Eric Mack
Friday August 26th, 2011

The waivers trading deadline doesn't get the same pub of the July 31 one, but it is still giving us some juicy deals that impact fantasy leagues. Hall of Famers are switching teams and pair of struggling second baseman in their prime get swapped for each other.

A change of scenery can make Jim Thome, Kelly Johnson and Aaron Hill sneaky productive for fantasy owners down the stretch. There is no place to go but up for all three.

Thome was already getting more fantasy play amid his milestone 600th homer and now he will take over fairly regular DH duties for the Indians down the stretch. He replaces the recently lost Travis Hafner (foot), who could be out for the season.

Thome clearly still has pop and regular at-bats for a team clinging to a shred of hope in the AL Central can make him a sleeper or a stopgap DH in deeper leagues. He is certainly available in your league, having his ownership sit at a mere 9 percent in CBSSports.com's leagues. He might be valuable enough to raise his ownership over 20 percent again, a level he hasn't been at since Week 2 of the season.

As for the second basemen swap between the D'backs and the Blue Jays, it isn't a deal that really makes sense for a contending D'backs team -- unless they are really thinking the best of Hill is still yet to come. After breaking out at age 27 with 36 homers and 108 RBI in 2009, Hill has dropped to being a relatively worthless middle infielder with no pop (this year) and no steals (ever).

Hill doesn't even get on base as well as Johnson does. But the dry dessert air can revive his slumbering lumber.

Johnson is easily the most intriguing piece of this waivers deadline to date, assuming Heath Bell doesn't become a Giant this weekend. Johnson might be hitting around the Mendoza Line, but he at least provides the counting numbers in walks, homers and steals.

That makes him a useful addition in AL-only Rotisserie formats. It is tough to acquire a multi-category talent off waivers this time of year, so burn your remaining FAAB on Johnson in AL-only formats. Even Hill is likely to be one of the most intriguing pieces added to the NL player pool.

Now on to the rest of the weekly staples of the SI.com fantasy baseball planner ...

Yovani Gallardo hasn't quite been the Cy Young contender this writer anticipated, but he is pitching like one since the All-Star break (2.94 ERA). He is a streaky ace pitching for a top contender that boasts the largest division lead in baseball right now. He is going to smash past his career high of around 185 innings and will have a postseason adding to his total, too. It will be very interesting to see if the oft-injured 25-year-old can get through next season completely healthy. That is a lot of innings to tack on to his career high. Regardless, expect the Brewers to ride their horse down the stretch and he should be one of the top five pitchers in fantasy here on out.

Past players of the week: 19. OF Jay Bruce, CIN; 18. OF Matt Holliday, STL; 17. 1B Billy Butler, KC; 16. OF Cameron Maybin, SD; 15. OF Nick Markakis, BAL; 14. OF Jose Bautista, TOR; 13. 3B Aramis Ramirez, CHC; 12. SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; 11. SP Justin Verlander, Tigers; 10. 1B Prince Fielder, Brewers; 9. 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals; 8. SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers; 7. SP Michael Pineda, Mariners; 6. OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; 5. SP Francisco Liriano, Twins; 4. 2B Ben Zobrist, Rays; 3. SP James Shields, Rays; 2. SP Dan Haren, Angels; 1. SP Jered Weaver, Angels.

The most-added players:

1. OF Peter Bourjos, LAA 2. SP Mike Minor, ATL 3. SP Fausto Carmona, CLE 4. 1B Kyle Blanks, SD 5. SP Alex White, COL

Bourjos has gotten hot and is doing what some thought Mike Trout would do right away in his call-up last month. The power isn't something to get used to, but the steals make him a must-start in Rotisserie formats. Minor and Carmona are resurgent fringe options in standard mixed leagues, ones worth using in a pinch right now. Blanks is the real prize here. He has taken off finally after years of injury and disappointment. There is legit power there, even in spacious Petco Park. White is a former first-rounder for the Indians, but he is merely an NL-only option pitching for the Rockies now.

The most-dropped players:

1. SP Jonathon Niese, NYM 2. SP Kevin Correia, PIT 3. RP Jason Isringhausen, NYM 4. SP A.J. Burnett, NYY 5. DH Travis Hafner, CLE

Correia and Hafner look like they are done for the season and can be cut in all leagues. Niese is yet another DL guy for the Mutts, while Izzy got his 300th career save and gave way to the Mets trying Bobby Parnell as the closer of the future. Parnell has value in deeper leagues for his handful of save chances he will get. Burnett is an enigma and he clearly isn't worth trusting in mixed leagues. Don't cut him, though, if you have reserves. Whenever you try to think he's toast, he rebounds with a mini hot streak and has value all over again.

The most-scouted players:

1. SS Hanley Ramirez, FLA 2. DH Jim Thome, CLE 3. 2B Kelly Johnson, TOR 4. RP Brian Wilson, SF 5. SS Alex Rodriguez, NYY 6. RP Heath Bell, SD 7. OF Carlos Beltran, SF 8. OF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS 9. DH David Ortiz, BOS 10. SP Wandy Rodriguez, HOU

Ramirez is nearly ready to start a rehab assignment, while Wilson should be back in fantasy lineups in September, too. A-Rod and Beltran are already back and look like safe starts for as long as they can stay healthy. Thome, Johnson, Bell and Wandy Rodriguez are all popular names amid the waiver trade deadline. Ellsbury and Ortiz are scorching through fantasy crunch time in a season in which they have paid huge dividends for fantasy owners. If you have these guys from draft day, your team is probably pretty well off down the stretch.

Eric Mack rounds up the fantasy baseball movers, shakers and projected two-start pitchers every Friday at SI.com. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy.

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