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Transaction Analysis: Bell, Young, Pennington

Back in my day, it was considered rude to make major deals during the playoffs, distracting from the main event and all. Luckily this three-team deal didn't offend me so much as feed my need for constant baseball information. I mean, it sure beats speculating on the Marlins' next soon-to-be-fired manager.

Those Marlins sent away the underperforming and outspoken Heath Bell, mostly for the chance not to pay him quite as much. Arizona got him and sent away their own underachiever, the mercurial Chris Young, who went to Oakland. The A's also sent the D-Backs Cliff Pennington, so the two teams basically swapped shortstops going into next season.

Heath Bell

If you've got Bell in a keeper league, it's time to drop him, because he doesn't project to be fantasy relevant to begin 2013. Arizona manager Bob Melvin has already told Bell that he'll be setting up behind J.J. Putz. Look for David Hernandez to hold down the eighth and pick up most of those vulture-saves. If Bell manages a comeback he or one of his new 'pen mates might be trade bait, but that's a thought for another article. Steve Cishek gets a small boost in presumptive value: unless the Marlins spend on an outside closer again, he should have an inside track keeping the closing job with Bell out of the fold. 

Cliff Pennington

Pennington might just have benefited the most by this trade. In Oakland, he'd lost his job to former D-Back and former intriguing fantasy pick, Stephen Drew. In Arizona, his job competition will be Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald. And sure, Pennington put up a putrid .215/.278/.311 triple-slash line last year, but his career numbers are a lot better than that--.249/.313/.356, so still pretty bad. He once stole a few bases, though (29 in 2010) and he'll have a positive park factor in his favor for the first time in his career. While the Oakland Coliseum depressed runs to the tune of a .888 factor (22nd highest), his new arena increased them at a 1.171 rate, the sixth-highest in baseball. He could be a decent low-risk, mild upside shortstop pick next year, which is a lot more than I could have said before this trade.

Chris Young

Young presents more of a quandary than Bell or Pennington. Bell can be dropped off your fantasy board, unless your league consists solely of Diamondbacks relievers. Pennington can be added back onto it, albeit pretty far down. But Young...what to do with him?

He's a tough player to evaluate, presenting as he always does, both risk and opportunity. Good Chris Young hits over 20 homers, steals over 20 bases, and goes to All-Star Games. Bad Chris Young hits just .239 for his career, sometimes drops near the Mendoza Line, can't take a walk, and never puts up the same season two years in a row. He certainly struggled last year, but that might be attributed to injuries. Or might not.

Will his change of scenery be good or bad? I can't quite say. Arizona seemed like they've given up on him, so getting out is probably good, but going into Oakland isn't exactly good news for a hitter, what with that .888 park factor (.859 for homers). The outfield situation there is crowded too, with Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes contributing a lot from the corners (while on the field), and Coco Crisp playing well in center. The A's are paying Young quite a bit, though, and probably didn't to it so he could ride the pine full time, though GM Billy Beane seems to think that having too many outfielders is a good problem to have. It's entirely possible that Oakland decides to get all Earl Weaver on us and play mix and match, giving significant but reduced playing time to all four outfielders, plus DH Seth Smith. That route might be good for the A's but will hurt the fantasy value of all players involved.

Young is a talented player--I mean, he must be, right?--but the situation is pretty murky for now. I don't like the change of park, but I do like Young's odds of being rejuvenated by a change of scenery--who likes playing for a team that obviously wants to get rid of you? The bottom line is that it's hard to tell how much playing time he might get; unless Coco Crisp gets traded we might not know how the playing time will be distributed until Spring Training, or maybe until the season starts. For now, don't count on Young, but don't count him out either.


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