Well I hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July on Wednesday. Nothing better than skipping out on work (not that you had to be there, I hope), grilling up some burgers and dogs, enjoying some late night fireworks and, of course, a full day and night of baseball. Plenty of action that started nice and early with the Giants and Nationals and wrapped up late with some Padres and Diamondbacks. Bu the real baseball fireworks came out of Houston when word broke that the Astros finally traded Carlos Lee. No, not to the Dodgers like everyone thought would ultimately happen, but to the Miami Marlins. In exchange, they received third base prospect Matt Dominguez and left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen. Overall, it looks like a deal that works for everyone.
Perhaps it was a bit ironic that it was Marlins incumbent first baseman Gaby Sanchez that hit the game-winner on Wednesday just before receiving word of the trade and of his impending demotion back to Triple-A, but these are the ABC’s of baseball and Lee, despite being 36 years old, is a clear upgrade at the plate to him. He has a career slash line of .286/.339/.489 and while the power has dropped in recent seasons, he still hits with more power and more consistency than Sanchez. There may be a slight concern with the way thing play in the new ballpark, given its cavernous dimensions in comparison to hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park, but given that Lee is such a strong contact hitter, he should still be able to hit for a decent average even if his power gets sapped a bit.
The one thing to watch, if you’re looking for more fireworks, is the relationship with Ozzie Guillen. For those that don’t recall, Lee played for Ozzie when he was with the White Sox and Ozzie was very vocal about his dislike for Lee’s non-aggressive playing style. In fact, when Lee was traded to Milwaukee, Ozzie cited a specific game where Lee failed to take out the Twins second baseman in a take-out slide just after his teammate, catcher Jamie Burke, got plowed over the inning before. We’ve seen Ozzie overeat in “old school” situations like that before, but hopefully, for the sake of fantasy owners looking to get more out of Lee this season, bygones will be bygones and the whole incident is just water under the bridge.
For the Astros, well, they dump Lee for prospects, but don’t save much in cash as they are expected to pick up the majority of Lee’s remaining salary. They do get a formerly touted prospect in Dominguez who seems to have stalled a bit in his development within the Marlins organization. His glove is fantastic, but his hitting hasn’t quite blossomed as they had hoped and with the move of Hanley Ramirez to the hot corner, became somewhat expendable. The Astros will hope he develops into something more, given that he’s only 22 years old, but at worst, they get a fantastic defensive replacement and potential utility guy. Rasmussen was once listed as the Astros 11th best prospect, but he too has failed to really make the jump and could/should end up as a lefty reliever.
What we also see, from a fantasy perspective is that the Astros will now bring up Brett Wallace who had hit well in his early June call-up and was beginning to outgrow the Triple-A scene. You won’t get some crazy production out of him here, but as a full-time starter on a young Astros team, he could end up a great play at the corner infield spot. He’s got some pop in his bat and has improved his plate discipline steadily over the last few seasons. If you’re in need of some depth at the position, he’s probably available on your waiver wire right now.
|Miguel Cabrera, 3B DET||3-3, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB|
I feel like we’ve been missing Miguel Cabrera here this season, no? So much attention went his way during the early spring when all anyone could talk about what the impending errors we were going to witness at third base this year. But that hasn’t really been the case, has it? On top of that, Cabrera continues to make pitchers lives totally miserable with his .323 average with 18 home runs and 68 RBI. He’s also got 25 doubles, 50 runs scored and a 0.68 BB/K. Always a top performer and one of the most highly coveted players in the fantasy realm.
|Chris Denorfia, OF SD||4-5, 3 R, 2B, SB|
|Pablo Sandoval, 3B SF||3-4, R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI|
|Casey Kotchman, 1B CLE||2-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB|
|Chris Tillman, SP BAL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.48 WHIP, 7 K|
|Justin Verlander, SP DET||W, CG, 1.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 7 K|
Pretty straight-forward with the leaderboard today. Pablo Sandoval and Justin Verlander are staples on fantasy teams and should continue to produce at high levels for their positions. Seems a little funny to say about Verlander given the fact that he is the studliest of stud pitchers and I couldn’t be stating something any more obvious to the fantasy community. And Sandoval, well, he’s doing exactly what he did last season – starts off great, screws his owners with a broken hamate bone, comes back and performs beautifully, leaving those of us who own him wondering just how good his numbers could have been had he not missed so much time. I suppose we should all find out next year since he’s got no more hamate bones to break.
As for Chris Denorfia, Casey Kotchman and Chris Tillman, they’re all role players who can kick in a little something from time to time, but if you’re relying on everyday production – or every five days in Tillman’s case – then you’re either in the deepest of deep leagues or your team is sitting at the bottom of your league’s standings. They’re a little beyond the usual sun shining metaphor, but not by a very large margin.
|Dexter Fowler, OF COL||0-5, 4 K|
|Brooks Conrad, 2B TB||0-3, 3 K|
|Eric Hosmer, 1B KC||0-4, 3 K|
|Kyle Farnsworth, RP TB||L, 81.00 ERA, 12.00 WHIP, K|
|Ervin Santana, SP LAA||L, 54.00 ERA, 6.75 WHIP|
As usual, I’ll let it slide for the hitters, but the pitchers are definitely a different story. Kyle Farnsworth makes his long-anticipated return, but he’s no longer the closer in Tampa given the way Fernando Rodney has performed. And by walking four straight batters in his big appearance on Wednesday, he easily showed that the decision was even more of a no-brainer than everyone thought. He could turn back into a decent 8th inning guy, but for right now, it’s probably best to leave him be until he notches a few scoreless outings.
With regard to Ervin Santana, there doesn’t appear to be any sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Strikeouts are down, walks are up, he’s allowing more home runs, you name it. If you can regress in a category, he’s doing it. Some might consider him a great buy-low candidate, but I’m definitely not part of that group. Trade him if you can, but don’t expect much in return.
Will Middlebrooks, 3B BOS – hamstring (questionable)
Dustin Pedroia, 2B BOS – thumb (questionable)
Scott Rolen, 3B CIN – back (questionable)
Dan Haren, SP LAA – back (questionable for July 8 start)
Juan Uribe, 3B LAD – ankle (questionable)
Dee Gordon, SS LAD – thumb (doubtful)
Giancarlo Stanton, OF MIA – knee (doubtful)
Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF NYM – hand (questionable)
Alex Presley, OF PIT – concussion (questionable)
Jesus Montero, C SEA – concussion (questionable)
Chris Carpenter, SP STL – neck/shoulder (officially ruled out for the season)
Hideki Matsui, OF TB – hamstring (questionable)
Jeff Keppinger, 2B TB – tricep (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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