The Braves had the 5th best ERA last year in the major leagues. That’s with a down year by Mike Minor, and injuries to Brandon Beachy and Kris Medlen. Their runs scored were second to last in the majors. Only the Padres’ offense was worse. So, naturally, they trade away Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden for Shelby Miller and Tyrell Jenkins, who had a sub-5 K/9 in High-A last year. Oh…*pounds out a chicken cutlet, fills it with spinach and ricotta cheese, rolls it up, ties it with twine, bakes it on 450 for 18-22 minutes, pulls it out and breathes in the aroma* …kay. That’s the Chicken Florentine pause. Practiced by many, only able to be pulled off by a few. I rarely pull out the Chicken Florentine pause, but trading a top hitting prospect that is only 25 years old, when your team is hurting for offense, is straight up baffling with a pickleback. Are the Braves trying to bring the entire organization down to Fredi’s level of intelligence? Did Fredi tell management that they had too many top of the order hitters (they have none) and they needed another arm (they don’t)? Are the Braves trying to get featured in the third sequel to Major League? I got questions, y’all! From a fantasy perspective, Heyward’s value goes up simply because the Cardinals are a better offensive team. Like someone doing yoga, Heyward will now be surrounded by Matts, Carpenter and Holliday. What will Heyward produce? Go ask the Sphinx. One year he looks like a 30-homer hitter, another year he looks like a middle infielder with 20 steal speed. He could be anywhere from a 15-homer guy to a 30-homer guy. The 20 steals, now in two of five seasons, looks possible, until you see he has a year of only 2 steals. His .271 average last year is around his career average (.262), so that seems repeatable, until you see his .227 average in 2011. At some point, he could have a 30-homer, 20-steal top 20 fantasy season, but to say it’s definitely coming is you lying to yourself. You already lie to yourself in other areas of your life, let’s not start with Heyward too. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 91/20/75/.274/15. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:
Shelby Miller – Okay, I didn’t like him this past year, but he’ll probably be a 2.75 ERA pitcher on the Braves. I’m only slightly exaggerating when I say the NL East has two hitters in the entire division to fear: Stanton and Harper. And last year it was only Stanton. Doug Fister had a 2.41 ERA last year, and he only struck out 98 batters in 164 IP. That’s egregious, Jackie Chiles. I’m not a huge Miller fan due to the lack of Ks (6.25 K/9 last year), and his walk rate (3.59). However, he did pitch terrifically in September if you’re into small sample sizes — That’s what she said! Huh? — with a 1.48 BB/9 in September. If he can hold that walk rate for 2015, he’s a top 30 pitcher next year. I have my doubts about going that far, but I still think he gains value with this move. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections 12-9/3.52/1.23/152.
Anthony Gose – Traded to the Tigers. The Tigers grabbed Gose because they have a need…a need for speed! This might be the best landing spot for Gose. Not because he’ll fall into an everyday starting job, which he might, but because he’ll be able to intern for Rajai, The King of SAGNOF. Regarding the trade, King Rajai said, “I’m going to put him in charge of an entire branch of government. That branch is grapes, and he can hand-feed them to me.” Gose’s fantasy value really comes down to whether or not he gets the starting job. Right now, it looks promising, but the Tigers could still get a free agent. If he’s starting, this will be huge and he could be a sneaky 40-steal guy. Stay tuned. Or not. Your choice.
Devon Travis – Went the other way in the Gose trade. He’s only going to be 24 years old in 2015, but for the Blue Jays that’s hella old. They be promoting bros on the reg. Damn, I tried drop as many outdated phrases as I could, but I came up a bit short. Better luck next time, Grey! And stop talking in the third person you sound like a dope! On the fo’really, the Jays promote prospects aggressively and have Maicer Izturis plugged into 2nd base right now. Someone on the Jays is going to pull a De Niro this offseason and tell Maicer to go check out the furs down an alleyway. In Double-A, Travis had 10 homers, 16 steals and .298 average. I.e., he looks like Martin Prado or Omar Infante. I.e. Part II, More I Before E, I’m not going to be a huge fan of him in the spring, but is usable in deep leagues if he’s starting.
Michael Cuddyer – Turned down a deal with the Rockies to sign with Mets. Cuddyer doesn’t sound Polish, but I’d like to see his family tree. If I thought Cuddyer could stay healthy, I’d give him an outside chance at 20 homers and a .280 average. Since he can’t, I don’t. The last year he hit in a home park other than Coors, he hit .284 and was only 32 years old. Now, he’s 35, injury-prone and moving to Metco. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 62/15/68/.272/4. That’s good…for a 2nd catcher. Snap!
Hank Conger – Traded to the Astros. Five over-the-internet dollars says Conger blossoms away from The Sciosciapath just like Napoli did. I’m not saying Conger will suddenly be a ten-team league catcher out of the spring, but I bet he plays a lot more than anyone thinks right now, and ends up a steal as a second catcher in two-catcher leagues. He has 15-homer upside and could hit for a decent average. Plus, the Astros seem done with Jason Castro. This won’t be the last time I mention Conger this offseason. Bible!
Nick Tropeano – Went the other way to the Angels in the Conger trade. I did a quick search of what I had said previously about Tropeano, and I said in September that he could be a sleeper in 2015. Apparently, September Grey is also running on fumes from a long season, and those fumes are of the diesel variety. I also said back in September, Tropeano went to a technical school with Arthur Fonzarelli and Joseph Tribbiani Jr. Interesting trivia, September Grey! Tropeano’s Triple-A numbers aren’t terrible, but his stuff also reads more like a 6+ K/9 guy rather the 8.7 K/9 guy he was in the minors last year. May surprise for deep leagues, but will likely go undrafted in most mixed leagues.
Tommy La Stella – Also traded by the Braves, because the Braves are pretending to have a lot of offense. La Stella was acquired by the Cubs, which is a bizarre move for them, too. Maybe Theo Epstein’s research shows less grounders get through when a team uses a six-man infield, and Bartman’s dog ate the fly ball research. Either way, I think the Cubs aren’t done making moves. (Please, Yankees, take Castro.)
Russell Martin – Signed by the Blue Jays for $82 million. The money doesn’t mean anything for fantasy other than he’s going to make eight-two million dollars! Are we all living in Russell Martin’s fantasy? Is this how come he got to date my 12-year-old-self’s crush, Alyssa Milano? Is Russell Martin our overlord? For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 53/13/69/.248/6 or whatever he wants since apparently we’re all living in his snow globe.
Jeremy Hellickson – Traded to the Diamondbacks. The best way to eat a banana is if it’s dipped in chocolate. Dipping a banana in chocolate is the baseball equivalent to pitching for the Padres in Petco. Hellickson was just dipped in melted carob chips. He’s better than he was, but it’s not chocolate, and after a while there’s gonna be a funky aftertaste. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 11-13/3.71/1.31/142.
Giancarlo Stanton – Signed a deal for $325 million to stay with the Marlins for 13 years. Looks like I know who’s paying for our sundaes when I daydream about our man-dates. Was this signing contingent on the approval of all future owners of the Marlins? We all know damn well Loria’s not going to own the Marlins for the next 13 years. This deal reminds me of the documentary, The Queen of Versailles. For those that haven’t see the documentary, imagine you were to install a hot tub into your Camaro, and now you have to sell your Camaro because you can’t afford the water bills. That’s Loria.
A.J. Burnett – Signed with the Pirates. Burnett returns to a club where he found some success and where he originally started his interminable retirement talk. Last year, he had a 8-18 record with a 4.59 ERA, but he was a tad unlucky, and could see him bouncing back a bit with the projections of 12-13/3.87/1.31/182. 182 is his projected Ks, not projected number of times he’ll announce his retirement.