Rays deal Ben Zobrist to the Athletics
This weekend brought us yet another trade from Billy Beane, as he traded his top prospect, second baseman Daniel Robertson, John Jaso and another prospect Boog Powell, to the Rays for second baseman Ben Zobrist and shortstop Yunel Escobar. The trade completes an otherwise confusing offseason for A's fans, as Beane has now traded his best players - Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, among others and their best prospects as well.
I have covered the majority of his deals over the last 6-7 months here, but am curious how the A's will fare in 2015, as Beane has basically turned over his roster and his farm system. Whether the A's continue to compete in the American League West will be revealed early in the season, I imagine. I would not be surprised to see him make more deals as the July 31st trade deadline approaches if this team isn't competing.
As far as the fantasy implications of this trade, I don't see it helping Zobrist much. Escobar isn't a top 20 shortstop, so this deal does little for him. Robertson is a few years away and he should see his name listed in some Top 100 prospect lists in the next month or so.
Hanley Ramirez to bat cleanup
According to Ian Browne over at MLB.com, Red Sox manager John Farrell is leaning toward batting recently signed left fielder Hanley Ramirez in the clean up spot. Hitting ahead of him more than likely will be Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, so if he stays healthy, he could put up another 25 home run, 90+ RBI season in 2015.
Following Hanley will be Pablo Sandoval and Mike Napoli in the fifth ad sixth spots in the lineup, with Xander Bogaerts, Rusney Castillo and Christian Vasquez batting in the 7th-9th spots. The lineup looks pretty good on paper, but the Red Sox struggled to score runs last season. The additions of Hanley, Sandoval, Betts and Castillo should result in a more productive lineup in 2015.
No mention of Shane Victorino in the Farrell's starting lineup.
Ryan Howard to be waived?
The Phillies are trying hard to deal first baseman Ryan Howard before spring training begins in the next five weeks. He makes sense for some AL teams, including the Orioles, Blue Jays and a few others, but unless Phillies GM Ruben Amaro is willing to take on a significant amount of his remaining salary, he will be manning first base for the Phillies come Opening Day.
Or will he? A few days ago, ESPN's Buster Olney wrote the following in his daily blog:
The Phillies are constricted in their efforts to trade Ryan Howard, as Jerry Crasnick writes. There is an expectation among rival officials that Philadelphia will dump Howard sometime before Opening Day.
This is not the first time Olney has written that the Phillies could end up just waiving Howard if they cannot find a suitable trade partner.
How the mighty have fallen? Howard was once one of the best power hitters in the game, and now has so little trade value. For fantasy purposes, he still puts up 20+ home runs and 80+ RBI, so there is solid value in that. The question, though, is how many at bats will he get if the Phillies can't deal him? The Phillies are beginning their rebuild and playing Howard makes no sense when you have someone like Darin Ruf ready to play every day. The Phillies surely want to see what Ruf can do with 500 at bats. If not Ruf, then top hitting prospect Maikel Franco, who should start the season in AAA, but should be up by June or July, if not sooner.