The Pontifications of Lord Zola: Winter Meeting Wheeling and Dealing
Lord Zola breaks down the early moves from Orlando, highlighting some ancillary names to know
“Hey Todd, can do a couple pieces on the Winter Meetings this week?”
“Sure, it’s going to be crazy. Should I just do a brief review of everything or focus more on the big moves?
I guess I should have just said yes without the follow-up. After a week of non-stop wheeling and dealing, the activity in Orlando has slowed to a crawl. But there were a couple of transactions Tuesday so let’s take a look at them and hopefully there will be more to dissect later in the week.
The Menage a Trois
No, I’m not talking about a tryst with Jeff Mans, Ray Flowers and you’ll have to use your imagination, I can’t afford a libel suit. I’m talking about the three-way between the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox.
Hopefully the D-Backs realize there’s no designated hitter in the National League. Trumbo becomes the Snakes everyday left-fielder pushing Gerardo Parra to center. There’s a lot of moving parts here so let’s review the fantasy impact of each one at a time.
Mark Trumbo: By the numbers, the move to the desert should add about 5 HR to Trumbo’s total based on park factors. Things don’t always manifest the way the numbers suggest, but going from a park that depresses right-handed power to one that helps it is obviously a good thing. Trumbo’s best position is DH but he should be able to shag flies in left well enough to keep his power in the lineup. He’s not at all an on-base guy so be prepared to buffer his average.
Gerardo Parra: Parra’s glove is worthy of Gold but his stick is more platoon-like. But he’s now going to get regular run in center. In deep NL-only leagues he’s usually discounted since neither his power nor speed is eye-popping, but the counting stats add up and he often yields a positive return on your investment. In mixed leagues, he’s best suited to use at home where his production is a bit better.
Cody Ross: When healthy, Ross will be the everyday right-fielder. But the key is when healthy. It’s been reported that Ross is not going to be ready for opening day as he is recovering from hip surgery. But even when healthy, he’s best suited as a platoon guy. Which brings us to…
A.J. Pollock: I LOVE this deal for Pollock who quietly had a productive campaign last year. Pollock will fill in for Ross initially and should continue to see a lot of playing time even though he and Ross are both righty swingers. The main way the deal helps Pollock is he has the chops to play center so if Parra is lifted for a pinch hitter or gets hurt, he’s the replacement. Pollock is the type I really like to pick up in the end game – decent skills with only playing time in the way of a significant fantasy impact.
Martin Prado: The wild card in this whole scenario is Prado who can trade in his infield glove for his outfield one at the drop of a hat. The initial plan is for Prado to man the hot corner, but his versatility can be very useful.
Matt Davidson: Next to Pollock, the other under-the-radar beneficiary could be Davidson if he proves capable at third base. If so, that avails the shifting of Prado to the outfield. As suggested, Plan A is Prado at third, but Davidson could put a wrench in said plans with a strong spring.
Randall Delgado: With Skaggs gone, Delgado has first dibs on the fifth spot in the rotation.
Alex Sanabia: OK, one more deep sleeper that benefits with one fewer starter in the pecking order. Brandon McCarthy isn’t going to start 32 games so if Arizona needs a fill-in and doesn’t deem Archie Bradley ready, Sanabia could see some action. Sanabia has been injured himself, but did flash some potential with Florida a few years back. The National Fantasy Baseball Championships have a format called Draft Championship where you draft 50 players and live with them all season – no free agent picks, no trades, no nothing. When it gets to round 47, someone like Sanabia is a viable selection.
The Angels give up Trumbo and acquire Skaggs and Hector Santiago. With so much salary committed to Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and C.J. Wilson, the Halos needed to get creative in an effort to add pitching.
Tyler Skaggs: The club believes Skaggs is ready despite having an off 2013. According to Fangraphs, Skaggs fastball velocity was the same as the previous season but he was throwing his changeup four miles-per-hour faster. The reduced delta between his heater and change renders both less effective. Maybe the Angels feel they can fix this as GM Jerry DiPoto is familiar with (and in fact traded for) Skaggs when he was in Arizona. The switch to the American League is balanced via Skaggs working in a much friendlier pitching venue for about half his games.
Hector Santiago: Coming from the White Sox, Santiago will also enjoy working in a bigger park especially since he’s a fly ball pitcher. Contrary to many of my brethren, I don’t consider the penchant for inducing grounders to be a skill. If a fly ball pitcher minimizes walks and is backed by a good defense in a pitcher’s park, he can be extremely effective since he will allow fewer hits and homers are less of an issue. However, therein rests the problem as Santiago’s control needs work. The potential is there, but unless he saves some free passes off his ledger, Santiago will remain a fantasy tease, oscillating between looking really good and scuffling.
Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton: Trumbo’s departure opens up DH where Pujols and Hamilton can each fill in an effort to keep both fresh and healthy. Heck, Hank Conger may even (finally) see some deserved at bats. That said, one has to believe the Angels are not done. With Trumbo gone, there really isn’t anyone behind Pujols at first. You know, Kendrys Morales would look pretty good back at his old haunts, assuming they have a safer home plate to jump on.
Kole Calhoun: The plan was already to give Calhoun regular playing time. The move just further assures it.
The White Sox part with Hector Santiago and add Adam Eaton
Just to be clear, this is Eaton the outfielder, not the pitcher. No really, it is.
Adam Eaton: It really doesn’t matter if you have a quality guy in Alejandro De Aza already on board, if you’re in rebuilding mode and are offered a guy thought to be a rookie-of-the-year candidate last season for a promising, but injury prone pitcher, you say yes. Eaton steps right into the leadoff spot, replacing De Aza in center. They’ll be plenty of time to do a thorough statistical analysis of Eaton, so let’s just say we could be looking at 10-plus HR and 40-plus SB – not too shabby.
Alejandro De Aza: It’s already been disclosed De Aza is on the block. I’d expect him to land on his feet and be an underappreciated fantasy asset again in 2014.
Well, at Least Pot is Legal
Disclaimer – I’m not accusing anyone of anything (recall that whole libel thing). I’m just making a joke.
That said, if you’re Brett Anderson and you’ve been informed that you’re moving from one of the best pitching venues to one of the worst, legally sparking one up has to at least cross your mind.
As an aside, I never really got into the marijuana scene back in the day. Just wasn’t my thing. Besides, those that know me will corroborate, the last thing you want is for me to be more mellow…and hungry.
The Colorado Rockies trade Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen and acquire Brett Anderson
Brett Anderson: Once considered a future ace, Anderson has battled injuries and will now have to battle the altitude to rejuvenate his career. In his favor is when right, Rocky Mountain worms are in danger as Anderson is a ground ball specialist. But he also relies on control and more importantly movement which is also a factor of playing a mile high (no pun intended). Sometimes pitch movement is hindered in the thin air. It’s not a bad gamble for Colorado but I wouldn’t take the same gamble on Anderson - at least not until he proves healthy and the worm population in Denver is threatened.
The Oakland Athletics swap Brett Anderson for Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen
Drew Pomeranz: This is a typically sage Billy Beane move. The Athletics have a solid and young rotation ready to go and even have a capable sixth option in Tommy Milone looming in case youngsters Dan Straily or Sonny Gray hit a rough spot or Scott Kazmir’s pixie dust no longer works. Anderson was going to be a mop-up reliever which is a waste of his talents. Pomeranz won’t be expected to contribute right away so he can start in Triple-A to get acclimated (and desensitized from Coors Field) in the hopes his pedigree shines through. If successful, Oakland now has a trade chip in Kazmir or perhaps Milone. Pomeranz has dominant stuff but needs to hone his control. Knowing he’ll have the cavernous O. Co. Coliseum at his back may just do the trick.
There are players that always get their at bats. You may not know when or where, but come season’s end, the playing time – and production is always there. Rajai Davis is such a player. The Detroit Tigers will find at bats for their newly signed outfielder and you don’t sign Davis and give him the red light. He’ll again be among the AL steals leaders.
Another player of that ilk is Garrett Jones. Between first base and the outfield, Jones always gets his at bats. This year he’ll be doing it for the Miami Marlins. At least for now, Logan Morrison is the first baseman which pushes Jones to left with Justin Ruggiano as his main competition. Morrison is rumored to be on the block so Jones would be wise to also pack his first baseman’s mitt.