Collette Calls: The Week in Review

Collette Calls: The Week in Review

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Last year, the activity between the General Manger meetings and the Winter Meetings was fast and furious and took all of the excitement from the Winter Meetings. This year, the same thing appears to be happening as teams have been very busy setting up their 2015 rosters. Let's look at how the changes in places will affect the 2015 faces you will be drafting.

Catchers

Russell Martin to the Blue Jays: This move is bigger than just signing the bat. Martin has worked hard to get healthy and the hard work paid off last year as he looked better at the plate and was once again a valuable fantasy commodity. He leaves Pittsburgh, whose park suppresses offense, to go to Toronto, a park that plays like a pinball machine in terms of offense. Given the fact that Martin's BABIP last season was nearly 70 points above his previous four-year average, the average may come down, but he should gain a few homers out of this move. The Toronto pitchers should also enjoy some improvements as Martin is one of the best receivers and framers in the game, which is a huge improvement from the guys they've thrown to for the past few seasons.

Infielders

Adam LaRoche to the White Sox: A few days ago, it was reported that the Marlins had a two-year, $20 million offer out there to LaRoche, but he ends up going to the south side of Chicago for $5M more than that. The obvious benefit here is that he moves from a neutral park in terms of left-handed power to one that is one of the best in the league in enhancing left-handed power over the past few seasons. He has hit at least 20 homers in each of his past five full seasons and topped 30 in 2012. This move could allow him to do that again if he maximizes his home park at-bats because the rest of his division mostly works against him. You can pencil in the .265 average and the 80-90 runs driven in.

Billy Butler to the Athletics: Three years and $30M for Country Breakfast? As site friend Joe Sheehan said on Twitter, "perhaps Beane thought he was paying $3.30 for a country breakfast?" The signing is perplexing, but right-handed pop is a bit rare these days. In terms of park factors, it is mostly a lateral shift for Butler, but those are not going to matter unless Butler changes his swing. He still beats too many balls into the ground and his home runs mostly come on mistake pitches these days. He has hit over 20 home runs twice in the past six seasons, and both times it came when his HR/FB ratio spiked. That ratio has declined each of the past three seasons, as has his batting average. In short, this move doesn't do anything for me as he still struggles too much against breaking balls and no park is going to fix that.

Tommy La Stella to the Cubs: La Stella takes his all walk and no pop approach to the mort side of Chicago, and that is not a good thing for him. Whereas he seemed to have a clear role to playing time in Atlanta, he goes to Chicago which has a lot of players up the middle as the depth chart stands now. La Stella could be the leadoff hitter for the Cubs in 2015, or he could be the pinch-hitter off the bench when Joe Maddon wants to replace a pitcher. La Stella's upside is limited to runs and batting average.

Outfielders

Jason Heyward to the Cardinals: When we look back, it should not be surprising that Heyward was traded in that he was not willing to sign a long-term deal with Atlanta and was going to be a free agent after the 2015 season. That said, the trade was still a stunner. The park switch is mostly a wash, but the biggest question mark with Heyward is where has the power gone? Prior to him getting beaned in the face, he had a .260 career batting average and a .794 OPS. Since the beaning, those numbers are .269 and just .739. His average flyball distance has declined each of the previous three seasons from 280 to 259 to 257 feet. He also used to feast on fastballs; .877 OPS pre-beaning and just .715 OPS since the beaning. He has cut down on his strikeouts in recent years, but because Heyward is not driving the ball as he once did, pitchers are not as afraid of pitching him in the zone as they once were. Why be scared if a well-placed fastball is only going to travel 257 feet? He is in his walk year, but Heyward is going to get paid anyhow as a 25-year-old premium defender with lots of upside.

Pitchers

Joel Peralta and Adam Liberatore to the Dodgers: As the Rays look to trim some payroll by moving assets in their final year, Peralta becomes the latest victim. This move should help him as it gets him out of the smaller parks in the AL East and allows him to take his extreme flyball rates to the more accommodating parks of the NL West. His strikeout and walk rates are closer worthy as a Jansen handcuff, but homers have been a problem for him and he did look more hittable last season than he has in the past. In deep NL leagues, he's a nice late grab for formats that value middle relievers. Liberatore has some gaudy Triple-A numbers out of the pen, but has a mop-up man/LOOGY ceiling.

Jose Dominguez and Greg Harris to the Rays: The Rays aren't exactly thrilled with giving up the experience of Peralta in the late innings, but when someone offers two live arms like this, it is tough to turn down. Dominguez has an 80-fastball that has been clocked as high as 103 mph, but has trouble controlling it. Harris throws 93-95 mph and both have a future in the bullpen. Dominguez is the one to watch as the Rays have a good track record of working with pitchers to help them right the ship when others have given up.

Jordan Walden to the Cardinals: Just what St. Louis needs – another high-octane arm in the back end of their bullpen. His delivery is NC-17 material, but the results are strong. He struck out 30% of the batters he faced last season, and it was the fourth consecutive season in which he has improved his strikeout rate. The crazy delivery does lead to command issues and his walk rate has been below league average for most of his career, but he offsets that by being tough to hit. Like Peralta, Walden has value as a non-closer because of the strikeouts but it is tough to look at him as a closer with the command issues he has.

Shelby Miller to the Braves: It was not that long ago when many evaluators considered Miller to be the better long term prospect between him and Michael Wacha. Last season, his slash line was almost identical to what it was in 2013, but his strikeout rate fell from 23% to 17% and his walk rate declined from 8% to 10%. He went from a guy that flashed the upside of a No. 2 starter to someone that looked like a No. 4 starter last season. Maybe we should be satisfied with the fact he won double-digit games for a second straight season and had good ratios, but there is more talent here than what he showed last season. He should enjoy the infield defense that Atlanta brings to the table, but run support may be a bit of a problem if the team also trades Justin Upton this offseason as they are rumored to be investigating.

Arodys Vizcaino to the Braves: Vizcaino goes back to Atlanta, who had traded him to the Cubs a few seasons ago. He has pitched in just five major league games since being traded to Chicago due to multiple arm injuries, so it's useless to look at him statistically. He was ranked as a top-100 prospect by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus from 2010-2013, but the multiple injuries have changed expectations with him. Vizcaino likely slots in to the role Walden had when he first joined Atlanta and the Braves hope he evolves into what Walden eventually became for Atlanta.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999, and here at Rotowire since 2011. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls,and was the 2023 AL LABR champion. Jason manages his social media presence at https://linktr.ee/jasoncollette
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