I hope everyone had a great holiday season! Sorry that I haven't posted lately. Instead of several smaller posts I'll bombard you with one giant one here. There was not a ton of show stopping news but teams still have been busy:
Andrew Bailey and Ryan Sweeney to the Red Sox for Josh Reddick and minor leaguers Raul Alcantara and Miles Head: Let's just get right to the point: Unless Reddick possesses some above average major league skills we are unaware of, this is a pretty big steal for the Red Sox. Boston essentially received Reddick's statistical equivalent in return in Sweeney AND the talented, although injury prone closer. The minor leaguers Alcantara and Head aren't elite prospects by any means so on the surface it looks like Oakland got the short end of the deal. However, the A's organization is famous for its intelligent projections of youngsters so maybe there is more to this deal than meets the eye. Maybe there is something seriously wrong with Bailey's arm? Anyway, with Reddick likely to get a regular role next season he should be on all deep league sleeper lists. Bailey will take a bit of an ERA hit in the AL East and the pressure in Boston is much greater than it is in Oakland. I'd be wary of Bailey in 2012.
Carlos Quentin to Padres for Simon Castro and Pedro Hernandez: Unfortunately, this trade kills Quentin's fantasy value, or at least damages it considerably. The veteran slugger is certainly better suited for the cozy confines of Cellular Field as opposed to the vastness that is PETCO Park. Considering the health risk already associated with him I'd consider projecting him lower now: .260-25-80. For the record, I would have given him a .265-30-90 line in Chicago, again have to consider his health which limits him to much less than 162 games each year. Its an interesting trade for San Diego as I don't think they are a top NL West team (not that it would take much). They certainly will not challenge the now deep and talented 2011 division winning Diamondbacks. On the flip side, I love the haul for the White Sox. For me, starter Castro is the key to the deal. In 2009, he looked like one of the top pitching prospects in the minor leagues (thanks to a 10 K/9 and 2.37 BB/9). After being promoted to AAA in 2010 he was knocked around and promptly sent back to Double A. The shine is off his top prospect status so he was considered expendable in this deal. At 23, there is still plenty of opportunity for the White Sox to develop this kid. In addition Pedro Hernandez appears to be another solid pitching prospect as the 22 year old was promoted through three levels in 2011. Don't expect to see either Castro or Hernandez much in 2012 but Chicago has now taken a few bold steps in rebuilding their farm system.
Hisashi Iwakuma signs with Seattle: The Mariners were able to sign a solid veteran Japanese league pitcher this week. Iwakuma, on paper, has the skills which should be the keys to success in the major leagues. He boasts a career BB/9 of 1.8 and averaged a solid 7.0 K/9. Entering his 31st year, I would not expect a progression in these statistics. However, Iwakuma will play home games at the pitcher friendly SAFECO Park, which I expect will assist him in first tour of duty on North American soil. Still, it cannot be ignored that with a much improved AL West, the Japanese pitcher will be challenged often. Its difficult to forecast Japanese players but with his skill set and home park you will want Iwakuma on a sleeper list, especially in AL only leagues.
Darren Oliver signs, Jason Frasor traded to the Blue Jays for a pair of minor leaguers: I'm not saying these deals were THAT interesting but I think they should be noted. With the additions of these two relievers and closer Sergio Santos, the Blue Jays have made a concentrated effort to shore up their bullpen. The AL East continues to be the most difficult division in baseball to succeed in.
Carlos Zambrano to Marlins for Chris Volstad: This is an interesting trade if only that Zambrano, at just 30 years old, gets a fresh start. On paper this trade looks like a scratch as both pitchers had similar numbers. Volstad is younger and contract controlled while Zambrano still possesses ace 'stuff' but appears to be in a losing battle after putting way too many miles on his arm early in his career. I don't think Volstad's stock improves with this trade as he benefited greatly from the deep confines of the Marlins home field. Spending more time in the home friendly Wrigley Field will only hurt this homer prone pitcher. On the other hand, I think Zambrano's talent and change of scenery make him a worthy sleeper in 2012.