- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
On the surface, fantasy owners might not care about Monday's trade in which the Milwaukee Brewers dealt 40-year-old Jim Edmonds to the Cincinnati Reds for 28-year-old Chris Dickerson. I care! While neither brittle, lefty-swinging outfielder was helping fantasy owners much this season -- and I can't make the case either will the rest of the way -- the potential winner here is Brewers rookie Lorenzo Cain.
Cain doesn't profile as a star player by any means, but he can steal bases and it appeared the going-nowhere Brewers were planning on using him in a platoon with Edmonds. Cain stole a base and knocked in three runs Sunday, career firsts in each category. With Edmonds elsewhere, Dickerson, still rehabbing from a near season-long DL stint due to a broken right wrist, and disappointing incumbent starter Carlos Gomez on the DL with a concussion, Cain gets a clear shot at playing time.
With 26 stolen bases in 29 attempts this season at two levels of the minor leagues, Cain should be able to translate this skill in the majors. He doesn't hit for power and it's problematic at this point whether he'll get on base enough to help your batting average, but I'd say statistically Cain reminds me of Gomez, a right-handed hitter with speed, but is already more polished. Gomez refuses to take a walk; Cain should. And if you need every stolen base in your league, Cain should interest you.
Dickerson used to be interesting to me in fantasy, but I don't know if he can stay healthy enough to matter. The fact the Reds dumped him for a two-month rental is a bit telling. Dickerson has generally hit when healthy, but I doubt he'd reach 20 home runs or steal 20 bases in a full season in the big leagues. He's probably best suited for fourth-outfielder duty, a pinch hitter against right-handers ... much like Edmonds. Dickerson has an .841 OPS against right-handed pitching in 391 plate appearances, and a .655 OPS against southpaws in 75 PAs. The Brewers could use the final two months to see if Dickerson is a part of their future, but he's not under contract for next season and Cain is younger and brings more upside.
In fact, I'd think for deep-league fantasy owners, Edmonds has the better chance to contribute the rest of the season. Edmonds does have eight home runs and a .286 batting average in roughly a third of a full season of at-bats, so maybe he pops a few more long balls the rest of the way. The Reds will protect him against lefty pitchers, as well. The Reds use Jonny Gomes and Jay Bruce as regulars in the corner outfield spots, and Chris Heisey has been stealing playing time from toolsy Drew Stubbs in center field. None of these guys is in any real jeopardy. Laynce Nix, a lefty slugger who last homered in May, probably is, but again, he wasn't a factor in fantasy baseball this season.