As the baseball season nears the trading deadline, let’s look back at what is trending with the moves that have already been made and recent callups. Several players have newfound playing time while others find their playing time squeezed. This isn’t as much about who the best players are, but who is the best players are right now, which can be the difference between lowering your ratios a few extra points or grabbing a few extra strikeouts now since they might be hard to come by in September.
Zack Cozart, SS, CIN – The much-ballyhooed prospect finally got his shot. Of course, it helps that Edgar Renteria and Paul Janish have sucked so bad that the Reds are willing to give the kid all the rope he needs. In his first nine games in the bigs Cozart is hitting .333 with a homer and 2 RBI. He’s not going to be a huge offensive force, but is definitely worth owning if you need middle infield help.
Wilson Betemit, 3B, DET – With Brandon Inge sucking, the Tigers needed a hitter for their playoff run. They traded for a solid hitter in Betemit, who was quickly losing at-bats to uber-prospect Mike Moustakas. You won’t get a lot from Betemit, but he is a very solid player who won’t hurt your batting average and will provide some runs and ribbies. With the thin state at the hot corner, Betemit is more than a capable replacement.
Dontrelle Willis, SP, CIN – Willis has found his way back to the majors and is looking good early. With two starts under his belt, Dontrelle has an ERA of 3.38 and a WHIP of 1.31. His FIP is 2.68 and his xFIP is 3.12, meaning he is actually pitching better than his 3.38 ERA suggests. Don’t look for the D-Train of his early Marlin years, but a solid starter with a good offense backing him should result in a benefit to your team.
Phil Hughes, SP, NYY – Hughes is back up and looks healthy. His average fastball is back up over 90 MPH and his new curveball is giving him more confidence. He may not ever live up to the hype of his days as a prospect, but he is a solid starter for the time being and remember that he has the Yankees offense backing him up.
Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, SF – Belt is back in San Francisco and with Aubrey Huff struggling at the plate and with injuries, Belt will get the chance to show he’s ready to stay. He may not be ready for the breakthrough to stardom, but Belt is ready to give you solid production.
Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, SD – Blanks is being called up after Anthony Rizzo flopped. Blanks raked at triple-A Tuscon to the tune of .351/11/35. He missed most of 2010 while recovering from an injury, but hit 10 homers and nine doubles in only 148 at-bats with the Padres in 2009. The man has power, though your average might suffer as the batting average seems very unsustainable. If you need a power surge, this is might be your man.
Jeff Keppinger, 2B, SF – The move to San Francisco brings a lot of question marks to the remainder of Keppinger’s 2011 season. There isn’t a full time position open to him, so he may be a super-utility player. Also, the Giants offense is less productive than the Houston offense and his new home park is less hitter friendly than his old Houston home. In the end, he probably found himself in a worse situation from a fantasy standpoint.
Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU – With the Keppinger trade, the Houston 2B position was opened for Altuve, a guy with a good batting eye and a little speed. He will likely struggle as he only has 36 games above the single-A level, but he might be useful down the road if you have a spot on your bench of your dynasty team for a few years.
Cody Ransom, SS, ARI – The main beneficiary of Stephen Drew’s broken ankle, Ransom will finally get a chance to start at the Major League level. There’s a reason that a 35 year old hasn’t had a chance to start full time and that’s because he’s not very good. Yes, he mashed triple-A, but this ain’t the Pacific Coast League. Don’t go here unless you are truly desperate for a warm body.
Brandon Inge, 3B, DET – What more do you need to know other than Inge was sent down to triple-A even though he has 10-and-5 rights. He wants to be a Tiger lifer, even if it means little to no MLB at-bats. Cut bait.