Real time trades sometimes offer fantasy opportunities, sometimes sure things, sometimes huge gambles which the fantasy owner needs to take a look at. Obviously simple things like changing leagues can impact a pitcher’s numbers depending on if they have to face a DH or not. However other things, like being traded to a place where they will become an every day player, or where they’d platoon, or have a better/weaker lineup behind them, or even just being given a chance can lead to some interesting opportunities.
Rather than spend much time on big name players that have moved via trade this off-season, we’ll mainly focus on the lesser players and prospects that will likely get a chance this season.
Erik Bedard, (SP, Mariners) - moves to a pitcher friendly park with a better offense behind him in a fairly weak division.
Miguel Cabrera (3B, Tigers) - Cabrera jumps from a decent offense to one of the best offenses in the American League, barring being out of shape this could lead to a greater number of RBIs and runs scored but that’s not a given when you consider that he was .320-34-119-91-2 last season - on the other hand if he makes the jump forward which is very possible he could be a MVP candidate.
Dontrelle Willis (SP, Tigers) - Willis is a hard one to analyze as he’s slipped the last couple of years and finished 2007 with a 5.17 ERA and a declining strikeout to walk ratio. He’ll need to face stronger lineups due to the DH and stronger number 8 hitters, and that makes Willis into a late round pickup until he proves otherwise.
Adam Jones (OF, Orioles) - Jones was going to be the Mariners right fielder this season so there is no doubt that he’s big league ready. He only had 65 at bats last season going .241-2-4-16-2 with the big team but he went .314-35-84-75-8 at AAA Tacoma last season. That’s enough to make him a big time sleeper, even though he may start at the bottom of the lineup, he’ll move up as his talent matures.
Philip Humber (SP, Twins) - Humber will battle for a rotation spot in Minnesota and if he wins the role he’s a solid sleeper, but hardly an elite talent. Last year at AAA New Orleans 11-9, 4.27, WHIP 1.24 and 120 K's in 139 IP. He’s only 25 so he has a lot of upside, but probably not the kind of upside he showed in the lower minors where he kept his ERA under 3 and he averaged a strikeout per inning.
Carlos Gomez (OF, Twins) - Expect Gomez, barring a rotten spring, to take over one of the outfield spots, most likely center for the Twins. He’s a true speedster - perhaps the fastest player in the majors and could be a Carl Crawford type player in a few years. However he needs to work on his hitting eye as he strikes out a lot and has never hit above .287 at any level of the minors. Consider him a deep sleeper with the potential to steal 40 bases if he can keep the average major league ready.
Josh Hamilton (OF, Rangers) - Hamilton will be the Rangers center fielder and he’s a super sleeper among mid round choices in any draft. He managed 19 home runs in 298 AB last year and could make a legitimate run at 40 in hitter friendly Arlington. Of course all of this is based upon him staying healthy.
Carlos Quentin (OF, White Sox) - This guy has huge upside but he flopped last year probably due to a tear in the labrum of his shoulder. His AAA numbers suggest this guy should be a .300-20-90 kind of player one day soon, but calling it this year is a stretch. Still a hitter’s ballpark and a decent lineup should help him get there. Call him a deep sleeper and watch him in Spring Training before judging this guy.
Delmon Young (OF, Twins) - One of the most promising hitters in baseball has moved divisions from the AL east to the AL central a division that if anything might be tougher than the east in terms of competition but it really doesn’t change his fantasy value at all. He’s still a talent in the developmental stage but one who could see 20-20 this season. His OBP is a concern and his value would go up dramatically if he learned to take a walk. He’s a top 25 outfielder in leagues which don’t count OBP.
Matt Garza (SP, Rays) - Garza, a pitcher in the developmental stage of his career who’d be a better in a keeper league than as an immediate pick up. He’ll be the number three pitcher in Tampa and should be a solid enough pick up if you can handle the fact he won’t get a lot of wins in Tampa. He’s capable of taking a big step forward if he can get his walks under control but that 1.54 WHIP from last season is a scary thing.
Jason Bartlett (2B, Rays) - The light hitting Bartlett struggled a little bit in his first full season as a shortstop with his average falling off to a .265 with 5 home runs, but his steal total climbed up to 23 but his OBP fell from .367 to .339. The steals make him valuable but the Rays have better options at the top of the order than Bartlett and that could cut his value somewhat - as could his age (28).
Orlando Cabrera (SS, White Sox) - Cabrera is a solid glove shortstop who’s value will take a very minor hit because of moving from a strong offense to a mediocre one. He’ll possibly get a few more green lights when it comes to stolen bases as the Sox try to create some runs, but I’d expect somewhere in the order of 85 runs rather than last year’s 101.
John Garland (SP, Angels) - Bounce Garland up a bit in the rankings for a number of reasons moving to a better offensive team and moving to a better pitcher’s ballpark. He’s also in a contract year and just 28 years old - expect last year’s 10-13 record to be a distant memory when the season comes to a close.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, A’s) - Touted as the next can’t miss outfielder in Arizona Gonzalez found his whole world turned upside down when he was traded as part of the package for Danny Haren. Now instead of being a guy with no position to play and likely to spend another year in the minors, Gonzalez might well find himself on the A’s opening day roster. That being said he probably has limited upside this year unless he can take a big step forward. His AA numbers last year .286-16-75-63-9, matching that could be this year’s ceiling.
Jacque Jones (OF, Tigers) - After a dynamite three year span from 2004 to 2006 Jones fell completely off the map in 2007. He managed just 5 home runs, a decrease of 22 from the year before but kept just about the same in other statistics and left everyone wondering just what happened. It might be that he’s on the wrong side of 30 and his skills are in great decline. Rumors have him facing a possible platoon situation which makes him a late round pick at best.
Scott Rolen (3B, Jays) - Rolen is an injury risk and has been for several years but the Jays are optimistic that he’ll be healthy and have regained a power stroke coming into 2008. If he’s healthy he’s still potentially a top 10, maybe even a top 5, third baseman as his 2006 numbers (.296-22-95-95-7) indicate. That being said I wouldn’t draft him until the mid to late rounds of any draft and only then as a sleeper rather than a core player for any team. Hitting in Toronto will benefit him if he’s healthy as will getting away from his issues with Tony LaRussa.
Edgar Renteria (SS, Tigers) - Everything depends on where Renteria bats in the Tigers order and right now that looks like somewhere at the bottom of the order which isn’t great for his RBI or Runs. Still he should have some happy days in the loaded Tigers lineup if he can transition to the AL without problem. He could be a top 10 shortstop, but top 15 is more likely.
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