Regan's Rumblings: Thoughts and Predictions

Regan's Rumblings: Thoughts and Predictions

This article is part of our Regan's Rumblings series.

Here are a few random thoughts and predictions as I look across the baseball landscape and into the numbers…

Braves trade their closer and #1 setup man

There's zero doubt the Braves will look to continue the sell-off process this month. I do expect Julio Teheran to stay in a Braves uniform, as I don't expect for example, that the Red Sox will part with both Andrew Benintendi and baseball's #1 overall prospect, Yoan Moncada. Arodys Vizcaino and Jim Johnson however will attract a fair amount of interest (particularly the former), and I expect some contender (Cubs?) will make the Braves an offer they can't refuse. So what does this mean for the impacted players' respective fantasy values? It shouldn't impact Johnson, who it's tough to see closing for a contender, but it could certainly deflate most of Vizcaino's value should he be dealt to a contender with an established closer.

As for the Braves, should they deal both relievers, the job would be up for grabs between the likes of Hunter Cervenka, Ian Krol, Tyrell Jenkins, Chris Withrow, Dario Alvarez, and Maricio Cabrera. My guess is that Cervenka will get the first crack at the job given his 2.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 10.9 K/9, but Cervenka's 5.6 BB/9 invokes visions of Carlos Marmol. Cabrera is the most intriguing, as his average fastball velocity sits at an impressive 100.5 mph, and though he's thrown just four innings for the Braves, he already

Here are a few random thoughts and predictions as I look across the baseball landscape and into the numbers…

Braves trade their closer and #1 setup man

There's zero doubt the Braves will look to continue the sell-off process this month. I do expect Julio Teheran to stay in a Braves uniform, as I don't expect for example, that the Red Sox will part with both Andrew Benintendi and baseball's #1 overall prospect, Yoan Moncada. Arodys Vizcaino and Jim Johnson however will attract a fair amount of interest (particularly the former), and I expect some contender (Cubs?) will make the Braves an offer they can't refuse. So what does this mean for the impacted players' respective fantasy values? It shouldn't impact Johnson, who it's tough to see closing for a contender, but it could certainly deflate most of Vizcaino's value should he be dealt to a contender with an established closer.

As for the Braves, should they deal both relievers, the job would be up for grabs between the likes of Hunter Cervenka, Ian Krol, Tyrell Jenkins, Chris Withrow, Dario Alvarez, and Maricio Cabrera. My guess is that Cervenka will get the first crack at the job given his 2.45 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 10.9 K/9, but Cervenka's 5.6 BB/9 invokes visions of Carlos Marmol. Cabrera is the most intriguing, as his average fastball velocity sits at an impressive 100.5 mph, and though he's thrown just four innings for the Braves, he already bailed out Vizcaino and recorded his first save last week. Cabrera though in Double-A this year posted at 6.0 BB/9 in 33.2 innings, so he's about as sketchy an option as the rest of this group.

Astros make Alex Bregman their third baseman

Bregman can apparently hit Triple-A pitching as well after batting .297/.415/.559 in Double-A. He's homered four times in his last five games and in six games overall for Triple-A Fresno, Bregman is batting an impressive .423/.464/1.000. As a group, Houston third basemen rank #23 in the league with a .721 OPS, so an infusion of talent wouldn't hurt there. Bregman is a natural shortstop, but you may have noticed the Astros already have a solid option there, so Bregman has dabbled some at third this year. Bregman was the second overall pick in the 2015 draft, and though seeing him debut this year would be a very quick jump to the big leagues, how can we argue based on YTD results that he's not ready to take the ultimate next step in his career?

The Padres trade Matt Kemp and Melvin Upton Jr.

The Padres owe Kemp approximately $64 million through the 2019 season and Upton another $25 million through 2017, and despite their relatively strong 2016 seasons, the Padres would certainly love to shed some of that money and rebuild around Wil Myers and an improving farm system. Kemp's .257/.276/.461 slash line isn't all that inspiring, but he does have 16 home runs and is on pace for another 100 RBI season, so perhaps there's a team that will focus more on the homers and his star power than his 3.1% BB%. As for Upton, his .262/.311/.434 slash is relatively modest, but with solid CF defense, 13 home runs, and 19 steals, he's certainly turned things around since being a replacement level player with the Braves in 2013-2014. That makes him a good candidate for the Padres to cash in on, as they could absorb more money to obtain a better prospect return or dump as much salary as they possibly can.

Dealing one or both outfielders would open up one or two spots for the team's top two position prospects, Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot. As you can see in their 2016 numbers, each brings a different skillset to the table:

Margot: .299/.351/.425, 4 HR, 23 SB, 6.5% BB%, 9.5% K%
Renfroe: .332/.360/.602, 20 HR, 3 SB, 4.1 BB%, 19% K%

Margot profiles as a top of the order type bat while Renfroe could be a source of 30+ HR power. Renfroe is three years older and hitting .455 in his last 10 games, so he's probably slightly ahead of Margot on the 2016 pecking order, but both should see significant big league time in the very near future.

The Brewers trade Jonathan Lucroy to the Dodgers for Jose De Leon and other prospects

While one could argue the need for another starting pitcher and a left-handed reliever, the Dodgers currently rank 10th in the NL in runs scored, #1 in bullpen ERA, and #5 in starter ERA. With guys like Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu returning from injury and Bud Norris aboard, the need for another starter looks to be diminished. Of course the specter of Clayton Kershaw's back injury clouds the team's season somewhat, but the offense could clearly need another hitter. At what position though? Adrian Gonzalez has had a down year with just six home runs, but he's hit .333 over his last two weeks and isn't being benched anyway. The outfield remains crowded, second base and shortstop aren't areas of need, and Justin Turner just hit .286/.330/.592 in June after a slow first couple months.

Then there's catcher. Yasmani Grandal has nine homers in just 185 at-bats, but he's also hitting .184/.296/.373 and remains a consistent threat to hit the DL. A.J. Ellis isn't anyone's idea of a full-time catcher, so this is a position that can certainly use an upgrade. Lucroy is batting .299/.357/.484 and while he was limited to 103 games last year due to toe and concussion issues, Lucroy is on pace for 145+ games for the third time in four years. He'd be a nice upgrade for the Dodgers and a nice sell-high for the Brewers.

The Marlins will make Derek Dietrich their third baseman when Dee Gordon returns

To say that Dietrich has done an admirable job filling in for the suspended Gordon would be an understatement. In 222 at-bats, Dietrich is batting a solid .302/.395/.446 with four home runs and no stolen bases. The lack of power and steals doesn't do much for his fantasy value, but a guy with a .395 OBP batting in front of Marcell Ozuna, Giancarlo Stanton, and company is a valuable commodity indeed. Dietrich is batting .240 vs. LHP and .320 vs. RHP, so some sort of job share / platoon with Martin Prado is one scenario. Prado is batting .314/.358/.396, so he deserves to have at least semi-regular at-bats himself, so perhaps the Marlins will ship Prado off to a contender. Otherwise, I'd expect Gordon, Dietrich, and Prado to all play fairly regular, though of course that means that one of them won't be in the lineup each day. I think a Prado trade looks to be the most likely scenario.

The A's will trade 3B Danny Valencia

They've already shipped off Josh Donaldson for a pittance of a return, so I fully expect Valencia will be in another team's uniform come August 1. He still has one more year of team control through 2017, but at age 31, the A's seem likely to cash in while his value is high. Valencia is batting .310/.359/.512 after hitting a solid .290/.345/.519 last year. He's on pace to top 20 homers (12 so far) for the first time in his career, and contenders looking for a third baseman are going to call the A's first. If/when Valencia is dealt, where do the A's go? There aren't many good internal options.

A couple:

Tyler Landendorf – Currently hitting aa strong .103 in 29 at-bats. The 28 year-old also had a .662 OPS in Triple-A.

Eric Sogard – Sogard has missed the year with a knee injury, but he could return this month and claim either second or third base. Sogard however hit a whopping .247/.294/.304 with one homer in 372 at-bats last year. Kudos to him for somehow getting that many at-bats.

Renato Nunez – The 22 year-old is supposedly one of the team's top prospects, but he's batting just .237/.286/.412 in Triple-A with a 5.4% BB%. He did hit 29 homers in High-A a couple years ago, so the A's may take a look at him anyway.

Someone from outside the organization – Perhaps the A's get Valencia's replacement in trade.

Either way this is a situation to avoid, though Valencia's value could get a bump from going to a better lineup and perhaps a better ballpark.

People (like me) will wake up soon and realize Jake Lamb has 19 home runs

At RotoWire, we pride ourselves on the accuracy of our preseason projections, but we were a bit off here with Lamb. We had him for 10 home runs and a .270 BA in 419 at-bats, but Lamb is batting .292 with 19 homers in 277 at-bats, with 10 of those coming in his last 100 ab's. Lamb at this rate could finish with 35 or so after never topping 15 in any minor league season. Want more? In his last 30 days, Lamb is batting .341/.404/.818 despite a 33.3% K%. For the year, Lamb is fanning at a more reasonable 25.2% K% while walking 9.9% of the time, so while his .292 BA may come down into the .270s/.280s, he's already provided fantasy owners with more than we could have reasonably expected. Now if he can just figure out how to hit LHP (.189/.323/.415 against them).

We'll figure out that some, but not all of these pitchers are THAT good

Here are a few pitchers that have performed well recently. Stats below are for the last 30 days:

Trevor Bauer (CLE) – 42.2 IP, 1.48 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9. Starting to fulfill that promise that made him a top-five pick it seems, though keep in mind his xFIP during this period is just 3.47. He should continue to be good, perhaps very good given his stuff and pedigree.
Bud Norris (LAD) – 30.1 IP, 1.78 ERA, 10.4 K/9, 1.5 BB/9. Will that cutter really continue to be this effective? I think it will, though obviously not quite at this level.

Anthony DeSclafani (CIN) – 30.1 IP, 1.78 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 2.7 BB/9. I'm skeptical given his home park and yeah, that 4.66 xFIP.
Junior Guerra (MIL) – 34.1 IP, 2.10 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9. Guerra is a 31 year-old rookie who has developed an excellent splitter to go with a fastball that averages 93.2 mph. Despite the lack of a long track record, I like what I've seen when I've watched him, so I think he'll have a solid second half, perhaps an ERA in the low 3's.

Mike Fiers (HOU) – Both Fiers and Jeff Samardzija have 4.8 K/9 rates over the last 30 days, but Fiers has a 2.54 ERA and Samardzija a 5.70 mark. Samardzija's BB/9 is 1.8 while Fiers has a 2.5 mark. All in all,

I would trade Fiers for Samardzija.

Awards voting

The big awards will go to the following:

NL MVP – Kris Bryant – He could approach 50 homers and has an outside chance at being rated a 1 at third base in Strat-o-Matic.

AL MVP – Manny Machado – He may be the best player in baseball.

NL Cy Young – Clayton Kershaw if he doesn't miss too much time with the back injury, but if Kershaw is out longer than a month, I'll go with Noah Syndergaard in a four-man race with Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, and Jose Fernandez. I'm a bit wary of Jake Arrieta right now. Maybe it's the "ESPN Body Issue" curse.

NL ROY – Corey Seager should be unanimous. His 3.9 WAR is tied for 6th in all of baseball and is higher than that of Bryce Harper, Nolan Arenado, and hundreds of others.

AL ROY – Nomar Mazara has tailed off a bit after his hot start, so this is Michael Fulmer (2.11 ERA in 13 starts) for me.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Regan
David Regan is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, including the 2015 Baseball Article of the Year and the 2010 Baseball Writer of the Year.
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