MLB Skinny: Devilish Deal

Brad Evans
1st Chair: Derrick Turnbow
2nd Chair: Francisco Cordero, Dan Kolb
Skinny: Fantasy owners are more confused by the Brewers bullpen mishmash as pubescent N'Sync fans are about Lance Bass. On Friday, manager Ned Yost confirmed that Turnbow would be thrust back into the closer role, commenting, "He's had a rough couple of weeks, but he's had a pretty solid year-and-a-half for us. We don't bail on someone after a rough couple of weeks." This is a baffling move. Cordero, who came over in the Carlos Lee deal, has an outstanding 18:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in July and is the solution to a Brewers pen wounded by walks. NL-only players should limit their free agent bids on Cordero with the news, but still make it a priority to acquire his services. Turnbow has converted only one save since June 29 and is one or two bad outings away from becoming a slide cleaner for Bernie the Brewer. That time may come sooner than you think. After Turnbow walked two and allowed a homer against Cincinnati on Sunday, Cordero came in to clean up the mess for a one-out save. It could mean the beginning of a committee, but expect Cordero to take over the job full-time within two weeks.
1st Chair: Ambiorix Burgos
2nd Chair: Joe Nelson
Skinny: The most mispronounced first name in baseball is back in familiar territory. With a 1.42 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in July, Burgos has performed very well, but he is no Dan Quisenberry. Considering the wretched Royals are 33 games out of first in the competitive AL Central and have dropped 12 of 18 games since the break, he is only a No. 3 stopper for the overt optimist. If you have pain-staking patience, Burgos will be good for 8-10 saves over the rest of the season with little to no competition.
1st Chair: Brad Lidge
2nd Chair: Dan Wheeler, Chad Qualls
Skinny: After a weekend of numerous trade rumors, Lidge owners need a stiff drink. On July 26, Houston manager Phil Garner pulled the troubled stopper after a single, hit batsman, wild pitch and a strikeout. Wheeler eventually nailed down the save. Yanked with Ken Griffey Jr. on deck, Lidge was a casualty of situation since he has allowed a mind-blowing .300 average to lefties. This could be a harbinger of things to come for the downtrodden Astros closer if similar circumstances arise. NL-only players in need of an excellent middle reliever with a sound ERA and WHIP that could vulture a save or two should give Wheeler a look. As for Lidge, anticipate more potholes in the road until his confidence and control returns. His two-strikeout save on Saturday is a step in the right direction.
1st Chair: Bobby Jenks
2nd Chair: Mike MacDougal
Skinny: All-Lipitor nominee Jenks better look out for the Big Mac. Closing the door on Baltimore last Friday for his first save in over three weeks, Jenks has been shaky in July with a frightening 7.94 ERA and 2.12 WHIP. MacDougal came to Chicago's South Side on July 24 in exchange for two minor league pitchers. The former Royals stopper has allowed just one run since returning from the DL on July 15. Concerned Jenks owners should have little to worry about as his job is not currently in question, but it would be wise to keep one eye peeled on MacDougal's waiver wire status just in case. Deep leagues desperate for saves need to keep MacDougal on roster. If a closer coup did occur, his value would reach unforeseen levels.
1st Chair: Armando Benitez
2nd Chair: Steve Kline
Skinny: Giants fans are clamoring for Felipe Alou to pull an "Old Yeller" on Benitez. Coughing up four earned in 2.2 innings last week, the once elite closer blew three straight games. Finally, his 22:16 strikeout-to-walk ratio reared its hideous face. Still sporting a fabulous 2.86 ERA and determined to right his wrongs, Benitez is a reasonable No. 3 closer despite the high number of walks, largely because he plays for a division contender. Prior to his two-game implosion, he was a perfect 7-for-7 in save chances in July. NL-only leaguers in dire straits for saves might want to pitch a low-ball offer. Anticipate 9-11 saves from here on out.

Store July 27, 2006 into long-term memory as the day Bernie the Brewer found his Hispanic hetero life-mate. Last Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers didn't trade away Carlos Lee to a contender (that happened on Friday) nor announce that Derrick Turnbow finally visited a barber. Instead, they held a press conference for Chorizo, the racing sausage. Cheeseheads everywhere went ballistic.

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

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

Carlos Lee, Tex, OF – Just when you thought El Caballo couldn't get any better, he gets to play a large chunk of games at Ameriquest Field, the sixth-best ballpark for homers in the league. With mercury-spilling temperatures in Texas in August and September, his second-half numbers will swell. Lee is 7-for-13 as a Ranger.

Kevin Mench, Mil, OF – Known for his voracious appetite for the longball – and probable fondness for bratwursts – you know Shrek will become an instant Cheesehead favorite. Permanently out of Buck Showalter's doghouse, expect a rebirth as an everyday player. Hitting .321 in July, give him a shot in 12-team mixed leagues if you need a fourth outfielder with power.

B.J. Upton, 3B/SS, TB – Recalled on Monday to fill the void left by the injured Ty Wigginton, Upton gives fantasy owners instant speed at a position where only four players – Chone Figgins, David Wright, Adrian Beltre and Maicer Izturis – have swiped 10 or more bags. He and Joel Guzman will be a sensational left field combination in Tampa for years to come. Fish for this D-Ray in all formats.

Wilson Betemit, 2B/3B, LAD – Traded to the city of plastic on Friday, Betemit finally nets an everyday job. Going 3-for-4 in his debut, look for the flexible switch-hitter to be a top-15 middle-infielder during the dog days of summer.

Oliver Perez, NYM, SP – Once the envy of many fantasy minions just two short years ago, Ollie will look to regain his high-K form in the Big Apple. Prior to the trade, Perez had a 5.64 ERA and 34:11 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 35 innings at Triple-A Indianapolis. Although highly unlikely to return to the bigs this season, Perez is a very intriguing discount keeper for NL-Only owners.

Xavier Nady, Pit, OF – Traded from the best team to the worst in the NL, Nady will likely become the everyday right fielder in Pittsburgh with the Craig Wilson trade to the Yankees. He has a .294 BA and six RBI in his past 10 games. Endy Chavez will see an increase in at-bats with Nady's exit.

Sean Casey, Det, 1B – Move over Kwame Kilpatrick, there's a new mayor in the Motor City. Traded from Pittsburgh for minor league pitcher Brian Rodgers, the smooth hitting Casey gets a substantial boost in value. Expect him to hit third and be an excellent source of RBIs and batting average down the stretch.

Ryan Shealy, 1B, KC – The mammoth first baseman finally gets his shot as an everyday player, traded from Colorado to Kansas City for starter Denny Bautista. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he has enough raw power to blast 10-15 homers over the rest of the season. AL-only and deep mixed leaguers in need of power numbers need to bow down to this slugging Royal.

Greg Maddux, LAD, SP – The control maestro proved in his past start as a Cub that he can still paint the corner with the best of them, giving up only one earned in six innings against St. Louis. A rejuvenated Dodgers offense and the heavy air of Chavez Ravine make him a dependable No. 4 in 12-team and deeper mixed leagues.

Kip Wells, Tex, SP – Hampered by shoulder and walk problems over the past couple of seasons, Wells could thrive in Texas. In his past start with the Pirates, Wells went seven innings allowing zero runs with three walks. If his command can remain consistent, he is one to watch. AL-only owners desperate for a sixth starter need to take a flier.

John Maine, NYM, SP – Maine has made Mr. Met's rawhide grin stretch from stitch-to-stitch after throwing 16 straight scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts in his past two outings. Willie Randolph will likely keep him in the lineup one or two more starts, making him a great short-term add in deeper leagues.

Jeremy Sowers, Cle, SP – Three weeks ago I talked very highly of this kid for a reason. Now he's posted back-to-back complete game shutouts. With only two walks in his past 25 IP, make him a part of your tribe.

Dmitri Young, Det, 1B/DH – After nearly becoming someone's jailhouse mistress a month ago to emerging as an important puzzle piece for a Tigers team in the midst of a playoff run, the "Meat Hook" has had a year suited for an E! True Hollywood Story. Batting .400 with three homers and seven RBI since his return on July 21, AL-only owners need to cage this Tiger.

Willy Aybar, Atl, 3B – Coming over in the Wilson Betemit deal, Aybar is the new Hot-Lanta three-bagger with Chipper Jones out for the next 3-6 weeks. Hitting lead-off in his Braves debut the 23-year-old corner-man went 4-for-6 with two runs and two RBI. He is a great August addition in deeper leagues.

Clint Barmes, Col, SS – Hot as a pistol, the Rockies shortstop has hit safely in 20 of his past 23 games, raising his average by nearly 30 points. Available in 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues, snatch him off waivers if you need a middle-infield upgrade.

Josh Willingham, Fla, C/OF – Willy-nilly is another fish that has headed toward the frying pan in recent weeks. Mired in a 12-for-53 (.226 BA) slump, the Marlins catcher hit is first homer in 21 days on Saturday and has now gone yard in three straight. Continue to buy low.

Hanley Ramirez, Fla, SS – Han-Ram. Oh, Han-Ram! Where art thou April and May versions of you? Demoted to the seventh spot on Friday, Marlins manager Joe Girardi attempted to instigate a mean streak for his struggling shortstop who has hit a pathetic .219 since June 1. His speed still makes him valuable. Better days are on the horizon.

Craig Wilson, NYY, 1B/OF – Yet another 25-homer bat in the Yankees arsenal – coming over to New York for pitcher Shawn Chacon – Wilson's playing time will take a significant hit unless injuries accumulate in the Yankees outfield. Just 8-for-38 in July, Wilson has only one homer since June 28th. Bid minimally for him in AL-only formats.

Geoff Jenkins, Mil, OF – Hitless in his past 16 at-bats, Jenkins has floundered after the break. A .318 career hitter in August, you might want to buy low in deep NL-only and mixed formats hoping for a quick turnaround.

Chris Shelton, Det, 1B/DH – The man I labeled "pasty white goodness" back in April is now minor league fodder. Demoted on Monday after the Tigers acquired Sean Casey, Shelton's incredible demise signifies why you should never overpay for a hot start.

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.