling upon a veteran to fill the gap on the right side of the infield.
Kennedy has produced well so far, hitting for a .386 average with one home run, seven RBI, four runs scored, and a stolen base. So how long can he keep it up? Kennedy has never been known as a power hitter, though he does have decent speed.
My guess is that, with everyday at-bats, he should be able to keep up a steady average while also picking up RBI here and there.
The thing that makes him valuable also applies to Counsell above: While they’re hot, they are solid additions to any fantasy bench. Kennedy is a top injury reserve option with the potential to grow into an everyday fantasy second baseman with consistent production. So if you need a player to man an infield position for a few days, Kennedy is your guy.
Robinson Diaz (C, PIT)
The Pirates have had to endure the loss of recently extended catcher Ryan Doumit this season; however, a different name is numbing the pain a bit. Robinson Diaz, a career .300 hitter in the minors, is looking to make an impact with the big league club this summer.
So far, so good. He is currently hitting for a .306 average with one homer, five RBI, and five runs scored in 49 at-bats.
Diaz should be getting an immense amount of playing time while the youngster Doumit is out, giving him plenty of opportunities to show the pro club his potential. As far as his fantasy value goes, watch this kid over the next few games. If he can keep up a solid average, then he may prove effective in 5X5 formats.
He appears to have potential, so if you’d like, grab him early and hope for the emergence of a young star. If he explodes, then you have made one of the gutsiest moves of the year. Just don’t try it every week.
Pedro Feliz (3B, PHI)
The Phillies already had a solid infield with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard. Now, it appears as though Pedro Feliz wants to join in the fun. Feliz is going unnoticed this season, hitting for a .310 average with two home runs, 23 RBI, and 17 runs scored.
One thing that aids in Feliz’s production is the lineup he hits in. Whenever you have the three named above, plus Raul Ibanez, Jayson Werth, and Shane Victorino, you’re bound to put up solid numbers.
Another question that you may have is whether or not he is available. Being a member of the World Champion Phillies, he’s bound to be on someone’s fantasy team, right? Wrong.
In fact, according to Yahoo! Sports, Feliz is only owned in 12 percent of fantasy formats, a two percent upgrade from last week. So I will put this as simply as I can: If he’s available, grab him! He’s playing like a starting fantasy third baseman at the moment, and a bench role may not be enough.
If you can start him, I highly suggest it. He may be most effective in leagues containing the “corner infielder” spot on the roster. Just imagine having someone like David Wright or Alex Rodriguez at third for your team, with Feliz producing the way he is in the corner infield spot.
You know what? I might just go do that myself.
Gerardo Parra (CF, ARZ)
There is another talented young outfielder breaking out in Arizona. First, it was Justin Upton. Now, Gerardo Parra is showing his potential. So far this season, he is hitting for a .333 average with one homer, seven RBI, and five runs scored.
Parra is a severe sleeper is all fantasy formats, especially if the one thing standing in his way would move.
What thing, you may ask? Why, that’s old Chris B. Young (not exactly old, but you should catch my drift), the current starting center fielder in Arizona.
With the way Young is hitting, though (.167 average, two home runs, eight RBI, 13 runs scored, and four stolen bases), it shouldn’t be that hard to pass him right up. We can all hope Parra bypasses him soon enough.
When he does, he could be one of the better young outfielders in the National League. You should be taking full advantage of this opportunity. Grab him when you have the chance.
Micah Hoffpauir (RF, CHC)
This next outfielder is an intriguing one. Micah Hoffpauir (one of the hardest names I’ve ever had to spell here on the waiver wire) is in a bit of a sticky situation.
This young Cubs’ outfielder/first baseman seems to have all the tools at the plate to succeed. He is hitting for a .314 average with four home runs, 14 RBI, and nine runs scored in 70 at-bats.
This is the key with him, though. In order for Hoffpauir to produce, he must get the opportunity to step to the plate on a nightly basis. Here’s the problem: How do you fit him into an outfield with Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Milton Bradley?
How can one possibly give Derrek Lee a day off over at first base? The simple answer is: You can’t.
So why is he on my waiver wire? Micah may appear as though he won’t receive enough at-bats this season, but I beg to differ. How can anyone leave a .300+ hitter with “pop” in his bat just sitting on the bench?
Here are some things to consider.
1) Milton Bradley is in the outfield. Don’t get it yet? In other words, he has a temper. He has the kind of temper that can get him suspended, one of the reasons why Hoffpauir was playing a few days ago.
2) Injuries. All three of the Cubs’ outfielders have had their issues in the past. Why think differently now?
3) Like I said before, he’s too good to just sit there. Lou Piniella will have to play him at some point. I can’t spell it out any more clearly. This guy may be a risky one to put on the waiver wire, but I felt he deserved it.
Now, it’s time for you to make a decision. If I were you, I would grab this guy, sit him on my bench, and wait for the perfect moment to start him. He has solid upside at this point, so make the call.
Justin Maxwell (CF, WSH)
The Washington Nationals don’t have a whole lot going their way this season. The worst record in the major leagues (12-29) can make it feel worse. At least we can look forward to the future, right? The future appears to be brighter than people expect in Washington.
They have Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn to go with Josh Willingham, Elijah Dukes, Jesus Flores, and Cristian Guzman. A solid pitching staff is forming with Jordan Zimmerman, Shairon Martis, and the potential soon-to-be National prospect Steven Strasburg. With all that said, another name may be joining this list someday.
He is Justin Maxwell, a youngster with decent speed and power.
Here is what Diamondcutter.wordpress.com had to say about him:
“Maxwell also continues to improve at the plate where he still doesn’t make great contact but has shown some nice raw power potential for Washington. While he won’t probably make any runs at any batting titles, his defense and speed should help secure him a spot in the Majors.”
Maxwell has potential, so watch him over the next week. If he performs well, then he should be a solid pickup for any fantasy bench.
Rich Hill (SP, BAL)
Anyone out there remember this guy from two years ago when he was with the Chicago Cubs? People were calling him the “ace of the future” before he broke down in 2008. He blamed this on back issues, and now he’s back and healthy once again. Currently with the Baltimore Orioles, Hill is 1-0 with a 3.18 ERA in two starts.
From watching Hill over his past two outings, I am noticing one primary behavior: He appears to have better control over his curveball than his fastball. To put it simply, his curveball is sick. If you don’t believe me, just go on to MLB.com and watch videos of him pitching this season.
From what I see, Hill looks like he’s back to make another run at a solid career. If he can ignite a lost spark in Birdland, look for him to be a solid sleeper in ‘09.
David Price (SP, TB)
Scott Kazmir is down, and the Tampa Bay Rays are in need of a replacement. It’s a good thing they have the No. 1 pitching prospect in all of baseball in David Price.
After his outstanding performance last postseason, Price was sent to the Rays' Triple-A affiliate at the start of ‘09. Now, an injury to the team’s ace is giving him the opportunity to shine once again.
Some of you may be asking, “Are you sure that he’s still available in most leagues?” To answer the question, he is still available, just not in most leagues. According to Yahoo! Sports, he is currently available in 61 percent of formats.
This is most probably due to everyone releasing him after they found out he was being sent back down to the farm. If Price is there for the taking, grab him.
He’s a top prospect for a reason, and hopefully he can come in and be the starter that he is projected to become.
Dontrelle Willis (SP, DET)
He’s back! Well, we can’t determine this just yet, but at least the once electric youngster is making progress. Willis picked up his first win as a Tiger on Tuesday night, as he went 6.1 innings, giving up no runs on one hit and striking out five. He also walked two.
The key for Dontrelle this season is going to be consistency. Can he build off of this performance? Only time will tell, but it’s a start.
If I were you, I would monitor his next outing. If he succeeds, grab him as soon as possible. We may be seeing the rise of a former fallen star.
Lawrence Barreca is a fantasy baseball senior writer/director for www.fantasyfootballmaniaxs.com. For more fantasy sports information, be sure to visit the Maniaxs.