Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Drew Down, Rumors Up

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Trade rumors dominated baseball news Wednesday as one of the more exciting weeks in the sport begins. Well, exciting in some respects -- it's fun to dream about different players on your team, and even about acquiring exciting prospects -- and in other respects, dreadfully boring. The ratio of completed trades to rumors has to be close to 1%. Still, is fun to contemplate them, so let's round them up.

The Mets had a busy day for rumors. Carlos Beltran to the Phillies is heating up, as the Phillies and Red Sox are contemplating the Mets right fielder. The Phillies are also looking at Melky Cabrera, though, and the rumor that Domonic Brown is the Beltran-bait seems a little far-fetched. Instead, it's probably Jonathan Singleton, a 19-year-old first base prospect with power potential in the middle of a mediocre season, that will be the prospect leaving town. One person that won't be leaving the Mets is Jose Reyes, as Buster Olney reported that the team is "100 percent certain" that they will not trade their shortstop. This could be a play to keep butts in the seats, a negotiating ploy, or an attempt to boost his trade value. Who knows.

It looks like the Braves are on the cusp of acquiring a right-handed outfield bat, and that bat might be Jonny Gomes. He'd probably play against lefties, but it's unclear who's time he would steal. Maybe the team can move Martin Prado to center field? He seems athletic enough and that's their weakest outfield position. Behind Gomes, Chris Heisey doesn't have a ton of upside, but he has been playing well and has a little power and a little speed to go with his mediocre batting average. Then again, this could all be conjecture, because Josh Willingham, Ryan Ludwick and Hunter Pence are all right-handed outfield bats that have been in the rumor mill. The Astros are even rumored to be more willing to trade Pence, so he might be one of the bigger names to be moved at the deadline.

The Giants are probably happy they got Jeff Keppinger before Stephen Drew went down with a gruesome ankle injury Wednesday night since the price probably goes up on the remaining middle infield options. Late news had it that Drew has a fracture ankle, is facing surgery and will probably be out for the season. Does that make the Diamondbacks sellers suddenly? Dan Uggla pulled up lame, too, but the Braves have in-house replacements with Martin Prado's versatility. Jamey Carroll (or Clint Barmes) is still rumored to be headed to the Brewers, who could use an upgrade at the position, and the Dodgers also have Rafael Furcal to sell. Dee Gordon owners approve.

Wilson Betemit was an actual, real-life, completed trade Wednesday. He went to the Tigers for two young prospects and should start every day. That makes him interesting, but more for deeper leagues, as his current batting average is propped up by good luck. Behind him, Mike Aviles was called up and might get starts against lefties. That's not super exciting.

* Some actual play made news Wednesday. The good! We saw Vance Worley pitch eight innings of one-run ball against the Cubs. He even struck out seven. His swinging strike rate, however, suggests that his below-average strikeout rate is for real and that he's more of a marginal starter in mixed leagues than a front-of-the-fantasy-rotation option. Johnny Cueto held the Pirates to one run in six innings, with four strikeouts. He's been getting very lucky on balls in play and is probably more of a mid-to-high threes ERA pitcher going forward. His opponent, Jeff Karstens, held the Reds to one run but only struck out one in seven innings. He'll be un-ownable shortly. Chris Narveson pitched seven scoreless against the Diamondbacks, with four strikeouts and no walks. He's been better than his ERA this year and is a decent pickup in most mixed leagues. After being a fly-ball pitcher with excellent control and gaudy strikeout rates in the minor league, Juan Nicasio has shown a better ground-ball rate and more muted strikeout numbers in the major leagues. Well, on the back of his control, he's been useful still. Wednesday he struck out four, walked one, and kept the Braves to one run in seven innings. John Danks returned from his injury and held the Royals scoreless in seven scoreless. His profile suggests he can keep up his current ERA and WHIP, but not that he can better it by much. Brandon Morrow is more exciting. He's always had great strikeout stuff, but now he's showing the best walk rate of his career. He gave up three runs in seven against the Mariners, but with seven strikeouts. If you need Ks, he's your man.

The bad! Ricky Nolasco defined this paragraph by giving up nine runs while getting four outs… against the Padres. He still has excellent control and some strikeout punch, but inconsistency is part of the package as well. Dan Haren gave up seven runs on in just 4 1/3 innings, and a lot will be made of his second-half splits. The problem is that past seasonal splits are not reliable predictors of future performance. In other words, he's not necessarily any more likely than anyone else to have a bad second half, mathematically. He still has great control and is still a fantasy ace. His opponent, Derek Holland, also gave up seven runs but he is struggling his way through the season. In dynasty leagues, though, a lefty with a 94 MPH fastball must be owned. Ryan Dempster gave up six runs in three innings and even though his underlying rates are the same as they've ever been, it's hard to start him right now. Keep him on your bench until he gets it going again. Andrew Miller shut out the Orioles in 5 2/3 innings, so maybe he should be in the other paragraph. No, he walked six. He's not a play in any league right now.

* On the hitting side there was news too. Jimmy Rollins is on fire. He homered from both sides of the plate Wednesday and is having a good contract year. Jayson Werth homered and doubled twice against the Astros, which is a welcome sight. He won't hit for a great batting average with his height, long arms, and strikeout rate, but he has power and speed and is playable in all leagues. We knew the days of having a good batting average were done for Alfonso Soriano, but the power was there earlier this year. Now everything is gone, as he's opened the second half 1-21. Bench him for now if you can. Lonnie Chisenhall was sliding since he was hit by a pitch, but then he collected two hits Wednesday -- one a home run. He probably has more leash. Michael Young had three hits and with his eligibilities all over the season is having a highly under-rated fantasy season. Ryan Braun hit two solo home runs. Guess his calf is okay. Todd Helton hit a two-run home run off of Tim Hudson Wednesday and has found the fountain of youth somehow. Ryan Ludwick had four RBI Wednesday and could get a boost with a trade to a better lineup and friendlier park. Travis Snider had two hits, one a home run, and five RBI against the Mariners. He's still striking out too much to have a great batting average, but the power is real.

* How about some medical updates? Pablo Sandoval missed the game Wednesday because of his sore right quad, but he also flied out as a pinch hitter. He should be back Friday. Scott Baker was cleared to rejoin the Twins rotation on Saturday. He's been great this year. Jason Heyward returned from his foot contusion. Hopefully the Braves aren't really considering demoting or platooning him despite his struggles. Matt Joyce returned from his sore knee. He's been struggling, and sitting against some lefties, but he was never a .300 hitter really anyway. He can be a useful bench bat in the Seth Smith mold if he's on your wire. Jason Kubel might return as soon as Friday and is also a mixed-league bench bat. Chase Headley's calf is feeling better, and he could be back Thursday. Even with the fact that his batting average is propped up by good fortune, the state of the position makes him playable in most leagues. Scott Sizemore hopes to be back Friday from his myriad injuries. Steve Pearce should be activated Friday and some expect him to play every day at first base over Lyle Overbay. Deep leaguers take note. Carlos Gomez broke his clavicle Wednesday night and is in danger of missing the season. This means Nyjer Morgan will get starts against lefties, or the Brewers will find another platoon partner center fielder somewhere.

* Let's pen some bull about bullpens. Javy Guerra pitched a 'perfect' ninth, but two of the fly outs were line drives and it wasn't the prettiest save in the world. He's not a long-term option at the position, but he might just last all year. Jonathan Broxton did do arm exercises, but he's not yet pain free so he does not yet have a timetable. Joe Nathan picked up his sixth save, even if he gave up his first run in his last ten appearances. Rafael Soriano had a good first inning on his rehab appearance, but then gave up two runs in the second inning. He'll be back next week. J.J. Putz will make another rehab appearance Friday and then be activated next Tuesday, or so goes the current plan. David Hernandez was great, and might be next year's closer, but he'll go back to setting up. Brad Lidge will return Friday and throw the Philly bullpen into even more question. Then Charlie Manuel said that Antonio Bastardo might keep the job going forward. Still, that's a contending team and they can't afford to be risky. Fernando Salas took the loss against the Mets when he allowed an Angel Pagan home run, but it was in his second inning of work and he hasn't been great in multiple innings in the past. He's still got some leash. The rumors are that Mike Adams and Heath Bell are on the block, but a report cited Padres owner Jeff Moorad as telling Adams that he was "not going anywhere." Sigh.

National League Quick Hits: Ubaldo Jimenez is not likely to be traded, says an exec who checked in on his availability … Jose Tabata (quad) left a rehab game for yet another setback … Jason Bartlett (paternity) is back with the Padres … Placido Polanco (bulging disc) will receive an epidural Thursday … Scott Rolen (shoulder) rejoined the Reds lineup with a hit … Angel Pagan's game-winning home run could be the spark that he needs; with a little better luck on batted balls, his value will become more obvious … It looks like Tom Gorzelanny's ankle is fine and he'll make his next start Saturday … Jason Bay was pulled from Wednesday's game due to a tight hamstring … Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder), who had the same operation as Johan Santana, looks about ready to rejoin the major leagues after one more start in Triple-A … Kyle McClellan allowed four runs in six innings and is just a mediocre pitcher … The 5'7" Jose Altuve debuted Wednesday against the Nationals and got a hit in five at-bats; He's batting second and is a deep league play at best … Jesus Guzman had three hits Wednesday and is taking some time from Anthony Rizzo in San Diego, but the minor league journeyman has limited upside … Jordan Schafer had two hits Wednesday but just doesn't have enough power to put up a decent batting average even … Joe Saunders only allowed two runs to the Brewers but that doesn't mean you should own him any league … 35-year-old Cody Ransom is up in Arizona to help at shortstop but he hasn't shown his minor league power in the majors ever … Dioner Navarro homered and might take over is Rod Barajas is traded but isn't a good offensive catcher … The Diamondbacks optioned Barry Enright to Triple-A and he's not fantasy relevant for now … Mets prospect Kirk Nieuwenhuis had season-ending labrum surgery.

American League Quick Hits: Curtis Granderson hit a home run of David Price and is doing just fine against lefties this year, thank you very much … Roy Halladay is a robot, which was confirmed by his successful bullpen session Wednesday … Jon Lester (strained lat) threw a bullpen session and remains on track to return next Monday … Erik Bedard (knee) will throw a simulated game this weekend … Jemile Weeks (foot) missed Wednesday's game but should be back Friday … Michael Brantley (flu) missed another game … Alex Gordon had two hits against the White Sox but his batting average is propped up by luck and the rest of his profile is only okay … Dustin Ackley homered, doubled, and drove in three; He's doing the same medium-power, medium-speed thing he did in the minors, but that makes him ownable in all leagues at his position … Magglio Ordonez had three hits Wednesday and if you need a mostly empty batting average in the outfield, he's your dude … Hey, Freddy Garcia did keep the Rays scoreless in 6 2/3 innings, and even struck out seven, but that's not a great offense and Garcia could have a disasterpiece of a start at any moment … Jason Vargas gave up rive runs in three innings in Toronto, and if you own him you just have to be very careful about when you start him … The Red Sox, Dodgers, Cardinals and Blue Jays were all scouting Kevin Slowey's start for Triple-A, so deep leaguers should roster him now … Edwin Encarnacion had three hits (one a home run) and two stolen basses against the Mariners and has provided surprising value in deep leagues … Alex Cobb will stay in the rotation and start Sunday but there's no word yet about the Rays going to six starters with Wade Davis returning Friday … Brandon McCarthy allowed four runs to the Tigers in Detroit and is mostly a mediocre pitcher with a nice home park … Adam Dunn's strikeout rate is insane and now he's taking treatment on a knee; He's a second-half miss most likely … Ivan Nova's (ankle) next minor league start will be skipped … Casey Kotchman had three hits for the Rays, but he hasn't changed his approach much and is just getting a little lucky on batted balls right now … Bruce Chen held the White Sox to one run in eight innings, but he's an extreme fly-ball pitcher with average control and little strikeout punch, so he doesn't have much going for him.


Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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