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Archive for Monday, August 7, 2006

Fantasy leagues feel effects of trades

Dellucci, Gross, Shealy land bigger roles; Betemit, Cabrera downgraded

August 7, 2006

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The American League became stronger, the National League worse, and some fantasy owners irritated.

These were the impacts of baseball's trade deadline, and much of the conversation has been about those Damn Yankees, who added former All-Star Bobby Abreu to their decimated outfield, and the Darn Rangers, who picked up slugger Carlos Lee.

But those aren't the big stories for fantasy owners. In leagues using American and National League players, it barely matters that Abreu has a new team. Sure, National League owners of Abreu and Lee are in trouble now, but these trades were hardly shocking.

The big fantasy news is about guys whose roles have changed significantly in the last week. The winners are good players in previously limited roles who now have a starting job. The losers find themselves with downgraded roles for the final two months of the season.

Winners

David Dellucci, OF, Phillies

The real winners of the Abreu sweepstakes, in fantasy terms, are Dellucci owners. Keep in mind that this is the same guy who hit 29 homers in Texas last year. It's not as though by moving to Philadelphia he's in less of a hitters park than in Arlington, and he has swung a great bat off the bench. If anyone is likely to rocket from six homers on Aug. 1 to 20 by season's end, it's this guy. Grab him if he's still available in your league.

Gabe Gross, OF, Brewers

The Brewers acquired slugger Kevin Mench from the Rangers in their trade of Carlos Lee, but the trade further destabilizes an outfield that already had questions. Brady Clark isn't providing the offensive spark that the team needs, and the Brew Crew is still waiting for Geoff Jenkins to power up. Enter Gabe Gross, who has 20-homer potential and is next in line at all three outfield positions. If the Brewers fade from the playoff hunt, expect Gross to get a fair amount of playing time. If he does, he could help a fantasy team needing power.

Ryan Shealy, 1B, Royals

If you listened to us, you picked Shealy up a few weeks ago. Congratulations, you now have the Royals' starting first baseman. That, of course, is a compliment laced with a trace of sarcasm. It is the Royals, and that tempers enthusiasm, but an RBI is an RBI, and Shealy will be right in the middle of Kansas City's lineup for the rest of the year and probably the foreseeable future. Next year, .280-20-70 is not out of the question. A handful of homers in the final two months is quite likely, too.

Losers

Wilson Betemit, IF, Dodgers

It looked like Betemit finally had a full-time major-league job when he was traded to the Dodgers. Few utility players in baseball are more ready to explode onto the scene with regular playing time than Betemit, who had nine homers in 199 at-bats with Atlanta. But then the Dodgers decided to trade for Julio Lugo. Lugo is clearly destined to start over Betemit, at second base now with Betemit moving to third, and then at third when Jeff Kent returns from the disabled list. It looks like the big break has again eluded Betemit, and his frustrated fantasy owners.

Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees

No use crying over spilled Melky. The news that Hideki Matsui may return in the middle of August was one hit to Cabrera's fantasy value, but the Abreu trade pretty well ends the decent run of the young Yankees outfielder for this season. Cabrera did a serviceable job filling in for Matsui and Gary Sheffield, but in a few weeks, he could be in the minor leagues again. He's flirted with .300 all year, and may well be back in the Bronx next year. But for now, Melky owners have a couple more weeks before his freshness date expires.

Quick hits

Tony Gwynn Jr. of the Brewers earned his first major-league start in center field on Wednesday. He responded with his first stolen base, but don't get excited about Gwynn as a fantasy play this year. Next year the speedster may have a chance at a starting job, though. Fausto Carmona of the Indians has struggled now that he's the team's closer, blowing two saves in a row against the Red Sox to start August. However, the team has nothing to play for and is intent on giving him a shot in that role. He may yet notch some saves. Through his first 60 at-bats, SS Stephen Drew of the Diamondbacks hit .283 with one homer and three RBIs.

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