Twins hope return of Thomas offers struggling lineup boost of offense
Cleared of Tigers OF logjam, Clete Thomas offers speed, power to Twins
Matt Carpenter had OBP of better than .400 last two years in Cards' system
Weak NL offenses should help Drew Pomeranz compete for top rookie honors
Anyone can tell you about players like Albert Pujols, Matt Kemp, and Justin Verlander, but how does that benefit your team during the season? Here, we try to inform you about players you can actually acquire to make your team a winning one. This is this week's crop of possible under-the-radar pickups.
Placed on waivers by the Tigers last week and claimed by Minnesota on Saturday, the lefty-swinging outfielder found himself starting in right field for the depth-challenged Twins Sunday. Originally drafted by the Twins, Thomas instead chose to attend Auburn University. Following a successful career with the SEC's Tigers, Detroit's Tigers drafted him in 2005 and he moved quickly up to the big club in 2008. He was caught up in an outfield logjam that included similar rank-and-file talents like Andy Dirks, Matt Joyce and Casper Wells, none of whom were able to establish themselves as integral parts of Jim Leyland's lineup. Now Thomas has been freed from a fifth season spent with the Toledo Mudhens, and despite modest stats in the International League (.252/.336./.409), he brings a bit of fantasy value to the Twins as an outfielder with pop (he homered in his second at-bat in his Target Field debut) and some speed (he swiped 20 bases in 23 attempts last season. With Ben Revere sent to the minors, Thomas will see a majority of the right field at-bats for Ron Gardenhire, making him worth a pickup for those AL-only teams in need of an outfielder.
An overlooked part of the trade that brought Jesus Montero to Seattle and sent Michael Piņeda to the Yankees, Noesi fired a gem against the A's on Saturday, limiting Oakland to five hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings. That performance was a big relief for Noesi owners who saw their man get shelled by the Rangers for seven earned runs in three innings, seemingly as a tomato can in the major league debut of Yu Darvish in Arlington. Noesi was spectacular at times and so-so in others while pitching mostly in middle relief for the Yankees in 2011, when he went 2-2 with a 4.47 ERA and 1.51 WHIP while striking out 7.4 batters per nine. Given a regular turn in the rotation while toiling half of the time in pitcher-friendly Safeco Field, Noesi is likely to repeat his Oakland game moreso than his Texas torture. He'll have mixed league appeal by the middle of the season.
Take a look atop the major league RBI leaders and you'll see some familiar names like Kemp, Ethier, Ortiz, even Swisher and Peņa. But you'll also see Carpenter, the Cardinals' backup corner infielder and outfielder who has parlayed a Lance Berkman injury into a golden opportunity to show that he belongs in the majors. Nobody would doubt his credentials if they saw his outburst at Busch Stadium on Sunday when he battered Cubs pitchers for four hits in five trips with a home run and five RBIs, half of his season total. Power isn't a major part of Carpenter's game; he's more of an on-base guy, having topped .400 OBP the past two seasons in the Cards system. Berkman's advanced age and David Freese's injury history should provide Carpenter with plenty of at bats this year, and the way the Cardinals table setters, Rafael Furcal and Carlos Beltran, have been getting on base, whomever is in the middle of St. Louis' order will get plenty of RBI chances. One word of caution: Should Berkman miss substantial time, it's more likely that the Cards will turn to powerful Matt Adams, who is raking at Triple A (three home runs and .413/.449/.696 in a dozen games) after hitting 32 home runs in 463 at-bats last season in Double A.
One of the jewels the Rockies acquired from Cleveland in last season's Ubaldo Jimenez trade, Pomeranz arrived to a rude awakening for his 2012 debut against the Diamondbacks. The talented lefty was touched up for five earned runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings in just his 26th game as a professional and fifth in the big leagues. Just 23, Pomeranz was dominant in the spring, earning the fifth spot in Colorado's rotation with a 0.82 ERA, so one bad outing against the NL's third-best offense is not something to be overly concerned about. His spot in the rotation is secure, and although his workload will be monitored closely, the NL is rife with underperforming lineups that the rookie should find much success against. Don't be surprised to see him in the thick of the NL Rookie of the Year race by the time all is said and done.
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