November 12, 2008
Fantasy zealots are mostly wired for football, basketball and hockey these days, but the Matt Holliday trade is a good excuse to fire up the hot stove a little bit. Here's a quick note on every major player traded this week; we'll tackle the Florida-Washington swap as well.
Matt Holliday, to Oakland: Everyone knows the basic story here, Holliday takes a major hit as he moves from the Colorado feedbag to the roomy confines of McAfee Coliseum. His career line at Coors Field was a zesty .357/.423/.645, with 285 runs, 84 homers and 307 RBIs. Put him on the road and the return shrinks to .280/.348/.455, with 194 runs, 44 homers and 176 RBIs. That second batch of numbers might be a shade misleading because it's depriving Holliday of the best hitting environment in the NL, and some feel the unique conditions of Coors lead to a messed up swing on the road, but let' not overthink this – anyone holding Holliday in a keeper league is wearing black this week.
Holliday stole a surprising 28 bases in 2008, but the American League style is more about waiting for the big inning and less about forcing the issue. Oakland is generally known as a red-light club, but the A's were middle of the pack in the AL last year with 88 steals.
The joker in the deck is Holliday's pending free-agent status; his deal runs out after the 2009 season. Is Billy Beane looking to hold Holliday for a full season? Could we see a mid-season flip, or will the A's wait for free-agent compensation? My gut tells me Holliday will be on the block constantly during his Oakland stay, but you never really know with Beane.
At the end of the day, roto is a numbers racket, so here's a stab at Holliday's 2009 line, assuming he's in Oakland all season: 286-90-28-93-12, $24. Say goodbye to fantasy's first round, Matty. I welcome your take in the comments.
Huston Street, to Colorado: One thing Beane has always understood is the bloated market value of closers, give him that. Street wasn't needed after the emergence of Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler, so why not sell when the selling's good? Street could hang in Colorado and take the closing gig from Manny Corpas, or he could wind up being flipped to someone else this winter. Brian Fuentes, last year's closer, is expected to sign elsewhere. Street is getting a change of scenery at the right time, and if he's healthy next spring, he's got an excellent chance to bag 30-40 saves.
Carlos Gonzalez, to Colorado: His first go-round in the majors was a mild disappointment (.242/.273/.361), and that messy strikeout/walk ratio (81 whiffs, 13 walks over 302 at-bats) might have soured the A's a bit. Still, Gonzalez is a well-regarded prospect and Colorado cures a lot of ills. He'll be given a shot to win a starting spot in March, and makes for an intriguing toss of the dice in deeper groups.
Greg Smith, to Colorado: He fell apart in the second half (5.18 ERA), he's off elbow surgery, and he's headed to the thin air of Coors Field. You can connect the dots. No bid here.
Scott Olsen, to Washington: His 4.20 ERA was basically a mirage last year, not supported by the peripherals at all (his true ERA should have been over 5.00). Strikeouts down, walks up, velocity way down, you can't blame the Marlins for walking away from this one. Until Olsen shows he can get into the 90s consistently, I'm not interested.
Josh Willingham, to Washington: His hot April start was quickly forgotten when injuries took over; wrist and back problems made him unrosterable the rest of the fantasy season, though Willingham's final line (.254/.364/.470) landed where he's consistently been his entire career. Assuming he can stay on the field, we'll probably see the usual from Willingham; call it .267-73-24-76-5. When it comes to the Nationals outfield, I'm much more interested in Elijah Dukes and Lastings Milledge. Austin Kearns is probably available for the first good offer.
Emilio Bonifacio, to Florida: He's officially a journeyman at 23, hitting his third organization in five months. Do the Marlins have something in the works with Dan Uggla? Bonifacio's speed is legit, but he's still learning the game on the bases (seven career swipes in 12 attempts) and at the plate (.240 career average, 18 walks, 49 strikeouts in 192 at-bats). Most mixed leaguers don't need to worry about him for the moment.