If you're in an NL-only league, these are the players to stay close to.
A couple weeks ago, I looked at a few National League players who could be on the move come July and might be worth stashing in AL-only leagues that allow such moves. Reader Robotey wanted to see the flip side of that—American League players who could be traded to the NL—so I thought I’d oblige that request today.
Kurt Suzuki | Oakland A’s | C
With the promotion of top catching prospect Derek Norris this weekend, it could be the beginning of the end for Suzuki’s tenure in Oakland. Suzuki is still under contract through 2013 with a club option for 2014, but if Norris plays well over the next couple weeks while splitting time behind the plate, he could force the issue. And if the A’s can shed some salary while adding a good piece or two for the future, you can bet they’ll jump on it. While there’s never a guarantee that these kinds of players will be traded across leagues, this is more of a concern with Suzuki than with other players as the Rays are in desperate need of a catcher and are apparently hot on Suzuki. That’s not to say Tampa is his only potential destination, but they may be the most likely.
Suzuki, Thole, Casilla, and Scutaro may prove undervalued in your 2012 fantasy leagues
This week on Value Picks, we look at some names that may have been overlooked because of a recent fall or the fact that they were never highly regarded to begin with. For many of these players, one category provides enough value for them to be worth a look at their respective projected dollar values, despite what their checkered past may show.
The Mets will find out this week if the star outfielder can return any time soon.
Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 5/20)
Carlos Beltran isn't running yet, but this article from Christian Red gives us a picture of his brace and brings us news that he's had a Synvisc injection. The picture is the most telling. It's an Ossur CTi OA brace. (Oddly, it's not a custom brace, though I'm sure it was professionally fitted.) The brace is designed to stabilize the knee, reducing the effects of the arthritic changes inside his knee. Combined with the Synvisc, the doctors are attacking the grinding and the causes of the grinding at the same time. It's not permanent and not corrective, but it gives him a chance to play. It appears that there's a hyperextension strap, though I can't be sure from that picture. Beltran is scheduled to run this week and his response to this is make or break, no pun intended. If his knee holds up, it's expected that Beltran's bat can remain productive. How they'll work him into the lineup remains to be seen. There's almost no chance that he'll be back in center field, but I'll leave it to the sharper knives on how the Mets could adjust. I'll remind everyone that if things go well, Beltran should be moved very quickly back to the Mets' lineup.
Michael Jong examines Marco Scutaro in Boston, the curious catchers of Oakland, and the middle infield in Washington.
With the lack of depth at shortstop, many fantasy players who missed out on the early-round names are filling the position with one-category speedsters like Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar who will not kill you in AVG and runs and will contribute heavily in steals. Lost in this legitimate strategy is Marco Scutaro, a guy who does not have speed to burn but provides better balance in his categories. As of this writing, Scutaro is owned in only 62% of ESPN leagues, despite coming off a career year in which he scored 100 runs, batted .280+, and stole 14 bags. None of those stats are groundbreaking in traditional roto leagues, but they are worthy of a player who should do a bit more than ride the fantasy team pine.
The reasoning against Scutaro lies in the outlier 13.2% BB% which fuelled Scutaro's impressive .379 OBP and got him on base to score those runs. Since he had never walked at that kind of rate before, I imagine many wrote him off as bench fodder for 2010. The truth is that Scutaro only changed one thing in his approach: he stopped swinging at pitches both outside and inside the strike zone, a very repeatable change. Scutaro dropped his swing rate in the zone from the low 60% to 55.2%, allowing him to see more pitches and draw more walks. When he does swing, he has no issues making contact, yielding a consistent, if unimpressive AVG. PECOTA projects the move to Fenway should keep his AVG inflated in the .280 range. Batting with his OBP skills at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup puts him in front of good hitters in Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, ensuring that Scutaro will once again provide decent run totals. Given the consistency of Scutaro's contact and plate discipline, his contributions should be more assured than the performances of younger, upside-laden shortstops.