July 2005

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MLB Trade Rumors: Alfonso Soriano to the Mets?

The latest MLB trade rumor picking up steam is Texas second baseman Alfonso Soriano moving to the Mets for prospects.  Back when Soriano was rumored to be going to Cleveland, we delved into his stats a bit to determine his true value.

Our conclusion was that Soriano has a wealth of fantasy value but much less real-life value.  His below average on-base skills and moderate stolen base success rate aren't overcome by his huge power numbers.  Nonetheless, Soriano is a great player for you to target in a trade at this point in the season.  Moving from Ameriquest to Shea would certainly have a detrimental effect, but not enough to cause concern in fantasy baseball.  As we stated before, try to deal a replaceable closer for a commodity like Soriano. 

Stepping outside the realm of fantasy for a moment, should the Mets make this trade?  The short answer is no.  For a team with a major problem getting the top of its lineup on base, Soriano doesn't help.  His fielding is not spectacular either.  There also remains the question of what talent the Mets would have to surrender.  One could almost see a repeat of the Scott Kazmir scenario here. 

If the Mets are forced to give up their top prospect, outfielder Lastings Milledge, this trade would be a terrible one.  The Mets are just on the fringe of the wild card and can't afford to continue abandoning future stars.  Milledge was excellent in A ball last year, and has just been promoted to AA.  He's only 20 and the world is his oyster.  In a Texas Rangers 2007 outfield, Milledge could be a force to be reckoned with.

And as with Kris Benson, the Mets will feel compelled to sign Soriano to a long-term deal in the offseason to justify their mid-season trade.  Minaya has been wise to go after only the best available players so far, but Soriano would be a misstep.      



Fantasy Baseball Advice: Beckett, Wood, Jenks

July is a busy time for baseball, with new opportunities opening up and teams realizing their role as buyer or seller.  The Roto Authority will help clear up all of the latest MLB trade rumors and manager comments.

Josh Beckett came back last night with a vengeance.  Many comparisons are drawn between Beckett and Kerry Wood, but Wood has been subject of more detrimental injuries involving his shoulder and elbow.  Beckett's main problem is blisters, so continue gambling on him and one day the blister problem will be overcome.  Wood is still an excellent but fragile pitcher, but you're likely to overpay for him in a trade so wait and see his auction price for this spring.      

Edwin Encarnacion is only 22, but the Joe Randa trade has opened up a full-time job for the rookie.  Encarnacion followed up a solid 2004 in AA with an equally impressive performance with Louisville.  He was given 19 part-time at-bats with the Reds earlier this year, a nice example of how not to bring all your 22 year-old prospect.  But the Reds finally seem to have gotten it right, and Encarnacion makes a solid pickup if you have an eye toward 2006.  He could be outhitting Randa in '06 and at the Eric Chavez level in 2007.

Bobby Jenks is the latest name to know in baseball's ever-changing rotation of fringe closers.  Jenks can throw over 100 mph on the radar gun, but is subject to bouts of wildness.  Why is he relevant in fantasy baseball?  Because Ozzie Guillen is crazy enough to use him at closer.  Managers love hard throwers, so Jenks is being thrown into the mix with Cliff Politte and Damaso Marte if Dustin Hermanson's back troubles continue.  Don't ignore the possibility that Hermanson stays healthy but simply stops being effective.  Politte is the man you want from the replacement trio, but Marte has picked up saves in the past and Ozzie Guillen can be unpredictable.  Be mindful of Jenks and Ozzie's whims.

A.J. Burnett's status is still up in the air, but the Red Sox and the White Sox seem to be the most likely destinations.  The implications for Burnett have been discussed in previous posts but keep an eye on Baltimore.  The O's won't be sitting still this July.  Adding Phil Nevin gives his fantasy value a small boost, but the Roto Authority would be surprised to see the deadline pass without the Os adding a pitcher (Kip Wells, Jeff Weaver, or Mark Redman?)


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Fantasy Baseball Advice: Schilling, Ponson, Smoltz

Here is your daily dose of fantasy baseball advice. Today we'll try to cover all the pertinent fantasy baseball topics briefly.  An excellent source for up-to-date fantasy baseball news is Roto World.  For cutting edge insight into that news, park your browser right here at The Roto Authority. 

The latest MLB trade rumor to emerge is Sidney Ponson to the Devil Rays or Padres.  No matter where Ponson may go, don't pick him up.  He's been terrible since the beginning of 2004.  Don't roll the dice on him, even if he pitches in pitcher-friendly Petco.  A Ponson deal involving Phil Nevin would help Nevin's value.  More RBI opportunities, more home runs playing for the O's.  Richard Hidalgo is in the midst of one of his patented hot streaks right now, but he can't go to a better hitting environment than Texas.  Don't play with the fire that is his batting average.

Curt Schilling is already talking about returning to the starting rotation for the Boston Red Sox.  Apparently the Sox have seen the error of their ways.  The move, of course, increases Schilling's value quite a bit.  Considering his pre-season price, expect Schilling's owner to stick with him no matter what his role.  The ripple effect is that the saves opportunities truly will fall to Mike Timlin.  He's a great pickup, but comes with the caveat that the Red Sox have been linked to every reliever in baseball in trade talks.  Eddie Guardado, Billy Wagner, J.C. Romero, or Brian Fuentes could be closing in Boston next Sunday.

Al Leiter is still spent, and his one good start against Boston was clearly a mirage.  Let's hope you weren't delirious enough to pick him up in the first place.

A John Smoltz to the Yankees rumor has surfaced.  As the article says, don't buy into this one.  Smoltz loves Atlanta and has had plenty of opportunities to leave but has chosen to stay.  Besides, Atlanta is in a pennant race and Smoltz is a key to their success.

John Lackey makes a decent pickup at this point.  His ratio may be poor, but he can win games and rack up Ks.

We still have to advise against Chris Young.  Next year he may make a decent 5th starter for you, but he plays in the American League Coors.  Too dangerous for fantasy baseball.

Dustin Hermanson was hit hard last night.  Hermanson is a major candidate for a regression in the second half - his peripheral numbers simply do not support his ERA.  Few strikeouts, plenty of walks, low batting average on balls in play.  These qualities spell out major luck being involved in the 1.50 ERA.  If he strings together a few saves, ship him off for any warm body.  The ramifications of Billy Wagner entering the picture are discussed here

The Arizona Diamondbacks' bullpen situation is a mess.  Don't be the one trying to sort between Tim Worrell, Brian Bruney, Brandon Lyon, Jose Valverde, and maybe Shingo Takatsu.  Just find saves elsewhere.

Dontrelle Willis has strung together three awful starts in a row.  As we've said in this space, he'll be a decent pitcher by year's end but dont trade him away when his value is at a season-low.

         


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MLB Trade Rumors: Wagner, Weaver, Burnett revisited

Billy Wagner to the White Sox?  A.J. Burnett to the Red Sox?  Jeff Weaver to the Orioles?

The trade winds are now gusting fiercely, as we now have 9 days, 5 hours, 38 minutes, and 26 seconds until the deadline as of this writing.  The Roto Authority has the scoop on the latest MLB trade rumors and their fantasy ramifications.

Let's start with Billy Wagner.  The Phillies have been playing well lately, and they just traded Tim Worrell to the Diamondbacks.  Worrell has been no prize this year, but this still weakens the Phillies' pen.  Ugueth Urbina would be a bit shaky as a closer, despite his success in Detroit this year.  So a deal seems unlikely. 

However, White Sox GM Kenny Williams seems determined to make some noise, even if it doesn't really help his club.  His bullpen and starting pitching have been excellent - it's the hitting that's lacking.  If Williams does pry Wagner away from the Phillies, the price will be steep.  Because of that price and regardless of 2005 performance, Dustin Hermanson would become a setup man and Cliff Politte would move a notch down the depth chart.  Ozzie Guillen has shown a willingness to use a closer-by-commitee approach in the past, but a high-profile acquisition like Wagner would negate that.

What's the latest on the A.J. Burnett saga?  Blogger Chad Finn loves the fit for Burnett in Boston.  Various sources make the Red Sox the current front runner for two reasons:  they'll take on the dead weight of Mike Lowell's contract, and they don't require Burnett to sign a contract extension to make the deal.  The fantasy effects of a Burnett trade to the AL East have been discussed previously.

Baltimore's Plan B might be to make a deal for Jeff Weaver from the Dodgers.  The Dodgers may not view Weaver as a necessary part of the team for 2006, and could be willing to ship him off.  Weaver makes $9 million and will be a free agent after the season. 

It's not out of the question that Weaver could be moved to the Angels, another team hunting for some starting pitching for the playoff drive.  Weaver would join his younger brother in the Angels' rotation of the near future.  This wouldn't rival the 1934 49-win combo of Dizzy and Daffy Dean, but it would be formidable. 

As a fantasy baseball owner of Weaver, you simply don't want to see him dealt.  He's pitching in one of the best pitching environments in baseball, and a move to the AL will certainly have a negative effect on his numbers.  Weaver's ERA sits at 4.26 at the moment - moving to a high pressure environment again won't help.  If a deal comes through before the trading deadline, ship Weaver off for something better than average. 



MLB Trade Rumors: Griffey, Zito, Schmidt

Here we are on July 21st, and The Roto Authority is being bombarded by trade rumors.  Talk radio, websites, blogs, those GMs I talk to on a regular basis, my little sister - everyone is throwing out trade rumors.  Let's take a look at a few more of the big names purportedly "on the block."  We've already discussed what could happen to Adam Dunn, A.J. Burnett, and Jim Thome.

One rumor picking up a bit of steam lately is Ken Griffey Jr. to the Yankees.  The Yankees have been making some terrible investments lately (Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, Jason Giambi, Tony Womack) and even dynasties can't buy every player that comes along.  The Yankees have approximately one legitimate prospect, third baseman Eric Duncan.  They are rushing Duncan through the minors as we speak.  Reds GM Dan O'Brien isn't the sharpest tool in the shed, but he'd probably make a Duncan for Griffey deal. 

If he did, Griffey would still be the same major injury risk he's been for the past five years.  As the Reds have learned, constant injuries to expensive star players do serious damage to a team.  If Griffey goes to the Yankees, the only thing that improves is his reputation.  This concept includes fantasy baseball.  In the unlikely event of a trade, talk up Griffey's RBI opportunities in his new All-Star lineup and get something in return before he pulls up with a bad hammy

What about Barry Zito?  Zito is coming off six consecutive excellent starts and has lowered his ERA to 3.55.  Chances are, Barry's best years are behind him and he ends up with an ERA around 4.  The A's have a club option for Zito for 2006.  Oakland GM Billy Beane insists he won't be trading the last of the Big 3 this July.  Even if he does, Zito is a middle-of-the-rotation fantasy starter, the type of guy who used to be great and is descending into the Doug Davis range.  Nothing wrong with that, but don't try to acquire him. 

Jason Schmidt is another intriguing name being bandied about.  Schmidt also has a club option, and he also has a GM who has stated that the pitcher is not available.  Ned Colletti made that comment on July 5th, but I'm not taking it at face value.  Unlike the A's, the Giants are completely out of the playoff hunt.  They have almost no good young players to speak of.  Not sure if Moises Alou qualifies, but Giants fans have been actively soliciting for a slugger to protect Barry Bonds

The problem is that there aren't a lot of great fits for the underachieving Schmidt.  Philadelphia could cough up Ryan Howard.  The trade-hungry AL East teams aren't loaded with young tradeable talent.  The Roto Authority can envision a deal involving Daniel Cabrera for Schmidt if the Burnett deal falls through.  If that deal is consummated, Cabrera is the one you want on your fantasy team.  Trade or not, try to acquire the 24 year old Cabrera now, while his ERA is still at 4.64.  Once the young strikeout artist harnesses his control, he will be an ace. 



Team By Team Sleepers - New York Mets

The Roto Authority would like to start off this New York Mets entry with a non-Met aside. 

Man, Eric Milton is terrible this year.  We're talking worst-signing-of-the-century bad.  Worse than Christian Guzman even.  It's one thing to want Milton on your team for three years.  That's bad idea number one.  But to want to pay him $8 mil a year?  Next time I negotiate something, I want Eric Milton's agent involved.  That guy could negotiate an Eskimo to sign up for three years of ice cube delivery for $25 million.  Either that or Reds GM Dan O'Brien is dumb.

On to that other New York team, the Mets.  At this point, many expected the Mets to be better than two games over .500.  It may be related to how bad their infield is besides David Wright.  Speaking of Wright, if a fellow owner does not appreciate him for some reason, offer the world to pick him up.  If you are out of the race, try a dump trade like Manny Ramirez for Wright.  Wright is only 22 and he's developing more power and stealing more bags.  Plus, Willie Randolph is hitting him 5th now.  If the Mets ever get a few players in front of him who actually get on base, Wright should be able to drive in 110 or more.

Even The Roto Authority did not expect the excellence of Kris Benson.  Benson has shaken off all distractions and put up some nice numbers, justifying his bloated contract slightly.  Benson is 30 now, doesn't strike a ton of guys out, and gives up a decent number of home runs.  He makes a pretty good sell-high candidate.  He may have a few more good years left, but if you can pick up a young guy with upside go for it.

A Mets pitcher to look for for your 2006 or 2007 fantasy team is Yusmeiro Petit.  Provided Petit isn't traded to Tampa Bay in a moment of idiocy, he will be a solid Major League starter for New York.  He's putting up some nice numbers at AA right now and is very polished.  This year he was rated the fourth best pitching prospect by Baseball Prospectus (interestingly, right behind Scott Kazmir).   


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