Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Its the end of April and time to re-evaluate our teams!!

.... this article comes from Wednesday's Fantasy Man F.E.E.D (Fantasy Email Every Day). If your interested in purchasing the FM FEED, please visit Fantasy Baseball Express for details...

Well, with just about a month down the drain and a rash of injuries and poor performances, its finally the end of April, which is the best time to take the first look at our teams/rosters and start the re-evaluation process. Of course, most of us have been keeping a close eye on our teams all along, but now if the time to make some initial tough decisions, especially those in the lower half of the standings. Now, if you are in the top half and are slowly but surely gaining momentum, then its ok to stand pat and not change anything. The old saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it"….in which case, only an upgrade via trade is necessary…only if it's a true upgrade in your mind. But anyway….

This FEED is mainly for those who need help moving up the standings whether your in dead last or somewhere in that lower half on a consistent basis. Some leagues, the standings are so close that you could be in last today, have a good night and be in third tomorrow. Obviously, those teams don't need to read into this as much but we could all use the education. So lets get started, below I have simply listed tips and trade ideas to help get your team headed in the right direction….

1. We are in Step 1 of re-evaluation mode, nothing more. There is no need yet to "shake things up". Do Not make a trade just to make a trade. Only make moves that either fill a hole or upgrade a player that benefits an underperforming category. With that being said though, lets get into trading…..

2. If you look up and down your team and you feel you have someone that has value and is tradeable, first send a ridiculous offer. Not too ridiculous as you don't want to upset the other manager but send something that is ridiculously in your favor. This does two things. First, you may get lucky and the guy accepts (I have been lucky a few times). Second, the other manager sends a counter offer which he believes is fair or is helping him but in actuality is a fantastic deal for you. Point here is that everyone perceives the value of players to be different. Sometimes we need to let the other guy make the bad (for him) offer. A guy that lives in Boston would give up his left leg before he trades Papi but a guy in Arizona might trade Papi for Ichiro Suzuki and Randy Johnson. You just never know. The main idea is to give up the least amount in your mind for the most you can get. I know its obvious, but sometimes you can slip a trade by someone.


3. Just a quick story of how I learned from this very mistake… I was on the run to catch a plane with my wife for vacation. A manager in my league offered me a good deal at the time. It was Johhny Estrada at $1 and Mike Cuddyer at $3 for Joey Gathright $1 and my reserve pick. We pick 2 reserve players once a month. I happened to have the first pick on this particular month. At the time, I didn't need much help from the wire so I agreed to the deal because I got the catcher I needed in the trade. Well, he goes and picks Jered Weaver….and we all know how that turned out!!!!..... Moral of the story, don't be in a rush, and make sure you cover all basis when making deals.

4. Here is a list of big time players off to poor starts who value could be perceived as lower than normal, meaning a good offer could get something done as explained in #5…. We'll start at the top….
- Pujols - Still batting in the low .200's
- Santana – a few mediocre starts
- Ryan Howard
- Lance Berkman
- Alfonso Soriano
- David Wright
- Manny Ramirez
- Derrek Lee

- Mark Teixiera
- Paul Konerko
- Robbie Cano – No dingers
- Carlos Zambrano

- Mariano Rivera
- JJ Putz

- Jered Weaver

…. Obviously I did not include everyone but all of these players are star players off to a bad start, a poor April we'll call it. We really have no choice but to believe these guys will break out of it. But the question is when? Next week? Today? Second half? We cannot concern ourselves with that. The idea here is that we need to make smart offers, in a "low-ball" manner to snatch these guys from our trading partners for as little in return as possible. The best way to do this………

5. Is with over-hyped or just plain-hyped players who are playing well like Nick Markakis, Ian Kinsler, BJ Upton, Delmon Young, Tim Hudson, John Maine, Oliver Perez, or even Philip Hughes now. See here, for example, using the players I just mentioned, I am willing to bet that if you have a John Maine in your rotation and a Nick Markakis sitting on your bench, you can land your self a Mark Teixiera or a Carlos Zambrano. It's a combination of hype, performance and perceived value. We all know the possibilities of what Nick Markakis can do… .300+/20+HR/100 RBI/ 10+ SB, and he's living up to it thus far which makes him the perfect trade bait. Even if he does live up to it or at least close to it, your using his hype, current success and his perceived value to land a superstar pitcher who has struggled the same way he does just about every April…then he goes nuts the rest of the way. Just keep in mind, that Markakis on the bench is an example and that if he is on your bench and there's no use for him, its also like trading Zambrano for Maine in a roundabout way, because your gving up a player who is technically worthless to you because he is not an active player in your lineup. I play in 27 leagues, I have Markakis on the bench in 3 different leagues because there is no room, which makes him prime trade bait. Every team/league is different and have different bench players available, etc. For instance one of my teams, that utilizes a CI and a DH and I have Tex at 1B, Ortiz at DH, Swisher at CI and no room for Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder who are sitting on my bench (Actually, Swisher is now on the bench for Gonzo). I cant even trade these guys because this particular team is nasty with Nathan & KRod as closers and a nice pitching staff. I am in first place in this league. Its obviously a joke league for me but the point is that even here, I have good quality players who I can use as trade bait sitting on my bench.

6. Here are some interesting types of offers. Remember, we all have different teams/leagues so these are just idea. To me, these deal combine hype,performance and some value. Sometimes they'll work, sometimes they wont. But at least you'll get some ideas….
- David Wright for Ryan Zimmerman/ Chris Ray – entice with a solid closer.
- Lance Berkman for Nick Markakis/John Maine – great performances + hype
- Albert Pujols for Rich Harden/Lyle Overbay – Harden a huge risk + an all around solid 1B
- Johan Santana for Ian Kinsler (or BJ Upton) & Jered Weaver – Lets assume you had a 2B on your bench that is serviceable enough to fill Kinsler's slot.
- Mark Teixiera for Ian Kinsler & Javier Vazquez – People love Vazquez for some reason.

7. Look at the waiver wire and your ERA/WHIP. Are they high? A good solid reliever can help that, even in a 10 team league. If guys like Zumaya, Broxton, Aardsma, Shields, Bruney, Joe Smith, Neshak, etc are still available, they are more valuable then guys like Russ Ortiz, Anthony Reyes, Kei Igawa, Doug Davis, Vicente Padilla, etc. 2-3 innings per week with 5K and a 0.83 WHIP and 0 ER from a reliever will help your team more than one start from Padilla where he had 2-3 K, gave up 5 runs in 5 IP and had a WHIP of 1.433. The 2-3 reliever innings seem to be more valuable in leagues that don't count innings.

8. Some possible waiver wire pickups I recommend…. Orlando Hernandez, Kelly Johnson, Tom Gorzelanny, Chad Gaudin, Dallas Braden, and even Ronny Paulino who has been dropped by some. He hit a dinger last night so maybe that's the spark he needed. He will hit.

9. Gerald Laird – he'll be given a chance to prove he could hit, I mean after all, he made the team because of his hitting. Plus, there is no real back up, so don't give up on him.

10. Make sure you take a shot at Philip Hughes in non keeper Yahoo leagues. He is on waivers until April 27, so put your claim in!

Mike Kuchera
Fantasy Baseball Express
http://www.fantasybaseballexpress.com/
Home of "The Fantasy Man Show" Podcast
Member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association

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 www.FantasyBaseballExpress.com and Fantasy Baseball Columnist for the Times Herald-Record. This article is viewable in full at www.recordonline.com, the website for the Times Herald-Record which serves Orange County, NY.