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The Wheelhouse: All In

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.

As we move closer to Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline, it's time to supplement last week's look at the National League with a follow-up trip around the American League.

Before taking the plunge - west coast first, I'd like to point out - here is some GIFfy goodness of David Ortiz fubaring the dugout phone in Baltimore on Saturday night.

GIF: David Ortiz is very, very mad at the dugout phone.  on Twitpic

Don't expect to see Dustin Pedroia sitting within 10 feet of a dugout phone again as long as Papi suits up for the Red Sox.

Oakland - A.J. Griffin has long ball issues that are clearly more damaging on the road (17) than at home (6), but he's piled up more strikeouts and issued fewer walks than teammate Jarrod Parker (despite a nice turnaround after a poor April). The 23 homers he's allowed are second only to Joe Blanton this season, but as a high-volume workhorse with good control, Griffin does not seem to receive the attention he deserves. CC Sabathia and R.A. Dickey have also given up 23 home runs this season, and even Hisashi Iwakuma has been tagged for 21, and while Iwakuma boasts an elite skill set of his own, I would take Griffin over Sabathia or Dickey the rest of the way in a heartbeat.

Texas - If Matt Garza ends up being a piece that puts the Rangers over the top in their push for a World Series crown, it's a moot point, but the Cubs look like the big winners in the trade the two sides made earlier this week. There was no room for Mike Olt in Texas and his struggles while battling vision trouble earlier this season in the minors seemed to deteriorate his trade value in the eyes of rival evaluators. Considering that the Rangers may not have made this trade a year ago given Olt's status as a top prospect, it's impressive that the Cubs also landed Justin Grimm, C.J. Edwards and at least one player to named later. Grimm may top out as a No. 4 starter in the big leagues, but he's only 23 and has showed intriguing skills in the upper levels of the minors. The league change and new home run environment will only help matters. Meanwhile, Edwards brings the Cubs a high upside arm with an impressive early career track record that includes a 207:59 K:BB over 160.1 innings up to Low-A Hickory this season.

Seattle - Kyle Seager is having a fantastic season, but it seems to be flying under the radar. With a .289/.354/.483 line, he's made a significant improvement across the board from the .259/.316/.423 mark he compiled in his first full season with the Mariners a year ago. While he provided sneaky speed last season (13-for-18), Seager has gone just 3-for-6 thus far, but he's currently on pace to make a run at 25 homers and 90 runs scored in a lineup that is only a tick below the MLB average in runs scored (427) with 414 runs this season. Since appearing in 53 games in 2011, Seager has made a steady improvement in his walk rate (6.5, 7.1 and 8.5%) and strikeout rate (17.9, 16.9 and 15.6%) while pushing his ISO upward (.121, .163, .194) along the way. A big part of his overall improvement this season appears to be pitch recognition, as Seager has lowered his swinging-strike rate from 8.3 to 6.6% and cut his his chase rate from 30.3 to 25.5%.

Anaheim - Mark Trumbo has earned $23 this season (in 15-team mixed leagues), just $1 less than Prince Fielder, but his .249/.313/.475 line remains an overall drop-off from 2012. The dollar value comparison speaks to a couple of things - first, it speaks to how disappointing Fielder has been this season, and second, the degree to which a low average (.249 isn't as comparatively bad as you might think) could actually lead your competitors to overlook a consistent power profile with added value because of his team context (60 RBI, 53 runs scored). Trumbo is exactly the player I expected him to be, but the departure of Kendrys Morales in the offseason secured his playing time and he's we'll on his way to exceed 625 plate appearances. **Also, I have always liked Garrett Richards as a potential growth target in the Angels rotation, and he now has an opportunity to seize that role again with Blanton's aforementioned demotion.**

Houston - Ranking Jonathan Villar for the rest of the season is a bit challenging, if only because he's not regarded as an elite prospect along the lines of Jurickson Profar, but he's going to get steady playing time from the Astros over the final two-plus months of the season along with a chance to become the team's leadoff man. Villar has struck out six times in his first 14 at-bats in the big leagues and he's been very young for his level through his development, so the growing pains could ultimately lead to a move down the lineup if he proves to be overmatched, but given the lack of production from Profar and that Villar's playing time through the end of the season looks to be more secure, choosing between them through early October is more difficult than any prospect lists would have led you to believe. Villar went 31-for-38 as a basestealer at Triple-A Oklahoma City before his promotion, and had similar success a year ago (39-for-47) at Double-A, so he should provide cheap speed and runs scored if the leadoff assignment holds.

Detroit - Were the rumors of Torii Hunter's demise exaggerated? On June 12, the Tigers' No. 2 hitter was showing very limited power as part of a .296/.346/.399 line. Over the last 34 games, 17 of his 47 hits have gone for extra bases including eight home runs. The 162-game pace during that stretch would yield 39 long balls over an entire season, entirely impossible at age 37, especially when you consider his likely total for the 2013 season since he's only gone deep 10 times for the year. In addition to hitting for a good average, Hunter has one of the best lineup placements in baseball right now with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder moving him around the bases. Hunter is tied for 11th among outfielders in runs scored (61) and has driven in more runs (49) than Justin Upton (47) this season.

Cleveland - I'm near the point of conceding defeat on Trevor Bauer. With 45 walks in 86.2 innings at Triple-A this season and an abysmal 11:16 K:BB over his 17 frames (four starts) with the Indians, there doesn't appear to be an end in sight for his control woes. Especially for a pitcher with a track record of success in college, the elevated walk rate (career 4.4 BB/9 in the minors) even when he's been effective as high as the Double-A level gives him the appearances of a permanent WHIP liability. Still just 22 years old, do you still have optimism for Bauer?

Kansas City - Does George Brett's decision to return to the front office and give up his duties at hitting coach mean that Eric Hosmer is going to go into a tailspin again? Semi-related, is there a cure for whatever it is that is plaguing Mike Moustakas? Over his last 40 games, he's hitting .275/.324/.399 with three homers, seven RBI and an 8:18 BB:K. Is there anything left to salvage?

Minnesota - Kyle Gibson's numbers on the surface (5.72 ERA, 1.52 WHIP) are ugly, but a good portion of that damage came in his July 4th start against the Yankees (eight earned runs on 11 hits). The strikeout totals have been disappointing as well, with the rookie right-hander fanning just 15 batters over 28.1 innings. In addition to a useful matchup Sunday at Seattle, Gibson will have a chance to set a new career-high in strikeouts (his current high of five came in his big league debut) when the Astros visit Target Field on Saturday.

Chicago - Nothing but venom here. Wade Davis tossed a gem against the White Sox on Saturday night - at the Cell, and with the wind blowing out to right field, no less. Who stacked a daily lineup full of White Sox hitters? This guy. In addition to watching at least half of the game and falling out of contention in the tournament with each passing scoreless frame from a guy who entered the game with a 5.92 ERA and 1.81 WHIP, an epic Hawk Harrelson meltdown didn't even materialize.

Boston - Entering play Saturday, Stephen Drew was hitting .262/.340/.476 over the last 30 days. While he was 11-for-42 (limited at-bats because of a DL stint from a hamstring injury) during that span, his six extra-base hits were comprised of doubles and triples. Drew hit a pair of homers - including an inside-the-park job in Saturday's win over the Orioles. With defensive wizard Jose Iglesias in the fold and Xander Bogaerts making a push toward a late-season callup a la Manny Machado in Baltimore last season, Drew needs to hit to keep his job. Admittedly, I was on the side that believed his 2013 campaign would more closely resemble his pre-2011 numbers with Arizona. Unfortunately, even with a big game Saturday factoring into the line, the base line may have been lowered for good.

Tampa Bay - In case you missed it, Matt Moore turned things around after scuffling over a four-start stretch in June. In his last five starts, he's allowed just four earned runs in 35.2 innings while carrying a 40:14 K:BB. Opposing hitters have collected just 16 hits against him during that span, and no homers. Perhaps the most surprising numbers in Moore's 2013 portfolio are his home/road splits, as he's posted a better ERA (2.77) and WHIP (1.16) away from the Trop (3.54, 1.26) thus far.

Baltimore - Good content can be difficult to find these days. In fact, sometimes the best things I read are several years old and this piece from 2008 is excellent. Other times, a picture (or 33 of them glued together) is even better than a thousand words.

New York - For some reason, I always feel a sense of joy for the folks who bought a player's jersey on the clearance rack after his departure when that players returns for a second stint with the club. Alfonso Soriano's return to the Bronx is just the latest example. Ultimately, he should fit into the mix as a platoon DH once Curtis Granderson returns to the Yankees' outfield, but things could become even more crowded on the depth chart if Alex Rodriguez actually gets back on the field this season. In terms of playing time, Soriano is now facing some uncertainty about the number of at-bats he'll receive in August and September, and as a right-handed hitter, he does not benefit from the move out of Wrigley Field and into Yankee Stadium the way a left-handed hitter would.

Toronto - In a season that has been mostly things that have gone wrong north of the border - Josh Johnson, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Jose Reyes' ankle injury, etc. - Colby Rasmus has quietly resembled the player we saw in St. Louis back in 2010. Although he has contributed nothing as a basestealer, Rasmus has gone deep 17 times this season while playing very good defense in center field (at least, according to Fangraphs' fielding metrics) and pacing out to be a 5.5-6.0 WAR player.