I spent a lot of time considering players over the All-Star break and trying to determine if guys like Raul Ibanez was real, if Juan Pierre had any real value, and just bouncing around some names thinking about how they'd impact fantasy teams over the next month or three. Here are a smattering of my conclusions.
The first is that for the first time in his career Ibanez is playing in a park that isn't one of the worst in baseball for home runs, but one of the best. That might not account for all of his road home runs, but the fact that he's actually playing for a team where he's pitched to is a definite plus factor. Hitting after Utley and Howard, two of the most feared hitters in the NL, Ibanez is finding himself coming to the plate with runners on base, and a pitcher who has to pitch to him.
That's leading to better swings, better contact and better results. No doubt he's wishing he had jumped teams long ago. Still he's got an outside chance at 40 home runs this season, but 30-35 is far more likely along with a .300+ average, and 125 RBIs.
Cliff Lee (SP, Indians): While everyone is pondering the question of where Roy Halladay is going to end up, the possibility that Lee will be moved is getting almost no press at all. However the Indians have admitted that Lee is available if the price is right and that price would certainly be a fraction of what the Jays will be asking for Halladay. His fantasy value could take a big jump upward if he ends up on a contender.
Matt Capps (CL, Pirates): There is no question that Capps is going to be moved the only question is where he'll be moved to. Unless he ends up in Tampa Bay the odds he'll retain a closer's gig is fairly small. If you can move him now consider doing it.
Juan Pierre (OF, Dodgers): It's looking less and less likely that Pierre will end up playing outside of LA before the season ends. While he'd be a good fit in several cities the price tag is high, not in terms of talent that a team would have to give up for him, but in terms of dollars he's still owed. That's not in the cards for most teams in this economy -- and his most natural fit, the Mets, probably can't open their wallet any deeper after the Wilpon family lost more than $700 million in the Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme.
Ervin Santana (SP, Angels): May finally be returning to form. He looked very solid on Thursday going a strong eight innings and yielding just a single run. The strikeouts aren't there yet but it's a big step in the right direction. It's probably a good chance to get him while he's still cheap.
Speaking of Nationals, the other regular Nat outfielder (Nyjer Morgan) has really benefitted from the move to Washington, at least for the moment. Once the Nats start dumping veterans for young talent this month, that value may slide a wee bit, but probably not too much.
Garret Jones (1B/OF, Pirates): Has been hitting out of his socks since coming up a couple of weeks ago. Don't bet too much on him sustaining anything near this pace. These numbers do not line up with his career numbers in the minors. You might want to try moving him before this hot streak comes to an end.
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