In a bold move that will forever change the way baseball fans look at costumed meat, Chorizo joined the pantheon of processed pork as the fifth member of the famed Klement's sausage races alongside mustard-clad goliaths the hot dog, polish sausage, Italian sausage and crowd favorite bratwurst. With the Italian sausage nearly unstoppable logging 19 wins on the season, Chorizo better be Speedy Gonzalez incarnate. In his inaugural race on Saturday, he finished third, likely due to the poor aerodynamics of a two-foot sombrero. Let's hope the spicy rookie doesn't inject himself with performance-enhancing processed cheese to get an edge. Here are the news and notes that hit a very busy concession stand this weekend:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Did you think George Steinbrenner would only be satisfied with Sal Fasano? The inevitable Bobby Abreu trade came to fruition on Sunday when the Philadelphia Phillies traded the right fielder and starter Cory Lidle to the New York Yankees in exchange for four mediocre prospects: shortstop C.J. Henry, southpaw reliever Matt Smith, catcher Jesus Sanchez and right-hander Carlos Monasterios. With Hideki Matsui expected to return within the next two-to-three weeks and Gary Sheffield, potentially, in September, the 21st century's version of Murderer's Row is here. Can you imagine a lineup with Johnny Damon, Derek Jeter, Jason Giambi, Sheffield, Abreu, Alex Rodriguez, Matsui, Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano? That could instigate an anxiety attack for any AL pitcher. Suddenly, the Yankees are in a prime position to coast into the playoffs despite being written off by many baseball analysts at the All-Star Break.
For the Bronx Bombers, Abreu gives them yet another middle-of-the-order left-handed run producer. Sixth in the league with an outstanding .427 on-base percentage, he should bat fifth behind A-Rod and will instantly see an increase in runs and RBI in a lineup full of table-setters. With more protection surrounding him than Fort Knox, you should see two-month totals around: .310 BA, 8 HR, 40 RBI, 40 R and 9 SB.
Lidle also receives a jump in value. A winner of four straight with a 3.74 ERA and a stellar 25:8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in July, he should be a sound source of wins and strikeouts as long as he can maintain consistency. Consider him a topflight No. 4 starter over the remainder of the season in 12-team and deeper leagues. Available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues, pluck him off the wire. You can expect an ERA around 4.00, a 1.25 WHIP and eight wins.
Meanwhile, in the City of Brotherly Love, David Dellucci will benefit greatly from additional playing time in right. In 136 at-bats this season, the former 29-home run Texas Ranger is batting .309 with seven homers and 21 RBI. Likely to continue hitting in the two-spot, he should be an adequate source of homers and runs batting in front of Joe DiMaggio chaser Chase Utley and behemoth Ryan Howard. NL-only leaguers in search of a fourth outfielder need to click the "add" button pronto.
As for the cornucopia of average prospects involved in the deal, 20-year-old shortstop C.J. Henry has the most long-term upside. Son of former Kansas basketball standout Carl Henry, the youngster is an unrefined speed and combo threat. In 76 games at Single-A Charleston he has a .233 average with two homers, 33 RBI and 14 steals. Many scouts believe his raw power will eventually translate into 15-20 homer success at the big league level, but his 86:32 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 274 at-bats proves he needs more seasoning. With Jimmy Rollins signed through 2010, he will likely be moved to another position before making a 2009 debut.
- With the sands of the deadline hourglass running down, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded wheel-churning shortstop Julio Lugo to the Los Angeles Dodgers for prized infield prospect Joel Guzman and minor-league Sergio Pedroza. Although heading to a more pitcher-friendly park, Lugo's value takes a short-term leap because he will gain second base eligibility filling in for the injured Jeff Kent. However, once Kent and Nomar Garciaparra return to 100 percent in about two weeks, Lugo will likely become a platoon player overtaking the role vacated by Cesar Izturis, who was dealt to the Chicago Cubs for Greg Maddux. Given the expectation that Kent and Garciaparra can remain healthy, NL-Only owners should keep bids conservative for Lugo. Shallow mixed leaguers counting on Lugo will need to explore long-term options at an already razor-thin shortstop position.
For Tampa Bay, this was a brilliant deal. Joel Guzman is one of the most cherished shortstop prospects in baseball. The 20-year-old rising star is an above average athlete with 20-homer potential, but still needs to learn a great deal of plate discipline before being a trusted fantasy player. Prior to the trade, he posted terrific numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas – 317 at-bats, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 8 SB. With only Tomas Perez ahead of him on the depth chart, look for the talented youngster to be an everyday player very soon. AL-only owners looking for pop at middle-infield should give the kid a look.
- Injury News and Notes: Atlanta Braves fragile third baseman Chipper Jones was placed on the 15-day DL on Sunday with a strained oblique. Atlanta manager Bobby Cox vaguely noted, "It's going to take some rest." Thanks for the insightful observation Bobby. Jones is expected to miss two-to-six weeks. Newly acquired third baseman Willy Aybar will fill in for the five-time All Star … Milwaukee youngster Rickie Weeks will be sidelined for the next 15 days with a wrist injury. Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said that "it's a possibility" the second baseman could be out for the rest of the year. Surgery is a necessity at some point, but Ned Yost remains optimistic noting, "Rickie has a real high tolerance for that type of stuff. If he can handle it once the soreness is out of there, he can play. Right now, they don't know." Anytime the "s" word is bantered about is not a positive sign. Make preparations as though he will be out for the remainder of the season. Tony Graffanino, acquired on July 25 from Kansas City, will fill Weeks' role … Buffet closer Bartolo Colon is out for the next two weeks with tendonitis in his right triceps. Angels manager Mike Scioscia commented, "Right now at this part of the season for Bart to miss any starts becomes tough. But we'd rather have him as close to being whole than to keep limping." Even years are quickly becoming Colon's nemesis. Rookie Joe Saunders is expected to fill the rotation vacancy … Gold Glove Minnesota Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter is expected to return to the lineup from a stress fracture in his left foot either Monday or Tuesday. "He ran the bases, ran around good and everything is looking good," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "His legs felt good, his feet felt good, and he did everything. So he is on track." Activate him with confidence. Sparkplug Jason Tyner – batting .340 since Hunter's departure on July 16 – will return to an outfield utility role … Tampa Bay Devil Rays power source Ty Wigginton will be out for 4-6 weeks after catching a Shawn Chacon fastball on Saturday. B.J. Upton – hitting .270 with 45 steals in 387 Triple-A at-bats – was recalled on Monday and will finally get his chance to showcase his wares as the everyday third baseman … Infirmary poster-child Nomar Garciaparra returned to the 15-day DL, this time with a strained ligament in his right knee. The Dodgers first basemen added, "I think it's the best thing. My knee was making some progress, but running the bases was the most difficult thing." This is the eighth time in his 11-year career he has carved out a spot on the wounded list. Recalled rookie James Loney will split time with Olmedo Saenz for the next couple of weeks … Cursed Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee will be out a minimum of two more weeks due to wrist inflammation. Cubs' athletic trainer Mark O'Neal noted, "It's still as achy as it was when we put him on [the DL] in Washington. We're not going to do anything until he feels good. We're going to be overly cautious about it … We're not saying that he's done for the year." It sounds more and more like Lee will be sidelined for a large chunk of August. Phil Nevin and John Mabry will continue to split time with Lee recovering. Somewhere in Chicago a goat is laughing.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Josh Barfield, 2B, SD
Son of former Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jesse Barfield, Josh is the sole reason why California temperatures have soared in recent weeks. Third in the league in July hits with 40, Barfield has tallied an astounding 13 multi-hit games, raising his batting average 41 points since July 1. The 23-year-old two-bagger also ranks second among second basemen in July steals with seven. Although hitting eighth for most of the season, Padres manager Bruce Bochy has toyed with the idea of moving the NL ROY frontrunner to the two-spot. Showing improved plate patience with a 9:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio over the past 30 days, that move could come soon. Unbelievably, he is still available in a bewildering 80 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. What else does this guy have to do to earn some respect? Get him now.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Nelson Cruz, OF, Tex (ETA: September)
If you're a fantasy owner that likes to sip on an umbrella drink and watch across-the-board stats roll in, this is the Cruz for you. The Milwaukee Brewers Minor League Player of the Year in 2005, Cruz is a rising star that just caught a big break. Greatly overshadowed by Carlos Lee in the Rangers/Brewers blockbuster deal last Friday, the 26-year-old outfielder is a sensational combination of power and speed that needs to be noticed. Before packing his bags for the junior circuit, Cruz posted explosive numbers at Triple-A Nashville – 371 at-bats, .302 BA, 20 HR, 73 RBI, 68 R and 17 SB. Similar in skills to Toronto's Alex Rios, Cruz's 100:42 strikeout-to-walk ratio is indicative of his overt aggressiveness at the dish, but his raw power and wheels suggest he is a perennial 20/20 threat. For now, Texas manager Buck Showalter plans on using the hidden gem as a semi-regular corner outfielder, used primarily against lefties. With Brad Wilkerson batting a paltry .230, Cruz will not be a temporary player for long. Grab him off the wire in all AL-only and canyon-deep mixed formats. His stock will pay huge dividends by September.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Yahoo! Experts League Update
In what has become this column's greatest redundancy, RotoWire_Liss remains a healthy 20-plus points up on the competition. Y!-Romig has further established himself as the runner-up, with his 83 points good for a 6.5 point buffer between third place KFFL-Wasserzieher. Roster moves have been frequent of late, with Ian Snell, Frank Thomas, Orlando Hernandez, Maicer Izturis, John Maine and Anibal Sanchez the latest additions.
- Derrick Turnbow