July 31, 2010
Pre-Deadline Trade Roundup Part 33 1/3
Cristian Guzman is headed to Texas, with the owner-less Rangers somehow pulling off another trade (are you paying attention, Los Angeles?). This guarantees that Jorge Cantu will be playing first base and not filling in at second for the injured Ian Kinsler, and also means that whatever playing time you thought was coming out of Joaquin Arias and Andres Blanco for the Rangers is going to be cut into.
Guzman hasn't been great for the Nationals—he's hitting .282/.327/.361—but heading to Arlington should boost his numbers a bit, and regular playing time at second base until Ian Kinsler returns is something you could use for a 2B or MI slot in an AL-only. He has little value in mixed leagues, since his value will be diminished when Kinsler returns and because he doesn't contribute much outside of batting average and maybe runs.
The Nationals made a different trade yesterday, swapping closer Matt Capps for catcher Wilson Ramos. With Ivan Rodriguez in tow, Ramos' 2010 value is minimal, but moving Capps does open up the closer job for Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard. Storen has a 2.64 ERA in 30 2/3 innings in his first year in the majors, and has whiffed 7.6 per nine. More of a problem is his walk rate, which, even after subtracting intentional passes from the equation, comes out to 3.5 per nine. His K/BB ratio will need some work, especially since he's somewhat neutral on G/F. Just because of saves Storen is worth owning, but he's not quite at the dominant reliever stage yet.
Tyler Clippard is the other option to become the closer in Washington. If the Nationals plan is to just put together another Proven Closer they can trade in the future, Clippard is a good choice. If they are thinking about their closer of the future, then Storen is the choice. Clippard has 60 2/3 innings this season and has whiffed 10.2 per nine while walking 3.6 per nine. Clippard's issue is that he is a severe flyball pitcher, but he has managed to keep the ball in the park during his career. The worry is home runs, but he hasn't given us reason to suspect that he'll just start giving up bombs left and right either. Clippard is worth owning for the same reason as Storen, and though he's probably not as much help on the WHIP side of things, in terms of strikeouts he's a better player to own than Storen. Keep an eye on both and acquire either as soon as there is an announcement on who has the job. If you're looking for some additional information on the situation, check out Mike Petriello's thoughts on the matter, as he posted them hours before Capps was dealt in this space.
Jon Rauch loses his job as a closer in Minnesota, which kills his fantasy value. Rauch isn't the kind of reliever who strikes out a large percentage of batters or posts an exceptionally low ERA consistently, so without saves he's not of much use in any format. Capps is a solid reliever who should be able to produce at a higher level than Rauch thanks to additional whiffs and historically good control of his pitches. He's a great pickup in AL-only leagues given how difficult it is to acquire saves, but just in terms of save opportunities he may be better off for a winning club anyways.
The Yankees needed some help at designated hitter since Marcus Thames is listed as their primary option, and they picked up one of the best available in Lance Berkman. The deal is not official yet due to Berkman being a 10-and-5 player—he has the rights to waive a deal within 24 hours, though he has already approved it according to Ken Rosenthal—but the trade is expected to be completed by tomorrow afternoon.
While his numbers are well below where you normally see them, you can blame a significant portion of that on a terrible May where he hit .221/.362/.368—he was better than that in April (.809 OPS) and has hit .259/.385/.465 since. He's not the hitter he once was, but betting on Thames isn't the best strategy either. He shouldn't see much of a difference due to park effects, as both parks reward hitters, though Yankee Stadium is better for left-handers in terms of homers, and the switch-hitting Berkman will spend the majority of his plate appearances from that side. Berkman coming to the AL isn't as significant as say, Adam Dunn, but he's a good bet to be one of the better bats moving leagues this deadline, meaning that in an AL-only league you shouldn’t fear spending part of your FAAB budget on him if you've got the space in your lineup.
This move does hurt Thames' value, as he is relegated to backup outfielder, but he hasn't been picking up many plate appearances this year to begin with. Francisco Cervelli will also lose some plate appearances, which hurts his value in leagues where you need someone like him at catcher.
[UPDATE] Brett Wallace's contract was purchased by the Astros, and he will play in tonight's game. Back in Houston, there's not much to choose from in terms of a new first baseman. Pedro Feliz is currently the backup thanks to being displaced by Chris Johnson at third base, and the next available infielder is Anderson Hernandez. While this would be a good opportunity to take Carlos Lee's lack of mobility out of the outfield and stick him at first, we may end up seeing Brett Wallace in the majors sooner than later, which is something that was expounded upon earlier.