Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Buy Low, Sell High!

We're a full month into the baseball season now... for some of us, that means it's time to shed a tear for our NBA teams that just got knocked out (Miami & Washington) of the playoffs, and those about to be finished off (Los Angeles & Denver) tonight... For others of us, it means it's time to start figuring out ways to improve our fantasy baseball teams!

One of the tried and true methods which seems to hold true in any area of life is the old adage to "BUY LOW and SELL HIGH." Do any of you remember a guy named Chris Shelton from last year? Or how about Kevin Mench??? How about Brian Roberts in 2005??? Every year, some guy comes out of the gate seemingly out of nowhere to produce numbers which are way out of line with their career norms... it usually doesn't take too long for these guys to fall back into line. I saw some really ridiculous trades last year - people were moving Shelton for players such as Juan Pierre and John Lackey. Pierre along with Mark Teixiera were amongst those who got off to horrible starts in 2006 - both were guys who I targeted in early season trades last year, and in the case of Pierre, I was able to acquire him VERY cheaply in one league... Let's take a look at the guys to sell now in leagues and also the players which present buying opportunities:


1. Alex Rodriguez (3B-NYY) - A-Rod is off to an AMAZING start with 14 homers, 34 RBI's and a .371 BA through yesterday's games... he is on pace for 95 homers and 230 RBI's... Those are numbers which would SHATTER the current records of 73 homers and 191 RBI's... Probability says that these numbers are going to come back to earth... A-Rod is one of baseball's best players, but even he is playing over his head at the moment. Get as much as you can for him - you might be able to land Albert Pujols, or maybe Johan Santana and a throw in like Gary Sheffield... A-Rod will never be valued higher, so get what you can for him... and if you have a specific need such as pitching as I do in one league, try to address it.

2. Chipper Jones (3B-ATL) - Chipper is the only player other than A-Rod with double digit homers to this point. With 10 homers, 20 RBI and 24 runs scored, he's on pace for 62 homers, 125 RBI's and 150 runs... Chipper's a great player, but he won't be close to those numbers at season's end. As many of you know, Chipper is a HUGE injury risk, missing more than 50 games the previous 2 seasons and 25 games in 2004. Because of this it's VITAL that you move him as soon as you can. You may be able to land a great pitcher like John Lackey or a closer such as Francisco Rodriguez. Play up the homers and his past successes and hope that you can get a big fish for Chipper.

3. B.J. Upton (2B/3B-TB) - Upton is hitting an unworldly .377 at the moment with 5 homers, 20 RBI's and 5 steals in only 77 at bats so far. On the surface, these numbers look great, but one needs to look a little deeper to see that Upton may be the 2006 version of Chris Shelton. Shelton was EXTREMELY lucky early - 24 of his first 35 balls in play wound up being base hits (That's a crazy .686 percentage!)... He also was striking out A LOT. Upton is off to a similar start - he has struck out 28 times so far, meaning he has put 49 balls in play. Of those 49 balls in play, 29 have been hits for a .592 percentage. The league average of balls put in play becoming base hits is somewhere around .300, so Upton is nearly double that. This can only mean one thing - that batting average is on the way DOWN! Sell him as quickly as you can and fill a need!

4. Brad Penny (SP-LAD) - Penny is off to as seemingly great 3-0 start whith a 1.64 ERA in 6 starts for the Dodgers. However, his WHIP is a very average 1.30, and he has walked 17 batters, while only striking out 15 in his first 38 1/3 innings. Players with WHIP's around 1.30 typically post an ERA around 4.10, while ANY pitcher who is walking more batters than he is striking out should set off the warning lights... Play up that 1.64 ERA and the 3-0 record and hope you can get some help in other areas. That ERA of Penny's will be over 3 before you know it!

5. Armando Benitez (RP-SF) - The injury prone Benitez already has 7 saves for the Giants in 2007 with a nice looking 2.00 ERA. This, however, is not the same Benitez we used to know... A 1.44 WHIP and a 1.8:1 K/BB ratio in his first 9 innings tell the story here. While the surface numbers look decent enough, we all know that "Senor Smoke" is a ticking time bomb and that those knees could go out at any time. Trade him now, while he has some value, and while you're at it, you may want to scout the Giants bullpen for an eventual replacement - I just don't see him making it through the season healthy.


1. Mark Teixiera (1B-TEX) - "Big Tex" got off to a slow start in 2006 as well, not waking up until July. In case you forgot, he blasted 25 homers and drove in 66 in the season's second half. This year, a .223 BA, 2 homers and 6 RBI's are all he's produced. Learn from the past and use that to land this big fish - you'll be happy you did!

2. Manny Ramirez (OF-BOS) - A .215 BA and only 3 homers is not what you would call "Manny just being Manny." One of baseball's best hitters, Ramirez has hit 33 or more homers, driven in 102 or more and hit .292 or higher for 9 consecutive years! The future Hall Of Famer is sure to wake out of this slumber... perhaps you can get him for someone like a 6th or 7th rounder - maybe a closer like Huston Street for example... Manny is almost as reliable as the sun rising... no one in baseball has displyaed his level of consistency over the past decade.

3. Paul Konerko (1B-CWS) - A sub-Mendozian .189 BA along with only 3 homers tell you all you need to know about Paul in 2007... Yes, he's off to a VERY slow start. A career .283 hitter with 3 consecutive seasons of 35 homers and 100 or more RBI's... hitters as consistent and reliable as Paulie don't grow on trees... get him now, before he gets hot!

4. Gary Sheffield (OF-DET) - Sheffield has an anemic .191 batting average to this point, but if you look deeper into the numbers, you'll see that he's been a lot unlucky. With 20 walks, and only 17 strikeouts, his batting eye is as good as ever now. He also has scored 22 runs and even stolen four bases so far, so despite the slow start with the bat, he has helped in other areas. A career .296 hitter, "Sheff" had produced three consecutive seasons of 34 or more homers and 121 or more RBI's from 2003 through 2005... Injuries ruined his 2006 season, and with his batting eye still in tact, it's only a matter of time before his numbers return to the "normal" Sheffield numbers we have become so accustomed to seeing.

5. Ryan Zimmerman (3B-WAS) - I almost hesitate to put Zimmerman on this list - but I figure at some point he's going to start hitting better. Could being recently engaged to the 2005 Miss DC, Shannon Schambeau the reason he only has one homer and 8 RBI's to go along with a .230 BA? I'm not sure, but I do know his batting eye has remained constant from last year with about a 2:1 K/BB ratio, so this means he's been a little unlucky at the plate so far. I guess the "Perfect Storm" of circumstances has conspired against him so far in '07. Additionally, I saw him on Sportscenter the other night making several outstanding defensive plays in a game. Last year, Zimmerman hit 20 homers and drove in 110 to go along with a .287 batting average. If you're lucky, you may even find him on the waiver wire in a league or two... now is the time to go get him - his numbers have nowhere to go but UP!

6. Carlos Delgado (1B-NYM) - Delgado is almost as consistent and reliable as the aforementioned Ramirez... In 2007, he only has 1 homer, 13 RBI's and a .200 BA to show for his first 100 at bats... Delgado has posted ten consecutive years of 30 or more homers and driven in 90 or more in 11 consecutive seasons... His value will never be lower... buy him NOW before someone else does!

7. Richie Sexson (1B-SEA) - Sexson is NEVER going to win you a batting title, however, he is also not a .151 hitter as his current BA would indicate. He got off to a slow start last year as well and finished with 34 homers and 107 RBI to go along with a .264 BA. Sexson is a career .267 hitter and (asides from his injury plaged 2004 season) posted an average of 38 homers and 116 RBI's from 2001 thru 2006. This is one of baseball's most consistent sluggers... go get him now while his stock is at it's bottom!

8. Erik Bedard (SP-BAL) - At first glance, the 6.09 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP Bedard has posted so far look like numbers more in line with something Jose Lima may be inclined to produce... 42 K's in only 34 innings pitched and a 3.23:1 K/BB ratio tell me that he's been quite unlucky so far this year. If you're lucky, someone may have cut bait on him and he could be a free agent in one of your leagues.. if not, go trade a fast starter such as Orlando Hudson for him, and then sit back and enjoy the ride... a 3.76 ERA last year and a 4.00 ERA in 2005 should be your benchmarks... Also, guys capable of getting you 225 K's are few and far between.

9. J.J. Putz (RP-SEA) - Putz added two wicked new pitches to his arsenal in 2006 - a two-seamed fastball and curveball... As a result, he went from being just an average reliever to one of the league's premier closers, saving 36 games while striking out 104 batters in 78 innings. Injuries slowed him this spring, and then the Mariners basically went the first three weeks of the season without a single save opportunity. The saves are finally starting to come now, but with only four, Putz is still well behind the league leaders. His 1.50 ERA, 0.50 WHIP and .128 BAA allowed are the numbers you need to look at. Perhaps you can trade a weak closer such as Al Reyes for him, or a hot-starting hitter such as Chipper Jones. Putz has NASTY stuff and appears to be healthy, so go make your best trade pitch and get him!

10. Chad Cordero (RP-WAS) - Over the past couple of years, Cordero has been the one consistent bright spot for the Nationals, saving 76 games from 2004 thru 2006 including a league best 47 in 2005. Batters only hit .198 and .215 off him the past two years... this year, they hit him at a .333 clip in April. Cordero is still striking out nearly a batter an inning, so he still has his good stuff, but he's been quite unlucky so far. The Nationals also haven't begun to hit yet, so there have been very few save opportunities. Look for that to change as the hitters beging to wake up... 30 saves and a 2.50 ERA the rest of the way should be able to help out any team!

No comments: