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August 5, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Swaptacular

by Jay Jaffe

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RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Braves
61-46
3-4
.573
Flat
Him Again? Atlanta's NL East lead narrows due to a 3-6 slide punctuated by the indignity of a game-winning homer by ex-Brave Jeff Francoeur. Dignity is apparently in short supply in Atlanta lately, given that the Braves reacquire Kyle Farnsworth to do whatever the hell he does in their bullpen. While the big doofus had a 3.00 Fair Run Average in 44.2 innings with KC this year, he'd put up a 4.68 FRA in the four big-money seasons since his last stint in Atlanta, which ended badly. The team also adds Rick Ankiel, who while being nothing to write home about is a modest patch in the wake of Nate McLouth's well-earned demotion.

2


Padres
62-44
3-4
.570
Down
The Chase is On: Chase Headley's three-run homer-part of a four-hit night-helps the Padres rout the Dodgers and preserve a dwindling NL West lead. Though his overall numbers aren't much to look at (.278/.336/.398, still good for a .276 TA), Headley has been swinging a particularly hot bat since July 1 (.324/.400/.539). He'll get some extra offensive help with the Padres' deadline acquisitions of Ryan Ludwick and Miguel Tejada. The former may rate as the deadline's biggest steal, not to mention a solid cornerstone in an outfield more suited to mixing and matching; his .289 TAv is higher than every Padre except Adrian Gonzalez and Yorvit Torrealba. The latter, while not the player he used to be, can help cover for Headley at third against lefties (he's got a horrific .190/.259/.238 reverse platoon split), as well as providing some punch from shortstop, where Everth Cabrera and Jerry Hairston Jr. have "hit" .223/.292/.327.

3


Giants
62-46
4-2
.557
Up
Tripartite Shutdown Coalition: Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Matt Cain combine to hold the Dodgers to three runs in 21.2 innings in a three-game sweep that helps the Giants close the gap on the Padres. Cain, who combines on a shutout, collects his first career W in 15 starts against the team's top rivals; he's 1-8 with a 3.94 ERA against them due to just 2.7 runs per game of support. Not to be forgotten, Jonathan Sanchez helps the team post its second straight shutout in an 8-0 win over the Rockies. Sanchez's 3.38 ERA matches Zito's and is less than half a run per nine behind Cain and Lincecum, though his lower innings total leaves him fourth on the team in SNWP.

4


Reds
61-48
4-2
.557
Up
Leake-ing: The Reds maintain their hold on first place in the NL Central, but they have to be concerned with a pair of their young starters. Mike Leake is tagged for seven runs in five innings by the lowly Pirates while working on eight days rest. It's the sixth time in nine starts he's allowed four runs or more after doing so just once in his first 11 starts; he's got a 6.11 ERA in that span. Meanwhile, Edinson Volquez has 14 walks and 11 runs allowed in 11 innings over his last three starts, though the Reds have won two of them. The rotation now ranks a ho-hum eighth in the league in SNLVAR, but a more respectable sixth in Fair Run Average (4.20).

5


Cardinals
60-48
4-3
.553
Down
Shuffling the Deck:The Cardinals gear up for the stretch run with a curious three-way trade, sending Ryan Ludwick to the Padres and receiving Jake Westbrook from the Indians in return. Ludwick's .288 TAv ranked fourth on the team, and while Jon Jay has been wielding a hot bat, his .366/.415/.553 performance is unsustainable. As for Westbrook, his .450 SNWP is basically even with what the Cards have gotten from Brad Penny, Jeff Suppan and Kyle Lohse, though there's no telling how much better the groundballer might be given the black-arts tutelage of Dave Duncan (see Jeff Weaver, or Suppan in both St. Louis stints). Meanwhile, the team learns that David Freese is done for the year at a time when Felipe Lopez's charms are starting to wear off; he's hitting just .262/.330/.366 since June 1, compared to .278/.363/.456 prior.

6


Rockies
56-51
5-1
.551
Up
See Cargo, Go Cargo: Carlos Gonzalez homers in four straight games, helping the Rockies back an eight-game losing streak with a four-game winning streak which restores their third-place standing the NL West. The fourth of those homers is a walkoff shot which completes his cycle-the first player to do so with a game-ender since Dwight Evans on June 28, 1984. It's also Gonzalez's second four-hit game in a row and third for July; he hit .364/.400/.691 with nine homers for the month-and he's not done, adding a pair of dingers in Wednesday's game.

7


Phillies
59-48
4-2
.543
Up
Hurtin' Howard: With a 10-2 run, the Phillies push their way back into the NL East race, but they lose Ryan Howard to the disabled list due to a sprained ankle-yet another loss for a lineup already without Chase Utley and Shane Victorino. Stepping up to drive the offense are Raul Ibanez (.400/.510/.700 across an 11-game hitting streak), Carlos Ruiz (.452/.469/.774 with 14 hits in a seven-game span, including a four-hit effort) and the untraded Jayson Werth (.386/.481/.682 over the past two weeks, including seven multi-hit games in a nine-game stretch). Speaking of trades, the Phillies do pull off a deal to acquire Roy Oswalt, a none-too-subtle admission that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. erred in trading Cliff Lee; alas, the former Astros ace is knocked around by the Nats in his debut.

8


Dodgers
56-52
2-5
.521
Down
Too Lilly, Too Late: Fourteen years after being drafted by them, Ted Lilly tosses seven strong innings in his Dodgers debut, halting his new team's six-game losing streak. Acquired from the Cubs at the deadline, Lilly's arrival is too late to save the Dodgers' season; the team's fifth starters yielded 20 runs in 20 innings over their previous five starts as their Playoff Odds plummeted into the single digits, and they're now around 6 percent. Meanwhile, there are signs-boy, are there signs-that the Dodgers could shift into selling mode regarding Manny Ramirez; multiple teams have inquired, but he can't be waived while on the disabled list, and his rehab has suffered a setback.

9


Marlins
53-54
3-3
.502
Up
Beat With Uggla Stick: Hamstrung by Chris Coghlan's injury, the Marlins make only minor moves at the deadline, the largest involving sending Jorge Cantu to Texas for a couple of live arms. They hold onto Dan Uggla, who's bopped eight homers in his last 11 games, taking over the all-time franchise record from Mike Lowell. Uggla may get to stick around for awhile; word on the street is that the team may explore an extension for the slugging second baseman, who's hitting .280/.367/.514 with 24 homers (fifth in the league).

10


Mets
54-54
3-4
.486
Down
Get Low: In a season full of lowlights, the Mets suffer yet another one as they're drubbed 14-1 on the day they add Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden et al to the team's Hall of Fame. They're now 6-14 since the All-Star break, hitting .212/.282/.329 while averaging just 3.1 runs per game; while Carlos Beltran (.215/.333/.338) hasn't helped much, neither have David Wright (.216/.265/.378), Jeff Francoeur (.128/.212/.255 even with a game-winning homer against the Braves), or the now-DLed Jason Bay (.205/.279/.231). Ike Davis is in an even bigger slump despite a key three-run blast against the Cardinals; he's hitting just .242/.315/.430 since May 1, albeit with a team-high 14 homers and a cool bobblehead in his honor.

11


Nationals
48-60
5-2
.463
Up
No Dunn Deal: The Nationals hold onto Adam Dunn despite strong interest from many teams, most notably the White Sox, whose acquisition of Edwin Jackson was presumed to be a precursor to such a swap. They do part with Matt Capps and Cristian Guzman, saving some cash and netting a four-star prospect in catcher Wilson Ramos. Against this backdrop, the team garners back-to-back series wins against the Braves and the Phillies, punctuated by Ryan Zimmerman's walkoff homer against the latter's closer designated ninth-inning arsonist, Brad Lidge.

12


Cubs
47-61
1-5
.450
Down
Young Cubs: Acquired in a deal that sends Ted Lilly and Ryan Theriot to the Dodgers, Blake DeWitt homers and drives in four runs in his fourth game as a Cub. While it's hardly good news that the team is in selling mode, the silver lining is that the Cubs have quadrupled the number of lineup regulars under 30 since the beginning of the year, with all four of them-Geovany Soto (.312), Starlin Castro (.281), Tyler Colvin (.288) and DeWitt (.271)-posting True Averages higher than the average at their positions.

13


Brewers
50-59
2-4
.445
Down
Take Hart (Please): The trading deadline passes with Prince Fielder still a Brewer, and Corey Hart as well. In fact, GM Doug Melvin hands Hart a three-year, $26.5 million extension. The 28-year-old right fielder, who goes 4-for-7 in an 18-1 shellacking of the Cubs to celebrate, is hitting .289/.346/.559 while ranking fifth in slugging percentage, seventh in homers (23) and ninth in TAv (.315), but he's coming off a two-year stretch in which he batted just .265/.315/.442 with a .268 TAv, roughly 10 points below the average right fielder. This isn't the Jeff Suppan contract, but on a team whose starting pitching is once again among the league's worst, it could impede more necessary improvements.

14


Diamondbacks
40-68
3-4
.406
Up
Snake Swaps: Adam LaRoche homers twice and drives in six runs, while newly-acquired Dan Hudson shuts down the Mets for eight innings in a 14-1 pounding which gives Arizona a 5-1 win in their season series with New York. Acquired in trade for Edwin Jackson, Hudson represents by far the best of Jerry Dipoto's acquisitions, though the trade leaves the Snakes with a headless rotation that includes Joe Saunders, Ian Kennedy, Rodrigo Lopez and rookie Barry Enright. Elsewhere, the interim GM brings back a truckload of suck in trading Chris Snyder, and while he finds a way to make Chad Qualls and his MLB-worst -2.4 WXRL (and 10.07 Fair Run Average!) disappear, this bullpen remains in good shape to join the ranks of the all-time worst.

15


Astros
47-60
5-1
.405
Up
End of an Era: The Astros finally commit to rebuilding, trading their two biggest stars, Roy Oswalt (to the Phillies) and Lance Berkman (to the Yankees). Alas, in typically dis-Astros fashion, GM Ed Wade gets a doubly unimpressive return, sending $15 million to two teams with considerably higher payrolls and getting back little of quality in exchange. The two stars' no-trade clauses hardly helped, nor did the late hour, considering that both players' values are down from last year, when it was patently obvious such measures would need to be taken. They do partake in a third swap to get oft-traded first baseman Brett Wallace from the Blue Jays; the Walrus was putting up just a .246 TAv in Triple-A, not too impressive for a prospect whose only tool is his bat. Googoogajoob.

16


Pirates
37-70
1-6
.315
Down
Dealin': The No-Tell Dotel Era comes to an end, as the Bucs flip their closer to the Dodgers for useful reliever/shaky starter James McDonald and bat-only prospect Andrew Lambo. More interestingly, the team snags Diamondbacks backup backstop Chris Snyder and $3 million cash for a bunch of organ donors, a move which not only covers for Ryan Doumit's absence due to a concussion but opens up the possibility of moving the latter to a corner position, where he might recover his 2007-2008 form prior to a slew of injuries. As for the interesting young Bucs, Pedro Alvarez snaps out of a 2-for-32 slump with a two-hit game which includes a homer and Neil Walker keeps on hitting (.355/.383/.513 since the break).


The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Thursday.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Overthinking It: Anato... (08/05)
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Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: C... (07/30)
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Prospectus Hit List: H... (08/06)
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