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July 30, 2012

Resident Fantasy Genius

Rating the Fantasy Impact of the Weekend's Transactions

by Derek Carty

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 Zack Greinke | Brewers to Angels | SP

Don’t let the down arrow sour you too much on Greinke; he’s still very good, just maybe not one of the absolute best fantasy pitchers in baseball anymore.  Moving to the AL generally docks a pitcher 0.50 points of ERA and 0.5 points of K/9, although he does get an upgrade in terms of his park, his offensive support, and his defensive support.  If you’ve been saving your FAAB in an AL-only league, while not a strategy I advise, you’re going to be handsomely rewarded.  Greinke is worth every penny you have left, if that’s what it takes to get him.  If your claims come before tomorrow’s deadline, don’t wait to see who else might be moved; no one better is coming along.

 Marco Estrada | Brewers | SP

With Greinke out of the picture in Milwaukee, there will no longer be a rotation crunch when Shaun Marcum returns from the DL next month.  With the way Michael Fiers has been pitching, it seemed like Estrada would be the odd man out, but no more.  Estrada is much better than his ERA indicates and is a great guy to fill out the back of a fantasy rotation in NL-only leagues.  I’d even be willing to own him in a lot of mixed leagues.

 Mark Rogers, Wily Peralta, Tyler Thornburg, and Manny Parra | Brewers | SP

With Marcum still out, the Brewers have a rotation spot up for grabs, at least in the near-term.  Former fifth-overall pick Rogers got the first crack yesterday and was very impressive: 5 2/3 IP, 2 ER, 7 K, 1 BB.  That should earn him at least one more start, giving him the chance to break away from the competition.  If he struggles, Peralta, Thornburg, and apparently Parra would all be options to replace him.

 Jean Segura | Angels to Brewers | MI

Segura will begin his tenure with the Brewers at Double-A, but he’s clearly the shortstop of the future for Milwaukee, and that future could be coming very soon.  Izturis and Ransom are no competition, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him starting with the big league club within the month.  Definitely worth a stash in NL-only leagues, especially if you need speed or middle infield help.

 Cesar Izturis and Cody Ransom | Brewers | SS

Izturis and Ransom are on thin ice.  Their fate is essentially out of their hands, as they’ll be relegated to bench roles as soon as the team deems Segura is ready.  Their owners can only hope Milwaukee keeps Segura in the minors until September call-ups so they can squeeze another month out of them.

 Marco Scutaro | Rockies to Giants | IF

In some ways, Scutaro owners can breathe a sigh of relief.  In other ways, they still need to keep their fingers crossed.  There had been rumors that Scutaro could have been traded both out of the NL and into a utility role on a team like the Rangers.  That would have been death to his fantasy value, as there would have been zero chance of him wrestling away starts from Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus.  In San Francisco, Theriot and Crawford pose much less of a threat. Still, manager Bruce Bochy is developing a reputation for underutilizing players who deserve more at-bats (see, Brandon Belt and Nate Schierholtz), so it’s not impossible Scutaro is besmirched in favor of Theriot and Crawford.  He’ll play third base while Pablo Sandoval is on the DL.

Even if he manages to start every day, however, his context shift is still unfavorable.  He goes from batting second in a great lineup to batting sixth and seventh in a poor one (though Theriot is currently batting second, so Scutaro could take that spot once Panda come back).  He leaves an extreme hitter’s park for a pretty extreme pitcher’s park.  At least he finds himself in the hands of a manager that likes to run.  While still a quality NL-only and deep mixed league player, this wasn’t the best result for Scutaro owners (New York or Oakland both would have been better)… but far from the worst.

 Ryan Theriot and Brandon Crawford | Giants | MI

The value of Theriot and Crawford will be determined in large part by the whim of Bruce Bochy.  It would make the most sense to give Scutaro regular at-bats once Sandoval returns, but if that happens, it’s unclear which position they would come at (or a mix of both second and short).  In any case, adding a very competent middle infielder to the mix does nothing to help the value of either of these two.

 D.J. LeMahieu | Rockies | 2B

With Scutaro traded and Chris Nelson on the DL, LeMahieu could have a chance to secure some regular playing time at second base for the Rockies. He has a solid bat and a little speed, so everyday at-bats could give him some non-negligible value.  The Rockies have a plethora of unremarkable infield options, though (among them Jonathan Herrera, Nelson, and Culberson), so LeMahieu will have to hit right out of the gate in order to keep manager Jim Tracy’s attention.

 Charlie Culberson | Giants to Rockies | 2B

Culberson wasn’t getting any playing time in San Francisco, and while he’s not guaranteed anything in Colorado, he at least stands a better chance.  As Kevin Goldstein noted, Culberson has a little power and speed but a power approach.  He’s merely a deep NL-only flier.

 Chris Nelson | Rockies | 2B

If LeMahieu doesn’t hit and Culberson underwhelms, Nelson could be given yet another chance to start on a regular basis.  His timetable is still a little uncertain, but he figures to be back at some point this month.

 Chris Johnson | Astros to Diamondbacks | 3B

The left field fences are a bit deeper in Chase than they are for Minute Maid’s notorious Crawford Boxes, but Johnson will be leaving an absolutely emaciated Houston lineup for an Arizona squad that ranks third in the NL in runs scored.  He doesn’t figure to hit any higher than seventh, but he was batting sixth for Houston as recently as Thursday. (Plus, even batting cleanup for Houston might provide the same amount of at-bats as seventh for Arizona.)  As long as he gets the chance to play every day, this may be a small win for Johnson’s value.

 Ryan Wheeler | Diamondbacks | 3B

Ryan Wheeler received some big bids in Tout Wars ($81, becoming $30 with Vickrey) and LABR ($35) last weekend following his call-up, and the subsequent trade of Ryan Roberts presumably made him the everyday starter versus right-handers. The acquisition of Chris Johnson, however, will likely send him to the bench or back to the minors.

 Brett Wallace | Astros | 1B/3B

The Johnson trade creates yet another opportunity for Brett Wallace. Once one of the team’s top prospects, Wallace has never managed to make good on his promise at the major league level.  The team is saying he’ll be given plenty of starts between first and third, so he’s worth an add in NL-only leagues.  He seemed to rediscover his power stroke at Triple-A this year—16 homers in 351 plate appearances—so the possibility at least exists for Wallace to be a valuable contributor the rest of the way.

 Huston Street | Padres | CL

The possibility of a trade has loomed over the heads of Street owners all season, but they can breathe a collective sigh of relief following the news that San Diego has signed him to an extension.  Without the job uncertainty, Street becomes one of the most valuable closers in baseball for the remainder of 2012.

 Luke Gregerson | Padres | RP

To those of you who stashed Gregerson hoping for saves, it’s time to move on.  Unless Street gets hurt (he does have an injury history), he’s merely a good setup man to own for ratios.

Francisco Liriano | Twins to White Sox | SP

It’s tough to tell whether this should be an up or down arrow for Liriano. The park change is enormous, going from an extreme pitcher’s park to an extreme hitter’s park, but Liriano might just be one of those rare guys where a change of scenery actually causes a resurgence (as opposed to just making for a nice story when the player regresses). The Twins’ pitch-to-contact philosophy is completely out of line with the way Liriano needs to pitch, and if it truly was messing with his head or his approach, a move to a new team—even one with less forgiving confines—could be what he needs to succeed.  I’m slapping a tentative up arrow on him. If nothing else, his peripherals have been pretty good this year, especially of late, which suggests better things lie ahead.

Brian Duensing | Twins | SP

Duensing takes Liriano's rotation spot for now, but he's really struggled in the rotation this year. The Twins don't exactly have a lot of better options, but approach with caution in AL-only leagues only.

Phil Humber | White Sox | SP

The Sox will reportedly go with a six-man rotation for the time being, and a potential Gavin Floyd trade in the next 24 hours could make this all a moot point anyway, but Humber seems to be the odd-man-out if the team goes back to five starters. He's better than his surface numbers indicate, but it's hard to see anyone else getting bumped (assuming Liriano himself doesn't implode). Plus, there's still an outside chance John Danks could return this month to crowd the situation further.

Top NL-to-AL League-Crossers
Zack Greinke
Anibal Sanchez
Omar Infante
Brett Myers
Ryan Roberts
George Kottaras
Brandon Lyon

Top AL-to-NL League-Crossers
Francisco Cordero
Jean Segura
Jacob Turner

Related Content:  Zack Greinke,  Jean Segura,  Huston Street

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The Week in Quotes: Ju... (07/30)
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Fantasy Article Resident Fantasy Geniu... (08/02)
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