It was a fairly busy week for transactions as teams head into the All-Star Break. Here's a look at some of the top moves.
THURSDAY, JULY 1
Bengie Molina traded to Texas
The Rangers have used an assortment of players behind the plate this season, and they hope that their newest acquisition will bring some more stability to the catcher position. Molina has been a steady offensive performer for the last few seasons, but had done little with the bat this year before the trade. Molina was hitting .257 for San Francisco, but had just nine extra base hits and 17 RBI in just over 200 at-bats. A change in scenery and a move to a much more hitter-friendly ballpark may be just what he needs in order to turn things around. The Rangers gave up reliever Chris Ray and Minor League pitcher Michael Main in exchange for Molina, and the move allows the Giants to give highly-touted prospect Buster Posey some more time behind the plate. He had already been getting regular playing time at first base and as a backup catcher, but now inherits the full-time catching job.
FRIDAY, JULY 2
Jason Varitek to the 15-day DL
And so it goes for the Boston Red Sox. Just three days after placing their regular catcher Victor Martinez on the disabled list with a fractured thumb, his replacement Varitek fractured a bone in his foot and will likely be out for around six weeks. The Red Sox have had to play through injuries to many of their key players this season, and Varitek now adds another name to the list of players currently on Boston's disabled list. Recently acquired Kevin Cash, who comes to the Red Sox with a .188 career batting average in over 200 games, should get most of the time behind the plate while Martinez and Varitek are out. Needless to say, he should be avoided in all fantasy league formats. Red Sox fans should keep their fingers crossed that Martinez has a speedy recovery and misses no more than the minimum 15 days.
Ryan Ludwick to the 15-day DL
The Cardinals right fielder had been out since June 25 with a strained right calf. He was apparently close to playing before he aggravated the injury during a treadmill workout on Friday, and now will be out until after the All-Star Break. Ludwick, who came out of relative obscurity a few years ago to become a solid member of the Cards lineup, was hitting .273 with eleven home runs and 42 RBI before the injury. He was also leading the National League with a .446 batting average (25 for 56) with runners in scoring position. Nick Stavinoha and newly-recalled Jon Jay will take over Ludwick's spot in right field while he's out. Stavinoha has provided some pop coming off the bench, hitting .288 through Thursday, while Jay hit .302 during his stint with the club earlier this year.
Shaun Marcum to the 15-day DL
The Blue Jays' opening day starter missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but was impressive through the first three months of this season. The 28-year-old had a record of 7-4 with an ERA of 3.44, and had struck out 88 batters in 107-plus innings before being shut down due to soreness in his right elbow. Obviously with his injury history, the Blue Jays would rather play it safe with him, so he will get some time off to recover. Tests revealed some inflammation, but no structural damage, so he shouldn't be out much longer than the 15-day minimum. Left-hander Mark Rzepczysnki was promoted to take his spot in the rotation. Rzepczysnki was great in his debut season last year, as he posted an ERA of 3.67 to go along with 60 strikeouts in just over 61 innings. He might be worth owning if he manages to stick around with the Jays. With Jesse Litsch's struggles, that is certainly a possibility.
SATURDAY, JULY 3
Manny Ramirez to the 15-day DL
The 38-year-old outfielder finds himself on the disabled list for the second time this season, as the Dodgers decided to give him time to rest a sore right hamstring. He missed a couple of weeks earlier this year due to a strained right calf, and re-injured himself last Tuesday during a play at second base. He was hitting .322 with eight home runs and 39 RBIs in 59 games. Once again, the Dodgers have recalled outfielder Xavier Paul to occupy Ramirez's spot on the roster. He should get the majority of playing time in left field, with Reed Johnson and Garret Anderson also seeing some time there. Paul is hitting .281 with no home runs and six RBIs in 57 at-bats, and is unlikely to be of much value to a fantasy team.
Will Venable to the 15-day DL
The Padres' right fielder wasn't exactly tearing it up when he landed on the DL with a strained lower back on Saturday. Venable was hitting just .238, although he did manage to hit eight home runs and steal 14 bases. He'd been struggling with discomfort in his back and neck since early June, so a couple of weeks of recovery time definitely won't hurt. In the mean time, San Diego will look to 24-year old Oakland castoff Aaron Cunningham to fill the void in right field. Cunningham is hitting .290 in 31 at-bats for the Padres, and should get a fair amount of playing time, with Chris Denorfia backing him up.
SUNDAY, JULY 4
Shin-Soo Choo to the 15-day DL
The struggling Indians' offense just took a big hit when they lost their most productive hitter due to an injury. Choo sprained his right thumb while diving for a ball on Friday, and is now expected to be out for several weeks. It was first thought that he might need surgery, but that is thankfully not the case. He was leading the Indians in pretty much every hitting stat, including batting average (.286), runs scored (48), home runs (13), RBI (43) and stolen bases (12). To fill Choo's spot on the roster and in the outfield, the Indians recalled 23-year-old Michael Brantley, who will play center field while Choo is out. Brantley hit .313 in 28 games with the Indians last year, but struggled early this season, hitting just .156 before being demoted on April 19. He could be worth a look in AL-only leagues if he can turn things around. Austin Kearns shifts from left field to right, and Trevor Crowe moves from center to left.
MONDAY, JULY 5
Clay Buchholz to the 15-day DL
Not long after receiving the news that he'd been selected to play in this year's All-Star game, Boston's best starter was placed on the disabled list. Buchholz was 10-4 with a 2.45 ERA when he strained his left hamstring on June 26, and is expected to be out until just after the All-Star Break. He now becomes the ninth player currently on the DL for the banged-up Red Sox, joining Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jeremy Hermida, Manny Delcarmen and Josh Beckett. Rookie Felix Doubront, 22, who made a start in place of then-injured Daisuke Matsuzaka on June 18 was recalled to fill the empty spot in the rotation. He is 7-2 with a 2.45 ERA in 14 starts between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket, and might be worth a look.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 7
Jake Peavy to the 15-day DL
Peavy was limited to 43 starts over the last two seasons due to injuries, and will now be missing significant time this year as well. The right-hander, who was picked up from San Diego last season, was 7-6 with a 4.63 ERA in 17 starts with the White Sox this year, with 93 strikeouts in 107 innings. Peavy is suffering from a detached right latissimus muscle in his back, and it appears likely that surgery will be necessary. If that turns out to be the case, then he could be done for the season. The White Sox called upon Jeffrey Marquez to take Peavy's spot on the roster, and he will probably start in Peavy's place on Sunday. With top prospect Daniel Hudson waiting in the wings, it seems unlikely that Marquez will stick around with the team for very long.
Todd Helton to the 15-day DL
In his prime, Helton was one of the top hitters in baseball, capable of hitting well over .300 while driving in over 100 runs. Unfortunately, while his batting average remained steady in recent years, he hasn't driven in over 100 runs a season since 2003, and hasn't hit more than 20 home runs since 2004. This season, he was off to the worst start of his career, batting just .246 with two home runs and 16 RBIs in 69 games for the Rockies. He will get some much needed time off to recover from a sore back and a slightly pulled hamstring while the Rockies give newly- promoted Brad Eldred and veteran Jason Giambi a look at first base. Coming into this season, Eldred has hit 14 home runs in just 236 career Major League at-bats and could benefit from playing in the thin air of Colorado. His career average of .199 leaves much to be desired, but he may still be worth a look if the Rockies give him enough playing time. Giambi has failed to make the most of the few opportunities that he's gotten this year. The 39-year-old is batting just .237 with three home runs and 16 RBIs in 93 at-bats through Tuesday.