Sunday was like a Thanksgiving feast for fantasy owners. The scoreboards saw ten teams score nine-plus runs, while another seven teams scored one run or less. It was a day of extremes, and fantasy owners reaped the benefits. In addition to Sunday's stat explosions, the league is just a day away from the trading deadline and at least one juicy deal has already went down. Let's take it all in as we look at the weekend that was on, and off, the diamond
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- Atlanta has reportedly landed the biggest treasure during this year's MLB swap meet, convincing Texas to send slugger Mark Teixeira its way in exchange for top prospects Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Elvis Andrus and change. From a fantasy standpoint, this deal should help Teixeira. Landing amidst a lineup of veteran hitters like the Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones will give him the protection he hasn't had in Texas this season. But it's Saltalamacchia that appears to gain the biggest boost in value. Out from the shadow of Brian McCann, he should become the everyday catcher for the Rangers. The Braves top prospect heading into the season, according to Baseball America, Saltalamacchia is a true switch hitter, able to drive the ball from both sides of the plate. His power side is from the left, where he has hit all four of his home runs this season, but he's solid, at least from a batting average standpoint, from the right side, too. And he's headed to one of the most favorable hitting parks in the league in Rangers Ballpark. Playing regularly for Texas for the final two months of the season, Saltalamacchia could very easily produce like a top 10 catcher the rest of the way. This deal makes him ownable in almost all league formats. The catching position has been incredibly anemic this season and Saltalamacchia offers the upside to give the backstops class a big shot in the arm.
- In Seattle, Adrian Beltre hasn't come close to matching his .334, 48 HR, 121 RBI effort in his final season in Los Angeles in '04. But he did show some semblance of that runner-up MVP season after the All-Star break last season, swatting 18 home runs to go with 54 RBI and a .285 batting average. The past month, he's kicked things into high gear yet again following a ho-hum first few months, ranking No. 7 overall in the Yahoo! game for the past 30 days – including a league-high 31 RBI. As a Seattle native, I watch Beltre on a regular basis, and the confidence and calm he's showing at the plate is evident. He smacked 16 home runs in the final two months of '06, and he looks primed for another strong closing effort. Beltre's one-for-one trade value of late has varied. For some, he's cost a sizeable premium. But three of the last four straight-up deals in Yahoo! leagues (dealt in separate deals for Travis Buck, Chris Capuano and Dontrelle Willis) prove that not everyone has clued into what he's been up to. If you need some Corner Infield help, inquire about Beltre's availability. You might be surprised how cheap he can be had.
- Notable Notes: After tossing 6.1 no-hit innings in his last appearance with the Yankees back on May 1, rookie Phil Hughes is expected to rejoin the New York rotation this coming Saturday after nursing a strained hamstring back to health these past two months … The ever-popular oblique injury has claimed Carlos Beltran as its latest victim. Beltran is expected to soon land on the DL … Shane Victorino left Monday's game at Chicago with a strained right calf, suffered while running to first base after grounding into a double play … Carl Crawford is still day-to-day with a wrist injury, but he took batting practice on Monday is reportedly is very near a return to game action … Cubs utility knife Ryan Theriot is one start away from adding 3B-eligibility to his current 2B/SS designation.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Billy Butler, KC, OF
As the No. 62-ranked player in the Yahoo! game for the past month, Butler has been an RBI machine, driving in 24 runs in his past 21 games. He's also hitting .352 in July with a .952 OPS. After hitting just one home run and five extra-base hits in his first 65 at-bats, the Royals rookie clean-up hitter has three home runs and 10 extra-base hits in his past 83 at-bats, evidence that his tremendous raw power is starting to take hold. Despite Brad Evans slobbering all over this guy at the All-Star break in his Bringin' the Noise column, Butler is still available in more than 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Evans' post-AS break prediction for Butler – .289 BA, 11 HR, 49 RBI, 36 R – is starting to look conservative.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Alexi Casilla, Min, 2B (ETA – Now)
With Luis Castillo headed to the Mets in a deal for prospects, Casilla is slated to take over at second base in Minnesota. He had a 14-game run with the Twins in April, when he hit just .233. But he stole four bases in four attempts, flashing his true value to fantasy leaguers – speed. In 396 career minor league games, Casilla has swiped 177 bases, which works out to a 162-game average of 77 steals. The Twins No. 7 prospect for '07 according to Baseball America makes good contact and has hit near .300 for his minor league career. But much like his predecessor, he has no power whatsoever. Simply put, as someone who will see regular at bats for the foreseeable future, he's purely a SB add. Only those with a need for speed need apply.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Mike Piazza, Oak, C – A candidate to be dealt, Piazza has hit .400 with 2 HR and 11 RBI since returning from the DL on July 20.
Ross Gload, KC, OF – Gload hit a cool .500 (12-for-24) this past week with 1 HR, 4 RBI and 7 R.
Morgan Ensberg, Hou, 3B – Once a notable name in fantasy circles, Ensberg was designated for assignment by Houston when they acquired Ty Wigginton in a deal for Dan Wheeler.
Travis Hafner, Cle, 1B – Fantasy owners aren't exactly getting to bask in Hafner's added 1B eligibility this season. He's hitting .178 in his past 12 games, dropping his season BA to .258.
Yahoo! Sports Blog Funston League Update
It finally happened. After spurning numerous offers for Jose Reyes, I finally relented and traded the Mets' mega roto star. Bleach168, sitting 6.5 points out of first and standing to make a significant gain in SB with the addition of Reyes, offered up Michael Young and Francisco Cordero for Reyes. I also mulled another deal – Rafael Furcal and Erik Bedard for Reyes. Both deals made sense – I need serious pitching help and I'm firmly locked in with 11 points in SB, so Reyes' primary value has become moot for me. When Bleach168 agreed to take on Sammy Sosa in exchange for Jose Guillen as part of the package, I became amenable to consummating the deal. Realistically, I'm just trying to save some face at this point. My eleventh-place standing has been one of the more frustrating experiences of my fantasy career. Just like winning the Blog football league last season was one of the more satisfying experiences.
You can follow along with my Yahoo! Friends and Family experts league team here.