FLB: Random Thoughts

Originally Published: July 19, 2005
By Tristan H. Cockcroft | ESPN Fantasy Games
Here's a look at what's going on this week around the world of fantasy baseball:

• Marlins right-hander A.J. Burnett appears to be the trade deadline's top prize, with most sources indicating he's highly likely to be dealt before July 31. Maybe a move would be good for him; based on his 3.64 ERA, .240 batting average allowed and 114 strikeouts, you'd think he'd have more than his current total of five wins. Baltimore has the offense to provide him more run support and a better closer to nail down his close games, but I'm not convinced Camden Yards would be the best play for him. If I had my pick, the White Sox would be his best destination for fantasy. Chicago's four divisional opponents all rank in the bottom half in baseball in runs per game, and the Indians (2) and Royals (1) are the only teams that have ever seen Burnett's filthy stuff. The White Sox can score and rank fifth in baseball in relief ERA (3.25). If you're worried about the homer-friendly ballpark, keep in mind that Burnett has a 2.5-to-1 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio this season. Playing for his next contract, he could thrive in a pennant push in Chicago.

• Of course, the popular Burnett rumor has him headed to Baltimore along with struggling third baseman Mike Lowell, a move that simply makes no sense. Third base is a position at which the Orioles are least lacking. Is upgrading from Mora's .974 fielding percentage to Lowell's .981 that helpful? One of these guys would obviously have to change positions, and a position switch might throw off either player's focus, hurting his hitting totals. Mora has played far better and shouldn't be the one to move; Lowell, meanwhile, has hit so poorly that having to adjust to a new position and a new league could effectively lock him in at his season-long pace. Maybe some think that a move out of pitching-friendly Dolphins Stadium to hitter-friendly Camden Yards would help Lowell's numbers, since he's a fly-ball hitter (0.64 G/F ratio for his career). But this season most of his flies haven't been deep enough to even clear the Camden fences. He could wind up in a first-base platoon with Rafael Palmeiro, hurting the value of each.

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