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Mike Minor Will Turn It Around Tonight

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Mike Minor Will Turn It Around Tonight

Posted on 26 May 2013 by Trish Vignola

The Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets were left in suspended animation last night, but does anyone care? The Atlanta Braves, currently in first, have won six consecutive games. On the flip side, the New York Mets, currently in fourth (thanks to the Marlins being slightly worse), have lost six straight at home.

MikeMinor

Nonetheless, the teams had to wait until today before seeing if both streaks would continue. They are set to complete a suspended game before meeting in the regularly scheduled one about an hour later this Saturday night. Friday’s game is tied 5-5 heading to the top of the ninth, with the Mets actually rallying to tie in the eighth in the midst of a downpour. They drew within one on a Daniel Murphy single and scoring again on a wild pitch.

“It was tough to see. As tough as it was to see, I’m sure it was tough to get a grip on the ball and footing on the mound,” Murphy said to the Associated Press. “So, equal playing field and we were really glad to tie the score up there, and we’ll come out tomorrow and see if we can win an inning.”

The ninth inning presents an interesting decision for both managers. Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez is considering putting Anthony Varvaro, who blew the save Friday, back on the mound. “I could even run Varvaro back out there,” Gonzalez told. “It’s like going back-to-back days.” Mets manager Terry Collins will also turn to his bullpen, as opposed to giving the ball to scheduled Saturday starter Dillon Gee to pitch in the suspended game.

Might as well give the game to Atlanta now.

“I’m going to start the game with a relief pitcher,” Collins said to the Associated Press.

Uggh.

“Otherwise, if the thing’s over in 10 minutes, the guy’s already warmed up, now he has to sit for an hour. That’s not what I want to happen.”

Once the first game is over, Mike Minor (5-2, 2.78 ERA) will try to put an end to his road struggles against the Mets. I hope, being that I’m starting him for my fantasy baseball team tonight. His outings have been good as of late, so I was more confident in starting him than Barry Zito. Atlanta has won his last three starts, during which the left-hander has gone 2-0 with a 1.83 ERA with 20 strikeouts over 19 2-3 innings.

Minor set a season high with nine strikeouts and surrendered two runs and three hits in six innings of a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday. Minor didn’t get the decision in that game. Ironically, Minor has a 5.63 ERA in seven career starts versus New York.

That’s his worst against any team he’s pitched at least 15 innings against. He’s turned in a pair of solid effort in his last two matchups, allowing three runs in 13 1-3 innings, but those games came at Atlanta. Minor, who went seven innings and gave up three runs in a 7-5 win over the Mets on May 3, has gone 1-1 with an 8.04 ERA in three career starts at Citi Field.

If the Mets though insist on running Ike Davis out there, fantasy owners like myself should be in pretty good shape for a Mike Minor turnaround.

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Pitching Options

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Pitching Options

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Yes, yes, yes, it is that time again! Time to take a look at some fantasy pitching options for the upcoming week. The following pitchers have a great chance of being available in your league and may just be the key to fantasy victory.

edwin

Edwin Jackson, CHC- E-Jax has had a bumpy 2013 with the Cubbies so far, but I have always been a fan of his work. Jackson is not an ace, by any means, but should certainly be a solid fantasy option at the SP slot. Well, E-JAx is 1-6 with an ERA over five on the season, but he really has not pitched that poorly. Really, I’m serious! The K/9 is over eight and the xFIP and SIERA are both under four. The struggle has been with men on base, as Jackson’s LOB% is under 60 right now. Jackson will pitch at Pittsburgh this week, which is no gimme match up for him, but I like the odds of him righting his ship so to speak in this one.

Brandon McCarthy, ARI- After a slow start with the D-Backs, McCarthy is really starting to settle in. In McCarthy’s last two starts he has thrown 17 scoreless innings, 17?! Now those innings were against the Phillies and the lowly Marlins, so let’s not go too overboard with these outings. McCarthy should be much better than his early season numbers, and a solid three or maybe four, fantasy starter. But this week McCarthy has the Padres, so you can expect another ace like outing from him this week.

Tom Koehler, MIA- Do I know a ton about Koehler? No. What I do know is he has rattled off back-to-back decent starts for the Fish. On Saturday, against the D-backs, he hurled six strong innings allowing one earned run on three hits, while walking only two and striking out seven. Do I think Koehler is as good as those numbers indicate? Eh, not really. However, TK has had back-to-back solid starts and he draws the White Sox this week. The ChiSox have struggled producing runs this season and while they have cut down on the Ks, they are still striking out with great aplomb. Now the one drawback is the Marlins are not known for providing run support, so this may not be a great chance at a “W”, but you should get some help with your peripherals.

Travis Wood, CHC- Travis Wood, much like life (according to Madonna), is a mystery. I like Travis Wood, always have, but I am still a bit on the fence believing in his early season numbers. Wood is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA and a WHIP of .92. I can’t imagine Wood can keep these numbers up, and judging by the percent he is owned in most fantasy leagues, I am not alone. Wood is more likely to have an ERA in the high threes. Wood has a LOB% of 80% and a ground ball rate below 40% and is not a strike out pitcher. Some sort of regression should be on its way and I feel like a start against Wood’s former mates in Cincy this week, may be where it begins.

Felix Doubront, BOS- It should be widely known that Doubront is a favorite of mine. I was high on Felix in the preseason. With a solid xFIP and K-rate, Doubront was high on my sleeper list. Now the numbers have not been great for Felix this season, although the xFIP, SIERA and K/9 were not terrible, until a clunker against Texas and a bad relief outing. The biggest issue has been the walks. Doubront has been all over the place, walking almost six batters per nine innings. This is a wild card stream for sure, but you can count on the Ks, especially against the White Sox. The White Sox have struggled to score runs, so while I can’t fully support this stream, I do think there is a 50-50 shot Doubront gets a quality start in the Windy City

Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano, PIT- I am lumping these two Pirate southpaws together. Both are similar this week in streaming. Both pitchers face the Cubs this week, at home. Liriano has looked sharp in his first two starts since returning from the disabled list. Sure they were against the Mets and Brewers who have not been world beaters at the plate, as both are towards the bottom of the league in runs scored in May. Wandy’s last two starts have been just as good, lacking the strikeouts, also against the Mets and Brewers. Now the Cubs have actually started to score a few runs here and there over the last couple of weeks, but nevertheless I would say roll the dice on both Bucs starters this week.

Jason Vargas, LAA- Jason Vargas is far from a flashy fantasy pitching option, to say the least, and the numbers pretty much back this statement up. Vargas is solid however. and I like him this week, because he is matched up against the Royals. The Royals are in the bottom third of the league in most offensively productive categories, so I think you may see one of Vargas’ best starts of 2013.

Scott Kazmir, CLE- There are still plenty of seats available on the Scott Kazmir bandwagon folks. Sure Kaz was roughed up by the Phils in his last outing, but most of his starts have been excellent. Kazmir’s velocity has been good as has K-rate and he has two starts this week. The first one is a no-brainer start for Kazmir as he faces the punchless Mariners, but the second start is against the BoSox and this one is iffy. I would take the first start against the Ms and hold off against the start against Boston.

Andrew Cashner, SD- The K-rate is lower than I would expect from Cash-money thus far, but the ERA has been solid. Cashner’s xFIP, SIERA and strand rate point to bit of an ERA regression, AC heads out to the desert this week to face the D-backs. This match up is tough to gauge for Cashner, but I think, if I had to, I would say roll the dice on this one.

Hector Santiago, CWS- Santiago has been up and down as a starter in 2013. The up? 12.1 innings pitched against the Mets and Twins, allowing one earned run, striking out 14. The down? 3.1 innings pitched against the Angels on Saturday, in which he allowed four earned runs. Ups, downs, what have yous, bottom line is Santiago starts against the Marlins this week and frankly that is really probably all I had to say because the Marlins offense is not even close to good right now.

Justin Grimm, TEX- Seems like “Reaper” has appeared here quite a bit and with good reason, he is not quite worth rostering year round. Plus Grimm is still outpitching his projections, but his ERA and WHIP thus far are about on par with how he is currently pitching. In other words, Grimm’s ERA and WHIP seem accurate thus far. Love him or hate him, Grimm faces the Mariners this week, and while they are not the Marlins, this is more or less a great match up for Grimm.

Bronson Arroyo, CIN- Arroyo has always been a middle of the road, reliable, innings eating pitcher. You will not get a lot of strikeouts, but Bronson also rarely gets completely rocked when he takes the hill. Arroyo has given up more than four earned runs in only one start this season and has only gone less than six innings in one start this season. In the one start Arroyo did not go six innings, he went five. There is never anything spectacular about Arroyo’s numbers, but he does manage a lot of quality starts, Arroyo faces the Cubs this week and for some reason I like this one. Cubs are putting runs on the board, but I like the chance for a QS and a “W”.

Well, that’s all I got this week, good luck, godspeed and happy streaming!

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Welcome to another edition of Field of Streams, your look at some streaming options for the upcoming week in fantasy baseball. Sorry for the short little hiatus, but I am back and better, well at least probably as good as, ever! So here are my fantasy pitching streaming options for the upcoming week in fantasy baseball.

July 22, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie (33) delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium.  Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-US PRESSWIRE

Kyle Kendrick- I will admit, I have never really been much of K-squared fan, but Kyle has certainly been getting things done this season. Kendrick is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.43 and a WHIP of 1.13. Now, having not been a believer in Kendrick in the past, I immediately wanted to see if these stats are legit. Well, while it does not look like the ERA is really that sustainable, but his xFIP this season is 3.65 and his SIERA is 3.95, so he has been pitching decently. Don’t expect many Ks from Kyle as his K/9 is under seven, but he could still get you some quality starts. Kendrick will get two starts this upcoming week, at San Fran and at Arizona. Both teams have been decent at scoring runs, but have wOBAs in the bottom half of the league, so I would go ahead and stream away with Kendrick this week!

Andrew Cashner- I’ve liked “Tango and” Cashner for a good amount of time now. Now aside from his ability to grow just absolutely glorious facial hair, Cashner has not been exactly spectacular thus far in 2013. Cashner is 1-3, with a 4.24 ERA, a 1.37 WHIP and a K/9 under seven. The advanced stats seem to indicate that these numbers or on par with what they should to this point. The stat pundits, as I shall refer to them, however, project better numbers. Nothing eye-popping, but a K/9 over eight, maybe even close to nine, and an ERA between 3.60-3.75. Cashner also has two starts this week and the best news is that first start is against the Marlins. The Marlins, if you don’t know, are pretty much the worst offense in baseball, so that is a must start for Cashner. Cash’s second start is against the Rays, who are 18th in the majors in runs. Rays have had their moments offensively and that could be a play it by ear start for AC, but I say go ahead and stream him this week.

Jhoulys Chacin- Chacin is fresh off the disabled list and before he was put on the shelf with an injury he was cruisin’! Chacin stands 3-0 with a sub-two ERA. Now, the numbers will not be quite as good as they are now, but Chacin’s 3.53 xFIP and 3.77 SIERA do point to him being very serviceable in the fantasy baseball spectrum. Chacin will make his second start after coming back from the disabled list next weekend at St. Louis. Chacin does not strikeout a lot of batters and the Cardinals do not strikeout much anyways. Plus the Cards tend to do pretty well scoring runs, so I am not 100% pushing Chacin this week, but depending on how your stats are looking headed into the weekend, he may be worth a shot. I would say like 60-65% chance Jhoulys has a very good start against the Cards.

Jeremy Guthrie- “Guth” is never gonna be an ace of a staff and will generally be available. Lately Guthrie has been very good at not losing. Going into Saturday, Guthrie is working on 16 straight starts where he has managed to not lose. With a record of 3-0 and a 3.06 ERA, “Guth” has been a delight for Kansas City in 2013. Now that is all good and well, and I am sure you will see Jeremy on here plenty, but his 4.95 FIP and .269 BABIP point to a lot of good luck, and also a big regression, for the veteran. This week Guthrie makes a triumphant return to his old stomping grounds, Camden Yard. This is not a favorable match up for the Royals righty and I would steer clear of him this week.

Jose Quintana- Quintana has looked good for the Pale Hose this season. Quintana’s 3.58 ERA and 1.19 WHIP look sustainable based on his peripherals. Q’s K/9 is over seven for now, but it is more likely to hover around six. With a ground ball rate just under 50%, Jose could be living a bit dangerously from time to time, but looks like he can sustain most of the numbers that appear on his stat line. Quintana has the Halos this week and that sounds like a sort of iffy matchup, but did you know that the Angels strikeout the sixth most in baseball against lefties? Hmm? Yeah, so, there is that. I think you can expect a quality start here, but with the way the White Sox are scoring, or rather not scoring, runs, I would not bet on a “W” for “Q”.

Felix Doubront- Ah yes, Felix’s ERA is over five, but he is 3-1. Also, to be fair, much of the high ERA is due to Felix’s recent outing in Texas, in which he did not make it out of the fourth inning. Now, aside from the fact the umps were squeezing Doubront a bit Friday night in Arlington, Doubront has generally been much better than his numbers would have you believe. Felix has a K/9 of 10.33 which is good for ninth in the majors amongst starters. Doubront is also sporting a FIP under three, so you can see the potential is there. Seems Felix’s biggest problem has been control and getting into too many deep counts, so long outings may not be something you will see a bunch, but he will almost definitely get you the Ks. This week’s match-up against the Twins is just plain super for Felix so I say stream away!

Justin Grimm- “The Reaper” has been the kiss of death for opposing hitters this season. Grimm is 2-1 with a 2.28 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and a K/9 over 9. Now the K rate should drop, and the ERA should rise quite a bit, but based on his peripherals the ERA still be in the mid to high threes at this point. The preseason projections have Justin posting an ERA over five so, it may be a matter of getting in on the good starts while you can. The “Reaper” will start at Milwaukee this week, which is not terrible, but not great. I feel pretty confident in this start for him though, so I will give the go-ahead for a Grimm stream.

Dan Straily- Straily should be readily available since he currently has an ERA over six. So what you should also know is he has a SIERA of 1.88 and an xFIP of 2.17! Wow! Couple that with a whopping BABIP of .370, a K/9 of 13.50 and you can see that the current numbers are due to get better. This week Straily will head to Seattle to face the Mariners, which seems like a very good place to stream him.

John Lackey- Well the return from injury for Lackey was going well, until his, well, next injury. So Lackey’s back from his new injury and hoping to build on those good numbers he has already posted this season. John Farrell and or Juan Nieves may just be some sort of pitcher whisperers, cause the Sox starting rotation has been quite good. Lackey has an ERA, SIERA, FIP, and xFIP under three and a 10.45 K/9. Those numbers are off the charts for Lacker and probably not so sustainable, but his start this week against Minnesota, so I think they will be sustainable enough for this start.

So there are some viable streaming options for you for the upcoming week. Have fun streaming, be safe and keep on truckin’!

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The Next Knuckler Reports To Camp

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The Next Knuckler Reports To Camp

Posted on 24 February 2013 by Trish Vignola

Josh Booty may have won the MLB Network’s “The Next Knuckler,” but his work has just begun.

JoshBooty

Booty showed up to camp on Thursday and worked a bit in the bullpen with former Major League knuckler and current Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster Tom Candiotti. “He’s got the best fastball of any knuckleballer I’ve ever seen,” Candiotti told MLB. “He can flat out throw it.” He threw 88-89 mph during the bullpen session with his fastball.

Are you asking yourself, what’s “The Next Kunckler”? With the Knuckleball quickly becoming an extinct pitch, the MLB Network aired a reality show about the search for the pitch’s heir apparent. Think “American Idol”…but with Kevin Millar.

“With the knuckleball, he can throw it,” Candiotti said. “He’s got the ability to be able to take the spin off the ball. It’s a constant battle for him right now with his mechanics right now, being able to repeat his delivery, because he drifts a little bit.” “In my mind, I’m taking it serious,” Booty said to MLB. “I don’t want to come in here and goof off.”

The Diamondbacks agreed to have Booty in camp and will allow him to at least throw one inning during a Major League game. Past that, he will need to earn anything else he gets. It is possible if he impresses enough that he could wind up getting a spot in the Minor Leagues.

Convinced I am the only one that watched this show, is anyone shocked that the team in question is the Arizona Diamondbacks? Has Kirk Gibson gone Hollywood?

To be fair, Josh Booty has a history on the diamond. He was actually drafted fourth overall out of high school as a shortstop by the Marlins in the 1994 First-Year Player Draft. The Marlins inked him to a then-record $1.6 million signing bonus with the stipulation that he not play football.

“I cried the night that I signed the contract,” Booty said to MLB about having to give up football.

Booty spent 1994-98 in the Marlins system, where he hit .198. He got 30 plate appearances in the big leagues from 1996-98 and hit .269. In 1999, he left baseball and went to Louisiana State University, where he played quarterback for two seasons.

In 2001 he was taken in the sixth round of the NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks and bounced around a few organizations, mainly on the practice squads. Nevertheless, at age 37, he’s hoping for one more shot.

“It’s kind of writing the last chapter,” Booty said to MLB. “I’ve been close a few times. This is like I’m a rookie for the third time. If I was able to get on the field, I mean it’s crazy. I’m just going to have fun with it to be honest with you and get myself in shape so that I have a chance and keep it simple.” Not many players attempt comebacks at his age, but his athletic prowess and ability to throw a knuckleball mean he can’t totally be counted out. After beating out former NCAA Division I quarterbacks John David Booty (his brother), Doug Flutie, Ryan Perrilloux and David Greene, Josh Booty now finds himself back at Spring Training, this time as a non-roster invitee.

“Yeah, I’m 37 years old, but I don’t have any wear and tear on my arm and my shoulder and I never got hurt because in the NFL I was a backup the whole time,” Booty said. “I feel comfortable and my arm is healthy and I think I can get it back to where I was when I was in my 20s.”

When MLB Network pitched the idea of the reality show at a Major League Baseball owners meeting, Diamondbacks team president/CEO Derrick Hall immediately volunteered to be the team that gave the winner a non-roster invitation. It was a chance for national brand awareness for their new look, tougher franchise. (Ask Justin Upton.)

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson (who I did not pin for one who would participate in the trappings of our new realty show culture) threw Booty into a pitching group right away on Friday. He said the organization wants to make sure that he’s able to handle himself on the mound before sticking him in a game.

While the show finished taping three weeks ago, the final episode aired Thursday night. Ever since he knew he won the competition, Booty has been throwing long toss and trying to get his body in better shape. Two weeks ago, he spent a week with former knuckler Charlie Hough in California and last week he was in Florida working with Tim Wakefield, another longtime Major League knuckleball pitcher.

“I know my pitching is a lot better now than it was on that show three or four weeks ago,” Booty said. “I’ve come crazy far in three weeks and if I can get another 10-15 opportunities to throw sides, bullpens, work with [pitching coach Charles Nagy], do some things here with Candiotti … I think the sky would be the limit.”

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hanley ramirez dodgers

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Who’s Hot: Trade deadline edition

Posted on 29 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

For this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, we journey back in time…about a month. The Dodgers-Red Sox mega-deal got me thinking: first, about that whole “let’s move the trade deadline back” media movement I addressed a few weeks ago. The blockbuster trade proves that the trade deadlines are just fine where they are, just like I wrote. Second, I was reminded about the deals made before the July 31st deadline. Which players have given their new teams a boost? Which players have fallen flat? There are some of each. Before we dive in, let’s just acknowledge that any stats from July 31 to now constitute a small sample size and should be regarded as such. At the same time, though, this time of year, those SSS (small sample size) numbers may make the difference between October baseball and October tee times.

Who’s Hot

Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers – There must be something about guys named Ramirez being traded to LA. This year, it’s the enigmatic HanRam, a frequent loafer while with the Marlins. Since joining the Dodgers, Ramirez has been worth 0.7 WAR in just 32 games (thru Tuesday), whereas he was worth 0.5 WAR in 93 games with Miami. Fantasy owners may never again see the days where Ramirez hits over .300 or steals 20+ bases, but they have to be much happier with his stats in LA than the end of his tenure in South Florida. With Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier batting around him and the allure of a pennant race, Ramirez should be a top performer for the Dodgers and fantasy owners.

Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves – There are low-profile acquisitions every season, whether by trade, free agency or minor league recall, that give teams an unexpectedly pleasant shot in the arm. Maholm has been guy for the Braves. In his 8th season, finally in a pennant race, he is enjoying his finest season. Since being traded to Atlanta, Maholm has responded by averaging over 7 innings per start and spinning a 0.98 WHIP. His H/9 and K/9 ratios are career bests as well. Atlanta has struggled with injuries to its rotation all season, but Maholm and Kris Medlen are helping to steady the ship.

Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants – Here is another example of an under-the-radar trade that has paid big dividends for the buyers. Scutaro was scuffling through a hum-drum season in Colorado before Christmas came early in the form of a trade to San Francisco. After putting together a .271/.324/.361 line for the Rockies, a revitalized Scutaro has posted a much more respectable .331/.359/.430 line. As a Scutaro owner, I had been considering dropping him altogether, even though he was playing half his games at Coors Field. Now that he is playing every day for the Giants (and hitting well), he is a decent middle-infield option for NL-only leagues and deep mixed leagues.

Lukewarm

Francisco Liriano, Chicago White Sox – With the exception of one clunker of a start against Oakland on August 11, the former Twin has pitched pretty well for the Pale Hosers. While with Minnesota, Liriano compiled a 77 ERA+ in 22 games. Since being dealt to Chicago, he has pitched to an ERA+ of 102, or just a tad above average. Accordingly, his ownership percentage in roto leagues has increased since the trade. He was forced to leave last Monday’s start against the Orioles due to leg cramps, so he should be fine for his next start.

Shane Victorino, Los Angeles Dodgers – The Flyin’ Hawaiian was already having a down season with the Phillies, and he hasn’t taken off since arriving in L.A. His batting average and OPS numbers would be the worst of his career if the season ended today, while his WAR numbers would be the worst since becoming an everyday player for Philadelphia in 2006. He is capable of a hot streak in the season’s final month, and he continues to be an excellent source of steals. With Ramirez, Kemp, Gonzalez and Either to drive him in, all Victorino needs to do is get back to career-average numbers and he will return to elite status.

Wandy Rodriguez/Travis Snider/Gaby Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates – After the Derrek Lee/Ryan Ludwick trades failed to boost the Pirates to the postseason in 2011, Pirates GM Neal Huntington went in the opposite direction this year, trading for players whom the Pirates will control beyond 2012. The three players acquired in July all fall into the lukewarm category:

 Snider – The most intriguing player of the three, Snider has taken the opportunity and run with it. His improved plate discipline (lower strikeout rate, higher walk rate) has led to better pitches to hit, especially with men on base (1.117 OPS). Clearly, he is enjoying batting ahead of Andrew McCutchen in the Buccos’ lineup. The power isn’t showing up yet, but he is still just 24. Count me as a Snider fan. He is most definitely worth a roster spot in NL-only roto leagues and even as a matchup play against lefties.
 Rodriguez – I list Wandy here in the lukewarm category after watching him deal six shutout innings in a critical game Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. That had to be more like what Pittsburgh had in mind when they dealt three prospects for the former Astros southpaw. Prior to that start, Rodriguez hurled career-worst numbers in H/9, BB/9 and K/9. I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve already dropped him from your fantasy team (if you even had him in the first place). Keep an eye on him for the next start or two, though, and see if he can build on his gem against the Cards.
 Sanchez – He fell out of favor very quickly in Miami, despite hitting 19 home runs each of the past two seasons. Sanchez has been a part-time player in Pittsburgh. While he hasn’t exactly proven the Marlins wrong yet, he has improved, raising his batting line from an embarrassing .202/.250/.306 to merely a below average .250/.291/.365, which is no worse than the Pirates were getting from the now-departed Casey McGehee. Either way, Sanchez has no business being on your fantasy roster unless you’re in the deepest of fantasy leagues.

Who’s Not

Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Angels – Greinke might be the biggest bust of the entire trade season. The Angels were expecting the ace worthy of a 2.4 WAR with the Brewers; instead, Greinke has depreciated in every critical pitching category. A -0.1 WAR was definitely not what the Angels had in mind. He isn’t just on a run of bad luck; his pitches are getting hammered for major damage. The worst thing for fantasy players is that benching or cutting Greinke is not really an option. He is capable of an 8-inning, 1 ER, 10K gem at any point. Like the Angels, you’re stuck waiting for it to happen.

Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants – Someone show Pence the way to San Francisco. The always-entertaining outfielder energized the Phillies lineup in 2011 with an OPS+ of 157 after being acquired from Houston, but it hasn’t happened for the Giants. Pence is slugging a puny .324 and whiffed in nearly one-third of his at-bats since the trade. To me, Pence has always been a bit overrated by most fantasy owners (similar to Nick Markakis in the American League); as such, he probably cost a either a mid-to-high draft pick or auction price tag. If you own Pence, you probably can’t just dump Pence unless you’re in a ridiculously shallow league. If that’s the case, you need to find a more challenging league.

Ryan Dempster/Geovany Soto, Texas Rangers – The Rangers swooped in at the last minute and poached Dempster from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but you have to wonder if they would like a do-over. Dempster has not adjusted well to the junior circuit (83 ERA+, 1.47 WHIP). His struggles are less surprising considering that he had crafted a career-best ERA+ and WHIP at age 35, but the Rangers had to be expecting better. He’s not undroppable like Greinke, but he should be a matchup play in head-to-head leagues. Keep him active if you’re desperate for wins in a roto league, but only if you can stand the hit in the other pitching categories. Soto replaced Mike Napoli, but has not done much better than Yorvit Torrealba, who was cut loose to make room for Soto. He looks like a shell of the player who won the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year award.

As we jump back to the present, this is what we see: Ramirez has worked out well for the Dodgers, but the other high-profile acquisitions have not made the desired impact for their new teams. It’s the lower-profile deals that have worked out best: Maholm, Scutaro, even Edward Mujica has been a demonstrable upgrade to the Cardinals bullpen. Meanwhile, the Angels have lost ground in the playoff hunt since Greinke joined the team (not that it’s solely his fault by any stretch; he’s had plenty of help). The Giants are in first place, but Scutaro has been a bigger contributor to their recent success than Pence. Nate Schierholtz has been as productive (read: not very) as Pence, and the Giants wouldn’t have had to surrender any talent. Dempster was 98% on his way to Atlanta; how different would the Braves rotation look if Dempster ended up there and pitched the same way he has in Texas? What would the Rangers have done to upgrade their rotation?

This isn’t to say that making deals at the trade deadline doesn’t work. Just last year, the St. Louis Cardinals made a huge trade – sacrificing a talented young center fielder – which fortified the starting rotation and bullpen and led to an exhilarating World Series championship. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants picked up Cody Ross as a spare part and he helped lead them to their first title in 56 years. Making a trade – especially a blockbuster – is a calculated roll of the dice. We won’t know the true impact of the trades until after the season at the earliest. These are just first impressions of the deals made a month ago. The storylines are still being written.

Hit me with any feedback (well, unless you’re a Red Sox fan). Follow me on Twitter @chriscaylor.

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