Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Jennings Up; Beltran Out?

Monday, July 25, 2011


Rumors are spreading. Tammy saw what you did behind the bleachers Friday night after the game and she's telling everyone. And just like rumors could be hurtful back in the day, be careful about them during the trade deadline season in fantasy baseball. Since so few of these will actually get completed, if you drop a useful piece to get ahead, you might end up behind. If you have a fungible spot, go ahead. But tread carefully.

Even when the rumors are blazing hot, it's not certain what the outcome will be. The Giants look like the front-runner for the services of Carlos Beltran, who didn't rule out any of the five teams he's been rumored to join, but said he preferred the National League. Nate Schierholtz looks like the possible loser if that happens. You know what though? It's Cody Ross that has a longer body of work that suggests that he's much better against lefties than righties. And with Schierholtz being a lefty, that might turn into a platoon that benefits the one with the long name. Don't drop Schierholtz in deep leagues until you know something for sure. Raul Ibanez would probably lose time if he went to Philly, and yet he has 16 RBI in July and is useful in deeper leagues.

There were 20 scouts watching Ubaldo Jimenez give up five runs in five innings (with eight strikeouts and two walks) in Arizona, but he still seems like one of the less likely pitchers to be traded because of his friendly deal, age, and upside. James Shields is apparently off the market now. Mark Buehrle also probably won't be traded. He has a $15 million salary for next year that kicks in he's traded. That's a killer. Edwin Jackson, on the other hand, seems likely to be traded because he's a free agent at the end of the season. The erratic one held the Indians to two runs on three strikeouts and three walks Sunday. He could receive a boost from heading back to the NL, maybe, but don't assume he's much better than he's shown so far this year. Wandy Rodriguez, who held the Cubs to two runs on seven innings with seven strikeouts and one walk on Saturday, has caught the eye of the Diamondbacks. He's got an okay contract for next year, so this might take an actual, interesting prospect or two to happen. After the Stephen Drew injury, who knows what the D-Backs will do.

Some lesser hitters might move. The B.J. Upton rumors reached a fevered pitch when he was removed from the game Friday and then was not in Saturday's lineup. There's still nothing concrete out there in the industry, other than the fact that he's a possible alternative to Carlos Beltran, so maybe there's not actually a trade coming. There are actually rumored destinations for Colby Rasmus (White Sox), so that could be a possibility but not a probability. Kosuke Fukudome has four teams interested in him. He'll probably be a platoon bat where he ends up, but at least he would bat against righties. Ian Desmond is being actively shopped, but it's unclear how that would help him. If the team ever moved Danny Espinosa over to short in response -- which is where he played in the minor leagues, and he has the arm to do it -- the rookie's value would shoot through the roof.

* Desmond Jennings is finally a big leaguer. He was called up Friday and collected a double and a triple and an RBI while showing elite speed. Sunday he doubled and singled and stole a base. Jennings has been in the minor leagues a bit long, and he's never been young for his age. His strikeout rates have increased of late. His power dipped last year, too. Then again, he had a shoulder injury last year which explains much of the loss of power. He's shown great speed and patience with low strikeout rates when looking at his minor league career as a whole. And there are plenty of different reasons to keep a prospect in the minor leagues. Jennings is absolutely playable in mixed leagues if you have a workable spot the end of your bench. He has the upside to hit better than .280 with five-plus home runs and mid-teens steals in the second half, and the downside to struggle in the bigs as any young player might. Get excited but not too excited. A side note: Because the Rays demoted Reid Brignac as part of the roster shakeup, Ben Zobrist should be playing more shortstop going forward. He'd be a top-five shortstop. Jason Kipnis was another important debut over the weekend, but he went hitless Friday in two at-bats, then was held out of both Saturday and Sunday's games. He's a deep leaguer at best right now.

* Starting pitchers play in 30 to 35 games a year. That means their average start is about five times more important than a position player's average start, in terms of learning about the player. Let's see what we learned from the good starts this weekend. Justin Masterson allowed one earned in a loss, but he struck out six, walked one, and got his ground balls. He's had trouble against lefties that is due to his particular pitching mix and can't be 'solved' without a new pitch, but made a huge step by cutting his walks to lefties. He's mostly for real. Scott Baker picked up right where he left off, shutting out the Tigers through five on Saturday. He shouldn't be on a waiver wire anywhere. Chad Billingsley struck out ten Nationals and gave up just one earned in seven innings. He has a bad stretch every year and stills turns in a dependable performance overall. Madison Bumgarner held the Brewers to one run, and he looked great while striking out eight in 7 2/3 innings. He doesn't have ace-like whiff rates, but everything else is average or better. He's a really good pitcher. Yovani Gallardo matched him for the most part -- five strikeouts, one walk and two earned in seven innings -- but despite the result his improved control is good news. Matt Garza struck out nine in seven two-run innings against the Astros, and it looks like his new strikeout rate is holding. Good news again.

Deeper in the pool, we can still learn while we're having fun. Jeremy Guthrie is obviously a deep leaguer, but he's been bad the last two months. It was good to see him allow three runs in seven innings against the Angels, and it would be good to see more strikeouts and less walks in his future starts. A move to St. Louis, which was in the rumors Sunday, would definitely help him to the cusp of being a mixed-league bench option. Tyler Chatwood held the Orioles to two runs in seven innings, but the fact that he struck out five, walked one, and got 11 ground balls to his eight fly balls was more impressive. If he can do that again, he's a possible deep leaguer. Dillon Gee has a good enough home park to be relevant in deep leagues, but he was home Sunday and allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings against the Marlins. He struck out three and gave up a home run, and that's about right. Be careful with him. Josh Collmenter gave up three runs in seven innings against the Rockies, which is okay, but it's also only okay. He has excellent control, but most of his strikeouts are being influenced by his funky delivery (his swinging strike rate is below-average), and that might get figured out by the league soon enough. Rick Porcello got more of his contact on the ground, struck out four and walked two in six innings. Especially when going up against a mediocre offense like Minnesota's, giving up two runs like he did is regularly achievable for him if he pitches like that. Alex Cobb held the Royals scoreless in seven, but he only struck out two. He's more of a player to watch than acquire.

The bad starts tell us a lot too. Francisco Liriano struggled with control -- four walks and two wild pitches in 2 1/3 innings -- and it was the fourth straight game in which he's shown iffy control. Michael Pineda gave up seven runs in 4 1/3, to continue a poor stretch for him. Still, it was Boston and it's a long season. He's still getting the strikeouts and limiting the walks and has a bright future. Tim Stauffer gave up five runs in 5 2/3 in Philadelphia, but he did strike out five. He's still a solid start at home -- even though his overall numbers on the road look fine, his strikeout to walk ratio is much higher at home -- and in deep leagues, you can start him most of the time. But in mixed leagues, he's one to be careful with. Ted Lilly gave up six runs to the Nationals on Saturday. His swinging strike rate is in the middle of a long decline and batters are hitting more than a homer and a half off him per game. Lilly has excellent control but is nigh unusable in mixed leagues and shallower right now. Even his upside is so muted that he's droppable. Kevin Correia gave up seven runs in 4 2/3 innings, which is the danger when you allow so much contact. Jordan Lyles gave up three runs in six innings against the Cubs, but he also struck out five and walked one. He has better whiff rates than strikeout rates, so there's some upside there, but not a ton.

* The bulls in the pen deserve some time in the sun. Antonio Bastardo is still making the most of his stint as the Phillies' closer, but his manager admitted that Ryan Madson is probably headed back the role. Brad Lidge is back but hasn't pitched yet. Bobby Parnell is being groomed to be the closer, but it might not happen until next year. Sunday, he came in to preserve a lead in the eighth, and Logan Morrison took him deep to tie the game. If he can come back and pitch well in his next outing, it might mean that he's learning how to deal with obstacles. J.J. Putz will be back Tuesday says his manager. Rex Brothers is moving up on the bullpen ladder in Colorado, judging by his manager's comments. Kyle Farnsworth blew a one-run lead Saturday against the Royals, which is bad timing with the trade deadline approaching. Still no rumors getting out of that Rays front office. Carlos Marmol pitched a scoreless ninth Saturday but he still hit a batter and gave up a single. Still, his manager has said he's on his way back to the role before long. Javy Guerra is not a special reliever, but he's now perfect in seven save chances and has some leash in that Dodger pen.

* Let's head over to the docta, who just diagnosed Adrian Beltre with a grade one hamstring straing and put him on the DL. The doctor also says that Peter Bourjos is back off the disabled list and his manager said he was the starter in center field when he returned. Too bad for Mike Trout, who is the best prospect in the game and hit his first major league home run on Sunday. He's probably headed to the farm soon. Chipper Jones has had two rehab games and is already back. Of course, who knows how long he'll be able to stick together this time. Vladimir Guerrero is also old, but he might only miss the minimum with his fractured hand. He's on a rehab assignment already. David Wright is back! He hit a home run Sunday is and is really back. His back is okay. Back. Placido Polanco's back is feeling better since his epidural and he might be back in a week. Cameron Maybin had to leave Sunday's game with a hip flexor injury, which is too bad because he's killing the ball. He can be a Mike Cameron now and in the future. Angel Pagan should have a better batting average than Maybin over the rest of the season, based on strikeout and contact rates, but he's been unlucky this season. He was removed Sunday from a game in Florida due to dehydration, though, and he seems to have health issues most days. Roy Oswalt will begin a rehab assignment Wednesday. Zack Cozart has been a deep league shortstop replacement and has decent upside, but now he's on the DL with a hyperextended left elbow and Paul Janish is back. Luckily, Cozart won't be out that long. Orlando Hudson had a scary run-in with the wall while making a catch late last week, but he's now back. Denard Span is almost back, which is making Ben Revere very droppable in most leagues. Oh, and Revere's play is doing that too. Luke Scott is done for the season, surgery or no, but he wants more opinions before going under the knife. Scott Rolen is on the DL and can't lift his left shoulder very far. Not good, but he's slid too far to be useful in most leagues.

National League Quick Hits: Mat Latos gave up three runs against the Phillies Saturday, but the seven strike outs in seven innings were a better sign … Justin Upton had four hits in four at-bats Sunday and is flaming hot -- he looks like a top-five outfielder right now … Drew Stubbs walked em off Sunday night and stole a base too … Anibal Sanchez gave up four runs, but struck out eight Mets and walked none, so he's still an every-starter … Geovany Soto hit a home run Saturday, collected three hits Sunday, and has been good enough to play in all leagues over the past month-plus … Homer Bailey gave up two runs in six innings against the Braves, but struck out three and walked three and looked shaky … Rafael Furcal had two hits Saturday and just needs a little more of a boost (from a trade?) to become mixed league usable again … Charlie Morton gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Cardinals; He walked five and that mediocre control will relegate him to deep leagues … There are a few Carlos Lee rumors, but after a home run Sunday he's approaching useful status in deeper mixed leagues … Joe Blanton will have his elbow checked Tuesday and more will be known about his availability for the rest of the season then … Chien-Ming Wang should be up this week, and he might take Tom Gorzelanny's job after he was beater for five runs in three inning Saturday … Kyle Blanks had a hit, a walk and two strikeouts Sunday, is striking out too much to show a good batting average and hasn't flashed the power yet, but that power potential is still enough to keep him around in deep leagues … Allen Craig began his rehab assignment but his major league job is unclear … Chris Volstad was demoted and Brad Hand or Chris Sampson will take his job, but none of them are very fantasy-interesting … Jordan Schafer (finger) missed the weekend but should be back soon … Juan Uribe is struggling with a lower abdomen strain … The Pirates should trade for a reliever, but none that would close, and none that would lose their closing job … The Diamondbacks released Wily Mo Pena, which is just sad but not super fantasy relevant.

American League Quick Hits: Nick Markakis is all batting average, but at least he's got that stat going again, and Sunday he even added a home run … Juan Pierre is all stolen bases and batting average, and he collected two hits Sunday to stay hot this month and relevant in most leagues despite his obvious decline … Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in four runs Sunday and is moving towards mixed league relevance along with his batting average … Eric Hosmer hit a walkoff RBI double Saturday and should be owned, if not started, in most mixed leagues … Hideki Matsui went five for five Sunday but is now headed home … J.D. Drew is headed to the DL Monday, which means even more time for the streaking Josh ReddickBartolo Colon still could turn into a pumpkin at any time just based on the age of his various ligaments, but he held the Athletics to two runs in seven innings at least … Gio Gonzalez got beat up in the Bronx (six runs), but that happens to a lot of pitchers in that park … Felipe Paulino just keeps getting the strikeouts but giving up the runs -- he gave up four in 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts against the Rays this time … Brendan Ryan doubled and hit a grand slam and is definitely an AL-only option even if the power was just a momentary outburst … Teammate Mike Carp homered in two straight over the weekend and is a deep league play even if we should be skeptical that he can continue being an every-day major leaguer corner outfielder … Fernando Rodney is back with the Angels … Matt Moore might be the most exciting pitching prospect in baseball, but a report says that if he comes up this year, it will be to work in relief … Brett Cecil shut out the Rangers but is too erratic to be a good choice right now … Aaron Hill earned the golden sombrero and it's not looking good for him … Tyson Ross (shoulder) will made a rehab start Sunday and should be back shortly … Rich Harden is getting trade interest from the Red Sox … Kyle Gibson might be running out of steam and the Twins are considering limiting his innings, which suggests he won't see the major leagues much this year if at all.


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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