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I'm back in the office, and after a few rough hours yesterday as the realization came that I wasn't sitting at the pool in Hawaii with someone bringing me drinks, I snapped back into Oracle mode. You asked, I answered in this weeks Mailbag piece.

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– Drop Joakim Soria for Jake McGee

To answer succinctly – yes.

Soria has allowed a whopping eight hits and five runs (four earned) while recording two outs in two outings with the Tigers. It hasn't gone well. His season has been great, but the recent returns are poor. Meanwhile Joe Nathan has tossed four scoreless outings in a row and he's been unscored upon in eight of nine outings as his season has gone in the exact opposite direction (slow start but coming on). He's also earned five of his last six outs via the strikeout. Nathan seems to have finally found his groove and that means he's pretty much on lock down in terms of owning the 9th inning for the Tigers.

McGee has been stupendous for the Rays. He's 3-0 with 12 saves and just one blown outing. He's also punched out 63 batters in 48 innings while walking a mere 10 men. That means he's struck out 11.81 batters per nine with a 6.30 K/BB ratio. HOF stuff there folks. Frankly, he's pretty much been pitching at that stratospheric level for his entire career: 2.85 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 11.04 K/9 and a 4.21 K/BB over 199 career innings.

You want McGee.

– Just got offered Stephen Strasburg for James Shields. Is there a reason not to? 

There is no reason not to take the deal. You want Strasburg. Still, for the sake of not just stating an answer without support, here is the data.

Strasburg is 7-9 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.24 WHIP
Shields is 9-6 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.29 WHIP

How much closer are those numbers than you thought?

Strasburg does have an advantage in the K department – 167 to 125 – but it's not like Shields is K deficient.

Shields has a solid 45.5 percent ground ball rate. Strasburg? His mark is 45.9 percent. 

For the heck of it... Strasburg is 1-7 with a 4.68 ERA on the road this season.

I'm going to say Strasburg is the answer here. He's simply got more of the proverbial upside to turn to than Shields – there's no debating that. However, one final note. Shields has thrown at least 200 innings every year since 2007 (he's been over 215 in every year but one). Strasburg has never reached 185 in a season. Just to put that out in your mind before you think it's a slam dunk to favor the righty from Washington without a second thought. 

Josh Harrison's value rest of season?

Harrison is a very important player to own the deeper your league is. He's played 14 games at second, 27 games at third, two at shortstop and 47 in the outfield and that gives him tremendous value. As for the bat, it's been dang solid. Harrison is batting .299 with eight homers, 35 RBIs and 41 runs scored in 288 at-bats. Nothing jumps off the page there, but it certainly looks plenty solid if he's playing second base for you. Toss in 13 thefts and you've got yourself a very nice piece. Alas he's only sporting a .338 OBP, and I'm not positive his .326 BABIP will continue the rest of the way. On the plus side the Pirates seem committed to pretty much playing him every day, even if his glove is constantly changing. He's a strong option in NL-only leagues, an a solid play in 12/15 team mixed leagues.

– Would u trade Zach Britton for Dustin Pedroia?

Sure if your team situation fits. 

With 2/3 of the year in the books it should be pretty easy, relatively of course, to determine where you sit in the standings in the saves column. If losing 10-12 saves the rest of the way won't change your outlook in that column then sure, you can do the deal. As for the ratios, relievers do nothing to change team ERA and WHIP at this point of the season. Britton has thrown 53.2 innings this season. The Orioles have played 105 games. Obviously that is roughly half an inning per game. With 57 games left we'd be looking at about 28/29 innings the rest of the way. That's just not going to move the needle with all the innings your team has racked up.

Pedroia – no one likes. I get it. His production this season is going to be light years off expectations. We have to push past that fact at this point though. What we thought in March doesn't really matter as we enter August. So Pedroia won't be a top-3 second sacker this year. Get over it. Doesn't mean he couldn't be a top-3 2B the rest of the way though, does it? The facts. (1) Pedroia is batting .274. He's hit at least .288 every season of his career. (2) His BABIP is only .010 points off his career .313 mark. (3) His 24.9 percent line drive rate would be a career best. Does that figure to lead to the worst average of his career? Not in a normal world it doesn't. This very cursory look suggests that, with health, Pedroia should see his average increase. Honestly, I still believe he could hit .300 moving forward. With that his OBP will increase (.340 right now compared to .367 career). When that number increases his runs scored pace will pick up. As for the utter failure on the base paths, I don't have an answer there. After stealing at least 17 bases each of the past three years he has three thefts this season. He's also been caught six times while running. He was caught an average of 5.5 times the past two seasons while averaging 19 steals so there are certainly concerns with the Sox second sacker. 

If you can take the saves loss deal Britton and take a shot on Pedroia. 

Finally, the RANKINGS UPDATE will be available Friday, August 1st. Can you wait that long? Biting your nails? 

You can follow Ray Flowers and send him your thoughts on Twitter @BaseballGuys. For up to the minute baseball reports on trades, injuries, lineups etc. see @FantasyAlarm.

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