PLAYING TIME: Lee moves on to Miami

NATIONAL LEAGUE 

Lee trade creates ripples

In a late-day from-out-of-nowhere story Wednesday, Carlos Lee (1B, MIA) finally agreed to be traded, but to MIA not LA, in return for prospect Matt Dominguez (3B, HOU) and a low-minors pitcher.  Lee will play 1B for the Marlins, who in a corresponding move optioned Gaby Sanchez (1B, MIA) to AAA New Orleans—immediately after he'd hit a game-tying HR vs. MIL in a 7-6 win.  But Sanchez—.194/.204 BA/xBA, 3 HR and a 70 PX in 183 AB—hasn't been roster-worthy since his fine 2011 1H, and there's nothing in his recent performance that suggests he might be in the future.

Dominguez will report directly to HOU from AAA-New Orleans, where he'll be given a shot at taking AB away from Chris Johnson (3B, HOU), whose tenuous .280/.318/.414 slash line (268 AB) has been fueled by a 37% h%.  But as noted by a career .252 minor league BA and just 65 HR in 2200+ AB,  Dominguez is hardly a lock to unseat the power-and-patience-challenged Johnson.  Currently batting .234 with 7 HR (286 AB) at New Orleans, defense and age (22) are his best assets.  A more complete skills profile on Dominguez will be found in our Daily Call-ups space.

One-time prospect Brett Wallace (1B, HOU) will likely get a shot at the 1B AB in HOU soon, but he has still has a lot to prove.  The 25-year-old Wallace is currently hitting .297 with 13 HR in the hitter-friendly PCL at New Orleans, but he has already failed MLB auditions of 144 AB (2010) and 336 AB (2011) due primarily to poor contact and sub-par power.  This may be Wallace' make-or-break chance to be an everyday player vs. simply a placeholder—and we are betting on the latter. 

Cashner the latest SP casualty in SD

What was initially described as an elbow injury that forced Andrew Cashner (RHP, SD) out of his Tuesday start after two innings has now been diagnosed as a strained lat muscle. Cashner was placed on the DL Wednesday, the early prognosis being that he will need at least three weeks before his return.  Even though the injury here isn't elbow or shoulder-related, Cashner's durability and ability to hold up as an SP remains an open question.  A 51% GB, 11.0 Dom and easy high-90s velocity make him a real fantasy dilemma going forward, particularly for keeper league owners.

High-Dom reliever Brad Brach (RHP, SD) replaces Cashner on the roster, but he'll need to improve on his 7.2 Ctl before he's consistently entrusted with any high-leverage innings.  Cashner's Tuesday replacement Ross Ohlendorf (RHP, SD) will likely take his spot in the rotation for now with the Padres having little choice thanks to a DL list that includes seven SPs—most of whom are either done for the season or not expected back soon.  Ohlendorf, his 52% FB% and career 1.3 hr/9 have venue going for them, but little else.  Thanks in part to significant back and shoulder issues in 2010-11, his 2009 Ctl looks more and more like an outlier—and Ohlendorf (7.31 ERA after 16 IP) should prove otherwise before you chase him in PETCO.

Ethier to DL, Mark Ellis returns to LA

Accepting the inevitable, the Dodgers placed Andre Ethier (OF, LA) on the DL retroactively to June 28 after the RF missed six games with a strained oblique.  No prognosis has been given as to his return, but he will be activation-eligible immediately after the All-Star break.  Juan Rivera (OF/1B, LA) had been getting most of Either's RF AB, but Scott Van Slyke (OF/1B, LA) was in that spot Wednesday, as the slumping Dodgers try everyone in an effort to generate offense.  Neither player is going to get more than part-time AB over the long-haul, and neither is recommended now.

Taking Ethier's roster spot is Mark Ellis (2B, LA), who had missed six weeks with leg and knee problems, but his absence from the Dodger lineup Wednesday suggests that he will ease back into the most-of the-time 2B as the most optimistic outcome.  His double-digit HR pop long gone, Ellis' durability issues aren't improving at age 35.  That current 12% bb% over 132 AB is likely short-lived, leaving just empty contact, which may be good enough for the offense-challenged Dodgers, but not for a recommendation here. 

LA's defensive versatility—four current-roster players have 11 games or more at 2B—makes a PT win/lose projection at 2B almost impossible.  But slumping Elian Herrera (2B/3B/OF, LA) and Adam Kennedy (2B/3B, LA) look like potential losers, even possible roster casualties sometime soon.

Tabata demotion, Presley injury open up PIT OF ... for now

Updating speculation found about Jose Tabata this past Tuesday, the Pirates indeed optioned the OF to AAA-Indianapolis and recalled Gorkys Hernandez (OF, PIT) to fill his roster spot. The Pirates are hoping the wake-up message gets to Tabata, who swiped 44 bases and hit for decent average at PIT and Triple-A in 2010 before injuries ravaged his running game and Spd. Hernandez has no upside and appears to be an interim pre-All-Star break / bench depth move for the Pirates, who are looking for sustainable OF production from someone other than CF Andrew McCutchen.

Alex Presley (OF, PIT) has contributed since since his recall in early June, with 4 HR and 5 SB backed up by a 129 PX and 129 Spd during this time. But Presley left Tuesday's game with concussion-like symptoms, and is sitting pending further evaluation, with at least a 7-day DL stint possible. The short-term PT gainers for PIT look like Drew Sutton (2B/3B/OF, PIT) and Casey McGehee (1B/3B, PIT), who will see a few more AB at 1B when red-hot Garrett Jones (1B/OF, PIT) -- .940 OPS, 166 PX over the past month -- slots into the OF.

Utility Sutton made his fourth straight OF start on Wednesday, courtesy of solid bench-play since mid-June and three consecutive multi-hit games, including a game-winning HR on Tuesday. The 29-year-old has displayed pop and speed flashes over his career, but contact and pitch selection issues suggest that this current run won't last. With Jones in RF, McGehee was also in Wednesday's lineup.  But McGehee is showing no signs of recovering his power from 2009-10—and his .249/.253 BA/.xBA and 5 HR/95 PX to date shouldn't inspire any confidence.

All of the above could change at any time after the All-Star break if red-hot CF prospect Starling Marte (OF, PIT)—now seeing time at both corner OF spots in AAA-Indianapolis —is brought up, as many expect. Marte will be up to play, resulting in a PT squeeze that fantasy owners of the aforementioned names will need to monitor over the next month. The contending Pirates are likely to fill that final corner OF spot with whomever is hot, on a daily basis.

NL short take

Chris Carpenter (RHP, STL) owners can stop hoping and waiting, and finally move on.  Carpenter will undergo shoulder surgery (thoracic outlet syndrome) and end his 2012 season without throwing a pitch. Keeper league owners should have plenty to sort through and ponder this off-season before committing to the 37-year-old again in 2013.  And STL is likely to be active in the free agent pitching market, both this month before the interleague trading deadline and this coming winter ... 

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AL short takes

Dan Haren's (RHP, LAA) PQS-0 on Tuesday carried over his miserable June into July, marking the fifth time in six games that he's recorded a PQS-2 or below. After the game, Haren complained of back problems that have plagued him all season, and which—along with his recent performance—will likely result in a DL stint before the All-Star break. This may actually be good news for Haren owners, who have been mystified at velocity and command issues that have led to spikes in LD% and FB%, nine HR balls over his last five outings, and a 7.88 ERA since the beginning of June. Start him at your own risk until further notice ...

It took only 17 games for Brian Roberts (2B, BAL) to return to the DL and a MRI appointment, this time with groin and hip issues that will likely shelve him for longer than the minimum. Roberts looked like a shadow of his former self in his 66 AB, recording a .182/.176 BA/xBA combo, a 7% bb%, zero xBH and a single SB in two attempts. Robert Andino (2B, BAL) will handle second base in Roberts' absence, but don't be taken in by his game-winning HR vs. SEA on Tuesday. Andino's skill set is mediocre across the board, and his previous hot stretches have been unsustainable. The BAL 2B spot is a crap-shoot at best ...


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