July 27, 2010

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Sometimes it's OK to follow the crowd. I personally hate being inundated with media hype on any one subject; and the trade deadline certainly gets its fair share of attention. I had considered ignoring it totally and attacking other aspects of Fantasy, but the trades that occur do have a real effect on every Fantasy league going. Let's step back from our usual statistical focus and just talk potential deadline deals and how they affect fantasy owners.

It may not be bad on a Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir level, but the Diamondbacks surprised the baseball world with the meager return they got for Dan Haren. I'm sorry but Joe Saunders? He's an arm and that about sums him up. There are countless arms in Triple-A that could replicate his major league numbers. Patrick Corbin and Rafael Rodriguez are spare parts. Heck, Rodriguez has a 4.54 career ERA after NINE years in the minors and Corbin's best comparison? The aforementioned Saunders.

Just like in fantasy, it is usually the team that gets the best player that wins a deal, and there is no doubt who gets the best player in this deal. Haren's ERA isn't all that pretty, but it's pretty easily explained. All his numbers are right in line with recent years but two; batting average on balls in play (.350) and his home run to fly ball percentage (13.9). Both are way out of line with Haren's previous numbers, as well as MLB averages. There's an argument that with his career best K/9, Haren may actually be pitching better than he ever has. Unless the player to be named (reported to be Tyler Skaggs) turns into a fish, the Diamondbacks just gave away one of the rarest commodities in baseball; a true ace pitcher.

Now let's take a look at a few other names rumored to be changing locations. I'll share my ideas on their destination and identify the fantasy ramifications.

Ted Lilly to the Tigers: The Yankees have been reportedly interested, but with five quality starters once Andy Pettitte returns, I don't see them paying the price. With the injury to Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers are in a bind and have to decide if they can really compete. My guess is they'll pay the moderate price that Lilly will draw and go from there. Remember, Lilly loses some value because he's likely a Type A free agent at the end of the season, but his contract is lucrative enough that it would be risky to offer him arbitration. Whether it's the Cubs or another team, minor league compensation picks are not a given.

Roy Oswalt to the Cardinals: Despite recent reports to the contrary, Oswalt to St. Louis seems to make too much sense not to happen. Oswalt has been reported to dislike the big city atmosphere of New York or Boston, and St. Louis always seems to come up with the money when it makes sense. Something will be worked out and Oswalt will be a Cardinal soon.

Octavio Dotel to the Yankees: Despite the Pirates' insistence that they won't be dealing veterans, it would be silly not to trade Dotel when they have Evan Meek and Joel Hanrahan, who are more than able to take over closing duties. The Yankees could use the bullpen depth and can handle his $3.5 million contract.

Adam Dunn to the White Sox: There has been too much talk for too long for this not to happen. Ken Williams can talk all he wants about the price being too high, but when is the last time he shied away from a high profile deal? It's going to happen.

Prince Fielder to the Giants: Fielder is not an impending free agent and could very well remain a Brewer, but he will be arbitration eligible and draw a hefty salary. If he is dealt, the Giants have the pitching that the Brewers covet. Expect one or two of Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Wheeler to be involved if a deal goes down.

Ty Wigginton to the Rangers: The Rangers are said to be looking for a platoon partner for Chris Davis and Wigginton is the perfect fit. Though it's not so evident this year, Wigginton pounds lefties and also offers positional flexibility. The other names involved, Derrek Lee and Jorge Cantu, both cost more and are used to being full-time players. Unless the Rangers decide that Davis can't handle his half of the role, Wigginton fills their needs to a T.

Derrek Lee to the Angels: Lee's continued struggles have slowed talks down, but the short-term obligation and relatively low cost in terms of prospects should get this deal done. Lee is still a solid hitter that would add solid depth to the Angel batting order.

As promised, Man in a Box will start throwing a little football into the mix. Training camps haven't even opened and already there is plenty of hype. I'd advise you to pretty much ignore everything you've read up to this point and start fresh when the players report to camp. All the talk so far is just that. Unless your draft is extremely early, it's not important to label your sleepers and busts just yet. It's more important right now to know the players and situations to monitor as training camp progresses, than it is to come up with final evaluations. Here are some of the questions I'll be trying to answer as the pre-season rolls along:

• How many carries will Thomas Jones steal from Jamaal Charles? Early industry buzz says that the impact will be minimal, but I don't buy it. Jones rushed for 1,400 yards last season and has scored 27 TDs combined in the last two years. Charles may be the primary back, but keep an eye out for Jones vulturing most of the red zone touches.

• How do the carries divvy up in the Cleveland backfield? Montario Hardesty comes in with the hype, but Jerome Harrison had some big games at the end of last season. I don't think it's as forgone a conclusion as some are making it. Watch for the Browns to commit to one or the other as a primary back. It may the Browns, but the points count just the same.

• Can Mike Martz clean up the mess that was Jay Cutler and the Bears offense? Once again, everyone is ready to shoot Cutler up the QB rankings. Martz can't make things any worse, but Cutler is still a wild gunslinger without any bullets.

• Who carries the rock in Houston? Arian Foster enters camp as the starter; Steve Slaton has a strong season under his belt, and Ben Tate is getting all the fantasy love. If this turns into a true committee situation, there is little value to be had.

• How far does Larry Fitzgerald fall with Matt Leinart taking over for Kurt Warner? No one expects Leinart to be anything close to Warner, but receivers have excelled with mediocre QBs before (see Johnson, Calvin). Fitzgerald is more risky than ever before, but he could also be a huge value.

• Is Kevin Kolb a fantasy QB1? Despite mediocre numbers in his limited play, many experts are pronouncing him a starter for fantasy teams. He does have very good offensive weapons at his disposal, but I need to see a lot more before considering him for a No. 1 spot.

• Is Brandon Marshall still an elite receiver? Forget the hip operations; I'm more concerned with the change in teams. The Dolphins definitely needed a true WR1, but I'm not sure Marshall gets the looks he received in Denver. Defense will be keying on him until another receiver steps up.

Next week we'll dissect the aftermath of the MLB deals that do go down and identify more things to look for in the upcoming NFL pre-season.

* All statistics current as of July 25.

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Doug Anderson is the Executive Editor at RotoExperts.com. Look for Man in a Box every Tuesday and catch him on The Fantasy War Room, Thursdays at 8 ET. Wanna climb in the box and talk baseball? E-mail Doug at rotodaddy@rotoexperts.com.

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