As exciting as it is with baseball back in our lives, a lot of owners won’t be able to get to their computers after today to set their lineups for this weekend’s games. With April bringing in the nice weather (unfortunately not in Boston where it’s currently snowing), many owners won’t check their teams until they go back to work on that dreaded Monday. Knowing this, here are lists of sleepers that are likely on your waiver wire who should be active for Saturday and Sundays games.
Russell Martin – Signed in the off-season to become the Yankees full time catcher in 2011, Martin delivered in his Bronx debut going 1-3, with two runs scored and stolen base. Batting ninth for the Yankees is different than hitting eight in the National League, so with Curtis Granderson in front of him Martin should see an excellent pitch selection. In 12 team leagues, I like Martin as an option for the catcher position with Brad Penny and Max Scherzer on the mound for two games in New York. Penny in 2009 posted a 7.20 ERA vs. the Yankees and Scherzer gave up over 20 runs in his last 12 innings this past spring.
Jake Westbrook – If streaming pitchers is your motto, you are likely familiar with Westbrook. The veteran righty posted a 3.68 ERA in the second half last season and the majority of that can be contributed the National League as well as Pitching Coach Dave Duncan. Going against the Padres on Saturday, ride Westbrook and his 1.87 ERA at Busch Stadium from a season ago.
David Freese – Staying with the theme of Red Birds, Freese has high expectations in 2011, with Manager Tony La Russa stating that Freese should see 140 games at third base. Last April he broke out with a .324 BA, but injuries crippled his season in mid June and Freese didn’t return to action. With two afternoon games against Clayton Richard and Aaron Harang, Freese is useful in the utility role as well as your corner infield spot. Richard struggled away from Petco last season with a 4.41 ERA, while Harang has gone from number two starter, to free agency in all mixed leagues.
Ben Francisco – Francisco will be a regular in the Phillies outfield for April, meaning full time at bats batting behind Ryan Howard. Part of the Cliff Lee deal in 2009, Francisco has always had talent, but has never had full time at bats to show his power. In 84 at bats against lefties in 2010, Francisco had a .284 BA, 6HR to go along with a .571 SLG. This weekend he should fare well vs. Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ, hitting in the middle of the Philadelphia lineup. In the homer friendly Citizens Bank Park, Francisco could be a useful fourth outfielder all season.
Kila Ka’aihue – Unfortunately, Ka’aihue got matched up with Jered Weaver on opening day going 0-3, and today it won’t get easier as he faces Dan Haren. But on Sunday the sun will come out with Scott Kazmir taking the mound. Coming out of spring Ka’aihue was raking with a .397 BA, 7HR and 20RBI. Like Francisco, this is Ka’aihue’s first time at regular at bats so he will be expected to tee off on starters like Kazmir. The veteran is coming off a career worst 5.94 ERA coupled with a 5.6 K/9, making me optimistic about Ka’aihue breaking out the bat on the first Sunday of 2011.