WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Just days after the biggest prize in the trade market was reeled in by Houston, the Chicago White Sox landed the best available arm by acquiring Freddy Garcia (with Ben Davis) from Seattle in exchange for Miguel Olivo and Jeremy Reed. What should fantasy owners do in response to this trade? First, AL-only owners should keep an eye on the spot vacated by Garcia in the Seattle rotation. They could go with Matt Thornton (profiled below in the prospect watch) or they could promote Travis Blackley (featured by The Skinny last week). Blackley struck out eight in six innings Tuesday to improve to 7-2 at Triple-A Tacoma. He's the better prospect, but Thornton is already with the team and may get the first shot.
Either way, don't expect huge returns from anyone in Seattle's rotation. Garcia's numbers were solid across the board but he was rewarded with only four wins in 15 starts. Miguel Olivo should challenge Dan Wilson immediately for time at catcher. Wilson has the veteran edge defensively, but has no homers and only five RBIs in his last 30 games. Olivo is younger and more explosive – and youth matters when you're rebuilding. Finally in Seattle, the Jeremy Reed wait begins. He's got the speed/power combination that fantasy owners love. A trade involving Randy Winn or Raul Ibanez would be a precursor to his arrival with the big club.
- The Chicago side of the deal will be met with relief from fantasy owners. First, Garcia owners can rest easy knowing that they won't lose his services in a deal to a National League team. The Mets and Dodgers were rumored to have inquired about Freddy. Sure, he moves from a pitcher's park to a hitter-friendly home field, but any ill-effects there will be offset by his dramatically improved run support. The departure of Olivo means more playing time for Sandy Alomar Jr. and Jamie Burke at catcher. Neither deserves attention outside of AL-only leagues. Finally in Chicago, the departure of Reed signals a vote of confidence for Aaron Rowand, who is batting .393 with 11 runs scored in June.
- Catching up with another recently completed trade, it appears that Richard Hidalgo has found his stroke, at least for the time being, in New York. Since joining the Mets he has four multi-hit games, three homers and six RBIs. His homer on June 20 broke a string of 53 consecutive games without a bomb. Hitting behind Jose Reyes, Kazuo Matsui, Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd, the potential exists for a monster second half from Hidalgo, again assuming he can maintain the focus that was so elusive in Houston.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Jason Bay, Pit, OF – In keeping with the trade theme of this week's effort, we revisit Pittsburgh's prize acquisition from the deal that sent Brian Giles to San Diego last season. Bay essentially fell off the fantasy map after a predictably slow start following off-season surgery. Well, he's heating up. In his last 10 games, Bay has six homers and 12 RBIs.
- David Riske, Cle, RP – The trouble with waiting for a closer job to change hands is that all 11 of the managers you're competing against are doing the same thing. That's why speculative moves are required every now and then. Jose Jimenez can't hold this job for long and Bob Wickman won't be ready until after the All-Star break at the earliest, which leaves Riske as the next logical choice. He's earned the shot. After a miserable start, Riske has rebounded to allow only on earned run while striking out 22 in his last 14 innings.
SPEED-O-METER: Checking the latest movements on the basepaths
- David DeJesus, KC (First career steal) – DeJesus is 5-for-14 at the plate since taking over for Carlos Beltran in center field for Kansas City. He stole his first base Sunday, but was only 7-for-13 on steal attempts at Triple-A Omaha.
- Aaron Rowand, CHI (Job secure) – Prospect Jeremy Reed was dealt to Seattle, so it looks like center field is Rowand's for now in Chicago. He stole his eighth base of the season Sunday and is now hitting .393 in June.
- Jose Reyes, NYM (Leading off) – Batting leadoff as of Thursday's game, Reyes stole his first base of the season Saturday and then was caught stealing Sunday. At this point, it's just good to see him on the move.
- Ray Durham, SF (.327 since return) – With two steals since returning from the DL, it looks like Durham is not quite ready to settle into the Shannon Stewart mold of leadoff hitter.
- Ryan Freel, CIN (3 steals/last 7 games) – Freel is now 5-for-6 in June on stolen base attempts. He's doing just enough to stay on a lot of fantasy rosters out there.
- Alex Sanchez, DET (Day-to-day) – Sanchez sat out Sunday after leaving Saturday's game with a strained hamstring. With his value tied directly to those legs, this may be a good week to bench him in head-to-head leagues.
- Luis Matos, BAL (2 steals/last 3 games) – Matos is now 5-for-6 on the basepaths in June. We've been waiting for his bat to catch up. His recent streak of 11 hits in seven games is a good start.
- Jerry Hairston Jr. BAL (Dry spell over) – Hairston was caught stealing three times during his 14-game stolen base drought. The wait for fantasy owners ended on Sunday with his 10th steal of the season.
- Lew Ford, MIN (3 steals/last 8 games) – Ford was an RBI machine in April (17), but is doing most of his fantasy damage on the basepaths these days.
PROSPECT WATCH: Intriguing names down on the farm
- Jeremy Reed, Sea, OF (Triple-A) – ETA: August 1
He certainly won't be the first to the majors, but Reed is unquestionably the prize acquisition in the Freddy Garcia trade. His career with the White Sox organization ended rather quietly with four hitless at bats for Triple-A Charlotte Sunday. On the season, he hit .275 with 12 stolen bases, eight homers and 37 RBIs in 73 games. Last year in 131 combined games at two levels, Reed piled up 11 homers, 95 RBIs and 45 stolen bases to earn minor league player of the year honors. As recently as two weeks ago, Chicago was saying he was off limits. He'll stay in Tacoma for now, but Reed is a guy to keep an eye on in AL-only leagues if another deal opens a vacancy in the Seattle outfield.
- Matt Thornton, SEA, SP – ETA: Currently in Seattle
Judging from media coverage and fan weblogs, it looks like citizens of Seattle will be crying in their collective coffees for some time to come over the loss of Garcia. They won't soon forget him, but nothing would restore faith in the organization quite like an impressive debut by his replacement. That man may be Matt Thornton, who pitched four innings of shutout relief in his major league debut Sunday. In his final start for Triple-A Tacoma on June 20, he struck out 11 in six innings to improve to 6-4 on the season. A power pitcher, the lefty was regularly clocked at 95 mph Sunday according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. As of Monday morning there was no official word on who would take the ball for Garcia's next scheduled start.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Eyebrow-raising numbers
9.23 – Run support enjoyed by Mark Buehrle this season, tops in the American League. That's a full seven runs better than the 2.19 per game scored by Seattle for Freddy Garcia prior to his trade Sunday.