Unreads for 5/8
10 team mixed vanilla 5X5. I have been offered Cano for Kazmir straight up. I currently have Upton at 2nd and could move him to my outfield, which is somewhat weak for a 10 teamer with Abreu, Hart, Francoeur, Swisher, and Fukudome. My pitching staff is pretty solid, even though I just lost Gallardo, I still have Zambrano, Cain, Perez, McGowan, and Vazquez. Would you make this deal?
JT in Texas
If I were assured that Kazmir would stay healthy for the remainder of the season, I might not do this deal. Aside from the absence of a clear #1 guy, your outfield really isn’t that bad, as Swisher and Fukudome are more than adequate fourth and fifth outfielders, even in a 10 team league. But any injury to the pitching elbow is scary, and Kazmir hasn’t exactly been the model of durability over the course of his professional career, having also missed a good portion of the 2006 campaign. The Rays’ ace was far from sharp in his 2008 debut vs the Red Sox, needing 90 pitches to get through four innings. The pitching depth on this roster is good enough that you can afford the loss of Kazmir. Zambrano (5-1 1.80 ERA) looks to be in Cy Young form while Cain, Vazquez, and McGowan will all provide solid ERA, WHIP, and K numbers. At this point, anything you get from Perez should be viewed as a bonus. If Ollie manages to limit those blowup outings, this staff would really be something! There should also be plenty of quality arms available on the wire throughout the year.
Cano’s stock is at a career low right now, thanks to an awful .172 batting average and just 9 runs scored in 35 games. This won’t last. The Yankee second baseman is a career .304 hitter, and as the Bombers’ offense heats up, you can bet Cano will be right in the middle of all the rallies. By adding Cano, you’ll also have the luxury of owning two top five second basemen. Not only will this provide injury insurance at a thin position (assuming there’s no MI spot), but moving Upton to the outfield would instantly transform it from decent to well above average.
This trade is an intriguing one in that, for the time being, the price of both Kazmir and Cano is relatively cheap. I just think that the chances of Cano returning to his elite status significantly outweigh that of Kazmir providing the ace-level production we saw in 2007.
Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com
Oliver Perez, should I be concerned or do I keep throwing him out there?
Chris in NorCal
It’s certainly been a rough stretch for Perez, hasn’t it? The 26-year-old lefty’s allowed five-plus runs in four of his last five starts, inflating his once microscopic ERA to 4.63. He’s posted an unsightly 19/19 K/BB ratio over his last 23 1/3 innings of work, as he’s had trouble commanding the nasty slider that’s his best out pitch when he’s cruising. That said, I’d give him a few more starts before you send him packing. Perez had a breakout year in ’07, notching 15 wins with a 3.56 ERA and an impressive .229 BAA in 177 frames. His early numbers this season (0 ER, 8 H, 4 BB, 10 K in his first two starts) were evidence that he’s got the stuff to produce another ace-like year, if only he can regain his command. Stow the young gun on your bench for the moment and see if he’s able to work out the kinks.
Corey Gottlieb, MLB.com
I’m in desperate need for closers (I have Gagne, Hoffman and Todd Jones). I’ve been offered Jacoby Ellsbury and Joakim Soria for Jeff Francoeur. What do you guys think?
Kevin in SoCal
I actually like this deal even though I don’t typically support trading good hitters for relievers. Ellsbury makes this deal very enticing, though.
I must admit that I wasn’t optimistic about Ellsbury’s potential this season, but his production has been impressive. He has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 starts, including six multi-hit efforts, and is scoring runs in bunches. He has seven runs in his last five games and has scored 27 on the year. He has made the majority of his plate appearances (98 of 117) as the leadoff hitter for what is obviously a high-octane offense. His plate discipline has been excellent (17 walks), though it was much better last month when he took 13 walks from April 9-21. You can’t forget the speed dimension he brings, though, as he has swiped five bags since May 2. I think a .290 batting average with 80-90 runs and 30-35 steals is realistic if he plays every day. If you can make up for the loss of Francoeur’s RBIs somewhere else, then Ellsbury will be an excellent addition.
Getting to the crux of your issue, there is no question Gagne (five blown saves, 6.14 ERA) and Hoffman (two blown saves, 6.52 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) are making their fantasy owners squeamish. It could be a wise move to handcuff Gagne with Guillermo Mota or Salomon Torres and Hoffman with Heath Bell, but Soria would be an outstanding addition.
Soria hasn’t given up a run and has allowed just four base runners in 13 innings. He has 15 strikeouts, with just one walk, and is 8-for-8 in save opportunities. It doesn’t get much more dominant than that. I suppose the biggest question regarding Soria’s production is whether the Royals, who won 69 games last season and are 15-18 entering Wednesday, will give him enough save opportunities to allow him to become an elite closer. The potential is absolutely there and he should be regarded as one of the safest closer options.
I would take a chance on this move. Close the deal, Kevin.
Kyle Stack, MLB.com