August 27, 2012
Fantasy Perspective on the Big Trade
The trade that was made between Boston and Los Angeles over the weekend is one we rarely, if ever, see at this point in the season. Sure, there have been trades involving big names players this late in the season, but this trade had both the names and the volume of players. More importantly, it was a crossover trade, meaning there is a new influx of talent involved in both leagues (though the redistribution of talent is rather uneven).
If you are in an AL-only league, you get the short end of the stick; the only useful player for the remainder of the 2012 season is James Loney. Even then, that is a rather liberal use of the term “useful.” Last September, I wrote a piece reviewing how well Loney was doing toward the end of 2011 and that there may be some life in his dwindling career in 2012. Maybe it was that alcohol-related incident in the off-season that knocked him off-course, but all of the gains he made late last season have disappeared this season. He has a career-low True Average of just .222 this season and has been below replacement level in terms of value. In a season which first basemen were tough to find in NL-only leagues to begin with, owners were simply stuck with this terribly unproductive player.
Now he moves to Fenway Park and could see extended time in the lineup, especially with David Oritz expected to return to the disabled list today with a sore Achilles tendon that is still not feeling any better, according to the latest reports out of Boston. The best way to polish up a rather dull Loney is to say he is moving from a pitcher’s park to one that plays more neutral.
Obviously, the park favors right-handed power hitters (such as Cody Ross) who can loft the ball over the wall, but the park also plays well for all doubles hitters. Loney can hit doubles from time to time, but a change in environment is not going to help his home run total much; he simply has not hit the ball that far in 2012, and Fenway’s right field fences are actually a bit deeper than Dodger Stadium’s.
NL-only leaguers have some much more appealing options to consider.
Adrian Gonzalez has had 195 career plate appearances in Dodger Stadium and has a career slash line of just .212/.309/.376 with 16 extra base hits. Of course, 195 plate appearances is not enough of a sample size to form any kind of conclusion about his abilities to hit in the park. Still, at least he no longer has to face the Dodgers’ pitching staff while pitching in that park, as he did when with the Padres. Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley have combined to strike Gonzalez out 22 times in just 71 plate appearances, and most of the success Gonzalez had against the Dodgers came against Hiroki Kuroda. Simply put, hitters hit. Gonzalez will help you down the stretch and should be a top five first baseman the rest of the way in single-league formats.