This article is part of our Bogfella's Notebook series.
Every year, the non-waiver trade deadline provides hope to some, frustration for others, and often generates a quizzical look or two from many. The rumors always fly in the last few days as the deadline approaches, but there may have been even more this year, than in years past. Looking just at the pitchers, several deadline deal "sure things" are still with their original teams, and a few surprises showed up as trades became official. Overall, while many expected this year's trade log to be overflowing when the dust settled, it was pretty much business as usual for the general managers who get a true workout for a few days.
From a fantasy perspective, the most interesting part of deadline deals is the opportunity they can afford various players. Some are rather obvious and are focused on the player being dealt - a starting pitcher is traded to another team and moves into the rotation. However, there are other repercussions associated with that deal. He is likely taking the spot of another pitcher who, because of the trade, no longer has a starting job, and assuming he was formerly starting for the team that traded him, his departure now leaves a void in that rotation. Someone is going to get an opportunity. That will be the focus of this week's Notebook, the pitching impact of the deadline deals.
Let's take a look...
Jason Isringhausen (NYM) / Francisco Rodriquez (MIL)
Isringhausen was the first "winner" in the deadline deals, and he won by NOT being dealt. Former Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez was traded to Milwaukee where he will serve as the setup man for John Axford, eliminating most of his fantasy value. Izzy will serve as the closer for the rest of the season, probably allowing him to surpass 300 career saves, while mentoring Bobby Parnell and Pedro Beato - the young arms the Mets see as their endgame probables for the future. He is pitching well, and is unlikely to give up the role any time soon, so he figures to be a good pick up in most fantasy formats for the rest of 2011.
Jackson ended up in St. Louis, via Toronto, as the Blue Jays acquired Colby Rasmus from the Cardinals in a three-team deal that included the White Sox. He becomes one of the hardest throwing starters in the National League with the deal, and will get to spend time with legendary pitching coach Dave Duncan. Jackson will benefit from solid offensive support as the Cardinals try to make this a championship season. He has been somewhat inconsistent in his career, but there are a lot of things to like about his current situation. His departure thins out the crowded Chicago rotation, probably assuring a spot for Phil Humber for the rest of the year, and even the pitcher Jackson will replace in the St. Louis rotation, Kyle McClellan, might not lose too much value. There have been reports he could be in line for some save opportunities, so monitor his usage.
The Mariners went into the deadline with the intent of dealing a couple of starting pitchers, and they got the job done. Fister went to Detroit where he will step into the Tigers' rotation replacing a collection of youngsters who have served as the team's fifth starter, including one of the players the Mariners received, lefty Charlie Furbush. Fister is not a great fantasy option in any scenario, but he is an improvement over Brad Penny and the others, he shouldn't be hurt too badly by the move from extremely pitcher-friendly Seattle to generally neutral Detroit, and he is bound to get considerably better run support, and is therefore a consideration in deeper leagues. As for Furbush, he should get a trial in the Seattle rotation, and he has some upside. Like San Diego in the National League, just about anyone toeing the rubber in Seattle should warrant at least some fantasy consideration.
This deal may not offer much fantasy upside on either end. Hunter was stuck in a long relief role in Texas, and should get a shot at a rotation spot in Baltimore. Normally that would be a step in the right direction, but Hunter is not a particularly good option if he has to face a different murderer's row in the AL East. Uehara, on the other hand, has been one of the best relievers in the game the past couple of seasons, but was never really given the chance to claim the closer's role in Baltimore. He joins an already good, and now much improved Rangers bullpen, and his role as a key setup man should continue. In a holds league, Texas will surely provide far more leads to hold. And finally there is Kevin Gregg. A perpetually shaky closer, his primary competition for saves has now left town and he is probably the guy in Baltimore for the rest of this season.
This spring, there weren't too many who predicted the Diamondbacks would be in the thick of a pennant race entering August, so they could be excused for requiring some creative thinking during deadline deal week. Needing to bolster their rotation, they came away with Jason Marquis who should be a nice step up over either Josh Collmenter or Micah Owings, either of which will move to the bullpen where they are probably better suited to help in the stretch run. Marquis moves to a much more hitter-friendly ballpark so his bump in value is probably marginal. The true upside to this deal comes in Washington where a couple of talented young arms - Ross Detwiler and Brad Peacock - should get a 2012 audition in late 2011. Detwiler likely steps right into the rotation from the bullpen, and Peacock should be fairly close behind when they shut down Jordan Zimmermann, who is on an innings limit in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. The future looks bright for the Nationals and August-September could be a sneak preview.
Easily the biggest arm to change uniforms in the deadline deals, Jimenez waves goodbye to his NL-only owners, and becomes an FAAB buster in AL-only leagues. He moves from the notoriously hitter-friendly Coors Field to a much more comfortable Cleveland as the Indians try to make a championship statement. He certainly hasn't been the pitcher he was in the first half of last year, but a pennant race and a friendlier environment for pitching should help his performance considerably. Esmil Rogers is probably the first option to assume his rotation spot in Colorado, but he's a risky fantasy option at best. The real value for the Rockies will be the two outstanding young arms they received in the deal. Alex White already has some major league experience and is now rehabbing from an early-season finger injury, and Drew Pomeranz was generally considered the top pitching prospect in the Indians' system at the start of the 2011 season. Neither benefits from a move to hitter-heaven, but both give the Rockies something to look forward to.
After significantly bolstering their bullpen with Koji Uehara, the Rangers decided to take it a step further and add another extremely valuable arm in Mike Adams. Heath Bell had been considered perhaps to be "the most likely pitcher to be dealt" but it was teammate Adams who will be moving to Arlington. A premier setup man in San Diego, he figures to assume a similar role in Texas, but closer Neftali Feliz has been somewhat inconsistent this year so some save opportunities are a possibility for either Adams or Uehara. Also, keep in mind for 2012, the Rangers have discussed moving Feliz to the rotation and both Adams and Uehara are under team control for next season. Interestingly, this deal took some time to come together. The primary reason is the considerable talent of both Erlin (a lefty) and Wieland (a righty). Texas understandably didn't want to part with them, and they are probably at least a year away, but their stock should take a nice jump with San Diego's Petco Park being their new MLB destination.
Every deadline has to have some last minute intrigue to make it complete. This year, that intrigue came from a deal that sent Bedard to Boston just as the clock struck 4:00 and everyone thought it was safe to call it a deadline. The Red Sox and Yankees had been stifled in their attempts to bolster their respective pitching staffs. The Yankees didn't want to pay the price for Jimenez, the Red Sox backed out of a deal at the last minute that would have landed them oft-injured Rich Harden, and Hiroki Kuroda's decision to not waive his no-trade clause took him off the board for both teams. So the Red Sox sprung the surprise and Bedard's value, assuming he is healthy, just spiked. He was rusty in his first start back from a sprained knee, but his velocity and movement was fine - good enough to convince Boston he would be good to go down the stretch. He loses the comfy pitcher's paradise of Seattle, but he get the benefit of a devastating offense. He should be a very solid play all the way to the playoffs. The move should solidify Blake Beavan's spot in the Mariners' rotation, and Bedard will likely move the versatile Tim Wakefield to the bullpen, or the volatile Andrew Miller back to Triple-A. Either is a huge step forward for Boston.
Some short takes:
Hiroki Kuroda (LAD) - He was a leading candidate to be dealt at the deadline, but he opted not to waive his no-trade clause and will remain in Southern California. A move to a contender like the Yankees or Red Sox would have hiked his value, but he is still a solid ERA and WHIP provider.
Rich Harden (OAK) - Boston finalized a deal for him before the trade deadline and then backed out when they saw his medical records. They were willing to take Erik Bedard, not exactly the poster child for durability, so their refusal to take a chance on Harden has to be considered a warning sign. Harden owners may want to consider a Plan B.
Wandy Rodriguez (HOU) - The Astros emptied the cupboard and would have liked to include Wandy in the yard sale but his bulky contract made that impossible. He is still in Houston and the current roster is worse than it was just a few days ago. He isn't likely to be much of an asset for his fantasy owners going forward beyond strikeouts.
Ross Detwiler (WAS) - With Jason Marquis in Arizona, Detwiler will be stepping into the rotation for what amounts to an audition for 2012. Brad Peacock will likely join him soon, when the Nationals shutdown Jordan Zimmermann so as not to overwork him in his return from arm surgery. Both are decent adds.
Jonathan Sanchez (SF) - Barry Zito got roughed up again Sunday (and has been placed on the DL) so Sanchez should be ready to return from the disabled list as soon as later this week. His results while rehabbing were somewhat mixed but promising so he could be worth a flier. When he's good, he's very good, but when he's bad, well you know the rest...
Brett Cecil (TOR) - What a difference a motion makes. Cecil was awful earlier this year, and was sent down to work on his mechanics. Since returning with his rejuvenated velocity and his customary movement, he has been exceptional. He probably won't continue with the dominating performances, but he is definitely fantasy relevant again.
Kyle McClellan (STL) - Edwin Jackson has stepped into his rotation spot as McClellan returns to the bullpen. He did a very good job while in the rotation but will be a big help to the Cardinals in the later innings too. Usually this would severely hurt his fantasy value, but there has been some talk that he could share in some save opportunities.
Kevin Gregg (BAL) - Maybe the biggest benefactor in a deadline deal, the Orioles closer/hoser - depending on the day - is probably locked into the role for the rest of the season with Koji Uehara now in Texas. He is consistently inconsistent but somehow manages to keep getting closing gigs. If you are desperate for saves, he's it.
Drew Storen (WAS) - It was touch and go there for awhile as the Twins tried very hard to get him away from the Nationals in a deal that would have brought Denard Span to Washington. He is a key component of a team that has a lot to look forward to. They do need a center fielder, but they may be happy they chose not to buy one with Storen.
Kenley Jansen (LAD) - Jansen spent a couple of days in the hospital last week with an irregular heartbeat. It wasn't considered serious, but they did put him on the disabled list right after he returned to the team. Hopefully he's OK going forward, as he has a very bright future closing games at some point.