As if there was any doubt as to who was going to eventually win this little war between Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine and longtime third baseman Kevin Youkilis, the brewing kettle finally game to a boil on Sunday and Youkilis found himself with a one-way ticket to Chicago. In exchange for RHP Zach Stewart and utility-man Brent Lillibridge, Boston sent Youk and about $5.5M in cash to the AL Central-leading White Sox in a deal that actually works out for everyone. And by everyone, I mean everyone, including the fantasy world. OK, maybe not the guys that own Orlando Hudson, but both of them are probably in last anyway and stopped paying attention to their teams weeks ago. But as far as everyone else in the baseball world goes, this trade was win-win-win.
For the Red Sox, it seems like they achieved their primary goal just by dumping off the nine-year veteran, regardless of who they got in return. There’s nothing real exciting about Stewart’s prospects and he seems like the type of pitcher who will languish in the minors for most of his career with a few occasional trips between Pawtucket and Boston when a relief arm is needed. And Lillibridge is nothing more than a role player who, at the least, is versatile enough to fill in pretty much anywhere. Not really the talent to start, but perhaps a decent pinch hitter or late-inning defensive replacement. No, where the Red Sox win here is the removal of any potential internal strife and the ability to freely play Will Middlebrooks without the cries of Red Sox Nation. The fact that Middlebrooks has been raking obviously makes the transition easier and the trade of such a fan-favorite palatable, but with so much tension building over the last few months, this move was 100% necessary.
For the White Sox, they finally land themselves a third baseman that is capable of providing them with both sound defense and a strong bat. Between Brent Morel’s inability to hit big league pitching and the cast of characters they’ve tried at the hot corner, including the aforementioned Hudson, third base has been a veritable wasteland for production in Chicago. In spite of the facts that Youkilis is 33-years old and fairly injury prone these days, he is still a significant upgrade. Yes, he is on the downside of his career and yes, he doesn’t really look like himself this season, but a change of scenery could certainly help his mental state and if he can remain healthy, will help provide some quality offense with him, Paul Konerko and Adam Dunn in the middle of that lineup.
Fantasy-wise, it’s another win. Middlebrooks owners can now stop wondering about his playing time and if he’ll be worth anything as the season progresses, Youkilis owners don’t have to worry about some punk kid eating into his at-bats, and Adrian Gonzalez owners can start to breathe a little easier with little or no chance that he ends up out in right field again, risking injury with each and every run into the corner. Not to mention the likelihood of some increased run production from the White Sox sluggers.
So there it is…the Red Sox are happy, the White Sox are happy and fantasy owners are happy. What more could you ask for? Nothing better than a trade that goes win-win-win.
Now let’s get to Sunday's highlights…
|Cody Ross, OF BOS||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
Now this is the Cody Ross the Red Sox thought they were getting when they brought the 31-year old Ross in during the offseason. He was a threat for 20-plus home runs during his time with the Marlins, became a cult icon and playoff hero for the Giants and was expected to come in here, a right-handed pull hitter, and put dozens of dents in the Green Monster. When the Red Sox outfield went to pot with all the injuries, Ross filled in admirably and managed eight home runs and 28 RBI. But a foot injury put him on the shelf for more than a month leaving his owners wondering just how helpful he would remain. Would he remain a full-time starter, at least until the return of such bigger fish like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford or was he going to land himself back in a platoon role once he returned?
Well, these past six games, pretty much tell the story. Valentine has been ecstatic over getting Ross back into the lineup and he’s played every game since being reinstated from the disabled list. Even better is the fact that he batting .318 with three home runs, three doubles and 10 RBI since coming back, pushing his overall totals to .277-11-38. He looks to be a staple of the lineup for right now, so if you own him, enjoy. However, look to the future and check on the status of the returning outfielders. Obviously there’s a chance that Ross just stays in right field if he keeps playing well, but with the possibility of an eventual platoon, the original plan laid out during the spring, he just might be a decent sell-high candidate if you can get someone to bite.
|Mike Moustakas, 3B KC||3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI|
|Chris Johnson, 3B HOU||3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI|
|Quintin Berry, OF DET||1-2, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB|
|Wade Miley, SP ARI||W, 1.13 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 7 K|
|Justin Verlander, SP DET||W, CG, 2.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 7 K|
Is it the fact that he plays for the Royals that we don’t hear much about Mike Moustakas? He was definitely on several people’s radar when he first came up, but when people start talking about the hot corner, it’s always more about the injuries decimating the position rather than the guys who are still playing there and performing. Moustakas has been having a solid season thus far for Kansas City, batting .280 with 12 home runs and 36 RBI usually out of the six-hole in the lineup. There’s nothing in his batted ball data that indicates that he is playing over his head at all, and in fact, his 15.5% line drive rate could actually improve, making him an even stronger option. All ready, he’s been showing even more signs of life as he is batting .368 with three home runs and seven RBI over hi slast nine games and was even moved up to the three-hole in the order on Sunday. For the second year in a row, the top third basemen on draft day have been decimated by injuries. With a slight increase in depth at the position, it may be time to start setting your sights a little lower for the hot corner and just grab a steady contributor like Moustakas.
Chris Johnson – the poor man’s Moustakas? Maybe. There are some days when Johnson looks like he’s about to break out like a madman and then other days where he looks…maybe not overmatched…but just not a hitter destined for greatness in the major leagues. He’ll kick in a few games of great stats and then fall into a cold stretch where he’ll barely maintain his batting average but offer up nothing else. He’s now hit safely in five straight games with multi-hit performances in four of them. Some might say he’s on the verge of a breakout, which would be great because I have him filling in for Evan Longoria still, but I’m thinking he’s probably headed towards another cold stretch soon enough. Glass is half empty? Probably, but I’m more than happy to be wrong on this one.
Kudos to the Tigers for keeping Quintin Berry in the lineup as often as they have. Sure, he might just be filling in for the injured Andy Dirks, but if he continues to get on base as he has, he could push to stay in the regular lineup even when Dirks returns. Even if he doesn’t play regularly, he’ll still have some decent value as part-time outfielder and pinch-runner with that speed.
A fourth complete game for Justin Verlander. Ho hum. He looks to be well on his way to another AL Cy Young award and remains the number one pitcher in the AL and probably all of baseball. The guy is just a workhorse with pinpoint control and tremendous strikeout potential. But did you really need me to tell you all that? Do not sell-high. Just enjoy the rise all season.
And what’s up with Wade Miley? I’ve had a guy in my league trying to trade him to me on almost a daily basis. Of course, he’s asking for way too much and given the fact that Miley’s FIP and xFIP indicate a regression, I’m not buying, but you can’t be disappointed with the results so far. The big thing for me is Miley’s 4.8% HR/FB. I just don’t see it lasting, especially since Chase Field has the second highest home run factor (1.832) in all of baseball. With summertime upon us, the ball is going to start flying out of there and Miley could suffer moving forward. Definitely sell high.
And although he’s not on the leaderboard here, how about a quick shout-out to Jason Heyward! He’s currently on a 10-game hit streak, batting .436 with three home runs, six doubles, five RBI and nine runs scored. This is, most definitely, the Jason Heyward most fantasy owners signed up for.
Oh yeah, and save a spot for Trevor Bauer here on Thursday night. The kid makes his debut against the Braves then in a much anticipated jump to the majors. Bauer began the season in Double-A but was quickly bumped up to Triple-A Reno and is now 11-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 116 strikeouts over 93 innings of work.
|Cody Ransom, SS, MIL||0-4, 4 K|
|Shin-Soo Choo, OF CLE||0-4, 3 K|
|Giancarlo Stanton, OF MIA||0-3, 2 K|
|Antonio Bastardo, RP PHI||L, BS, 81.00 ERA, 9.00 WHIP|
|Santiago Casilla, RP SF||L, BS, 40.50 ERA, 4.50 WHIP, 2 K|
A few strikeouts, some bullpen blow-ups…you know, all part of a normal baseball day. But what doesn’t show up here on the anti-leaderboard, if you will, is the disappointment most fantasy owners experienced when the R.A. Dickey vs CC Sabathia tuned into a 6-5 hit parade that saw both starters out by the end of the sixth inning. Dickey allowed five runs over six innings and just couldn’t seem to fool the Yankees hitters with his knuckleball (quality training from years of facing Tim Wakefield, no doubt) and Sabathia failed to make it out of the sixth inning for the first time this season. I definitely see Sabathia rebounding with ease, but it should be interesting to watch what happens with Dickey his next time out. He gets the Matt Kemp-less Dodgers next, so that doesn’t exactly work against him, but will they take a page form the Yankees game plan and learn to beat the 37-year old right-hander. We’ll see….
Jose Altuve, 2B HOU – hamstring (questionable)
Matt Capps, RP MIN – shoulder (doubtful)
Ike Davis, 1B NYM – illness (questionable)
Russell Martin, C NYY – back (questionable)
Yonder Alonso, 1B SD – knee (questionable)
Kyle Seager, 3B SEA – calf (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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