Let me start this week with a trade deadline rant. By the end of today (Sunday), there will be teams who are clearly out of contention for this year who won't answer their phones. They won't trade players when it's obvious they should (doesn't it seem like there's a lot of one-year deals out there as trade bait?). No, prospects don't always pan out but all it takes is one team to become enamored enough with one of your players that they'll be willing to overpay for them. Listen, do the deal, pat yourself on the back three years from now when you'll be a contender. Again, I guarantee too many times today, that won't happen. On to this week's Barometer.
Jason Bourgeois, OF, HOU - Bourgeois should become the de facto starter with Michael Bourn headed to Atlanta. I trust the Nate McLouth experiment is over there and Bourn is a huge upgrade over the wasteland that has been center field for the Braves this year. The aftermath should leave Bourgeois with an everyday job for the Astros. While he has battled some injuries this season, you'd be hard-pressed to find another guy who's averaging just over a steal per every six at-bats. Throw in that Bourgeois might qualify in your league as a second baseman and you've got useful option in almost any format. Grab him if you needs steals and/or runs.
Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU - Sticking with the Astros, Altuve has shown the ability to hit since his call-up a couple of weeks ago. He only has one game where he hasn't registered a hit and had carried over his .361/.404 averages from Double-A/Single-A minor league ball. Despite his short stature he can hit and should be a fixture in the leadoff spot for the rest of the season.
Brett Lawrie, 2B, TOR - While his manager is saying there isn't a timetable to bring Lawrie up to the Jays, I don't believe it. In fact, I'd be shocked if he wasn't north of the border within the next two weeks. Since returning from a broken hand, he's hitting .381 and he has a 1.329 OPS in his last 10 games. He has nothing left to prove at Triple-A, and if the Jays were smart, they'd be shopping Edwin Encarnacion. I'm rostering Lawrie everywhere I can and I'd recommend you take the same gamble if you're looking for an impact player for the stretch run.
Lucas Duda, 1B, NYM - Quite the opposite in terms of size than the aforementioned Jose Altuve, Duda goes about 6-4, 250 lbs. so his ability to hit for power shouldn't be a shock. Duda was relegated to the bench when David Wright returned, but the trade of Carlos Beltran infused new fantasy life into the slugger. For the month of July (78 plate appearances) Duda is hitting .309 and has a 7:10 K:BB ratio, demonstrating his solid plate discipline. While he only has two home runs for the Mets this season, he had 27 over three levels last year. The Mets should have him in the starting lineup on a regular basis so he'll get his chance to produce.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI - While there isn't confirmation yet, I'd guess Goldschmidt will be joining Collin Cowgill in Arizona sometime in the near future now that Brandon Allen has been dealt to Oakland. Goldschmidt was up to 30 home runs at Double-A to go along with a .435 OBP (92:82 K:BB ratio.). It remains to be seen if he can make the big jump from Double-A to the Majors but it looks like he'll get the chance to try and prove he belongs.
Chris Davis, 1B, BAL - With Derrek Lee heading to Pittsburgh, the Orioles will make Davis their everyday first baseman. By now you should know the book on Davis; he's a Quad-A player who kills minor league pitching but hasn't carried that over to the big leagues…yet. Only 25, Davis is just two years removed from a 21-home run season with Texas and the move to Camden Yards isn't a big change from moving away from Arlington. He has the potential to put up good power numbers, just realize they'll likely come at the expense of a low batting average (doesn't he fit perfectly with Mark Reynolds?).
Alexi Casilla, 2B, MIN - Casilla was placed on the DL this week after an MRI confirmed a pulled hamstring. Besides playing solid defense, Casilla was running more on the basepaths with a career-high 15 stolen bases. He also showed some small strides at the plate, batting at least .274 in every month outside of April.
Elvis Andrus, SS, Nelson Cruz, TEX - Both players have been out with Cruz dealing with a hamstring issue and Andrus battling a balky knee. Their collective absence in the lineup is likely a precautionary measure with the Rangers playing on the turf in Toronto. It looks like both will be back in the lineup Tuesday but check the updates to make sure that's the case.
Mike Adams, P, SD - After some early confusion as to who the Padres actually dealt to Texas, it was confirmed that Mike Adams and not Heath Bell will now call Arlington home. To no surprise Adams has been a better pitcher at home this year (not by a lot though), but was better away (1.39 ERA) than at home (2.10 ERA) last year. I put Adams in the "check status" area for a couple of reasons. Neftali Feliz hasn't been as effective this season which means Adams could vulture some save opportunities. Even if he doesn't, it's possible the Rangers try once again to convert Feliz into a starter next season. Adams is still under contract next year so it's possible he steps into the closing role then. Be sure to monitor Adams' role with his new team and see if you can acquire him in keeper leagues even if he sets up Feliz.
Justin Smoak, 1B, SEA - Smoak looked like he was ready to break out to start the season, swatting four homers and batting .284 during April. Since then he hasn't batted over .229 in any of the last three months and hasn't hit a home run since June 12. Remember he wasn't exactly lighting the world on fire with the Rangers and his numbers this year (.218 BA, .313 OBP) are pretty close to what he did in Texas (.209 BA, .316 OBP). Sure the lineup isn't that great with the Mariners and the home park doesn't do him any favors but at this pace the Mariners will have to re-evaluate their future plans at first base.
Carlos Pena, 1B, CHI - Pena is a notoriously streaky hitter as evidenced by his eight homers in a 12-game span during June. The problem is he's in the middle of a slump right now, going 2-for-28 (.071, 13 Ks) over his last eight games. There are probably better first base options available and Pena should be benched until he rights the ship.
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