March 28, 2012 posted by Paul Greco

Transaction Analysis March 28

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I’ll be straight with you: You know we’re scratching for baseball news when we’re leading off the transaction analysis with Jason Bourgeois, but it’s been a slow Spring Training, so we’ll welcome any trade we can get.

This week, we’re looking at some moves that may have slipped under the radar, so even though a lot of these guys won’t make headlines in one of those ESPN 10-team grandmother leagues, this is some info that’s definitely worth grabbing onto.

We’ll start with Bourgeois, who the Astros paired with catcher Humberto Quintero and sent to Kansas City for pitcher Kevin Chapman.

While Quintero will likely serve as a backup to Brayan Pena until Salvador Perez returns (Perez is expected to miss half the season with a knee injury), Bourgeois will be used as a right-handed bat off the bench or a pinch-runner in late-game situations.
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The way we see it playing out is this: Bourgeois starts once or twice a week, but finds himself in the game at least at some point four or five times a week. And while bench players usually aren’t useful unless you’re playing in a deeper format, Bourgeois could prove that theory wrong.

In just 252 plate appearances last year, the 30-year-old outfielder stole 31 bases on 37 attempts, finding his way into 93 games for the Astros. He’s well-known around the league for being one of the more aggressive runners in the game, as he’ll take off just about every time second base is open. So he may not accrue a ton of at-bats, but he could absolutely steal 30 bases again this year in a limited role with the Royals. And it won’t cost you much at all.

While we’re in K.C., Ned Yost apparently had enough of watching Johnny Giavotella play second base like a butcher in a bakery. Giavotella, a trendy sleeper because of his speed and tremendous plate discipline in the minors, was optioned back to minor league camp, paving way for Chris Getz and Yuniesky Betancourt to share the duties at second.

There’s little doubt that Giavotella – the Royals’ minor league player of the year in 2011 – can hit. But his defense has been a concern. Getz, meanwhile, has reportedly surprised everyone in Spring Training with his improved offensive approach. Betancourt is a terrible offensive player, and while Getz can steal 20 bags, he probably won’t get enough playing time, and Giavotella could have the job all to himself later this season. Personally, though, I’d stay away from all of them.

Don’t sleep on Lorenzo Cain, who should slide into the two-hole between Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer. Cain can really hit, and even run a little, as he makes for a real nice pick late in drafts.

The Orioles made two DL moves yesterday – seemingly boring news, I know, but stay with me.

Brian Roberts was officially placed on the 15-day – not 60-day – disabled list, which is actually quite important, showing that the O’s have faith their second baseman will be ready to play sooner rather than later.

When I talked to Roberts last year shortly after he had suffered the concussion, you could tell how much he hated not being able to play. And for a good portion of the season, he was separated from the rest of the team, trying to stay away from the chaos and focus on getting healthy. Now he’ll be traveling with the team again, trying to get his mind back in the swing of the things to see if he can handle the demands of an MLB player.

Obviously, drafting Roberts comes with big risk. We don’t know when he’ll be back, we don’t know often he’ll be able to play, and we certainly don’t know how effective he’ll be. But knowing that he’s at least close to making an attempt to play again is big, and the risk associated with drafting him is getting smaller and smaller.

Roberts went for $2 in the AL-only Tout Wars auction, and that’s exactly the type of buy-low opportunity he presents. If he comes back in May and plays the rest of the year, that’s a great profit, even if he only hits .275 and steals 15 bases.

Quick side story about Roberts before I move on – Before his concussion last year, I showed up to the ballpark one day and he wasn’t in the lineup against Tim Wakefield. I approached him to make sure he wasn’t dealing with an injury. He looked at me and laughed, then said, “Are you kidding? I took myself out of the lineup. I told Buck I don’t play against knuckleballers. Look at my numbers – they’re awful.”

In 47 career at-bats against Wakefield, Roberts batted .170 with just two extra base hits, both doubles. While a lot of players have too much pride or ego to take themselves out of the lineup against a pitcher they know they struggle against, Roberts is smart enough to sit the bench. So if he says he’s close to being able to play again, I believe him.

And the other Baltimore DL move to take place yesterday: Zach Britton. Britton is dealing with shoulder inflammation that lingered from last season, and you’d be a fool to invest in him this year anyway. His highly-regarded sinker took him a long way during the first two months of 2011, but once the league caught on, he was extremely ineffective.

Britton’s injury though has set up Jake Arrieta for an Opening Day start, should the O’s give it to him, and it acts as a reminder of how good Arrieta can be. Seven months ago, the 26-year-old had a bone spur removed from his throwing elbow. He allowed 21 homers in 119 innings – that’s just two less than he allowed in 336 innings throughout his entire minor league career. The home run trouble paved the way to a 5.05 ERA.

But Arrieta appears to be in top form this spring, having said he feels as good as ever. If he can harness his command and bring back some of that spice that led to nearly a strikeout per inning in the minors, Arrieta could be a very effective pitcher. A deep sleeper, sure, but a sleeper none the less.

Paul finished the 2011-2012 Fantasy Football season as the #1 Weekly Rankings & Projections winner of the 411Fantasy Expert Challenge. He also finished 2nd in the Expert Draft Accuracy Challenge in 2011. Top 10 Finisher in the FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Projections. Paul is also apart of baseballs elite as a member of Tout Wars. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulGreco

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