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July 8, 2014

Deep Impact

Week 14

by Ben Carsley

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There are two types of people in this world: those who write intros, those who don’t, and those who can count.

Brandon McCarthy, RHP, Yankees
I generally write about players you want to target in Deep Impact, but here I want to warn you against giving up anything of much worth of McCarthy. Yes, he’s going to a better situation in terms of win totals in New York. And yes, some of his performance this season can be attributed to poor luck. But those who are simply looking at McCarthy’s BABIP and expecting a major turnaround are going to be disappointed.

ESPN’s Keith Law did a terrific job of breaking down why we might not expect McCarthy to improve earlier this week. As Law pointed out, 13 of the 15 homers McCarthy has surrendered this year have come off of sinkers or cutters up in the zone, and those are pitches McCarthy would generally rely on to induce ground balls. Even if he starts inducing more grounders with those pitchers, the Yankees’ infield defense isn’t going to help him out much on the BABIP front. And while Chase Field is hardly paradise for a pitcher, Yankee Stadium isn’t much better.

Basically, if you can get McCarthy for a waiver claim or a low FAAB bid, go for it. But if you snag him up with the expectation that he’s going to return to his dominant days in Oakland, you’ll be disappointed. His fantasy stock has only improved very marginally with his trade to New York.

Nolan Reimold, 1B/OF, Blue Jays
Nolan Reimold can hit adequately when he’s healthy. The 30-year-old right-hander owns a career .252/.327/.439 line in 1059 career PA with no discernable platoon splits. The problem, of course, is that those PA have come over five seasons, as Reimold has proven incapable of staying on the field. Finally released by the Orioles earlier this week, Reimold immediately caught on with the Blue Jays and will have a decent shot at seeing playing time thanks to the injury to Edwin Encarnacion.

Reimold clearly has power, but it’s fair to call his hit tool into question. He hit well in 2009 and in 2012 in limited plate appearances, but overall, his .252 average isn’t terribly promising from a fantasy point of view. However, Reimold finds himself in the middle of one of the major’s most potent offenses now, and he could contribute meaningfully in HR, RBI and R in the interim. He’s not a long-term solution by any means, but if you’re in an AL-only league or a league with 20-plus teams, he’s a decent gamble for some power at absolutely no cost.

Dan Straily, RHP, Cubs
Jeff Samardzija, Addison Russell, Jason Hammel, and Billy McKinney stole the headlines in the wake of last week’s Cubs-Athletics blockbuster, and for good reason. Samardzija is a no. 2-3 fantasy starter right now and should be for the foreseeable future, Hammel has performed as such this year, Russell is a top-10 fantasy prospect, and McKinney is a candidate for top-150 inclusion. Yet dynasty leaguers who missed out on all of the major names in this trade can still benefit from it by buying low on Straily, who’s become somewhat of a forgotten man after enjoying a solid if unspectacular rookie season in 2013.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way—Straily is moving from an extremely pitcher-friendly ballpark in Oakland to a worse one in Wrigley Field, and for a pitcher with fly ball tendencies, that’s not a good sign. That lone contextual factor aside, though, his fantasy value received a jump with this trade. Straily faces much less competition in Chicago’s rotation than he did in Oakland’s, and while the trade in ballparks hurts, moving from the AL to the NL should help. As my colleague Craig Goldstein pointed out in this week’s TINO, Straily’s kitchen sink approach to pitching is likely to work better in the senior circuit than it did in the junior circuit. And as resident Cubs expert Mauricio Rubio tells me, the over/under for Straily starts this year is somewhere around 10.5.

This isn’t someone who’s ever going to lead your staff, of course, but the move makes Straily fantasy-relevant once again in 2014, and it’s possible that Straily settles into a long-term no. 4 starter now that he’s in the NL. He won’t be very expensive and he’s probably unowned, so feel free to gamble in deeper leagues.

Deep League Streamer of the Week: Roenis Elias, Mariners
I’m on record as being pretty anti-Elias, and I didn’t think he’d be as successful as he’s already been this season, even now that his ERA has crept up to 4.19. But while I don’t love the stuff, I do like Elias’ upcoming matchup this Wednesday night, at home against the Joe Mauer-less Twins. Yes, the Twins actually have a middling and not a terrible offensive this year, but they’re still hitting just .245/.320/.372 as a team. Elias isn’t the excellent mid-rotation option we saw in April, but he’s a good name to keep locked away in whatever closet in your mind you use to store streaming options in deep leagues. You could even name it for him. A mental Elias Sports Bureau, if you will.

Twitter Question of the Week:

I believe this is the second straight week I’ve used one of Eric’s questions, so congratulations, Eric—you’ve made it. This is another really interesting deep league question, because it brings valuation into play. Still, I think this answer comes down to timetable. If you’re trying to compete in 2015 or 2016, Puig is the obvious answer. Taveras’ ceiling maybe as a top-10 fantasy player someday, but that’s what Puig is now. Bradley’s upside is huge, but he’s not really as safe a bet as many say. If you’re in full rebuild mode, though, this is a nice haul for Puig, since we could see Taveras performing as nearly his equal in a year or two, with Bradley serving as a no. 2 fantasy starter as well.

Really, this depends on your appetite for risk. I’d probably hold on to Puig, but I’m not going to tell you that Taveras and Bradley is an unfair offer for him. Maybe try to squeeze an established major leaguer out of your trading partner as well before you hit accept.

Player Namedrop of the Week: Esteban Yan
Random RP Who Will Earn a Win: Buddy Carlyle, Mets
Random Backup Who Will Homer: Chris Dickerson, Indians
Xander Bogaerts Adjective: Befuddled

Ben Carsley is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Ben's other articles. You can contact Ben by clicking here

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Daily League Strategy:... (07/08)
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Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Week 13 (07/01)
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Fantasy Article Deep Impact: Week 15 (07/15)
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