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Stock Watch: Great Players and Early Disappointments

This article is about playing the percentages. All the hitters I suggest trading for this week are stars you invested heavily for—and are dragging you’re their teams down. It’s a lot more common for stars like these to have lousy month (or three) than a lost entire season, or to regress to retirement age all at once. On the whole, expect most to bounce back. Unfortunately, I can’t give any guarantees about them individually…. 

Trade For

Buster Posey and Joe Mauer haven’t done their owners many favors at catcher this year, but unless you drafted Jonathan Lucroy, that’s probably true for your catcher too. As the top talents at their position, this pair is more likely to bounce back than the Wilin Rosarios of the world. 

David Wright and Evan Longoria haven’t seemed to put anything together either, but both have such long track records of excellence that they should fix it up and power your lineup in the second half. Longoria is the better target of the two, since he’s younger and therefore less likely to be underproducing due to suddenly-advanced-age.

Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis—like Posey and Mauer—are just two of several disappointments at their position. Like their catching counterparts, Pedroia and Kipnis still have the most overall talent* at their position and, therefore, make the best buy-low candidates.

*I have no more idea than anyone else where Robinson Cano’s power went. But as long as he’s hitting over .320 it’s hard to really call him slumping. And as long as the power's out, it's hard to advise you to trade for him.

Matt Holliday and Shin-Soo Choo were once extremely stable producers, but both have seen their power fall off a cliff, and their averages are following. Choo isn’t even stealing. I always worry when I don’t know why a player is underperforming so badly (which is pretty often, to be honest; I’m not a scout and I’m not the players’ trainer), but both of these players have track records long enough to bet on in principle.

Cliff Lee is showing good progress from the DL and stands a decent chance of being traded away from the struggling Phillies (again). Any pitcher who’s already injured is a huge risk, but the potential rewards from Lee are significant. Especially on a good team…. 

Speaking of getting traded, Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel are on the block. You can be pretty confident that any team that trades for them will be better for the wins than the Cubs. While there’s always the worry of getting traded to the AL East, Samardzija has been linked with the Giants and Hammel with the Mariners. Also, Hammel has pitched well for about two and a half months longer than I expected, so I’ll give him some credit for that.

I was going to put Johnny Cueto on my “Trade Away” list, ‘cause, you know…he’s just too good to be real. Well yeah. But the thing is, Cueto has beaten his FIP every season of his Major League career—since 2008. (It wasn’t super-pronounced in the beginning, but still.) So he’s got a 2.76 FIP right now, and a history of putting up even better ERA’s…I want to be on the buying side of a sell-high trade, I think. He can regress a bit and still work out very, very well for whoever ends up with him.

Trade Away 

I have nothing against Jose Bautista or Josh Hamilton’s production this year. But it’s been pretty much forever (since 2011, which we all barely remember) since Bautista was healthy all year. Trading him now, when his production is off-the-charts-awesome, is purely a risk-mitigation strategy. Hamilton is just now back from (this) injury, but there could easily be more coming down the road. I’d rather deal these guys too early than be stuck with nothing—at least if I’m near the top of the standings.

Jean Segura and Everth Cabrera are managing sub-.600 OPS’s. So how do you get anything of value out of them? From owners who are desperate for steals, of course! It might not be much, but they should return something better than what you can find on the waiver wire, or at least sweeten a larger deal. Neither one is hitting well enough to keep around if you aren’t speed-starved. 

George Springer may not have a higher point in his trade value this season. Rookies always have their ups and downs, and as good as it is to get them off the waiver wire in time for the ups, it’s even better to trade them for a high price before the downs. (Note: sometimes the rookie is Mike Trout and never ends up having downs but becomes the best player in baseball. Life is tough that way.) Gregory Polanco is off to a hot first week in the Majors, and that means I’d start dangling him in trade offers right away. You can’t count on a 10-homer month for every prospect you want to trade….

Josh Beckett, like Bautista and Hamilton above, is actually a player who’s production I believe in. You know I spent half of this season urging everyone in the world to pick him up. But like his hitting brethren, Beckett has a long and varied history of injury and carries, therefore, more injury risk than most. That’s the sort of thing it’s better to mitigate while you still can.

I have no idea what’s up with Justin Verlander. And neither does he. He just got lit up again and isn’t generating strikeouts. I’m starting to think the bold play here is to cut bait and try to get something playable for him if there’s anyone left willing to take the risk. Note that this goes against the percentage-playing theory of most of this article, but combined with last year, there does seem to be a trajectory here and it isn’t towards continued excellence.

Pick Up

That’s a lot of trade talk, so we’ll make the waiver wire suggestions quick. Real quick.

Shallow Leagues (30-50%)

Collin McHugh (37%) and Jose Quintana (32%--he’s back!) are your pickup pitchers this week.

Marlon Byrd (48%), Kendrys Morales (41%), and Adam Lind (35%--yes, still) all pack some punch for you shallow-leaguers needing a hitter. 

Medium Leagues (20-30%)

Juan Francisco (25%) is looking like a real power source and Eric Young (20%) is off the DL and ready to steal.

Jaime Garcia (25%) looks like a Wins and WHIP helper, but I say that every week, don’t I? Well, that’s what happens when you have a 0.96 WHIP for the Cardinals. Jake Arrieta (21%) is the opposite, having been helpful in strikeouts and ERA thus far. He’s also been mentioned in the Cubs’ trade talks. (Same link as Hammel, above.)

Deep Leagues (Under 20%) 

Denard Span (19%) could be a steals source who actually hits occasionally. Brandon Crawford (17%) has been a lot better than most shortstops this year, especially if you play in an OBP or SLG league. (But he’s still kinda good in regular formats too.) Matt Dominguez (12%) may offer more power than your current CI player. I said bad things yesterday about Luis Valbuena (5%) and his chances of keeping his average up, but I read this article that suggests maybe he can be useful after all. Good for you, Luis Valbuena!

Kevin Gausman (14%) and Josh Tomlin (11%) have little in common…except that they can both (probably) help your fantasy team. 

Hey, for me, this counts as really brief!



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