Yankees-Rockies deal quickly - neither prospect is that great that the Rockies got. Eduardo Sierra has had a nice year in AA-Trenton considering he walks everyone; the peripherals look nice, otherwise and he has a 3.28 ERA out of the pen. He's marginal at best. Ramon Ramirez is probably a better prospect; he also has a fairly high K-rate (82 in 89 innings), but he's also a better control guy (38 walks isn't entirely horrendous). I'm not too high on either guy, particularly. This is probably a worthwhile risk for the Yanks; Sickels rated Ramirez as the #20 prospect in the Yankee system and a C, and Sierra didn't get on the list. I'd be a bit higher on Ramirez if he weren't 24 years old, but that's OK.
I never got to post my "Assessing the Market, Part 6 - AL West," because the computer ate it. So, henceforth, that will be known as "The Lost Article."
Assume that I predicted everything that happens between now and the deadline in terms of the AL West.
There are some notable changes in the rankings this week. There's a suprising sabermetricly saavy who has moved into the #3 spot. The Astros and the A's have been torrid of late and are the big movers. Otherwise, the rankings have been pretty stable. The standard deviations have been dropping, too, for the last few weeks. Consensus is building on everyone, it seems.
- Cardinals (1) - The best in the bigs? It's as good a guess as any. With Chris Carpenter establishing himself as a legitimate Cy Young candidate and the deepest lineup in the bigs, this is a top-notch club. Punch their tickets to October, and, if you're the Cardinals, hope for another NLDS against the NL West.
- Red Sox (2) - I don't know what to make of Manny's most recent trade request / demand, but I'd say that it's pretty safe to say that they won't be able to acknowledge that request before the deadline. Then again, I wouldn't put it past Theo Epstein... and Omar Minaya loves him. If you were trying to predict the future, I'd anticipate him moving in the offseason with about half of his contract paid by the Sox. But I'm just spitballing...
- A's (9) - It's too bad that I was too conservative to stick with my A's pick through the hard times. I wrote something to the effect of "when Crosby and everyone else get healthy, the A's will surge and storm back into the playoff race." But I was too scared to post it, fearing backlash and being labeled as a Beane-worshipper. Too bad, and I learned a lesson in the process - don't fear opinions. Anyway, the A's have done all of that and more, putting up a stretch fueled by both good offense and good pitching.
- White Sox (3) - Still 11.5 up, but they've cooled off of late; they're 4-7 in their last 11 and have lost or split their last 3 series. The Twins just can't get going and it's too bad; that would be some pennant race...
- Yankees (5) - They've been absolutely ravaged by injuries in their pitching staff. Hideo Nomo, Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon, and Al Leiter could all be getting starts at some point. The Yanks will have to slug their way through August and September, and they're certainly facing their toughest challenge since they recovered from the 80s.
- Braves (7) - Only three players on the Braves qualify for the batting title, and they've opened up a 3 game lead on the Nats. If John Schuerholz doesn't win some sort of Executive of the Year honor, something's not right.
- Indians (10) - The Hafner injury was bad; he'd been on fire over the previous month and a half. Starting to carry the team? Sizemore and Victor Martinez, who have hit .301/.356/.486 and .298/.391/.482 since June 1, respectively. This is a solid ballclub, and they'll be in the thick of things come September.
- Angels (6) - As I said last week, Guerrero's got a good shot at another MVP award. But it's time to worry; the A's are only back by 4 games and the Angels aren't playing too well.
- Mets (13) - Soriano rumors abound, and something could happen before I finish typing these up... if I'm Omar Minaya, whatever package of prospects I'm offering to the Rangers for Soriano, I would offer it elsewhere and see what I could get. Soriano's a good player but he's overpriced, it seems, and he's also very flawed. We will see.
- Rangers (8) - The other half of the Soriano deal, and a lot of the ON/OFF stuff (trade goes through according to a radio station; Tom Hicks announces he's not interested in trading Soriano) is coming from this end. Trading Soriano makes a great deal of sense... he'll be very expensive next year and I can't see him in Texas past 2006. His value's also very high, it seems.
- Astros (19) - Soaring up 8 spots and they knocked off the Mets in a close one to win their 5th straight. Sabermetrics or not, having 3 ace-caliber pitchers is a huge advantage in many different ways, and it can compensate for a below-average offense. If Derrek Lee's hitting abilities hadn't been replaced by Ted Williams' this year, Morgan Ensberg would be a good darkhorse candidate for the MVP award. At this point, he's number 4 on my ballot.
- Cubs (12) - The Lee watch continues, as he only trails in RBIs, now. Otherwise, Kerry Wood is hurt, the Cubs are running in place these days, and they've fallen 3 behind in the wild card race. Congrats to one of history's most unique pitchers around, Greg Maddux, who quietly accumulated 3,000 strikeouts on his career. Probably the most cerebral pitcher I've ever seen, I regret not getting out to the ballpark to see him live.
- Orioles (4) - It's like an elevator just had its cables cut for the Orioles; they've plummeted to 4th place at 51-50. The Oriole offense, which was so strong at one point, just isn't as good as it played (they had some obvious holes that we pointed out a couple of months back). All of a sudden, they're 7th in the league in run scoring, and, park or not, they're not the team that they played like for the first 2 months. It's too bad. I'd've liked to see them pull it off.
- Twins (11) - Wanted: Offense. If anyone really, really needs Alfonso Soriano, it's the Twins. They also have a surplus of young arms and prospects and anything else, so I'm sure they could go out and outbid the Mets. The question is probably adding that much payroll. In either case, they need a bat, and they need their bats to start producing more. Especially Morneau.
- Nationals (14) - Thus ends the reign of the Nats, and not a moment too soon. Their run differential is all the way down to -23, and their record is catching up at an extraordinary rate. Nick Johnson's return might help stabilize this a bit, but things are starting to equalize. Justice has also been served; the Nats are struggling in 1-run games all of a sudden. They're down to 24-16 in those games.
- Phillies (15) - Tied with the Mets in last place, they also have a negative run differential (just a -2). Ed Wade, somehow, wants Danys Baez. Supposedly, he wants to swing Wagner for a starter. If he pulls that off, it's very nice. But I think they'd be better off just trading Wagner and not targeting the wild Baez. There's something wrong with the desire to have two Proven ClosersTM at the same time on the same team. It's just not worth the resources, especially considering that Chuck Lamar is in possession of Baez at this point.
- Blue Jays (16) - Out with the O's! In with the Blue Jays! The Jays are just a half game ahead of the O's, but this is an incredible story of mediocrity. If the Jays can do their job in their meetings with the Sox and Yanks and the Sox and Yanks beat each other up, they just might be able to slide into first place. THAT would be a story. No Delgado, no worries. Halladay's return is the key, though.
- Marlins (17) - Everyone is ignoring the Marlins, but their team certainly is talented enough to take the division. Juan Encarnacion has been superb this year and no one's said anything; he has a .292.362/.497 line. I had no idea.
- Tigers (18) - TS Eliot would note that the Tigers are leaving the race "Not with a bang, but a whimper." The Tigers, to me, will be very interesting to follow this offseason. Supposedly, they'd like to add payroll. Who?
- Brewers (21) - Overbay's probably not moving, and it seems like a good idea not to unless the price were fantastic. No use rushing Fielder to the majors and running his service clock faster than it needs to go.
- Padres (20) - They're in first place at 51-51. See 22.
- Dodgers (24) - They're 5 games back at 46-56. See 24.
- Mariners (22) - They fit the profile of an NL West team moreso than an AL West team. Guardado remains the big rumor here, and I'd expect him to headline one of the bigger deals this weekend. That's more because this looks to be a pretty quiet one...
- Diamondbacks (23) - They're 2 games back at 50-54. Part of what amazes me about this division is that the unbalanced schedule should, theoretically, allow one team to have a respectable record. It's not happening here, though. The Dodgers are 10 under and still legitimately in the race. The Giants are 13 under and aren't out of it yet. Take any NL East team, slide them in the NL West, and you have a 5 game lead and a playoff team.
- Pirates (27) - They've plummeted into last, but they still managed to move up a few slots. I'm sure that's just error based on some random statistical blips, but the Pirates are about here in terms of their ability. They're not a good team. It's certainly not hopeless here, especially with Zach Duke providing the hope, but you've gotta wonder for when the "winning season" is planned. They seem destined for mediocrity to be their high point.
- Reds (26) - Casey and Dunn rumors also continue to swirl, and I'm amazed at how many times I've heard Dunn's name. I'd be surprised if the Reds weren't actively trying to trade Casey. I don't know how much of the Casey talk is rumor, but they could seriously use some young pitching. Someone would overpay for The Mayor, too, you'd think...
- Giants (25) - I focus on hot streaks here a lot, but how about a cold streak? Pedro Feliz, who I noted had "filled in admirably" for Bonds, has only a .303 OBP since June. There's still some power, but he's gotta figure out how to take a pitch or two. He's walked 4 times all month.
- Devil Rays (29) - Huff and Baez should be moved, and Lamar should expect reasonable packages in return. They have a great young core of players and will only add another good one if they draft well in '06's pitcher-heavy draft. May as well continue stockpiling.
- Royals (29) - The Sweeney rumors have died down a lot since they peaked back in early July. If you asked me to pick the thing that has surprised me the most this season, it's that in 21 starts, Zack Greinke has only had 8 quality starts. That essentially means that in 13 starts, he's been pretty ineffective. Maybe I bought into a PECOTA projection that was obviously too generous, but I'm baffled by Greinke. He'll be better than this, I'm sure, but this has to hurt his psyche a bit...
- Rockies (30) - Dan O'Dowd has been active, adding Byrnes and shipping Chacon to the Bronx. The Helton contract is going to hurt for a while, but they can work around it. Jeff Francis is looking like a keeper; we'll see if there's any truth to the "Coors destroys pitchers completely" theory.