Unread for 7/8

Gents,

I just had my wisdom teeth out yesterday, I think the best part will be getting to watch the 411 live… the worst part would have to be the pain.  Anyways, I’ve got a trade offer extended to me, and I want to know what you think, since I’m not entirely in my right mind at the moment.

I would get Alex Rios and Dustin McGowan and would give Brandon Phillips. I would move Kelly Johnson to 2nd, and find a waiver wire MI, and Rios would bump Jose Bautista from my OF. I would be buying McGowan on the chance he starts heating up for his WHIP and Ks, which are what I need.

Dan in DE

Hey Dan,

You might want to take a couple more pain killers to numb the pain, especially if it’s been leading you to considering trade offers like this. Alright, it’s actually not that bad of an offer, so consider that just a little friendly prodding. I just think that it’s easier to find productive outfielders – even in an admittedly down year overall for outfielders – than it is productive middle infielders. If you’re playing a guy like Bautista in your outfield, then what must be the middle infield options on your league’s waiver wire?

Let’s start with why Phillips isn’t such a bad guy to keep on your roster. He’s hitting .408 with 17 RBIs and six steals in seven attempts since June 18, for one. Although fellow second basemen Chase Utley, Dan Uggla and Ian Kinsler have lit up the MLB scene at various points this season with their power and/or speed numbers, Phillips has (somewhat) quietly produced a .292 batting average with 14 homers, 56 RBIs and 18 base swipes. Considering that he matched his pre-All-Star break home run and steal totals in the second half last season – batting 26 points higher in the process – Phillips seems like a good bet to once again become a 30/30 player.

Plus, having Phillips at second means you can keep Kelly Johnson (.351 on-base percentage, 22 doubles, eight jacks, seven steals) as your middle infielder. I wouldn’t want to upset that obvious strength by acquiring Rios, an outfielder who isn’t providing owners with much power.

Granted, Rios already has a career-high 21 steals, four more than his previous season-high. And he has hit 24 doubles, which makes him on pace to reach the 43 doubles he clapped last season. However, the man has hit only four home runs and has driven in just 33 runners. What’s strange is that Rios has reached that magical age of 27, when many sluggers post career-best power marks. Rios had increased his homer total in each of his four previous seasons, ending with 24 last season. This year, however, there are plenty of reasons for his low homer output. His 1.51 ground ball-to-fly ball rate is his highest since his 2004 rookie year. His fly ball percentage, which hovered in the low-mid 40′s the past two seasons, has sunk to 31.6 percent. His HR/FB rate is just 4.6 percent. Now, that HR/FB rate might show that he’s been a tad unlucky, but the ground ball-to-fly ball rate shows he’s not getting very much lift on the ball when he does make contact. Oh yeah, he’s also striking out at his highest rate, 22.1 percent, since 2005. The guy isn’t making contact as well as he has the past couple years, and when he does, he’s hitting grounders and line drives. If you’re going to trade a power-hitting middle infielder – always a prized commodity – you better make sure you’re getting some power in return.

I’m not trying to ignore the McGowan aspect of the trade, but I would at least aim for a hitter other than Rios. I wouldn’t necessarily chase WHIP, especially with McGowan. He has a 1.38 WHIP on the year, which is a bit outside my comfort range. He has a solid 2.03 BB/9 rate in his last four starts, but the 23 hits he has allowed in 18 1/3 innings over his last three signals that he’s not a guarantee to help you with pitching averages.

Overall, I would keep your Phillips/Johnson 2B/MI duo intact and possibly seek starting pitching through trades with other position players or by spot starting pitchers off your waiver wire.

Kyle Stack

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