Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down the moves made at the trade deadline and the implications for your fantasy team.
Reds Trade for Jonathan Broxton
For the Reds, Jonathan Broxton simply provides depth and some closer experience. However, he is destined for a middle relief role with the club in front of Aroldis Chapman. The Royals get two quality arms in return and Greg Holland becomes the closer in Kansas City.
Rangers Acquire Ryan Dempster
With the Angels breathing down their necks, the Rangers had to do something before the trade deadline, especially with Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz lost for the season. Ryan Dempster had already been traded to the Braves but he rejected the move last week. He did, however, welcome a trade to the Rangers mere hours before the trade deadline. This is a move that will help Dempster quite a bit when you consider that he has won just five of his 16 starts despite a 2.25 ERA. His ERA is likely to rise in Texas, but I’m sure fantasy managers will welcome it with the additional wins due to the Rangers run support.
Shane Victorino Traded to the Dodgers
One of the better offensive outfielders in baseball, Shane Victorino ends his career with the Phillies now that he has been traded to the Dodgers. He gets plenty of steals, has some pop and reaches base often. However, in Los Angeles, he will likely lose some of that pop, which could keep his average down a tad. Originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1999, Victorino owns a .357 average at Dodgers Stadium and will benefit from having Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the lineup.
Hunter Pence Traded to the Giants
This is the big surprise, as Hunter Pence is 29 years old and clearly in his prime. Though Pence has lost some of his speed this season, he does have some pop and is a line drive hitter. A move to the Giants could cost him some home runs, but at least he will play some meaningful baseball this fall. Regardless, overall the move hurts Pence’s fantasy value.
Yankees Acquire Casey McGehee
For a second straight season, Casey McGehee has struggled at the plate but he is a fine Ty Wigginton type player who can contribute in big moments. What this acquisition does is hurt the fantasy value of Eric Chavez, as three is now a crowd with Jayson Nix also taking some at-bats away while filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez.
Pirates Acquire Gaby Sanchez
The Pirates had nothing to lose and now hope that a change of scenery will do some good for Gaby Sanchez. After two straight seasons with 572 at-bats and 19 home runs, Sanchez struggled mightily this season with just three home runs and a .202 average before being relegated to the minor leagues. The 28-year-old moves to a more hitter-friendly ballpark and a surprisingly better lineup to resurrect his career.
Cardinals Acquire Edward Mujica
Last year the Cardinals brought in relief help including Octavio Dotel and it worked out well for them. This year, the Cardinals have a bit more work to do but they will not let the bullpen be the team’s unraveling. On Tuesday, the Cards acquired Edward Mujica, a hard-thrower with solid control. He does surrender some home runs but is another quality arm to help bridge the gap to Jason Motte.
Pirates Acquire Travis Snider
Another cheap pickup for the Pirates, Travis Snider has some serious potential, but it just did not work out in Toronto. On the other hand, Pittsburgh is a fine place for him to establish himself and at 24 years old, he has some time to reach his potential. I see Snider as a potential 30-homer guy with more than 10 steals and a respectable average. He is the big bat that the Pirates would love to team up with Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen.
Blue Jays Trade Steve Delabar for Eric Thames
A feel good story in Seattle, Steve Delabar went from a coach to a player in a little over a year and has averaged well over a strikeout per inning this season. He provides the Blue Jays with the power arm that they expected to have in the injured Sergio Santos. His value takes a minor decline since he moves from the pitcher’s haven Safeco Field to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.
Eric Thames makes the reverse move from Toronto to Seattle. There won’t be many complaints from Thames since he will likely get a crack at playing everyday with the Mariners. He has some power but really struggles when it comes to the strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Braves Acquire Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm
A .300 hitter for a second straight year, Reed Johnson is very much a utility player with no fantasy value. On the other hand, Paul Maholm has enjoyed his time in Chicago with a 9-6 record and a solid 3.74 ERA. He has surrendered a run or fewer in each of his last six starts. Maholm also boasts a 1.69 ERA in five career starts at Turner Field. Though the Braves only made this deal since Ryan Dempster rejected the trade to Atlanta, I do think this is a nice fit with Maholm as hot as any pitcher in baseball right now.
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by Eno Sarris //
When planning your draft for the 2011 season, there are a few different ways to consider positional scarcity. While introducing us to Tsuyoshi Nishioka recently, Eriq Gardner showed us the relative run production for each position on the infield, which demonstrated how terrible shortstop can be. That graph is certainly one way to consider the relative strengths of each position.
But for the most part, only the 12 to 18 best (including CI/MI/UT) at each infield position are relevant in regular mixed leagues. Another way to consider your approach would be to take a look at the projections and rankings at the position and highlight some tiers. A tier-based approach allows you to know when to leap, and when to wait.
Let’s take a look at third base. If you strike early for a first-tier third baseman, you’re looking at Evan Longoria, David Wright and Ryan Zimmerman. Those are fine selections, and there’s no reason not to take any of these three early in your draft.
But only three members of your league will leave the early rounds with an elite third baseman, and the names that follow are fraught with uncertainty. Alex Rodriguez (age-related decline), Adrian Beltre (home park, lineup and some consistency issues), Jose Bautista (batting average, limited track record), Michael Young (muted power), Aramis Ramirez (health) and Mark Reynolds (batting average) all have question marks as large as their relative upsides. You could reasonably lump these players into one tier, which means that as you fill your other positions, your leaguemates will be spending picks on this tier.
Now we’re nine third basemen into the rankings, and only two other managers have a hole at the position – with possibly a few more willing to speculate on a CI or UT third base option. You could define scarcity at the position as the quality of this final tier. How does third base rank in this situation? Well, left on the board are Pablo Sandoval, Casey McGehee, Chase Headley, Pedro Alvarez and Ian Stewart. Take a look at the projections I’ve cobbled together for these players, and you’ll see that while there’s plenty of risk here, there’s also a decent amount of upside.
The best part about this group is that they are a diverse bunch. Need some steals? Headley has swiped double-digit bases in each of the past two seasons, and considering his total last year (17), he may have upside to better his projection in that category. He’ll likely either steal the second- or third-most bases at the position. Need batting average above all else? Might as well take the leap that the Kung Fu Panda will return to his hit-filled ways. The good news is that Sandoval has lost 10 pounds already this off-season, and that some positive regression should be expected after such a huge year-to-year drop from 2009 to 2010. Want a safe player after filling your team with risk? McGehee has been solid the past two years and seems like he could easily hit these projections even with a step back. Need power upside no matter what? Take your pick between the young and exciting Alvarez, and Stewart, or take both to spread out your risk.
Looking at the position as a whole is important – that’s the easiest way to see the overall offensive strengths around the diamond. But looking at the particular personnel and the particular strengths and weaknesses of the players near the bottom of your rankings is also a good way to plan your draft.
By Jonah Keri //
Ballpark Figures: Hot Commodities — Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele talks fantasy baseball with Bloomberg Sports analyst Rob Shaw. The result is a list of Shaw’s Bets and Michele’s Steals! Shaw likes Padres former top prospect Tim Stauffer as a hidden gem (though he is currently on the DL), while Brewers Casey McGehee also gets the thumbs up. Michele is rolling with Aaron Rowand, who has been a major help for the Giants offense.
by Eno Sarris //
Sometimes a player outperforms his minor league numbers by such a wide margin that it’s tempting to call it a Cinderella story on par with the imaginations of Bill Murray in Caddyshack. At the same time, the urge to dismiss such performance as luck is very strong as well.
To be fair to Casey McGehee, he did have an impressive debut. In fact, his .859 OPS in 2009 was the third-best OPS put up by a 26-27 year old debuting at second or third base since 1901 – if you set a 350-at-bat and 15-home run threshold. That threshold is significant, though: The power is the most surprising part of his game, as we will see.
First, let’s appreciate how nicely McGehee is following up his debut season. Since McGehee is eligible at second base in most leagues, we can take a look at how he stacks up against other second sackers in the spider chart on the right from Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools. Sure, he’s not giving his owners many stolen bases, but otherwise he’s been more than solid. See those three dots clustered around McGehee in the scatter plot? They represent Dan Uggla, Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia. Heady company for the young Brewer.
But this sort of debut didn’t seem to be in the cards, based on his pre-major league career. His combined minor league line was .279/.332/.409; now, 518 plate appearances into his major league career, his line with the Brewers is .295/.355/.496. Maybe there’s something in the water (or beer) in Milwaukee. Of course the question is whether or not he can continue his elevated play, because those 2,800 minor league plate appearances weigh heavily against that proposition.
First, let’s look at his patience. McGehee has been showing an average walk rate in the majors (8.9%) and he’s bumped that up this year (12.1%) by not swinging… at anything. Swing rate is significant early in the season, and his 37% swing rate makes him the 20th-toughest player in baseball to coax into a swing this year. While he didn’t have great OBPs in the minor leagues, McGehee had above-average walk rates many years. Combined with his current swing rate, it looks like he’s become a more patient hitter and that his nice OBPs may continue.
The million dollar question, however, is if he will continue to show the same power. His isolated power (SLG% – BA) is .257 this year, .200 for his major league career, and .130 for his minor league career. That’s a stark difference right there. A quick check of the sample sizes needed for certain statistics to become significant shows us that ISO is one of the last offensive statistics to do so. In fact, McGehee has not yet reached the level of plate appearances at which his ISO would become significant, counting his career major league plate appearances (let alone one month worth of data this season). In other words, other players that racked up fewer than 550 plate appearances had an ISO that was less than 70% correlated with their future ISOs.
The strongest sign that McGehee’s performance will start correcting is his HR/FB rate. Right now he’s hitting fewer than a third of his balls in the air, yet 18.5% of them are leaving the park. That percentage is on par with Justin Upton, Adrian Gonzalez, and Evan Longoria, some of the most powerful sluggers in the game.
Unfortunately for McGehee and his owners, that’s the part of his game most likely to regress toward the mean. McGehee would still remain a playable option in mixed leagues if his power numbers fall back to Earth. But if someone in your league sees him as an elite infield option, you should consider looking into a trade.
For more on Casey McGehee, Martin Prado and other players outperforming their minor league statistics, check out Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools.