August 26, 2009

We passed the MLB trade deadline at the end of July, but you will still see the occasional trade. Trade bait must clear waivers for a deal to happen -- that's how the Mets dealt Billy Wagner on Tuesday. His $10.5 million salary kept everyone except the deep-pocketed Red Sox at bay. We'll see how Wagner's surgically repaired elbow does against American League batters and in the heat of a pennant race.

There is still another trade deadline of sorts. To be eligible for postseason play a player must be acquired before September 1st, which is next Tuesday. Don't be surprised if you see a few more transactions before then.

At the July 31st deadline we anticipated that players changing leagues in midseason would dramatically alter their fantasy value. Indeed, we have seen that play out in the month of August. Most of the big names switching leagues moved from the American League to the National League. Switching from the stronger AL to the thinner NL is a change for the better. A few lesser players moved from the NL to the AL, taking a turn for the worse.

Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies: We expected Lee to improve his record with the support of the potent Phillies lineup. Lee was 7-9 in Cleveland, but he's 5-0 since coming to Philadelphia. However, we underestimated the impact on his other stats: a 0.68 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP. Spectacular! Most stunning is Lee's 0.56 ERA (in two starts) at Citizens Bank Park. The notorious hitter's park has not bothered Lee.

George Sherrill, RP, Dodgers: The good news for Sherrill is that he gets to face NL batters. He has dominated them, pitching 11.2 scoreless innings for the Dodgers. The bad news is that Sherrill is a setup man in L.A. Sherrill is valuable in leagues that require middlemen, but in a typical fantasy league, not so much. Curiously Sherrill got a save on Saturday, in a game where closer Jonathan Broxton pitched the 8th, setting up for Sherrill. Will Joe Torre work Sherrill into the mix and steal a few saves from Broxton? We'll keep you posted as this bullpen story develops. Sherrill is available in 30 percent of leagues.

Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals: When Oakland acquired Holliday during the off-season, most doubted that he would last the season. Holliday struggled early on, but ended up posting decent numbers in Oakland: .286, with 11 HR, 12 SB and an .831 OPS. The Athletics did Holliday a big favor by trading him out of the AL, and away from a terrible ballpark to hit in. In St. Louis he has been absolutely Pujolsian: .398, 6 HR, 2 SB and a 1.151 OPS in 28 games. Holliday's season has been energized by the confluence of playing for a winner, moving to the NL and escaping the Oakland Coliseum.

Mark DeRosa, 3B/2B/1B/OF, Cardinals: The versatile DeRosa proved that last year's 21 HR was no fluke. He has 21 so far this season: 13 as an Indian and 8 in a Cardinals uniform. DeRosa's average and OPS are down slightly as a Cardinal, which is surprising. He is only hitting .237 as a Cardinal. DeRosa is a lifetime .277 hitter in the NL, so consider this an anomaly that will eventually correct itself. DeRosa's second base eligibility gives you power in the middle infield.

Ryan Garko, 1B/OF, Giants: This one is a surprise. Garko figured to maintain or even improve his .285 average and .826 OPS he posted in Cleveland. In San Francisco, however, Garko is hitting only .244 with a .678 OPS. Garko hit two homers on Saturday, his first two as a Giant, so may just be getting over a slump.

Jack Wilson, SS, Mariners: Can leaving Pittsburgh be a bad thing? It is when you are over-matched in the American League. Wilson was a decent fantasy shortstop a couple of seasons ago for the Pirates. Age (31) and moving from Pittsburgh to Seattle puts the final nail in the fantasy coffin. Wilson is hitting only .204 as a Mariner.

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