Original Article: Baseball Reflections
Major League Baseball has seen 18 trades go down in the past week. While the contenders struggled to find the final missing piece, the cellar dwellers took on prospects with an eye towards the future.
So what does this have to do with fantasy baseball? Well, I’m glad you asked.
Did you know that Cliff Lee has a career 3.05 ERA against the National League? I’ll bet you didn’t.
Did you know that Jim Johnson is now the favorite to pick up the save opportunities in Baltimore with George Sherrill in Los Angeles? Maybe you did, but this proves the importance of every deal.
Even players who aren’t traded can be effected by a trade, so it’s important that we cover every inch of every relevant trade in the past week, starting with Victor Martinez…
Indians trade C/1B Victor Martinez to Red Sox for RHP Justin Masterson, minor league LHP Nick Hagadone and RHP Bryan Price
Victor Martinez is a 30-year-old catcher in the prime of his career; a .296 career hitter who has 20+ HR potential every year. This year is no different, and now he’s batting No. 3 for the Boston Red Sox.
Martinez’s first two games with the Red Sox have gone well to say the least, as he’s 6-for-11 with two runs scored and five RBI. What’s even more encouraging is that he started at catcher in one of the games, meaning he should get enough playing time there to keep his catcher eligibility into the 2010 season.
Here’s another encouraging tidbit for Martinez owners: In 76 career at-bats at Fenway Park, he’s batting .356 with four dingers and 23 RBI.
Kelly Shoppach is likely to receive the most playing time behind the plate in Cleveland, and is a cheap source of power in deep leagues. In just 352 at-bats last season, Shoppach blasted 21 HR and hit. 261. An unusually low BABIP explains his current .207 average, so expect that to rise with regular playing time.
Justin Masterson will soon join the Indians rotation, and has the upside of a No. 3 starter. He’s a sinkerball specialist, (career GB% of 52.2) who can pile up a decent amount of strikeouts.
In 163 1/3 career Major League innings as a starter and reliever, Masterson has tallied a 3.69 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in addition to a 7.66 K/9. At 24 years of age, he’s should definitely be worth owning.
This deal is a rare win-win for both sides, in reality and fantasy.
Victor Martinez’s fantasy value: Up
Kelly Shoppach’s fantasy value: Up
Justin Masterson’s fantasy value: Up
Indians trade 1B Ryan Garko to Giants for minor league LHP Scott Barnes
Garko is a good, but not great power hitter. He makes solid contact, but doesn’t walk a whole lot. He is in his prime, however, at age 28, and will bat fifth or sixth for the run hungry Giants.
Garko’s new home, AT&T Park, will work against him. In limited interleague action against the N.L., Garko has hit .212 with four jacks in 141 at-bats.
Early indications are not good. Through four games with the Giants, the former Stanford Cardinal has managed just one hit in 12 at-bats. If there’s a silver lining here, it’s that Garko will play everyday and should have many RBI chances for a team that figures to be in the Wild Card hunt for the next two months.
Baseball America rated Scott Barnes as the ninth best prospect in the San Francisco organization before the season started. He’s a 21-year-old southpaw with a chance to become a No. 3 starter somewhere down the line. For now, he has no fantasy relevance.
Ryan Garko’s fantasy value: Down
Pirates trade RHP Ian Snell and SS Jack Wilson to Mariners for IF Ronny Cedeno and minor leaguers C/1B Jeff Clement, RHP Ben Pribanic, RHP Brett Lorin and RHP Nathan Adcock
Many people, myself included, thought 2009 would be a bounce back season for Ian Snell. After a 3.76 ERA in 208 innings in 2007, Snell struggled in 2008, a victim of a .358 BABIP and an unusually high 4.87 BB/9.
2009 hasn’t been much different for Snell, who owns a 5.36 ERA and a 4.91 BB/9 through 80 innings with the Pirates. Maybe a change of scenery will be good for him, as Safeco is a good pitchers park. Still, it’s beginning to look like 2007 was a fluke season caught in between a few terrible ones for Snell.
Jack Wilson’s greatest asset is his defense, which unfortunately for him, is irrelevant to us. He’s a decent hitter with very little power or speed, making him useful only in the deepest fantasy leagues.
Jeff Clement was once a top catching prospect, but knee injuries and his inability to hit left handed pitching has derailed his progression. Though he’s still young, he fits better with an A.L. team. Despite this, he probably has a better chance of playing time in Pittsburgh as Ryan Doumit’s backup, though he can play 1B as well. Deep leagues should be keeping an eye on him.
Ian Snell’s fantasy value: Down
Jack Wilson’s fantasy value: Irrelevant
Indians trade LHP Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco to Phillies for minor league RHP Jason Knapp, RHP Carlos Carrasco, SS Jason Donald and C Lou Marson
As I mentioned before, Cliff Lee boasts a career 3.05 ERA against the National League. Based on this, you’d probably think I’m suggesting Lee’s value spikes with his recent trade to Philadelphia. Instead, I believe Lee’s value takes a hit, and here’s why:
If you haven’t figured it out yet, Lee is not the Cy-Young award winning pitcher he tricked you into believing he was last season. His walk rate remains low, (1.96 BB/9) but his WHIP is up to 1.27 (compared to 1.11 in 2008) this season, thanks to a .271 batting average against.
A quick peak at Lee’s career home/road splits tell us he’s been slightly better pitching at home (3.80 ERA) opposed to on the road (4.17 ERA). Now that Lee pitches in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball, his home field advantage will likely vanish.
Now before you bring up his complete game win against the Giants on Friday, let me point out that this game was played in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park, and only four teams have scored less runs than the Giants this season. Don’t expect many more outings like this from Lee.
None of the four prospects being sent to Cleveland in this deal will have an immediate fantasy impact.
Carlos Carrasco has No. 2 starter potential, but has struggled this year in Triple-A. Jason Donald is a utility infielder with a decent bat, but isn’t likely to stick as an everyday starter. Lou Marson has an impressive bat for a catcher, but lacks power, limiting his fantasy value.
Jason Knapp is only 18, but has a power arm, with a mid-to-upper 90’s fastball and the stuff to potentially become a big league closer down the road.
Cliff Lee’s fantasy value: Down
Pirates trade 2B Freddy Sanchez to Giants for minor league RHP Tim Alderson
Freddy Sanchez’s value improves with the trade to San Francisco. Once he returns from a nagging knee injury, he’s likely to bat in front of Kung Fu Panda and Bengie Molina, which should increase his run total.
Fortunately for Sanchez, he gets to stay in the National League, so there’s no reason to believe he can’t continue to be a .300 hitter. If he can get healthy, he should be a solid contributor at 2B down the stretch.
Tim Alderson stands 6’7” at 20 years old. He features an 88-92 MPH fastball and a hard curve ball with advanced command. He has the potential to develop into a frontline starter for the Pirates, and is a guy keeper/dynasty leaguers should keep an eye on.
Freddy Sanchez’s fantasy value: Up
Orioles trade LHP George Sherrill to Dodgers for minor league 3B Josh Bell and RHP Steve Johnson
Unfortunately for George Sherrill owners, this trade completely eliminates his fantasy value, unless your league counts holds. He will serve as the primary setup man in Los Angeles for Jonathan Broxton.
Sherrill’s departure in Baltimore opens up the door for Jim Johnson to receive the save opportunities. Johnson doesn’t posses the usual dominant stuff of a closer, but for the short term, he’s worth owning. In 122 career Major League innings, Johnson has three saves, 33 holds and owns a respectable 3.25 ERA.
For the long term, former Orioles closer Chris Ray and the recently promoted Kam Mickolio should get a look.
After saving 33 games and posting a 2.73 ERA in 2006, Ray suffered a season-ending injury in 2007 that he has yet to fully recover from.
Mickolio is an intimidating presence on the mound, standing 6’9” and throws a fastball that reaches 97 MPH. He’s still got some delivery issues to work out, but is a name worth remembering.
George Sherrill’s fantasy value: Down
Jim Johnson’s fantasy value: Up
Mariners trade LHP Jarrod Washburn to Tigers for LHP Luke French and minor league LHP Mauricio Robles
Jarrod Washburn has been pitching out of his mind this season. In 133 innings for the Mariners, Washburn has posted a 2.64 ERA and an incredible 1.07 WHIP. Compared to his career totals of 4.02 and 1.29, it’s safe to say Washburn is having a career year.
A closer look at the stats say Washburn’s 2009 thus far is due to a great deal of luck. His FIP stands at 3.76, which alone is pretty good, but considering it’s a full run higher than his actual ERA, there’s cause for concern. His unusually low .249 BABIP also suggests Washburn has exhausted his dose of lucky charms.
When you’re 34, and you’re having the kind of season like Washburn is, any kind of change is not good. Consider his career splits at Comerica Park: 49 IP, 5.33 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and .262 BAA; not an encouraging sign.
I don’t need a magic eight ball to figure this one out, Washburn’s value is sure to take a hit with this trade.
Jarrod Washburn’s fantasy value: Down
Athletics trade SS Orlando Cabrera to the Twins for minor league SS Tyler Ladendorf
Orlando Cabrera has always been a solid fantasy contributor at SS. He’s hit .280 or better in three straight years, and looks to do it again this season. During those three years, he’s scored at least 90 runs and has averaged 22 steals per season. His power is limited, but he’s a decent option in deep leagues and he won’t hurt you in any category.
Also, for what it’s worth, Cabrera is a .330 hitter at the Metrodome in 91 career at-bats there. He will likely bat near the top of the lineup in front of Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
Orlando Cabrera’s fantasy value: Up
Padres trade RHP Jake Peavy to the White Sox for LHP Clayton Richard, LHP Aaron Poreda and minor league RHP Dexter Carter and RHP Adam Russell
Jake Peavy has been sidelined with an ankle injury since early June, but that didn’t stop Kenny Williams from swinging a deal for the Padres’ ace at the deadline. Both Peavy and the White Sox are hopeful of a late August return, which means the 28-year-old may be fantasy relevant down the stretch.
While everything about Peavy screams stud, this trade is likely to hurt his fantasy value. Leaving the biggest park in the N.L. for the hitter-friendly US Cellular Field doesn’t bode well for Peavy.
Because of his injury, it’s hard to predict what he’ll do in September. Over the course of an entire season with the White Sox, I would expect Peavy to post an ERA around 3.50, up from his 2.54 and 2.85 totals from 2007 and 2008, respectively. While he may be prone to the long ball in a smaller park, he should continue to rack up 200+ strikeouts annually.
Aaron Poreda is the big catch for San Diego in this deal, though I’m not particularly fond of the 22-year-old. Poreda’s fastball/slider combo is very good, but he will struggle as a starter in the bigs unless he develops his secondary pitches. He’s got plenty of room (and time) to grow, and should join the Padres rotation soon.
Clayton Richard has pitched well recently despite his overall struggles this season. Petco Park will undoubtedly aid Richard’s career HR/FB ratio of 11.0%. In deep leagues pitching can be extremely tough to find, and anyone who pitches in San Diego is worth a spot start look from time to time.
Jake Peavy’s fantasy value: Down
Aaron Poreda’s fantasy value: Up
Clayton Richard’s fantasy value: Up
What do you guys think? How will these recent trades effect the aforementioned players' value, and are there are fantasy relevant trades that I missed?
Nick Kappel is a fantasy baseball writer for BaseballReflections.com and BleacherReport.com. Starting in the fall, his work can also be found on FanHuddle.com.