RotoWire Partners

The Wheelhouse: Reflecting on Reflections

Derek VanRiper

Derek VanRiper

Derek is the Senior Baseball Editor for RotoWire.com, where he's been a two-time finalist for the FSWA's Baseball Writer of the Year award, and winner of the Best Football Article on the Web (2009) and Best Baseball Article on the Web (2010) awards. Derek also co-hosts RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (XM 87, Sirius 210) from 11a-2p ET on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

I root for anarchy on draft day, free agency and trade deadlines.

Forget the hours or days that it may take for the front office personnel to negotiate terms of a deal. It's all about the opportunity your team has to make significant changes for the better, whether it's for the immediate future or the distant one.

The logistics and human elements involved in these changes are often overlooked. After all, does anyone feel sorry for millionaires having to move from one sprawling home to another especially when they can afford to hire help?

Not really.

Moving sucks. I have had seven addresses in the last 10 years, and that's within a 10-mile radius. It's hardly the same as moving from coast to coast and everywhere in between.

Imagine minor league baseball players sent packing on July 31. Not early-round picks with seven-figure signing bonuses, but guys who have been touring the Texas League or Florida State League for the past year or two, sharing apartments with teammates akin to our college days and barely scraping by financially. Getting that phone call from the assistant general manager informing you to pack up your Corolla and drive from Akron to Portland overnight probably isn't the life most of us picture for professional ball players.

It's a different way to live the dream.

Thanks in large part to the new format where each league has two Wild Cards, there were plenty of deadline deals over the course of the last 10 days. As such, we have covered a lot of different angles on the site including the park effects winners and losers (Jack Moore), prospects dealt (Jessie Siegel) and pitchers on the move (Brad Johnson). Jeff and Chris even wrote about the things that didn't happen at the deadline.

To that end, here's a response to the reaction and fallout from this week's trade deadline and the subsequent commentary.

"...what are the Twins doing? Sure, they traded away Francisco Liriano - a lot cheaper than they could have a year-and-a-half ago, but where were all the other moves? You can't tell me that there wasn't a market for Justin Morneau or especially Josh Willingham. Maybe they think that they'll get more for each, as well as Denard Span, in the offseason. But their pitching now is terrible, and there's not much hope at the upper levels of their farm system." - Jeff Erickson

Willingham has been one of the biggest surprises of the season by far and is already nearing last season's career-high 29 homers through 101 games. Signed through 2014 at $7 million/season, he may have been the most valuable trade chip at the Twins' disposal as a non-rental given the change in free-agent compensation rules prior to this season. With a barren farm system at the upper levels, cashing him in would have been a prudent move as part of the rebuild. Span will likely draw interest this winter as he's affordably signed through 2014 as well and has returned his offensive production to pre-Target Field levels.

If there was a market for Morneau, it was probably underwhelming. A 31-year-old first baseman signed at $14 million in 2013 isn't all bad, but with his injury history and risk of additional missed time if he suffers another concussion, the number of suitors dwindles. With a .260/.322/.451 line and 13 homers over 319 at-bats, it appears he's no longer the player we saw from 2008-2010. Eating salary, or taking a light return as they did in the Liriano deal were the options, and gambling on a better final two months from Morneau only backfires if he suffers another concussion. If the production has in fact leveled off, mediocre offers will be on the table this time next year.

"I'm sick about the love Evan Longoria gets. Very good player, sure, but otherwise-intelligent men want to make love to his team friendly contract. Page me when he's a Top 5 MVP guy. He's been overdrafted in roto almost every season since he emerged, too." - spianow

Thanks to a severe hamstring injury, Longoria is killing me in the 12-team NFBC satellite I'm playing in. At 16 overall, I was more than comfortable with the idea of banking on his projected .284, 34 homers, 119 RBI and 105 runs scored early in Round 2. As three-year averages go, Longoria entered 2012 with a .274/.363/.505 with 28 homers, 105 RBI, 91 runs scored and nine steals (147 games/year). Those numbers along with improving plate discipline over his big league career (BB% and CT%) mirroring the development of Ryan Braun led me to rank him as high as sixth overall in my RotoWire Roundtable rankings back in March. Even with Tropicana Field for a home park, Longoria possesses 40-home run upside. Independent of anything Longoria is able to provide during August and September, I will still be at the front of the line to invest in the soon-to-be 27-year-old at what will likely be a lower price in 2013.

Trade Deadline Winners (based on park effects): Hanley Ramirez Jack Moore

An eight-game sample is meaningless, so to say that the trade to Los Angeles hasn't paid off in terms of park effects or motivating Ramirez would be pointless. As someone who rarely agrees with Ned Colletti's approach to roster construction or facial hair, I'm willing to concede the taking the chance on Ramirez made sense given the black hole at third base caused by the Juan Uribe signing after the 2010 season. Further, Jack's point about the upgrade in parks holds up based on the degree to which the new Marlins Park has been pitcher-friendly through four months.

In the collective, we may forever believe that Ramirez still in some capacity owns the skills that made him an elite rotisserie player in 2006-2009. Outside of an uptick in power since last season (from .379 to .427 SLG), Ramirez looks like a shell of his former self with an average 55 points below his career .300 mark, and a similarly shattered .323 on-base percentage. If there were something in his home/road splits that suggested a move of Marlins Park would help, the optimism for more of a power rebound might exist. Instead, it's beginning to look like he's a .240-.250 hitter with 25-25 potential over the course of a full season. As he ages, the steals will likely fade away, but as long as he keeps that aspect of his game, Ramirez is Chris Young eligible at third base.

If the steals go away, or even slip into the 10-15 range, Ramirez may become a fantasy player similar to Adrian Beltre during his time in Seattle (162-game averages of .266/.317/.442 with 24 homers, 90 RBI and 12 steals).

Jean Segura, SS, MIL - The Angels gave up a lot to get Zack Greinke, the biggest chip being Segura, a speedy middle infielder who battled hamstring injuries in 2011 but has swiped 34 bags in 2012 between High-A and Double-A. The 22-year-old has also hit seven home runs and knocked in 42 runs, so he is not completely devoid of power. With a .294 average to boot, and Cody Random and Cesar Izturis manning short for the Brew Crew, Segura could be in the running for the starting position in 2013. Jesse Siegel

Considering that the Brewers gave up a key piece of the future (Alcides Escobar) to acquire Greinke from the Royals before the 2011 season, getting a shortstop back capable of taking over the job by Opening Day next year was a very favorable return. Defensively, Segura isn't the Gold Glove caliber defender Escobar has become, but offensively he may project as a leadoff option for the Brewers with his combination of on-base skills and speed. No longer stuck behind a pair of guys with long-term deals in Anaheim, Segura's stock in keeper leagues just shot up.

10 Closing Thoughts

1. The Cards essentially admitted that they made a mistake selecting Zack Cox at No. 25 overall in 2010. Getting a year and two months of reliever Edward Mujica (career 1.5 WAR in 349.1 innings) for a first-round pick from two years ago is cutting your losses.

2. If you're close in late July, buy. General managers made more improvements to their teams this deadline than in years past because of the aforementioned changes to free-agent compensation rules. Very few top-100 prospects were moved, enabling fringe contenders to push their chips in without mortgaging their future.

3. Chris Johnson isn't a great player, but he may be a better fantasy player than a real life one. Chase Field is an excellent hitters park, his career-high 6.6% walk rate is an encouraging small step in the right direction. Eventually, the job belongs to Matt Davidson, but Johnson may hold the gig at third base in Arizona through 2013. Related: Bobby Borchering is an interesting buy-low in this deal for the Astros. The switch-hitting former first-round pick didn't have a clear long-term path to playing time in Arizona anyway.

4. The A's understand how good the Angels and Rangers are and didn't feel that pieces that would help them were worth even a deflated price tag. They enter play Friday tied with the Angels as one of the American League Wild Cards. Dan Straily might be a difference maker, if the scouting reports I've seen are accurate, he may be another Brandon Beachy type.

5. Joe Blanton is having his best season since 2007 when he checked in at 5.6 WAR! Moving from Philadelphia to Los Angeles should help cut down his home-run rate (1.49 HR/9IP) down the stretch.

6. Having Carlos Beltran, Lance Berkman, and Allen Craig to cover the at-bats at two positions isn't really a problem. Berkman landed on the disabled list again Friday with right knee inflammation.

7. Mike Olt wasn't dealt because the market didn't force it, and because the Rangers clearly believe he can help them down the stretch. His raw power is outstanding, but playing time might be an issue during his first two months in the big leagues.

8. Lars Anderson (remember him?) was quietly shipped to the Indians just before the deadline Tuesday. Cleveland has a gaping hole at first base that he could fill if he's able to recoup some of his former top prospect status at Triple-A Columbus.

9. Ike Davis has a .265/.324/.611 line with 15 homers and 39 RBI over his last 45 games. Yes, that's a 54-homer pace over 162 games.

10. The Rockies have gone through several second basemen recently trying to find an everyday option. Charlie Culberson's combination of power and speed is much more intriguing in Colorado than it was in San Francisco. I plan on stashing him away as a reserve round pick in deeper leagues next spring.

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.

Top Fantasy Baseball Player News
No major news stories have been reported recently.