Shrewd Moves is an attempt to identify players that are not owned in most leagues but could provide a boost in the near future. I would say less than half of these guys will pan out. Some of these players will be useful for only certain parts of the season. Hopefully, this list will help you prepare for your early season moves. Feel free to leave other suggestions in the comments.
Ryan Spilborghs – OF – Colorado Rockies
He can flat out hit. His career average in the majors is a cool .302, but he’s never had more than 264 ABs. It looks like he’s an every day player this year for the Rockies and that could provide a huge boost in his value. He’s been batting mostly 1st or 2nd for the Rockies.
Dexter Fowler - OF – Colorado Rockies
The #1 prospect for the Rockies looks like he’s in the majors to stay. He’s been earning a lot of time with his hot bat. He hit .335 in his last season in the minors at Double A Tulsa. He has the upside to hit teens homers and 20+ steals in a full season.
Aaron Hill – 2B – Toronto Blue Jays
In 2007, Hill hit 17 homers and had 78 RBI while hitting .291. He had been plagued by post-concussion syndrome and did practically nothing last year. He’s 27 this year with the 2B gig to himself. He could be a better 2B free agent pick up than drafted players like Mike Aviles and Mark DeRosa.
Jack Cust - OF, DH – Oakland A’s
Cust has enough power to jack 30 bombs in a season. His main problem is his tendency to strike out. He’s also a very streaky player. Last year, he was slotted 3rd, 4th, or 5th in about 130 games. In 2009, he’s been hitting anywhere from 5th to 8th. Expect him to move closer to 5th when he’s hot and he’s worth playing when he’s hitting.
Fred Lewis - OF – San Francisco Giants
He’s off to a hot start with 8 hits in his first 16 at bats. He’s also walked 4 times compared to 3 strikeouts. This is a guy that hit .280+ in his first two seasons in the bigs. Last season, he had 9 homers to go with 20 steals. He was slotted mostly 1st and 3rd at other times last year. Bochy has had him bat 3rd in every game so far in 2009.
Eric Byrnes - OF – Arizona Diamondbacks
Byrnes stands to benefit from Justin Upton’s slow start. He could find himself getting regular ABs soon. If that’s the case, he’s still a useful player at 33. He was at least 20/20 in his age 30 and 31 seasons.
Ryan Church – OF – New York Mets
He’s started the season 10 for 19 with a whopping 5 doubles in 5 games. He might lose ABs to Sheffield, but he could have value if he continues to hit in a strong Mets lineup. He’s been slotted 6th behind Beltran in each game and had 12 homers and 49 RBI in only 319 ABs last year.
Chris Volstad - SP – Florida Marlins
Volstad split time between AA and the majors getting called up in the middle of the 2008 season. He posted a 2.88 ERA in the big leagues and could put together an above average sophomore campaign.
Brad Penny - SP – Boston Red Sox
Penny came to Boston to get his career back on track. In the offseason, he signed a one year deal worth $5 million with up to $3 million more in incentives. He has a good team behind him and is only 2 years removed from finishing 3rd in Cy Young voting.
Edwin Jackson - SP – Detroit Tigers
It’s hard to believe that Jackson is still only 25. He’s been around for a while without ever putting it together, but could be a decent pick up.
Kyle Davies - SP – Kansas City Royals
One of two former Braves fifth starters in the KC rotation (Ramirez), Davies actually put together a respectable half-season last year. In 113 IP, he had a 4.06 ERA with a 9-7 record. If he can improve on that performance, he’s definitely worth considering.
Anibal Sanchez – SP – Florida Marlins
Part of a very talented rotation, Sanchez gets forgotten behind Josh Johnson, Chris Volstad, and Ricky Nolasco. At only 22, Sanchez posted a 2.80 ERA and 10-3 record with the Marlins in 2006. Sanchez is now 25 and handled a strong Mets lineup well in his first start.
Dave Bush - SP – Milwaukee Brewers
Bush had a nice start going until he loaded the bases and the bullpen blew it. His propensity to give up long balls is concerning, but he had a 4.18 ERA and 1.18 WHIP last year. After May, he had ERAs of 3.65, 3.49, 2.12, and 4.50 in the remaining four months of the season.
Kevin Millwood – SP – Texas Rangers
Believe it or not, Millwood had a nice opening start for the Rangers. He’s only two years removed from a 16 win season. It’s not that likely that he’ll be great — but he’s more likely than any other Rangers starter to find success.