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Bogfella's Notebook: More Traded Pitchers

Brad Johnson

For more than 25 years, pitching guru Brad "Bogfella" Johnson has provided insightful evaluation and analysis of pitchers to a wide variety of fantasy baseball websites, webcasts and radio broadcasts. He joined RotoWire in 2011 with his popular Bogfella's Notebook.

The non-waiver trading deadline is passed so it's again time to check in on the most recent deals - Part Two. We asked last week, but it still applies. Have you already consigned your squad to a "wait until next year" program? Or, are you in the hunt? If you are, this could be one of the most important points of the season. A lot of things could change dramatically for a number of pitchers. And, just like draft day, you have to be ready. Be prepared for pitchers (and position players) to experience role changes; some good for your staff, and some not so good. The Notebook forum is now open for business. Always remember, knowing what a guy has done is not nearly as useful as knowing what he is likely to do going forward. So, let's get started with this week's edition by taking a look at Part Two of deadline deals involving pitchers who could see more or less fantasy relevance right now:

Some Arms Who Have Moved to Different, if not always Greener Pastures:

Wandy Rodriguez to Pittsburgh - The Astros finally managed to shed the oppressive contracts of both Brett Myers and Rodriguez, and the Pirates got what should be a reasonably reliable starter for their surprising divisional title run. Pittsburgh is a decent pitcher's environment, and the team behind him will certainly be better than what he left behind in Houston. After so long, toiling in a losing organization takes its toll. Rodriguez is better than he has shown of late, and the opportunity to win could have a significant impact on his focus. His first start for the Pirates was rather pedestrian, but he should get better as he gets more settled. One positive is a lack of any apparent mechanical issues. It has been my experience that the Pirates are not particularly adept at "fixing" broken pitchers, so I would be less inclined to predict a positive outlook for the lefty if there were mechanical issues to be dealt with. He could be a good, albeit not great fantasy addition for the rest of the year.

Rudy Owens and Colton Cain to Houston - As mentioned in last week's Notebook, the Astros appear to be collecting bodies, and are hoping to find a diamond in the rough among the arms they bring in. Owens and Cain both fit very nicely into that developing scenario; as neither is considered a top tier prospect. However, given the contract constraints involved in dealing Rodriguez, these two arms do offer some potential, and they also received outfielder Robbie Grossman in the package so it was probably a good deal for the rebuilding club. Owens and Cain are both left-handed, always a bonus when shopping for potential upside, but Owens is about four years older, and therefore is more advanced right now. He's not overpowering, and has just average stuff, but his performance at Triple-A Indianapolis this year suggests he could be ready for a major league trial fairly soon. Cain has a bit more upside, but is probably a couple of years away. Both project as back-of-the-rotation starters so barring an unexpected jump in physical ability, they are not going to be high on most fantasy radar screens.

Nathan Eovaldi and Scott McGough to Miami - This has to be one of my favorite pitching acquisitions of the 2012 trading flurry. I think there were a lot of analysts who questioned the return for Hanley Ramirez, but I think the Marlins did very well with the addition of Eovaldi. He has a very lively fastball that can get into the upper 90s with a nice down angle and some late movement, and his secondary pitches are coming along, particularly his change-up which is the key to him having long term success in a major league rotation. He just needs a bit more consistent command to keep his pitch counts down and therefore allowing him to get deeper into games. Further, it helps that his acquisition has pushed Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen. The Dodgers are known for bringing young pitchers along, and Eovaldi made it to the major leagues quickly, which suggests they were comfortable with his mound presence and resilience. I actually had him ranked just behind Zach Lee, but ahead of Allen Webster on the Dodgers' pitching prospects food chain. Regarding McGough, he has done reasonably well at High-A Rancho Cucamonga this year, but his ceiling is pretty limited. If you are a Miami fan, it may or may not have been easy to wave goodbye to Ramirez, but the organization brought in a top tier arm to help their fans get past that era. Eovaldi has been solid this year, and the best is yet to come.

Fautino De Los Santos to Milwaukee - It probably didn't get anyone too excited when the Brewers sent catcher George Kottaras to Oakland for reliever De Los Santos, and it probably won't draw much attention in the immediate future. However, there is some possible fantasy impact here if De Los Santos ever finds the strike zone. Prior to this season, he was mentioned as possible closer in Oakland. His erratic (understatement) command made that virtually impossible, but he has an extremely lively arm, and has averaged over 11 strikeouts per nine innings, so there is reason for optimism. Because John Axford has been on and off as the Milwaukee stopper, the organization could attempt to harness De Los Santos' electric stuff in the hopes of grooming him for that role at some point in the future. It's unlikely to happen any time soon, but file the name away just in case his walk rate begins to drop to a more acceptable level.

Francisco Liriano to Chicago AL - An interesting acquisition for the Sox as they play "keeping up with the Tigers" in the AL Central. They have indicated Liriano will pitch in the regular rotation, but that rotation is already pretty crowded, and would be more if John Danks returns from the disabled list, though late news suggests Danks will be out for the season. Presumably, using Liriano will give the whole rotation more rest, keeping them fresh for a post-season push, but Liriano is both inconsistent, and an injury risk, every time he takes the mound. This could be an indication that the White Sox are concerned about Chris Sale's workload, and there has to be some fear that Jose Quintana and Phil Humber will be less than reliable going forward. From a fantasy perspective, owners can spot Liriano (albeit a risky play) when he has a favorable match-up, but his arrival could have a somewhat negative impact on Sale, Humber, and/or Quintana. Danks is progressing slowly in his rehab, but things could become even murkier if he makes it back soon.

Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman to Chicago NL - It's quite a leap of faith for the Cubs as they just acquired an arm still recovering from Tommy John surgery. Vizcaino underwent elbow surgery in March, so he won't be back on a mound before next spring at the earliest. Still, he is only 21 years old, and he had an electric arm before the elbow problems. Full recovery is the norm for this procedure now, and when you have the laundry list of needs the Cubs are dealing with, you take some chances. The Braves were using him in relief roles, but don't be surprised if the Cubs move him back to starting. He has a very lively mid-90s fastball, a devastating curve, and an improving change-up, and that is a starter's repertoire. It will probably take him at least part of next year to get back in game shape, but if he can stay healthy, the Cubs win this deal big, and now have a blue-chipper, in their stable. Chapman, on the other hand, is basically organizational depth who could see some relief innings at some point.

Paul Maholm to Atlanta - While few pitchers have been on a roll like Maholm, his pedigree suggests a regression is just around the corner. He has allowed one or fewer runs in seven consecutive starts, certainly inflating his deadline trade value, but he has a career ERA of 4.37 and a WHIP of 1.43, and at age 30, even for a potentially late-blooming southpaw, he hasn't shown the stuff to maintain "ace" peripherals. He likely bumps Kris Medlen back out of the rotation once Tommy Hanson comes off the DL, which is too bad as he probably has more actual fantasy value than Maholm if he is taking a regular turn. Pitching for a better team has to help Maholm, but it probably won't impact his low strikeout rate, and it's very possible he will see his ERA climb a bit as the season progresses.

Brad Lincoln to Toronto - The injury-riddled Blue Jays paid a premium price for an arm with the pedigree, Lincoln was a first round pick, fourth overall, in 2006, but he lacks a history of success at the major league level. Sending Travis Snider to Pittsburgh is a big gamble as he has consistently produced in the upper minors, and is young enough to translate that to success in the big show.  Actually Lincoln has pitched very well in relief where his somewhat shallow arsenal is less exposed, but if he could just get over the hump with his secondary pitches, he has the arm to be a middle of the rotation starter. The Jays may entertain an attempt to move him back to the rotation at some point, but if it doesn't happen, they have someone who can be very effective in the late innings.

Steve Delabar to Toronto - The Blue Jays thinned their outfield depth by dealing both Snider (to Pittsburgh) and Eric Thames in this deal. Delabar is 29 years old, and while he has performed reasonably well this year, he is best suited to specialty relief work where he isn't exposed to many lefty swingers. He has bounced around, spending time in the independent leagues, and on the shelf with elbow problems. He generates some strikeouts, but is unlikely to see many high-leverage situations.

Brandon League to Los Angeles (NL) - He has seemingly been on the trading block for the biggest part of two years, ever since he took over the closing duties in Seattle when David Aardsma underwent Tommy John surgery. He moves on to the Dodgers where he will likely be a situational set-up man for Kenley Jansen. He was never really a prototypical closer, so the set-up role suits him well. This will be a pennant run stop for League who will be a free agent at the end of the season. Since he had already lost the closer's gig in Seattle, his fantasy value doesn't really change.

Jacob Brigham to Chicago (NL) - The Cubs should not have expected too much in return for Geovany Soto, and they received a fringy prospect, but one who could have a little more upside with a change in roles. The Rangers used him as a starter, including this year at Double-A, but he lacks the secondary pitches to really be effective as a starter. What he does have is a live arm with a fastball that can touch the high 90s, and a respectable slider. His ticket to the major leagues looks paved with late-inning relief work, so it will be interesting to see how the Cubs use him. He is unlikely to have any impact in the major leagues this year, and next year might be overly optimistic.

Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin to Philadelphia - This is not a bad haul for the Phillies, who moved Shane Victorino for a couple of decent arms. Lindblom has done well since the Dodgers moved him to the bullpen, and getting to Jonathan Papelbon has been an issue in Philadelphia all season. He likely steps into a similar late inning set-up role with the Phillies, and is a nice upgrade for them in that spot. That said, Martin is even more interesting, at least over the long term. He was drafted out of high school in 2008 based on his extremely live arm, but he was raw, even for a high school kid. He played third base as well, but most teams, including the Dodgers, wanted to see if he could learn to pitch professionally. He has a great fastball, a promising curve and slider, and a change-up that should be adequate, but he doesn't really command any of them very well - not yet anyway. He has shown steady progress in smoothing out his erratic mechanics, and even though he is probably at least another year or more away, he is a nice acquisition for the Phillies.

Edward Mujica to St. Louis - The Cardinals bolstered their bullpen somewhat with Mujica, and provided the Marlins with a high draft pick (first round, 2010) who hasn't panned out, in third baseman Zack Cox. Mujica has a pretty solid performance record, but hasn't been quite as effective this year. It is a bit surprising that the Cardinals have so quickly given up on Cox, but Mujica should help bridge the innings between their starters, and late inning specialists. From a fantasy perspective, neither player is likely to have an impact, at least not unless Cox gets his career back in step.

Craig Breslow to Boston - Boston needed a left-handed arm in the bullpen, so they went after the Diamondbacks' Breslow. In return the Diamondbacks received right-handed reliever Matt Albers, and outfielder Scott Podsednik. Neither pitcher involved in the deal figures to see any meaningful innings for their new team, so from a fantasy standpoint, it's probably a non-factor trade, however the addition of the southpaw Breslow to the bullpen might free up Franklin Morales to get back into Boston's rotation.

Jonathan Broxton to Cincinnati - The bigger name closers appropriately waited until near the end of the trading deadline before moving, with Broxton sliding over to the Reds. Interestingly, the Royals received a couple of minor league arms in return, but both Donnie Joseph and J.C. Sulbaran might better be described as projects rather than prospects. Neither is likely to contribute at the major league level in any meaningful way. While this probably destroys Broxton's fantasy value for the rest of this year, if they want to re-sign him, it could renew the buzz about Aroldis Chapman moving to the rotation next year. Perhaps more importantly, saves just became available in Kansas City. Popular belief is that Greg Holland will be the new end gamer there, but I am going to go against the grain on this one, and suggest that Aaron Crow could be a better bet.

Ryan Dempster to Texas - He was having an excellent year on a bad team, and now he moves to a serious contender in the Rangers. In the most rumored deal speculation of this deadline, he was dealt to Atlanta, but being a 10/5 guy, he opted to decline that trade. The Cubs tried desperately to move him to the Dodgers, his preference, but they couldn't get the Dodgers to part with a top tier pitching prospect, so at the last minute, Dempster approved the deal to Texas while at least a couple of other teams were also exploring trade possibilities. Dempster is a seasoned veteran who throws strikes making him an excellent fit for the Rangers who would love to put more space in the standings between themselves and the Angels and A's. There isn't much analysis needed for this one. Dempster just took a big jump in fantasy value even though he will be pitching half of his games in very hitter-friendly Arlington. On a side note however, this likely means Alexi Ogando stays in the Rangers' bullpen.

Endgame Odyssey:

What a mess in Houston. They dealt Brett Myers to the White Sox; fair enough, and they received Francisco Cordero in a separate deal; why is beyond comprehension. Cordero imploded immediately, and then hurt his toe, they tried a match-up routine that left Rhyner Cruz to close a game, and that predictably went awry. Most predicted the pendulum would swing to Wilton Lopez, but the Astros don't really trust him against left-handed hitters, and while Cruz has good stuff, and could be a closer candidate in the future, he is a long way from that point today. Folks, this is the definition of a good situation to avoid. The Padres signed Huston Street to a two-year extension with an option for a third year which probably locks him in as their closer for awhile. When healthy, he is a very reliable end gamer. The Mets' Frank Francisco is in a rehab assignment, but had a minor setback over the weekend which could prolong the process. Expect the Bobby Parnell audition to continue, at least for awhile. The Angels put Scott Downs on the disabled list, solidifying the hold of Ernesto Frieri on the closer's gig in Anaheim. He was already the primary guy so this only makes it more official. There were even a couple of other closers rumored to be moving at the deadline, but they apparently missed their flights. Colorado's Rafael Betancourt was probably the most notable among them, but nobody offered enough to get the Rockies excited. That means Rex Brothers owners can go back to sleep.

I would like to remind readers to check back often as each week's Notebook will feature updates in the comments section on evolving mound situations. And, as always, keep in mind this is an interactive forum, so your comments are always appreciated. I will respond to any comments or questions as soon as possible. Thanks.

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