2014 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

Fantasy Fallout: Winners and Loser of Lackey Trade

Lackey Fantasy Baseball
Photo credit: Keith Allison

With the 2014 season officially a lost cause for the defending World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox front office made it clear they were looking ahead to the future after trading ace Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes to the Oakland Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes early yesterday morning. That qualifies as an absolutely shocking blockbuster deal in itself, but Red Sox GM Ben Cherington had more tricks up his sleeve though. Later on in the afternoon, the Red Sox showed they were going all-in in their rebuilding effort by shipping off John Lackey and prospect Corey Littrell for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.

Trades often result in players gaining or losing fantasy value for reasons such as the overall team, division, ballpark, and league the player(s) will be joining and this one is no different. With the unreal amount of transactions that occurred yesterday to beat the trade deadline buzzer, it’s instrumental to be aware of the situation they will be headed to as a result of their involvement in a trade. Lets breakdown the winners and losers of the trade.

Winners

The biggest winner in the trade may be the player indirectly involved, that player being top prospect Oscar Taveras. The 22-year-old rookie was splitting at-bats and losing valuable playing time due to the presence of the artist known as the “Wrench”, but the trade has officially cleared the way for Taveras to be the Cardinals starting right fielder. Not even the stubborn Mike Matheny could mess this one up. The Redbirds rank 29th in runs per game (3.67) and the hope is that Taveras will provide some much needed pop for a punchless offense. Making a start in right field a mere hours after the trade, Oscar hit a two-run homer in his first at-bat. It’s likely not a coincidence that he went deep. No longer will he have to be constantly looking over his shoulder in regards to playing time, rather he should be entrenched as an everyday player and that should do wonders for his confidence.

Taveras critics would point to his hideous .210 average and lack of pop over his first 100 at-bats, but let’s not forget this is a rookie who has dealt with inconsistent playing time. MLB.com pegged Taveras the second ranked prospect coming into the season and he justified that ranking by hitting .337/.388/.539 with 36 home runs, 188 RBI, and 160 spanning his first three minor league seasons. An ankle injury cost him much of the 2013 season, but during his time in Triple-A in 2014 Taveras hit .317 with eight homers and 49 RBI over 62 games. He obviously didn’t have anything else left to prove. With nowhere to go but up from here, adding a talented player that is available in 71 percent of Yahoo! leagues seems like a prudent idea.

The other big winner of this mini-blockbuster is obviously John Lackey. The 35-year-old veteran immediately becomes more attractive for fantasy purposes due to him moving from the AL East to the NL Central, where he’ll have the luxury of facing pitchers instead of designated hitters. Additionally, Busch Stadium is much more of a pitchers park than Fenway Park. His 2014 stats (11 wins, 3.60 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 116 K) have been plenty useful and it shows as he is the 155th ranked player in Y! leagues. The two-time WS champ owns a 3.03 ERA in his playoff career and should prove to be a stabilizing presence for a Cardinals rotation that just added Justin Masterson due to the absence of Michael Wacha. Not to mention that Lackey has a $500,000 club option for 2015. Lackey endured some miserable 2011-2012 seasons as he combined to post a 5.40 ERA over the two years, but since the start of 2013 he has managed to post a 3.56 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.Lackey deserves to be owned in leagues 12-teams and and deeper, he’s a fine SP4/SP5 type.

There’s no denying that Craig has been a downright disaster at the plate this year, slashing an unsightly .237/.291/.346 with only seven bombs, 44 RBI, and 34 runs over 367 at-bats. That amounts to a 458 ranking in Y! leagues. The 2013 All-Star was atrocious at the plate in July too as he only hit .122. You’re probably asking yourself why Craig is under the “winner” category. For starters, Craig is moving to a better hitting environment at Fenway Park. Additionally Craig is a career .357 hitter with RISP but he’s only hitting .250 in those situations this year so he has a ton of room to improve. Wrench also shouldn’t struggle for playing time considering oft-injured Shane Victorino is heading back to the disabled list. For owners of Craig in keeper leagues, there’s also a chance that Craig has been hiding injury complications stemming from his Lisfranc surgery he underwent last season, but there’s no way of knowing for sure. It sure is strange though to see a hitter who hit .312 over the last three seasons struggle to this extent, but a foot injury could be sapping his ability to pull the ball with power to left field. Don’t go rushing to the waiver wire to pick up Craig, but he could be in for a nice boost much like Chase Headley enjoyed when being traded.

Loser

Joe Kelly moving from St. Louis to Boston is terrible news for the little value Kelly had before the move. Moving to the AL East and having to face the DH every game instead of a pitcher will be an added challenge to succeed in the always tough division. Over seven starts this year, Kelly has posted a mediocre 4.37 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. Missing time due to a hamstring pull hasn’t helped either. Even when he posted a 2.69 ERA last year though, he had a troublesome 1.35 WHIP. He’s below average in that category and he isn’t a factor in strikeouts either as evidenced by his 16.4 percent strikeout rate. Wins may be a little tougher to come by as well, considering the current quality of the respective teams. AL-only leaguers can go ahead and snag him, but he’s nothing more than a streamer type.

Thanks to FanGraphs, Yahoo, and ESPN for the statistical information. Comment below with any questions or remarks. You can follow me on Twitter @MattMoczy

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