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Friday, July 31, 2009
Rolen helpful in Cincy; can Encarnacion rebound?


It might look odd that the free-falling Cincinnati Reds were buyers on trade deadline day, picking up Scott Rolen from the Toronto Blue Jays, but this is a move for 2010 as well. Rolen is one of the top fielding third basemen in baseball, and he was hitting a career-best .320, though with not much power. Adding him to a lefty-leaning lineup is a good move and certainly helps Reds pitchers. Then again, Rolen is 34 years old, and the Reds did give up a guy who hit 26 home runs last season, as well as prospects. Those in NL-only leagues shouldn't get too excited about Rolen, but he is worth owning. His value in mixed leagues doesn't change much.

Toronto gets Edwin Encarnacion, a butcher at third base but someone who does hit for power. Encarnacion missed much of this season with a wrist injury, and he didn't hit for average last season anyway. Encarnacion is 26 and could be a nice power source in 2010, so keep him on your radar for then, but don't expect him to do much the rest of this season, as he has continued to struggle since coming off the DL.

Josh Roenicke has been someone I had pegged as Cincinnati's future closer, and he had been in the majors a few times this season, pitching effectively in 13 1/3 innings. Down at Triple-A Louisville, he saved 12 games, and he instantly becomes a dark horse for saves in the Toronto bullpen. Scott Downs has struggled of late, and he's not a young guy. Jason Frasor likely would get the call over Roenicke in the short term, but don't forget about the UCLA product in 2010.

This was one of two deals the Reds pulled off at the deadline with AL East teams.

They also traded the versatile Jerry Hairston Jr. to the Yankees for minor leaguer catcher Chase Weems. On the surface, this doesn't mean very much to fantasy owners. Hairston hit a stunning .326 in half a season for the Reds in 2008, but few believed he could sustain that batting average this year. He didn't, hitting near his career mark of .259.

Hairston doesn't bring much power to the table, but he can steal a base, and it's possible the Yankees, with the infield set, will use him as an option in center field. Brett Gardner broke his thumb and isn't expected back for a few weeks, and Melky Cabrera is about all they've got. Hairston could get on a hot streak like last year, but overall, the Yankees just added some cheap depth. Those in AL-only leagues might be interested if he steals 10 bases the rest of the way, but then again, that's about the best he could do.