Some may consider this time of the year as late spring, or grass mowing season or even yard sale season. I like to think of it as fantasy baseball trading season.
With nearly a month in the books, it is time to start making a more aggressive push for players who have struggled enough in April to get their respective owners nervous. Even if it is a little.
Which is why I am seriously pushing in all my fantsay leagues for the following buy-low candidates … and looking to move some of the sell-high guys. I’d urge you to do the same.
My No. 1 target in all fantasy league formats at the moment is Justin Verlander. He’s been on these lists before, but his continual struggles over the past three-plus weeks has started to make certain fantasy owners nervous. If you have one of those topsy-turvy owners in your league, it is time to pounce. Verlander is historically a slow starter, and there is little doubt in my mind that he turns around his 6.95 ERA in 22 innings pitched and becomes one of the premier fantasy pitchers sooner rather than later. I’ve been preparing packages of Zack Greinke and a lesser pitcher for Verlander and a mid-level hurler or two. You could also look to upgrade on offense.
Chad Billingsley has struggled so far this season, although his offense has left him out to dry several times, too. So far this season, he has a 5.40 ERA through 20 innings pitched. However, his last outing was a six-inning performance against Washington Sunday night where he struck out five and allowed just one run over that span. Sure, it came against the Nationals, but a few more outings like that … regardless of the opponent … will do wonders for a pitcher’s psyche. Billingsley next faces Pittsburgh, so expect another solid outing.
Grady Sizemore has yet to either hit a home run or steal a base through three-plus weeks of the season. Considering the injury-plagued 2009 campaign, owners are getting plenty scared that Sizemore will continue to flounder around all season. For the right price … such as a strealing Vernon Wells … I’d look to make a move for Grady based on upside potential. Will he produce first-round talent? Hard to say. But I’d still bank on him over a chronically disappointing Vernon Wells or similar player.
Aaron Hill was recently activated off the DL and responded with a homer over the weekend. Most people who weathered his DL stint wouldn’t be quick to give him up, so don’t expect to get a super great deal here. Same would go for others on the DL (Jimmy Rollins, Ian Kinsler) as their respective owners have suffered through the injury and may be less apt to swing a deal. Still, Hill was a consensus chinstrapninja value target at second base for a reason, and you should at least swing an offer out there and see what bites you may get.
Carlos Lee has continued majorly struggle this season, batting just .162 with no homers and very little accompanying stats to boot. However, after a recent “night off”, Lee responded with a triple, two RBI and a stolen base on 2-for-5 hitting. Pounce now before his stats level out.
According to Yahoo stat lines, Jose Guillen is the fifth-best fantasy baseball producer so far this season. Hard to argue with his .351 average and seven homers. It is also hard to argue against his track record for getting injured. Most seasoned fantasy baseball owners wouldn’t give you super great value for Guillen, but with the right team and with the right package, you could swing Guillen for Grady Sizemore. It is more likely that you could deal him for Carlos Lee. I would.
In 108 games with the Arizona Diamondbacks last year, second baseman Kelly Johnson homered eight times. He already has seven this year, along with a .322 batting average. Is Johnson having a breakout campaign in 2010? Possibly. Is it more likely that he’s going to hit some statistical walls at some point soon? You betcha.
A .292 batting average and six homers to date make Andruw Jones an interesting option in fantasy circles. It isn’t that far removed from him being one of the better power hitters in the game. However, Jones always struggled with plate discipline and it is a very good bet that his batting average will soon take a nice-sized nose dive. Power potential is there, but Jones is more apt to slow down as the season progroesses. See what interest you can garner for him.
Carlos Silva is loving his return to the NL … and his stats show it. A 0.95 ERA and 0.68 WHIP in 19 innings is just crazy-good. However, it is ways too good, especially factoring in Silva’s track record. Moving him soon as a sell-high option is strongly advised.
Matt Capps has been lights-out for the Washington Nationals so far this season, with 8 net saves and 12 strikeouts in 11.1 innings. However, there is a good chance that the bottom falls out in the coming weeks, especially as the Nationals look for reasons to bring up rookie endgame candidate Drew Storen. See if you can move Capps for a slow-start closer with little outside competition.
Who are your sell-high, buy-low candidates after three weeks of play? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below. If you would like some trade advice, feel free to leave a note in our newly refurbished forums or by e-mail to jzak(at)chinstrapninjas(dot)com