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Dissecting the Deals breaks down Major League Baseball trades as the July 31 deadline approaches. Check back as the deals happen to get the scoop on each trade's impact on Fantasy Baseball.
July 30: The Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi and minor-league pitcher Bill Murphy from the Florida Marlins in exchange for Paul Lo Duca, Juan Encarnacion and Guillermo Mota.
Despite his recent struggles, Brad Penny ranks 12th in the National League in ERA (3.15).(AP)
Going by the Fantasy angle that dictates that the team that got the best player in a given trade did the best in the deal, Los Angeles makes out here by nabbing a proven veteran starter in Penny. Despite his mediocre 2-6 record and 4.26 ERA in 11 starts since the beginning of June, Penny is in prime position to experience a decent boost in Fantasy value. He's 2-2 with a 3.55 ERA in four career starts at Dodger Stadium, and 8-4 with a 3.15 ERA in 22 career starts against the Dodgers' four NL West rivals. It's possible that Penny could be moved on to Arizona in a deal for Randy Johnson and/or Steve Finley -- a trade Fantasy owners would surely dread -- but more likely Murphy would be the bait in talks with the Diamondbacks. Choi's Fantasy value could be on the decline in Los Angeles, as he stands to lose playing time if the Dodgers land Finley to replace Encarnacion in the outfield. Assuming the Dodgers don't make any more moves -- and it seems likely they will -- Choi would play regularly at first base, Shawn Green would shift to right field and David Ross would become the starting catcher, immediately making him a useful NL-only pickup. Don't be shocked if Charles Johnson and Finley are Dodgers by the trade deadline, however. Owners should keep in mind that Dodger Stadium is a rather pitching-friendly environment, so expect a slight decline in production from the hitters moving there and a mild boost in value for the pitchers donning Dodger blue. As for Florida, Lo Duca immediately takes over as the everyday catcher from the struggling Mike Redmond, who won't be a threat to steal playing time. Lo Duca's Fantasy value shouldn't change much as a result of the trade, since Pro Player Stadium isn't much better a hitters' park than Dodger Stadium, but it's worth keeping in mind that he's historically a poor second-half player. Encarnacion returns to the team with which he earned a 2003 World Series championship ring, and to a park where he's a .245-12-68-14 hitter in 115 career games. He'll presumably play right field, shifting Miguel Cabrera to left field and Jeff Conine to first base. Mota gives the Marlins much-needed right-handed setup help, and his 1.26 ERA in 11 career games at Pro Player Stadium is a promising sign. He could get a handful of save chances while Armando Benitez's elbow heals, although his primary value will likely remain his contributions in ERA and WHIP.
July 30: The New York Mets acquired Victor Zambrano and minor-league pitcher Bartolome Fortunado from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in exchange for minor-league pitchers Scott Kazmir and Joselo Diaz.
Zambrano isn't a bad addition for the Mets, who were in dire need of starting pitching help with Jae Seo, Scott Erickson and a host of others incapable of nailing down the final two rotation slots. However, New York essentially mortgaged the majority of the future it had been harvesting to get two pitchers -- Kris Benson the other -- with a combined career ERA of 4.34. Kazmir was the Mets' second-ranked prospect by Baseball America entering the season, and his 2.84 ERA, 1.263 WHIP and 80 strikeouts in 76 innings in 15 starts combined between Class A St. Lucie and Double-A Binghamton demonstrate his immense upside. Diaz was just 17th-ranked by Baseball America and his 5.18 ERA and 70 walks in 83 1/3 innings for Binghamton are troublesome, but he has a live arm and is still learning to adjust to pitching after beginning his career as a catcher. With some solid coaching, Tampa Bay might have a fine young rotation led by Dewon Brazelton, Kazmir, Diaz and 2004 first-rounder Jeff Niemann in a few years. Zambrano's 10-1 record, 2.69 ERA and 0.680 WHIP in 60 1/3 innings in 16 career appearances against National League opponents is a promising sign, as is the fact that he's moving to one of the most pitching-friendly environments in all of baseball. He won't see much of a change in run support, but if he can adjust to the New York spotlight, Zambrano might be a surprising performer over the season's final two months. Six wins and an ERA in the 3.25-3.50 range is not out of the question.
July 30: The New York Mets acquired Kris Benson from the Pittsburgh Pirates in a three-team deal. New York got Benson and minor-league infielder Jeff Keppinger, Pittsburgh received Ty Wigginton, Jose Bautista and minor-league pitcher Matt Peterson, and the Kansas City Royals acquired minor-league catcher Justin Huber.
The Mets had long been in the Benson hunt, a sure sign that the team plans to play for this season, having remained in the National League East race mainly because of the lack of a dominant rival. Benson's a smart pickup for the Mets, but the team did essentially pay dearly to acquire a right-hander with a sub-.500 career record and 4.26 lifetime ERA. Perhaps that's the price tag required when a player carries the "No. 1 pick in the amateur draft" tag, as Benson was the first overall pick in 1996. The statistics suggest he'll flourish in New York: Benson is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.159 WHIP in four career starts at Shea Stadium, and 11-3 with a 2.61 ERA and 1.135 WHIP in 21 career starts against the Mets' four NL East rivals. The fact that his acquisition cost the Mets two of their top six prospects as ranked by Baseball America this preseason (Peterson ranked No. 4, Huber No. 6) might put additional pressure on Benson to perform, but a fresh start in an organization committed to winning could only help. His Fantasy value is on the rise, and it's not out of the question he could finish the year with stats not unlike another right-hander the Pirates dealt in 2001 -- Jason Schmidt, who won seven of 11 starts with a 3.39 ERA after a deadline deal that year. Wigginton should immediately take over as Pittsburgh's starting third baseman, with little change to his Fantasy value, although there's a chance he and Rob Mackowiak could share some time at the hot corner. That would limit each player's value, if only slightly.
July 18: The Chicago White Sox acquired Carl Everett from the Montreal Expos in exchange for minor-league pitchers Jon Rauch and Gary Majewski.
For the second straight year, the White Sox addressed their center
field void by acquiring Everett in a pre-deadline deal. It wasn't a bad move in 2003; he batted .301 with 10 home runs and 41 RBI in 73 games after the White Sox acquired him from the Texas Rangers. This year, however, Everett had been really struggling with the hitting-starved Expos, battling shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries and batting just .252 with two homers in 39 games. Needless to say, a move to the Windy City can only help Everett's Fantasy value. In terms of runs scored per game, he's leaving the majors' worst-ranked team (3.3) to the fifth-best squad (5.4). Everett is also a lifetime .312 hitter with 21 homers and 102 RBI in 148 games combined against Chicago's four American League Central rivals, teams that the White Sox will face 52 times in their final 74 contests. Joe Borchard and Aaron Rowand stand to see the biggest decrease in Fantasy value, with Borchard back in Triple-A Charlotte and Rowand likely to become Chicago's fourth outfielder once Magglio Ordonez is ready to return to right field. Montreal gets two promising young pitchers, although both have been assigned to Triple-A Ottawa. Rauch has plenty of upside and should get a look in the rotation in the upcoming weeks, and isn't a bad pitcher to stash on an NL-only reserve list. He might be helped by a fresh start in a new organization, as he had fallen out of favor with White Sox management after leaving the ballpark early following a May 29 start.
June 27: The Seattle Mariners traded Freddy Garcia, Ben Davis and cash considerations to the Chicago White Sox on Sunday for Miguel Olivo, minor-league outfielder Jeremy Reed and minor-league infielder Michael Morse.
The White Sox bolstered their starting rotation by adding Freddy Garcia on Sunday. He will see an increase in his Fantasy value with the move to the high-octane White Sox, as he will see a lot more run support than with the floundering Mariners. Garcia will miss the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field, however. He has produced a 4-7 record, but that is a bit misleading, as he has also posted an outstanding 3.20 ERA. In 2001, when he produced a career-high 18 wins, he had a similar 3.06 ERA with a heavy-hitting Seattle lineup producing adequate support. While it is unlikely he will approach those win totals, it is not out of the question to expect eight to 10 wins down the stretch if he can keep the ball inside U.S. Cellular Field. Gil Meche or Travis Blackley will likely be recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to fill his absence in the rotation. Neither of the two warrant any Fantasy consideration. Ben Davis will get a fresh start with the Southsiders, but he has settled into a role as a backup. He is expected to split time with Jamie Burke behind veteran Sandy Alomar Jr. With the addition of Garcia, Felix Diaz will likely be shuttled back to Triple-A Charlotte. The Mariners will likely end up the winner when this deal is reviewed a few years from now. Miguel Olivo is an exceptional talent who is still adjusting to the major league game. His days learning from Alomar, and now from Dan Wilson, will prove invaluable. He is only worth a roster spot in AL-only leagues as a No. 2 Fantasy catcher unless he catches fire pushing a struggling Wilson to the bench. Jeremy Reed has been assigned to Tacoma, but expect to see him get a look when rosters expand later this season. Reed might be the top outfield prospect in the Seattle organization over a brittle Chris Snelling (wrist) and Jamal Strong. Snelling battled a knee injury which cost him most of the 2003 season and has been slowed by a wrist injury this season. Strong is now recovered after a separated shoulder which limited him in 2003. Morse will play in Double-A San Antonio and is at least a year or two away from making any impact in Seattle.
June 24: The Kansas City Royals traded Carlos Beltran to the Houston Astros on Thursday as part of a three-way trade with the Oakland Athletics. The Astros send relief pitcher Octavio Dotel to the Athletics. The Royals receive minor-league third baseman Mark Teahen and pitcher Mike Wood from the Athletics and minor-league catcher John Buck.
The Astros landed one of the most prized players available in Beltran. His addition to an already potent lineup will increase his Fantasy appeal quite a bit. Beltran will have a lot more protection in a lineup with Jeff Bagwell, Lance Berkman and Jeff Kent. It is unclear exactly what the Astros will do to open up center field for one of the premier outfielders in the majors. The club might elect to move Craig Biggio to left field and Berkman to right, although Biggio might also wind up back at second base. If the latter is true, Kent would be moved to third base to fill a glaring hole on an otherwise very talented team. It appears Morgan Ensberg and Jason Lane are the biggest losers in any scenario, as their at-bats will be cut significantly with the presence of another All-Star. The biggest winner appears to be Brad Lidge, who is the favorite to move into the closer's role. Lidge throws darts and will benefit from an outstanding starting staff and bullpen to possibly produce 15-20 saves down the stretch. Arthur Rhodes will also officially return to a setup role with the addition of Dotel in Oakland. He might re-emerge as a solid source of ERA and WHIP in Roto leagues in a role he is more comfortable with. As far as the Royals, the time is now for David DeJesus. He will likely be recalled from Triple-A Omaha to fill the void in center field. He has a lot of upside and the same promise Beltran did when he first broke in. Wood is a decent arm who might make an impact in 2005. Teahen is also a highly-touted prospect who might be the heir apparent to third base once Joe Randa departs.
June 17: The Florida Marlins acquired Billy Koch from the Chicago White Sox in exchange for minor-league infielder Wilson Valdez.
The White Sox finally rid themselves of Koch, a disaster in his year-plus in Chicago after coming over in the Keith Foulke trade from Oakland. That paves the way for Shingo Takatsu to nail down the closer duties for the Sox for the remainder of the year. While manager Ozzie Guillen said recently that he doesn't consider the Japanese import his full-time finisher, it's apparent that it's going to be the case. Takatsu, Japan's career saves leader with 260, has displayed much improved command in the States, so he should be a prime fit in his new spot, even if batters begin to catch on to his offerings. Koch's departure also assures Damaso Marte a better chance at a third straight year of double-digit saves. Meanwhile, Florida adds much-needed relief help, even if Koch's 5.66 ERA as a member of the White Sox doesn't exactly inspire confidence. He gets a fresh outlook and has 18 saves and a 2.63 ERA in 40 career appearances against National League opponents, so it's possible he'll recapture the form he displayed at times in Oakland and Toronto. Save chances will be hard to come by in Florida behind Armando Benitez, but Koch is a useful insurance pickup for Benitez owners, and he might even be useful in ERA and WHIP if he makes a smooth transition.
June 17: The New York Mets acquired Richard Hidalgo from the Houston Astros in exchange for David Weathers and minor-league pitcher Jeremy Griffiths.
Hidalgo sure fell out of favor quickly in Houston. He was used as a pinch hitter in his final three games with the Astros, and had lost his starting job against right-handed pitchers to Jason Lane. Hidalgo gets a fresh start in New York, and it's not like Karim Garcia or Shane Spencer shares Lane's upside. Hidalgo will give the Mets a more reliable middle-of-the-order slugger, something that they had desperately lacked. That means more quality pitches for Cliff Floyd and Mike Piazza, helping boost their Fantasy value. As for Hidalgo, he's moving from an offense that ranked among the major-league average to the majors' third-worst in terms of runs per game. He's also a .214-3-6-0 hitter in 12 career games at Shea Stadium, one of the most pitching-friendly ballparks in baseball. A change of scenery could help Hidalgo rebound from a poor start, but he has shown throughout his career that injuries tend to bother him the whole year. Neck problems have been bothering him lately, so don't count on a huge improvement from him in New York.