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Weekly Planner: Oakland is the right destination for Samardzija, Hammel

The arrival of Jeff Samardzija (center) in Oakland is a good sign for his fantasy owners. Photo: Ben Margot/AP

The arrival of Jeff Samardzija (center) in Oakland is a good sign for his fantasy owners.

The 2014 trade season kicked off with a bang so forceful that it might not be topped throughout July. The deal that landed Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in Oakland in exchange for elite shortstop prospect Addison Russell, 19-year-old outfielder Billy McKinney, Dan Straily and a player to be named later, is a prime example of two teams at the opposite end of the spectrum achieving the type of move they want in advance of the trade deadline.

The A’s, the best team in baseball by any measure, get the rotation help they didn’t have in the last two postseasons. The Cubs, meanwhile, add another high-ceiling shortstop to their stable of prospects that is the envy of every franchise while giving up two players who were not going to factor into their future. They also get an outfield prospect in McKinney who was the 24th overall pick in 2013 and the No. 2 prospect in Oakland’s system, and a low-risk, high-reward pitcher in Straily who, despite his struggles, is still just 25 years old.

Even though the A’s gave up Russell, the No. 11 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America at the start of the year and No. 5 prospect in Keith Law’s updated rankings, it’s easy to see why they did this. They get one and a half years of Samardzija, at minimum, and half a season of Hammel during a year where they are World Series favorites. However, outside of Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir, their rotation has been largely pedestrian since the end of April. Jesse Chavez had a 1.89 ERA, 2.61 FIP and 0.95 WHIP in April. Those numbers are now 3.23, 3.51 and 1.27, respectively. Brad Mills is a soft-tossing, 29-year-old journeyman who was forced into the rotation. Tommy Milone’s FIP was nearly a full run higher than his ERA and was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento after the deal. Drew Pomeranz pitched well before fracturing his right hand, and may be expendable after the acquisitions of Samardzija and Hammel. If the A’s are going to capitalize on this season rather than losing in the first round again, they needed reinforcements in their rotation. That they were willing to trade Russell shows just how acute the need was.

As a fantasy owner, you never want to see a pitcher of yours traded to the AL from the NL. However, Oakland is a good a landing spot for Samardzija and Hammel. O.co Coliseum is one of the premier pitcher’s parks in the league, whereas Wrigley Field has always benefited hitters, especially in July and August. They will also get better run support. The A’s offense ranks sixth in wOBA and fifth in weighted runs created plus while the Cubs are 28th and 29th in those two stats. Samardzija and Hammel may see their rates increase by virtue of joining an AL squad. Indeed, Hammel’s production had already started to slow down a tick after a ridiculous start to the season. Wins are tricky to predict, but it stands to reason both will win more games with Oakland than they ever would have with the Cubs. Taken on balance, the trade is a net positive for Samardzija and Hammel owners, with the best bet being that their strikeouts remain flat, rates increase a bit, and win totals increase significantly.

Roster trends

Most added

Steve Pearce, Orioles – Pearce continues to rake and is now hitting .331/.388/.596 with 10 homers and 30 RBI in 183 plate appearances. It’s time for all fantasy owners to believe.

Logan Forsythe, Rays – The versatile Forsythe has been hot lately, going 13-for-28 with three homers from June 28 through July 5. He’s eligible at second, third, short and outfield, so he could provide a short-term boost at a number of positions if you’re looking for help.

Jesse Hahn, Padres – Hahn has been great through five starts, putting up a 1.95 ERA, 2.75 FIP, 1.05 WHIP and 36 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings. He should be owned in nearly all mixed leagues.

Most dropped

Andrew Heaney, Marlins – The Marlins sent Heaney back to Triple-A New Orleans, though it’s likely a move just to get them a bit more roster flexibility in the week before the All-Star break. He’s expected to be recalled after the break, but he has struggled mightily in the majors thus far. He’s not a must-own guy in shallower mixed leagues.

Tommy Milone, A’s – After the A’s acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs, Milone became the odd man out in the rotation. He no longer has any fantasy value.

Dallas Keuchel, AstrosKeuchel has been roughed up his last three times out, allowing a combined 13 earned runs in 18 innings to the Nationals, Rays and Angels. Dropping him outright, however, is a shortsighted move. Keuchel has earned enough trust to stick with him through this rocky patch.

Two-start pitchers

1. Johnny Cueto

2. Adam Wainwright

3. Masahiro Tanaka

4. Stephen Strasburg

5. Madison Bumgarner

6. Julio Teheran

7. Cole Hamels

8. James Shields

9. Sonny Gray

10. Tyson Ross

11. Hisashi Iwakuma

12. Ian Kennedy

13. Mike Minor

14. Jered Weaver

15. Justin Verlander

16. Hyun-jin Ryu

17. Doug Fister

18. Phil Hughes

19. Wily Peralta

20. Ryan Vogelsong

21. Jake Odorizzi

22. Chris Young

23. R.A. Dickey

24. Edwin Jackson

25. Jason Vargas

26. Mike Leake

27. Chris Tillman

28. John Danks

29. Carlos Martinez

30. Marco Estrada

31. Justin Masterson

32. Travis Wood

33. Jesse Chavez

34. Trevor Bauer

35. Jacob deGrom

36. J.A. Happ

37. Tom Koehler

38. Wei-yin Chen

39. Tyler Skaggs

40. Tyler Matzek

41. Charlie Morton

42. Kevin Correia

43. Daisuke Matsuzaka

44. Jarred Cosart

45. Clay Buchholz

46. Vance Worley

47. Scott Carroll

48. Kyle Kendrick

49. Chase Anderson

50. Nick Martinez

51. Brandon Workman

52. Miles Mikolas

Teams playing seven games

Angels

Braves

Orioles

Red Sox

White Sox

Indians

Royals

Brewers

Twins

Yankees

Mets

A’s

Phillies

Pirates

Padres

Mariners

Giants

Cardinals

Rangers

Nationals

Teams playing eight games

Cubs

Reds

Weekday day games

(all times Eastern)

Tuesday

Cubs @ Reds, 1:10

Wednesday

Dodgers @ Tigers, 1:08

Padres @ Rockies, 3:10

Blue Jays @ Angels, 3:35

Marlins @ Diamondbacks, 3:40

Thursday

Cubs @ Reds, 12:35

Phillies @ Brewers, 2:10

A’s @ Giants, 3:45

White Sox @ Red Sox, 4:05

Friday

Braves @ Cubs, 4:05

Favorable matchups

Angels (vs. Toronto, @ Texas) – The Angels avoid Mark Buehrle and Yu Darvish, and get to wrap up the first half with four games in Texas.

Braves (@ New York Mets, @ Chicago Cubs) – Jake Arrieta is a solid pitcher, but he's the best pitcher that the Braves will face this week.

Reds (vs. Chicago Cubs, vs. Pittsburgh) – With Samardzija and Hammel now in Oakland, the Cubs’ rotation will significantly weaken. The Reds are also slated to face the uninspiring trio of Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton and John Danks when the Pirates come to town.

Marlins (@ Arizona, @ New York Mets) – The Marlins only play six games this week, but getting three games against the pitching-thin Diamondbacks in Arizona is a great way to start. They do, however, have to deal with Zack Wheeler on Friday.

Yankees (@ Cleveland, @ Baltimore) – The Yankees are scheduled to see Justin Masterson, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin, T.J. House, Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman and Wei-yin Chen this week. Needless to say, they could go on a nice run leading into the All-Star break.

Unfavorable matchups

Orioles (@ Washington, vs. New York Yankees) – The Orioles have a rough week ahead, with matchups against Stephen Strasburg, Doug Fister, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez and Masahiro Tanaka.

Cubs (@ Cincinnati, vs. Atlanta) – Thanks to a doubleheader, the Cubs will face the entire Cincinnati rotation, which has a 3.22 ERA, this week. They also have to deal with Alex Wood, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran when the Braves visit over the weekend.

Royals (@ Tampa Bay, vs. Detroit) – This has more to do with the four-game series against the Tigers over the weekend than the three-game set with Tampa Bay to start the week, though the Royals will face Jake Odorizzi. They’re lucky to avoid Max Scherzer, but they still have to go up against Drew Smyly, Anibal Sanchez, Rick Porcello and Justin Verlander.

Dodgers (@ Detroit, vs. San Diego) – The Dodgers begin their week by facing Verlander and Scherzer, and end it with Jesse Hahn, Ian Kennedy and Tyson Ross.

A’s (vs. San Francisco, @ San Francisco, @ Seattle) – The Bay Area teams kick off the week with a quick home-and-home series, playing two games on each side of the bay. That means the A’s have to face Ryan Vogelsong, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Tim Hudson. They travel to Seattle over the weekend, where they’ll see Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Chris Young.

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