Fantasy Impact of NL to AL Guys
I’m going to take a look at the guys moved all around during the deadline, but only from the fantasy angle. So it is less about judging the team’s front office on the returns whether short or long term, but rather about how these players can have fantasy impact for you in the next two months and beyond (for prospects).
Ubaldo Jimenez (COL to CLE) – There is a lot of talk about much Jimenez has struggled this year which is expected because comparing his 2.88 ERA and 1.15 WHIP from 2010 to his 4.46 and 1.37 marks this year tells us he has been significantly worse. But has he really? The one significant cause for concern is the drop in fastball velocity from 96 MPH to 93 MPH. Velocity drops are often an indicator of trouble, but beyond that there isn’t a great deal of difference in Jimenez’s profile.
He has a 2.3 K/BB rate for the third straight with virtually identical components to last year’s: 8.69 K/9 & 3.74 BB/9 in 2010; 8.63 K/9 & 3.73 BB/9 in 2011. I don’t usually go two places after the decimal point, but I wanted to show just how close it has been. His xFIP and SIERA are remarkable steady over the last three years with xFIPs of 3.59, 3.60, and 3.56 this year while his SIERAs are 3.77, 3.68 and 3.56 this year.
I realize most leagues don’t use xFIP or SIERA but the point is that he is pitching better than his ERA suggests. The big differences are a career-high .312 BABIP (.280 and .271 the last two years) and severe struggles with men on base leading to a career-worst LOB% of 67% (74% and 77% the last two years; league-average is around 72%).
Another concern for many is his moving from the NL to AL as it is a league generally tougher on pitchers due in large part to replacing the pitcher batting with a designated hitter. I would theorize that the change in park factors from Coors Field to Jacobs Field (shut up, Flo from the insurance company) would mitigate the league difference. Coors Field significantly plays up 1B, 2B, 3B and HR while Jacobs Field plays essentially neutral or pitcher-heavy to all eight (each category for righties and lefties) except left-hander home runs (107 park factor, which is still an improvement from Coors’ 113).
This is the prize of the trade deadline for AL-only leaguers and if you need an arm then you need to take your chances on Jimenez. He leaves a massively under-performing and disappointing team in Colorado for a pennant race in Cleveland which can only help. At the very least, I think it would be a neutral factor. His K/9 when slotted into the AL leaderboard is 6th-best so he is even better in 5×5 leagues. The velocity drop may in fact be problematic, but his profile says there isn’t a reason for grave concern. He could be a game-changer down the stretch for any team capable of real traction in strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. Wins are always a crapshoot, but there is no denying that the Indians have been sticking around for four months and this kind of big time trade could spark the whole team. Or not. Don’t chase wins.
Colby Rasmus (StL to TOR) – The Blue Jays earned raved reviews for plucking Rasmus from the Cardinals for what amounts to a pile of parts since Edwin Jackson wasn’t really a Jay except in passing. I do think it was a nice pickup for the long term especially in light of what they gave up, but for the rest of 2011 it might not make that much of a fantasy impact. Since the potential is there, I understand putting a significant portion of FAAB on him and even encourage it, but you have to be prepared for it to not work out.
The simple fact is he is regressing by the month. After an .867 OPS in April, he has fallen to .777 then .684 and then most recently .544 in August. A player of his caliber is unlikely to show up on the wire throughout the remainder of the season so take a chance on the upside if an offensive spark is what you’re missing. Last year he ended the season on a very high note with a .318/.403/.514 line and four home runs, 12 RBIs, 19 runs scored and two stolen bases in 107 at-bats in September. Let’s hope this fresh start rejuvenates him and gets back to the Rasmus we saw in 2010 and the first month of 2011.
Mike Adams (SD to TEX) – His move in home ballpark is just about the opposite of Jimenez’s, but as a short reliever there is less chance that it will greatly impact his rock solid skills profile. He strikes out more than a batter per inning (9.2 K/9), doesn’t walk anybody (1.7 BB/9) and induces a decent amount of groundballs (46%) so I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to excel despite the move to a hitter’s park in the more hitter-friendly league.
As a reliever, it’s not like he was facing pitchers in the 7th and 8th innings anyway. He is worth a few bucks as the last man on your pitching staff and might be worth even a few extra bucks if you’re in dire need of saves and don’t mind speculating. Rangers manager Ron Washington has publicly soured on Neftali Feliz a bit and while that might just be his way of motivating him, he might also be looking for a reason to make a change (even though it’s his fault Feliz is there in the first place when he should be in the rotation).
Kosuke Fukudome (CHC to CLE) – Those in OBP leagues take note, Fukudome has gotten on base at a 36% or better clip all four years in the majors and 37% or better in each of the last three years. That’s really ALL he does, though. He has three home runs and two stolen bases on the season. I understand that leadoff is hardly a run-producing spot in the lineup, but despite more than 300 plate appearances there, Fukudome has 12 RBIs. The next worst is Austin Jackson with 24. Of course a lot of that goes on the Cubs and their anemic offense, but he has never had more than 60 RBIs in a season. He should be looked at as a 4th or 5th outfielder at best.
Brandon Allen (ARI to OAK) – This feels like a pretty typical Oakland pickup, doesn’t it? Allen has thwarted AAA quite handily alas he is headed back there for now, but many suspect the A’s will give him a legitimate shot to see if they finally have a first basemen who is fantasy relevant (sorry, Daric Barton). Allen has only gotten 65 games spread out across the last three years and while his line is a meager .213/.325/.404, he does have eight home runs and 27 RBIs, numbers that pace out to 27 and 91 in 600 at-bats. A dollar reserve player in leagues where reserves are applicable, otherwise keep an eye out for his return to the majors which should happen at some point this year.