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SP John Danks agrees to five-year extension with Chicago White Sox
Some rotisserie players may wonder why the ChiSox locked up a pitcher who turned in an 8-12 record and a 4.33 ERA in 2011 and was thought to be on the trade block. Those roto players should re-examine their thought process: Danks is shaping up to be one of fantasy baseball's better bargains in 2012.
CIN CL: Marshall Plan?
This past season, the southpaw with a low-90s heater and excellent cutter (which was not very effective for a good portion of 2011, granted) improved his K/9 and BB/9 - each considerably - for the second consecutive campaign. He's actually more effective against right-handed batters than left-, in fact. His nauseating results - including his failure to register a victory - in the season's first couple of months were well-documented, however.
But he turned things around in June by making some minor mechanical adjustments and changing his position on the rubber. Danks endured a rocky September, but from June 6 through the end of the season, he still pieced together an 8-4 record with a 3.69 ERA, an 8.01 K/9 and a 1.89 BB/9.
In 2012, fantasy managers should be more than willing to invest in Danks, who'll be 27 next April. He appears to be on the cusp of a new statistical plateau, and because of his 2011 results and the perils of his home park, some of the competition won't take notice.
Cincinnati Reds send SP Travis Wood, two other prospects to Chicago Cubs for RP Sean Marshall
In the past two seasons, Marshall has been one of the game's most valuable relief pitchers. He's won 13 games and saved six others while sporting a 2.45 ERA, a 10.12 K/9 and a 2.51 BB/9 in 150 1/3 stanzas. The left-hander relies most often on his breaking stuff, particularly a superb curveball, but his cut fastball has become a big weapon as well.
It's the arsenal that has allowed him to be effective against both left- and, in the past couple of years, right-handed batters. It's the low rate of fly balls among his results that has helped him limit home runs (four yielded in the past two seasons), and at Great American Ball Park it's imperative that this trend continue for him to succeed as he has in the past two years.
It's entirely possible that the Reds acquired Marshall, 29, to be their closer. He's nailed some down and certainly has the skills to do it. Cincinnati may still have interest in bringing aboard a closer with a short-term deal, but without knowing the organization's intentions, deep mixed owners should be willing to draft Marshall in the final third.
According to multiple reports, new Cubs president Theo Epstein developed interest in Wood while he was still GM of the Boston Red Sox. Even if Carlos Zambrano remains in Chicago's plans and the Cubs don't move any other pitchers, Wood should compete with Andrew Cashner and Casey Coleman, plus any other comers, for a rotation spot.
Despite the rigors he endured this past season (6-6 record, 4.84 ERA, 6.45 K/9, 3.40 BB/9), Wood remains a promising prospect. Besides the fact that his throwing arm dangles portside, he gained steam because of his marked improvement in control rate in 2009 and 2010. His stuff isn't overpowering, so he needs command of his varied arsenal to be effective, but when he has it, he's tough to beat, as he showed in 2010 (5-4, 3.51 ERA, 7.54 K/9, 2.28 BB/9).
The new scenery should be a positive for his short-term prospects; if he doesn't win a job in ST, the competition for an opportunity should still be less fierce. In 2012, he should be worth a modest gamble in NL leagues and could play his way into mixed-league value.
This trade ups Aroldis Chapman's chances of being a factor this coming season in Cincy's rotation that the Mat Latos deal squashed. However, Chapman remains a wild card. If that experiment fails, perhaps the Reds will consider using him to close games in hopes of reaping something from their investment.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.