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October 24, 2011

Resident Fantasy Genius

Fantasy Rumor Mill for 10/24/11

by Derek Carty

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James Shields | Tampa Bay Rays | SP | Under Contract | Shields for Morrison?

Among the possibilities the Marlins are considering is a serious run at James Shields -- and they have some natural matchup on a trade, because they could dangle Logan Morrison as part of any package for the right-hander.

With so many starting pitchers on the roster, it makes a lot of sense for the Rays to trade at least one this offseason, and the Marlins certainly seem to want to rid themselves of Logan Morrison. This trade looks a lot more even than the rumored Morrison-for-Ozzie Guillen move a while back that, predictably, was more smoke than fire.

If Shields is dealt to Florida, he’ll get the benefit of the move to the National League, but he’ll lose both offensive and defensive support. It’s tough to say how the park will affect him because the Marlins will be moving into their new digs in 2012. Sun Life Stadium was most notable for its ability to inflate strikeout totals by roughly nine percent—second-best in baseball and six percentage points better than the Rays’ Tropicana Field. Because much of that was likely due to the atmospheric conditions of Miami, the new Marlins Ballpark could have a similar effect, but it’s far from a sure thing, especially with the retractable roof.

Anywhere would likely be better than Miami for Morrison, since it seems like he’s in a bad situation with the Marlins. It’s impossible to quantify discontent, but at least Morrison wouldn’t have to worry about being sent down to Triple-A (as he was in 2011) if the Rays deal their second-best pitcher for him. Tropicana deflates homers by five percent, but he’ll strike out less and will have better teammates to help with RBI and runs. Morrison would make a lot of sense in the fifth slot in the lineup and would have guys like B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, and Ben Zobrist ahead of him to drive in.

It should be noted that the Rays could instead opt to deal a less talented guy like Jeff Niemann or Wade Davis since Shields is still relatively inexpensive ($7 million option for 2012), but obviously the return wouldn’t be a young potential stud like Morrison.

Either way, it seems there will be a spot in the rotation for Matt Moore come March, so any single trade rumor won’t affect his value; he’ll be starting no matter what, and Alex Cobb will probably be the first guy recalled from Triple-A.
Potential Value Change: Small Loss for James Shields; Gain for Logan Morrison

Hanley Ramirez | Miami Marlins | SS | Under Contract | Position Change?

Guillen is not ruling out a position change for Hanley Ramirez. He'll find a lot in favor in his organization for shifting Ramirez either to third base or the outfield, because of the weight he has added.

Loss of shortstop eligibility would be detrimental to Ramirez’s long-term keeper-league value as, aside from catcher, shortstop is usually the scarcest position in fantasy baseball. A position shift isn’t out of the realm of possibility, but it seems unlikely. The article Olney quotes mentions that a shift would only occur should the Marlins find a player worthy of pushing Ramirez from short, such as Jose Reyes. He’ll likely be out of the Marlins’ budget, though, and after him, the free-agent shortstop market gets very thin. Jimmy Rollins could qualify and Rafael Furcal might be a longer shot, but that’s it, so Ramirez’s shortstop eligibility seems safe for now.
Potential Value Change: Loss for Hanley Ramirez

Juan Pierre | Chicago White Sox | OF | Free Agent | Pierre/Guillen Reunion?

Juan Pierre could return to the Florida Marlins, writes Joe Capozzi. It makes a lot of sense, because Ozzie Guillen holds him in extremely high regard, because of his history with the Marlins and because of the clubhouse questions they had last year.

Pierre played for Guillen in Chicago for the past two seasons, and a reunion in Miami would seem to make a lot of sense. There’s probably no manager in baseball who values Pierre more than Guillen does, and such a signing would see Pierre leading off for the Fish. Guillen is one of the most aggressive managers in baseball in terms of his steal attempts, and that is of vital importance for Pierre since that’s where the vast majority of his fantasy value comes from. Leading off with a green light on the bases? That’s as good as it gets for a guy with his skill set. However, the Marlins do have a similar player (bat-wise) in Emilio Bonifacio, who spent the majority of 2011 leading off. If Pierre is signed, Bonifacio would find himself at the bottom of the lineup—a drastic hit to his value.
Potential Value Change: Gain for Juan Pierre; Huge Loss for Emilio Bonifacio

Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit | Pittsburgh Pirates | C | Free Agents | Options to be Declined

In a pronouncement that comes as no surprise, general manager Neal Huntington said that the Pirates intend to decline club options for Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder after the conclusion of the World Series. The catchers are two of four Pirates who hold club options for the 2012 season.

Though the options may be a moot point, the Pirates have not definitively ruled out having Doumit or Snyder return under some sort of reworked contract.

"We have some level of interest, in a vacuum, of keeping both players," Huntington said, hinting that there would be no scenario in which both return.

"The impact Snyder has had on our staff since he got here is measurable," Huntington said. "That's an important element for us to keep in mind. His impact is measured much more than just in batting average and home runs that he hit. If he gets healthy and is able to come back, those benefits are still tangible."

As for Doumit? "In Ryan's case, he's obviously swung the bat as well as he has since 2008. He has still worked hard defensively."

If Snyder and/or Doumit leave Pittsburgh this winter, they could both become very sneaky sleeper picks in 2012 drafts. Both players derive much of their value from their power—Snyder especially—and Pittsburgh is one of the worst parks in baseball for power hitters. With no more than three inferior parks for home runs, Snyder could receive a serious kick if he doesn’t re-sign with Pittsburgh, regardless of where he ultimately ends up. Between a better park and a supporting cast that is bound to be an improvement on the hapless Buccos, Snyder and Doumit are likely to be undervalued on draft day. Of course, re-signing at a lesser salary is a distinct possibility for Snyder given that the team’s current catcher corps includes Michael McKenry, Jason Jaramillo, Matt Pagnozzi, and Eric Fryer, none of whom are starting quality backstops (though McKenry might get the first chance to start if that’s all the Pirates have to pick from on Opening Day). Doumit seems to be as good as gone, but the risk of Snyder coming back is large enough not to ignore.
Potential Value Change: Huge Gain for Chris Snyder; Gain for Ryan Doumit

Mat Gamel | Milwaukee Brewers | 3B | Under Contract | Starting 1B?

[Brewers GM Doug Melvin on] possible internal options to replace [Prince] Fielder: "I'd prefer not to get into that. We know Mat Gamel is here. I look at guys like Nelson Cruz and David Freese. And Mat Gamel has had as good a year as they did in the minor leagues. He just hasn't had the chance because we haven't given him the chance. Is this the time to give Mat Gamel a chance? That's something we have to seriously consider."

Gamel had an outstanding year at Triple-A (.310 batting average, 15 percent strikeout rate, 28 home runs), and may now be given a chance to start at first base in 2012. That would obviously inflate his value immensely. He’s struggled when he’s gotten cups of coffee in the majors, but he was never really allowed to settle in, and he also struggled initially when he was promoted to Triple-A. He’s far from a sure thing, but Gamel will definitely be someone who could be undervalued on draft day and will certainly be worth a spot in NL-only leagues.
Potential Value Change: Huge Gain for Mat Gamel  

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