Man, he's a hot one. Like seven inches from the midday sun.
Carlos Santana was nothing but smooth this week, and he capped it all off with a two-homer, four RBI game against the Royals on Sunday. Over the seven-game span, Santana went 15-for-27 with six home runs, 10 RBI, eight runs scored and he even added a stolen base.
That brilliance included five home runs during the four-game series with the Royals. In the series, Santana went 9-for-14 with five walks and a HBP, reaching base in 15 of his 20 plate appearances.
“I’m feeling strong," Santana told the Kansas City Star. "The first two months, I wasn’t hitting well and I was struggling. But now I get focused and play hard. Things happen now.”
That he wasn't hitting well in the season's first two months is an understatement. In stark contrast to his recent heater, Santana was ice cold in April and May, combining for a .159/.327/.301 line over his first 50 games. That stretch was punctuated with a concussion Santana suffered from taking a foul tip off his mask in late May, keeping him out for nine games.
But upon returning to the lineup on June 6, something clicked for the 28-year-old. Santana hit .308/.426/.590 in June while playing primarily first base. His departure from third base, where he'd been manning but where Lonnie Chisenhall took over -- both literally and figuratively -- upon his return, also probably had something to do with his resurgence at the dish.
And July is shaping up to be his best month yet. After Sunday's game, Santana has eight home runs and 18 RBI through 23 games this month, and five of his six multi-hit games have come within the past week. After Sunday, Santana's season line is up to .232/.371/.456.
Santana was drafted highly in many leagues for his on-base ability -- even in a down year, Santana leads the American League with 72 walks -- and his power, and owners who stuck with him through the bad times are being rewarded. There isn't a hotter hitter in the game right now, and he's got the talent to make sure the next two months look more like the last two than the first two.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night's MLB games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:10pm ET on Monday. Here's the FanDuel link.
Paying For Peavy
The price of pitching continues to be steep in the days leading up to the trade deadline.
The Giants made a move to cover their bases Saturday, sending two pitching prospects to the Red Sox in exchange for Jake Peavy. Peavy arrived in time to start Sunday's series finale against the Dodgers, allowing four runs -- three earned -- over six innings, taking the loss.
In return for Peavy, the Red Sox received prospects Edwin Escobar and Heath Hembree. Hembree is an intriguing arm who could one day soon be pitching in high-leverage situations for the Sox. The 25-year-old has a 3.89 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 46/13 K/BB ratio with Triple-A Fresno this season, and he's served as the team's closer at virtually every stop along the way during his rise through the minor leagues. Hembree also made it to the big leagues with the Giants for a period last season, striking out 12 over 7 2/3 scoreless innings.
But Escobar, 22, is the centerpiece of the deal for the Red Sox. The left-hander was rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Giants' system and the No. 56 overall prospect by Baseball America coming into the season, and despite an ugly 5.11 ERA through 20 starts Escobar recently represented the Giants at the Futures Game. Last season, Escobar posted a 2.80 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 146/30 K/BB ratio over 128 2/3 innings between High-A and Double-A.
The subtext to the deal is Matt Cain's outlook. It was reported Saturday -- the same day as the Peavy deal -- that Cain has not been making progress in his rehabilitation from the right elbow inflammation that sidelined him prior to the All-Star break. Giants general manager Brian Sabean might have made the Peavy deal regardless of Cain's prognosis, but the deal -- both the timing and the relative cost for a 33-year-old impending free agent with a 4.71 ERA -- suggests the club is preparing for the worst with their 29-year-old starter.
The move to the National League and to a pitchers park will be a positive one for Peavy, but the right-hander remains an NL-only option until he proves that the NL will be his savior. As for Cain, owners should continue to check back on his progress or lack thereof in the coming weeks, but hoping for the best while preparing for the worst may be the best approach going forward.
Upton Up Top
Out of ideas, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez made a move so crazy it seems to have worked.
Searching for a leadoff hitter and willing to try anything to get B.J. Upton going, Gonzalez penciled Upton into the top spot for the Braves' first game of a three-game set with the Astros on June 24. At that point, Upton was hitting .202/.272/.327 and showed very few of the qualities managers often look for in leadoff hitters.
But whether from familiarity -- Gonzalez admitted at the time that part of his reasoning for the move was Upton's time spent as a leadoff hitter in Tampa -- or simply a change of scenery, Upton has shown improvement since moving to the top of the order. Heading into Sunday's game, the 29-year-old was hitting .243/.306/.360 in 27 games since June 24.
And those extra hits and walks have turned into runs. Upton went 2-for-4 with two runs scored in Sunday's win over the Padres, giving him 22 runs scored in 28 games atop the lineup. Upton also stole a base -- something he's been known to do whether or not he's performing at the plate -- to give him 16 steals on the season.
The outfielder's power/speed combination has always made him a fantasy darling, and his frustrating inconsistency at the dish has served to disappoint many of those same fantasy owners. None of that has changed, but his move to the top of the Braves lineup has at least brought him back to fantasy relevancy.
National League Quick Hits: Jedd Gyorko (plantar fasciitis) will be activated from the disabled list on Monday. The second baseman struggled to a .162/.213/.270 line before the injury ... Gyorko's return will push Yangervis Solarte to third base full time, but the 27-year-old will continue to see everyday at-bats while he's going like this. Solarte hit his first home run as a member of the Padres on Sunday, and he's now 7-for-21 with five RBI and five runs scored since being dealt west ... Matt Holliday hit a solo home run Sunday, the only run scored in the 1-0 win over the Cubs. Holliday now has four home runs since the All-Star break after hitting just six over the first half of the season ... Josh Harrison reminded everyone he was an All-Star with a star-like performance Sunday. The utility player went 4-for-6 with a home run, two RBI, two runs scored and two stolen bases against the Rockies ... The Brewers probably felt like they were having deja vu after Lucas Duda delivered a huge blow for the second time in three days. Duda's home run Sunday gave the Mets a 2-0 win over the Brewers, just two days after Duda hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning to lead the Mets to victory Friday ... A.J. Pierzynski signed with the Cardinals and immediately had a three-hit day in the team's win over the Cubs on Saturday. The Cardinals are likely to ride with the notoriously bristly catcher until Yadier Molina returns ... Brandon Belt is still experiencing post-concussion symptoms and hasn't been cleared for baseball activity as of yet. It's quickly becoming a lost year for the 26-year-old, who has played in just 46 games thus far.
American League Quick Hits: The Dodgers and Red Sox could complete their second huge trade since 2012, as names such as Matt Kemp and Jon Lester have been linked to the Red Sox and Dodgers, respectively, in trade talks. There's nothing to say the talks aren't mutually exclusive, but there's nothing to say they are, either ... Coco Crisp returned to Oakland to have his neck examined by a specialist. Crisp was sidelined for two games over the weekend with the neck injury, and a disabled list stint appears like a possibility ... On Thursday, Royals manager Ned Yost said he would be giving less playing time to Billy Butler. On Sunday, Butler capped a 6-for-9 weekend with a three-hit game against the Indians. Butler has two home runs, five RBI and three runs scored since Yost singled him out ... Jose Abreu went 2-for-3 with an RBI double Sunday and now has a 17-game hitting streak. The 27-year-old rookie is hitting .294/.344/.619 on the year ... Like the player he was traded for, Chase Headley also went yard for the first time in his new uniform Sunday. Headley sent a solo shot over the boards and is 8-for-23 (.348) in six games since joining the Yankees ... Alex Rios has potential suitors in the Mariners, Giants, Yankees and Reds, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. If he were to be traded, this would be the second straight year Rios changed clubs after the All-Star break.