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August 1, 2005

Fantasy Focus

Fantasy Implications of the Trade Deadline Moves

by Jeff Erickson

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The trade deadline generally brings a whiff of optimism to fantasy leaguers hoping for an infusion of talent into the free agent player pool, particularly to those who are restricted to using players in just one league. Thus, when the deadline passed with little fanfare on Sunday, it wasn't just the fans of the Mets, Twins, Devil Rays and Reds who were disappointed. When the biggest names crossing leagues are Phil Nevin, Randy Winn and Larry Bigbie, it's easy to be underwhelmed. Still, even these small moves will cause a ripple in the fantasy pond. The following is a review of the implications from those cross-league moves.

  • The Braves trade Roman Colon and Zach Miner to the Tigers for Kyle Farnsworth.

    This trade might have a bigger fantasy impact than any of the other trades that happened this week. Starting with the Tigers, Fernando Rodney takes over the closing duties, a job he was groomed for before getting derailed by Tommy John surgery and missing the 2004 season. With a 2.21 ERA and a 25:5 K:BB ratio over 20.1 innings so far this year, Rodney's stats indicate at least that he can handle the job. Franklyn German moves up one step in the pecking order, and Colon will also try to fit into the back end of that bullpen.

    Meanwhile, Farnsworth's owners, at least temporarily and perhaps for the remainder of the season, lost a closer and in some leagues might have lost the player completely. Farnsworth will work as a set-up man in Atlanta for now, with Chris Reitsma remaining the closer. Danny Kolb moves one step further away from ever getting a chance to regain his job back as the Braves' closer.

  • The Padres trade Phil Nevin to the Rangers for Chan Ho Park.

    This is an ugly deal all around. Nevin became the scapegoat for the Padres' sharp decline since the end of May, and while he'll now escape Petco Park, he'll also not get a chance to be a part of the playoff hunt nor is he guaranteed to play every day. First base is locked up for the foreseeable future in Texas, as is third base, so Nevin's at-bats will come primarily as the DH, perhaps only against left-handed starters. David Dellucci could lose some at-bats with Nevin's arrival, and the Rangers already sent Adrian Gonzalez back down to Triple-A Oklahoma.

    Meanwhile, Park should benefit from the change of scenery. Although his ERA this season was over three points better at home than on the road, since he's joined the Rangers he hasn't fared well in Arlington. Park is usually a flyball pitcher (although again, his 2005 numbers in that regard don't really match up to his career norms), and there's no better place than Petco for a pitcher like that (as Eric Milton can attest to after Sunday's game). Park's arrival allowed Adam Eaton to come back off the DL as a reliever, and subsequently sent Tim Stauffer back to Triple-A Portland for more seasoning.

  • The Rockies trade Eric Byrnes to the Orioles for Larry Bigbie.

    Bigbie's owners, if they get to keep his stats for the remainder of the year, just hit the Coors Field lottery. Bigbie's playing time should remain stable until Brad Hawpe comes off the DL, an event that appears to be pushed back to mid-August; once Hawpe returns, unless the Rockies opt to try Bigbie in center, they'll have three players (Matt Holliday being the third) vying for time in the two corner outfield spots. Bigbie is a good bet to remain with the team next year, since he'll be relatively cheap.

    Those that blew a big chunk of their FAAB budget on Byrnes once he came over to Colorado from Oakland might not be that disappointed, assuming that they can keep his stats for the rest of the year. He should get decent playing time in Baltimore in left field, more so than he did with the A's. Camden Yards may not have the same hitter's effect that Coors Field has, but it's certainly an improvement over Network Associates Coliseum.

  • The Mariners trade Randy Winn to the Giants for Yorvit Torrealba and Jesse Foppert.

    Winn can and will play all three outfield spots for the Giants. His playing time will come at the expense of Marquis Grissom and Jason Ellison in center field and Michael Tucker in right field. He adds more age and experience to a team that really doesn't need much more, but at least he'll represent a defensive upgrade. The big short-term winners in this trade are Torrealba, who finally gets a shot at regular playing time, and Chris Snelling, who will step into the starting lineup in left field when he gets called up on Friday. Foppert will have to wait a while to get his shot with the Mariners, especially after Jamie Moyer exercised his no-trade clause twice. He'll report to Triple-A Tacoma, where his arrival might hasten the Mariners' callup of Felix Hernandez.

  • The Rockies trade Shawn Chacon to the Yankees for Ramon Ramirez and Eduardo Sierra.

    Unlike Snake Plissken, Chacon's landing in New York is considered the escape. He'll fill in as the Yankees' fifth (fourth? third?) starter until the Yankees' reinforcements are healthy enough to return from the DL. Carl Pavano should be back first among the Yankees' infirm, but Jaret Wright will be out for a while, and both Kevin Brown and Chien-ming Wang could miss the rest of the regular season. What's really scary is that the Yankees could be counting on Chacon in some key games just to reach the playoffs, let alone advance once/if they get there.

  • The Diamondbacks trade Jose Cruz Jr. to the Red Sox for Kenny Perez and Kyle Bono.

    At least the price was right for Theo Epstein for Cruz. Cruz will split time in right field with Gabe Kapler while Trot Nixon is out. Nixon's injury looks like it could keep him on the DL for the bulk of the regular season. If you're looking to fill a blank spot on your AL-only roster, you could do worse than Cruz, who is finally close to healthy after seeing his numbers suffer due to a back injury incurred early on this season.

    For the Diamondbacks, the attraction here wasn't the minor leaguers received in the trade, but the creation of a lineup spot for the first of their uber-prospects, Conor Jackson. Jackson will split time with Tony Clark at first base, moving Chad Tracy out to right field and Shawn Green to center field. Green is signed to a long-term deal, Luis Gonzalez is a local institution in left field and Carlos Quentin is ready to be called up from Triple-A Tucson any day now, so Tracy could be dealt in the offseason.

Jeff Erickson is the senior editor at Rotowire, and the host of XM Radio's "Fantasy Focus," heard every weekday at noon ET on XM Channel 175. He can be reached here.
Related Content:  Trade,  The Who,  Larry Bigbie,  Phil Nevin,  Impact Trade

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