Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down some of the major storylines in baseball as the trade deadline approaches.
Trade Analysis: Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers
The Dodgers made a splash by acquiring former Marlins sensation Hanley Ramirez for Nathan Eovaldi and a willingness to take on Ramirez’s salary. First of all, this is the way it should be for Los Angeles. The Dodgers are supposed to be the West Coast Yankees, so it’s good to see them open the check book to bring in some star potential.
The move also makes baseball sense. The team already has two of the best hitters and pitchers in baseball, so it’s not a bad idea to go for the gold now. Eovaldi is too young to be depended on, while, even at his worst, HanRam is scoring runs and offering some pop and speed. On a side note, of all stadiums where Ramirez has played at least 65 games, his .388 average at Dodgers Stadium is easily the highest.
On the Market: Alfonso Soriano
With 19 home runs and 58 RBI, Alfonso Soriano is once again a solid slugger at the big-league level. He is also due to make $18 million in each of the next two seasons. His high performance provides the Cubbies with a window to trade him. Ken Rosenthal reported that at least one team has interest in the veteran outfielder.
Sellers: Philadelphia Phillies
The Phillies are in a very interesting situation right now. They have some very bad contracts, though their huge investment in Cole Hamels is not one of them. He is still young at 28 years old and was developed within the Phillies system. The team is out of contention this season and must rebuild in the next few years. The only way players such as Shane Victorino could be dealt is if the Phillies get back prospects who will be ready to start next year.
Sellers: New York Mets
After a great first half, the Mets have won just one game since the All-Star break and could try to make a move. Johan Santana’s injury hurts them, as he is due so much money andcould have been traded. The Mets would have been happy to deal him in return for prospects.
With Santana injured, if there is a Mets player to be traded, it’s infielder Daniel Murphy. Jordany Valdespin has been incredible this season and offers more versatility and better defense than Murphy. However, the Mets will only make a trade if they get something back which they are really able to use, such as a power arm for the bullpen.
Sellers: Milwaukee Brewers
The Brewers have been buyers recently, bringing in players such as Zack Greinke and Aramis Ramirez, but it has not worked out. The best case scenario for them is that Greinke decides to stay in Milwaukee, which may not be very realistic. The Brewers were also shopping reliever Francisco Rodriguez and tried to increase his value. K-Rod, however, imploded with blown saves in consecutive appearances against the Phillies, likely costing the Brewers some prospects.
For more insight, visit BloombergSports.com.
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.
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BY ROB SHAW
The New York Mets can finally move on from the loss of Jose Reyes, as they opened the season with two straight wins against the Braves. The team has accomplished the hot start because of the rise of young talent including Daniel Murphy, Lucas Duda, and Ike Davis as well as some help from old friends most notably David Wright and Johan Santana.
The two wins were not exactly expected. Mets fans had been in mourning for several months as the news of the Madoff scandal attracted the most attention and the poster boy for the Mets reversal of financial fortune was the loss of the greatest shortstop in franchise history, Jose Reyes to the rival Marlins.
Wright understands as much as anyone how difficult it is to replace a talent like Reyes, but he also knows that the team has to move on, “You know one player, granted he’s very good and he’s a great player and great teammate, but you cannot worry about who is not here. I have a tremendous relationship with Jose, I’ve got a ton of respect for him, like I said, I think he’s one of the best position players to put this Mets uniform on, but that’s not how this game works, we’ve still got games to play and games to win and we need other players to step up and fill that void,” said Wright.
Another former teammate of Reyes and Wright, Endy Chavez explains the shock he felt when word came out that Reyes was no longer a Mets shortstop, “That was unbelievable, I understand this is a business, but to Reyes leaving New York, just saying Jose Reyes is like saying New York Mets, so it’s something crazy, but you know things happen in baseball and that’s one of those things.”
Finally, Reyes himself understands that he has to move on. His role goes from helping the Mets to now competing against them with a long-time rival, “You know in the beginning it was a little weird for me because all of my career I played with David the same thing, but now I have to adjust to the new team, so I know I was there with David for a long time and we every year became very good friends, I’m going to miss David and I wish him all the best.”
While the loss of Reyes is certainly hard to swallow for Mets fans, one thing that would make it easier is the return to prominence of Wright. The 29-year-old franchise player has tallied five hits and two RBI through the first two games of the season. It looks like the drawn in fences could be exactly what Wright needs to get his confidence back. The young up-and-coming Mets look at Wright to set the tone.
“Huge, huge key for us, David is. Not only as a player, but clubhouse guy. He’s awesome in the clubhouse and he keeps us motivated, we follow him and where he goes we go,” says Mets slugger Lucas Duda.
First baseman Ike Davis adds on Wright, “Definitely a big part of our lineup and he’s going to be the leader of the team and it’s really exciting seeing him play again.”
Meanwhile, the pitching has been great and the biggest surprise of them all is Johan Santana. After picking up 29 wins the first two seasons with the Mets, Santana has just 11 over the last two seasons, missing all of 2011 due to surgery. However, he was back on the hill on Opening Day and gave the type of performance that will gain confidence in the ball club.
“He’s been the bright spot so far this spring, just his health, the way he’s throwing the ball, so I’m excited about what he’s going to bring to the table this year, and it will be a lot of fun to play defense behind him,” says Wright.
As impressive as the Mets have been, this is still very much a rebuilding year. In fact, if Jason Bay and/or Johan Santana can sustain their production, there is a really good chance that they will get traded. The Mets may be able to hang around .500 for the majority of the season, but the bright days ahead will be when their top pitching prospects develop into stars that can compete with Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg on the Nationals. Maybe then, the big three in Philadelphia will no longer be in their prime. The question is whether David Wright will still be a Mets third baseman.
BY ROB SHAW
One player for fantasy managers to acquaint themselves with is Daniel Murphy. The second baseman can help a fantasy team in many ways, specifically with depth due to his position eligibility. In fact, Murphy played some first, second, and third base last season after struggling in the outfield in past seasons.
A top-10 hitter last season with a .320 average, Murphy has been working on driving the ball with a little more power this season. Considering his maturation and natural growth, fantasy managers should look at Murphy as someone who can contribute a .290 average with 15 home runs and 5+ stolen bases. There’s a good chance Murphy can end up playing better than Mets rival Chase Utley this season.
Next, there should be some fantasy excitement for the return of Ike Davis to first base for the Mets. Davis looked like a legitimate slugger last season before enduring a season-ending ankle injury. At 6’4 and a large frame, Davis already has great power, with 26 home runs through his first 652 at bats, but now with the fences drawn in there is even more reason to raise expectations this season. In fact, Davis as a left-handed hitter, will be impacted the most by the fences being drawn in right-field this season. Expect Davis to prove to be a better pickup than Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez.
Finally, a major sleeper this season, Lucas Duda could end up being the best homegrown slugger since Darryl Strawberry was wearing number 18 on a Mets jersey. Duda has raised eyebrows in batting practice with his moon-shots. After pulling or driving to center field all 10 home runs last season, Duda has already belted two home runs the opposite way this spring.
He’s a player that can belt 25-30 home runs with a respectable average. What’s most impressive so far has been his plate discipline, which is giving hope to Mets fans that he can be the next big star in Flushing.
For more baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
Every season a different strategy has to be utilized in fantasy baseball drafts in order to appropriately take into account positional depth and player rankings. In general, a unique strategy can be utilized on a round-by-round basis. Here’s a breakdown of Bloomberg Sports recommended Fantasy Baseball Strategy 2012 Edition:
In the early rounds, the focus is finding the best available player while also taking into account the disparity between the best player and the next best option at each position. For example, there is a plateau in excellence for starting pitchers as Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw can all be claimed as the best of the bunch. On the other hand, Troy Tulowitzki stands alone amongst fellow shortstops.
If your fantasy league includes slugging percentage and on base percentage as statistical categories, there is no competition for Jose Bautista in the outfield while there are several stars at first base including Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto. The best strategy is to pick up the best talent at a position where there is a large enough disparity that when the next player is drafted from that position there is a decisive advantage in your favor.
In the early middle rounds, it’s not a bad idea to scoop up a fine hurler who has the potential to rank amongst the best. Players such as Jered Weaver, CC Sabathia, and Danny Haren as well as Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg make sense in these rounds. These hurlers have the ability to dominate and enjoy a Cy Young caliber season thanks to their enormous upside.
Having two high potential and consistent hurlers is more valuable than having just one dominant ace. Therefore, by drafting where there is greater disparity in the early rounds with a focus on position players, then nabbing a couple of pitchers with sky high potential fantasy managers can enjoy the best of both worlds.
In the later middle rounds you can draft a closer and many of them. Closers are often overrated in fantasy leagues since they only contribute 70 innings, which means saves are all that matters. Second-tier closers still get the job done and players such as Joe Nathan could end up as bargains. In fact, rather than selecting a Jonathan Papelbon in the sixth or seventh round, you can grab a Gio Gonzalez or a Drew Stubbs, someone who will have a much greater impact on your fantasy team.
Then five rounds later go ahead and draft three closers in a row: Sergio Santos, Jason Motte, and Frank Francisco. Plus, usually about 10 closers become available on the waiver wire each season. In fact, all three of the pitchers just mentioned did not start the season as closers for their respective teams last season.
Finally, in the later rounds, it’s not a bad idea to focus on young talents with great potential as well as players with multiple position eligibility. This allows you to pick up some big time prospects while also enjoying depth. Consider top prospects such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. There is no telling if the precocious sluggers will develop into stars as soon as this season.
On the other hand, drafting veteran players such as Ryan Raburn and Daniel Murphy is also a key strategy in the later rounds since they cover multiple positions, providing depth to your fantasy teams. This way if a player on your team gets injured, a single bench player can fill multiple holes.
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Daniel Murphy, Utility, Mets
I am not sure what the Mets will do once Ike Davis returns to the lineup be it this year or next. Daniel Murphy is simply a hired bat who can offer some serious offense. The problem is on the defensive side, as Murphy is at his best at third base, which happens to be the home for Mr. David Wright.
Murphy has his average up to .315 this season, with line drive power: 6 HR, 21 doubles and 2 triples. Murphy has hit .385 this month after hitting .330 in June.
Murphy is just 26 years old and bats left-handed, so this is a nice problem to have for the Mets.
Alex Gordon, OF, Royals
The second overall pick of the 2005 draft, Gordon has long been considered a bust due to the slow start to his career, but this season he has finally met expectations.
The 27-year old boasts 11 home runs with 24 doubles and 8 swipes. His average is up to .296 after batting just .215 last season. His plate discipline has been so impressive that the team opted to have him leadoff before pushing him down in the order to take advantage of his power.
Gordon is now considered a potential trade target for teams in need of offense.
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Royals
You would think Jeff Francoeur is 40 years old since he’s played for three teams over the last year. Though he has not been able to sustain the hot start to the season (after batting .316 in April, Francoeur hit just .233 and .235 the next two months), he has found a way to contribute to a fantasy roster. He’s doing this on the basepaths, as he has already swiped 15 bases, nearly double his previous high.
The .266 average still leaves something to be desired, but his 13 home runs and 58 RBI may be enough to force yet another trade.
Michael Morse, OF, Nationals
At 29 years old, Morse is a late bloomer, but he is also one of the better hitters in baseball right now with an even .300 average and 15 home runs. Morse has already matched his previous career-high in home runs, set last season. His OBP is a healthy .348 and while walks are hard to come by, Morse makes up for it with a .523 slugging percentage.
Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals
This 26-year old left-handed hitter was drafted in the second round of the 2006 draft out of Miami. However, Jay never quite earned top prospect status, and this year he has surprised people as a solid platoon option.
Jay is hurt by a lack of patience at the plate and limited power, but you can’t argue with the .310 average, which comes a season after hitting .300. In total, Jay boasts a .304 career average with 11 home runs in 516 at bats.
Jay has made a case to get regular at bats, considering he hits both lefties and righties for at least a .300 average throughout his career. However, with Lance Berkman leading the league in homers, Jay’s playing time will continue to be limited for the remainder of the season.