July 2010

Tradespin deadline roundup: Lilly in L.A., new closers in Cleveland, Pittsburgh

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By Ian Kay
Pencils down, people — he non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed.
Here are the CliffsNotes: Grab Chris Perez and Joel Hanrahan. Trade for Ted Lilly. Drop Kerry Wood and Octavio Dotel. Keep an eye on James McDonald
Read on for the full rundown.
Dodgers acquire SP Ted Lilly and SS/2B Ryan Theriot from Cubs for 2B Blake DeWitt and two prospects:
  • This is a major win for Lilly owners. The left-hander has pitched well this season (3.69 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 6.8 K/9) but has just 3-8 thanks to the third-worst run support of any NL starter. The Dodgers offense should provide a boost and Dodger Stadium is a much better fit for his flyball tendencies than Wrigley Field. Consider Lilly a top 40 SP the rest of the way.
  • Theriot’s value should remain roughly the unchanged as Joe Torre starts him regularly at second base. Extra playing time for Ronnie Belliard or Jamey Carroll could complicate things. The new ballpark is more pitcher-friendly, but a stronger lineup and a more frequent green light on the bases is a plus. 
  • The 24-year-old DeWitt flashed promising power for a keystone in the Minors but it hasn’t translated to the big leagues yet. While a change of scenery could help, he’s not mixed-league relevant at this point.
Yankees acquire RP Kerry Wood from Indians for PTBNL: 
  • Wood loses just about all of his value with the move. He’ll be setting up for Mariano Rivera instead of recording his own saves from here on out.
  • Chris Perez is the guy to grab. The 25-year-old converted 11 of 14 save opportunities — including each of his last six — while Wood was on the DL and is now entrenched in the stopper role. Barring further control issues (4.7 K/9), he should be good for at least 10 more saves.
Dodgers acquire RP Octavio Dotel from Pirates for SP James McDonald and a prospect:
  • Dotel is basically in the same situation as Wood. He’ll lose his save opportunities — and almost all of his fantasy value — in L.A.
  • Either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek will now assume the Pirates’ closer role. Meek has better numbers on the year but Hanrahan has closing experience and 10 straight scoreless outings. I’d add Hanrahan first, but we won’t know for sure for at least a couple days.
  • McDonald will likely slot into the Pirates rotation. He hasn’t impressed in 53 career Major League games (five starts) but was a highly touted prospect as recently as two years ago. The Minor League numbers — 3.49 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 9.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 — should entice pitching-needy NL-only owners immediately. Don’t be shocked if he gains spot-start usefulness in mixers late this year. 

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Tradespin: Westbrook, Jay big winners in three-team swap

(By Alex Novick)
In a notable three-team swap Saturday, the Cardinals acquired starter Jake Westbrook from the Indians, sending outfielder Ryan Ludwick to the Padres while the Tribe received Double-A starter Corey Kluber from San Diego. 
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Westbrook is a huge winner here, and should now be scooped up immediately in NL-only formats, while kept a close eye on in mixed leagues. The 32-year-old right-hander always had solid stuff, but labored to an up-and-down career in Cleveland which included three 14-win seasons despite a mediocre career 4.34 ERA and 1.38 WHIP. 

He got handed a winning lottery ticket on Saturday, however, not only getting a boost from going to a contending team in the National League, but landing in the hands of the magic wizard also know as Dave Duncan. Westbrook will try to follow in the footsteps of fellow right-handers like Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan, Kyle Lohse, Joel Pineiro, and Brad Penny (pre-injury), who rejuvenated their careers under the tutelage of Duncan. Expect Westbrook’s current 4.65 ERA to drop at least a full run for the rest of the season, while he racks up 5-6 victories.

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Ludwick, currently with a .281-11-43 line, suffers the opposite fate as Westbrook with his relocation, although things aren’t all that bad. At first glance this seems devastating for the 31-year-old slugger’s fantasy value, going from hitting next to Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday, to likely batting cleanup with no protection from the weak Friars lineup, where home runs go to die in Petco Park. 
On the bright side, however, Ludwick will be guaranteed regular playing time in San Diego. He was starting to become the victim of a bit of a Wally Pip situation, as Jon Jay raked his way into regular playing time while Ludwick was on the disabled list for most of July. Ludwick had started only one of the last three games, and things weren’t likely to improve much for him in St. Louis. So basically, Ludwick was saved from falling into fantasy irrelevance, and now becomes an average-at-best mixed-league outfielder.

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The other large beneficiary here is the aforementioned Jay, who no longer has to look over his shoulder and will remain a fixture in right field for the Cards. The 25-year-old has posted an absurd .396 average in 111 at-bats this year, with an even more eye-popping .456 clip in July. This is a pretty huge surprise — despite the fact he hit .321 in 165 Triple-A at-bats — as Jay wasn’t a very heralded prospect working his way up from the Minors. 
Nonetheless, the sweet-swinging lefty has looked great so far, and should be owned in pretty much all formats going forward.  He’s not going to give you a ton of power, but should cross the plate a ton batting second in front of the Cardinals bashers, so a .320-5-25 line with 30-plus runs scored doesn’t seem out of the question over the next couple months.
  • The 24-year-old Kluber is a mid-level prospect at this point, and is at least a year away from making an impact in Cleveland. The right-hander has racked up a great strikeout rate at Double-A (136 Ks in 122 2/3 innings) but his 6-6 record, 3.46 ERA and 1.31 WHIP screams No. 3 starter at best.

Tradespin: Yanks getting greedy, grab Kearns

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The Yankees, apparently not fully satiated from nabbing Lance Berkman, plucked Austin Kearns from the Indians late Friday night in exchange for a player to be named later. 

Yawn.
Kearns was offering some moderate AL-only value playing every day in left field for the Tribe, posting a .272-8-42 line in 301 at-bats. He went out in style on Friday, going 2-for-3 with a double before getting pulled in the seventh inning from what could be his last start for a while. 
The 30-year-old journeyman will be limited to a bench role in the Bronx, sending any potential fantasy value out the window. Logic would dictate the Yanks acquired Kearns, a right-handed hitter, to occasionally spell Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner against southpaws, however Kearns is batting just .250 against lefty hurlers this season. Can someone say higher-than-usual-profile pinch-hitter?
AL-Only: Maybe the only fantasy-relevant aspect to this trade would be if the Indians promote Michael Brantley to fill the void in left field. The 23-year-old has struggled severely over 26 games with Cleveland in 2010, compiling a scary .157 average resulting in two separate demotions to the Minors. Brantley has talent, however, evidenced by a .315 clip and 13 steals in 62 Triple-A games this year. He notched three multi-hit efforts over a four-game stretch the week before getting sent down on July 27, possibly a sign of getting accustomed to big league pitching. 
Keep an eye on Brantley in AL-only formats if he gets the call, which is more than one can say about the always exciting PTBNL.

Tradespin: Berkman to the Bronx

(By Dave)

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The Yankees are on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman from the Astros. This is good news for the Big Puma. 

Should this deal go down, and indications are that it will, two people’s value will increase somewhat dramatically: Berman’s and Astros new first baseman Brett Wallace’s.  

The lowdown on Berkman:

  • Berkman stumbled out of the gate this season after undergoing offseason knee surgery, as he posted a .227-5-17 line with a .398 slugging through his first 128 at-bats.
  • However, the Puma has flashed his All-Star form as of late, hitting .274 with six taters, 14 RBIs and a .613 slugging over his last 61 at-bats, covering a span of 18 games.
  • Batting in the heart of the Yankees lineup, Berkman will be hitting in the best lineup he’s ever been placed in, and should thrive with the short right field porch at his disposal. 
  • Though he’s struggled largely on the year, I’m banking he returns to his dominant mixed-league form that we’ve been accustomed to for the last 11 seasons while starting primarily as New York’s designated hitter.
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The lowdown on Wallace:

  • The moment the Astros swapped outfielder Anthony Gose for Wallace right after the Roy Oswalt deal, you knew Berkman’s day would be numbered.
  • The 24-year-old Wallace was a key cog in the Matt Holliday trade last season and was
    sent to Toronto in exchange for Michael Taylor right after the Roy
    Halladay trade in December. 
  • Wallace was hitting .301 with 18 homers, 61
    RBIs and a .509 slugging percentage with Triple-A Las Vegas prior to
    Thursday’s swap.
  • He should immediately take over as the Astros’ starting first baseman and could be placed in the heart of the lineup around Hunter Pence, Carlos Lee and Chris Johnson.
  • A .285-5-30 line down the stretch is well within reach, making Wallace a borderline mixed-league option. 




Tradespin: Christian Guzman — Kinsler insurance or Kinsler replacement?

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By Ian Kay

In a relatively minor deal, the Rangers acquired infielder/outfielder Christian Guzman (.282 AVG, 44 R, 2 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB) from the Nationals on Friday for a couple of low-level pitching prospects.

Mixed leagues: Owners in mixers with 12 or fewer teams only to worry about this deal for one reason: It may mean Ian Kinsler isn’t coming back from that groin strain any time soon. Sure, it’s possible Texas just wanted a better backup middle infielder than Joaquin Arias. But with an 8.5 game lead in the AL West, would they really trade for Guzman if they expected Kinsler back by mid-August? Owners invested in the All-Star keystone should make sure they have a backup they’d be comfortable using for most of August and possibly September, too — preferably one more productive than Guzman.
Ian Desmond and Adam Kennedy should each receive a playing time boost in Washington as a result of the move. Desmond is the more valuable of that pair. His approach at the plate is still a little raw (66K, 15 BB), but he has the talent to hit four or five homers and swipe as many bases down the stretch.
AL-only: A .280-plus average at a middle infield slot — even without much power or speed — certainly holds value in these formats. The Rangers’ stacked lineup and Arlington’s August heat figure to increase Guzman’s run and RBI totals, and the 32-year-old’s versatility (20-plus games at 2B, SS; 8 at OF this season) could earn him a few starts per week even after Kinsler returns. If you’re starting Maicer Izturis, Mike Aviles or Mark Ellis, Guzman will likely be an upgrade over the season’s final two months.

Tradespin: Capps sent to Twins for catching prospect Ramos

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(By Dave)

The Twins joined the Trade Deadline bonanza late Thursday night, acquiring Nationals closer Matt Capps in exchange for highly regarded catching prospect Wilson Ramos.

As I post this I have no idea if Capps will become the Twins closer or if the job will remain with Jon Rauch. My gut tells me the Twins won’t want to mess with a good thing and will keep Rauch in the ninth-inning role. My gut also tells me gorditas from the taco truck was a good idea a couple hours ago. (Editor’s note: Capps is reportedly the favorite to close in the Twin Cities). 
Anyway, whoever becomes the closer has fantasy value. Whoever becomes the setup man loses fantasy value — it’s that easy.
Another question emerges in the nation’s capital as either Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard will take the reigns as the club’s stopper. Storen, widely considered the team’s closer of the future after being selected in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft last season, owns a 2.73 ERA with a 26/14 K/BB ratio over 29 2/3 frames with the big club. The veteran Clippard has a 3.26 ERA with a 69/28 K/BB ratio. My money is on the young’en who throws heat  — Storen.
Ramos is a nice return for the Nats. Ranked by Baseball America as the No. 58 overall prospect in the game heading into the season, Ramos is a stellar defensive catcher but has had trouble staying on the field and has been scuffling at the plate all season long. Over 71 games with Triple-A Rochester, the soon-to-be 23-year-old sports a .241 average with five homers, 30 RBIs and a .345 slugging over 75 games. He did manage to turn in a combined .317-.339-.496 triple-slash across a couple Minor League stints last year. Expect him to start behind the plate next season on Opening Day for the Nats. 

Tradespin: Saved by the Tejada — Bell big winner in trade

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(By Dave)

The Padres acquired third baseman Miguel Tejada from the Orioles on Thursday in exchange for Minor League pitcher Wynn Pelzer. Tejada didn’t have much fantasy value in Baltimore, and he won’t have much fantasy value in San Diego. 

Here’s what you need to know:
  • Though the Padres desperately need to upgrade their shortstop position with Everth Cabrera hitting .201 on the year, Tejada is expected to primarily spell Chase Headley, who has posted an underwhelming .269-7-34 line over 98 games primarily at the hot corner
  • Tejada, who posted an almost-identical .269-7-39 in his return to Baltimore this season, hasn’t been a mixed-league factor in ’10 and certainly won’t be one now playing half his games at PETCO Park.
  • I have to think Tejada will play more shortstop for San Diego than reports initially indicate, but since he already has shortstop eligiblity after playing 158 games at that position last season with the Astros, this does little for his fantasy prospects.
  • For what it’s worth, Tejada owns a lifetime .288/.321/.365 triple-slash over 52 at-bats at PETCO Park.
  • Oh, and feel free to erase Pelzer’s name from your memory bank, as the 24-year-old right-hander sported a 4.20 ERA with a .277 average against and 83/56 K/BB ratio over 94 1/3 innings with Double-A Texas. This was pretty much just a salary dump on the O’s part. And I can’t blame them.
  • The big winner who emerged from this trade is Orioles top positional prospect and third baseman Josh Bell, who will take over the hot corner in Charm City for the rest of the season. Bell went 5-for-19 (.263) during a cup of coffee earlier this month with B-More, but has hit .273 with 13 homers, 50 RBIs and a .481 slugging percentage over 316 at-bats with Triple-A Norfolk this season. The 23-year-old is projected to be the O’s third baseman of the future and is a must-add in any AL-only format. 

Tradespin: Rangers cannot afford a new 1B? Cantu!

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(By Dave)

According to numerous reports, the Rangers have acquired cornerman Jorge Cantu from the Marlins in exchange for Double-A right-handers Evan Reed and Omar Poveda.
A free-agent-to-be, Cantu is hitting .259 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs and a .408 slugging this season for the Marlins.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, these numbers are still much better than whatever Chris Davis (.188-0-3; 101 AB) has been providing.
Furthermore, with Ian Kinsler on the DL with a strained left groin, Cantu — who has played over 200 games in his career at 1B, 2B and 3B — can provide insurance there, as well.
Shifting to a much better lineup and a much better ballpark should heavily increase Cantu’s fantasy value the rest of the way, and the possibility that he could add second-base eligibility makes him a virtual must-add in any format in which he has been dropped.
Cantu posted a .289-16-100 line last season over 149 with the Fish, and there’s little reason to think he can’t replicate — if not top — those type of numbers the rest of the way in Texas.

Tradespin: Two Roys are Better than One

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(By Dave)

The Phillies have reportedly come to an agreement with the Astros to acquire Roy Oswalt in exchange for starter J.A. Happ and a few rumored prospects. The deal apparently all hinges on whether Oswalt waives his no-trade clause and is OK being the second-best Roy on the team.

Despite the immense real-life baseball ramifications of the deal, a move to the Land of a Thousand Cheesesteaks will likely have little affect on Oswalt’s fantasy value.
Here’s why:
  • The soon-to-be 33-year-old was already in the midst of a quality season, as his 3.42 ERA is his lowest clip since his ’07 campaign and his 1.11 WHIP is his best mark since his rookie year in ’01.
  • Despite the friendly hitting confines of Minute Maid Park, Oswalt has been dominant on his home turf throughout his career, posting a 2.89 ERA over 998 1/3 career innings. Combine that with the fact that his new stomping grounds — Citizens Bank Park — favors batters, as well, and a change of home ballparks would likely only have a nominal affect on Oswalt’s performance.
  • The one main promising prospect for Oswalt is the hope that jettisoning the second-to-last-place Astros in favor of the contending Phillies will reinvigorate the Houston ace and he can repeat what Cliff Lee did last season for the Phils. Though this remains a possibility, I just don’t see it happening. Oswalt is a fine pitcher but Lee is Lee, and judging by his current 114/7 K/BB ratio, last season’s success with the Phils was really only the tip of the iceberg for the all-world southpaw.
  • With that said, outside of a few more wins, expect more of the same from Oswalt should he pitch in Philly. And, frankly, that’s not a bad thing. A mid-to-low ERA in the threes combined with a K/9 rate in the eights still makes him a Top 30 fantasy starter going forward.
 

Tradespin: Jhonny Peralta to Detroit; Scott Podsednik to L.A.

By Ian Kay
Remember when Cliff Lee almost definitely a Yankee? Well, now Roy Oswalt has for sure been traded to the Phillies. Maybe. Unless he doesn’t like Philadelphia. 
That deal would be a hearty Trade Season entrée, but nothing is certain until the dotted lines are signed on and the prospects are named later. What we do know is that two other deals went down on Wednesday. They may only be soup-and-salad level, but they are 100 percent guaranteed to actually be real. Analysis awaits:
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Trade 1: The Tigers acquired infielder Jhonny Peralta
Detroit has been overwhelmed by injuries of late, so this is more of a depth move than anything else. Peralta will take over at third base until Brandon Inge returns from the DL in mid-to-late August, then move into a time-share arrangement with Danny Worth at shortstop.
Once a valuable 20-homer middle infielder, the 28-year-old’s fantasy value has fallen off a cliff since the end of ’08. He’s now a batting average liability who doesn’t run and isn’t likely to hit more than five home runs the rest of the way. While Detroit’s lineup should produce more runs than Cleveland’s, Peralta’s career numbers at Comerica Park — .243/.293/.365 with five homers in 243 plate appearances — are less than encouraging. Mixed leaguers shouldn’t feel obligated to make a move, and even AL-only owners can consider his value roughly unchanged.
…from the Indians for pitching prospect Giovanni Soto.

A young catcher who can hit? That seems like a lot to give up for… Ohhh. That’s Geovany Soto. This is Giovanni Soto. Well, Giovanni was a 21st round pick in the ’09 Draft and wasn’t listed among Baseball America’s top-10 Tigers prospects before the season. A 2.10 ERA and 113 Ks in 128 1/3 career Minor League innings are impressive, but the left-hander has yet to pitch above Class A. At 19 years old, Soto is a long way from any kind of fantasy relevance. 
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Trade 2: The Dodgers acquired outfielder Scott Podsednik
This one hurts. Podsednik has provided a ton of sneaky value for deep-league and AL-only owners with 30 steals and a .310 average as the Royals’ everyday left-fielder. The situation in Hollywood, however, is far more complicated. Once Manny Ramirez returns from the DL — probably mid-August — Podsednik is likely the odd man out in Joe Torre’s outfield. Even as a backup, he’ll compete with Reed Johnson (also on the DL) and Garrett Anderson (washed up) for at-bats. 
The Dodgers run almost as often as the Royals and a better surrounding lineup will mitigate some of Dodger Stadium’s run-suppressing effects, but all that will be moot if Podsednik is only starting once or twice per week. Mixed league owners can hang onto him for now but should start scouring the waiver wire and trade market for alternative speed merchants. The 34-year-old becomes an immediate drop in those formats when Manny returns. Podsednik’s short-term steal potential makes him worth a claim In NL-only leagues, albeit not a top priority one.  
…from the Royals for a pair of prospects — catcher Lucas May and right-hander Elisaul Pimentel.

MLB.com prospexpert Jonathan Mayo has all the details on Kansas City’s return here. May is 25 years old and could develop into a big league starter, but he’ll head to Triple-A for now. The Royals appear content with Jason Kendall for the rest of 2010. Pimentel has decent numbers at Class A but, like Soto, is probably several years from big league action.