Editor's note: the Trade Deadline is off to a smashing start Tuesday, with Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence getting traded. We'll tackle those news items on a fresh blog.
Monday wasn't a big day on the Trade Deadline front, but I have an idea we'll see a good chunk of action over the next five hours. Let's do a quick lap around the sandlots first, then bunker down for the stretch run.
• The key number to remember with Travis Snider is 24 — that's his age. Despite all the hype with this guy, the trips up and down the Toronto system, the hits, the strikeouts, the setbacks … he's still on the escalator, a young player who's still capable of fulfilling the stardom everyone expected a few years ago.
The Pirates added Snider on Monday, sending pitcher Brad Lincoln to the Blue Jays. It's an interesting swap of 2006 buzz babies; Lincoln was the fourth overall pick that year, while Snider was tabbed 14th overall. Lincoln settles into the Toronto bullpen for now and isn't immediately fantasy relevant, but Snider has a chance to make something happen now.
It looks like the Bucs will roll out an outfield of Starling Marte, Andrew McCutchen and Snider on most days, left to right. Pretty nice group. Garrett Jones can go back to the infield, settle into a time-share of sorts with Casey McGehee. Pittsburgh's lineup was a laughable bunch back in April, but no one's laughing now. The Bucs are the NL's top scoring team since June 1.
Snider hasn't hit lefties particularly well for his short MLB career (.225/.269/.379), though he's 5-for-14 against them this year with three homers. Snider's career slash at Triple-A comes out to .333/.412/.565 over 183 games (with 33 homers), and he was a rated prospect by Baseball America from 2007-2009, topping out with the No. 6 slot three years ago. This is someone worth betting on, gamers. You can find Snider available for free in 94 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
As far as collateral names go, Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose appreciate the Snider deal. They're both more secure in their Toronto gigs now that the lefty slugger is gone. Perhaps neither player was in immediate and grave danger of fading away, but the Blue Jays have never been in love with Davis and Gose is off to a .179 start in the majors (though he has swiped a couple of bags). When Jose Bautista is ready to go again, we'll reevaluate.
• The Braves couldn't get their Plan A arm in Ryan Dempster last week, so they settled for Plan B, underrated veteran lefty Paul Maholm. Atlanta also grabbed reserve outfielder Reed Johnson, while the Cubs scooped pitcher Arodys Vizcaino (intriguing prospect coming off Tommy John surgery) and pitcher Jaye Chapman (just a guy).
Maholm steps into all the luxuries we were promoting for Dempster last week: Atlanta has a dominant closer, a sparkling outfield defense, a less-penalizing home park. The lefty quietly posted a 3.66/1.29 season in the ratios last year, and he's at 3.74/1.24 this season. He's also been lights-out of late, winning five of his last six starts and posting a 1.00 ERA over that time (nine walks, 32 strikeouts). It's partly driven by luck, of course, but a .256 BABIP isn't ridiculous over a short sample, merely fortunate. Maholm looks like a Mark Buehrle type of serviceable arm for the rest of the season, and his upside might be slightly higher given the cast around him.
• When Scott Hairston makes a mockery of your bullpen, that's a sign you need to add some pieces to it. Hairston clocked late homers off Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla as the Mets got through a funky 8-7 victory at San Francisco. Hairston generally is known as a lefty masher (.945 OPS) who doesn't do much against righties (.713 OPS), but that wasn't an issue Monday. He's also posted a nice road profile this year (.290 average, .565 slugging) and could be a handy fourth outfielder for a contending club.
I'll be surprised if the Giants don't grab a reliever at some point Tuesday. Casilla's last two months have been a mess: 6.89 ERA, five blown saves, five homers, .304/.392/.609 slash. That won't work. And while Romo's seasonal stats are still nifty, he's given up six runs and two homers over his last two appearances and the team doesn't want to subject him to a heavy workload.
The Mets bullpen didn't drape itself with glory in this game, either. Bobby Parnell allowed a couple of ninth-inning hits and wasn't allowed to complete the assignment. Josh Edgin wound up with a blown save, partly due to wildness and partly due to a scratch hit from Nate Schierholtz that was really a misplay from Ike Davis.
Another wild reliever, Manny Acosta, tiptoed through the tenth inning, dodging three baserunners and allowing one run. The game ended on Brandon Belt's smash to dead center, run down at the track and stranding two runners; Terry Collins may not have realized that the Giants were out of position players and would have needed to hit Clay Hensley (.092/.132/.115) after Belt. So it goes. Get well soon, Frank Francisco. The worst bullpen in the majors (well, last in ERA, but not last in neck tattoos) desperately needs you.
• If the Rockies have it together — and who knows with that organization — closer Rafael Betancourt will be on a new team by the end of the day. And if that comes to pass, Matt Belisle looks like a closing candidate. Belisle hasn't been great this month but he still has a nifty 2.38 ERA and a serviceable 1.21 WHIP. You love the 46 strikeouts against just eight walks. Lefty Rex Brothers is also a closing possibility if needed, though he's wilder than Belisle and also has to deal with the push against southpaw closers.
• John Axford's just a pitcher with a new haircut, and that's a pretty nice haircut. Axford was the last Milwaukee reliever standing in Monday's 8-7 victory over Houston, though it was clear he wasn't Ron Roenicke's first choice. Livan Hernandez worked the eighth (coughing up a one-run lead) and started the ninth (staked to a four-run advantage), but the Astros quickly put two runners on. Kameron Loe was summoned but did no better, giving up a walk and a single (he was also wild throughout).
Axford's handshake broke down this way: a fly out to the right-field warning track; a plunked batter; and a sharp infield grounder that turned into a narrow out at first base (thanks for the quick hands, Cody Ransom). This shouldn't be the type of outing that puts faith in The Axman, but his teammates haven't been sharp, either. Mike Fetters, we're still awaiting your comeback.
Francisco Cordero worked set-up for the Astros and took the loss, giving up four hits and two runs over an inning-plus. This guy is done like dinner, unrosterable in any format. I still like Wilton Lopez as the best relief option here, though Brad Mills has yet to line up his thinking in that manner. I don't blame the rotoheads who choose to ignore the Houston situation altogether.
• Mixed-league roto players don't have to worry too much about Brandon League and Geovany Soto, two players who were dealt Monday (to the Dodgers and Rangers, respectfully). League will be one of the non-closing arms in Chavez Ravine, while Soto is the new time-share caddy for Mike Napoli (replacing the exiled Yorvit Torrealba). Dominoes will have to fall just right for League or Soto to acquire significant mixer value down the stretch.
• I'm not going to debate the Spreadsheet Police with regards to Roy Oswalt. Obviously his 6.49 ERA comes with unfavorable luck stats because all outlier ERAs (and batting averages) come with outlier luck stats. Oswalt's BABIP is .409 and his HR/FB clip is 17.9 percent; xFIP suggests he's a 3.67 pitcher. Believe that at your own peril; to me, this is someone throwing a lot of hittable pitches and getting lit up as a result. Check, please.
Jerome Williams, we offer no diss — we chose you to end this list. Williams was the mop-up man for the Angels in Monday's 15-8 romp at Texas; his mates were the ones who roughed up Oswalt. Williams pitched the final four innings in mediocre fashion (4 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 HR). Alas, the way the save rule is defined, Williams qualified.
Send it in, Jerome. Godfather Holtzman would be proud.