Meet Joey Votto. He’s a nice enough guy. Born in Toronto. Drafted in the second round of the 2002 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He bats left-handed. Throws right-handed. Oh … and rumor has it that he’s not too shabby of a hitter, either. In fact, for scheming fantasy baseball owners like myself, he’s actually hitting a little too well at the moment.
You see, Joey Votto is one of a handful of players that every fantasy baseball owner should know, and know well. I consider him a trade equalizer. Why? Who else is a jzak equalizer? How can you win the Joey Votto Lotto? Read on …
Joey Votto is one of a few players who are a fantasy trading gold mine. He flies under many people’s radar, (Yahoo has him as like the 17th first baseman on its preseason list. Yet, Joey Votto could finish the season as a top-five first baseman. I’ll bet my chinstrap ninja reputation that Votto will definitely finish no worse than in the top 10 at the position, but I expect him to be higher. I expect him to produce right along with the Mark Teixeiras, Prince Fielders and Ryan Howards. He’s a safe bargain.
This year, in each league I drafted, I own an elite first baseman. In one league, its Teixeira — in the other, it’s Fielder. I was quick to identify the teams that own Votto in my respective leagues, and I’m scheming up my trade proposals. You see, many people will look at Fielder or Teixeira or Howard or Miguel Cabrera as a hugh upgrade over Votto. This means that they’ll be more open to trading you some solid talent at another position — preferrably, for you, a position that you’re currenly weak at. So, if you are able to pull off a deal such as this, you’ll be vastly improving a weak link on your team, while not losing much, if anything, at first base.
Of course, Votto’s wickedly nice stats the opening week of the season isn’t helping give you a trading edge — in less than a week of play, he’s hitting .538 with two home runs, seven RBI and four runs scored. However, Votto will come back to earth a little at some point, making a trade for him a little more lucrative for your other roster needs. Even with his current statistical tear, I suggest you throw out a trade request. Do some fishing. See what sort of nibbles or bites you may get in return. Votto is a fish worth reeling in — not just because he will produce well this year, but because of the value you can net with him in a trade. Can you win the Votto Lotto?
Also, this got me thinking about which other players could be considered “trade equilizers” — or guys who have a lot of upside, a reasonably low amount of risk, and yet can replace your stud without missing a beat while you improve at another position. Some guys I was considering:
1. Alex Rodriguez. Ever since A-Rod’s hip injury was revealed, he started slipping in fantasy drafts. In most expert leagues, he was available in the third or fourth round. Word from A-Rod-land is promising and he may be back by the end of the month. Of course, there is some risk that his injury will linger and hamper some of his stats — especially stolen base attempts — but that risk may also make A-Rod a trade value at the moment. If you were able to snag David Wright, for example, this may be a good time to dish him (and another player) off to the A-Rod owner for A-Rod and some elite talent at another position. Of course, as time marches on, and A-Rod’s injury situation improves and he gets closer to returning, he will be less and less available. Strike while the iron is hot.
2. B.J. Upton. For many of the same reasons as A-Rod, Upton could provide some good trade value. He’ll be back off the DL sooner rather than later (newest projections have him coming back early next week), and he’ll produce once he gets his feet under him. The season is 162-games long and Upton could be a late-season savior at an early-season bargain.
3. Nick Markakis. Many people are quick to overlook Markakis — perhaps because he plays for the Orioles — perhaps because he’s still a somewhat unknown quantity. However, he’s only 25, has three years Major League experience under his collar and will produce both solid power and speed numbers.
4. Francisco Liriano. The Twins starting pitcher was lights-out before having to undergo Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2007 and a large part of 2008. However, he’s on schedule to produce some solid stats again this year, and many baseball experts have him projected as a possible Cy Young candidate this year.
Who are your trade values? Join in the discussion here at our new chinstrap ninja message board. Be one of the original posters on a fantasy website and grow with ninja nation! We’d love to hear from you!