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July 31, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Trade Deadline Roundup

by Marc Normandin

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Deadline day is finally upon us, meaning there is no shortage of things to write about. This will be updated as trades occur, so check back.

4:56 PM EST: Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth are headed to Atlanta. Farnsworth doesn't have any value, but Ankiel, as a center fielder, is a decent pickup in deep leagues (to be honest about it, I'm upset Ankiel went to the NL, as I have him in an AL-only league where you are required to have five outfielders). Ankiel is hitting .267/.317/.467 this season in limited time due to injury, and is a career .252/.311/.453 hitter. His OBP is of no help, but if you're in a batting average league and need some pop from a center fielder, then Ankiel can assist you. His ISO from the previous four years: .250, .242, .156, .207.

Atlanta leans towards being a pitcher park, but in terms of homers for left-handed hitters it's neutral. He may lose some doubles production, but good things will happen if he puts the ball in the air.

4:40 PM EST: This isn't a trade, but Jeremy Hermida was designated for assignment, which means Ryan Kalish is on the major league roster. The 22 year old Kalish has been productive at both Double- and Triple-A this year (.293/.404/.527 for Portland, .294/.356/.476 for Pawtucket) and is making his major league debut as this is written. There's no word yet on whether he will remain on the roster when Jacoby Ellsbury returns from his rehab assignment, but with Hermida being DFA'd there is a chance he sticks, as long as he gets playing time—the Red Sox won't hinder his development by sticking him on the bench. Kalish has a .277 translated TAv from his time in Pawtucket, so he could be an above-average major league hitter already.

4:21 PM EST: The Pirates slid in right around the deadline with a shocker of a deal, sending Octavio Dotel to Los Angeles. No more saves for Dotel is a problem, but this means either Joel Hanrahan or Evan Meek is going to become the new closer. Put a gun to my head and I'll go with Hanrahan, given the Pirates love for him this season and the fact he was their go-to eighth inning guy. Either is an effective option given their numbers—if you need help with saves, then this is a freebie opportunity for you, assuming they weren't already scooped up.

I have more faith in Hanrahan as an effective closer, but that shouldn't be a surprise given he's a filthy, filthy strikeout machine. Also of note is the fact that his adjusted ERAs are much shinier than his actual ERA, so he's a better pitcher than appearances say.

Kerry Wood to the Yankees means Chris Perez is the closer in Cleveland. People have been waiting for this all year, so Perez may not be available to you, but if he is, now is the time to snag him. The problem with Perez is that he isn't a very good pitcher, but if you are desperate for saves he should get them. His ERA is 2.23, but that's a mirage—his K/BB is 1.7 and his BABIP of .241 has a lot to do with his success thus far, as shown by his 4.50, which is well below-average for a reliever. Expect him to frustrate you but accumulate saves.

4:09 PM EST: Jake Westbrook is all of a sudden an attractive fantasy option in both mixed and NL-only leagues. Moving out of the American League is one thing, but moving into the NL Central and into Busch Stadium is just pure, unfiltered win. Westbrook's SIERA is 4.43, which is a little better than his actual ERA of 4.65. St. Louis has a better defense than the Indians (though not by a ton—69.6 percent of balls in play converted into outs versus Cleveland's 68.6 percent) and also has a park that leans towards pitchers, meaning Westbrook won't miss his previous home.

Westbrook is less of a project than Dave Duncan is used to working with, but somehow I get the feeling we may still see some improvement to his game. Westbrook doesn't have severe L/R splits, but Busch Stadium is a good place to reduce offensive numbers for right-handers (just like in Cleveland), so between that and the league switch he's worth a look. It also helps that St. Louis has a better chance of giving him a W than the Indians did.

The Padres did themselves a favor by getting Ryan Ludwick, and though the first thought by many may be that Petco will be the death of him and his fantasy value, it's not true. Looking at 2008-2010 component park factors tells a different story. Busch Stadium destroys home run production from right-handed batters—it's the second-toughest park in the majors and the toughest in the National League for homers by a righty, coming in at 0.77 (1.0 being neutral). Petco, for all of the damage it causes to lefties (read: more than anywhere else in the majors) runs fairly neutral in terms of right-handers, at least in a relative sense. The park factor for homers for right-handed hitters is 0.92—this means Ludwick may actually improve by going to Petco, which is not something you get to read very often. If you were thinking about dropping Ludwick because his production was going to take a hit, move that finger off of the mouse, because things may be looking up.

3:40 PM EST: Chris Snyder won't have to worry about losing playing time to Miguel Montero anymore, as he is now a Pittsburgh Pirate—his lone competition is the currently concussed Ryan Doumit, meaning Snyder's fantasy value has increased in the short-term. Snyder is not going to help you in batting average, but you can count the catchers that can before you run out of fingers. He will provide you with plenty of pop, and with more playing time that becomes more valuable in both roto and head-to-head leagues.

The Pirates sent a few players with zero fantasy impact, even in deep leagues, in exchange for Snyder. Carrasco is the most intriguing name given his peripherals and ERA, but unless he's all of a sudden installed in closer he's more of a deep, NL-only leagues option for those trying to squeeze some extra numbers out of relievers, and even that may be a stretch given his new environment.

Austin Kearns, as a starting outfielder for the Indians, had limited fantasy value but at least picked up plate appearances. This made him an option in AL-only leagues. As a bench player in New York that small bit of value has been winked out of existence. Injuries could make him relevant again, but that's a lot to bank on unless you can stick him on your own bench in the meantime.

Chad Qualls has had a weird season. His peripherals suggest he can be a useful reliever and rack up saves with regularity, but his ERA sits at 8.29 after 38 innings in 2010. Moving to Tampa Bay does mean he will face more difficult opposition, but he is moving from in front of one of the worst to arguably the best defense in the majors, which should help him out. Of course, with Rafael Soriano installed as the closer, save opportunities for Qualls will be nonexistent. That being said, thanks to his peripherals, he can still help you in leagues where you just want middle relief help to boost your numbers.

Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot are headed west to Los Angeles, while the Dodgers send Blake DeWitt back to Chicago. Theriot's value is tied up entirely in whether or not he is playing shortstop, though he is a solid option for steals at other second base (assuming your league doesn't use net steals). DeWitt is probably a better hitter than Theriot, but without the stolen bases, meaning his fantasy value is lower. With Aramis Ramirez hitting well once again at third, Mike Fontenot is available to play second base, meaning DeWitt may end up in a time-share or as a backup once again. Neither is that appealing regardless, though Fontenot's flirtations with power are one of those things fantasy owners have a hard time shaking. Rob McQuown, our resident Cub fan and fantasy analyst, says that manager Lou Piniella views Fontenot as a utility player, meaning DeWitt may snag the job. Keep this in mind if you're forced to choose between one before there's an official announcement.

For Ted Lilly, a move to Los Angeles means a friendlier home park. His current ERA has masked some of his peripheral decline, as his SIERA is 4.14, his strikeout rate has fallen to the league-average (though his K/BB is still excellent at 3.0) and his velocity continues to fall. He may superficially improve by moving to Los Angeles, but it's an improvement on the 4.14 mark, not his current 3.69 ERA. One other thing to remember is that adjusted ERAs like SIERA may be understating his home run rate--Lilly is an extreme flyball pitcher, and though the lack of runners he puts on base helps him keep his ERA down, the homers may not go away. He also has a .261 BABIP, and though extreme flyball pitchers have lower BABIP, this is also well below his career mark of .285. He's better in Los Angeles than in Chicago, but I'm not sure if he'll be great there.

Related Content:  Ryan Kalish,  Peripherals,  Jake Westbrook

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