Eno Sarris

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Rasmus a Jay; Beltran a Giant

Thursday, July 28, 2011

We finally got our first trades of the season, and boy were they doozies. The first was a virtual three-way trade in which the White Sox traded Mark Teahen and Edwin Jackson to Toronto for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart in a trade that did not have many fantasy implications. However, that was a setup for the Blue Jays sending Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters.

Yes, the Blue Jays got Colby Rasmus for that package. St. Louis fans are right to be a little upset with Tony LaRussa. The silver lining is that Jon Jay is a decent real-life player, even if his power and speed aren't really mixed-league worthy except on the bench. Also, Rzepczynski would make for a pretty good NL pitcher with his combination of ground-ball and whiff-inducing stuff. Him and Jackson do get a little fantasy boost with the move.

But Colby Rasmus will enjoy Toronto. He goes from a park that suppresses lefty home run power by 16% to one that entices it by 16%. He goes from a team that was last in the big leagues in stolen bases to one that is near the top of the American League. He goes from a team that shuns strikeouts to one that says they are fine if you are gripping it and ripping it. Watch Rasmus' batting average remain mediocre while his power and speed lurch forward. Unfortunately, it means bad things for Rajai Davis, Travis Snider and Edwin Encarnacion. Eric Thames is playing too well to sit right now, leaving two positions for those three players.

Another National League outfielder switched teams when Carlos Beltran accepted a trade to the San Francisco Giants late Wednesday night. Since much of his power comes from the right side, Beltran figures to make the transition smoothly. The Giants have a terrible park for lefty power, but it's about average for right-handers. Call Beltran's value unchanged. Lucas Duda takes over for him in New York and has pop (he hit his second home run of the season Wednesday even), but El Duderino is a deep league play for now. Zach Wheeler went to the Mets, and he's a top-50 starting prospect with ground balls and strikeouts. He's very exciting and it's nice for his owners that his major league team still has a decent pitcher's park.

* With rumors swirling around him, Hiroki Kuroda pitched six innings of one-run ball against the Rockies, striking out six and walking three. His value would take a little hit if he moved to the Yankees or Red Sox as rumored, so his owners are hoping that the Tigers or Indians win the bidding. James Shields is an excellent pitcher, but he gave up 10 runs in four innings to the Athletics Wednesday. Perhaps it was the rumors circling around his head that distracted him. Still, he's such a great value that it seems unlikely that the Rays move him.

The Brewers are still reportedly in on a shortstop or third baseman, but they may have lost their second baseman for a long time. Rickie Weeks stepped on first base awkwardly, and though X-rays were negative, he might have ligament damage. It looked ugly. Maybe this means Clint Barmes or Jamey Carroll is more likely to make their way to Milwaukee. B.J. Upton is one of the rumors associated with Milwaukee, but the Braves might be more likely. He didn't play Wednesday and sent the rumor mill into overdrive again, but his manager says he was dealing with some tightness in his quad. The Braves might be the most highly motivated to go and get him to play center field for them. The Phillies are looking at Carlos Quentin in order to keep up in the arms race. Someone can get Ryan Ludwick for cheap, but he's looking like plan B for most teams.

Some rumors got shot down. Derek Lowe is probably not leaving Atlanta. Hunter Pence might not be leaving Houston, because the Phillies reportedly offered Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart and a third piece for him and the Astros turned it down. They might not get what they want. A rumor that the Twins would once again make the mistake of trading an everyday player (Denard Span this time) for a Nationals reliever (Drew Storen) died down after a while. Ubaldo Jimenez won't get traded, says one rumor. Other say that the Red Sox, Indians, Reds and Yankees are still hot and heavy on the Rox ace. Supposedly the Mets said no to Erick Aybar, who will go into arbitration for the final time this off-season, for Jose Reyes. Yeah, no.

* Pitching performances potentially provide plenty of promise. We knew Zack Greinke was better than his ERA, and he finally showed it Wednesday. He shut out the Cubs in 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and is a fantasy ace. Ricky Romero is also a fantasy ace (though perhaps not of the same tier) with all those ground balls and strikeouts. He struck out eight and held the Orioles scoreless in 8 1/3 innings. Trevor Cahill may not have pristine numbers like last year, but his strikeout rate is better this year and his groundball rate is still elite. He got tons of grounders and struck out nine while shutting out the Rays in 7 1/3 innings and is a great keeper pitcher. Ian Kennedy doesn't always show strikeouts, which makes his upside a little muted, but he did strike out nine Padres in six innings Wednesday. Yeah, it was the Padres. Cory Luebke opposed him and struck out six in six innings, so it wasn't a terrible start even if he gave up four runs. He's still a good bench pitcher in mixed leagues. Ervin Santana threw a no-no! Why is it so far down here? Well, he gave up a run and isn't really that great at any one facet of pitching. Remember, Edwin Jackson once threw a no-no, too.

Pitching performances don't always tell us everything. Jair Jurrjens held the Pirates to one run in seven innings, but he only struck out four against three walks. He still doesn't get strikeouts or grounders at an average rate. His control is elite now, but will it continue to be? John Danks has been sharp since coming off the DL, and he did hold the Tigers to one run in six innings with ten strikeouts. He's just about worth his current ERA though (3.79). Carlos Zambrano only gave up two runs in 6 2/3 innings, but he struck out three and walked two, so the hints are rather loud that he's a risky own in any league. Brian Duensing only gave up one run to the Rangers in 6 2/3 innings, and he even struck out six. He relies a little too much on control -- he doesn't get grounders or strikeouts at an average rage -- to be a mixed leaguer. In a way, his opponent Colby Lewis, who gave up four runs in 6 2/3 innings with five strikeouts and two walks, is in a similar position. Lewis does get a few more strikeouts, but he also gets by on control and is an extreme fly-ball pitcher. He's a good sit at home. Paul Maholm only gave up one run against the Braves. He even struck out eight in seven innings! He does get ground balls and might be able to keep up a high-threes ERA going forward. Mike Pelfrey threw a complete game against the Reds. Wait till you see his bad side.

* What did we learn at the plate? Justin Upton had two home runs and was playing angry. He's a top-five outfielder going forward, but probably won't have the speed of a Matt Kemp. Joe Mauer hit his first home run of the season, but we know that power is not his game. Batting average is, and he's hitting .345 in July. Dan Uggla had three hits and is finally turning things around slowly. Remember that regression doesn't mean he'll hit .300 from here on out -- it just means that he can return to being the guy he normally is. A .250 hitter with great power for a middle infielder. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits including a home run and a stolen base. Amazing season for him. Dustin Ackley had three hits against the Yankees and he can continue to do what he's been doing, which is great. Ichiro Suzuki had four hits in that game. Maybe he can hit .300 going forward like he usually does. Alejandro De Aza is going to play regularly over Alex Rios, at least against righties. Alex Rios is finally, mercifully, a definite dropper in most leagues. The lefty center fielder is peaking and only has a little power and patience, but his speed makes him a deep league play.

* The paragraph about the pens! Heath Bell is still the nexus of bullpen rumors, but now it sounds like he'd like to end up in St. Louis. Uh-oh, Fernando Salas. John Axford pitched the ninth again and Francisco Rodriguez pitched the eighth. Why are people holding on to K-Rod in saves leagues? Kenley Jansen is next in line for saves in Los Angeles, but he was hospitalized for an irregular heartbeat Wednesday. He should be back Friday.

National League Quick Hits: Roy Oswalt (back) struck out four in four innings in Triple-A and will need one more outing before he can return … Lance Berkman got a cortisone injection in his shoulder and this older, larger Elvis won't have a second half like his first because of it, most likely … Bud Norris struck out five Cardinals and gave up one run in six innings and continues to be a good mixed league bench starter … Brad Hand is back up for the Marlins but is a risky play … Mike Cameron hit a pair of home runs and is definitely an NL-only play while the Marlins are playing their veterans … Clayton Richard (shoulder) is "not anywhere close to talking about" coming back … Dustin Moseley has a torn labrum but it's in his non-throwing shoulder and he's going to pitch through it for now … Bronson Arroyo gave up five runs in six innings, and even if he's not this bad, he's also not that good … Jordan Schafer (finger) is on the DL and might not be back again if the Braves find an outfielder on the market … Pat Burrell (bone spur) was rumored to be cut, but he can't be released until he's back off the DL … The Braves got Wil Nieves from the Brewers for cash, but David Ross will be the primary catcher while Brian McCann (oblique) is out.

American League Quick Hits: Shin-Soo Choo (thumb) is scheduled to hit balls off a tee Thursday … Clay Buchholz (back) is scheduled to see another specialist, which is not great … Brian Roberts (concussion) is still having migraines … Phil Hughes gave up two runs in six innings, but it was the Mariners and even with his velocity back up, it's not where it was even in his decent 2010 … John Lackey gave up three earned in 5 2/3 innings and got the win, which is about right for him … Austin Jackson hit a home run Wednesday but struck out twice and just won't show a good batting average that way … Mike Carp had four hits against the Yankees but he's come out of nowhere and the 25-year-old was not headed towards being a regular even late last year … Hideki Matsui had three hits and is playable in deeper leagues while he's hot like this … Alexi Casilla left Wednesday's game with a right leg injury … Alfredo Simon allowed three runs over five innings in a loss to the Blue Jays; he struck out seven and could be a matchup play in deep leagues … Bruce Chen gave up ten runs in four innings against the Red Sox and that was expected … Twins prospect Kyle Gibson will miss his next start due to elbow soreness and might not be up this year after 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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