Alexi Ogando and Al Alburquerque are the relievers du jour in this edition of Value Picks.
It’s not altogether surprising that Rangers closer Joe Nathan needed a blow this weekend. After all, he’s nearly 38 years old and two years removed from Tommy John surgery. Plus, he relies on an arm-taxing swing-and-miss repertoire consisting of a hard fastball, a slider, and a curve.
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Michael looks at the impact of some late-breaking deadline deals and those consummated after the deadline in this week’s column.
Some commentators worried that the additional Wild Card spot would dampen trading deadline deals, but it seemed to have the opposite effect, with lots of swaps affecting teams down the stretch. Only one new Value Pick resulted from these deals, but we should see more in the weeks to come as the ripple effects of some trades become clearer and fading teams call up prospects or make non-waiver deals like one that I look at in Playing Pepper.
Zack Cozart and Ruben Tejada form this week's VP middle infield tandem.
The non-waiver trade deadline came and went, and Chase Headley is still a member of the Padres. That means no path was cleared for Jedd Gyorko(Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 10%) to receive regular playing time in the majors. Gyorko has done plenty to earn a look this year, and I fully expect he'll get that shot, but without guaranteed steady playing time when he reaches the bigs and an uncertain call-up date, he can safely be cut loose in most redraft leagues.
The newly-recalled Mike Carp and the newly-liberated Nate Schierholtz join VP this week.
Departures Carlos Gomez(Yahoo! 28%, ESPN 49%, CBS 22%), along with, interestingly enough, Drew Stubbs, set the pace for the other VP hitters to follow this week. Gomez kept cranking out the production with six runs, a homer, and three steals—all while playing center every day for the Brew Crew. That uptick in playing time is key to his value and makes him rosterable in all leagues, which fantasy baseballers have started to notice.
Pitchers on the mend is the theme of this week's VP.
This week’s Value Picks will have a slightly different feel, with an injury flavor to them; a host of arms are out on rehab assignments, making now the prime time to get them on the cheap. Don’t worry; I sprinkled in some able-bodied arms as well.
Only one closer was traded at yesterday's deadline, but there are still plenty of situation's in flux in this week's VP.
Of the 18 earned runs Orioles closer Jim Johnson has allowed this season, 13 of them have come in the past 16 days. Sprinkled into this hellacious stretch was a five-run clunker on July 16 and a six-run disaster on Friday. It has not been pretty for this Jim-John (yes, Jim-John) owner. So what’s to blame for the slump? Whenever there’s a stark downturn like this, injury is a concern, but I’ve read nothing to this effect. Correction is possible, too; Johnson misses far too few bats to think he was going to sustain a sub-2.00 ERA all season. But the fact that he absorbed all of this correction (and then some) in such a small window is worrisome nonetheless.
With his Value Pick roster all having good weeks, Michael adds another VP while looking at the roster shakeups from last week’s trades and injuries among corner infielders.
The non-waiver trade deadline is almost upon us, and the most predicted corner infield swap doesn’t look like it will come to pass, but there’s been plenty of other action on my Value Picks beat, even if it has erased more VPs than it created. Take last week’s significant hot corner injuries to Alex Rodriguez and Pablo Sandoval, for example. Kung Fu Panda’s replacement will be Marco Scutaro, who’s more valuable as a fantasy middle infielder and who moves to a park that will hurt his production, and VP Eric Chavez actually graduates from the list due to A-Rod’s broken wrist. The trades of Chris Johnson and Ryan Roberts aren’t all that significant either; neither player is a good VP, for reasons you can read about in Playing Pepper. Fear not, however, since the list had a fine week, and there are still other options to help your fantasy team as the final two months of the season begin.
Chris Iannetta, George Kottaras, and Steve Lombardozzi get examined in this week's VP.
My optimistic outlook for Gordon Beckham(Yahoo! 10%, ESPN 13%, CBS 46%) resulted in a 4-for-23 week at the dish with no pop or speed. He's making contact, with a contact rate of better than 90 percent in the last two weeks, but it hasn't been hard contact; he’s posted a paltry 8 percent line drive rate. Stephani Bee discussed Beckham as a change of scenery candidate in Wednesday's Lineup Card. Perhaps that is what it will take to get Beckham right, or perhaps there is no fixing Beckham, but for now, he doesn't need to be rostered in fantasy leagues.
Jordany Valdespin and Carlos Gomez join the VP ranks this week.
With the trade deadline a mere four days away, it certainly is an exciting time in the baseball season. Every year there are a few surprise moves that no one sees coming (Ichiro, anyone?), so it can pay off to make a few longshot bets on players who might benefit from one of those surprises. Maybe in one league you want to add Rex Brothers or Matt Belisle for a few days in case Rafael Betancourt gets shipped out of Colorado. Or maybe Peter Bourjos in case he gets flipped to a place where he’ll receive regular at-bats. If you’ve got the roster space, these are the type of low-risk moves that can payoff big and make you look like a genius.
Carlos Villanueva and Josh Collmenter highlight this week's Value Picks.
This time next week, the trade deadline will have passed and we could have some new roles opened up for guys. This week’s VP includes some speculation that could be wiped away by trades, so stay tuned.
The Astros' in-flux closing situation takes center stage in this week's VP.
With the trade deadline approaching, the Astros prudently got a jump on the market for relievers by flipping both closer Brett Myers and setup man Brandon Lyon in separate deals over the past week. It seemed reasonable that the steady but unspectacular Wilton Lopez(Yahoo! 3%, ESPN 0%, CBS 5%) would take over from there, but he’s been skipped over in favor of Francisco Cordero’s carcass, which was acquired in the Lyon swap. My guess is that the Astros deferred to Cordero not only because he has the vaunted experience but also because Lopez has been nursing a sprained ulnar collateral ligament this season. The logic seems to be why chain a guy to a role when he might need occasional days of rest? That being said, Cordero’s career is basically on life support, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lopez get some save chances by attrition.
Paring his VP list down to five, Michael looks at Arizona’s new third baseman and some overperforming infielders in Playing Pepper.
We try to have at least five players on our VP lists, though at times I’ve had as many as seven. Things are a bit leaner now, so I’m cutting back to five again, but there are plenty of gambles to be found in Playing Pepper for owners more desperate for an immediate fix. If you want to talk about some of these players, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Asian players (all specialties of mine), or really anything fantasy-related, be sure to come to my first BP chat this Thursday at 2 PM EST (11 AM PT).