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August 26, 2014

Deep Impact

Week 21

by Ben Carsley

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That’s me in the intro. That’s me in the spotlight.

Rusney Castillo, OF, Red Sox
In last week’s Deep Impact, I talked up Mookie Betts, assuring owners that he’d see the majority of playing time in center field for the rest of the season now that Jackie Bradley Jr. has been relegated to the minor leagues. Whoops.

This weekend, as you may have heard, the Red Sox signed Castillo, a 27-year-old Cuban outfielder, to a seven-year deal that begins this year. While the right-handed hitter is starting his stateside career in the minors, he’ll likely be up sometime in September. And once he’s up, he’ll likely lead off and play center field pretty much every day. The temptation to rush out and pick up a guy like Castillo is pretty significant in redraft leagues, but despite his upside, this is a man who hasn’t played professionally in almost two years, and who’s probably looking at 50-60 PA this season. I wouldn’t burn significant FAAB on him, because there’s really no telling what to expect.

Long term, of course, the prognosis is much more promising. Castillo doesn’t have the raw fantasy upside of fellow Cuban outfielders like Yasiel Puig or Yoenis Cespedes, but he has more upside than Leonys Martin and should bat atop what figures to be a good lineup next year. If you want to talk absolute upside, Castillo is a 15-homer, 25-steal threat with a decent average, though there’s plenty of room for a performance below that, too. Long story short, Castillo’s not as attractive as you might think for 2014 uses, but he’ll likely be drafted as a top-30 outfielder for 2015, so deep leaguers should take note.

Michael Choice, OF, Rangers
I am not going to write about Michael Choice, because he’s not particularly worthy of writing about right now. Instead, I am going to write about Choice’s competition, to illustrate why you should stay away from Choice even though he may see playing time this year.

Choice’s competition right now is Daniel Robertson. Oftentimes, when I’m about to write up a player for Deep Impact, I’ll do a quick search in one of my ESPN leagues to make sure that player is owned in, say, less than about 15 percent of leagues. I did not have to do that with Robertson, because I did not know who he was until I looked at the Rangers depth chart this morning. This is not Athletics infield prospect Daniel Robertson, mind you: This is 28-year-old Rangers sixth outfielder Daniel Robertson, and I am writing about him on purpose right now for you.

Robertson is Choice’s main competition for playing time right now, and these two players are competing for status as the Rangers’ short-side platoon left fielder. All of the other Rangers are hurt, you see, and so someone needs to play in the outfield with Alex Rios and Leonys Martin. Jim Adduci, who MLB.com tells me is also a real player, is playing against right-handed pitchers, primarily because he bats left-handed, from what I can tell.

Choice has had a really, really bad year, but again, this is his competition for playing time now for the rest of the season. He’s is a former top prospect and is someone who could conceivably see at-bats for Texas next year, and since he was better during a recent stint in Triple-A, he should see some at-bats. But that doesn’t mean you should be interested, even if he has some name appeal. Choice has power and some speed and looks sort of like a turtle, so I get why you might be tempted, but don’t shed even a single FAAB dollar on him.

Yusmeiro Petit, SP, Giants
Yesterday, the Giants announced that they are finally removing Tim Lincecum from the rotation in a move that is probably overdue. Lincecum has been very unimpressive this season, notching a 4.64 ERA with a high walk rate while allowing more than a homer-per-nine in a park that kills homers. This is sad for those of us who remember how dominant Lincecum was in his prime, yes, but it provides fantasy owners in need of quality starts with opportunity nonetheless.

Petit is not a top prospect, a former top prospect or an even remotely sexy name, but he could be fairly effective as he takes Lincecum’s place in the rotation. The right-hander has allowed a 3.59 ERA through 80 1/3 innings this year, but advanced stats suggest that his ERA should be nearly a run lower and he’s racking up the strikeouts to boot. Much of Petit’s time has come as a reliever, so expect some regression in the K/9 category, but he can be a decent back-end guy in the NL West nonetheless.

As a starter this season Petit’s numbers are pretty uninspiring, as he’s allowed 22 runs in 31 1/3 innings in that capacity. But he’s just 29, has been moderately effective as a starter before, and is playing in a cavernous ballpark and for a team that should give him some W opportunities. Petit won’t save your season, but in leagues with 16 or more teams, you can add him if you’re desperate for innings and play him in favorable matchups.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: James Paxton, Mariners
The last time I picked a pitcher to go against the Rangers, it didn’t go so well for me. But I’m more confident in my pick this time, as Paxton gets Texas at home and with toe the rubber opposite Nick Martinez, who is the not-prospect Daniel Robertson of pitchers. Paxton has done what he does best this season, tantalizing owners before missing a ton of time to injury, but he’s healthy now and the upside here is real. He’s done a really nice job of limiting the free passes so far this year in the majors, and while I don’t anticipate his command to stay this good, he’s clearly taken a step forward with his control in recent years. The Rangers are tied for 21st in the league in offense, and really only feature Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios as threats at the plate right now. There’s potential here for Paxton to walk away with a lot of strikeouts and a “W.”

Twitter Question of the Week:

“Crazy” is a bit strong here, I think, Robert, but I’ll also say I think you’re a bit too hesitant if this is close to a one-for-one swap. Yes, Heyward has extra value in an OBP league, and yes, he’s entering the prime of his career whereas CarGo is leaving it. But CarGo has the ability to edge out Heyward in every other fantasy category, and while Gonzalez’s injury may tempt you to deem Heyward as the healthier option, that’s ignoring Heyward’s ugly run-ins with “health injuries.” Sure, CarGo’s chronic booboos are scarier than Heyward’s (mostly) freak injuries, but I’m still taking Gonzalez’s ceiling over Heyward’s floor for the next few years.

If the deal is Heyward and another truly significant piece or two for CarGo, then I think it’s more reasonable to hold on to what you’ve got. Still, the shallower this league is, the more willing I am to send Heyward, if I’m in your shoes.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Roberto Petagine
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Sam LeCure, RP, Reds
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Brandon Barnes, OF, Rockies
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Concussed

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

Related Content:  Fantasy,  Deep Leagues

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