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Stock Watch: It's a Good Week to Buy your Mom a First Baseman

As the title says, there are three intriguing 1B options on most waiver wires; in addition there's another pair who look like great candidates to improve as their BABIP normalizes. Those aren't the only players who might deserve to change hands in the next weeks, whether you're trading for slumping ace pitchers or trading away young phenoms who pitch the best game we're likely to see this season.

By the way, happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Trade For

If you had R.A. Dickey  and Cole Hamels in your rotation last year, your pitching was probably pretty good. This year...not so much. In Dickey's case, his strikeouts and velocity are down, while his homers and walks are up. It's an ugly mix, to say the least. So why do I recommend trading for the knuckleballer, when his problems appear not to be luck-related? Well, it's because of the inherent unpredictability of knuckleballs and those who throw them. It's natural to expect a higher degree of variance in their starts than in most. I'm not willing to give him a pass for his poor performance...but I'd be more than happy to buy low on him. 

Hamels is, to me, an even easier pitcher to trade for. Of course, you're less likely to find an owner willing to give up on him at this point than you are with Dickey. Hamels's strikeouts are down and his walks are up, and one can see from his FIP (4.42) and xFIP (4.15) that his mediocre ERA is of his own doing. That said, it's only been eight starts and he's been a world-class pitcher for five years now. I think he's earned more than a little benefit of the doubt, especially considering that his fastball velocity is actually up from last year.

Adam LaRoche is a fixture on any May trade-for or pick-up list. I'm not normally one to take a player's historical month-by-month splits very seriously, but with LaRoche it's appropriate to make an exception. In eight years (I added his partial 2004 and 2011 seasons into one), he's got a .214 average in 866 PA. He's a slow starter. He's starting to heat up. Nab him, especially if he's got a frustrated first-time owner.

Michael Morse was supposed to lose power in Safeco Field, and with it, most of his value. I, for one, was pretty skeptical about drafting him. Well, he's got nine homers and a .471 SLG in his first 30 games. The power seems to be there. What isn't is the average: he's dragging fantasy squads down with a mark of just .227. The good news is that he's suffering from a lousy .243 BABIP that's likely to come up. When it does, he ought to look a lot like the guy he was for the last season and half. Pretty useful.Oh, and he's had even worse luck on the road than at his much-maligned home park.

Trade Away

Jon Niese looked like a great pickup before the season, and he didn't start off terribly. Well, things have gotten terrible, as his K/9 has dropped from a healthy 7.33 last year to just 4.61 so far this year. Worse yet, his last couple performences have brought his K:BB ratio to 21:22. Exactly what's going on, I don't know. If you can include him as part of a larger package (and therefore sneak him onto someone else's team), do it. He's not a drop just yet, but he's getting unstartable.

Patrick Corbin is someone I've recommended picking up, but now is the time to send him packing. With a sparkly 5-0 record and a miniscule 0.38 HR/9, he's been a great fantasy pitcher. His track record, however, suggests that he should be a good fantasy pitcher going forward, and really nothing more. His strikeout and walk numbers support that thesis (6.99 K/9; 2.33 BB/9). If you can get a closer or a solid hitter for him, make the deal.

There is little in fantasy more difficult than trading a young player who could be a superstar in the making. The risk is very large--and all the more since it comes with the shame of trading away a player just as he's breaking out. All that said, the risk of standing pat is high too. Young players go up and down, sometimes looking like they've reached their full potential when they still have serious growing pains to get through. As such, I recommend trading Manny Machado, particularly if you have other serviceable 3B/CI options. He's been great so far, but a .351 BABIP suggests that he might not be this good yet. Rookies and young players with bright futures often command extra-high trade values, so if you can get a solid starting position player or a second/third tier SP, I would move Machado.

Shelby Miller just threw a perfect game, so trade him. (I know, I know, he allowed a hit first, but 27 outs in a row is still 27 in a row.) His trade value will never be higher and even the best rookie pitchers are rarely this good. Yes, I do think Miller will have a great rest of the season, command and deserve an ace-level draft pick next year and everything...but there is still a very good chance that you can get more value in a trade than he'll provide over the next couple months. If you can get the same return that you'd expect from a second-tier pitcher, like Max Scherzer, I think you'll be getting the better end of the deal, but aim higher and see how much you can get.

Pick Up

Luke Scott (Y!: 2%/ESPN: 0.2%/CBS: 5%) is hitting the ball well for the Rays and could be a very nice CI addition in Yahoo! leagues based on his history of hitting for power. Owners in other formats may be less interested, as he only qualifies at DH/Utility. Mitch Moreland (Y!: 11%/ESPN: 20.1%/CBS: 34%) has hit is well enough to quiet the rumors about Jurickson Profar moving up and Ian Kinsler moving over to first base for the moment. Lyle Overbay (Y!: 2%/ESPN: 0.4%/CBS: 6%) has a long history of marginal-ness, but he's certainly hitting well for the moment. Mark Teixeira may well squeeze him out of a job, but he's a good stopgap while he's hot.

Speaking of hot, Scott Kazmir (Y!: 16%/ESPN: 5.8%/CBS: 39%) is cooking with gas again. If he can regain any of his past magic, he'll be a great addition to any staff, especially those in need of strikeouts. If he can regain all of it....

Marcell Ozuna (Y!: 20%/ESPN: 12.7%/CBS: 29%) is hitting the cover off the ball for the Fish, to the tune of a .342/.390/.553 slash line. His .387 BABIP says that won't last long, but he doesn't have to win a batting title to be worth picking up, especially in deeper leagues.

Stay Away

Jeff Locke is gaining some traction as a pickup, but that's not a bandwagon you want to get on. His 2.95 ERA looks nice, but his K/9 (4.99) is way too close to his BB/9 (4.31) and his FIP (4.86). Nothing to see here.

This is a no-brainer for most, but just in case you were tempted, know that you really don't want Jason Marquis. His 5.15 FIP and 4.09 BB/9 don't tell me he can keep winning games.


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