Adam LaRoche's fantasy value drops in Boston

July, 22, 2009

Adam LaRoche's owners in NL-only and deep mixed leagues are feeling a little sting right now (well, as much sting as you can feel when a player is hitting .247) because they now have a player who has gone from having an everyday job to a part-time one.

The Red Sox acquired LaRoche to give them the depth they've lacked at the corner-infield slots, freeing Kevin Youkilis to slide over to third base and give Mike Lowell and his surgically repaired hip a little more rest in the second half. Although Red Sox manager Terry Francona uses his bench a bit, LaRoche will sit more than start, as Youkilis and Lowell remain the primary names in the lineup.

Francona told the team's Web site that Lowell generally will not play more than three or four games in a row, so LaRoche will sub for him from time to time. AL-only owners hoarding their free-agent acquisition budget money for an impact player will need to wait a little longer, because LaRoche won't earn enough playing time to be that guy despite his power potential, unless Lowell's hip takes a turn for the worse or injury strikes Youkilis or David Ortiz.

The Pirates were looking to get out from under the balance of LaRoche's $7.05 million salary for the season and were not expected to make a run at re-signing him. They received two minor leaguers in return who are not worth fantasy consideration. Argenis Diaz is a 22-year-old, 5-foot-11, 155-pound defense-first shortstop with no pop and very little speed who may not even hit for much batting average. Hunter Strickland is a 6-5 right-handed pitcher who has shuttled between starting and the bullpen. He lacks an out pitch and is having problems putting batters away even in Class A ball.

However, the deal means that the red-hot-hitting Lastings Milledge finally should earn a promotion back to the big leagues, where he'll battle Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young for playing time in left field. Garrett Jones will slide over to first base. Milledge likely already is reserved in NL-only leagues, but he would become a deep mixed-league consideration (thanks to his speed) if it looked as though he were a lock to start five or six times per week.



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