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Ricescapades: Trade Winds

Anibal Sanchez should get a boost in run support with the trade to the Tigers.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Anibal Sanchez should get a boost in run support with the trade to the Tigers. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
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In just the past two days, we've seen a whirlwind of trades go down, sending fantasy owners running to the news feeds to see which, if any, of their players have been affected. Whether that will be adversely or favorably depends on the team and league a player is headed to. One of the sickest feelings a manager can get is when he sees that one of his pitchers has been traded from a pitcher-friendly NL park to an American League bandbox. We as fantasy owners don't care about park-adjusted ERA; we'll take our ballpark-addled, illusory All-Star pitching line, thank you very much.

The biggest trade to go down was the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade. Sanchez and Infante were sent by the Marlins to the Detroit Tigers for right-handed pitcher Jacob Turner and two other prospects that don't figure to have much fantasy relevance any time in the near future.

Sanchez is the big name here. He raised hopes last year by totaling 202 strikeouts in 196.1 innings, a nice breakout for a pitcher who had been held back by injuries for much of his career. Sanchez hasn't kept the same strikeout pace this season, but he's still at a solid 8.2 K/9. While the increase in whiffs last year had many hoping for a bust-out star season, Sanchez has continued to tally decidedly unspectacular ERAs. This year he is at a not-great 3.94 clip, and the Marlins' turgid offense has made sure that he hasn't been a factor in the victory column in two years.

That will change with the move to Detroit, as he gets to pitch in front of an offense that is fifth in the league in runs scored. Facing an extra hitter might end in a slight uptick in ERA, but on the bright side, he'll be throwing mostly against the weakest division in the AL. He should inevitably win more ballgames with Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera mashing for him, so his owners should call this a fantasy win.

The other player headed to Detroit, Omar Infante, began the season hitting like a man possessed (five home runs in the month of April), but has since cooled down, to the surprise of exactly no one. While his addition helps the Tigers' horrendous second base situation, it doesn't alter his fantasy value much. He might score a few more runs hitting in a better lineup, but Comerica Park isn't that much friendlier for hitters than Marlins Park. He'll probably be the same blah fantasy player he has always been, break only in case of emergencies.

Jacob Turner's keeper league owners have to be thrilled that he's getting out of the American League and moving to a pitcher's park, with no DH to offend the eye. Turner has been mauled in six career major league starts, but he's just 21, may have been rushed, and he showed up in the top 25 of several preseason top prospect lists. Some of the shine has worn off of him (he's being projected as more of a number three starter at this point), but getting to face the pitcher three times a game and getting away from one of the worst defensive squads in baseball should be a nice boost to his immediate value.

--Well, if you're a long time Ichiro Suzuki fan who has been hanging on to him like grim death for sentimental reasons only, his trade to the Yankees your ill-advised devotion to nostalgia pay off. Escaping a depressing Seattle team and landing in the middle of a powerful Yankee lineup will inevitably help him score more runs. That's the upside. The downside is that, amid all the hubbub, everybody seems to forget that Ichiro has been pretty horrible for a year-and-a-half now. His .261/.288/.353 line with Seattle this season would seem to indicate a guy clinging to the last vestiges of a major league career.

This trade is getting all the headlines for its shock value. No one expected Ichiro to ever be traded, given his status as a franchise mainstay in Seattle. Even if he is magically rejuvenated by returning to a winning team, his value is likely to still be marginalized due to a reduced role. Apparently, Ichiro had to agree to sit against left-handed pitchers before the Yankees would trade for him. Ichiro is a big name, because he was awesome once upon a time, but if you're looking for a trade with a big fantasy impact, look elsewhere.

--The Pirates have apparently acquired starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros for a gaggle of prospects. Many commentators have the Pirates getting hosed on this one (trading three solid prospects for a 33-year-old non-star), but Rodriguez is a solid fantasy starter who should benefit from Pittsburgh's improved defense (they're sixth in the majors according to Baseball Prospectus's Defensive Efficiency). Since his strikeout rate is tanking, he's needed a little more help from his friends than usual. Moving from the worst team in the National League to one of the best should help his won-loss record as well. A nice trade all-around for Wandy's fantasy owners.

--I was all prepared to write up a blurb about how Ryan Dempster's trade to the Braves will affect his value, but apparently that trade isn't happening. At least, not yet. Dempster has apparently nixed the deal (he's a ten and five guy, so he has that right) in favor of a trade to the Dodgers. The Cubs have a week to hammer out a deal with the Dodgers or tell Dempster T.S., so stay tuned.

If you're a Dempster owner, pray he gets sent to Los Angeles, what with the better pitcher's park and weaker NL West lineups. Also pray that he doesn't turn back into Ryan Dumpster, which is a definite possibility given that he's pitching in the best luck of his career this year.