“Now I know you’re the one
Who’s gonna make things right again
And I may lose the battle
But you’re giving me the will to try” ~ Billy Joel “The Night Is Still Young”
So, for this week at any rate, last week’s flurry of moves worked. My team moved from 13th into 12th, which is the final playoff position in that 20 team league. I hope they helped y’all too. I have no idea if I can hold the position or gain further ground, but I aim to try.
The trade deadline in real life hits this week, and with it (or soon after) come most fantasy trade deadlines. So it is go time if you want anything beyond what is readily available on waivers to save your season. You may lose the battle, but they are giving you the will to try.
Asher Wojciechowski (Woj)
I have no idea if that is his nickname or not, but I am a lousy speller, so I’m going with it. Woj is in an interesting spot. The Orioles traded Andrew Cashner and John Means is hurt, so even if Woj stunk, there was a fair chance he’d still get innings. However, he has NOT stunk.
Every other year, someone gives him a chance to throw some big league innings. 2015, 2017, and now 2019. He misses bats and doesn’t walk a ton of guys. Those skills are more important than ever in a juiced ball environment. Even better, he’s finally learned how to miss the big part of the plate, and his 3.60 ERA is supported by a 3.93 FIP and 37:8 k:bb ratio in 30 innings. There honestly might be something here the rest of the way. I took the chance in one league, and bid (and missed by 16 total cents) in another, so I’m practicing what I preach on this one.
The Orioles were enamored enough with Santander to make him a rule 5 pick when he’d yet to see action at AA. They stuck with him during a generally abysmal 2018 season. He’s still only 24 years old, and now he’s batting .299 with 8 home runs in less than 200 at-bats this year. I don’t know if it’s real, especially given his mediocre AAA numbers. What I do know is that Orioles liked this kid enough to draft him out of A+ ball, and keep him – so they are absolutely going to keep playing him and find out. If you need outfield at-bats, he’s an interesting target.
He’s caught, played shortstop, first base and second base. He might be 29, but Mallex Smith isn’t hitting. Dee Gordon is hurt and has lost a step (or seven), and Gordon’s replacement lasted 5 innings before a concussion felled him (get well soon Tim Lopes). There’s playing time to be had in Seattle, and so far he’s getting it and hitting .318. The batting average might tail off, but even if it does, it’s a lost season is Seattle. They might as well see what they have in Nola. And if the average doesn’t tail off, they have even more reasons to play him. I made this move too.
Once a draft and prospect darling, Starling is 26 now. That said, he finally made the adjustments at AAA this year and earned a call-up. As Whit Merrifield, Ben Zobrist, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Tommy Pham can attest – sometimes these adjustments can stick. I’m not saying Starling turns into any of those players, but the man was once drafted 5th overall. There’s real talent here, and the Royals are on the highway to nowhere this year. He may just play his way into (or out of) their long term plans. Either way, he’ll play, and that means some precious at-bats – especially if you just lost a Nick Markakis or someone to injury.
Luke Jackson, Hector Neris, Greg Holland, etc
Every team seemingly wants to improve their bullpen at the deadline this year. It’s an epidemic. Because of that, unless you’re closer is elite, there is a good chance he ends up on a new team or in a new role by Thursday. If your reliever plays for the Braves, Nationals (except maybe Doolittle), Phillies, Red Sox, Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals . . . don’t hold onto them if someone offers you something useful. There’s no telling what their job or uniform colors will be come Thursday morning.
In the reverse of the above, the Giants seem determined to buy ignoring the fact that July hot streaks typically peter out without postseason berths, and their run-differential does not support their performance. So Will Smith and Sam Dyson and Reyes Moranta owners beware – you’re fortune in saves and holds is probably going to go backward as the team holds onto its best pieces. Instead of putting Will Smith in the position to grab a ton of saves down the stretch for the Braves or Red Sox, he’s going to still be in San Francisco, getting 1 or 2 a week for a .500ish team. If the Giants are buying, you should be selling whatever shares of their bullpen you own.
Listen, if you don’t root for Sogard, you probably don’t have a heart. That said, Sogard has one home run and zero steals in July and is moving to Tampa Bay where no one is truly an everyday player. If you want optimism, he has hit for a higher average on the road so far. If you want pessimism, he’s slashed .211/.297/.211 at Tropicana Field in his career. I’m not telling you to cut him, but if someone comes calling, it’s ok to move on. We’ll always have June 2019 where a small bespectacled man randomly hit .374 with 5 home runs – and we’ll always love him for it.
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