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Stock Watch: Sell High, Buy Low, Steal Healthy Guys

Finally! We now have data we can work with, understand, and safely extrapolate over the course of a full season.

Or...not. But we have gone on long enough that hot and cold streaks have lasted long enough to impact multiple weeks of fantasy play--not to mention the real standings, but why mention those here. The fantasy game is the real Big Show, after all.

Trade for These Guys

Giancarlo Stanton and Adam Dunn
Both of these guys are off to hideous starts, and both were expected to be among the HR leaders when the season started. Stanton, in particular, was supposed to be a cornerstone of many teams (most of mine, in fact), but he's produced just a single Run Scored for all four counting stats and just a .182 BA. Next to him, Dunn actually looks pretty good, with his two homers and his .105 average.

So, why trade for these guys? Because the power they had before the season still exists. Stanton has been dealing with nagging injuries that might scare off frustrated owners, but should explain away his struggles when combined with the caprices of the Gods of Small Sample Size. Speaking of sample size, it should be no surprise that Dunn has cold weeks. The fact that they're coming at the beginning of the season simply means you might be able to get a good deal on him. These two still have power that's almost unrivaled in baseball, and getting either at even a small discount would be a great idea for most teams.

Final bonus: Stanton may be traded at some time this season, and pretty much wherever he goes, he'll have a better lineup to drive in and offer him protection.

David Ortiz, Chase Headley, and Brett Lawrie
I shied away from this trio in drafts, as I wanted to avoid spending early picks on injured players. That didn't stop me from getting players like Corey Hart, Brian McCann, and Colby Lewis to stop up my DL slots like glue, but that's another story. This story is about how now is the time to trade for any of these three players.

The theory is this: when you spend the first weeks of a season without a particular player, you discover that you don't really need him. This lends owners to undervalue these nearly-healthy or newly-healthy players and overvalue their opportunity to finally get some use out of them via trade. It works particularly well if the owner has needs in other positions that can't be filled by the returning player. As Ortiz, Headley, and Lawrie come off the DL, it could be time to swoop in with a trade offer. Of course, this strategy won't work on every owner (it did on me last year)--some will cling to the returned player like he's their team savior. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work.

Julio Teheran
He was the trendiest Spring Star to draft in the final weeks of the season, as he mowed down everyone he faced and seemed to be finally building on his top-prospect talent. Now he's sporting an ERA of 7.31 and is owned in only 34% of Yahoo! leagues. The thing is, he's still the guy he was going into that amazing Spring Training: a high-level prospect pitching for a good team. He could right the ship, and if you nab him now the cost won't be more than a waiver claim in many leagues. If you do trade for him, you shouldn't be paying much. Any more and I don't really recommend going after him.

Waiver Claims and Free Agents

Last week, I spent several entire minutes explaining why Ted Lilly was a good pickup. Then the Dodgers installed Chris Capuano into their rotation and I rewrote it all at the last minute. Well, look who's starting now. Yeah, Lilly is the one who will get the starts for LA, even though the team doesn't seem convinced he's ready. Nab him now and leave him on your bench for a start or two, because if he is ready, he's probably still the above-average pitcher he used to be. If he isn't that guy, it will probably be apparent quickly and you can cut him loose.

I was looking over the list of pitchers by Yahoo! Rank (not the most scientific thing to do in the world, I know), and one guy stood out by ownership rates. Everyone around was in the 80's or 90's by percent owned. And then there was Carlos Villanueva, sitting right there at 17%. When someone on the waiver wire is ranked exclusively with the pitchers owned in nearly every league, it's time to take notice. Sure enough, Villanueva has pitched very well. If his next start weren't against the Reds, he'd be on two or three of my teams already. Monitor him for his next start and grab him up afterwards.

By the way, Villanueva's teammate Travis Wood looks pretty good so far too. Jeremy Guthrie and Zach McAllister are both pitching well also. Guthrie actually has some good history to back him up (though no history of help in strikeouts), but McAllister has more upside. If you need strikeouts, Felix Doubront is always great for those. He isn't much good for other things, though, like ERA and WHIP. Pitching for Boston and striking people out makes him a great choice for streaming.

As for hitters to pick up, Didi Gregorius is a great choice, as the prospect will be filling in for the injured Aaron Hill, as Cliff Pennington will move over to second base. He's already hit a home run, and any pop you can get midseason out of your SS or MI slot is great. Another interesting option is Nolan Arenado is lighting up the minor leagues, to the tune of a .417 average with three homers and 11 doubles. Chris Nelson and Josh Rutledge aren't exactly off to amazing starts, so Arenado might be able to force the Rockies to bring him up. If your league has a minors slot, pick him up. Even if not, he makes a very strong stash option right now.

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Well, it's not quite so urgent as that, but we've gotten to the point of the season where it might be possible to capitalize on some hot starts. Second basemen Ian Kinsler and Brandon Phillips are both tearing the cover off the ball, with five and four homers, respectively, BA's over .300 and double digits in runs and RBI. The only knock so far is that they have but one steal between them. Probably they're scoring before they even get the chance to steal. These starts aren't sustainable of course, unless they both post career years. Having the depth to deal either of these players away is unlikely, but if you do, now is a great time to reap extra value and let them settle back down to earth with a new owner.

Speaking of playing over your head, check out Matt Harvey and Shelby Miller. I like both for the rest of the season, but not nearly at the level they're doing now. Both are among the league's best pitchers so far, with miniscule ERA's, sub 1.00 WHIP's, and at least a strikeout per inning. As flamethrowing youngsters, you can expect enthusiasm for their season and careers to be high. As young pitchers, you can expect them to hit the occasional rough patch over the course of the season. Trade 'em now, enjoy the production of the steadier veterans you can get in return, and don't feel bad when they end up with good-but-not-ace numbers over the course of the season, probably with low IP totals.

Paul Maholm isn't exactly a top prospect, but he's having the best couple weeks of his life. He's been a pretty average pitcher for the better part of the last decade, and I don't think that's likely to chance in 2013. If you can find someone who does, deal Maholm away. If you can't, ride the wave while it lasts. 

Finally, we've got Jarrod Parker. I wasn't incredibly excited about Parker going into the year (I can't stand pitchers with low strikeout rates), but he was quite useful last year. Well, he's been horrible this year and I'm losing patience and the A's have Dan Straily waiting in the minors. If you can ship Parker off to an owner that buys into his youth and upside, do it. If you can't, don't be surprised if the A's cut him faster than you do.


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