Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove: Huston Street, Frank Francisco, Erik Bedard, Angel Pagan, Andres Torres, Nate McLouth

by Tim Heaney on December 7, 2011 @ 12:47:38 PDT


Your fantasy baseball draft isn't far off.'s Fantasy Baseball Hot Stove surveys free agency, trades, salary arbitration and injuries that will affect your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball league. You're cleared for your MLB offseason program: The Arizona Fall League, Baseball Winter Meetings, Rule 5 draft and more will shape your fantasy baseball rankings.

RP Huston Street traded from Colorado Rockies to San Diego Padres

The Rockies shed payroll by shipping away the closer. Rafael Betancourt, who captured the job from Street near the end of last season, lines up to take over save situations for the Rox.

New Pittsburgh Pirates OF Nate McLouth
McLouth comes home, matey

Street will try to make his San Diego opps a little less rocky than they were in 2011, when he improved his already helpful control, but, even with his abundant sinkers, he gave up way more taters on his way to a career-worst 3.88 ERA. Opponents lined his pitches way more often than in the past, and he spent part of last year doing more major mechanical tinkering.

Street's fly-ball rate, while not comforting, was the second lowest of his career and a vast drop from its career-high 2010 result, so there's room for improvement, especially in a more favorable home park. Even with all his eventful appearances, he blew just four of 33 chances last season. The 28-year-old (surprising given his long MLB tenure) still fans at least eight per nine frames.

His new uni might inflate his price in some circles, but, even with his flaws, it also makes him a more justifiable No. 1 mixed target you could snare at the price of a No. 2.

New York Mets ink RP Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch

Following an audition failed by Bobby Parnell, Manny Acosta and others, New York scooped up Francisco to close; Rauch will set him up. The Toronto Blue Jays' 2011 job traded hands between these two arms - Frank Frank earned 17 saves to Rauch's 11 - and the Mets' could replicate that over the course of 2012, given Francisco's streakiness and injury history.

The now smaller Citi Field could amplify Rauch's fly-ball issues, but Francisco has produced notable decreases in that rate over the last two seasons. He also boasts the better profile for saves. Given fears over the Mets' ability to win games, he'll probably come cheap in mixers and can easily yield favorable value, especially from his K's.

Rauch doesn't help fantasy owners much without save chances but remains a valid NL-only and cavernous mixed stash, though there's much less urgency to draft him in the latter.

SP Erik Bedard to join Pittsburgh Pirates

Bedard's average fastball velocity and swinging-strike percentage were down last year, but his dominance rate finished at 8.70 even with its drop of more than one whiff per nine from his limited 2009 work. He scuffled upon moving from the Seattle Mariners to the Boston Red Sox near the trade deadline; early-season knee issues resurfaced, and his WHIP blew up. But his 129 1/3 frames, his most since 2007, finally gave some yield on an investment.

Luckily, he moves to a less damaging park in his first NL go-around. This offense won't guarantee a wins boost, but it should be better than it was last year, and his bullpen ain't too shabby. As it did for Matt Garza in 2011, the move to the Senior Circuit, combined with Bedard's savvy, could buoy the southpaw's K's, even with shaky strikeout indicators. Though it's becoming less likely as he heads into his age-33 season, his velocity could pick up again with a few positive breaks. His strand rate is another likely area for a rebound.

"If healthy" still applies to all this, but as usual, he's worth a shot as a fantasy rotation capper with the payoff carrot being much more alluring than his draft price in many rooms would dictate.

San Francisco Giants trade OF Andres Torres to New York Mets for OF Angel Pagan

The Mets also acquired reliever Ramon Ramirez, but more importantly, these offenses swap late-blooming former part-timers. On the surface, it looks like apples to apples in center field, especially with their mirror-image prowess in stealing bags. Both will continue to run as they lead off for their respective new squads.

Pagan, who'll be 31 in July, would assume the more advantageous top spot, if that's what SF decides, hitting in front of Pablo Sandoval and a healthy Buster Posey. Torres, turning 34 in January, doesn't have a shabby lineup, either, and is the slightly better bet for power. Pagan isn't too far behind, though, and Torres is reaching the traditional homer downside years. Pagan's batting average foundation is stronger; he doesn't strike out as much, and his contact rates drown Torres'.

They're destined to share a tier in deep mixed and NL-only leagues. Though Torres' new home environment could benefit him more, the younger Pagan gets the edge if you have to decide between the two, thanks also to his sturdier indicators and lineup. Torres is a serviceable consolation prize, with more risk for a crash, in this dull but potentially useful race of value outfielders.

OF Nate McLouth reboards Pittsburgh Pirates ship

With skepticism that Alex Presley can be a full-time left fielder, the Buccos brought back a familiar face. Though McLouth will probably start, splitting time or losing the job to Presley as the season wears on is hardly a wild guess.

It's a long road back to mixed league relevance, but McLouth's clips in 2010 (.190) and 2011 (.228) were driven down by spotty health and recovery. With the Atlanta Braves, McLouth lost strength after a 2010 concussion and became tentative at the plate. He saw a brief jolt when he was dropped from the two-hole to the eighth spot, but two oblique-related DL stints and August surgery to repair a sports hernia surgery halted his 2011.

Though his 2008 and 2009 incarnations are now lofty, McLouth still holds upside for a 15-homer, 15-steal season. He needs to regain the thump and lift in his hacks to add more life to his sound plate discipline. PNC Park hasn't been as harmful to lefty bats as it has to righties, notably in the homer department. Presley, also a lefty stick, also has somewhat optimistic BA components but not as much power potential. Both stand to aid NL-only and deep mixed outfields next season, with McLouth as the more logical draft-day target.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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