Carlos Beltran

Breaking Down the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline

Those of us who get excited for trade season are usually left crestfallen as trade deadlines often come and go with little fanfare. 2011 wasn’t too shabby though, I give it a 6 (on a scale that doesn’t really have any meaning, but let’s say it goes to, oh, 10). I’m not going to say the baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline that passed on Sunday was some kind of wild, raucous, landscape-altering affair, but there were definitely some doin’s a’ transpirin’ in the MLB over the last week and there are plenty of implications in both real life and fantasy that deserve our attention. We might not have seen a high volume of superstars trade places, but the proceedings were many and they will have an impact on pennant races and imaginary trophies alike. Let’s take a few minutes and break down the most significant headlines as succinctly as possible:

Colby Rasmus traded to Jays; Edwin Jackson to Cardinals

The White Sox trad Mark Teahen and Edwin Jackson to Toronto for Jason Frasor and Zach Stewart; the Blue Jays send Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Corey Patterson and Marc Rzepczynski to the Cardinals for Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet and P.J. Walters.

I’m a Rasmus fan, I think that kid has all the tools to be an impact player and All-Star calibre contributor on both offense and defense as he enters his prime the next few seasons. After a blistering start to April in which it looked like the 24-year-old center fielder was poised to cash in on all his promise, Rasmus’ OPS has gone dramatically south in each successive month, falling to an unsightly .684 in June and abysmal .544 mark in July. You hate to see him leave a lineup with protection built in like Pujols, Holliday and Berkman, but with the youngster privately and publicly clashing with Tony La Russa over the last two seasons there’s no doubt in my mind a change of scenery was needed. The kid goes into a better hitters park, a more offensive-oriented division, joins a hitting coach that has seriously tapped into the power of his students and should be in line for everyday playing time from here on out. I think this is a big win, and could be the spark Rasmus needed to rouse him from the mid-season doldrums he’s been caught up in.

On the other side, the Cards pick up the talented-but-perpetually-frustrating Edwin Jackson. The stuff is there, and Jackson has shown plenty of “flahses” to inspire confidence in his abilities, but I think we’ve gotten to a point where he can safely be labeled a head case with bad control. I never like relying on that kind of arm. Still, Jackson moves to a decent pitcher’s park and will now study under the immortal Dave Duncan, who could probably still turn Carlos Silva into a decent 4th starter. There’s reason for optimism here, but I’m done relying on Jackson. He’s the kind of guy who will consistently tease you and post peripherals that grab your attention only to break your heart every Friday night.

The mover is potentially bad news for Rajai Davis, Eric Thames, and Travis Snider – all of whom have fantasy relevance and all of whom figure to get squeezed out of playing time in the near future. My money is on Thames being sent back down (he’s younger), Rajai being used as a defensive and base-running replacement (he’s been successful as such) and Snider being given a long look in left as long as he can continue to hit. There were also a number of relief pitchers and unexciting prospects involved in the deal. I don’t really feel like talking about them, but I do think Marc Rzepczynski is a decent young lefty to keep an eye on in Holds leagues – he qualifies at SP in Yahoo! leagues, which is always nice. Deep leaguers might also want to add Jon Jay to the Watch List, but I wouldn’t expect much in the way of roto value; he doesn’t really have much category juice.

The Cleveland Indians Nab Ubaldo Jiminez

The Rockies send Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians for prospects Drew Pomeranz, Alex White,Joe Gardner and 1B Matt McBride.

The Indians flipped a couple of solid pitching prospects for the name-brand Ubaldo, but the move really doesn’t move the needle much for me. I know Jimenez was the odds-on favorite for the NL Cy Young at this point last year, but a quick look at his peripherals even then showed he was playing over his head. Since then we’ve seen him collapse in the second half of 2010 and then perform like a thoroughly mediocre starter in 2011. It’s looking more and more like that first half of 2010 was the outlier in his career, and with Ubaldo losing a few ticks of velocity this season I’m not hopeful for a dramatic turnaround. Most people point to his departure from Coors Field as a reason for optimism, and it is, Coors field is still brutal, but that is largely mitigated by going to the AL in my book. On top of that the Indians field a less capable defense behind Jiminez and their offense isn’t any better than Colorado’s. I think his value pretty much stays the same.

I feel like the Indians paid for the name and not the numbers here, giving up two very solid pitching prospects in the Drew Pomeranz and Alex White. White is a solid groundball pitcher who could plug a rotation spot, while Pomeranz may take some more seasoning but has flashed front-of-the-rotation talent in the minors. They were the consensus top lefty and righty, respectively, in the Indians system. Both figure to take a hit going forward pitching in that thin air of Colorado.

Carlos Beltran Makes a Move to the Bay

The Mets send Carlos Beltran to the Giants for pitching prospect Zach Wheeler.

It’s a major move in real life, but we can still keep this brief: Carlos Beltran moves from a shitty NL hitting environment with an injury-bitten, mediocre offense around him to a shitty NL hitting environment with an injury-bitten, downright-bad offense around him. Zach Wheeler is a major coup for the Mets: he’s a top-50 pitching prospect with good groundball and strikeout numbers who should be great in that park in two years.

The Giants needed to add a big bat, and Beltran is certainly that. He’s proving he has plenty left in the tank with 15 HRs, 67 RBIs, an excellent .904 OPS and a league-leading 30 doubles. The Giants have a fantastic pitching staff and could make noise with that alone in the postseason ,but they still need to score some runs to be serious competitors. Beltran should keep doing what he’s doing and instantly becomes the Giants best offensive player, but there’s not going to be any Jose Reyes to knock in every time he sends a ball to the outfield and teams will be even more inclined to pitch around Carlos. It seems like a minor downgrade to me. Back in the NYC, Lucas Duda figures to see regular playing time in right. I have no sympathy for you if you click that add button.

The Phightin’ Phillies Bag Hunter Pence

The Astros ship Hunter Pence to the Phillies for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and a PTBNL.

I like Hunter Pence, but I can’t help but think the guy is a little overrated. Made the centerpiece of the Astros offense going into the season Pence has been decent, but his 11 HRs and .828 OPS don’t scream “star” to me. That’s what Houston advertised him as though, and in a market that was desperate for offense generated plenty of interest. The Phils gave up a couple of middling prospects and Jarred Cosart, who has the stuff to pitch near the top of a rotation someday, which seems fair to me. I’m just not sure Pence is a huge upgrade over Dominic Brown, who they sent down to make room for Pence in the lineup. That makes Dom Brown and his owners the real losers in this deal. Que sera. Pence has been a bit lucky in the BABIP dept this year, he no longer runs much, his power is just OK and the Philly lineup isn’t anything special these days, so while he should be a solid outfielder for the Phillies I’m not expecting anything dramatic in the second half.

Michael Bourn Leads Off Braves’ Second-Half Push

The Astros send Michael Bourn to the Braves for Jordan Schafer, Brett Oberholtzer, Paul Clemens and Juan Abreu.

After the injury to Brian McCann, who was having a stellar season from behind the plate, Atlanta was desperate to shore up their offense and hold off myriad wild card suitors. Bourn is certainly an upgrade in center over Jordan Schafer defensively and offensively, and he should continue to rack up the stolen bases in bunches that make him a fantasy darling in antiquated 5×5 leagues. It was nice to see Atlanta make a move for an impact bat and not give up any of their elite young arms, of which they have an embarrassment of riches.

The other big piece of news here is that this clears time for fellow speedster Jason Bourgeois in Houston. A slap hitter who has used the whole field so far this season in limited playing time, Bourgeois should be a decent source of AVG and Runs and a tremendous source of Stolen Bases as the season progresses. He’s got a number of 30+ Steals seasons in the minors and has swiped 17 bags in the 25 games he’s started this year. Add everywhere as needed.

Texas Rangers Bolster Bullpen with Uehara and Adams

The Orioles give Koji Uehara to the Rangers for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter; The Padres give up Mike Adams to the Rangers for Joe Wieland and Robbie Erlin.

Let’s just get this put of the way first: this really sucks for everybody who owns shares in Mike Adams this season and beyond. Not only does he get traded instead of Heath Bell and get shafted for the closer’s job in San Diego, Adams also goes from a pitcher’s paradise and a manager who ran a crisp bullpen to a hitter’s haven and a manager who struggles to keep his sock drawer in order. It makes no sense to me from the Friars’ perspective either: Adams is better than Bell, he’s younger than Bell and he’s under team control for a year longer than Bell. Boo-urns.

If I was gambling on either Adams or Uehara against Neftali I’d take either of the former to be closing out games by the end of the month. I don’t know what’s up with him, but with a 4.66 BB/9, 6.28 K/9 (only 6 Ks versus righties all year!) and 4.73 xFIP on the season Neftali is not closer material right now. The problem is, Texas got Adams and Uehara, and I have no idea which one will take over for Feliz if he continues to falter as I expect. In his second season in the MLB Koji Uehara has has posted an otherworldly set of numbers: 1.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 12.00 K/9, 1.50 BB/9. Damn. Still, he’s been a bit lucky with a .192 BABIP and 97.6% LOB and his track record isn’t lengthy with just 99 career appearances. In 271 appearances Mike Adams boasts a 2.11 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 9.29 K/9 – and over the last three years he’s been even better. With both under Rangers’ control for 2012, it’s that experience gap in favor of Adams that leads me to think he should have the inside track for the job if/when Felix falters.

Chris Davis has made a name for himself as a prototypical quad-A player, and I don’t have anything to dispel that notion baseball fan. Maybe the change of scenery helps, maybe it doesn’t. He’s not moving into a better lineup or park, and Texas doesn’t exactly discourage offense. A speculation play on Davis isn’t crazy given his prodigious power and gaudy minor-league totals and the fact that he should get all the playing time he can handle, I made the move in one deep league, but there’s no reason to have much faith in a career turnaround at this point.

Erik Bedard Brings his Curve Back to the AL East

Bedard and Josh Fields traded to the Boston Red Sox for Trayvon Robinson and Chih-Hsien Chiang as part of a three team deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Consider me conflicted on this one. I actually love Bedard’s talent, and I’m glad to see him finally put it together and stay reasonably healthy after so many years of injury woes. I know the guy is a noted curmudgeon, but so am I. We have a kinship. On top of that, he has one of my favorite curveball-changeup combos of the last decade. The guy can make people look downright foolish when he’s on and it’s fun to watch. Health will always be a concern, but when he’s on the mound Bedard can be a difference-maker in fantasy and a pennant race. The hasty analysis is to say that he moves from a pitcher’s haven in Safeco to a pitcher’s nightmare in Fenway, and that’s true, but let’s also note this: Bedard has been just fine on the road this season. In fact, he’s been significantly better than he’s been at home: 3 Wins, 2.16 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .203 BAA and 41 Ks in 41.2 innings on the road against 1 Win, 4.53 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, .245 BAA and 46 Ks in 49.2 innings at home. Still, Safeco has been the 4th hardest place to score runs this year and Fenway has been the 3rd easiest. So yeah, you’re going to be benching Bedard a few more times against tough offenses at home. But Bedard also goes from the worst run support in the league to the best. The Red Sox have score 140 more runs than the Mariners this year, and that should easily translate into a couple more Ws down the stretch. All is not lost, Bedard owners.

Trayvon Robinson is the big get in Seattle side of the trade. He’s a “toolsy” outfielder who brings some speed and mediocre plate-discipline and on-base skills, but doesn’t register on the fantasy radar just yet.

The Surprising-but-Stumbling Pirates Bring in Ryan Ludwick

The Pirates acquired Ryan Ludwick from the Pads for a player to the named later and/or cash considerations.

If you’re rapidly scrolling to this point in the article to get the spin on the Ludwick trade then you are a sad gremlin of a being and I can’t help you. Sure, getting out of Petco is huge. That place is like some kind of Hellmouth for offensive production, all goodness is sucked and never heard from again. Just ask Anthony Rizzo. Still, Ludwick is 33, it’s been 2 years since he was reasonably productive, and PNC and Petco have surprisingly similar Park Effects for righties. I think there should be some more RBI opportunities in an improved lineup, but Ludwick pretty much stays the uninspiring deep-league-only option he’s been since 2009.

Breaking Down the 2011 MLB Trade Deadline
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