Camp notes: Anderson traded, Sheffield released 

March, 31, 2009
Sometimes a minor trade occurs in the final days of spring training and it gets buried because the names aren't interesting to fantasy owners. So it is that we report the Braves traded Josh Anderson to the Tigers on Monday for Rudy Darrow. Ho hum, right?

Well, while Anderson is no longer on my sleeper list because his playing time is likely to take a hit in a star-studded Detroit outfield, this is actually big news in fantasy: The Braves appear willing to let prospect Jordan Schafer start the season in center field. No Anderson, no Gregor Blanco, it's time for Schafer to get his chance, and that is very interesting for fantasy.

Schafer was someone fantasy owners started to watch a season ago, but that season went awry with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for human growth hormone. Schafer hit and ran enough after a slow start with Double-A Mississippi to stay on the fantasy radar, and this spring he's hitting .373. He's already major league-ready defensively, but how much will he help owners this season? I don't think he's on the level of Cameron Maybin just yet, maybe not even Colby Rasmus (who now might not make the Cardinals after all) for sheer cumulative numbers in home runs and steals, but Schafer is an upgrade fantasy-wise over Anderson and Blanco, a potential top-50 outfielder and borderline draftable in mixed leagues right now. And I also like this move for middle infielders Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar. It's assumed each will hit in the top two lineup spots now, whereas with Anderson around, one of them was in danger of hitting low in the lineup. Schafer, a lefty hitter who hasn't proven he can hit lefty pitchers, is likely to hit seventh or eighth. The Braves need outfield production in 2009, just one season after getting arguably the worst numbers from its outfield in the majors, and Schafer does have upside.