July 30, 2010
Pre-Deadline Trade Roundup Part Deux
As expected the flurry of trades has continued, and we have more fantasy impact to discuss because of it. Let's dig right in with what's transpired since last we wrote.
Miguel Tejada was sent to the Padres, which doesn’t make fantasy waves but is worthy of a few ripples. This leaves third base open for Josh Bell in Baltimore, and cuts into Chase Headley and Everth Cabrera's playing time in San Diego, though all of those things could be a positive. Bell is hitting .278/.328/.481 for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides and is the third baseman of the future for the O's, so bringing him up to the majors and giving him a chance to show off during this lost season is both good for the Orioles and for fantasy owners in need of some help at third. He's not a sure thing for 2010, but he's someone to keep an eye on or grab in deep leagues where you don't have time to worry about whether he's going to hit right away or not.
As for San Diego's side of things, Tejada is having an awful season but is not meant to play full-time either. Tejada will spell Chase Headley at third against left-handers and also spend some time at shortstop since Everth Cabrera continues to struggle there. Headley has hit poorly against left-handers this year and historically is not productive against them, so you may lose a little on the counting stats side, but Headley's rate stats should improve for the rest of 2010. This does serve to hurt Cabrera the most, as Jerry Hairston Jr. will most likely slide over to shortstop when David Eckstein returns from the disabled list—that would leave Tejada as the part-timer given he can slot in at third, with Everth being the odd man out. Tejada may not be anything special with the bat anymore, but he's normally solid against lefties (not so much in this awful season, though the Padres may be banking on his placement in a pennant race as rejuvenation) and should be an improvement over Headley at least when it comes to southpaws. In very deep NL-only leagues, Tejada could be worth a look for a CI or MI slot, but that's about as far as I can recommend him.
The Rangers have had horrific production from first base all season long, which is why they felt the need to acquire Jorge Cantu. Cantu is a below-average hitter at first base—he has a .258 TAv this year, which makes him a league average hitter but also puts him more than 30 points below a league average first baseman—but Chris Davis, Justin Smoak and Co. have combined for a line of .201/.218/.327, single-handedly bringing down the average production at first base. That's well, well below replacement level for both the league and the position, meaning Cantu is a huge improvement despite his resume. Cantu may be useful in deep AL-only leagues since he's eligible at both third and first base, but he's not someone you want to be stuck starting at either position—as a corner infielder he's tolerable, and moving to Arlington during the hottest part of the year should be a boost to his offense, at least superficially.
This is bad news for Chris Davis, not that he has done anything to merit more playing time in 2010. If you're still relying on Davis for offense at first base, then you're as desperate for Cantu as the Rangers and should have a bid in on him already. Back in Florida, Wes Helms takes over as the everyday third baseman until Chris Coghlan returns from his pie-related injury. Helms is no great shakes either, but as a CI in a deep league he'll have some additional R and RBI opportunities for the next few weeks.
Brett Wallace has been dealt again, from Toronto to Houston. If Lance Berkman is sent packing sometime today or tomorrow, Wallace may take over at first. Don't get too excited though—he has some pop, and could hit 25+ homers in the majors at some point, but think of him as a Jorge Cantu type with the bat, minus the positional versatility. Wallace is a zero in the field—actually, he's less than zero, as he has negative defensive value—and his bat isn't so good that he can make up for it. First base is the most productive offensive position on the diamond right now, and even in an NL-only setting you can do better than Wallace. If you're desperate in a deep league, he may fit into a CI slot, but don't think of him as the big time slugger that many felt he could be.
As of my writing this, Edwin Jackson is a White Sox pitcher. There are still rumblings that he could be flipped right back to the NL, this time the Nationals, in a deal centering around Adam Dunn, but as of now we'll go with what's real. Jackson leaves Chase Field, where he has been awful (5.66 ERA in 70 innings pitched, thanks in part to 10 homers or 1.3 per nine innings pitched) and heads to US Cellular in Chicago. Jackson has not been effective against left-handed batters (.294/.358/.469 in 245 at-bats), which is partially due to Chase (the park boosts doubles, triples and home run for left-handers significantly, which has an adverse effect on any pitcher, but especially someone like Jackson who hands out as many free passes as he does). Pitching in US Cellular will not help his trouble with the long ball, but it's much more neutral in terms of every other hit type, so even with the league switch we should see better production out of Jackson than we have this season. He's not a stud, but he should help more than he hurts in AL-only.
Daniel Hudson's future as a reliever or a starting pitcher may be a matter of debate at the moment, but his new digs aren't going to help the perception he's capable of being the latter. The good: Hudson has whiffed 108 batters in 93 1/3 innings pitched this year for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, and he's done so at age 23. He's walked 3.0 per nine in the same stretch, giving him a K/BB ratio of 3.5. The bad: Hudson gives up a goodly number of flyballs, with a G/F ratio of 1.1 at Triple-A this year. That's an average figure (though it's one that is far removed from his early work in the minors, where he was more groundball oriented) but the more you put the ball in the air in Chase the more likely you are you serve up a home run. Hudson has a 1.3 HR/9 this season for Charlotte, so Chase may not be a good place for him in that regard.
Conversely, unlike Jackson, Hudson may be able to keep the free passes to a minimum, and even if his 10.4 K/9 does not translate directly to the bigs, striking out such a large percentage of hitters will be key to his success given the horrible defense behind him. The homers could be problematic, but everything else seems to check out for Hudson (though he has had an iffy start to 2010 for Chicago over 15 innings) making him worth your attention in NL-only leagues.