BY TIM McLEOD
The interleague trade deadline has come and gone, so this week we’re going to deal with some of the ramifications of the few deals that actually got done. The big winners are the Pirates, who got four solid prospects for Jason Bay, and the Yankees, who always seem to manage to fill in holes in their lineup as they head down the stretch. How did New York manage to steal Pudge Rodriguez away from the Tigers, who are only six and a half games back and starting to close ground in the AL Central? For all the hype of the trade deadline, other than the two big deals, things came and went with relative calm this year. Most teams seem to be standing pat for the time being. For those playing in AL- and NL-only leagues, prepare to cough up the big bucks for both Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay, two very big difference makers heading into the stretch run.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at some potential wire picks for this coming week.
Brandon Moss, Pittsburgh, OF: Moss is one of the four prospects the Pirates acquired in the three-way-deal involving the Red Sox and Dodgers. Last year at Triple-A Pawtucket, Moss hit 16 homers and drove in 78 runs with a decent .282 BA. This year, in 163 at bats, Moss hit eight HR with 30 RBI and a .282 BA. Do you notice a trend developing here? It looks like the bar has been set and, heading forward, we can expect more of the same. The 24-year-old Moss is definitely going to get playing time, expecially against righties, and is a decent addition in NL-only formats.
Yusmeiro Petit, Arizona, SP: Petit has finally forced his way into the lineup for the Diamondbacks. The ongoing struggles of Micah Owings has given the 23-year-old Petit another opportunity to start this year. Back on July 2, Petit two-hit the Brewers in one of the two starts he’s made for ‘Zona this season. In his brief career, Petit has been part of two trades, the original one for Carlos Delgado and then the deal that sent him to the desert for Jorge Julio. This year at Triple-A Tucson, Petit has issued only eight walks while striking out 67 in 60 IP. It would seem he is finally ready to be a part of the Arizona rotation, making him a solid add in NL-only leagues, and someone who should be on the radar in mixed formats.
Andy LaRoche, Pittsburgh, 3B: The 24-year-old top prospect, acquired this past week from the Dodgers in the three-way deal discussed above, is moving right into the third base slot for the Pirates. As a 23-year-old at Las Vegas in the PCL last season, he managed a fine line of 18 homer, 48 RBI and a .309 BA in just a half a season. The kid has demonstrated at the highest minor league level that he has all the tools, and now that he’s with the Pirates, he will certainly get the opportunity to play, making him an asset in NL-only and deep keeper formats. The fact that he’ll have his older brother Adam there to help him develop should prove to be a boon for both LaRoches. While they’re reuniting families, maybe the Buccos should go retro and bring back Dave and his LaLob.
Kyle Farnsworth, Detroit, RP: Farnsworth was acquired this past week for Ivan Rodriguez and he should provide some short-term relief to the beleagured Tiger bullpen. Detroit, with the shoulder injury suffered by Todd Jones and the ongoing control issues of Joel Zumaya, is a bit short in the bullpen at this time. Fernando Rodney currently has the closer gig for the Tigers, forcing Manager Jim Leyland to up his intake to three packs of smokes per day. If Rodney continues to flounder, Farnsworth should be next in line for saves in the Motor City, making him a solid acquisition in all formats. Remember, he did manage to save 16 games for the Tigers and Braves back in 2005 before heading to New York to work in a set-up role for Mariano Rivera.
Brandon Inge, Detroit, C/3B/OF: Think back to only four months ago when Inge wanted to leave town after the trade for Miguel Cabrera. He eventually ended up playing centrefield while Curtis Granderson was hurt and now with the trade of I-Rod to the Yankees, Inge finds himself the primary catcher in Tiger Town. Quite the change in fortunes, isn’t it? Inge can hit for power, albeit with a poor average, but with the increased playing time, he needs to be added in all AL-only formats and is worth of a gamble in deeper mixed formats that require two catchers.
Emilio Bonifacio, Washington, 2B: Bonifacio was acquired from Arizona in the recent deal for Jon Rauch. Since the trade, he has hit .458 with three thefts at Triple-A Columbus, prompting a promotion to Washington on August 1. It looks like the Nationals are going to give the kid the opportunity to bat in the lead-off slot, and his combination of speed and average makes him a solid acquisition in both NL-only leagues and any format where stolen bases are a need.
Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh, SP: The 25-year-old righty was acquired as part of the Xavier Nady / Damaso Marte deal with the Yankees. He blanked the Cubs on six hits and four walks through six innings Friday. Karstens does not possess an overpowering fastball and has to rely on his breaking stuff to be successful. He’s a potential innings-eater that should be treated with caution and only considered in NL-only leagues.
Joe Mather, St. Louis, OF: The season ending injury to Chris Duncan, and the abdominal strain suffered by Rick Ankiel has opened the door for Mather to get some increased playing time. In the past week, he has hit three homers, driven in seven and is batting a solid .321. Ankiel is tentatively slated to be back this week, but Manager Tony La Russa has demonstrated that he will find ways to get at bats for the hot hand. Mather is a solid acquisition in NL-only leagues at this time.
Jeff Francis, Colorado, SP: Francis is scheduled to return Tuesday from a stint on the DL due to shoulder inflammation. He has struggled through a dismal 2008, with only three wins and a 5.67 ERA. Keep in mind that in 2007, he managed to post 17 wins and record a decent 4.22 ERA for the Rockies, so he has certainly proven he can do the job. During Francis’s recent rehab stint at Double-A Tulsa, he allowed only one earned run while striking out 19 in just 14 1/3 IP. He gets to face two of the worst offenses in the league this week in the Nationals and Padres, making him a decent addition in NL-only, H2H and deeper mixed formats.
Rocco Baldelli, Tampa Bay, OF: Will Baldelli ever return to the form that made him one of the top young players in the game? The jury is still out on this one, but he has just completed a very successful rehab stint at Double-A Montgomery and could be on the verge of being activated by the Rays. There are obviously some serious question marks here, but coming off a three-homer, eight-RBI, .297 BA performance during his 13-game stint with the Biscuits, Baldelli looks like a decent add in AL-only formats and a player who potentially could help in deeper leagues down the stretch.
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