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MLB fantasy mailbag: Decline in steals has chipped at Kemp's value

I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I'll be answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account in my never ending attempt to replace myself by explaining to everyone how I evaluate players thereby making myself obsolete.

Should I trade Matt Kemp for CC Sabathia and Aroldis Chapman?-- @cooperkyle22

Do you need offense or pitching? If the goal is to improve your pitching staff, I don't see how you could pass on dealing Kemp. I know he's hitting .350 since the All-Star break, but let's keep things in perspective. Kemp has twice injured his leg this season and that's obviously one of the main reasons he's stopped running. You have realized that he has fewer steals this year than Mark Trumbo (four to three), right? Without the steals he's no longer an elite fantasy performer, he's merely a great one.

Sabathia is about as boring as it gets, and that's a compliment. Everyone on the hill struggles when he's injured. And though Sabathia hit the DL for a bit this year, he's been the same horse he's been for a decade now racking up a 10-3 record, 3.57 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 123 Ks in 126 innings. Chapman had a rough two weeks to end June, but the guy has rebounded to the point that it could be argued, persuasively, that he is the best pitcher in baseball. Over his last 16 games he hasn't allowed a run. His WHIP in that time is 0.61. His K/9 rate is 19.29 with 35 in 16.1 innings. My goodness, his K/BB ratio is 11.67, and about 99.5 percent of baseball would sell their in-laws to the devil for a K/9 rate that high, let alone a K/BB ratio like that. Still, the most amazing part might be that he has 15 saves in 17 appearances.

I'd trade Kemp to get that duo.

Drop Salvador Perez and pick up Carlos Santana? Is Carlos finding his stroke?-- @GoBigEd

Last week I got a bunch of questions about Santana, including one I tackled in the Mailbag. To reiterate my point; Santana can hit. No one should have given up on him, and he still owns the skills to be an elite hitter at the position, something I've steadfastly said for the entirety of the season even when he's been struggling. The struggles are gone now as he's hitting .293 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 19 games since the All-Star break. He's also getting on base at a .461 clip with a 1.116 OPS. He's a top-five catcher the rest of the way, a better option than Perez, who's hitting .320 with five homers in 29 games. But expectations are totally off the charts with Perez. He's not a .327 hitter despite his career mark. He's certainly not the type of hitting that's going to hit 30 homers. Wipe that stuff out of your mind -- it's just not happening. At the same time, people seem to be moving on from Perez due to his recent struggles (.244, no homers, one RBI in 12 games) like they are fleeing the scene of a murder they committed behind a convenient store. As I always tell people -- be realistic with your expectations. This isn't fantasy football. You don't want to bail on a guy, or add a guy off waivers, simply because they are hot/cold for 45 at-bats.

Is Ben Revere for Jonathan Papelbon a fair trade?-- @joeblow84

The obvious answer is not really. But that doesn't mean the deal is a 100 percent turn down job if you own Papelbon either. In fact, it might be a good move.

We're at the point of the season where you have to play the categories. It doesn't matter if you win the steals category by two or 22, you still get the same amount of points in the roto game. Therefore, sometimes "lopsided" deals make sense, and this could be an example of that. If it's draft day 2013, I can't think there would be many people who would take Revere over Papelbon. Sure the Twins outfielder is hitting an impressive .319, and he has swiped 25 bags, but he has zero homers, has knocked in only 20 runs and he's only scored 37 runs (a total you would assume would be much higher given all those thefts). He's a huge boost in the average and steals category but he's downright pathetic in homers and RBIs. Still, what if he were to hit .300 and steals 15 bases the rest of the way? Would that help boost your club in both of those categories to the point that you could gain multiple points in each category in the standings? It's certainly possible.

Papelbon has hit a bit of a bump in the road the past couple of weeks, but overall he's still sporting 23 saves, a 1.12 WHIP, 54 Ks in 43 innings an a 5.40 K/BB ratio. There is nothing wrong with that pitching line. After six straight years of at least 30 saves there's no reason to think he won't get there for a seventh straight year. With all the craziness in bullpens this year, how could anyone not want this guy on their staff.

Check out the standings. If it makes sense for to add the average and steals, deal for Revere. If it makes sense for you to hold on to Papelbon so that you don't fall too far in the saves category, then hold on the righty reliever from Philly.

Ryan Ludwick or Josh Rutledge for my UTIL spot?-- @lugnut106

Ludwick is hitting like it's 2008, when he blasted 37 homers with 113 RBIs for the Cards. He's never been able to recapture that form in the intervening years, but right now he's killing it for the Reds with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in just 80 games played. Even better, he's murdering pitches with eight homers, 23 RBIs an a .354 batting average over his last 23 contests. In fact, the last four weeks he leads the NL in RBIs and is just one off the NL lead in homers (Brian McCann and Ike Davis each have nine). He can't be expected to keep up this pace, but overall not much really stands out in his batting line as his season long numbers are nearly identical to his career averages in AVG/OBP, BB/K, BABIP, GB/FB etc. He has elevated his HR/F rate at 22 percent, well above his 13 percent career mark, but the rest is pretty standard Ludwick stuff.

Rutledge has killed it since Troy Tulowitzki went down, and he figures to slide over to second base when Tulo is back in action. Hitting .382 with four homers in 68 at-bats, the question isn't whether Rutledge will slow, it's how much will he slow. A guy with a 50 percent ground ball rate shouldn't also have a 24 percent HR/F mark, especially when that same player only hit 22 homers in 211 minor league games. Given his approach at the plate, chiefly never talking a walk, his BB/K mark is awful at 0.20. There are but a few players in baseball who can approach that number and hit .300. Even fewer can sustain the .400 BABIP he's currently rocking (truthfully, no one sustains that pace).

Both players will slow, but I'd take Ludwick, who has produced at these levels before and figures to be a better bet to keep the power stroke flowing. Since we are talking about a utility player I'm not concerned with the obvious advantage that Rutledge brings because of the position he plays.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

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