July 31, 2012

The Major League Baseball trade deadline has sent a number of players packing. SI's Fantasy Roundtable analyzes what some of the biggest moves mean.

1. How much of a rebound do you see for Hanley Ramirez now that he has left Miami and who stands to benefit from his departure?

Will Carroll: I think Ramirez might get a bit of focus early, but I don't think there's much of a change in situation. Do we think that Don Mattingly is going to be the guy who reaches him and connects? Wasn't that supposed to be Ozzie? I think the question is more does Ramirez play to his talents better. I really don't understand batting Ramirez behind Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, but I guess he could see a slight bump in RBI.

Eric Mack: Well, Ramirez wasn't performing up to his potential in Miami, so the change of scenery has to be considered a way to get him back up to our expectations. This move can only help him, although he remained a must-start in all leagues anyway. As for Miami, they really don't have a good fantasy option at third base anymore and will go with a collection of players that are merely deeper NL-only reserves at this point.

David Sabino: Since joining the Dodgers Ramirez has already displayed signs of rebounding to where his fantasy owners expected his production to be, as seen in his .520 slugging percentage (more in line with his career .499 and much higher than the .428 this season in Miami and .378 last year). Of course, we're talking about a miniscule sample size, but teamed with Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the heart of the Dodgers lineup, Ramirez is in prime position to be one of the stretch drive's better run producers.

Back in Miami, the Ramirez trade has opened up third base to utilityman types like Donnie Murphy and Donovan Solano. Having already shipped former top third base prospect Matt Dominguez to the Astros as partial payment for Carlos Lee, and as Emilio Bonifacio takes over permanently at second base in place of the departed Omar Infante. The Marlins will most likely search for the solution at third during the offseason, creating one more hole in a lineup already weakened by injuries to Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison.

2. Will any starters benefit in Milwaukee with the opportunity opened up by the Zack Greinke trade?

Carroll: No. Mark Rodgers is the fill-in and it's nice to see him battle past injuries and get a chance to show something, but he's hardly a fantasy option.

Mack: After multiple surgeries, former top prospect Mark Rogers has arrived in the Brewers' rotation at age 26. He has some potential, but years of disappointment and shoulder issues have removed the luster of his one-time prospect status. He now projects to be a serviceable back-end starter, but you have to expect some bumps in the road as he acclimates to the major leagues. He is more of an NL-only option, with some potential to be used in two-start weeks in mixed formats if he strings some quality starts together.

Sabino: In trading Greinke the Brewers, in essence, have raised the white flag for the 2012 season, with full sights set on the future. The most promising member of Milwaukee's staff of late has been Mike Fiers, who has thrown six straight quality starts, didn't allow a run in four of them and struck out at least nine three times. However, the Greinke situation has no effect on him for 2012, although he will be strongly considered for the No. 2 spot in the rotation for 2013. Rogers, the man who took Greinke's spot in the rotation was once a top prospect but has shown little in the way of being anything more than an emergency option.

3. Wandy Rodriguez joined a Pirates rotation that has seen James McDonald struggling. Which hurler will be better in the weeks to come?

Carroll: I still like McDonald. He's struggled a bit, but I think he's still got adjustments in him. The league has seen him now a couple times and he's just got to figure out what they're doing and change a bit. Every young pitcher has to do this and the good ones can make the adjustments quickly. I think Ray Searage -- who doesn't get much credit -- will handle this.

Mack: With the roll McDonald was on, you had to expect some sort of second-half regression, even if you didn't think it would come this sudden and hard. They both figure to be viable starters in mixed leagues down the stretch, but their pasts both leave some questions of whether they will be consistent must-starts. If you had to pick one over the other, go with McDonald because of his higher ceiling and younger age.

Sabino: Being in a pennant chase is uncharted territory for McDonald and most of the Pirates, so it's very difficult to know how they'll respond. In McDonald's case, the early returns haven't been good, as he's seen his ERA rise from 2.37 to 3.38 in the span of just four starts, during which he allowed 20 earned runs in 20.2 innings. Wandy has been much more consistent lately and much like Hanley Ramirez, the competitive spirit will rise after having escaped last place. I'd put my money on Wandy.

4. Who has made the biggest jump in productivity after the All-Star break and will it continue?

Carroll: Everyone on the Reds not named Jay Bruce. Brandon Philips and Ryan Ludwick have gone nuts during the Reds hot streak, as well as (gasp!) Homer Bailey. With Joey Votto out, someone had to step up, and it was pretty much everyone all at once. Is this one of those patented Dusty Baker things where he convinced the team that no one believed in them? Whatever it is, it's cost Marty Brennaman his hair and a lot of opposition pitchers their ERA. This Reds team is consolidating and if they can get a real leadoff guy, they're a serious contender.

Mack: Carlos Gomez has been a revelation, finally, for the Brewers at age 26. He has hit four homers and stolen seven bases in the past 14 days, displaying the promise that once made him a candidate to be a .270-20-80-100-40 fantasy gem. With his age 27 season to come next year, a strong second half can set him up for being a great sleeper in drafts next spring. His steals, and now homer, potential might make him a tough guy to get in rotisserie leagues. On the pitching side, Paul Maholm's remarkable run got him dealt to a solid contender in Atlanta. He has been dominant for a month and if this stretch continues, or even slows some, he can be a winner for fantasy owners with the Braves.

Sabino: There have been a ton of offensive explosions since the break -- most notably Ryan Zimmerman, Mike Trout, Josh Willingham and Jason Kubel -- but the one that has stood out to me the most is by A's outfielder Yoenis Cespedes. Since Kansas City, the rookie is batting .441/.479/.750 with five home runs and 18 RBIs. He also has 10 multi-hit games, and has hit safely in 15 out of his first 16 second-half contests. In 54 games prior to the break his line was a pedestrian .263/.326/.465. with just nine home runs and 36 RBIs. Cespedes has had trouble staying in the lineup due to nagging injuries but now that the weather has heated up, so has he. Since he's a rookie and not used to the grind of a 162-game season, he's still a risk to hit the wall sometime in August, but for now he's showing no signs of slowing down.

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