PLAYING TIME: Blockbuster trade shakes up PT in BOS and LA

AMERICAN LEAGUE

BOS dumps salary, gains Loney and prospects from LA

A new manager and GM could not settle clubhouse unrest and poor performance on the field in BOS. In response, GM Ben Cherington turned BOS into August sellers; deciding it was time to shake up the roster, dump nearly $270 million in salaries, and start building for the future.

The Red Sox sent Josh Beckett (RHP, LA), Carl Crawford (LF, LA), Adrian Gonzalez (1B, LA), and Nick Punto (IF, LA) to LA in exchange for James Loney (1B, BOS), prospects Ivan De Jesus (SS, BOS) and Allen Webster (RHP, BOS), as well as two players to be named later.

Loney is the sole player BOS received who can have an immediate effect on the big league roster. He will take over for Adrian Gonzalez at 1B, and should start every day. Lonney has been a consistent producer each season, and 2012 is no different, except for career-low PX (61). He can be counted on for .260-.280 BA, with 10-15 HR and  5-10 SB per year, backed by 7-9% bb% and upper 80s ct%. His underlying skills this year are consistent with historical trends; his counting stats are down a bit due to slightly depressed h%, Eye, and hr/f.

Loney shouldn't be expected to trend upward much at 28, but he is a consistent performer who can provide some value in deeper leagues. Loney's long-term presence in BOS is far from assured, as he is a free agent after this season in a thin market.

Webster has been in the minors since LA drafted him in the 18th round in 2008, and was pitching in Double-A at the time of the trade. He is rated a 9D prospect in the Minor League Baseball Analyst, profiles as a potential #2 starter, and could be in the mix for a 2013 starting spot, though much is up in the air with the BOS rotation.

Coming into 2012, Webster was the #2 ranked LA prospect in the MLBA, and has pitched very well over the last two months since early season struggles adjusting to Double-A. Over his last 52 innings, he has a 2.69 ERA, 2.0 Cmd, and 9.8 Dom.

DeJesus has been primarily in Triple-A the past three seasons, though he did earn 65 AB with LA in 2011 and 2012. MLBA rates DeJesus an 8C prospect who profiles as a great defender with above-average speed and high BA potential, but little power.

DeJesus struggled in 2011, but performed better in his 32 AB in May and June 2012. During that small sample of AB, he hit .273/.333/.364 with 8% bb% and 79% ct%. It has yet to be announced if he will be in the mix for PT on the left side of the infield along with Pedro Ciriaco (SS/3B, BOS) and Mike Aviles (SS, BOS). With Ciriaco and Aviles having unremarkable 2012 BPVs of 47 and 45 respectively, the younger DeJesus (25) just might get a chance if BOS is truly looking to build for the future.

Matsuzaka, Doubront back from DL, BOS rotation in flux

Daisuke Matsuzaka (RHP, BOS) will return from the DL and start against KC on Aug. 27, one day after Felix Doubront (LHP, BOS) makes his first start since August 9, coming off a DL stint himself. With the trade sending Josh Beckett (RHP, LA) to the Dodgers, the Red Sox rotation is in flux.

It remains to be seen who among Matsuzaka, Doubront, and Franklin Morales (LHP, BOS) will fill the final two spots of the rotation. Matsuzaka's 6.65 ERA over five 2012 starts is a bit misleading when we look at his underlying skills. A S% of 52% was the biggest factor in the difference between xERA (4.08) and ERA (6.65). His Dom was a solid 7.8 and Ctrl 2.5. Hr/f% of 14% was problematic, and it would be nice to see him induce more groundballs. He could become a cheap source for spot start Ks if he can limit HR and S% normalizes.

AL short take

Updating a PTT item from August 21, Brandon Morrow (RHP, TOR) was activated from the DL and started August 25 against BAL. Aaron Laffey (LHP, TOR) will return to the bullpen. Yunel Escobar (SS, TOR) also returned on August 25, after missing three games on paternity leave. The corresponding roster moves were sending Anthony Gose (CF, TOR) and Adeiny Hechavarria (SS, TOR) back to Triple-A, though he returned to the big league roster when Jose Bautista returned to the DL. Both were forced into major league action earlier than anticipated due to a rash of injuries, and even though both struggled mightily during their first call-ups, Gose is expected to rejoin Hechavarria with the big club when rosters expand in September...

NATIONAL LEAGUE

LA continues to stockpile talented veterans

The new Dodgers ownership was not kidding about their willingness to spend to make LA perennial contenders. Over the last month, LA has acquired Hanley Ramirez (SS, LA), Shane Victorino (OF, LA), Randy Choate (LHP, LA), and Joe Blanton (RHP, LA). In addition, the team signed Andre Either (OF, LA) and Matt Kemp (OF, LA) to lengthy contract extensions, as well as signing Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig (OF, LA) to a seven-year deal.

Then came the blockbuster deal to acquire Beckett (RHP, LA), Gonzalez (1B, LA), Crawford (OF, LA), and Punto (SS, LA).

Gonzalez returns to Southern California, where he had much success with SD. He is having a disappointing season (by his standards) in regards to power, with only 15 HR in 484 AB. His slash of .300/.342/.469 is in line with career norms, but his bb% (6%) and Eye (0.38) are below average for his career. His PX has dropped this season from the 130s to 113, in large part due to a 10% hr/f%. A change of scenery back to California might return his power numbers to career norms; he has the skill set, and he will certainly have his chances as the everyday first baseman.

Beckett joins a crowded rotation including Clayton Kershaw (LHP, LA), Chad Billingsley (RHP, LA), Aaron Harang (RHP, LA), Chris Capuano (LHP, LA), and Joe Blanton (RHP, LA). Beckett could take starts from Billingsley due to recent elbow inflammation, or Blanton who has struggled his last three outings, but is still having a great season overall. The other three in the rotation are throwing PQS 4s and 5s consistently of late, so it remains to be seen how Beckett will be handled if everyone remains healthy.

Beckett is on the heels of five poor starts at the time of the trade, including three PQS-0. Over the last month, he has an xERA of 5.47, 5.2 Dom, and 1.4 Cmd. FB% of 48 and 16% hr/f% have not helped much either. BHQ recommends you wait to see how the rotation shapes up as Beckett adjusts to the NL and attempts to return to pre-2012 form.

Crawford has undergone season-ending Tommy John surgery, as outlined in August 21 PTT. If all goes as scheduled, he could return early in the 2013 season.

Punto could battle Mark Ellis (2B, LA) and Luis Cruz (3B, LA) for some IF playing time, but Punto does not bring much in the way of fantasy value, and will most likely fill a utility IF role as he has throughout his career.

To make room on the roster for the new additions, LA transferred Jerry Hairston (SS, LA) from 15-day DL to 60-Day, and optioned Alex Castellanos (OF, LA) to AAA-Albuquerque.

Sheets headed to DL

Ben Sheets (RHP, ATL) has been placed on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. He said he felt fatigued after August 24 start, and ATL hopes the rest will allow him to return as effective as he was his first few 2012 outings after a two-year retirement. Sheets has been a pleasant surprise for the ATL rotation over the last month and a half. His first three starts were PQS-5s, and he has posted five QS in eight outings. Since August 12, however, he has given up 14 ER in 16 1/3 innings, which might be attributable to the fatigue and inflammation cited as reasons for his DL placement.

ATL had been using a six-man rotation, but will return to the customary five-man rotation until Sheets can come back, without having to change scheduled starts dates for any of their starters. Miguel Batista (RHP, ATL) was called up from Triple-A Gwinett to take Sheets' roster spot, and will add an arm to the ATL bullpen. Batista has bounced around for a few years, and hasn't provided any significant fantasy value since 2005.

Kelly rejoins STL rotation, Lynn sent to bullpen

As Lance Lynn's (RHP, STL) innings have risen, so has his ERA (6.56 in five August starts) and the frequency of PQS-DIS starts. Through his first 13 starts of 2012, he had a 10 PQS-DOM starts and only one PQS-DIS. Over his last 11 starts, that has flipped to a 3/4 DOM/DIS rate, and his BPV over the last month dropped to 17, due to 4.88 xERA, 5.1 Ctl, and GB/LD/FB% of 39/30/31.

BaseballHQ.com analyst Brent Hershey further outlined Lynn's August struggled in August 17th PTT.  STL decided to shift Lynn to the bullpen and Joe Kelly (RHP, STL) back into the rotation for the time being.

Kelly was recently profiled in August 20 PTT as well as Hershey's August 17 column mentioned above. In recent outings, Kelly has pitched very effectively in long relief, including a 5.2 inning outing during a 19 inning game on August 19. He gave up 1 ER, 4 H, and 4K. That was followed up by a 3 inning performance on August 24, striking out six, walking one, and giving up one ER. Those two outings, bumped up his Dom just north of the 6.0 mark on the season. Those looking for a deep-league flyer should take note of Kelly's consistency this season (42%/8% DOM/DIS) and 8.2 Dom, 3.2 Cmd, and 0.3 hr/9 over the last month.

Lynn pitched very well in late-inning, high-leverage situations during the 2011 stretch run. His fastball can run into the upper 90s when he pitches in short stints. Last season he posted a 2.56 xERA, 10.4 Dom, 3.6 Cmd, and 57/11/32 GB/LD/FB% while primarily being used in the eighth inning. The bullpen has become a bit crowded in late innings for STL after the acquisition of Edward Mujica (RHP, STL). Mujica has not given up an earned run over his last 11 appearances dating back to July 29, over which time he has an 8.2 Dom, 13.0 Cmd, and 0.6 hr/9. Mujica has locked up the seventh inning spot.

Mitchell Boggs (RHP, STL) has not given up an ER over his last seven appearances. Aided by an 84% S% and 52% GB%, Boggs is having an impressive season as STL eighth inning set-up man. Dom (7.1) is a bit low for a late-inning reliever, but Cmd ratio (2.7) is solid, and he is seemingly in line to continue setting up for Jason Motte (RHP, STL).

While Lynn may have trouble wrestling innings 7 and 8 away from Mujica and Boggs, he gives STL another good arm out of the bullpen with late innings experience. This is yet another stabilizing force to the club's biggest glaring weakness just two months ago. Lynn and Kelly could be interchangeable in the fifth rotation spot over the next six weeks, but for now, Kelly is starting and Lynn will be coming out of the bullpen.

NL short take

Chad Billingsley (RHP, LA) was removed during the fourth inning of August 24 game with a sore right elbow. An MRI revealed inflammation, and although it is not yet known whether or not any starts will be missed or a DL stint is imminent, Dodgers GM Ned Coletti said Billingsley "might be out for a while." Before the shortened August 24 start, Billingsley had run off nine straight PQS-DOM starts. The August 25 trade sending Josh Beckett (RHP, LA) to LA would provide an available starter should Billingsley miss any time. If Billingsley doesn't miss any time, LA will need to address its starting rotation, which could very well see Beckett as the odd man out after a string of poor starts in BOS...


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.