Monday, April 16, 2007

Albert Pujols is the new Tickle Me Elmo...

April 15, 2007

Two weeks in the books and so much potential to make our fantasy teams more competitive. I have held off on making pointless transactions despite my frustration with a few of my 27 fantasy teams, but sometimes when opportunity comes knocking, we have to answer the door. I'm talking trade here, simple economics. Pujols, anyone?

Although it's not quite trade season yet, I have been preaching to everyone that in the beginning, it's important to stick to your gut, remain patient and let your slow-starting players work themselves out, only making moves to fill holes or make no-brainer upgrades. However, the opportunity to help your team become more competitive has instantly arrived. Let's use Sir Albert Pujols as our test dummy.

Albert Pujols is the Tickle Me Elmo of Christmas 1996 — everyone has to have him! Albert is the king of fantasy sports. Even though football is more popular, Pujols demands the highest price of any fantasy superstar.

However, with slow starts galore in this fantasy baseball season, there is no better time to buy Pujols low or sell him high. The reason Pujols' value is perceived to be low at the moment is because he is batting .176, 1 HR, 2 RBI and 5 R in 34 AB through Thursday. But he's still Albert Pujols. If there was a time to strike on Pujols, the time is now! Let me show you how ...

First, let me explain how to buy Pujols low. I'll admit, prying Pujols from another manager's kung fu grip can be nearly impossible, but with a bit of creativity and luck, we might be able to make something happen.

It's always tough to turn down a great deal, and that's what we need to offer the other manager, a deal they cannot say no to. We start the deal by using a top second- or third-round type pick. Entice your trading partner with a top-notch pitcher like Carlos Zambrano or Jake Peavy, or offer the scarce stolen base guy like Rafael Furcal or Ichiro Suzuki, or go with a power source to replace Pujols with a Manny Ramirez, Paul Konerko or Carlos Delgado.

Point here is that we want Pujols for his high average, 100-plus runs and premier power. There is no reason to trade away our first round picks for Pujols. You want to offer star players that any fantasy manager would be glad to have.

We want to sell (or trade) players other managers always want. Then, follow up your superstar with a young player with hype and upside like Delmon Young, Howie Kendrick, Ian Kinsler or Nick Markakis.

If you do not include other players with hype in the deal, it will not happen. You have to make the manager think he/she is getting two special players for the price of one.
Just be sure you ask for a "throw-in" player back like a Carl Pavano or Braden Looper, for example.

On the other hand, selling Pujols high can be even easier. Albert Pujols comes with hype like no other, arguably the most valuable fantasy baseball player. The hype here is that everyone in your league wants Pujols at any given time. Do I have to draw a picture? You can get any player you want with a smart trade!

You can realistically acquire two star upgrades for the price of one Pujols. You see, Pujols is not hitting well right now, but the world knows he will break out of his early season slump any day now. So when you own Pujols, you can simply hold out for the highest bidder.

Question of the week
Q: I traded Jimmy Rollins for Mark Teixeira in my non-keeper league. Was that a good or bad move because Teixeira has started slow again, I need the power with Nomar Garciaparra at 1B and I also have Jose Reyes, which made Rollins expendable?

FM: Great move. I realize Rollins is off to a scorching hot start with five home runs through Thursday, but you need power and Tex will provide that. Tex is not hitting for power again this early, but he is producing quality at-bats and forcing a lot of walks. It's only two weeks into the season, the power will come. Plus, you have Reyes and stolen bases, so it was a good move to upgrade at 1B.

Waiver Wire Recommendations:

Zach Greinke, SP, KC - After a torrid spring and two regular-season starts, Greinke is 1-1, 12 K, 1.38 ERA, 1.154 WHIP. Those are fantastic stats for a guy who pitched in only three games last season due to anxiety and depression. He's only 23 and has the talent to be a superstar. If he keeps this up, Greinke will be a super-cheap keeper for next season. He was available on a waiver wire in one of my leagues, so I have to assume he is available on others as well. He may not win 20 games, but he should put up a spectacular first half.

Braden Looper, SP, STL - 1-1, 2.08 ERA in 13 IP, but his 7 IP, 0 ER performance on Monday was great. Looper was solid all spring and it's continued in the regular season. Now, I know we all have mixed feelings about Looper from when he was a Met, but he is a different pitcher now, a starting pitcher. He looks confident and uses all of his pitches. He throws hard too.

Geoff Jenkins, OF, MIL - Jenkins was supposed to platoon in LF with Kevin Mench, but he's off to such a great start, he's playing full-time. This has pushed Corey Hart back into a platoon role. No one saw it coming, but the 32-year-old apparently still has plenty left in the tank. He is available on most waiver wires and would most likely make a great addition as a fourth or fifth outfielder or an extra utility player.

Billy Butler, OF, KC - Butler was sent back to the minors after a hot spring mainly because his defense is lacking. This guy can hit and so far in Triple A, he is batting .250, 3 HR, 7 RBI in six games. Expect his average to increase because he has never hit below .313 in the minors. I mention Butler because the Royals cannot keep him stashed away much longer.

Glen Perkins, SP, MIN - Perkins is the next best pitching prospect the Twins have other than Matt Garza, who is not ready. Perkins was impressive last season and this spring and after sending him down to start 2007 in Triple A, the Twins recalled Perkins to serve as the seventh reliever in the bullpen on Wednesday.

Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees - Johnny Damon is back but Hideki Matsui is now on the DL with a strained hamstring. Hopefully you took my advice and scooped up Melky to fill the void. He should help in the average and run departments while possibly swiping a bag or two.

Mike Kuchera is the Creator and Editor of and Fantasy Baseball Columnist for the Times Herald-Record. This article is viewable in full at, the website for the Times Herald-Record which serves Orange County, NY.

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