It was a fairly slow week for transactions due to the All-Star break, but that didn't stop a few teams from making some big moves. Here are the highlights from the past week.
THURSDAY, JULY 8
Ryan Madson activated from the 15-day DL
Madson began the year as the Phillies closer, filling in for the injured Brad Lidge. He did not fare well, as he managed to convert just four of his six save opportunities while posting an ERA of 7.00. He broke his toe and landed on the DL at the same time that Lidge made his return on April 30, and ended up missing more than two months of the season. Madson also handled the closing duties late last season after Lidge struggled mightily in the role, and went 6-for-7 in save opportunities during September. He could be in line for some saves again if he pitches like he did in 2009 and Lidge can't turn things around. Lidge has an ERA of 4.85 and has saved five games in seven chances.
FRIDAY, JULY 9
Jorge De La Rosa activated from the 15-day DL
The Rockies rotation got a little stronger Friday when lefty Jorge De La Rosa returned from injury. De La Rosa missed more than two months of the season due to a torn flexor band in the middle finger of his pitching hand and is finally back and ready to contribute. He had a successful 2009 campaign, going 16-9 with a 4.38 ERA and 193 strikeouts in 185 innings and had already started to duplicate some of that success this year. Before the injury, he was 3-1 with a 3.91 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 23 innings. Esmil Rogers was optioned to Colorado Springs to make room for De La Rosa. He was 1-2 with a 4.85 ERA in 13 games for Colorado (including two starts).
Cliff Lee traded to Texas for Justin Smoak
There was much speculation as to where the Mariners would deal Cliff Lee, and that speculation was finally put to rest Friday when he was traded to Texas. The former AL Cy Young Award winner started this season on the disabled list due to an abdominal strain, but showed no signs of ailment upon his return, going 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 13 starts for Seattle. Few pitchers have managed to find success while pitching in Texas' hitter-friendly ballpark, so Lee's numbers may take a bit of a hit. Nevertheless, he's still a valuable component to any fantasy team. In return for Lee (and reliever Mark Lowe), the M's received 23-year-old first baseman Justin Smoak and a few minor leaguers. The highly-touted Smoak had his share of struggles with Texas this season, batting just .209, though he did manage to crush eight home runs in 235 at-bats. It remains to be seen whether he'll be able to put it all together this year, but he seems destined to have a bright future.
Ramon Hernandez to the 15-day DL
Hernandez hadn't played since July 4 due to a sore knee, so the Reds decided to give their regular catcher some time off to recuperate. The injury isn't serious, and it appears that he may miss no more than the 15-day minimum. With the transaction being made retroactive to Monday, and with the All-Star break counting toward those 15 days, the actual time that he should miss could be minimal. Ryan Hanigan came off the DL to replace Hernandez and could provide some pop. He did well in a backup role before he landed on the DL on May 29, batting .351 (27 for 77).
SUNDAY, JULY 11
Daniel Hudson promoted
The injury to Jake Peavy opened the door for the White Sox to call upon their talented young hurler Daniel Hudson. Hudson was 11-4 with a 3.47 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 93-plus innings for Triple-A Charlotte and has a lot of folk in Chicago excited about the future. Peavy is out for the season, so Hudson will get ample opportunity to show that he belongs in the majors. Fantasy owners who haven't already done so will want to waste no time in adding him to their rosters. Jeff Marquez was demoted to make room for Hudson on the roster. Marquez got into just one game in relief during his brief stint with the club.
John Ely demoted
The 24-year-old rookie starter had been doing rather well up until his last two starts. His ERA at the end of June was 3.62 through 12 starts. However, that jumped to 4.63 after two July starts in which he failed to get out of the third inning and gave up a combined 11 earned runs in five innings. To take his place on the roster, the Dodgers recalled reliever Jon Link from Triple-A Albuquerque, but they have yet to decide on who will take Ely's spot in the rotation. The favorite appears to be James McDonald, who pitched in 45 games for Los Angeles last year and is 6-1 with a 4.41 ERA for Albuquerque. However, there has also been talk that the Dodgers are looking to make a move to bolster their rotation by the trade deadline.
MONDAY, JULY 12
Zach Duke activated from the 15-day DL
The Pirates' Opening Day starter was doing nothing spectacular at the time that he landed on the DL on June 24 with soreness in his left elbow. The 27-year-old lefty was 3-8 with a 5.49 ERA, with a WHIP of 1.72. Last season was the best full season of his career and he went just 11-16 with a 4.06 ERA, so not much should be expected of him. He owns a career record of 40-63, with a strikeout rate of just 4.66 per nine innings. Obviously, he should be avoided in all but the deepest fantasy leagues. Left-handed reliever Justin Thomas was optioned to Indianapolis to make room for Duke. Thomas appeared in three games for the Pirates and gave up six runs in five innings.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 14
Yunel Escobar traded to Toronto for Alex Gonzalez
The Braves and Blue Jays swapped shortstops on Wednesday, with the Braves receiving the hot-hitting Alex Gonzalez and the Jays getting the scuffling Yunel Escobar. Escobar has done absolutely nothing with the bat this year, hitting just .238 with no home runs and 19 RBI. He hit over .280 in each of his previous seasons in the bigs, so his lack of offense this year has been puzzling. Gonzalez, on the other hand, is having a career year, having already hit 17 home runs, just six short of his career high and has driven in 50 runs. The Jays also received left-handed pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes, while Atlanta got a couple of minor leaguers. This move makes sense for both teams, as the Braves are looking to boost their playoff chances this year, while the Jays are looking to the future and trying to cut salary. Gonzalez is being paid $2.75 million this year, while Escobar is making just $435,000. Escobar is also several years younger than Gonzalez. In fantasy terms, this deal shouldn't have much of an effect on either player's value.