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Transaction Analysis: Big Changes in Atlanta

Ryan Arbour

Ryan Arbour writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

A career-threatening injury to an aging veteran, another hot-headed player facing disciplinary action, and a big trade top this week's list of noteworthy transactions. Here's a look at what's been going on in the Majors this past week:


Chipper Jones to the 15-day DL

Chipper’s major league career could be drawing to a close after his most recent injury. The 38-year-old third baseman tore his ACL on August 10 and had season-ending surgery to repair the ligament. Although Jones has stated he will attempt a comeback next spring, there is a possibility that he could be done if the recovery process does not go well. Jones has a career .306 average, 436 home runs and 1491 RBI, but he has struggled with injuries in recent years. He has also seen a drop off in his productivity this season and last. Last year he hit just .264 with 18 home runs and 71 RBI in 143 games, and he was hitting .265 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI at the time of the knee injury. Since Jones’ injury, the Braves activated Martin Prado to help address their third base situation (see below).


Jacoby Ellsbury to the 15-day DL

Ellsbury finds himself on the disabled list for the third time this season due to a rib injury that he sustained back in April. There has been much drama surrounding Ellsbury this season; he has been accused of being “soft” and unwilling to play through some pain. The drama is sure to continue after he aggravated his rib during another collision on Friday. The exact timetable for his return is still up in the air, but manager Terry Francona believes that Ellsbury could be out longer than 15 days. To fill the void in center field, the Sox have turned to rookie Ryan Kalish, as well as Darnell McDonald. Kalish is hitting .300 in 12 games since his promotion on August 1 and had been receiving the bulk of playing time in left field already. With Ellsbury’s injury, Kalish will likely see some time in center as well. McDonald is hitting .259 and is unlikely to have any significant fantasy value, and Bill Hall should also be a part of the outfield mix with Dustin Pedroia returning to action. Pitcher Michael Bowden was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to fill Ellsbury’s roster spot. Bowden appeared in three games for Boston earlier this year (all in relief) and didn’t give up an earned run.


Carlos Pena activated from the 15-day DL

The Rays’ slugging first baseman missed just the minimum 15 days and is once again ready to swing for the fences. Pena has managed to put up some decent RBI totals over the last few seasons despite some very low batting averages. This season, he has struck out a whopping 111 times in 102 games and is hitting a career-low .212. He has, however, managed to swat 23 home runs and drive in 68 runs, so his all-or-nothing approach seems to be working for him. To make room on the roster for Pena, the Rays placed outfielder Gabe Kapler on the 15-day DL with a sprained right ankle. Kapler was hitting .210 in a backup role.

Nelson Cruz to the 15-day DL

Cruz has put up good numbers this year, but they could have been great if he had figured out a way to stay healthy. The Rangers’ right fielder has hit .320, homered 16 times, driven in 64 runs and stolen 15 bases in just 77 games. This is the third time that Cruz has found himself on the DL this season, and all three injuries were hamstring-related. An MRI that was taken on Sunday showed some inflammation but no tear in his left hamstring muscle, leaving the team optimistic about a quick recovery. Nevertheless, it’s hard to get excited about a player who just can’t seem to stay off the DL for any extended period of time. Infielder Joaquin Arias was activated from the DL to take Cruz’s spot on the roster. Mitch Moreland, Julio Borbon, and Brandon Boggs all figure to get some extra playing time as a result of the injury.


Martin Prado activated from the 15-day DL

Prado missed just over two weeks after he broke his pinkie finger sliding into home plate on July 30, but he was back in the Braves lineup on Tuesday. Prado was playing second base and batting leadoff before he got injured, but the injury to Chipper Jones caused the Braves to shift him to third base and move him to third in the batting order upon his return. Prado has been one of the Braves’ best hitters all season – he led the club with a .315 batting average at the time of the injury and earned an All-Star appearance. Prado will likely handle the third base duties from here on out, with Omar Infante taking the regular second base job. Infante filled in nicely at second in Prado’s absence and is hitting .339 for the season.

Dustin Pedroia activated from the 15-day DL

The star second baseman made his return to the lineup on Tuesday after missing 44 games with a fractured left foot. The Red Sox have had to endure a plethora of injuries to key players this season, so they’re obviously glad to have Pedroia back in his familiar number two spot in the lineup. Pedroia was hitting .292 with twelve home runs and 41 RBI before the injury. Bill Hall and Jed Lowrie both filled in at second base while Pedroia was injured. Hall has been surprisingly productive, clubbing 15 home runs in just 248 at-bats after a disappointing 2009 campaign. His ability to play both the infield and the outfield should ensure that he still gets a decent amount of playing time, but his .246 batting average still leaves much to be desired. Lowrie has hit .308 in 18 games and will likely be used sparingly.

Chase Utley activated from the 15-day DL

Utley returned to the Phillies after missing a month and a half due to a torn ligament in his thumb. He injured the thumb while sliding into second base on June 28 and had surgery shortly thereafter. Utley was hitting .277 at the time of the injury and also posted eleven home runs, 37 RBI and 49 runs scored in 73 games. Wilson Valdez filled in at second base while Utley was out, but he will now return to a backup role. Valdez was batting .246 in 83 games through Monday with just four home runs and 26 RBI. Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment for the second time this season to make room for Utley on the 25-man roster. Dobbs hit just .191 in 76 games and was used primarily as a pinch hitter and occasional third baseman.

Francisco Rodriguez to the disqualified list

Rodriguez was arrested after assaulting and harassing his girlfriend’s father after last Wednesday’s game and was suspended by the team for two games. He then underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb that was sustained during the scuffle, so the Mets decided to place him on the disqualified list instead of the disabled list. The move allows the Mets to avoid paying him the reminder of his salary this year, assuming the transaction is approved. The MLBPA is expected to file a grievance. K-Rod becomes the latest in a line of players who have lost their cool this season and faced disciplinary action, joining Milton Bradley and Carlos Zambrano. He is not expected back until Spring Training of 2011, leaving the Mets without their star closer for the rest of the year. 35-year-old Japanese import Hisanori Takahashi picked up the first save of his Major League career on Monday, and should be first in line for saves from here on out. He has an ERA of 4.16 in 35 games (12 of which were starts), but has excelled out of the bullpen.


Derrek Lee traded to Atlanta

The injury to Chipper Jones forced the Braves to look for options to replace his missing offence, which led to the acquisition of Lee. Lee has been a productive member of the Cubs since 2004, slugging 179 home runs and driving in 574 runs, but the Cubs decided to cut him loose since they are effectively out of contention for a playoff berth. In exchange for Lee, the Cubbies received three pitching prospects – Robinson Lopez, Tyrell Harris, and Jeffrey Lorick - and had to send some cash to Atlanta. Lee will take over the first base duties in Atlanta from Troy Glaus, who was placed on the DL with a sore left knee. Glaus was hitting .239 with 16 home runs and 70 RBI, and will likely be used as a backup corner infielder when he returns in September. Xavier Nady and Micah Hoffpauir will handle the first base duties in Chicago now that Lee is gone. Neither player is worth a look in the majority of fantasy leagues, but those in NL-only leagues should take note.


Brad Hawpe released

Hawpe’s days in Colorado officially came to an end when the Rockies released the struggling outfielder. Hawpe put together some solid numbers over his previous four seasons, averaging 25 home runs and 93 RBI per season to go with a .288 batting average over that stretch. He couldn’t continue that success this season, however, posting a .255 average and just seven home runs and 37 RBI in 88 games. Hawpe found himself competing for playing time in a crowded outfield that also included Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Spilborghs, Seth Smith and Dexter Fowler. With Eric Young Jr. recently recalled and in need of playing time, Colorado simply didn’t have room on their roster for the struggling Hawpe. The White Sox and Red Sox have expressed interest in him, but his chances of playing every day again this season appear slim.