The CIA’s plan to work out of a Petco concession stand because the stadium is so quiet is looking far less like a good plan to stay covert. “Did you just ask for two mustard packets with your hot pretzel because you have some information for us or because you simply want an extra mustard packet? If it’s the latter, one per customer.” Probably the worst call for a covert operation’s headquarters since the CIA opened an office in Vegas in the 1940’s. “It’s just a desert, no one’s coming here.” So, the Padres traded for Justin Upton because they are obviously intent on deflating outfielder stats everywhere. At least this outfielder has two hips that don’t resemble Abe Vigoda’s. (Still alive as of this writing, but may not be by the time you read this.) Maybe the Padres can trade Kemp for Pujols to create the Up-My-Pujols lineup. I came down hard on Matt Kemp in the non-sexual way when he went to San Diego, but that had as much to do with him being the first new bat they acquired (no one around him in the lineup yet), his health and his flakiness. As with the Myers trade, I’m less inclined to write off Upton simply due to Petco. Upton’s a guy in his prime that has hit everywhere when healthy. I don’t like to put too much weight on a player’s stats in their new stadium when they were still playing as a visiting player, but Upton has 10 HRs and a .291 average in 172 ABs in Petco in his career. That’s a HR every 17.2 ABs, which is better than his career rate (1 HR every 23 at-bats). Petco played like its usual “Are you sure the fences are out there? I can’t see them” self last year, but in 2013 it wasn’t as bad after they moved in the fences prior to that season, so I think last year’s putrid offense was more the Padres hitters streaming into a confluence of crap. (By the by, Confluence of Crap was my worst selling album, despite Rick Reuben producing it. I should’ve paid the extra money for the non-imposter, Rick Rubin.) Even in Petco, Upton feels like a 25-27 homer guy, which is what he was before. His steals are leaving his game quicker than a rhinoceros with plantar fasciitis, and he’s not a huge average guy, but writing him off due to Petco feels a bit too easy. He’ll be hitting in the middle of a lineup that is at least as good as the Braves last year and in a nearly neutral ballpark. For 2015, I’ll give him 81/27/95/.266/8. Anyway, here’s some more offseason moves for 2015 fantasy baseball:
Will Middlebrooks – Headed to the Padres for Ryan Hanigan, who became unnecessary after the Padres received Derek Norris. I liked the Hanigan get by the Padres due to his pitcher framing ability. I guess the Padres are gonna try out Aaron Brothers. As for Middlebrooks, he’s 3rd base depth. He makes more sense for fantasy than their current corner man, Yangervis Solarte, but Solarte fits better in their current lineup. They do have flexibility and I wouldn’t be surprised if Solarte moves to short, Middlebrooks goes to 3rd and Alexi Amarista becomes a super utility guy. That, of course, doesn’t help Middlebrooks hit over .200. For 2015, I’ll give Middlebrooks the projections of 31/10/38/.212/1.
Josh Johnson – Signed with the Padres. After the deal was finalized, Johnson said, “I just love the San Diego-area hospitals.”
Derek Norris – The A’s sell-off and Padres buy-on (Sell-to-me? Gimme-gimme-gimme?) continues as Norris heads to the Padres. Next thing you know, Billy Beane’s daughter from Moneyball is going to be singing the National Anthem for the Padres. Or Jonah Hill and his nerdculator. In Oakland, Norris was a platoon catcher, but saw time at DH, so it’s kinda tomato-tomato with a different emphasis for his playing time in San Diego. For 2015, I’ll give him 50/12/59/.252/4.
David Ross – Signed with the Cubs. Is it just me or do you expect David Ross to be a major league manager within five years? He could be a total idiot who refers to eHow to tie his shoes, but he feels like a major league manager. Maybe I’ll see if he’ll co-manage one of my fantasy teams this year, so he can bulk up his resume.
Jesse Hahn – Went the other way in the Norris trade. This has the makings of Beane looking like a genius. Really not entirely sure why the Padres gave Hahn away. Was it because he didn’t continue to laugh when the front office would repeatedly say, “Talk to the Hahn cause the face don’t give a damn?” I already have a Hahn sleeper post written, and it’s full-steam ahead now.
Jace Peterson – Went to the Braves in the Upton deal. Wanna know what the Braves are doing this offseason? Come sit next to me and I’ll tell you. They’re punting offense. I have no idea why. Maybe it’s like when someone vomits in your car and you can’t get rid of the smell so you drive the car off a cliff for an insurance claim. Not sure. Right now, Peterson doesn’t have a starting job, but I like him a ton more than Callaspo, so I’m watching him like a cyclops with a monocle in the spring. For 2015, I’ll give him 35/2/28/.242/15 and an eventual platoon at 2nd base.
Kris Medlen – Signed with the Royals but won’t be ready for Opening Day, unless the North Koreans threaten MLB that if Shin-Soo Choo isn’t forced to retire, they’ll do something which will have Opening Day pushed back three months, then Medlen might make Opening Day.
Jake Peavy – Re-signed with the Giants. After Bumgarner, to find a Giants starter in San Fran, then all you need to do is find a hill and go over it. Peavy’s been a Hall of Fame pitcher in the NL West and barely major league ready in the American League. In NL West parks, he has a lifetime 3.20 ERA in 1092 IP. In 726 1/3 IP in the AL, he has a 4.20 ERA. He’ll likely be someone most drafters don’t give much mind to, but in deeper leagues Peavy-type draft picks can help you win your league. For 2015, I’ll give him 12-8/3.57/1.22/152.
Casey McGehee – Traded to the Giants. With the lose of Sandoval, the Giants got the next best thing. Someone who has watched sumo in person and can replicate it. For 2015, I’ll give McGehee the projections of 57/6/61/.261/3.
Martin Prado – To the Marlins where he will play 3rd base. A lot of other fantasy baseball ‘perts will tell you that Prado has great position eligibility. This is true, but I find it’s more of an annoyance with Prado, because no matter what position you’re looking at on waivers, you always have to look at Prado. For 2015, I’ll give him 58/10/67/.262/3.
David Phelps – Also went to the Marlins. His starting rotation job will depend on if Haren really retires and who gets the 5th starter slot. Phelps will likely see at least 15 starts in the rotation just by filling in for others. The Yanks, meanwhile, hope this trade of Phelps works out better than their last trade of a Phelps. “My baseball people loved Phelps! They kept saying, ‘Get Phelps, get Phelps.'” For 2015, I’ll give him 6-7/3.57/1.26/116 in 130 IP.
Garrett Jones – Also went to the Yankees or as I now call their offense, Old and/or Crappy. O a/o C is a perfect landing spot for Jones. There, they will appreciate his O a/o C. Jones wasn’t in a platoon last year, but he should’ve been. My natch’s grande! For 2015, I’ll give him 44/12/52/.252/2, though I’m honestly not entirely sure how the Yankees are going to play so much O a/o C in one lineup.
Robert Refsnyder – With the trade of Prado, Refsnyder now supposedly has a starting job. Maybe it’s the decades — seriously, decades — since the Yankees put a rookie in an everyday role, but I don’t trust them to play Refsnyder. I feel like he’s going to be one of those hot names drafted in late-February and early-March, then he’ll be dropped at the end of March when he doesn’t make the team. If that’s not the case, the other likely scenario is he gets drafted way higher than he should because of the Yankee thing and Refsnyder is the kind of guy that jazzes people — he does a lot with a little. Watching him bat, he looks like Craig Biggio, which doesn’t mean he’ll be 1/10th the player of Biggio. He just looks like him to me. For 2015, I’ll give him 57/7/61/.274/12.
Nathan Eovaldi – To Yanks in the Prado trade. A fast fastball does not make a pitcher (though it makes you sound like a stutterer). In 199 2/3 IP last year, Eovaldi averaged a 95.5 MPH, which was the fourth fastest fastball on average for all starters. Number one was Garrett Richards, then Yordano Ventura, then Wily Peralta, and Stephen Strasburg came in right after Eovaldi. Each have their own peccadilloes, but I’d target any of them if they were all healthy (that’s a nod to Richards), even the unsexy Peralta had a 3.53 ERA last year. Last year, Eovaldi had a 3.37 FIP and 3.78 xFIP due to a poor BABIP and a tad unlucky LOB%. That means, all things being equal, Eovaldi should’ve had an ERA in the high threes. So, right there, he’s already better than the 4.37 ERA from last year. The other issue with him is the 6.40 K/9. It’s not terrific. He did have moments in the low minors where he had a 8+ K/9, and you’d think with his velocity he’d be able to get more swings and misses. Well, I’d think it, at least. He doesn’t get many hitters to chase pitches outside the strike zone (66th worst last year for qualified starters), and his swing and miss percentage isn’t much better (8.4%, good for about 53rd worst). These actually moved up from 2013. Something else that moved up dramatically? Ew, gross, get your hands out of your pants! What also progressed was his walk rate. Last year, he had a 1.9 BB/9. That is 22nd best in the majors, and the only pitchers he really matches up with velocity and control are Strasburg and Jeff Samardzija. This is common sense, but when you throw the ball fast and can control it good things can and should happen, i.e., you can put the ball where hitters can’t hit it. Oh, and we don’t have to worry about him only throwing a partial season. He’s 24 years old and he just came off a 200 IP season. One little step forward and Eovaldi becomes a top 40 starter and everyone wishes they had him. The fantastic thing about him, he’s going to be as cheap as the oregano you pawned off as marijuana to your friends in high school. For 2015, I’ll give him the projections of 10-8/3.73/1.31/148.
Corey Hart – To the Pirates. He’s only two years removed from being a 30-homer, 5-steal guy. And Bill Cosby is only two years away from being lovable. What’s your point?