We're about to determine the validity of that statement.
Damon will sign a one-year, $8 million contract with the Detroit Tigers, pending a physical, a league source told ESPN's Karl Ravech. ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney also notes that none of the $8 million is deferred, so for a player who lingered on the free-agent market noticeably longer than comparable talents, Damon actually makes out pretty well with the deal. He'll take over as the Tigers' everyday left fielder and leadoff hitter, according to the Detroit News.
But concerns that shedding the pinstripes will hurt Damon's value are valid, and if there's anyone that can build you a case that Damon did indeed need the Yankees, it's an astute fantasy owner. Statistics are our focus, and it's his numbers that build the case that his value should suffer with the move to Detroit.
That goes beyond the mere fact Damon hit 17 of his 24 home runs last season at new Yankee Stadium, or rumblings that the Yankees' new home ballpark is one of the more hitter-friendly environments in all of baseball. The latter, in fact, isn't entirely true; Yankee Stadium over the course of the season proved homer-friendly, but it wasn't necessarily hit- or run-friendly.
What matters, regarding Damon's power numbers, is that he averaged 16 home runs per year in the four seasons prior to last season, and 18 during his first three seasons in pinstripes, numbers that underscore the fact he's, simply put, not a 24-homer hitter. In his 14 full big league seasons he has averaged 15 homers a year, and that's including 2009, and if you look at his fly ball rates, 2009 (42.3 percent of all balls in play) represented the only season, in the eight seasons in which Fangraphs.com provided that data, in which he hit more fly balls than anything else, not to mention had a fly ball rate greater than 40 percent.
Hittrackeronline.com provides some interesting data about the Yankees' new ballpark, in fact, pointing out that Damon hit three home runs there that would not have been homers at the team's previous home. That tied him with Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira for the team lead. Damon also had five homers the site classified as "just enough," trailing only Derek Jeter (7) and Alex Rodriguez (6).
In addition, it's important to note that Yankee Stadium tended to be at its most homer-friendly in the early weeks of the season; the Yankees and their opponents averaged 3.78 home runs per game there in the months of April and May, compared to 2.59 the remainder of the season. Damon belted seven of his homers in 22 home games in April and May (one per 3.14 games), and 10 in 51 the rest of the year (one per 5.10). Let the weathermen decide whether the temperatures or the wind were responsible for the absurd early season offensive numbers if they wish, but the bottom line is that the early season offensive numbers were absurd -- and Damon clearly capitalized, padding his homer and RBI totals.
So what might he do in Detroit? Comerica Park isn't exactly a pitchers' haven -- at least not to the levels it was in its early days -- but it's indeed a drop-off in terms of the Park Factor. Or, more accurately, it's a drop-off from Yankee Stadium's 2009 numbers, and that's what counts. To say Damon is a better bet for 14 homers than 24 in Detroit isn't any stretch, and it'd be foolish to ignore that the three players likely to bat seventh, eighth and ninth, Brandon Inge, Gerald Laird and Adam Everett, had on-base percentages of .314, .306 and .288 last season. Considering Damon had Jeter (.406) batting ahead of him, and often Melky Cabrera (.336) in either the eight or nine hole, it's also likely Damon's RBI total will suffer.
To that point: Curtis Granderson batted leadoff 130 times for the 2009 Tigers, and he managed 71 RBIs overall despite hitting 30 homers. That's 11 fewer RBIs than Damon had, despite six more home runs.
A 15-homer, 70-RBI campaign with 20-steal potential does still have value in fantasy, but it paints Damon into a middle-round/third- or fourth-outfielder role in mixed formats. You shouldn't be paying for his 2009 statistics; you should probably be paying between 80-85 percent in value. Damon finished 78th on our Player Rater, but more likely he should land somewhere in the 125 range in 2010.
A final worry: Damon's eroding outfield defense, particularly his weak throwing arm that almost guarantees runners score from second on singles, will be a minus for the Tigers' pitchers. If their strand rates take a slight hit, which would rear its ugly head with a small uptick in ERA, don't be at all surprised.
Tristan H. Cockcroft is a fantasy baseball analyst for ESPN.com and a two-time champion of the League of Alternative Baseball Reality (LABR) experts league. You can e-mail him here, or follow him on Twitter @SultanofStat.
The Florida Marlins picked up Nick Johnson from the Washington Nationals for Double-A pitcher Aaron Thompson, which is an underrated move. Johnson hasn't hit for power this season, but at least he's been on the field for most of his team's games. Injuries, you see, have been quite the problem for Johnson. He is hitting .295 with an on-base percentage over .400, which means he's a lot more valuable to a major league lineup than Emilio Bonifacio, who runs like the wind but can't get on base, doesn't have power and is not a good third baseman.
Expect the Marlins to move Jorge Cantu to third base, and Johnson to hit near the top of the Florida batting order and get on base quite a bit. If you own Bonifacio, tough luck, but his playing time should have been cut months ago. Johnson is owned in only 17 percent of ESPN standard mixed leagues, and if you didn't want him before, not much changes after this trade.
Washington can move Adam Dunn to first base, where he probably can't hurt the team and its pitchers as much as when he was in the outfield, so that's good news. The Nationals should promote Elijah Dukes from Triple-A Syracuse and see whether they've got a part of their future in place. Dukes is hitting .288 for the Chiefs with three home runs and five stolen bases in 19 games. Nyjer Morgan and Josh Willingham are playing every day in the Washington outfield, and maybe Austin Kearns or Willie Harris get to play more, but you might not even notice.
That was one of two deals the Nationals made Friday. The Rockies helped pick apart the Washington carcass by giving up minor leaguer pitchers Ryan Mattheus and Robinson Fabian to get lefty reliever Joe Beimel. Once upon a time, Beimel was named by former Nationals manager Manny Acta as next in line to close, but that never happened. The Rockies have one of the best closers right now in Huston Street, and Beimel will help newly acquired Rafael Betancourt in a set-up role. There's no fantasy value here on the Colorado or Washington side.
It might look odd that the free-falling Cincinnati Reds were buyers on trade deadline day, picking up Scott Rolen from the Toronto Blue Jays, but this is a move for 2010 as well. Rolen is one of the top fielding third basemen in baseball, and he was hitting a career-best .320, though with not much power. Adding him to a lefty-leaning lineup is a good move and certainly helps Reds pitchers. Then again, Rolen is 34 years old, and the Reds did give up a guy who hit 26 home runs last season, as well as prospects. Those in NL-only leagues shouldn't get too excited about Rolen, but he is worth owning. His value in mixed leagues doesn't change much.
Toronto gets Edwin Encarnacion, a butcher at third base but someone who does hit for power. Encarnacion missed much of this season with a wrist injury, and he didn't hit for average last season anyway. Encarnacion is 26 and could be a nice power source in 2010, so keep him on your radar for then, but don't expect him to do much the rest of this season, as he has continued to struggle since coming off the DL.
Josh Roenicke has been someone I had pegged as Cincinnati's future closer, and he had been in the majors a few times this season, pitching effectively in 13 1/3 innings. Down at Triple-A Louisville, he saved 12 games, and he instantly becomes a dark horse for saves in the Toronto bullpen. Scott Downs has struggled of late, and he's not a young guy. Jason Frasor likely would get the call over Roenicke in the short term, but don't forget about the UCLA product in 2010.
This was one of two deals the Reds pulled off at the deadline with AL East teams.
They also traded the versatile Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Yankees for minor leaguer catcher Chase Weems. On the surface, this doesn't mean very much to fantasy owners. Hairston hit a stunning .326 in half a season for the Reds in 2008, but few believed he could sustain that batting average this year. He didn't, hitting near his career mark of .259.
Hairston doesn't bring much power to the table, but he can steal a base, and it's possible the Yankees, with the infield set, will use him as an option in center field. Brett Gardner broke his thumb and isn't expected back for a few weeks, and Melky Cabrera is about all they've got. Hairston could get on a hot streak like last year, but overall, the Yankees just added some cheap depth. Those in AL-only leagues might be interested if he steals 10 bases the rest of the way, but then again, that's about the best he could do.
It's not normal practice for players on the disabled list to get traded, but the San Diego Padres were apparently desperate to move Jake Peavy and his large salary, and the Chicago White Sox were more than pleased to complete a deal that nearly occurred two months ago.
The problem for fantasy owners is when will Peavy actually pitch again this season? The former Cy Young winner hasn't been on the mound since early June after tearing a tendon in his right ankle, and while the right-hander is making progress in his rehab assignment, there might not be much fantasy value here in one-year leagues. Peavy has a 3.97 ERA and 1.18 WHIP this season, and certainly leaving the Padres for any team with a decent batting order will result in better run support.
Then again, will that run support -- when he's healthy -- outweigh the fact Peavy cannot call Petco Park home anymore? Home runs get hit at U.S. Cellular Field. It's a lot tougher to do so at Petco Park. Peavy would likely see quite the adjustment in his stats; for the record, Peavy has a 3.58 ERA in eight starts at home this season, and a 4.60 ERA on the road. In his career, Peavy's splits are similarly lopsided, with a difference of more than one run between his home and road ERAs. Fantasy owners shouldn't forget about Peavy in 2010, but view this much like we did the Matt Holliday defection from Colorado to Oakland. That trade hurt Holliday's numbers, but he remained a top-30 hitter on draft day. Even if we're told he's 100 percent healthy, I'm doubtful Peavy would be ranked in my top 10 for starting pitchers next season. He should be good, but not the Peavy we've come to expect.
For this season, I'm not expecting more than 10 starts for Peavy with the White Sox, so fantasy owners shouldn't overreact in AL-only leagues, and those in mixed formats should try to stash him away for later, but they were doing that anyway. The White Sox will need to scramble a bit to fill the rotation spot, and I don't see a fantasy winner there in the short term. You don't want Bartolo Colon, trust me.
The Padres pick up a few major league-ready arms in Aaron Poreda and Clayton Richard, along with Adam Russell and Dexter Carter. Poreda has been a top prospect in the Chicago organization for a few years, and while the White Sox had used him in relief, he should be starting. Poreda is a high-upside left-hander who could really thrive in a large ballpark like Petco. The Padres could take their time with him, but his is a name to learn for 2010.
Those in AL-only leagues are probably disappointed Richard is gone, because he had pitched well of late. Like Poreda he is left-handed, but he's older and more mature, and should go right into the Padres' rotation. Richard had pitched eight innings in each of his past two outings and allowed one run in each. Again, put any fly ball/strikeout pitcher in San Diego and he can become interesting for fantasy owners. I think of the four pitchers the Padres received, Richard can help fantasy owners the most this season.
It's not surprising that Victor Martinez was traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Boston Red Sox, as it was being talked about much of this week, but Clay Buchholz was not included in the deal. Fantasy owners were looking for assurance that Buchholz would remain in some team's rotation the rest of 2009. Sorry, folks, we can't guarantee it. The Red Sox dealt pitchers Justin Masterson and a pair of minor leaguers to get Martinez, but they still have incredible rotation depth. The Martinez addition gives the Red Sox help at catcher and first base from a power-hitting switch-hitter who initially was having a really good season.
Then again, the Red Sox probably aren't concerned about Martinez's hitting trends this season, but fantasy owners should not overlook this. Martinez has seen his batting average drop each month this season, from .386 in April to .321 in May, .240 in June and .175 so far in July. I don't think that's a coincidence. He missed much of 2008 with multiple injuries, and hey, he's a catcher. Players at that position tend to get tired faster and at a far more noticeable level than other position players. Of course, Martinez is an upgrade over the older Jason Varitek, but most catchers see their numbers drop in the second half. It's generally not a good idea in fantasy to trade for any catcher after the All-Star break for this reason. Do I view Martinez any differently for fantasy now that he's in Boston? Not really. It's a deeper lineup and the people at the top get on base at a higher clip, but he already was playing every day and already was owned in every league, and while he was trending downward, he's still a top-three backstop in fantasy.
Varitek is the No. 13 catcher on ESPN's Player Rater -- Martinez is second, incidentally -- but you can forget about him keeping up his production with Martinez stealing playing time. I expect Martinez to play pretty much every day somewhere, giving Varitek, Mike Lowell and possibly David Ortiz days off. Varitek hit 10 home runs the first two months of the season, and since June 1, he has hit three. Is he tired, or did he just have a very good unsustainable start to 2009? How about both? Adding Martinez actually helps Varitek owners, in a way, since now they'll think about dropping the Red Sox captain; most people who own Varitek might not have been paying attention to his downward power trend. Ultimately, Varitek and Lowell lose value and probably aren't ownable in standard leagues, but neither was in much demand. This move also puts pressure on Ortiz, who has hit .220 in July. With off-field pressure adding to what has been a disappointing season, it's possible Ortiz could end up in a lefty-righty platoon with Lowell.
As for the Cleveland angle, the versatile Masterson has a terrific arm, and that's what the Indians really need. He could start and at this point be the team's ace by default, or he could fit into the bullpen. In two seasons in the majors, Masterson made 15 starts with the Red Sox, going 6-5 with a 4.03 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Walks were a problem, and Masterson hit 11 batters in 89 1/3 innings. He was better as a reliever, posting a 3.42 ERA and superior strikeout rate. We don't know how the Indians will use him, but if he's in the rotation, he'll be a borderline add in 10-team leagues. That's what Masterson was groomed to be, and while he might not be a fantasy ace immediately, he is only 24 and would interest me more for 2010.
Nick Hagadone is a 23-year-old lefty who had Tommy John surgery a little more than a year ago, so he won't be making any fantasy impact this season and probably not next season, either. Like Masterson, the Indians have to make a decision on what role Hagadone will have, but there's little debate about his upside. It's huge. Peter Gammons has compared him to David Price. Red Sox officials felt Hagadone had ace potential, more so than Masterson, and Baseball America named him the organization's No. 3 prospect before the season. The Red Sox still have plenty of depth in their rotation for future seasons, so they could afford to deal Masterson and Hagadone. The Indians get a 6-foot-6 strikeout option who could anchor their staff by 2011.
Bryan Price is another hard thrower, a former first-round pick who is 22 years old and was getting hit around as a starting pitcher in Class-A ball. There's upside here, and the Indians have three young arms who all could make significant impacts in future years.
As for who is going to knock in runs for the Indians the rest of this season and in 2010, well, they certainly didn't get anyone from Boston to help with that. Andy Marte was called up from the minors recently to play first base, and while most fantasy owners remain skeptical he'll ever hit enough to play a corner infield spot, he did alter his swing this season and hit .327 with 18 home runs at Triple-A Columbus. Give Marte a shot in AL-only leagues now that Ryan Garko and Martinez are gone. He's going to play. Matt LaPorta is still in the minors, by the way, but should be in left field relatively soon. He's a potential middle-of-the-order bat. As far as catcher goes, Kelly Shoppach becomes the full-timer for now, but his .207 batting average outweighs any power potential he offers. Lou Marson was picked up in the Cliff Lee deal and sent to Triple-A. Expect him to be with the Indians by September and to get a long look.
The reason Lowell's value doesn't change much in Boston is that Adam LaRoche already was taking playing time from him, as Kevin Youkilis moved over to third base. The Red Sox traded LaRoche to the Atlanta Braves for Casey Kotchman, but Kotchman doesn't hit enough to warrant regular playing time. He is a terrific fielder but fits better off the bench than LaRoche did. Don't expect Kotchman to play very much.
LaRoche becomes -- again -- the everyday first baseman for Atlanta, where he hit 65 home runs in his first three major league seasons, ending in 2006. If you lost him in NL-only leagues a few weeks ago, it's time to get him back. He is a noted second-half hitter and isn't really a bad player, despite the recent trades; he did hit 25 home runs in 2008 with Pittsburgh. He'll fit in nicely protecting Chipper Jones and Brian McCann in the batting order, and knock in runs. He's a big winner today.
Cabrera is hitting .280 and can run a bit, but the last time he hit more than 10 home runs in a season was 2004. For pure fantasy purposes, Cabrera isn't one of those shortstops you have to own, as evidenced by the fact that he's a free agent in nearly half of ESPN.com standard leagues. He's ranked No. 17 at the position on our Player Rater and is on pace to finish the season with six home runs, 66 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and 66 runs scored. His value doesn't change much in this trade to a contending team. If you didn't want to add him before, I can't say this move makes him much more attractive.
The Twins have been using Denard Span and Joe Mauer in the first two spots in the batting order, and adding Cabrera's .318 on-base percentage shouldn't alter that line of thinking. Assume Cabrera will hit at the bottom of the order, where his run-scoring potential will not improve. Yes, the Twins score more than the Athletics, but 366 of Cabrera's 414 at-bats this season had come from one of the first two spots in the batting order. Not anymore. Cabrera has been hitting better since the All-Star break, with a .381 batting average and four stolen bases, but he's nothing special. Neither are Punto and Harris, utility men who should remain that way. This move could signal the end of a major league run for second baseman Alexi Casilla, a monumental bust this season, as Punto and Harris could and should usurp his playing time.
Oakland picks up Tyler Ladendorf, a shortstop who was Minnesota's second-round draft pick in 2008. Ladendorf profiles as a strong defender in time, and he was hitting .322 at two stops in the minors this season, most recently in the Class A Midwest League. Yet he's at least two years away from the bigs. The Athletics likely will give Bobby Crosby a chance to play shortstop regularly, but the former rookie of the year just can't hit anymore. Crosby is batting .222 this season with a .636 OPS. The team should try out a kid at the position, but nobody who is major league-ready jumps out at me as deserving a chance.
• One other trade to report: The Dodgers traded Claudio Vargas to the desperate Brewers for utility guy Vinny Rottino. Vargas has battled an elbow injury this season and has barely pitched. He won 11 games for the Brewers in 2007 and helped the Mets some last season, but his career ERA is 4.89. Injuries to Dave Bush and Jeff Suppan have left the team in dire straits for help. Well, these are dire straits. You don't want Vargas in a fantasy league, and Rottino is 29 years old and lacks a natural position. It's doubtful the Dodgers will promote him to the majors.
Guess this answers the question about whether the Seattle Mariners are buyers or sellers, eh? Jarrod Washburn is having a terrific season, one not enough fantasy owners have noticed, and now he's moving to the Detroit Tigers. For Washburn, he'll get a chance to appear in the postseason again (he made seven postseason starts for the Angels over the years). And the Tigers, like the Phillies with Cliff Lee, didn't have to give up their top prospects for a significant rotation upgrade.
The Tigers trade pitchers Luke French and Mauricio Robles to the Mariners, and since French was in the Detroit rotation and made five starts, Washburn likely will just replace him. French hadn't done a bad job, but the 23-year-old lefty was living dangerously, allowing 16 hits in his past two starts, covering 10 1/3 innings. He's not a big strikeout pitcher, nor was he one of Detroit's top prospects. The Mariners could place him in their rotation or send him to the minors, but regardless, there's not much fantasy value here. Robles is 20 and won't be a fantasy factor for awhile, if ever. The Mariners moved salary, more than anything else, and this could open up a rotation spot for Ian Snell. The former Pirate should be in the majors.
For some reason I cannot fathom, Washburn began this week owned in less than half of ESPN's standard mixed leagues. Even now, he's up to only 58 percent, despite having a better season than all but 16 starting pitchers on our Player Rater. The guy is leading the American League in WHIP and is third in ERA, having allowed only three runs in his past five starts, for a .74 ERA. Sure, Washburn has a career ERA on the wrong side of 4.00, and I can understand some ambivalence toward a guy who normally was a very hittable lefty and not a strikeout guy. However, he learned a new sinker, and it's clearly working. Time to reevaluate Washburn in fantasy. I think 20 starts certainly are enough of a sample size this season to add him at this point.
Ultimately, I don't think Washburn's value changes a whole lot with this trade. The Tigers haven't exactly been a murderer's row offensively, but they have scored more runs than Seattle. The ballpark change won't help Washburn, but he's pitched at Comerica Park eight times, and while his ERA is a bit inflated, I wouldn't read anything into that. This is a new pitcher. Figure Washburn, who has won eight of 20 starts, could win a greater percentage down the stretch. But what this trade deadline deal really points out is that Washburn should have been owned in fantasy in the first place.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are at it again. But hey, while their fans will probably recognize the names being sent elsewhere and won't know who is joining the organization, don't assume it's a bad trade. I like the Wednesday deal for them in which the longtime starting middle infield was moved out West, as well as the Lastings Milledge trade a month ago. Dealing John Grabow and Tom Gorzelanny to the Cubs for Kevin Hart, Jose Ascanio and Josh Harrison also makes sense. Patience is a virtue, and the Pirates are moving salary for young players with upside.
The Cubs pick up a very good left-handed set-up man in Grabow, who probably will be asked to help out in the seventh inning, because Carlos Marmol is the eighth-inning guy. Grabow certainly isn't likely to figure into the saves picture. Kevin Gregg has a strong hold on the role and is performing well. Marmol is destroying left-handed hitters to the tune of a .115 batting average, but Grabow can help Angel Guzman and Jeff Samardzija earlier in games, and his acquisition means Sean Marshall is freed up to start, which could be needed now that Hart's rotation spot is open until Ted Lilly returns.
Gorzelanny was doing very well at Triple-A Indianapolis, resurrecting his career with a 2.48 ERA in 15 starts, but figures to head straight to the Cubs' farm club in Iowa rather than Wrigley Field. He is left-handed, though, and could pitch in the majors later in the season in the bullpen, or he could force his way into the rotation. Like Ian Snell, who was dealt Wednesday, he was good a few years back when he won 14 games, but probably needed a new start somewhere else.
Hart will get to keep starting, which could be good news after his last two outings, when he really cut down on the walks. Hart's outing Thursday was his second consecutive strong performance -- he was dealt right after the game -- as he went six innings in each and walked a total of three hitters. Hart made four starts for the Cubs, and in the first two he walked five hitters in each. He has not been a strikeout pitcher in the majors, nor has he been terribly unhittable, so it's hard to project that 2.60 ERA (which was 2.08 before Thursday) to stay that low, but the Pirates likely will give him Virgil Vasquez's spot in the rotation and see what he does. Hart is 26, and it's been rumored that the Padres wanted him in the Jake Peavy trade talks. His ultimate role could be starter or reliever, but in NL-only leagues, he does have value. He probably had a bit more value with the Cubs, but with the Pirates, he doesn't figure to be bumped out of the rotation.
Likewise, Ascanio could end up in a number of roles as well. Who knows, he could supplant Matt Capps as closer at some point, since he did pick up double-digit saves in the minors in both 2007 and 2008, and he is a hard thrower. Oh, and Capps hasn't pitched very well. This season, the Cubs used Ascanio as a starter at Iowa, and he excelled, posting a strong strikeout rate and giving up only one home run in 12 starts. As for Josh Harrison, he's speedy infielder playing in Class-A ball. A sixth-round pick in the 2008 draft, the 22-year-old is likely a few years away.
Fantasy owners shouldn't be at all surprised that the Baltimore Orioles finally traded closer George Sherrill. We've been preparing people for this day for a while, in "Relief Efforts" and other online content, in podcasts, and on television. Sure, last-place teams like the Orioles need closers, too, but generally not 32-year-old lefties with limited experience in the role who don't figure to develop with a young team.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have one of the most overworked bullpens in baseball, and they desperately needed help for Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ramon Troncoso and pals. Entering Thursday, Dodgers relief pitchers had thrown an amazing 350 innings, with only the Padres' bullpen logging more. Of the teams with the seven bullpens logging the most innings, only the Dodgers would be playoff participants if the season ended today.
Sherrill will certainly help, but from a fantasy perspective, don't expect saves. This is the danger of owning closers on bad teams: They sometimes get dealt and become set-up men for good teams. Broxton, abused or not, has been fantasy's top closer this season, in part from his seven wins, but he also leads all relief pitchers in strikeouts and is among the league leaders in saves. Troncoso, a 26-year-old right-hander, leads all major league relief pitchers in innings. Kuo just returned from an elbow injury that three months ago was rumored to possibly be career-ending. The Dodgers badly needed Sherrill to help set up Broxton. I don't envision saves coming the left-hander's way.
The Orioles now need someone to save games, and don't think this is a meaningless role. Sherrill had 20 saves for a team with 43 wins, which is not a bad percentage at all. The obvious choice would be the team's main set-up man, Jim Johnson, a ground-ball-inducing right-hander who leads the Orioles with 14 holds, and pitched in with two saves as well. Johnson has a solid 3.17 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, but he isn't having quite the same season he did in 2008, when he threw 68 2/3 innings and allowed nary a home run. Johnson has already given up five home runs, and right-handed batters held a .296 batting average against him. Johnson could pick up 10 or more saves the rest of the way, so he's worth adding in pretty much any format, but he's no guarantee to be successful.
Other Orioles who could be in the mix for saves are Danys Baez, Cla Meredith, Kam Mickolio, Jim Miller and Chris Ray. Baez has 114 career saves, mostly for the Rays and Indians, and has a 1.16 WHIP this season. Of course, he could be trade bait as well, even after the Friday deadline. Meredith was recently acquired from the Padres and, like Johnson, is known for inducing ground balls. Mickolio has been up and down from Triple-A Norfolk this season, but has been a strikeout option at each level of the minors. Miller is the current closer for Norfolk and has 16 saves for the Tides. He also picked up 10 saves for the Tides last season.
Ray closed for the Orioles in 2006-07 before needing Tommy John surgery. He was expected to challenge Sherrill for ninth-inning duties this season, but didn't have much command with the Orioles. He's been on the DL for a biceps injury most of July, but is on a rehab assignment now and should be promoted soon. Johnson should get Baltimore's saves, but it wouldn't surprise me if Ray got back into the picture, since he does have that experience.
The Orioles pick up third baseman Josh Bell and pitcher Steve Johnson, both of whom have been at Double-A Chattanooga recently. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect either of these players to contribute for the Orioles this season, but take a look at Bell in long-term keeper leagues. Bell is an interesting power prospect who was ranked No. 8 in the Dodgers organization by Baseball America. He had hit 11 home runs and 30 doubles this season, and he could fit into the Orioles' major league plans by 2011. Johnson had made two starts at Double-A. He turns 22 on Friday, and at least one Orioles follower should be pleased by his acquisition: his father, Dave, who also pitched for Baltimore and is one of the team's broadcasters.
One final thing on this deal: We've discussed in depth this season how the Orioles appeared to fleece the Mariners in the Erik Bedard trade after the 2007 season, with Chris Tillman and Adam Jones the young names you know. Sherrill was part of that deal, and now he's been flipped for two of the Dodgers' top 15 prospects, both of whom figure to appear in the majors. Sure, the Orioles just dealt their closer, a fellow who was an All-Star in 2008, but if Bell and Johnson continue to develop, it will be worth it. Wise fantasy owners in deeper leagues make deals like this as well, trading for young depth and picking up throw-ins who matter later. The Bedard trade is the one that keeps on giving.
With the Giants apparently comfortable with their second examination of second baseman Freddy Sanchez's knee, they decided to send highly regarded pitching prospect Tim Alderson to the Pirates to acquire him and fill their hole at that position.
Sanchez's fantasy value doesn't change much, and he'll continue to be the player he has been the past few seasons (batting average in the .300 range, but with little power or speed) in his new home. He's listed as day-to-day for now and should be back in the lineup soon.
What the deal does is give Delwyn Young a chance to get regular at-bats as the Pirates' second baseman. The 27-year-old has definite offensive potential and has been waiting for a chance to play every day, and it appears he might finally get his opportunity as the team evaluates if he can be an option there in 2010. Young's defense at second base is still a work in progress, and is likely going to be a negative in terms of holding on to a starting job. However, he could be a quietly effective producer in deep mixed leagues, hitting for batting average with a little pop if he gets regular at-bats down the stretch. I'm assuming Young is already rostered in most NL-only leagues. If he's not, he should be picked up immediately.
"It's tough to say because he hasn't played that much," manager John Russell told the team Web site about Young's defensive progress. "I don't know if I would be totally accurate because he hasn't played out there much. We'll have to see how [his defense] progresses ... So far, so good with the limited look."
The inclusion of Alderson was mildly surprising as it was expected the Giants might be able to pull off a deal without including Alderson or Madison Bumgarner by giving up a pitching prospect like Kevin Pucetas instead. I profiled Alderson extensively back in late April.
His strikeout rate has plummeted since moving to Double-A, as he's fanned just 46 in 72 2/3 innings. His fastball command hasn't been quite as sharp as it was last season, and he's learning to make his plus curve less of a chase pitch. However, he still profiles as a potential third or fourth starter in the big leagues who could get an audition in Pittsburgh as soon as next season.