By Scott Barzilla

It is an exciting time for all baseball fans. Fantasy fans in particular are gearing up for the trade deadline. This year promises to be a better deadline that most because of the new collective bargaining agreement. Many fewer players will be offered arbitration because of the new rules governing draft pick compensation. Players must earn the average of the top 150 players in baseball. That translates to 11 million in 2012 dollars.

With more players on the move, fantasy owners will have to keep up to make sure they get the most out of their roster. Sometimes a gem can fall through the cracks. Back in 2008, Randy Wolf wasn’t owned before his trade to the Houston Astros, but that trade put him back on the map in terms of fantasy value. Before we get into the list of candidates, let’s take a look at how my teams are doing in the standings.

Lynch Ed Wade

  • 10 teams (10×10 format)
  • 134-106-20
  • 2nd place
  • 4.0 games back

Jobu’s Rum

  • 12 teams (6×6 format)
  • 78-67-11
  • 6th place
  • 20.5 games back

The Jobu league has an interesting little wrinkle in it to protect the other players from purposeful tanking. Like most leagues, trades have to be approved, but there is also a provision allowing for the team that wins the consolation bracket to get the first pick in the next draft. Draft picks can also be exchanged as a part of trades. So, you can play for next year like the big league teams.

It was a bit disheartening to lose ground in a week where I won 8-4, but that is the way the league seems to be going. We can split the league into two halves. You must be in the top four to be in the playoffs, so that brings the next few weeks into focus. Will I sneak into the playoff hunt or be in line to possibly win the consolation round? Big league teams are looking at the same thing before the July 31st deadline.

The Studs

1. Zack Greinke- You’ll notice that Greinke ranked second in my starting pitchers rankings that was just published yesterday. Greinke has a decision to make on an extension. If he follows the numbers he will run as far away from Milwaukee as possible. The infield has betrayed him the past two seasons which means that any trade is good for fantasy owners.

2. Cole Hamels- They keep talking about giving Hamels an extension, but I just don’t see how it would work. They already have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, and Jonathan Papelbon signed long-term. Then, they will have Hunter Pence due either a huge one year deal or extension as well. Hamels pitches in an average environment with average fielding, so pay attention to this situation.

3. Josh Beckett- I’m not sure Beckett qualifies as a stud, but he is better than solid under normal circumstances. The Red Sox may fancy themselves as contenders, but rational thought has to enter in somewhere. Getting rid of Beckett would shed a big contract without angering the fan base.

The Solid

1. Wandy Rodriguez- Wandy Rodriguez doesn’t look like much, but no pitcher has been more betrayed by his team than him. First of all, he has been involved in five games where the Astros got shut out. Secondly, several of his games have been marred by poor fielding. Take away those two elements and he might be a good fantasy option down the stretch.

2. Matt Garza– Like Rodriguez, Garza has been betrayed by pitching on a poor team. In the right environment he might be one of the top ten pitchers in the league. He has been on and off the block all season, so his situation bares watching.

3. Ryan Dempster- At first glance he would seem to be a great pick up if he is moved at the deadline. The run support hasn’t been there. Still, his peripherals point towards a huge regression, so I would be very careful.

4. Kevin Millwood- Millwood is a like a bad penny. He has been around forever and every time you think his career is over he comes back. This year he has been solid for the Mariners and he could be a decent bench option if traded to the right team.

Diamonds in the Rough

1. Jeremy Guthrie– Okay, this might be stretching it. If you own Guthrie right now you are beyond help. However, a lot of pitchers have come back to be productive after leaving Colorado. The trade that sent Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom to the Orioles will haunt Dan O’Dowd for years, but if he can get anything of value for Guthrie he will.

2. Carl Pavano– Minnesota has become pitching hell and Pavano is stuck there. He is currently on the disabled list, but if he can somehow come back by the 31st he could be a bargain basement trade candidate. Currently, his numbers dictate that no one should own him, but he was their best pitcher coming into the season and could help a veteran team at the bottom of their rotation. That’s of course if he is healthy.

Scott Barzilla

Scott Barzilla is the editor in chief at hardballchat.com. He is also the author of four books, including The Hall of Fame Index. The Hall of Fame Index was nominated for the Sporting News Award for statistical innovation in 2011.

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