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July 28, 2006

ESPN Fantasy Column

The Trade And You
Texas has traded outfielders Kevin Mench and Lance Nix and pitcher Francisco Cordero (plus a minor-leaguer) for outfielders Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. A fantasy perspective:

Carlos Lee
If you hold the top waiver position in an AL-only league, you have to claim him. If not, put in a claim and hope the folks above you are snoozing. Lee isn't quite a five-category stud but comes pretty close, batting .286 with 60 runs, 28 homers, 81 RBI and 12 steals. Texas's offense is only average and during 2006 The Ballpark hasn't favored hitters as much as in prior years. Also, Lee probably won't run as much in Texas. Nevertheless, he's a terrific fantasy player and an obvious must-have. Those is mixed leagues should expect fewer steals and perhaps slight increases in other stats.

Nelson Cruz
Reportedly, the 26-year-old Cruz will make his MLB debut in right field for Texas on Saturday. Cruz has batted .302 with 19 homers and 17 steals for AAA Toledo. He's drawn 42 walks in 412 plate appearances but also has 100 strikeouts. A righthanded batter, he'll probably start only against lefties for the time being. Those in AL-only leagues may consider spending a low-ranking waiver claim on him. I wouldn't bother with him in typical-sized mixed leagues.

Cruz, Brad Wilkerson and Mark DeRosa must share two positions. DeRosa has tailed off badly since the All-Star break (.208/.276/.340), but Wilkerson has done no better (.186/.217/.395). I expect DeRosa to continue to play almost every day, and Wilkerson again will sit against lefties. Both are dubious choices in average or smaller mixed leagues. Was I ever wrong about Wilkerson.

The Departures
Mench will move into Lee's position and ought to experience negligible-to-slight declines in production. Nix probably will stay in AAA and has no value except in insanely deep NL-only leagues. With Derrick Turnbow's recent troubles, Cordero might resume closing duties. Mixed leaguers in desperate need of saves should take a flyer on him. By the time his waiver delay expires, NL-only owners should have a better idea of his usage in Milwaukee and can then assess whether he's worth a claim.

Be Advised
Texas may not be done.

Posted by Lucas at July 28, 2006 02:01 PM