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Stock Watch: Buy & Sell Analysis

Last week's edition of Stock Watch recommended buying Ryan Zimmerman, but in the last week Zimmerman has come down with a shoulder injury and appears headed for the disabled list. If you own Zimmerman, a back-dated DL trip is probably the best scenario to avoid a re-occuring long-term injury. Let's hope these recommendations have a better result:

Buy

  • Henry Rodriguez - H-Rod is dealing, and in his last appearance, the Padres' announcers were surprised at his consistent 100-mph heat and, as they called it, a "Nintendo slider." Davey Johnson told the Nationals' announcers that H-Rod would have been used had a save scenario existed in Wednesday's game following his save on Tuesday. Also, H-Rod was warming up in the top of the ninth inning yesterday to come into a save opportunity had the Nationals taken the lead. At this point, if Brad Lidge gets another save opportunity, Nationals fans may revolt. There is no guarantee that Drew Storen comes back from elbow surgery this season, and it is not beyond the realm of possiblity that H-Rod ends the season as a top five closer. Buy on the cheap while you have the opportunity.
  • Javy Guerra - When other owners are zigging, you should be zagging. Following Guerra's blown save on Wednesday, many owners are looking to dump. But, Don Mattingly reaffirmed Guerra as the closer on Thursday. Also, Guerra's loss on Tuesday was caused by Matt Kemp not making a catchable play in center field, and on Wednesday, Guerra was singled to death by a very good Braves lineup. I like Guerra to have a decent amount of leash still as the closer given his success last year and excellent pitching before the Braves series, and I would be looking to get him when his value is far down. Guerra also showed the moxie of a closer by taking a wicked line drive off his chin on Wednesday and staying in the save situation.
  • Matt Holliday - His .210 BABIP is over 100 points below his BABIP for every season he has been in the Majors, resulting in a .205 batting average and a drop in perceived value. Strangely, his strikeouts are up even though his swinging strike rate is at 9.5%, which is below his 10.8% career average. But, his lowest career batting average by month is April, and last April he only hit two home runs.
  • Brennan Boesch - Hitting second for Detroit is one of the best hitting slots in the Majors, and a .228 BABIP has driven his average just above the Mendoza Line. His groundball rate has spiked this year, and he has not been patient enough at the plate to work counts into good hitting situations as shown by his horrible 1.3% walk rate. Still, he has two home runs in the past four games, and you should jump on the chance to acquire him if an impatient owner is ready to cut bait.
  • Chris Davis - He's ripped home runs in back-to-back games and could be entering a hot streak. Davis is an excellent power source with multi-position eligibility that is available on many waiver wires.
  • Pedro Alvarez - Alvarez is another power source who is heating up -- also with home runs in back-to-back games -- and is widely available on waiver wires. It may be tough for owners burned by him last year to click "add," but he is a good speculative buy given his immense potential.
  • Jarrod Parker - He turned in a solid first start and has a very high upside. He's more valuable in daily leagues, where he can be benched for away games against tough offenses.
  • Tommy Milone - ZiPs calls for a 4.09 ERA from Milone for the rest of the season, but those owners in daily leagues with deep benches can beat that projection by at least a half-run by only starting Milone at home or in favorable road matchups. He's available on the waiver wire despite an excellent start to the season based on low strikeout rates and lack of name recognition.
  • Chris Sale - A 3.09 SIERA, 2.83 FIP and 9.00 K/9 show his good start is for real.
  • Neil Walker - His strikeout rate and swinging-strike rate are down from last season, and his .260 BABIP is dragging down his batting average.  Pick up Walker on waiver wires where impatient owners pulled the plug, or do not hesitate to grab him as a throw-in to complete a trade.
  • Marco Estrada - Available on most waiver wires in 12- and 14-team mixed leagues, Estrada has a 13.09 K/9 rate this season and is in the rotation -- and pitching against pathetic NL Central lineups -- following the injury to Chris Narveson. Estrada's SIERA was 3.29 last year and is currently at 1.70 on the young season. It will be interesting to see if he can carry this success as a starter, but he's worth a speculative add off the waiver wire to find out.

Sell

  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis - He's playing every day with injuries to Andres Torres and Jason Bay, but his average is inflated with a .429 BABIP and is not sustainable while striking out nearly 30% of his plate appearances.
  • David Freese - The .339 average is carried by a .425 BABIP despite his line drive rate decreasing from last season. Also, his BB rate is down compared to last year, while his strikeout rate is up. His strong start to the season has me selling high before another injury happens, particularly if he were my second third baseman leaving the draft.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez - The right-hander is walking more batters on the season than he is striking out, resulting in an ugly 5.60 SIERA, and his fastball is averaging less than 93 mph on the season (compared to 96.57 in 2010). He's OK to cut in 10-team mixed leagues and to bench in 12-team mixers.
  • James McDonald - He's enjoying a fast start, but keep your expectations in check, as his SIERA is 4.73, while his swinging strike rate of 6.6% is way below his career average. Plus, wins are tough to come by on the Pirates.


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