Jeff Clement, DH (SEA): Jeff Clement is one of the Seattle Mariners' top prospects, and he was called up Wednesday to give the batting lineup a spark. Designated hitter Jose Vidro has struggled, and so has catcher Kenji Johjima. Clement was hitting .397 with five home runs and 20 RBIs for Triple-A Tacoma and has three hits in 13 at-bats since being called up. Clement is a catcher but he's not yet catcher-eligible in most leagues. He should be a productive hitter in the big leagues, but he only has value once he becomes catcher-eligible. If he does, he should immediately become one of the better options out there -- especially for those who just placed Jorge Posada on the disabled list.
Mike Cameron, OF (MIL): People have slept on Mike Cameron, who served a 25-game suspension to start the season, but he's back and is a must-own in anything bigger than an eight-team league. He had 21 HR, 78 RBIs, 88 R and 18 SB last year while playing for the punch-less San Diego Padres in Petco Park. Not only is he in a much better hitter's environment now, but he's also at the top of the order. He's at No. 2 in the lineup -- a run-producing role -- where he should see plenty of quality pitches as pitchers hope to avoid facing Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder behind him. Cameron's average (.242 in '07, .268 in '06) leaves something to be desired, but it might get better this year because of the aforementioned reason. Here's what he's done since he's returned: 6 GP, .269 AVG (7-for-26), 3 HR, 7 RBIs, 6 R. That's what I'm talking about.
Carlos Gomez, OF (MIN): With Curtis Granderson and Carl Crawford as my two everyday outfielders in my 12-team mixed league, I was auditioning Carlos Gomez and Mike Cameron for my last gig. I went with Cameron, based on his pedigree, but Gomez has been a valuable player this season. He started hot, then slumped, then was benched for a game, and now he's back on fire. Maybe the Minnesota Twins rode him too hard to start the season, but with days off in the recent weeks (some because of injury), Gomez has hit .450 (9-for-20) with 2 RBIs, 8 R and 4 SB over his last six games. In fact, his 13 SBs are tied for the league lead. As a rookie, you have to wonder if he will wear down as the season progresses, but he will clearly be a solid option for steals and runs.
Fred Lewis, OF (SF): Right Said Fred Lewis has a lot of similarities with Carlos Gomez in the sense that he's a rookie and he provides a lot of speed (runs and stolen bases), but he's useful for other reasons. For starters, he provides a much better average. He's hitting .320 with an on-base percentage of roughly .400. He only has five stolen bases so far, but he has more home runs (3), RBIs (8) and runs (19) than Gomez in four fewer at-bats. Again, he's a rookie, which may mean he's susceptible to second-half fading, but he projects to finish with 95 R, 25 SB and 15 HR with a batting average around .300 -- that's outstanding for a guy who's owned in roughly 35 percent of leagues.
Brad Hawpe, OF (COL): I've seen Brad Hawpe on the waiver wire in a number of fantasy leagues, and I'm having trouble passing up on the value of adding a guy for free when he was drafted between rounds 7-9 in most 12-team leagues. Granted, he's had a rough start to the season, but so has the whole Colorado Rockies squad. He's warming up, and if you can either low-ball another owner or pick him up for free, I would. Hawpe has .300/30/100 potential, and these types of guys don't grow on trees. Since April 24, he's raised his averaged from .232 to .260. The power is not quite there (only one home run, five RBIs in that span), but I'm confident it will come along with the rest of the order.
Travis Hafner, DH (CLE): To be quite honest with you, I'm done with Travis Hafner. There is so much value on the waiver wire in my league that I consider this guy dead weight on my team. Whether he was part of the steroids fad and is now off it, or whether he is just straight up struggling, something is wrong with him, and it looks like it is beyond reparation. For three years between 2004-2006, Hafner hit no less than .305 while averaging 34 home runs and 474 at-bats per season. In 2006, he hits 42 jacks in 454 at-bats but surprisingly fell off the face of the earth last year. In 545 at-bats last season -- nearly 100 more than in 2006 -- Hafner had 18 fewer home runs and 17 fewer RBIs. His batting average plummeted to .266, and his slugging percentage dropped from .659 to .451. This year, his struggles have become even worse. Saying the word "struggles" implies that his slump is the aberration and his 2006 form is just waiting to re-emerge. But after experiencing his worst month in nearly six years, I believe that this is who he is now. The only good news is his 17 RBIs, which put him on pace for nearly 100 again this season, but who can deal with a .209 batting average? Even the Cleveland Indians are considering getting Kelly Shoppach more time in the lineup if Pronk continues down this road. I offered Hafner for Kenji Johjima straight up because I have more faith in Johjima than Hafner. If you can move him for someone else who has had a slow start, good luck. Otherwise, you might be cutting the dead weight soon.