Results tagged ‘ Toronto Blue Jays ’

Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Baseball 2012 Recap: Shortstops

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw and Analyst Alex Burwasser recap the top five shortstops this fantasy season as well as the top three busts.

 

TOP FIVE PERFORMERS

 

5. Starlin Castro, SS, Cubs

After a fantastic sophomore campaign in the big leagues which saw him lead the league in hits (207) and make the All-Star team, Starlin Castro put together another solid year for the Cubs. He did not hit .300 this year but he hit a very respectable .283 while stealing a career-high 25 bases. A good sign going forward for him is his consistency against left and right-handed pitching, hitting over .280 against both this year. However, an area where Castro needs work is his plate discipline, where for the third straight year he drew less than 40 walks (36).

4. Jose Reyes, SS, Marlins

It would have been really difficult for Jose Reyes to duplicate his 2011 season when he won the NL batting title. A season that turned out to be his last with the Mets when he signed as a free agent with the new-look Marlins. A lot was expected of Reyes and the Miami team as a whole moving into a brand new ballpark and it seemed both were wilting under those expectations. Unlike the team, however, Reyes redeemed himself by hitting .312 after the All-Star break and ending the season with his standard double-digit triples (12) and 40 steals. In fact, he was hitting in the three hole for the Marlins by the end of the year, so if that continues in 2013, expect even more production for Reyes.

3. Ian Desmond, SS, Nationals

One of the best stories in baseball this year was the Washington Nationals, and one of the leading characters in that story was 26 year old shortstop Ian Desmond taking the next step and becoming an All-Star player. Not only did his batting average drastically improve from last year moving from .253 to .292 but he had an enormous spike in power hitting 25 home runs this year as compared to only 8 in 2011. Added with his speed, swiping over 20 bases for the second year in a row (21), Desmond looks like he is a player on the rise for the Nationals and possibly for your fantasy leaderboards next year.

2. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees

Derek Jeter has been around the top of this list for basically the past fifteen years, so why would 2012 be any different? He had 216 hits this season, which was his most since 1999, as well as 47 extra base hits which was his most since 2007. He also hit over .300 (.316) for amazingly the twelfth time in his sure-to-be Hall of Fame career. The only question with Jeter is how long he can possibly keep this up, especially given his unfortunate ankle injury in the ALCS against Detroit, but it would be hard to start counting him out now.

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies

Jimmy Rollins, much like Derek Jeter, has been at the top of this list for over a decade now, but Rollins went mostly under-the-radar this season because his team was such a huge disappointment. Obviously, Rollins was not the reason why, blasting his most home runs since his MVP season of 2007 (23) as well as knocking in a solid 68 RBI. A very underrated part of Rollins game has always been his speed, and that was certainly on display this year when he stole 30 bases for the second year in a row and added over a hundred runs scored (102). Rollins is only 33 years old, so there could be a few more years of these type of numbers coming from a premium fantasy position like shortstop.

 

TOP THREE BUSTS

 

3. Jhonny Peralta, SS, Tigers

A first time All-Star in 2011, Jhonny Peralta had his best season as a pro for Detroit hitting just under .300 (.299) while providing some serious power with 21 home runs and driving in 86 runs as his Tigers won the AL Central. Detroit again won the AL Central again in 2012 but Peralta was not nearly as big a factor seeing his batting average dip 60 points to .239 as well as his home runs (13) and RBI (63). Peralta needs to hit for power and drive in runs to provide any fantasy value whatsoever because he does not steal bases or hit for a high average.

2. Yunel Escobar, SS, Jays

In a somewhat surprising move given his potential, the Braves traded Yunel Escobar to the Jays after a disappointing start to the 2010 season. It was looking like a steal of a trade for Toronto after a 2011 season that saw him hit .290 with 11 home runs and 77 runs scored. However, he really declined this past season when his average dropped 37 points to .253, but what was most alarming were his walks almost being cut in half from 61 to 35 which left his on-base percentage at a measly .300. For a player expected to be at the top of the lineup for years to come, getting on base three out of ten times will just not cut it for the Jays and for your fantasy team.

1. Dee Gordon, SS, Dodgers

Every year fantasy owners seem to fall into the trap of falling in love with a player who comes up from the minors and excels at a particular statistical category whether it is home runs or strikeouts. In Dee Gordon’s case, it was stolen bases. After being called up in June 2011, he burst onto the scene by hitting .304 and stealing 24 bases in 56 games for the Dodgers. In 2012, he was the opening day starter at shortstop for the Dodgers but he never really got off the ground getting sent to the minors in early July after hitting only .228. He still has a ton of speed — he stole 32 bases — but he cannot provide any value if he cannot get on base in the future.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Ballpark Figures Trade Deadline Wrap Up

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

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.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball: MLB Debuts and The Five Players Most Likely to be Traded

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the fantasy implications of two players’ MLB debuts and the potential trades of five players who are most likely to be moved.

 

The Big Debuts

 

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

Finally some good news for Mets fans as 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey made his debut Thursday night and it was a memorable one to say the least. Harvey set a Mets record for a debut with 11 strikeouts and did not allow a run to score in 5.1 innings.

Harvey touched 98 MPH on the radar gun and got some K’s with high fastballs while also getting some weak swings by putting sliders in the dirt. Don’t expect all of his starts to go this smoothly, but Harvey is a strikeout artist who should continue to rack up the K’s, though it could come with some walks as well.

 

Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

On the first Major League pitch he saw, Starling Marte made his mark, blasting a home run. The 23-year-old outfielder is an instant upgrade for the contending Pirates. Marte has some power, as he blasted 12 home runs with 13 triples and 21 doubles at Triple-A. He lacks plate discipline, but also has some speed. I do not see Marte having too much fantasy value this year aside from what could be a hot start since the Major Leaguers lack an in-depth scouting report on him. Regardless, the future is now for the Pirates and Marte only makes the team more interesting.

 

Five Players Most Likely to be Moved

 

1) Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers

The Brewers have come out and acknowledged that they are going to trade their ace, which makes it clear that no long-term commitment could be reached with Zack Greinke.  Ultimately, a trade to a contender will do fantasy managers some good, but at varied levels.

If he goes to the Rangers: The hitter’s ballpark is bound to lead to some extra runs so Greinke’s ERA may spike, but he will also enjoy the best run support possible. This is the trading partner that makes the most sense for everyone. Greinke owns a sensational 2.38 lifetime ERA at Rangers Ballpark.

If he goes to the Angels: Greinke should continue to post similar numbers but with a few extra wins thanks to the offensive star power of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. You can expect a big second half from the ace who is 44-45 in the first half of seasons and 41-31 following the All-Star break.

If he goes to the Braves: This is the best ballpark for Grienke, plus in the NL he faces opposing pitchers, which will keep his ERA lower. Greinke is 25-9 in 49 starts with a National League club.

 

2) Jonathan Broxton, RP, Royals

The interest in Jonathan Broxton has been limited on the trade market and it may be for a couple of reasons. First, few contenders are desperate for a closer or late reliever right now. Also, Broxton’s numbers are not as good as they appear. He is not getting many strikeouts, which is a reversal of his career trend. He is also allowing 1.40 runners on base each inning, which is a recipe for destruction in late innings. The Royals are wise to put him on the block.

 

3) Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners

With the demands so high for front-of-the-rotation hurlers such as Greinke and James Shields, alternatives such as Jason Vargas are becoming attractive for teams. Vargas has won four straight starts and now owns a career high 11 wins this season. So when he does get traded, what does this mean to his fantasy value? The run support will increase, but his ERA will also soar. He has a 4.67 ERA on the road this season compared to 2.63 at home, which explains everything you need to know about the 29-year-old southpaw.

 

4) Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins

When the Twins dealt their ace Johan Santana to the Mets a few years back, they not only assumed that some of the prospects from the trade would turn into stars, but the hope was that Francisco Liriano would step up as an able replacement at the top of the rotation. Though he did enjoy some success in 2010 with 14 wins, a 3.62 ERA and a career high 202 strikeouts, the following two seasons have been disastrous.

Liriano has found himself in the bullpen and even in the minors over the last two seasons while sustaining an ERA north of 5.00 in the Majors. The positive signs this season are that the opposition is hitting just .239 against Liriano and he is fanning more than a batter per inning. On the other hand, his control is lacking, which makes him a major gamble for whoever brings him in via trade.

 

5) Yunel Escobar, SS, Blue Jays

After a strong 2011 season that included 11 home runs, a .290 average and .369 on-base percentage, Escobar has struggled this season. His average is down to .255, his OBP is .299 and his 19 extra-base hits have resulted in a .342 slugging percentage.

Escobar has shown some life recently with a five-game hitting streak, but there is growing concern about his character according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, which may scare off some suitors. Keep in mind that Toronto is a favorable hitter’s park and the Blue Jays lineup has posted a lot of runs. The 29-year-old Cuban does not make for a very good fantasy investment.

 

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Report: Murphy, Snider, Rutledge, and Maxwell

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four players worth picking up off the waiver wire this week.

 

Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets

Murphy has nine hits in last 11 at-bats but has been resting against lefties. Though he is hitting .274 against southpaws, he has just a .295 OBP with a .359 SLG against them.

 

Travis Snider, LF, Blue Jays

Snider hit his first homerun of the season on Sunday and is now hitting .364 through three games in the majors. He had 13 home runs with 56 RBI in 56 games at Triple-A.

 

Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies

The injury to Troy Tulowitzki allowed the Rockies to give their 2010 third-round pick Josh Rutledge a chance to play every day.  He now boasts a six-game hitting streak with a .353 season average and three steals. The 23-year-old looked like a five-tool talent at Double-A this season.

 

Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros

After missing a few weeks due to injury, Maxwell has returned in a big way for the Astros, as he blasted his ninth home run of the season on Sunday.  Maxwell has a ton of power, and though he does swing and miss a lot, he has also drawn some walks. With the Astros slowly improving, he could become a legitimate slugger in the big leagues.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Fantasy Baseball Prospects on the Rise: Gose, Harvey, Myers, and Marte

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss four players who have made or will soon make their major league debut and could help your fantasy team.

 

Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays

Gose picked up a single in his debut as a pinch hitter against the Yankees on Tuesday.  Just 21 years old, he boasts a high on-base percentage and even stole 70 bases a year ago.  He is not a power hitter, which is fine for a Toronto lineup with plenty of them.  The injury of Jose Bautista opens a door for Gose, who does strike out a little too often for a player most dangerous when on the base paths.

 

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

The season-ending injury to Dillon Gee opens the door for Harvey to eventually make his debut.  For now, the Mets will go with veteran spot starter Miguel Batista, but General Manager Sandy Alderson did confirm that we will see Harvey this season with the Mets. Harvey has been a bit wild this season but he does miss bats and even hit a home run with a .267 average as a batter at Triple-A.

 

Wil Myers, OF, Royals

The former catcher is shining bright at Triple-A this season with 15 home runs, 46 RBI and a .313 average through 53 games. The Royals are very much playing for the future and will likely be sellers this summer in order to open up some playing time for Myers. Look for Lorenzo Cain or Jeff Francouer to be on the move to get Myers some Big League at-bats.

 

Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

The Pirates are a small-market team and usually prefer to upgrade from within. For the first time in a while, they will have that opportunity the second they call up Starling Marte. The outfielder has 11 home runs and 18 steals while batting .292 at Triple-A. Marte is bound to mesh well with Andrew McCutchen as the Pirates look to win the division.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Report: Valdespin, Lind, Jones, and Brantley

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down four players worth picking up right now in your fantasy league.

 

Jordany Valdespin, 2B/LF, Mets

Valdespin is a middle infielder at heart, but the Mets have a need in left field with Jason Bay clearly a fragment of the slugger that he once was.  While Bay is batting .179 with four home runs, Valdespin is now hitting .269 with five home runs and has a .354 average since June 10. Valdespin is far from perfect, as he does not draw many walks, but he does have an electric bat. In the minor leagues last season, he boasted 17 home runs with 38 steals.

 

Adam Lind, 1B, Blue Jays

Lind is hitting .339 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 18 games since his return from the minor leagues on June 25. He will suffer with Jose Bautista out of the lineup but he is swinging a hot bat and should be picked up by anyone in need of some power in their fantasy leagues.

 

Andruw Jones, LF, Yankees

Jones is now something of a one-trick pony, as he offers power but very little of anything else.  He is batting .239 on the season but boasts 12 home runs in just 134 at-bats. Now that word has come out that the Yankees will likely be without Brett Gardner for the remainder of the season, Jones should get some decent playing time.

 

Michael Brantley, OF, Indians

On Tuesday, Michael Brantley was batting cleanup for the Indians. This was a major surprise for a batter with a .384 slugging percentage last season.  However, Brantley is just 25 years old, and he is starting to hit with some power.  In 28 fewer games played than last season, Brantley already has just one fewer extra base hit than a year ago, which places his slugging better than .430. He also has 10 stolen bases so far this season.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: July 12, 2012

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses the injuries and set return dates of seven players who could have an impact on your fantasy team in the second half of the season.

 

Carl Crawford, LF, Red Sox

Crawford has not played this season due to left wrist surgery in March and a partial UCL tear in his elbow in April. In 2011, he had a .255 average with 11 home runs and 56 RBI. Crawford is set to return to the Red Sox lineup on Monday against the White Sox.

 

Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox

Ellsbury played in just seven games before being sidelined by a separated shoulder in mid-April. In 2011, he had an incredible season with a .321 batting average, 32 home runs and 105 RBI. Ellsbury should return Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.

 

Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays

Morrow had a great start to the season. In 13 starts, he had a 3.01 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 67 strikeouts. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 13 due to a strained left oblique. The Blue Jays are hoping that he will return to the rotation this month.

 

Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies

Halladay has been sidelined since May 28 with a strained right lat. In 11 starts this season, he had a 3.98 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 56 strikeouts. He is set to return to the mound Tuesday against the Dodgers.

 

Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Marlins

Stanton had surgery on July 8 to remove loose bodies from his right knee. This is a big loss for the Marlins, as he was hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 50 RBI. Stanton likely won’t return until late August.

 

Matt Kemp, RF, Dodgers

Kemp had an incredible start to the season, hitting .355 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI in just 36 games. However, he has battled a hamstring injury and was placed on the disabled list on May 31. He is set to return Friday against the San Diego Padres.

 

Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies

Tulowitzki recently had surgery on his left groin muscle. He was batting .287 this season with eight home runs and 27 RBI. He likely won’t return to the Rockies’ lineup until mid-August.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball Preview: Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard, and Yu Darvish

 

BY ROB SHAW

Twitter: @RobShawSports

 

Edwin Jackson is young, durable, and has been a winner with 10-plus wins in each of the last four seasons.  The solid track record begs the question why did so many teams pass on him.

 

The 28-year-old hurler is now on his seventh Major League team and he hasn’t played for losers either.  He went 5-2 down the stretch for the Cardinals last season, playing a role in the team’s World Series Championship.

 

One of the hardest throwing hurlers in baseball, Jackson has improved his control over the years.  His greatest weakness recently is that he is just too hittable.  Even in his successful run with the Cardinals the opposition hit .300 against him.  The good news is that he keeps the ball in the yards, but for fantasy managers looking for a low WHIP, Jackson is not a solution.

 

The move to Washington means he’ll now don the jersey for his sixth team over the last four years.  However, Bloomberg Sports likes his fantasy value.  The larger ballpark and National League setting should translate to 170 strikeouts, double-digit wins, and a 4.21 ERA.

 

Jackson is a fine low-risk, high ceiling option in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.  After all, it was just a few years back that he threw a no-hitter while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Let’s see if he can finally sustain such dominance over a full season.

 

Once one of the hurlers in the most demand in the Major Leagues, Erik Bedard hopes to build on his improvement from last season while joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Bedard was a disaster in Seattle.  Because of injuries, he never lived up to the hype and while the Mariners traded away top prospect Adam Jones to the Orioles for him, they ended up letting him go for very little in return last season to the Red Sox.

 

The good news is that Bedard showed that even after all of the injury-ravaged seasons, he still has some potential right now.  He offered fine control last season and fanned a batter per inning throughout the year.

 

A move to Pittsburgh should lead to some good results for Bedard’s fantasy managers.  Pittsburgh’s ballpark plays neutral and he will no longer have to deal with designated hitters in the majority of his starts.  Most importantly, he has sustained his health, which is the key to his performance.

 

BloombergSports.com projects a solid 3.74 ERA and 1 .30 WHIP from the veteran hurler this season, and with some luck he could reach double-digit wins for the first time in five years.

 

The loss of CJ Wilson could be crushing to the Texas Rangers.  Just a year removed from a second World Series, the Rangers lost their ace for a second time.  First it was Cliff Lee who bolted to rejoin the Phillies.  Now it’s Wilson, and while he may not be as dominant as Lee, the fact that he joins the rival LA Angels of Anaheim makes matters worse.

 

The Rangers were desperate to respond and without many proven stars on the market they had to compete with teams including the Toronto Blue Jays to land Yu Darvish, an ace from Japan.  With an enormous bid, the Rangers land the hard-throwing hurler who will enjoy the loftiest expectations by a free agent to join the Rangers perhaps since Alex Rodriguez signed his now infamous $252 million deal.

 

As far as realistic projections for Darvish, BloombergSports.com offers a 13-8 record, 185 strikeouts, and a 3.63 ERA for the hard-throwing hurler.   That makes him the 16th best starting pitcher, and a top-50 fantasy talent.

 

Despite the lofty projections, there is still a great deal of risk for fantasy managers.  After all, Darvish is new to America and will have to adapt culturally to Major League Baseball, plus he calls home to one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league.  He will not get away with many mistakes and the media will be hounding him all season long.

 

For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.

Colby Rasmus Finds New Home & Fantasy Relevance

by Eno Sarris //

He’s a center fielder with power and speed. He’s young. He’s under team control until the end of 2014. Apparently all of these things were not good enough for manager Tony La Russa or the Cardinal’s General Manager, because Colby Rasmus has reportedly been shipped out of St. Louis. That’s fine for us, because all of those facets make him an immediate pickup in most fantasy leagues, and we know that fantasy baseball is the most important game of all.

The full trade looks like it will be the Cardinals shipping Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson. The pitchers are immediately more interesting because they are moving to a pitchers’ league and park with a great ground-ball wizard of a pitching coach, but that’s for another time.

The fact that Rasmus is moving in the opposite direction should perk up your ears. The 25-year-old lefty will receive a power boost most definitely. The park factor for home runs by left-handed batters in St. Louis is 84, meaning they are suppressed by 16%. In Toronto, home runs by lefties are encouraged by 16%. Rasmus will also go from playing in Pittsburgh (-27%) and Houston (+7%) to New York (+43%) and Baltimore (+18%). To be fair, Milwaukee and Cincinatti are fine power parks, but the change in home address will be a boost.

There’s a chance, also, that the team philosophy in Toronto will play into his strengths. One of Tony La Russa’s complaints about the young center fielder was that he struck out too much. This year, Rasmus cut down on the Ks and lost his power. Strikeouts are also correlated with power across baseball, so this is not some small sample size thing. The Blue Jays? Their grip-it-and-rip-it philosophy is well known. They are ninth in strikeout rate in the American League and fourth in isolated slugging percentage. They won’t care about his strikeouts if he’s tearing the cover off the ball.

The Jays also like to run. They are fifth in the American League in stolen bases, while the Cardinals have the fewest steals in baseball. When Aaron Hill has 13 stolen bases, you know that the team is okay with giving the green light if you can be successful at least 66% of the time. Rasmus has been successful 65% of the time. Let’s give him a steals boost anyway. He certainly has speed.

Rasmus doesn’t profile as a player that will put up a good batting average. He hits more balls in the air than on the ground and strikes out a little too much to be a .300-hitting center fielder. But if you look past his flaws — something that his former manager couldn’t manage — you can see the power, speed and fantasy value that he represents. Enjoy Colby Rasmus, Blue Jay.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com.

Brewers, Blue Jays Swap Shaun Marcum for Brett Lawrie

By Tommy Rancel //

Tucked behind the announcement of Jayson Werth‘s monster contract with the Washington Nationals, the Milwaukee Brewers acquired starting pitcher Shaun Marcum from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for top prospect infielder Brett Lawrie.

Marcum returned in 2010 after missing the entire 2009 major league season due to Tommy John surgery. Once a death sentence for pitchers, Marcum is the latest in a long line of post-Tommy John success stories. He made 31 starts for the Jays, tossing 195.1 innings – both career highs. He never had much of a fastball to begin with, but his velocity returned to the high 80s.

Had Marcum been able to make 30 starts and toss 200 innings with mediocre results, it would’ve still been considered a successful comeback. Meanwhile, he not only returned healthy, but very effective. After posting a 3.39 ERA in 25 starts back in 2008, he went 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA in 2010. The 13 victories also qualify as a career high.

Without the natural ability to blow hitters away with a blazing fastball, Marcum has relied on one of the best change-ups in the game to get hitters out. While throwing the pitch more than 25% of the time in 2010, he was able to get a swing and a miss a jaw-dropping 28.1% of the time.

Because of the pitch’s effectiveness, Marcum has been able to have great success against left-handed batters, defying the usual platoon disadvantage. Last season, LHB hit just .190/.233/.299 against him. So pronounced was Marcum’s reverse split that Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon employed a reverse-platoon lineup against him that featured mostly right-handed batters.

In addition to the unhittable change-up, Marcum exhibited above-average control. His strikeout rate near 7.5 strikeouts per nine (K/9) was slightly above the league average (7.13) while his walk rate of 1.98 was well below (3.28).In fact Marcum posted the 6th-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the league, topping even the likes of Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez – while pitching in a tougher ballpark, in a tougher division.

Marcum, 29 as of opening day, should be on your list of #2 starters headed in 2010 – he’s that good. The recovery from surgery looked complete last year. Also, consider that the shift to the National League – more specifically the NL Central – should benefit Marcum going forward.

On the Toronto side, it is unknown who replaces Marcum in the rotation; in Brett Lawrie, they did receive Milwaukee’s top prospect. Last season as a 20-year-old in Double-A, Lawrie hit .285/.346/.449. He hasn’t shown much home run power, yet still smacked 59 extra-base hits last year.

Thus far, Lawrie has played second base exclusively in the minor leagues. That said, there are some who say he is destined for the corner outfield in the future. There is also some speculation that Toronto may have acquired the native Canadian in order to flip him in a package for another piece. In any event, there is little chance that he has a significant fantasy impact in 2011 – outside of a potential September call-up.

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