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Saturday, July 30, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING CLOSER NEWS: TONY WATSON TO BE NAMED CLOSER IN PITTSBURGH

Tony Watson will get first crack at the closer gig in Pittsburgh which was vacated earlier in the day when the team traded All-Star stopper Mark Melancon to the Washington Nationals.  Watson is a lefty but his excellent tenure with the team and current 2.48 ERA puts him in play first over Neftali Feliz. 

Analysis:  We went back and forth on this but it appears Watson is the guy.  He is a tremendous pitcher and is a big difference-making player the rest of the way if you can get him. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: ROYALS SNAG BILLY BURNS FROM OAKLAND

So much for being sellers.  The Kansas City Royals pulled a surprise on Saturday when they acquired speedy outfielder Billy Burns from the Oakland A's.  Burns was bought low by the Royals as they pick him up during a season where the leadoff man got demoted to Triple-A after hitting just .234 with 14 steals. 

Analysis:  Interesting move by the Royals who have an eye on rehabilitating Burns and it is a worthwhile gamble for sure. We saw last season that an optimal Burns can score runs, steal bases, and bat for a respectable average.  Whether pitchers adjusted to him or not, Burns struggled badly in 2016.  The move might not mean the Royals still won't move closer Wade Davis or others. 


FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: MARK MELANCON KICKS JONATHAN PAPELBON TO CURB, NEFTALI FELIZ LIKELY TO STEP UP IN PITT.

The Washington Nationals made a resounding move to combat their chief NL rivals the Chicago Cubs after the latter acquired All-Star closer Aroldis Chapman to shore up their main weakness going into the stretch run of the season.  With their own closer Jonathan Papelbon melting down horrible over the last few weeks, the Nats were desperate for a solution themselves and they got one early Saturday in the form of Pittsburgh Pirates All-Star Mark Melancon.  Melancon will come over to Washington now to close games in place of Papelbon, with the latter having lost almost all of his fantasy baseball value in the process.  Meanwhile Melancon remains one of the very best closers in the game as he totes a splendid 1.51 ERA and having nailed down 30 saves.  Melancon's value doesn't change much and that is of a top five closer no matter how you look at it.  Meanwhile in terms of the gaping hole now in the ninth inning in Pittsburgh, there are two candidates that include lefty Tony Watson and righty Neftali Feliz.  The real key here is that Feliz has the experience edge and he closed out successfully a game last Monday in place of a resting Melancon.  Feliz has been an abomination the last couple of seasons as he made his way back from elbow surgery but he has thrown well in 2016 with a 2.97 ERA and there is life back on his fastball with 45 whiffs in 39.1 innings.  Watson has been tremendous himself with a 2.66 ERA and has been a lockdown guy for his six seasons with the team.  If we had one spot to use, we would use it on Watson as he has gotten chances in the past when Melancon was injured but there is a case for both. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: NATS ACQUIRE MARK MELANCON FROM PIRATES

The Washington Nationals finally filled their giant void at closer Saturday by agreeing to a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates for All-Star stopper Mark Melancon.  Melancon was scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season and he will now step in for the struggling Jonathan Papelbon.

Analysis:  Great move by the Nats as they finally get someone very capable to be a lock down closer.  This was a perfect answer to the Cubs getting Aroldis Chapman as the two clubs go at it for NL supremacy.  Papelbon meanwhile can be cut in all formats. 


2016 FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYER ANALYZER: BRANDON MARSHALL WR NEW YORK JETS

With NFL training camps opening up this week, the big news item on Wednesday was the New York Jets re-signing quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to a one-year deal worth $12 million.  Those who already drafted Jet skills position players, in particular wideouts Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker rejoiced with Fitzpatrick's return.  After all it was a scary proposition thinking of Geno Smith being under center in Week 1 and failing to consistently get the football to his playmakers.  So with Fitz back in the fold, let's take a closer look at Marshall and where he fits for 2016 fantasy football.

Having already produced quietly a Hall of Fame-worthy career, Brandon Marshall shocked even his most loyal fans in 2015 with his production with the Jets.  After coming over to the Jets in a trade from the Chicago Bears, Marshall's outlook seemed bleak in moving from Jay Cutler and a high-powered passing attack to one with Geno Smith and a ground-based operation.  As a result, we and many other publications had Marshall down as a guy to avoid despite some truly dominant seasons spent with the Bears and Denver Broncos.  Fate then intervened in the form of Smith suffering a broken jaw in a locker room incident which put Fitzpatrick into the starting role.  The rest as they say is history as Marshall set all sorts of Jet receiving records in compiling the following digits:

109 receptions
1,502 yards
13 touchdowns

Amazing number for Marshall who showed that he is still very much a WR 1 in fantasy football and with Fitzpatrick back, it right in that category for 2016 as well.  While the Jets still love to run the football, there is no denying the amazing chemistry between Marshall and Fitzpatrick and they should have no problems hooking up again at a high rate this season.  Marshall is one of the best PPR receivers in fantasy football today but he also is a big red-zone weapon as well.  That means he is a WR 1 both in PPR and in standard and another run at 100 catches is likely.  Durability is also part of the equation for Marshall which makes him that much more of a big asset this season.  While a bit of regression in yardage might be in the cards, Marshall should go no latter than the end of Round 2 in drafts this drafting season. 

2016 PROJECTION:  104 receptions 1,416 yards 12 TD    



















FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: SOURCE SAYS METS AND JAY BRUCE "NOT HAPPENING"

A team source connected to the New York Mets front office said that talks between the team and Cincinnati Reds over outfielder Jay Bruce "are pretty much dead" and that a trade is simply "not happening" right now.  The Reds want Ahmed Rosario for Bruce which the Mets quickly rejected and it appears the team has something more concrete in the works with the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

Analysis:  We had it first with the Nimo-D'Arnaud report Friday and this is the same source we used for that now accurate post.  Bruce and the Mets don't match up right now unless a third team gets involved.

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: BREWERS ASKED METS FOR CONFORTO, D'ARNAUD FOR LUCROY

Updating a report we posted Friday that was a full 24 hours before it was repeated again Saturday, the New York Mets offered Brandon Nimmo, Travis D'Arnaud, and a third player believed to be Wilmer Flores for catcher Jonathan Lucroy.  The Brewers rejected that offer and came back with Michael Conforto and D'Arnaud for Lucroy which the Mets also kicked back. 

Analysis:  It seems like there is something to work with here and maybe the Mets do Conforto-D'Arnaud for Lucroy and let's say Will Smith or Jeremy Jeffress.  This has legs to it from what we are being told.


FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: FRIDAY

Jason Heyward:  2/4 with his 5th HR while hitting .229.  Heyward's contract already looks like one of the worst of all time.  And I said from the beginning he was incredibly overrated in fantasy baseball.  Its like the guy forgot how to hit when he was reaching his prime.  Red flags.

Jon Lester:  6 IP 4 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.95.  Lester is particularly tough at home with an ERA under 2.00 in the friendly confines.

Chris Carter:  1/4 with his 23rd HR while hitting .217.  Next stop:  .200.

Junior Guerra:  8.2 IP 4 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 2.70.  Please.  A year ago a minor league medicore arm by the name of Taylor Jungmann did what Guerra is doing now.  Then he got absolutely destroyed the next season and was back on the farm.  Guerra has only 85 strikeouts in 103.1 innings and so there is a ton of trouble when he is not getting the extreme BABIP luck he has received.  You have been warned.

Max Scherzer:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.85.  Once the home run rate began to steady, Scherzer was right back to the slam dunk fantasy baseball ace he always has been.

Shawn Kelly:  scoreless .1 IP for sixth save with an ERA of 3.05.  Kelly is the man now in the ninth inning for better or for worse as Papelbon officially looks like toast. 

Xander Bogaerts:  2/5 with his 13th HR while hitting .331.  If Bogaerts keep this up, he will back up right into the wall of a fantasy baseball first round draft.

Jackie Bradley Jr.:  1/4 with his 17th HR while hitting .298.  The development of Bradley has been a solid surprise.  Not that I didn't think he had talent but instead there were legit concerns about the contact rate and ability to bat for average.  Answered in the affirmative.

Rick Porcello:  9 IP 5 H 2 ER 0 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.47.  Listen Porcello has talent and was a former early round pick for a reason but his margin for error is razor thin in any one start due to his soft fastball.  That is deadly in the AL as we have seen so I would still avoid at all costs despite the tidy ERA.

Rougned Odor:  3/4 with 2 home runs (21 for season) while hitting .282.  Now up to 21 homers and 10 steals to go with an average that is inching toward .300.  In two years it is staggering to think how incredible Odor could be.  Special talents like this don't come around often.  Whatever you pay for him next season will be worth every penny. 

Jurickson Profar:  2/3 with his 5th HR while hitting .301.  Hearing the Rangers could move Profar but that is kind of ridiculous to me.  Injuries or no injuries, the kid remains a major prospect.  They waited all this time for him to come back and now are ready to unload him after two months of very good hitting?  Doesn't make sense. 

Eric Hosmer:  1/4 with his 14th HR while hitting .282.  Hosmer will finish with 19-20 home runs like usual.  Dependability is underrated in evaluating a fantasy baseball hitter.  Sure we expected some more from Hosmer but the bottom line is still quite impressive. 

Adam Eaton:  1/4 with his 8th HR while hitting .272.  Eaton falls into that category of fantasy baseball player that no one wants anymore after he let many down as a failed sleeper initially.  This despite the fact Eaton has developed into a very useful commodity as an OF 3.  It is situations like this where you can turn a major profit on a player and ultimately win your league. 

Jeremy Hazelbaker:  1/2 with his 8th HR while hitting .248.  Remember when everyone picked up Hazelbaker after he got hot the first two weeks of the season?  Well not me as it was a clear case of "new season/100 percent attention in fantasy baseball community" at work there.  Hazelbaker was a fluke as I said then and needless to say he did a nice job proving that out.

Marcell Ozuna:  2/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .299.  Ozuna is a bit under the radar in Miami because no one wants hitters from that ballpark not named Giancarlo Stanton.  Terrific power though which plays nicely in today's game.  Keep him on your value lists for 2017. 

Carlos Gonzalez:  2/5 with his 21st HR while hitting .317.  Gonzalez is well behind last year's home run pace which is no shock here since that was in clear outlier territory.  Remember that when a veteran guy goes nuts and above his career norms by a large margin one season, it almost always means a correction the following year. 

Tyler Collins:  2/4 with his third HR while hitting .204.  Good game but Collins is not long for the majors with J.D. Martinez on his way back.  Failed to impress. 

Justin Upton:  2/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .236.  This falls into the too little, too late bin.  Upton still has two months to at least make something right but he has shown no signs of doing so. 

Jose Altuve:  1/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .356.  Unbelievable.  You can now make the case with the power uptick that Altuve is the single most dominant fantasy baseball hitter in the game. 

Edwin Encarnacion:  2/3 with his 28th HR while hitting .265.  We did a head-to-head between Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Abreu in March.  Maybe it should have been Goldschmidt-Encarnacion.



Friday, July 29, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE BREAKING NEWS: THREE-TEAM DEAL IN W0RKS FOR JAY BRUCE

Jayson Stark is reporting that a three-team deal that would involve Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce going to the Los Angeles Dodgers is in the works.  There was no word on who the other team is but Bruce to the Dodgers is being heard on multiple spots. 

Analysis:  The Dodgers are never ones to sit idly by at the trade deadline but they need pitching more than hitting with Clayton Kershaw injured.  Maybe they also get a pitcher with Bruce as well.  Stay tuned. 


FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: WHITE SOX TO LISTEN ON TODD FRAZIER

Having already made closer David Robertson and starter James Shields widely available, the Chicago White Sox now reportedly are willing to listen to offers on slugger Todd Frazier.  Straddling near the .200 mark all season but with big power, the White Sox are trying to do a quick rebuild for 2017. 

Analysis:  Not a shock as Frazier has been good but not the impact guy the White Sox thought they were getting.  He would bring back a big package but unlike with Roberston and Shields, the Sox don't seem in a rush to move him. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: REDS WANT ZACK WHEELER FOR JAY BRUCE

Updating an earlier item, the Cincinnati Reds are asking for rehabbing New York Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler for outfielder Jay Bruce. 

Analysis:  Bruce is the second bat the Mets have been connected to the last few days in addition to Milwaukee Brewers backstop Jonathan Lucroy.  Not sure if the Mets would deal Wheeler considering how many pitching injuries they have but they clearly are in search of a bat. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: NATS AGAIN SAY THEY WILL MOVE GIOLITO FOR MILLER

Following our own Michael Wong's exclusive report almost a week ago where he reported the Washington Nationals front office would say as much, Jon Morosi has echoed that the team is willing to move top pitching prospect Lucas Giolito for New York Yankees closer Andrew Miller.  The Nats are desperate to get help in the ninth inning after the recent meltdown of Jonathan Papelbon and have been connected to Miller, David Robertson, and Mark Melancon.

Analysis:  Wong nailed it from the start and the Yankees have to jump all over that deal if offered.  Giolito is considered can't miss and closers are always overpriced this time of year. 

FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE FALLOUT: MARLINS STOCK UP ON ARMS, PADRES GET FUTURE CLOSER

The trade deadline activity is really getting going, with the latest deal being the San Diego Padres sending pitchers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea to the Miami Marlins for injured reliever Carter Capps and Tayon Guerrero.  Lets check out the fantasy baseball ramifications shall we?

Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea:  The Marlins really needed arms to complement ace Jose Fernandez in order to help them hold onto a wild card berth which they presently own.  They get two relatively young arms in Rea and Cashner, and the latter has had some fantasy baseball pop at times the last few seasons due to his hard fastball that was capable of eliciting strikeouts.  Alas Cashner has never really panned out as his current 4.76 ERA attests and that is even more scary a number considering half of his games come at spacious Petco Park.  The bottom line with Cashner is the fact that rampant arm and shoulder injuries have robbed him of his past high-octane stuff and at 29, his current 7.60 K/9 rate is very average.  The fact that Cashner was only barely an SP 5 in San Diego means he retains that very limited value with the Marlins who have the same type of spacious ballpark. 

As far as Rea is concerned, he has been hammered this season to the tune of a 4.98 ERA and a very ugly 6.89 K/9 rate.  A 3.99 BB/9 rate also shows that no only does Rea hurt himself with free passes but he can't miss bats either.  He should not be owned in any fantasy baseball league.

Carter Capps:  The real gem in the deal for San Diego is the fireballing Capps who picked up instant fame in his debut a year ago with his full hop with his left leg before he delivers his 100-mph heat.  Capps was unhittable last season as he put up a 1.16 ERA and registered an insane 16.84 K/9 rate.  You just don't see K rates like that and while Capps is recovering from Tommy John surgery (no shock given the hard-throwing nature), the Padres finally have a closer for the future after going through a ton of mediocre to bad options there the last few seasons. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: NATS MAKE "STRONG PITCH" TO WHITE SOX FOR DAVID ROBERTSON

According to a team source connected to the Washington Nationals front office, the team made a "strong pitch" to the Chicago White for their closer David Robertson.  With the Nationals having seen Jonathan Papelbon epically melt down over the last three weeks and not wanting to go into the postseason with Shawn Kelly as the closer, Robertson has been targeted as the main solution to their ninth inning problems. 

Analysis:  With Andrew Miller unavailable and the price way too high for Wade Davis, Robertson seems to be the guy the Nats will go strong after.  It makes sense as Robertson is a very good closer, his struggles this season notwithstanding. 

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING TRADE DEALINE NEWS: COLIN REA COMING TO MIAMI WITH CASHNER

According to the Miami Herald, the Miami Marlins also acquired SP Colin Rea with Andrew Cashner.  Rea has pitched to a 4.98 ERA so far this season for the San Diego Padres and will likely man a back end spot in the Marlins' rotation. 

Analysis:  Decent haul for the Marlins who certainly filled some holes in the rotation but both guys have ERA's well over 4.00 with Petco as their home base.  No moves needs to be made with either Cashner or Rea however in fantasy baseball terms. 



FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: THURSDAY

Hernan Perez:  2/4 with his 6th HR and 2 SB (16 for season) while hitting .279.  Once again I remind you that some swell fantasy baseball values can be had on bad teams.  Just like the pitching and Odubel Herrera coming out of Philly, Perez has been some value as a 6/16 power/speed diamond in the rough.  While his overall hitting skills are still up for debate as pitchers continue to adjust to him, the juice is quite valuable for a middle infielder. 

Zach Davies:  6.1 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.59.  Those in Milwaukee who miss Kyle Lohse have a younger clone now in town. 

David Price:  8 IP 7 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 4.26.  I think Price is primed for a monster finish as beneath the ugly ERA, he continues to rock a double-digit and career-high K/9 rate and his BABIP has been unlucky throughout. 

Brad Ziegler:  blown save with 2 unearned runs in .1 IP for an ERA of 2.56.  The short tenure of Ziegler as the closer in Boston is pretty much finished as Craig Kimbrel is set to get back at the end of the weeked. 

Mitch Moreland:  2/3 with 2 home runs (16 for season) while hitting .237.  Moreland's power is not in question but honestly he has pretty much proven himself to be another Justin Smoak which says it all about how much of an ordinary fantasy baseball he is. 

Rougned Odor:  1/3 with his 19th HR while hitting .277.  Next season Odor has the talent to be an early second round pick.  If you get him in the third round you did very well.  What a talent. 

Cole Hamels:  8 IP 6 H 2 ER 1 BB 12 K with an ERA of 2.84.  Full transparancy:  I had Hamels down as a bust candidate this season moving from the NL and into the AL in one of the worst parks in the game.  Needless to say I blew that one and Hamels has been insanely good which is doubly impressive in that park. 

Aroldis Chapman:  1.1 scoreless inning for his first save with the Cubs.  Best and most impactful move of the trade deadline so far.  What will the Nats do in response? 

Aaron Altherr:  3/4 with his first HR while hitting .750.  See Perez, Hernan.  Another potential diamond in the rough here as Altherr is an Odubel Herrera type in that he has power and can really run.  Remember that he hit 5 homers and stole 6 bags in a cup of coffee debut with the team a year ago.  Pick him up everywhere. 

Tommy Joseph:  2/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .262.  The average is headed for .250 as it should given the K Rate but geez Joseph is hitting home runs at a rate that is far beyond what he did in the minors.  Again take it as a grain of salt but "ride it out."  Been a longer ride than anticipated. 

Maikel Franco:  1/5 with his 19th HR while hitting .259.  Some have asked me if I am disappointed in Franco after he was one of my strongest sleeper touts this season.  I mean the guy has 19 home runs with two months to go.  I am fine. 

Adam Jones:  2/4 with his 19th HR while hitting .269.  What is funny here is that for all the narrative that Jones is moving past his prime, he is not far from .280 and 30 home runs which is where he has been the last four or five seasons.  Let it play out. 

Max Kepler:  2/3 with his 11th HR while hitting .243.  This has been some debut so far for Kepler who is hitting for big power even in Target Field.  What is crazy is that Kepler hit only 9 home runs in the minors a year ago and 1 this season there before his promotion.  That calls into question the legitimacy of the power as this is not Adam Duvall 2.0. 

Jacob DeGrom:  7 IP 5 H 0 ER 1 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.56.  Coming off his worst outing as a pro, DeGrom dominated.  That means the complete game he tossed prior to the Miami mess was likely the sole reason for his bomb the last time out prior to this.  All is well. 

Jeurys Familia:  second straight blown save with 2 ER in .1 IP with an ERA of 3.14.  Familia was not even supposed to pitch in this one and was on fumes.  Fatigue an issue and it was down the stretch a year ago so this needs to be watched. 

Aledmys Diaz:  2/5 with his 14th HR while hitting .313.  Diaz' spectacular debut continues unabated and honestly I thought this would ebb long ago.  Stamp of approval. 



FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS: MARLINS TO ACQUIRE ANDREW CASHNER

The Miami Marlins have acquired SP Andrew Cashner from the San Diego Padres to bolster a rotation that is top-heavy with ace Jose Fernandez.  The return package is not known yet but Cashner takes a high 4.76 ERA East. 

Analysis:  Surprising as the Marlins really have a completely barren farm system but apparently something clicked here.  Cashner was once a decent sleeper due to his impressive fastball but he has been shelled and injury-wracked for awhile now.  No move needs to be made. 


Thursday, July 28, 2016

FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING NEWS:. GIANTS NAB EDUARDO NUNEZ FROM TWINS

The San Francisco Giants acquired Minnesota Twins outfielder Eduardo Nunez late Thursday for a minor league arm.  Nunez was in the midst of a major breakout season with the Twins this season and he will help shore up an inconsistent Giants lineup.

Analysis:. Great add by the Giants as Nunez has put it all together as a five tool stud this season. They still need bullpen help which will likely be their main focus now.  

FANTASY FOOTBALL TRAINING CAMP WRAPUP: LE'VEON BELL A VIRTUAL LOCK FOR FOUR GAME BAN

The first day of NFL training camps opened on Wednesday and with it goes a slew of fantasy football related items:

-The biggest news of the day is that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell is a virtual lock to get suspended four games for missing multiple drug tests by the league.  This of course is the second time Bell has run afoul of the substance abuse policy in the NFL and that is why there is almost zero chance he will get any games shaved off the suspension.  As a result, Bell should be knocked down a few rounds due to the missed games but by the third round he shapes up as a very good value play as there is no debating he is the very best running/receiving back in the game.  That also meane veteran DeAngelo Williams is a must add for all Bell owners and he should a year ago that hs still has plenty of tread on his tires. 

-Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham began camp on the PUP list which was no shock given the gruesome knee injury he suffered a year ago.  The Seahawks expect Graham to be ready for Week 1 but we saw a year ago that even when he was in the lineup, the former New Orleans Saints star was a major bust.  We are not going back to this well. 

-Speaking of the Seahawks, running back Tomas Rawls is unlikely to be ready to go for the start of camp workouts but he might need to go on PUP as he is close.  Rawls is also expected to be ready for Week 1 and remember that he was a revelation as a power running rookie a year ago before suffering a serious ankle injury.  There is boom or bust potential here though as Rawls is far from a proven commodity and the very intriguing rookie C.J. Prosise from Notre Dame at the very least will be the pass receiving back and maybe more.  In fact Prosise is one of our favorite running back sleepers of 2016.

-Arian Foster is fully expected to be the starter for the Miami Dolphins as he checked into camp 100 percent healthy from last year's torn Achilles.  We already heard rumblings that Foster would be the primary pass receiving back for the Dolphins which makes him a big PPR weapon but now with running back duties, he could be a swell RB 2 investment. 

-The Atlanta Falcons already were determined to feed second-year back Tevin Coleman in the running game but now they are ready to include him as a pass receiver as well.  That was almost fully the domain of Devonta Freeman a year ago but Coleman was an adept reveiver in college.  The fact that Coleman is now encroaching both in the running game and receiving game on Freeman puts the latter in clear bust territory as we already discussed earlier. 


FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE REPORT: DAVID ROBERTSON NEW CLOSER ON BOARD

By Michael Wong

So far it has been the trade deadline of the closer.  With the Boston Red Sox picking up Brad Ziegler, the Miami Marlins Fernando Rodney, and the Cubs in their blockbuster get in acquiring Aroldis Chapman, the closers have dominated the trade conversation.  There doesn't seem to be any letup there as now the Chicago White Sox' David Robertson has become the new name available out there as the Cubs' cross-town rivals have officially waived the white flag.  Already the usual suspects in the Cleveland Indians, Washington Nationals, and San Francisco Giants are all connected to Robertson, with the Nats and Indians particularly aggressive.  It is no secret the Indians are pining for lefthanded bullpen help but Robertson would be a sizable help either way.  Now Robertson is in the midst of his worst MLB season with an ERA over 4.00 but he is still an impact arm who will be a big addition to either of those three teams which are involved. 

-Meanwhile the New York Mets are becoming agressive with Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, especially with the team starting to fade from playoff contention.  With the Mets depserate for a bat, Lucroy is about as good an option there as one can get.  The price is big though for Lucroy and the Mets don't seem interested in moving a prime prospect piece like Ahmed Rosario. 

Also the Mets were connected to Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Daniel Hudson but no such move is imminent or even in the works.  Hudson's ERA has soared past 6.00 so he is not a big impact either way no matter where he goes. 

-Wade Davis is the other closer who is a major hot commodity and the Los Angeles Dodgers are heavily involved with this one.  As we reported earlier, the Royals are trying to move Ian Kennedy and the four more years left on his contract with Davis and the Dodgers are debating it.  Without Kennedy, the Royals will then want a major piece like Julio Urias. 

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FANTASY BASEBALL TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: DODGERS MULLING TAKING IAN KENNEDY SALARY DUMP IN DEAL FOR WADE DAVIS

The Kansas City Royals have internally decided to become sellers leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline, in particular looking to take advantage of a major seller's market when it comes to top closers.  The Royals have one of those closers in the ultra-dominant Wade Davis and reports surfaced Thursday that the Los Angeles Dodgers are hot on his trail.  The Royals want to dump Ian Kennedy and the remaining four years left on his deal in any deal with Davis though which at the very least is holding up talks a bit. 

Analysis:  Davis is becoming more and more likely a guy who will be dealt and other than Aroldis Chapman, migjht be the most domiant closer in fantasy baseball.  Kennedy was a colossol mistake in free agency as the Royals stupidly gave a five-year deal to the medicore veteran but getting anyone to take that much money left on his deal could be tough. 


FANTASY BASEBALL BREAKING TRADE DEADLINE NEWS: RANGERS FRONT-RUNNERS FOR LUCROY?

A report has surfaced Thursday indicating that the Texas Rangers are possibly the front-runners in the Jonathan Lucroy sweepstakes.  There was buzz early Thursday that Lucroy was about to be traded after he was not in the lineup for that day's matinee game but later it was explained he was simply getting a routine day off.  In addition to the Rangers, the Boston Red Sox are reportedly strong contenders for Lucroy. 

Analysis:  It apepars as though something is imminent in terms of Lucroy being dealt and honestly the Brewers have no reason to hold onto him as they would clearly be selling high.  Stay tuned. 


FANTASY BASEBALL WRAPUP: WEDNESDAY

Giancarlo Stanton:  2/5 with his 22nd HR while hitting .245.  Stanton has been destroying the baseball for the last month or so and honestly he pretty much is back where he should be numbers-wise across the board after that brutal April.  Considering the ugly average, in hindsight Stanton should be a second rounder in 2017 and not going in the first.

Adam Conley:  6.2 IP 8 H 0 ER 3 BB 6 K with an ERA of 3.38.  Conley has been a nice value play as an SP 5 this season.  He doesn't do any one thing great but the overall package has beeen quite useful.

Stephen Strasburg:  7 IP 3 H 0 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 2.68.  Strasburg picked up his 14th win and now should be considered one of the prime favorites for the NL Cy Young.  I have long maintained here that I was never one to own Strasburg due to the cost and combined injury risk but never have I questioned his ace talent.

Blake Treinen:  scoreless .2 IP for his first save with an ERA of 2.01.  Felipe Rivera was given the chance in the ninth but quickly gave up a run and was pulled for Treinen.  This is one big mess right now but I guess Treinen is the guy to own.

Daniel Murphy:  2/4 with his 20th HR while hitting .351.  The gall of Murphy to go 0-for-5 the previous night.  You are forgiven Dan as he now reaches the 20 home run mark for the first time in his career.

Alex Dickerson:  1/4 with his sixth HR while hitting .286.  Fourth straight game with a home run from Dickerson and right now he is the most valuable Dickerson in fantasy baseball.  With Melvin Upton now in Toronto, this Dickerson should be given everyday playing time and at on power alone, is worth an add.  Remember that seasons in 2016 have started like this for guys like Adam Duvall and looks where that has gone.

Miguel Cabrera:  3/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .301.  Knock Cabrera all you want for no longer hitting .330 with a pace of 40 home runs.  Clearly a victim of his past immense success, Cabrera is still raking more than enough and 30 home runs will be a tremendous total no matter who it came from.

Dustin Pedroia:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .303.  Pedroia has been red hot and is actually having a very fine season with his customary .300 average and decent enough pop.  A striped down version without the steals no doubt but Pedroia has shown he is not done as a regular contributor in fantasy baseball just yet.

Xander Bogaerts:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .331.  Mr. Bogaerts I would like to apologize for some mean words I typed here about you in the past.  Now that you can hit home runs and run to go with the batting title average, you win.

Madison Bumgarner:  8 IP 5 H 1 ER 0 BB 9 K with an ERA of 2.09.  Those who have been readers from the begining know I saw greatneess in Bumgarner right from the start.  It took others a bit to catch one which is why I owned him for a few years at a deent price but not now and not again for a long awhile.  It is amazing that just when you think we have seen the best out of the guy, he continually improves.

Dan Straily: 7.2 IP 3 H 1 ER 1 BB 5 K with an ERA of 3.84.  ERA is now under 4.00 as Straily continues to pitch well.  The guy has obvious talent and put up some big K numbers in the minors but never has been able to stick with any on team.

Jay Bruce:  1/4 with his 25th HR while hitting .271.  I think the Blue Jays are going regret not making the deal for Bruce and instead going with Melvin Upton Jr.

Andrew McCutchen:  3/5 with his 15th HR while hitting .246.  The average has never come around and even the power will not go near the 30 mark and may never again.  While McCutchen has at leats been respectable, it is comical to look back and see that these numbers cost a first round pick. 

Gerrit Cole:  9 IP 3 H 1 ER 0 BB 6 K with an ERA of 2.78.  Cole has been dominant his last few starts and it shows just how good he can be if he can stay healthy which has been his biggest callenge.  The K's are down quite a bit though as he admittedly has pitched more to contact.  While we can overlook that to an extent, the health has to cooperate and it never totally does for a full season which makes Cole one of the riskiest fantasy baseball aces in the game. 

Kris Bryant:  1/3 with his 26th HR while hitting .283.  Those who drafted Bryant in the third round a year go when we knew he would begin the season in the minors......this was why.  Bryant is having an MVP season both in real and in fantasy baseball and 50 home runs seems to be in the future as soon as 2017.  What a talent.

Javier Baez:  1/4 with his 11th HR while hitting .287.  Baez hitting .287 is like anyone else hitting .347.  Kudos to the kid as he really cut down on the whiffs which threatened to make him a Quad-A guy.  The Cubs are playing it right with Baez too in batting him near the bottom of the order to take pressure off of him.  Its working and the future is bright again.

Addison Russell:  1/4 with his 12th HR while hitting .248.  Russell lacks the flash that Baez has in that he doesn't run and unlike Baez, he remains an average liability. 

Jason Hammel:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 7 K with an ERA of 3.23.  Wow it is almost August and Hammel is still throwing well.  As surprising as the fact that Lyle Lovette once married Julia Roberts.  Alas August usually is the line of demarcation with Hammel so the narrative has not changed just yet. 

David Dahl:  1/4 with his first HR while hitting .250.  Love this kid.  Here is what I could see happening though.  Dahl is very capable of going 10/10/.315 the rest of the way and all of a sudden he becomes a second round pick next season. 

Jon Gray:  7 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 3 K with an ERA of 3.94.  On the road, on the road, on the road. 

Manny Machado:  1/4 with his 21st HR while hitting .311.  Yeah the steals seem to have dried up already but Machado doesn't hold anyone's jock and his first round price tag this past March has been justified after many said it wouldn't. 

Masahiro Tanaka:  5 IP 7 H 4 ER 2 BB 4 K with an ERA of 3.16.  Yes you guess it.  This one came on four days rest where Tanaka's ERA is over 4.00.  On five days rest it is under 3.00.  Rinse and repeat. 

Lance McCullers:  6 IP 5 H 1 ER 2 BB 10 K with an ERA of 3.18.  McCullers is quickly becoming one of the best strikeouts artists in the game right before our eyes and yes I will say this:  his path looks very similar so far to Clayton Kershaw with early injuries, poor control, and massive strikeout stuff. 

Yasmany Tomas:  2/5 with 2 home runs (17 for season) while hitting .262.  While there have been scores of recent massive Cuban hitting busts (Alex Guerrero, Rusney Castillo, Yasiel Puig), this guy has delivered.  After some fits and starts, Tomas has gone right along the scouting report in terms of power and an average average. 

Freddie Freeman:  4/4 with his 18th HR while hitting .280.  Kudos to Freeman who has had a nice season despite the lack of any help in the Braves lineup.  Depending on what the Braves front office does in the offseason in terms of protection, Freeman's stock will go north.