As the trading deadline nears, relief pitchers could be on the move.
Think about this. You're the Washington Nationals. After years of ineptitude, you're finally close to turning the corner, but you're not quite there yet. Sure, 2010 has seen some highlights, but you're once again in last place in the NL East, 15.5 games behind the Braves, and now you have to deal with your worst nightmare: Stephen Strasburg missing a start, and maybe more, with a stiff shoulder. You've got a closer who is at the peak of his value, rebuilding from a lousy 2009 thanks to his high saves total and low ERA, but is headed towards a hefty arbitration raise from his current $3.5m salary, even though he's allowing more than a hit per inning. To top it off, you're in a trade market where the prices for the few relievers out there are sky-high.
The Nationals' catching prospect talks about his development and catching some of the top young pitchers in the organization.
The 2010 season has been a speed bump for Derek Norris. The 21-year-old catcher came into the campaign ranked by Kevin Goldstein as the No. 2 prospect in the Nationals organization, but a pair of injuries have contributed to a subpar offensive showing. Norris is hitting just .233/.409/.372 with five home runs at High-A Potomac, after a .286/.413/.513, 23 home-run showing last summer with Low-A Hagerstown. Despite his struggles, the Goddard, Kansas native still projects as an offensive force behind the dish and a big part of the Nats’ future. Norris talked about his development, and his experiences catching Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, and Jordan Zimmermann when Potomac visited Boston for the Futures at Fenway minor-league doubleheader earlier this month.
It's time to look backwards in order to get value going forward.
Weird week here at the relievers outpost of Value Picks. As you can tell from the comments in last week's article, I'd expected that we'd be talking about possible closer changes in Houston and Washington, with Matt Lindstrom and Matt Capps having each blown three saves in four outings. Yet since then, Lindstrom's been perfect in converting three saves, and Capps has converted his chances as well, holding off the wolves at least for this week. Plus, two of the other teams we've been talking about - Toronto and Baltimore - haven't even been able to get far enough in games to have save opportunities. So as far as save-chasing goes this week, it's kind of a lean group, and with that in mind we're looking back at past values which could pay off in the near future.
We're welcoming back two previous Value Picks this week in Alfredo Simon and Fernando Rodney. Simon was one of the more successful value picks of the season, as he went from being a minor-league afterthought in April to converting six of seven save opportunities in May before being injured - a nice treat for savvy fantasy owners who were able to wring easy value out of him. Since he's been gone, the Orioles have been even more of a disaster than they were before, and though Will Ohman's been the nominal closer for over two weeks now, he hasn't notched a single save. Much of that is his fault, but not in the way you think. Yes, he blew the only save opportunity he was presented with (though he allowed just one run while doing so), but since he was forced into the 9th inning, the replacements the Orioles have tried in Ohman's old spot have failed miserably, leading to Ohman getting just one chance to actually close a game.
Mike Petriello graduates two success stories from the Value Picks list and checks out two freely-available talents to help your team.
Smell You Later: What with it being graduation season and all, we're going to start with those departing the Value Picks list. So say goodbye to Alfredo Simon and Jose Contreras, as they've continued to gain notoriety in the fantasy world and can no longer be considered 'hidden gems'. When Simon joined this list on May 6, he'd pitched in just four games and was owned in less than 10% of ESPN leagues. Since then, he's racked up three more saves plus a win in six games. He had one terrible outing in between, accounting for some inflated stats, but it's also the only game of the ten he's entered in which he's allowed an earned run. Simon's now owned in nearly 40% of ESPN leagues, so by this point you've likely already made your decision on him.
The story is much the same for Contreras, who's been picked up in an astounding 46.7% of leagues in the last week alone. He joined the list the same week as Simon, and and at the time was available in over 99% of leagues. Since then, all he's done is rip off five consecutive scoreless outings, allowing just two hits. With Brad Lidge's health still in question, Contreras will get his chances, though you certainly already know that by now.
Another two fistfuls of prospects making noise, at the plate or on the bases, afield or on the mound.
Drew Carpenter, RHP, Phillies (Triple-A Lehigh Valley)
Carpenter pitched seven innings of three-hit ball on Sunday, and that's really nothing new, as it was his ninth quality start in his last 11. He's hardly a stud prospect-wise, and is more of a strike-throwing speed-changer who projects as a potential back-end rotation piece, but the point is that with all of the Roy Halladay speculation getting run up the flag these days revolving around top prospects, don't forget that teams need guys like this too to get a deal done.
Three weeks out, a stab at figuring out who goes in the first round after the Nationals take Stephen Strasburg.
Doing a mock draft nearly three weeks before the real thing is an exercise that combines gathering intelligence with making a lot of dart throws-especially in this draft, where clarity ends after the first pick. Here are reactions from various agents, scouts, scouting directors, and front office officials when I contacted them in reference to this article.