Trade Deadline Frenzy
With the major league trading deadline less than three weeks away, the prudent fantasy owner will pay closer attention to rumours and news than normal. After all, moves made in the real world can have a huge impact on your team’s fortunes. With this in mind, let’s look at some moves already made and those that may still be coming.
Although he struggled with his control, owners had to be pretty happy with C.C. Sabathia’s first effort as a Brewer. He’s scheduled to pitch on regular rest the next five times through the rotation before he gets an extra day of rest. It blows me away how quickly the big man put an awful start to the season in the rear view mirror, getting progressively sharper as the season has gone along. And even though Miller Park is slightly less of a pitcher’s park than Progressive Field, leaving Cleveland shouldn’t alter that trend at all, as Sabathia has been a slightly better pitcher away from home over the last three seasons, plus now he has the advantage of avoiding the DH.
The Mets are seeking outfield help, and the name most closely associated with them is Seattle’s Raul Ibanez. Arizona is another team that covets Ibanez, who has slumped lately, perhaps with all this trade talk. At the age of 36, he appears to be in decline that last couple of years, but hitting in the middle of a weak Seattle lineup has definitely limited his RBI chances. If he winds up in Shea, he’ll be a solid NL-only pickup, but I don’t expect him to turn around a season marred by inconsistency. However, if Ibanez lands in ‘Zona, I do expect him to pick things up significantly. The Brewers and Dodgers are also possibilities here.
Jason Bay is sure to draw plenty of interest, and his recent hot streak is making him an even hotter commodity. The Mets, Dodgers, possibly the Yankees, definitely the Rays and perhaps even the Angels could all vie for Bay. He slumped somewhat in June, but has picked up the pace somewhat in July, especially lately as mentioned. Improved contact rates have really helped Bay rebound after a down year in 2007. I’m not sure what to expect from Bay in a different park, but consider that 14 of his 19 dingers have come at home, where he’s hit .305 vs. under .270 on the road. But the kicker is that PNC Park is the absolute worst hitter’s park in the game this season.
Xavier Nady is another Buc outfielder sure to draw plenty of interest, but I doubt both he and Bay are dealt. Nady is enjoying a career year, but has been inconsistent lately. He slumped in June thank to a shoulder injury, but started this month on fire. In the past week, however, he’s scuffling again. Finally given a chance to play every day, Nady has proved to be highly productive. The same teams that are after Bay will likely target Nady as Plan B, but consider that he’s hit .340 away from home and .294 at PNC, a trend which suggests that he will definitely benefit from a move.
Another outfielder who will draw interest is Jose Guillen. About as hot as anyone last month, Guillen is slumping right now, so that’s not exactly making teams salivate over him. I expect similar batting averages from him if he moves from Kauffman, but look for a slight spike in power.
An even more interesting outfielder who’s name has been bandied about is Matt Holliday. I really doubt the Mets would have the pieces to make this happen, even if the Rox decide to tank things and offer their stud around. Even in the post-humidor world, Coors remains among the top hitter’s parks in the Show, so almost any move would likely hurt Holliday’s value.
Seattle will part with Erik Bedard, but he’ll have to prove his shoulder is sound first. The Phillies desperately need rotation help, so are sure to move to the top of the line for the Canadian lefty’s services. Believe it or not, CBP is not playing like much more of a hitter’s park this year than Safeco, but Bedard’s homers allowed will surely rise with a move to the Phils. That would likely be offset by a switch of leagues, however. The stumbling block here may be the Phillies’ reluctance to part with Carlos Carrasco, one of the few pitching prospects they currently have in the upper levels of the minors.
Philly will also look at A.J. Burnett, should the Jays opt to move him (which they better do). Burnett was rolling but is back to the drawing board in his last two starts. Wednesday, he had an emergency root canal, but took the mound that night anyways. It wasn’t the wisest of choices, and he continued to get drilled, this time by the Orioles. Burnett has been vastly better on the road, and with Rogers Centre being fairly neutral to pitchers this year, I think he’ll likely benefit from a move. The kicker here is a clause in Burnett’s contract that allows him to opt out after this season.
If Bedard is damaged goods, teams seeking pitching may opt to lure Jarrod Washburn away from the Mariners instead. He’s looked pretty good lately, making him a nice AL-only pickup, so keep your eyes on him. The Yanks could be interested.
The Cubs have to be pleased with the early dividends from their deal to acquire Rich Harden. He tossed 5 1/3 shutout frames Saturday, fanning ten batters. Harden may not maintain that level of success, given that he enjoyed the advantages of pitching in a great pitcher’s park (1.79 ERA at home), and now moves to a hitter’s paradise. That will be offset somewhat by a spike in Ks from moving to the NL, however.
Tim Redding, who has pitched extremely well his last two times out, will draw interest. While he hasn’t been quite as good as last year, he’s been healthy, and that’s always been a stumbling block. Redding struggled in June, but has righted the ship and looks like a fine NL-only pick up right now. Although Nationals Park has played somewhat neutral this year, I expect Redding to get a boost from a move, as he’s been a better road pitcher this year.
Other players who may be on the move soon include: Tony Clark, Brian Fuentes, Adrian Beltre, Paul Lo Duca, Felipe Lopez, Odalis Perez, Adam Dunn, Ken Griffey Jr., Homer Bailey, Roy Oswalt, Mark Loretta, Darin Erstad, Damaso Marte, Jack Wilson, Randy Wolf, Greg Maddux, Brian Roberts, Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millar, Jay Payton, Chad Bradford, Casey Blake, Paul Byrd, David Dellucci, Jamey Carroll, Mark Grudzielanek, David DeJesus, Ron Mahay, Mark Teixeira, Mike Jacobs, Garrett Atkins, Willy Taveras, Scott Podsednik, Yorvit Torrealba, Matt Herges, Omar Vizquel, Rich Aurilia, Ray Durham, Huston Street, Joe Blanton, Justin Duchscherer, Eddie Guardado, Frank Catalanotto, Hank Blalock and Milton Bradley.