We're just two weeks away from the All-Star break and that glorious three-day period that allows us to digest the highs, lows, and frustrations from the first-half of play. Waiver wire activity will be fast and furious and, no doubt, those conversations at backyard barbeques over the holiday weekend will lay the groundwork for a flurry of trade proposals.
I'm turning attention back to the diamond and delving into the mailbag to take a few questions about struggling sluggers, swapping shortstops and Windy City wonders.
Enough alliteration! The first question in this week's mailbag is one that was asked about 100 different ways this past week. Do you try and make a run at the horribly disappointing and underachieving Carlos Beltran?
Let's answer some mail.
What is your opinion on Carlos Beltran's chance of turning things around after the All-Star break? … Do you think it would be worth trying to snag him cheaply in my Yahoo! 5x5 league? I'm thinking of offering either Kenny Rogers or Matt Morris and Kevin Mench for him. – Tony in Brookline, MA
I'm encouraged by the fact that the drainage of fluid from his knee gave Beltran a bit of giddy-up for the first time since he tweaked it in early May. He legged out a triple on Tuesday night and reported no soreness after the game. Now, if he can just get to first and start pushing toward his fifth straight season of 30-plus steals (he's got just one, thus far). Beltran hasn't attempted a steal since May 1st and still does virtually all of his damage with Pedro Martinez on the hill.
Despite his issues at the plate (.213 in June), Beltran still has 38 RBIs, which is none too shabby in relative terms. And, it has been reported by the New York Post that the Mets and Yankees are working on a deal that may bring super-slugger Gary Sheffield to Shea Stadium in exchange for Mike Cameron and Miguel Cairo. That would bring Beltran more pitches to hit and a chance to spike his production in four categories.
As for making a deal, recent trades for Beltran have returned the likes of Todd Helton, Roy Oswalt and Mark Prior straight up. Package deals for Beltran usually pair him with hitters such as Jim Edmonds or J.D. Drew and return hurlers such as Carlos Zambrano and Francisco Rodriguez or a combination along the lines of Bartolo Colon and Shawn Green.
So, after laying all of that groundwork, I would try to swing the deal. It's possible that you could convince his current owner that given the dominance of the Rangers lineup and the recent return of Michael Young, that a straight up deal for Mench would be fair. I wouldn't take it, but you could try. If that fails, then bring in Kenny Rogers as part of the deal. Again, cite the powerful lineup and run support he'll receive. I included Rogers based on his history (4.76 ERA and 1.48 WHIP last season) and the fact that he's been battered around in two of his past three starts. While he'll pile up wins, I suspect that his other numbers will return to his career marks. I would presume that you've got solid pitching onboard to make him expendable.
This is a pretty tough call.
Guillen certainly made a name for himself in the fantasy realm with a huge 2004 season. He's picked up where he left off last season, producing a batting average near to .350 without the aid of offseason acquisition Magglio Ordonez. However, prior to last season, he'd never hit more than nine home runs or driven in 56 runs in a season. I'd sell the imminent return of Ordonez to the lineup and put Guillen on the block.
It's no coincidence that the A's started to surge about the time that Crosby re-entered the lineup. Mark Kotsay and Eric Chavez have benefited tremendously from his return. While I'm not convinced that his batting average will hold near its current level (.320), I don't expect a recurrence of the '04 freefall. He also has a swing that will produce a large extra-base hit total. And, as we all know, Billy Beane will be working to swing a deal before the deadline to provide some help to the heart of the order.
I am in quite a pickle. I've been near the bottom of my Yahoo! keeper league. It's a very competitive league, and I could use some help. I had the privilege of drafting Derrek Lee, who's been awesome, thus far. However, I've been thinking about trading him for pitching. What should I be looking for in return? – Steve in Kingston, RI
In a word … the world. If you're looking to deal Lee, you should have a pretty large asking price. First, make sure that the loss of Lee isn't going to decimate your ranking in the hitting categories. After all, if you're going to have a zero sum gain after the deal (rising in pitching and falling in hitting), then there's no point in making the deal.
I've seen straight up deals returning ace hurlers Roger Clemens and Dontrelle Willis for Lee. I don't think it's enough. Several other deals have transpired that returned the combinations of Randy Johnson and Richie Sexson or Carlos Delgado and Jason Schmidt for Lee alone. You'll need to give up on the stolen bases that Lee provides to swing such a deal, but players such as Sexson or Delgado will keep you steady in the power production. When you look at a Schmidt or Johnson, you're banking that they can get rolling and return to their elite status. Schmidt's picked up three straight wins and Johnson (save a June 21st outing versus Tampa Bay) has shown signs of life. Whatever you do, don't become the desperate manager in the second-tier of the pack. Hold out for the best deal.
I was just able to pick up Kerry Wood off of waivers and dropped Richie Weeks to do so. I had Jorge Cantu and Bill Hall, as well, so the extra infielder was expendable. What do you think of Wood's prospects for the rest of the season? – Dan in Los Angeles, CA
As long-time readers know, I'm not a card-carrying member of the Wood fan club, but I do love watching him work when his game is on. When you can acquire a potential ace off of waivers in late-June, you have to pull the trigger, particularly when you're stocked at a particular position. When Wood's control is on and he's sound physically, he can dominate with the best of them. And that's what we got to see in his return from the disabled list on Wednesday. Wood went six strong innings, allowed only two hits (one was a Bill Hall homer; how ironic) and walked two.
His first pitch of the day was a fastball to Brady Clark that registered at 95 mph on the radar gun. He would later fire several pitches to Hall clocked at 96 and 97 mph. Wood left the game with nine strikeouts. The biggest positive out of this outing is that he threw 91 pain-free pitches and 65 of them were strikes. If he can keep himself out of jams, the offense should provide enough help to make him a frequent visitor to the win circle in the second half. But, lest we forget, he won't get to face the Brewers every time out (.255 team batting average).
That's all for now. Keep those trade proposals and roster shuffling thoughts coming.