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Transaction Analysis: The Year's Biggest Moves

Ryan Arbour

Ryan Arbour writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

With the season drawing to a close, and with transactions few and
far between over the past week, it’s time to take a look back at some
of the most noteworthy moves since the start of this season.

April 20 – Jacoby Ellsbury to the 15-day DL

Ellsbury was injured during a game on April 11 when he collided with
teammate Adrian Beltre while chasing a fly ball. At first, it was
thought that he had simply bruised his ribs, which likely would have
resulted in him missing not much more than the 15 day minimum.
However, a CT scan revealed four hairline fractures in his ribs, and
the road to recovery proved to be a long and bumpy one. Ellsbury
returned from the DL on May 22 and re-aggravated the injury, landing
back on the DL after appearing in just three games. He was back in
action again on August 4, and this time managed to get into nine
games before being shelved once again, this time for the remainder
of the season. All told, he finishes the year with a .192 average, no
home runs, five RBI, 10 runs scored and seven stolen bases in just
18 games. Ellsbury’s injury left many fantasy teams searching for
other options to replace his stolen bases, and left the Red Sox without
their leadoff hitter. The Red Sox’ injury woes have resulted in
them missing the playoffs, leaving New York and Tampa Bay battling
each other for the division title.

May 30 – Kendry Morales to the 15-day DL

Morales finally came into his own last season, hitting .306 with 34
home runs and 108 RBI in his first full season in the Major Leagues.
He continued to put up big numbers for the Angels this season, as
he hit 11 home runs and drove in 39 runs in 51 games. On May 29,
he hit a walk-off grand-slam and jumped triumphantly on home plate
to celebrate. When he landed, he twisted his ankle and broke his leg,
effectively ending his 2010 season. He was the team’s top hitter at
the time of the injury, and the Halos were unable to replace his
offence. Through Thursday, the Angels’ record currently sits at 78-80,
which means that they’ll need to win at least three of their remaining
four games to finish at .500.

June 3 – Ken Griffey Jr. retired

Junior’s career spanned parts of 22 seasons, during which time he
accumulated some pretty impressive numbers. He finished his career
with a .284 batting average, 630 home runs, 1836 RBI, 1662 runs
scored, and 184 stolen bases. Unfortunately, injuries plagued him for
the last decade, and he hadn’t driven in 100 runs in a season since
2000. During his prime, however, he was one of the elite hitters in
baseball. From 1993 to 2000, he hit at least 40 homers in seven of
those eight seasons, while topping the 100 RBI mark in six of them.
Griffey’s numbers make him a lock for the Hall of Fame, and hopefully
he’ll be remembered for the player that he was, and not the aging
veteran who struggled with injuries during his final years.

June 8 – Stephen Strasburg promoted

Strasburg broke into the Majors in a big way on June 8. Just 21
years old at the time, he went seven strong innings against
Pittsburgh, giving up just two runs on four hits and no walks.
However, what was most impressive was the fact that struck out a
whopping 14 batters while needing just 94 pitches to get through
those seven innings. Few players have made such a huge impact in
their first Major League game, and Strasburg would spend the next
two months proving that he was the real deal. In 12 starts for the
Nationals, he went 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA and 92 strikeouts in just 6
innings. His high 90’s fastball, knee-buckling curveball and diving
changeup proved to be too much for hitters to handle. Unfortunately,
his season was cut short on August 21 when he tore a ligament in
his right elbow. He had reconstructive surgery on September 3, and
has begun the long road to recovery, which could take a year or
longer. However, he has already stirred up the baseball world, and
fans will be anxious to see him back in action when that time comes.

July 9 -- Cliff Lee traded from Seattle to Texas

The 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner was off to a fine
start with the Mariners when he was dealt to Texas in July. Lee
missed the first few weeks of the season with an abdominal strain,
but still managed to go 8-3 with a 2.34 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 13
starts for Seattle. He was then shipped to Texas along with reliever
Mark Lowe in exchange for top first base prospect Justin Smoak and
a trio of Minor Leaguers. As expected, Lee’s numbers took a hit
when he moved to Texas’ hitter-friendly confines, as he has gone 4-6
with a 4.25 ERA in his 14 Texas starts. Overall, his numbers for the
year have still been pretty decent, as he carries a 12-9 record, 3.29
ERA and 177 strikeouts in 205-plus innings through Thursday. His
acquisition, along with the emergence of C.J. Wilson and Colby
Lewis, has given the Rangers their best rotation in many years, earning
them a spot in the postseason.

July 16 – Justin Morneau to the 15-day DL

From 2006 to 2009, Morneau was a force to be reckoned with.
During that span, he averaged 30 home runs and 118 RBI a season
and even earned an American League MVP award (in 2006). Through
81 games this season, he was putting up some of the best numbers
of his career. Morneau was hitting .345 with 18 home runs and 56
RBI when he suffered a concussion after being accidentally kneed in
the head by Toronto second baseman John McDonald on July 7. His
recovery has not gone well, as he has continued to experience
headaches for several months now, leaving the Twins without their
best hitter for the last half of the season. Interestingly enough, the
Twins have actually done better without him, going 48-26 since his
injury, compared to 45-39 before. With Morneau finally starting to
show some progress, there is an outside chance that he may make it
onto the postseason roster as a pinch hitter.

July 25 -- Dan Haren traded from Arizona to
Anaheim for Joe Saunders

From 2005 to 2009, Haren had established himself as a quality frontof-
the-rotation starter and a serious fantasy performer. During that
stretch, he averaged 15 wins and 192 strikeouts a season, to go
along with an overall ERA of 3.48. This season, he was shaky through 21 starts with Arizona, as he went 7-8 with an ERA that had
jumped to 4.60. A change in scenery helped him to improve on
those numbers, as he managed to bring his combined season ERA
below four and topped the 200 strikeout mark for the third consecutive
season while with the Angels. The D-Backs acquired lefty Joe
Saunders in the deal, who also saw a bit of an improvement in his
numbers after the trade despite moving to a more hitter-friendly
park. Saunders had an ERA of 4.62 and a strikeout rate of just 4.77
per nine innings with Anaheim, but posted a 4.40 ERA and 5.35/9
strikeout rate with Arizona.

July 29 -- Roy Oswalt traded from Houston to
Philadelphia for J.A. Happ

After nine-and-a-half productive seasons in Houston, Oswalt headed
for greener pastures in Philadelphia. During his time with the Astros,
Oswalt went 143-82 with a 3.24 ERA, while topping the 200 strikeout
and 20 win marks twice each. This season, he had difficulty picking
up wins, as he was 6-12 in his 20 starts with Houston, despite an
ERA of 3.42. After being dealt to the Phillies, Oswalt turned his game
up another notch, as he went 7-1 with a 1.65 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in
12 starts, helping the Phillies to clinch the division title. Along with
Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, Oswalt gives the Phillies arguably
the best trio of starters in baseball, which should make them a force
to be reckoned with in the postseason. The Astros received starter
J.A. Happ in return for Oswalt, and he has been equally impressive.
The 27-year-old lefty is a combined 6-3 with a 2.77 ERA in 15 starts
this year.

Aug. 19 -- Derrek Lee traded from Cubs to Atlanta

This trade didn’t receive as much attention as it otherwise would
have, given Lee’s decreased productivity this season. The 35-yearold
first baseman has struggled to an overall batting average of .256,
his lowest mark since 1999, and has managed just 18 home runs
and 74 RBI in 145 games through Thursday. Lee hit .306 last season,
with 35 homers and 111 RBI, so his diminished production has
been somewhat baffling. Nevertheless, he has given the Braves a
solid defender, and has allowed them to give Troy Glaus’ ailing body
a break. With the Braves leading the wild card race by a game and a
half, the addition of Lee could be a determining factor as to whether
or not they make the postseason.

Aug. 30 -- Manny Ramirez claimed off waivers by
White Sox from Dodgers

Ramirez has had difficulty staying healthy this season, landing on the
disabled list on three different occasions. Overall, he has appeared
in just 90 games and has only nine home runs and 42 RBI on the
season. Nevertheless, he can still be productive when he’s healthy,
as his batting average currently sits at a decent .298. There was
much build-up surrounding Ramirez’s move to Chicago, but the
results have been lacking. In 24 games with the White Sox, Manny
has hit just one home run and driven in two runs, while sporting a
less-than-impressive batting average of .261. At 38 years of age,
Chicago has used him strictly as a designated hitter, which is how
he will likely be used for the remainder of his career. Time will tell
whether or not Ramirez has another good year left in him.

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