The official deadline for the unofficial MLB trade deadline is just two days away now. Obviously I say ‘unofficial’ because we’re still very likely to have a mad rush of waiver trades going on and that doesn’t end until August 31. But for now, the free trade going on in MLB continues and the latest deal would normally be a head-scratcher, but given the positioning in the standings and contract situations, conspiracy theories don’t have a leg to stand on here. Let’s take a look at what’s going down in the AL Central these days…
Minnesota Twins trade LHP Francisco Liriano to the Chicago White Sox for INF Eduardo Escobar and LHP Pedro Hernandez
Normally I would be skeptical of a team trading a potential impact player within the division, but with the Twins 13 games out of first in the AL Central and 12.5 games out of a possible wild card slot, there’s really not much hope of competing this season, despite there still being two full months of baseball still to go. On top of that Liriano is a free agent at the end of the season, so for all intents and purposes, they’re getting something for nothing right now, and who’s to say they don’t turn around and offer him a deal during the offseason? That part can wait, though. Let’s talk about now.
The White Sox have been dealing with a number of injuries to their rotation and with John Danks likely to miss, pretty much, the whole year and Gavin Floyd’s command problems upon his recent return, the team needed to make a move. There was no way they were going to head into the playoffs with such a questionable pitching staff. Jake Peavy and Chris Sale make a nice duo, but you need more to succeed in the playoffs. Liriano fills a nice void here and gives the Pale Hose a legitimate starter and southpaw at that.
When looking at Liriano’s numbers this season, you need to break it down into three categories. There was early-season Liriano who was just downright terrible; horrible numbers that put numerous fantasy owners into an immediate ratios hole. Then there was bullpen Liriano who really didn’t fare much better. He made six appearances and put up a 4.91 ERA. And finally, there is rejoin-the-rotation Liriano who has, since May 30th, put up some solid numbers. He had one stumble, a seven run, 2.2 inning disaster against these same White Sox, but if you take that one start out, he posted a 2.84 ERA and a 77:28 K:BB ratio over 10 starts. And that is the Liriano Kenny Williams traded for – a solid ground ball pitcher with big strikeout potential. If that’s what he gets – if Liriano focuses on pitching for a contract over these next two months, this could be a huge boost for the Sox.
Coming back in the deal, there isn’t a whole hell of a lot. Ramirez is more of a light-hitting utility infielder who makes for an o.k. bench player while Hernandez, a 23-year old lefty, probably projects as nothing more than a number three or four starter with modest strikeout abilities. He’s young enough to improve his game, but he is still a work in progress. Atleast the Twins have nothing but time on their hands to work on it nowadays.
So if you’re a Liriano owner, you could be looking at a pretty decent finish for the year. I’m sure he’ll hit a bump or two in the road, but if he hangs in there like he has over these last two months, then you’ve got a solid arm to leave in your rotation and maybe be able to think less about a lot of streaming at the end.
Now let’s hit some highlights…
|Ike Davis, 1B NYM||4-4, 3 R, 3 HR, 3 RBI|
It’s really been a tough year as an Ike Davis owner. We saw so much potential in him during his 2011 call-up but then got hit with the valley fever news during the late spring. The diagnosis reports were coming in a little sketchy and you really didn’t know what to do. The first two months of the season were atrocious as he finished up may with a total of five home runs and an average sitting below the .200 mark. But then June hit and so did Davis and from then to today, he’s popped another 15 home runs and had an average hovering around .260. Of course the early season troubles drag it down to .217 but he’s also sitting on 20 home runs and 60 RBI. Not too shabby and something I’m willing to ride over the next two months. It’s hard to expect June/July production over the next two months, but I’d definitely take a shot at seeing how close he can get. These last two months provide enough hope for the rest of the year and the rest of the year will give you the answers to all your offseason keeper questions.
|Matt Kemp, OF LAD||4-5, 3 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI|
|Adrian Gonzalez, 1B BOS||3-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 4 RBI|
|Ryan Ludwick, OF CIN||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Mike Minor, SP ATL||W, 1.13 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 9 K|
|Chad Billingsley, SP LAD||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 2 K|
No surprises here from Matt Kemp or Adrian Gonzalez, right? Hell, with some of the struggles we’ve had to endure with them this year – Kemp’s injuries and A-Gone’s early power outage – they better be outing up days like this right now.
As for Ryan Ludwick, he’s always made for a solid platoon partner, especially in league where you can make daily moves. He hits for a decent average against lefties (although he doesn’t usually start against a lot of them) but all his power comes against right-handed pitching. At this point in the season, I’d probably forego some average and just find a guy who can mash against southpaws and rotate the two of them in. Obviously if you have the bench space, that is.
Mike Minor seems to be another one of those pitchers whose season you need to break down to truly get a feel for where he’s at. He had a rough start to the year, was absolutely atrocious in May, started to get better in June, and has now been a beast in July. Through four starts in the month, Minor has posted a 1.98 ERA with a 26:4 K/BB ratio through 27.1 innings. He looks like a totally different pitcher on the mound, beaming with confidence and a strikeout rate that fantasy owners are drooling over. He’s got another two months to continue this onslaught and if it were me (and it is in two leagues), I’d be using him every chance I could get.
|Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF NYM||0-4, 3 K|
|Curtis Granderson, OF NYY||0-4, 3 K|
|Everth Cabrera, SS SD||0-4, 3 K|
|Rafael Soriano, RP NYY||L, 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, K|
|Christian Friedrich, SP COL||L, 14.54 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, K|
Just a bunch of guys having an off-day here. Well, maybe Christian Friedrich is having more of an off-month, but who’s been using Colorado pitchers this year anyway? Last place team, that’s who.
The day to day bumps and bruises can be caught up with by looking at yesterday’s column and catching the alerts from Fantasy Alarm.
But we should at least discuss the fact that Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval is back on the DL, this time with the hamstring issue that has plagued him over the last week. The team finally put him on the DL, retroactive by a few days of course, and will likely go with Joaquin Arias again with maybe a splash of Ryan Theriot in there. It’s going to be tough for fantasy owners to find the necessary replacement for Sandoval at this point in time, so your best bet is to find someone passable and try to focus on a different category to help make up for the potential loss of power. Stolen bases is always a great place to start.
That’s all for now. Enjoy your Sunday and we’ll be back to square everything away before you have to set your lineups for next week!
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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