If you've ever attempted to make either Ian Kennedy or Bud Norris the centerpiece of a fantasy trade, then you understand how difficult Kevin Towers and Jeff Luhnow have had it this week. You may not love the returns these GMs received for their recently dealt pitchers, but you know the trade negotiations were difficult.
Kennedy was flipped within the N.L. West on Wednesday, moving from the D-Backs to the Padres in exchange for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher, minor league closer Matt Stites and a draft pick. As most of you know, Kennedy was having an ugly season for Arizona (3-8, 5.23 ERA, 4.59 FIP) — bad enough to make everyone but Josh Byrnes forget about his 2011 success.
"He is a very legitimate starting pitcher," said the Pads GM.
Yeah, OK. Technically true.
Kennedy remains a dicey spot-starter in fantasy, though his new home park should be a bit friendlier. It's really a shame he won't have the opportunity to face San Diego hitters, though. (For his career, Kennedy has posted a 2.27 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in Petco.) The Padres didn't unload anything too significant in order to acquire him, so I suppose this is a nice enough risk. Thatcher will clearly assist the Arizona bullpen, but not in a way that's helpful to fantasy owners in 5x5 leagues. Stites could be a reliever of interest down the road, but he's recovering from an appendectomy, out of the mix this season. Obviously Kennedy wasn't essential to the D-Backs' short-term plans, not with Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill returning from injuries. This is a deal I can understand from both sides. I'm certainly not going to hammer anyone for selling-low on Kennedy, having dropped all shares from my fantasy portfolio weeks ago.
In the day's other semi-significant deadline move, the Astros dealt Norris to the Orioles for outfielder L.J. Hoes and Single-A lefty Josh Hader, plus a pick. Norris is under team control through 2015, which is nice, and the surface-level stats haven't been terrible this season (3.93 ERA, 90 Ks in 126.0 IP). But left-handed batters have hit him hard (.306/.365/.441), and his K/9 has dipped to a career-low 6.43. As Eno Sarris wrote at FanGraphs on Wednesday...
He’s 28 years old, and even trying new tricks isn’t helping. Bud Norris has a weakness against lefties. By our park factors, Norris is leaving a park that augments homers by lefties by 2% and going to one that augments the same by 24%. That’s a little scary.
Like with Kennedy, you can't think of Norris as anything more than a spot-starter in our game. O's starter Jason Hammel has hit the DL due to forearm discomfort, so Norris is of course a welcome addition to a team in the postseason chase.
Hoes was hitting .304/.406/.403 at Triple-A Norfolk, though he offers little power (3 HR) or speed (7 SB). These were a few of Luhnow's thoughts, via MLB.com:
"L.J. Hoes is a guy I've always liked. He's athletic, played second base for a while, but plays all three outfield positions now.
"He's a really good baserunner, good arm and capable defensively. The thing we like about him the most is that he hits and knows what pitches to go after, with a high batting average and on-base percentage — both things that we value and look for. He'll be able to help our club a lot offensively at this level, immediately."
Houston plugged him into the lineup right away, batting him between Villar and Altuve, so he's in line for MLB at-bats. But mixed leaguers don't need to mess with Hoes. And yup, that was a pretty great sentence.