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It's not the Roy Halladay blockbuster that fantasy owners have been anticipating all month, but in a lesser move, the Brewers acquired Felipe Lopez from the Diamondbacks in exchange for prospects Cole Gillespie, an outfielder, and Roque Mercedes, a right-handed reliever. Lopez gives the Brewers the everyday second baseman they've been seeking since Rickie Weeks was lost for the season.
Fantasy owners might respond to that by saying, "Hey, Casey McGehee has hit well enough to be that guy!" But as McGehee had started only two of Milwaukee's past 13 games at second base and as he was widely considered an inferior defender to the light-hitting Craig Counsell at the position, third base seemed a more appropriate spot for him to play. McGehee, who actually had played only seven games at second base in his minor league career before appearing in 21 games there for the Brewers, will now presumably play only third base, while Counsell will return to his traditional role of giving starters days off at second base, third base and shortstop.
Expect Lopez to claim the leadoff role, a spot in which the Brewers have managed a .330 on-base percentage (ranking a so-so 15th in baseball), relying on players like Counsell and Jason Kendall in the wake of Weeks' injury. Interestingly, even though Lopez (.368) has a higher OBP than Weeks (.340) so far this season, Weeks (.351) is the one whose career number is better (.334), demonstrating how much Lopez has outperformed expectations. In Milwaukee, he'll score a more runs than he did with the Diamondbacks because, well, the Brewers score a more runs than the Diamondbacks.
One category in which Lopez has not outperformed expectations is stolen bases. He has six, and is on a pace for 11. Unfortunately, Milwaukee has not at all been a steal-happy team, ranking 29th with 31 stolen bases as a team, so don't expect much of an uptick in his number. He might not see much of a change in overall value at all.
Gillespie is the more interesting prospect of the two Arizona received, but even he's a fringe bet, and now he's in an organization rich in outfield talent. He was batting .242 with a .756 OPS in 75 games for Triple-A Reno, and he's 25, seemingly the mark of a long-term fourth outfielder. Even if he's recalled this year, don't expect much.
• Though the specific performance isn't quite as impressive because it came at Petco Park against the Padres, Jason Marquis' major league-leading 12th win does continue to cement his status as one of 2009's biggest surprises. He went eight innings and allowed only one run on five hits for his 10th quality start in his past 12 starts. Marquis might not get many strikeouts and he'll always be at risk for the untimely implosion in a Coors Field start, but his command has been impeccable. He might yet contend for 20 wins.
• Marquis' counterpart, Mat Latos, wasn't anywhere near as impressive, lasting four innings and allowing two runs on three hits, including a home run to Ian Stewart. Latos' usage in the game -- he threw only 75 pitches -- demonstrates how cautious the Padres are likely to be with him looking forward. He threw 72 1/3 innings between Class A Fort Wayne and Double-A San Antonio this season, after only 56 the year before, so don't expect the Padres to allow him to get close to, let alone beyond, 150 innings total. Latos warrants NL-only consideration, but there's a real limit to what he'll provide you in yearly formats.
• Matt Kemp had yet another standout game. He went 3-for-3 with four runs and his 12th home run of the season. Of course, he did it while batting in the seventh spot in the lineup, the 58th time in his 86 starts he has batted in the bottom third of the order. That is an unbelievable number for a player with a .385 on-base percentage and .500 slugging percentage. Kemp is on pace for 665 plate appearances, 94 RBIs and 94 runs scored, and while it's impossible to pinpoint the specific impact his lineup spot has had on those numbers, one would think he'd have to be on a 700/100/100 pace if he was, say, the team's No. 3 hitter ahead of Manny Ramirez.
• The Rangers scratched Nelson Cruz from their starting lineup about an hour before Sunday's game because of a fracture in his right ring finger, according to the team's official Web site. He's not expected to require a disabled-list stint and is day-to-day, but did not appear even as a pinch hitter. Cruz's status for the week is somewhat risky, so take it into account if your league has weekly transactions.
• Matt Cain showed he has no issues with his bruised elbow, as he dominated the Pirates to the tune of seven innings of one-run, five-hit baseball with eight strikeouts for his 11th win of the season. He's now 9-1 with a 2.05 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 82 K's in 92 innings in his past 14 starts, an incredible hot streak.
• Alfonso Soriano went deep for the second consecutive game Sunday, and he's now batting .371 (13-for-35) with two home runs and six RBIs in his past 10 contests. Of course, the home runs did come at the expense of the Nationals' pitching staff, so we'll need to see another standout performance against a better staff before fully declaring him "back." Still, it's a start.
Jake Fox, Cubs
When will the Cubs wake up and realize they need to start playing this guy daily? Fox went 3-for-5 with a double, home run and four RBIs Sunday. It was the eighth time he has had multiple hits, runs scored or RBIs or hit a home run in his 19 starts this season. Fox has yet to seriously threaten the playing time of Alfonso Soriano or Milton Bradley, but at the rate he's hitting, he should.
Roy Halladay, Blue Jays
For the fourth time in his past seven starts against the Red Sox, Halladay went the distance, and he's the winner of four of his past six starts versus Boston. The right-hander has a 2.27 ERA and 0.92 WHIP during those outings, demonstrating how capable he is of rising above his matchups. He's also the major league leader in wins (31) and complete games (13) since the beginning of last season.
One of the main reasons J.A. Happ (call him "Jay," not "Jay-A") has been so successful this season is his performance with runners in scoring position. He has limited opposing hitters to just six hits in 74 at-bats (.081 BA) in those circumstances this year, not only best in the majors this season but best in the divisional era (since 1969) with a minimum of 70 at-bats.
• Looking to provide themselves some depth behind Alexi Casilla at second base, the Twins signed Mark Grudzielanek to a minor league contract Sunday. He'll report to the team's Class A squad in Fort Myers, Fla., where he'll work out briefly before probably moving to one of the team's higher-level affiliates. Grudzielanek, who batted .299 in 86 games for the Royals in 2008, would likely need to not only demonstrate he's up to the task of everyday play in the minors but would also need Casilla to disappoint in the big leagues to get a chance. Still, neither of those things seem impossible, so AL-only owners should keep tabs an both players' progress.
• The Nationals placed Scott Olsen on the 15-day DL with a sore left shoulder, and announced they would promote right-hander J.D. Martin from Triple-A Syracuse to make his big-league debut as a starter on Monday. Martin, picked up from the Indians' organization as a minor league free agent this past December, was 8-3 with a 2.66 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 16 games (15 starts) for Syracuse. He had some stellar command numbers in the minors (1.0 walks and 0.4 homers allowed per nine this year, 2.3 and 0.7 for his career), so keep an eye on him in NL-only formats, though as a career minor leaguer, he's not someone to pounce on immediately.
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Stephania Bell: Not near as sick as the Mets are. The latest is that he's been doing agility drills and had a good workout (Thursday). Still no base running and clearly still no rehab games. Just because he may be the first of the big 3 to return doesn't mean it will be soon. I also think he may still be coming off the benefits of his most recent injection, and before I get too excited I want to see another week of good action without a setback. With speed being his strength, it will take a while to get that back too. So, it's still a murky picture, few weeks at best.
-- Full chat transcript
Pierre Becquey: He's one that could fit in that "big second half" answer. Man, has he rocked it in the minors during his rehab. I'll say a .275 average, a dozen homers and even a few steals.
-- Full chat transcript
Monday's fantasy chat schedule:
Christopher Harris, 11 a.m. ET
Matthew Berry, 3 p.m. ET
• Drew Storen, a Nationals first-round pick in the 2009 draft (Stephen Strasburg, obviously, was picked ahead of him), was promoted from Class A Hagerstown to Class A (advanced) Potomac on Sunday. The flame-throwing reliever had a 3.68 ERA and 26 strikeouts compared to zero walks in 14 2/3 innings for Hagerstown, and the Nationals have yet to deny the right-hander has a shot at reaching the majors before season's end. With all the questions surrounding the big-league club's late-inning picture, Storen might be a prime candidate to close for the 2010 squad, even if he doesn't debut this season.
• Cameron Maybin had a four-hit game for Triple-A New Orleans, bringing his batting average in 55 games for the Zephyrs to .345. More importantly, he has struck out just 38 times and walked on 26 occasions in 200 at-bats, demonstrating his level of improvement with his plate discipline. The Marlins haven't expressed any interest in promoting him in the near future, but we'll almost assuredly see him back with the team at some point before year's end, perhaps getting another everyday look in center field in September.
• The Mets are reeling coming off losing three of four in Atlanta, and will be out for revenge in a somewhat easier series in Washington beginning on Monday. Livan Hernandez, who starts for them Monday, is 2-0 with a 4.15 ERA in two career starts at Nationals Park, including seven shutout innings to win there on June 7, and he's 10-5 with a 3.74 ERA in 16 career starts against the Nationals.