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Beltran in the bag

The Houston Astros served fantasy baseball owners an appetizer last week in dealing Richard Hidalgo to the New York Mets. On Thursday, they offered up a full-meal deal, sending closer Octavio Dotel to Oakland in a three-team swap that gives the Astros the prize of this season's trading market, Kansas City Royals outfielder Carlos Beltran.

The deal breaks down like this: Houston gets Beltran, Oakland gets Dotel and the terminally rebuilding Kansas City Royals land prospects Mike Wood, Mark Teahen and John Buck.

The Royals' end of this deal is much ado about nothing for fantasy owners, at least for the current season. But the movement of Beltran and Dotel merits turning up the magnification on the roto microscope.

Let's take a closer look at the players in, and ramifications of, this deal:

Carlos Beltran to Houston
It is always tough for hitters to make a move to an unfamiliar league. Thus it's reasonable to expect a little adjustment period for Beltran while he learns the books on National League pitchers. But once he's comfortable, watch out. Houston has a lot to offer this five-tool fantasy talent: an excellent hitter's environment in Minute Maid Park and lineup protection in the form of Lance Berkman, Jeff Kent and Jeff Bagwell.

But, let's face it, Beltran was likely to be a fantasy stud no matter where he landed.

The important aspect of this deal is that NL-only leagues get a serious offensive infusion. If you currently sit in a senior circuit fantasy league and need some help at the plate, empty your savings account to land Beltran because there likely won't be a better player to come down the pipe before the deadline. And why would you possibly gamble that there might? As they say, "a bird in the hand "

It's worth mentioning that Beltran's arrival in Houston means outfielder Jason Lane gets shafted yet again. Lane shouldn't have had to wait until after his 27th birthday to finally get his full-time shot. And he deserved more than a week-long look as a regular.

It looks like we'll have to wait yet again to find out if Lane's intriguing bat translates on a major-league level. If you took a flyer on Lane after the Hidalgo trade, it's time to write that off as a bad experience.

Octavio Dotel to Oakland
How badly do the Athletics need a closer? About as bad as Mary Kate Olsen needs a Big Mac. Oakland and Cleveland are the only two teams in the majors to convert on less than half their save opportunities.

Enter Dotel who, despite recent struggles, at least has converted 14 of his 17 save chances this season. And a move to the pitching-friendly confines of Network Associates Coliseum should be a welcome change.

For the past season and a half, Dotel has produced an ERA of 3.23 and has blown four of his 10 save opportunities at Minute Maid Park. On the road during that span, his ERA stands at 2.03 and he has blown just one of his 13 save tries.

Like Beltran, Dotel switching leagues is a boon for those AL-only owners in need of some closer relief. Dotel ultimately may not be the best player to cross from the NL to the AL before the trading deadline, but he likely will be the best closer to have become available. Assess your needs and act accordingly.

Brad Lidge becomes Houston's closer
It didn't take long for Lidge to put Dotel in the rearview mirror. Shortly after this blockbuster, Lidge closed out Roger Clemens' 10th victory with a 1-2-3 ninth inning against Pittsburgh. Lidge is a strikeout machine (64 Ks in 41.1 IP) who should be good for 15-20 saves the rest of the way.

You're lucky if you still can land him in any of your fantasy leagues. He belonged among that handful of middle relievers who offered solid fantasy value, and he was long ago gobbled up in the leagues in which I reside.

David DeJesus becomes Kansas City's center fielder
DeJesus has spent the majority of the season in Triple-A Omaha, where he had compiled a .315 average, 6 HR, 16 RBIs and 7 SBs through his first 50 games. He had a cup of coffee with the big club in late April and early May, but just one hit in 23 at-bats earned him a return trip to Omaha. This time you can expect DeJesus to stick around.

The Royals, in adding three minor leaguers in the Beltran swap as well as calling up DeJesus, have sent out the signal that it is once again time to build for the future. But with limited power and a lack of experience, DeJesus isn't likely to make waves in ML-universe fantasy leagues.

He's one of those "intangible-types" that looks better in reality than fantasy. That said, I wouldn't dissuade AL-only league owners looking for help in runs and stolen bases from picking him up.