Finally, things are happening! Wait, an exclamation point in the title, and to close the first sentence of this post?? Feels a little desperate, but maybe a little desperate is just what I’ve been… desperate for some intriguing, consequence-inducing major league baseball transactions, that is. And sure enough, some actual interesting major league baseball trades and moves are happening, trades and moves that have actual interesting implications in fantasy, hence my inability to refrain from the exclamation points. It’s a frustrating time of year if your team(s) are already out of the hunt, but if you have even one league where you’re still in it (or a keeper league where moves you make now affect your team’s future), then it’s worth paying a little extra attention to baseball this week.
When stuff goes down, the effects tend to be magnified in the world of NL-only, AL-only, and other deep leagues. A rock thrown in the ocean might not even be noticeable, but the same rock tossed into a tiny pond can make quite a series of ripples. And so it goes with trade implications in the deep-league world – one crummy closer getting traded to a new team to become a set-up man on another can set of a series of player value changes, waiver wire activity, and FAAB pickups that might make what proves to be a make-or-break difference to your pretend squad of real-life major league baseball players. A minor league promotion/demotion can give you or taketh away from you a player that can make an awfully big difference to you fantasy team – there’s still a lot of time left, after all. Keep your head in the game, check your preferred online sources of information a little more often, and don’t be the one to miss out on a move that could ultimately cost you a fantasy title two months from now. (!!!)
These names may be a bit anticlimactic after a build-up promising fantasy baseball excitement, but that’s the great things about the deepest of leagues: you never know who your next hero will be.
Kirby Yates. Had to re-write my Yates blurb, because I wrote it before the Maurer/Buchter trade. I would have told you that I picked him up in an NL-only league the other day after being impressed watching him pitch and he might be a nice speculative future provider of saves for those mining for such things. Actually, that’s the exact same thing I’ll tell you now, but with the added bonus that Yates has moved up a couple spots in the bullpen already. Even if Brad Hand sticks around and/or Phil Maton ends up closing, Yates should play a pretty important role in the Padres’ bullpen. Oh, and he also happens to be pitching really, really well.
Brett Phillips. Also had to re-write my Phillips blurb, because I wrote it before Keon Broxton was demoted. It’s almost like you can see these things coming sometimes! Again, he goes from speculative if-you-have-room add, to something that should be owned across the board in NL-only until we see how things play out. Phillips has a bad habit of striking out waaaay too much, but he was a top-ranked prospect very recently and <playing time plus motivation plus Miller Park> is a not-too-complicated equation that can at times equal fantasy goodness.
Luis Garcia. Got a save for the Phillies with a clean inning on Sunday, presumably because Hector Neris had pitched two days in a row. Neris has been okay lately and is still the closer in Philly, but Garcia seems to have locked down the top set-role, for what it’s worth. Could end up being valuable this year, could end up being valuable next year, could end up not being valuable at all – but not much reason not to take a chance and find out.
Cory Spangenberg. I decided to mention him because I feel like I see him every dang time I watch baseball highlights of any kind; without looking at numbers he just feels like one of those clutch guys, for lack of a better term. He’s owned in 11% of CBS leagues, so he’s not going to be floating in the wire in the deepest in NL onlys, but I think that number could still be a tad higher. Spangenberg is batting .272 with 8 homers, 6 steals, 28 runs and 30 RBI. No, not too exciting to mere mixed-league mortals, but he qualifies at multiple positions and I have a few near-dead spots in my deepest leagues where just that much production would have given me a few extra points here and there (and don’t forget Spangenberg missed almost all of April).
Miguel Rojas. The Marlins appeared ready to hand shortstop to J.T. Riddle following the Adeiny Hechevarria trade, but Riddle has been a disaster at the plate of late – he’s hitting a buck fifty with one RBI and one run scored over the last two weeks. Rojas has been seeing more starts of late and had a run scored and an RBI in Sunday’s game… no, not particularly impressive, but consider that Riddle had scored exactly one run and had exactly one RBI in the entire two weeks prior to that. Oh, now I see that Riddle is having shoulder issues. Regardless, there’s not much to recommend where Rojas is concerned, but if you’re chasing at bats in a league deep enough that you’re down to 1% owned players, he’s been getting more of them recently.
Tyler Moore. Another Marlin who will be getting more starts, now that Justin Bour has hit the DL. Also another guy who you aren’t going to be interested in outside of a deep NL-only league where you’re just looking for bodies who play major league baseball to fill out your roster. Moore, at least, has a little pop in him, as they say.
Alex Presley. Presley recently has been batting in the 2-hole, as regression (finally) is catching up to Alex Avila, who’s been dropped down in the lineup. Presley’s never going to be fantasy relevant outside the deepest of leagues, but hey, the deepest of leagues are what we’re talking about here. He’s been hot of late, and if that continues he should be able to help a bit in the runs and average departments.
Tyler Clippard. Okay, this blurb was going to be about Anthony Swarzak, since he got a save for the White Sox Monday even though Rick Renteria had announced beforehand that Clippard would be the guy for saves. In major league bullpens that are a complete mess, why does it seem like every time a manager annoints a guy his closer, someone else gets the next save? Anyway, Swarzak got traded even sooner than I thought he would, so Clippard may be the last man standing in the White Sox bullpen contest for now. He’s been pitching absolutely horribly, so it’s a little hard to think this situation will end well for anyone (except teams facing the White Sox in the ninth inning).
Chris Smith. How does a 36-year old with a 4.37 ERA over 16 minor league seasons have three quality starts in his first three major league attempts, with a 2.77 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP? No idea, but folks are buying into him as his CBS ownership has gone from 0 to 10% of late. I can’t imagine things aren’t going to get ugly for him in a hurry, and I mention him only as someone whose bandwagon you might want to steer clear of.
Kaleb Cowart. Recalled by the Angels and may play some second base for them. Cowart has looked overmatched in his previous major league stints, with a .187 average over the last few seasons (134 total at bats). He did have 19 steals in AAA this season, though, so if he is able to provide any fantasy value at all, that’s most likely where it will be. (Tuesday night update: Cowart 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored… woo hoo!)