Gary Gramling
Thursday July 21st, 2011

There's a name for people who don't make trades during the year, but it's not fit to print on a family-friendly column. A healthy league is one with many trades, and all season long you can come here to get the kind of edge you need to get ahead (majority of advanced stats from the fine folks at ...

Jake Peavy, White Sox: The Chicago White Sox hate Peavy. There's no other explanation. They don't score many runs for him, they don't play defense behind him. I wouldn't wish a 59.4 percent strand rate on my worst enemy (Chicago's rate is 72.4 percent for the team). And despite his recent injury history, Ozzie Guillen sent him out for a four-inning relief appearance on short rest last month, a move that could only be described as positively Guillen-esque in its recklessness. Peavy complained of not feeling right since that outing, but the All-Star break seems to have done him some good. He looked sharp in Kansas City on Tuesday, cruising though five before hitting a rough patch in the sixth (he struck out five and walked just one -- intentionally -- in that outing). And despite his struggles since that relief appearance, there's still plenty to like about his peripherals so far: a solid 3.36 K/BB ratio, and a 42.6 percent ground ball percentage. His ERA sits at a disastrous 5.19, but his FIP is at 3.06 and his tERA is at 3.80, both much better indicators of his performance so far. Injuries are an issue, but with any luck and just a little bit of support Peavy is a top 40 starter over the rest of the year.

Carlos Santana, Indians: The power has been nice, the .225 batting average hasn't. Santana has been a little all-or-nothing this year. He's hit home runs on an impressive 16.0 percent of his fly balls. But he's also failed to get 20.2 percent of his fly balls out of the infield. But they're high pop-outs. So there's that. It's led to a BABIP of just .244; unlucky, but not completely unexpected with a 14.9 percent line drive rate. But enough of the Poindexter analysis, here's why I like Santana to finish strong: He's clearly hitting the ball hard, and with some slight adjustments he could be a, let's say, .280, hitter from here on in. And while a lot of catchers will wear down during the dog days, Santana is (a) 25-years old, and (b) has only caught 526.2 innings (through July 20), 18th in baseball and nearly 200 fewer than guys like Brian McCann and Miguel Montero. With so few quality catchers out there, Santana is a potential steal for the stretch run.

Johnny Cueto, Reds: I don't have to tell you that a guy with 56 strikeouts and 30 walks this year shouldn't own a sub-2.00 ERA. Cueto is benefiting from Cincinnati's strong infield defense, as well as the kind of luck that leads to a .223 opponents BABIP. Before we delve deeper, I want to make this clear: Unlike many of my fellow stats dorks -- toiling away one floor below the woman who gave birth to us, pouring over stat sheets illuminated only by the LCD light, avoiding talking to girls at all costs -- I believe in clutch performers. Very much so. In times of immense pressure, I think there are humans who react with complete and utter panic, and humans who are able to summon a deeper focus and bring their performance to a higher level. Cueto might fall under the latter category, but not to the extent the numbers show this year. He's holding opponents to a .198 average with runners on base, and .176 with runners in scoring position. First of all, those numbers were .263 and .270 for his career before this season. Second of all, his opponents BABIPs in those situations: .207 w/ runners on, .185 w/ RISP. Cueto's still decent, but if he keeps throwing like he has his ERA could easily be two runs higher from here on in.

Leo Nunez, Marlins and Heath Bell, Padres: I consider this reminder a public service (not to be confused with the community service that judge is making me do; this all could have been avoided if New York City had more public restrooms). Both these guys are, more likely than not, going to be on the move next week. And, more likely than not, they'll be going to teams where they'll serve in setup roles. Unless your league counts holds (and God save your soul if it does), their respective values are about to plummet.

Do you have questions? Concerns? Unflinching boredom? Following me on Twitter (@GGramling_SI) won't help, but you should do it anyway.

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