2012 MLB trade deadline: Buyers, sellers

Cole HamelsWith the Major League Baseball trade deadline quickly approaching GMs around the league are scrambling to better position their team for success through the barrage of deals that inevitably takes place right up to the eleventh hour. For some clubs the quest is to secure the missing piece that can elevate them from a solid frontrunner to a championship contender while others on the flip side of the coin who are going nowhere will look to invest in their future by unloading current talent in exchange for a wealth of prospects. This week we’ll take a look at teams who are likely to be involved on both sides of the equation, buyers first.

Baltimore Orioles

At 46-42 and in the midst of their best season in recent memory the Orioles are currently holding on to the final AL Wild Card spot by the slimmest of margins, 0.5 games over a trio of challengers in Detroit, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. With overtaking the Yankees for the division title looking to be an unlikely scenario, the O’s chance to make their first playoff appearance since 1997 hinges on distancing themselves from the Wild Card pack, a task that just became more difficult with the news that pitcher Jason Hammel will miss at least three weeks after undergoing knee surgery to remove loose cartilage.1 Aside from Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen the O’s rotation has struggled mightily this season, so adding a proven arm would help the Birds greatly. ESPN’s Jayson Stark recently reported via Twitter that Baltimore is eyeing Mariners ace Jason Vargas as their top candidate to bolster the rotation. With leadoff hitter Nolan Reimold a victim of the injury bug as well and out for the season, Baltimore could also benefit from adding a solid top-of-the-lineup bat, as they have yet to find someone to fill Reimold’s shoes with any consistency. Making a move on either front will require Baltimore to part with multiple prospects but as a franchise that has been through more than its share of dark days recently expect the Orioles to be serious bidders in hopes of keeping their playoff aspirations in flight.   Read More…

MLB 6 pack: American League mid-season award winners

Rookie of the Half-season Award: OF Mike Trout, Angels

Runner-Up: P Yu Darvish, Rangers

After a bad start to the 2012 season, the Angels have been revived and are playing up to their preseason expectations, thanks in large part to the energy boost from rookie sensation Mike Trout. Through Sunday, Trout is batting .339 (1st in A.L.), has hit 9 home runs, accumulated 33 RBI, has 80 hits, has scored 51 runs (t-8th), and has stolen 22 bases (1st). What makes these statistics even better? Trout started the 2012 season in Triple-A, as Trout wasn’t called up until the third week of the season. Trout has nearly everything wanted in a potential baseball star, and even scarier? He is only a ROOKIE.

Manager of the Half-season Award: Buck Showalter, Orioles

Showalter (above) has turned around the losing culture in Baltimore

Runner-Up: Robin Ventura, Chicago White Sox

In a loaded A.L. East division, who would have thought that the Baltimore Orioles would have been in half-season post-season contention? The A.L. East, loaded with teams such as the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jays, the Orioles has no business being where they currently are. Through Sunday, the Orioles were in second place behind the Yankees. The Orioles aren’t scoring a lot of runs (11th in A.L.), but good pitching (4.03 team ERA) by career mediocre talent Jason Hammel and diamond-in-the-rough closer Jim Johnson has kept the Orioles in the hunt at the half-season mark. Showalter doesn’t have a whole lot to work with, but he is getting the job done in unappealing (yet winning) fashion.

Rolaids Relief Man Award: P Fernando Rodney, Rays

Runner-Up: P Jim Johnson, Orioles

Even though Orioles closer Jim Johnson has been one of the best stories in baseball this season, an argument could be made for the outstanding play of Rays’ closer Fernando Rodney. Through Sunday, Rodney has converted on 22 of 23 save opportunities (3rd in A.L.), has only given up four earned runs, 22 hits, and has struck out 35 batters while accumulating a 1.01 ERA. In comparison, Johnson has given up only 18 hits, but has allowed five earned runs, struck out 22 batters, and has accumulated a 1.30 ERA. Rodney has been the most underrated pitcher in baseball this season, as the Rays have struck gold once again with a veteran reliever-turned-closer.

Fantasy Baseball: Week 12 waiver wire pickups

This week we have listed four starters and one reliever for you to consider as the pitchers that have been headed for the DL continues to grow each week. Here’s just a short list of recent casualties:

SP: Josh Beckett-shoulder, Drew Smyly-finger, Bud Norris-knee, Brandon Beachy-elbow, Jaime Garcia-shoulder, Bartolo Colon-abdomen, and Roy Halladay-shoulder.

RP: Sandy Rosario-quads, Octavio Dotel-elbow, Henry Rodriquez-finger, and Alexi Ogando-groin.

Clayton Richard-SP-Padres- We’re recommending Richard only as a stop-gap or streaming tool especially while he’s on a pretty good streak of late; three quality starts out of four in June. In those three games he’s given up a total of 2 earned runs and went 2-1 with 1 ND. We like him in his next start vs the weak Mariners at home. He’s available in almost every league.

Justin Masterson-SP-Indians- The former 2nd round pick of the Boston Red Sox never lived up to the high expectations the Sox had for him. He was rocked earlier in the season but since has settled down by throwing 3 straight quality starts in June. His last one, a 9 strikeout performance vs the Pirates last Friday was one of his best this season. Over his last 14 innings, Masterson has 15 K’s and an ERA of 0.64. He’s worth a look in deeper and A.L.  only leagues. He’ll face the Reds at home on Wednesday and is owned in around 40% of leagues.

Wei-Yin Chen- SP-Orioles- This 26 year old Taiwanese rookie southpaw has won his last three starts and has, over the course of the season, pitched fairly well against some of the leagues better teams. Angels-1 ER, Yankees-2 ER (twice) and Red Sox-1 ER. He’s 7-2 on the season with a decent 3.36 ERA. He is certainly worth picking up in 12+ leagues. He’ll face the Nationals on Saturday and the Indians next week. Chen is owned only in 25% of leagues. Read more here…