Mailbag: Trades, #1 Waiver, Wieters, Buchholz

Let's dig through the ol' mailbag:

How do I deal with bogus trades? I'm in a 10 player head to head league, and two teams just hooked up for a trade: Geovany Soto and Brian Roberts were traded for Joe Mauer and Orlando Hudson (worst trade ever?). The same guy who gave up Mauer and Hudson has been trying to get Kevin Youkilis from me, offering me things like Chipper Jones for Youkilis and Joe Nathan. How do I deal with B.S. like this? - John

I don't understand why this trade would be considered bogus.  Is there evidence of corruption?  I don't agree with your implication that anyone sending Mauer and Hudson for Soto and Roberts isn't on the up-and-up.  It sounds like sour grapes on your part because you couldn't get a deal done.  Maybe his Chipper offer was just an opening salvo, in those talks.

In my league we have 10 teams...for the most part everyone seems to be willing to give the commissioner all info on offers they have received and all the players they covet.  The commissioner also seems to help team owners out in trade matters, for instance maybe changing their mind and helping them with a counter offer.  Advice is one thing but at what point is a commissioner over stepping his bounds when he is an owner as well? - Steve

As long as the owners are giving up this information because they want his opinion, and not because he demanded it as the commissioner, I don't see a problem.  It seems odd for the commissioner to stick his nose into other people's trades.  But if he's smooth enough to get all that info, more power to him.  As a Yahoo commissioner, I am not privy to anyone's trade offers unless they tell me.  If with other services the commissioner sees everything, that would be a problem.

I'm #1 in waiver priority for my Yahoo! H2H league. Is there anybody out there who may not be in the Yahoo! player universe worth waiting to use this lofty position? - Jeff K.

No one comes to mind.  I am not going to say Stephen Strasburg.  The obvious stud rookies like Tommy Hanson and Matt Wieters have already gotten the call.  If you're going to savor that #1 waiver spot, I suppose you can camp out in the hope that someone makes a bad drop.

Do you think that Ricky Romero will continue to do well even with interleague play over with? Do you think he should be a must own player? - Chad

Yes, he's a must-own player.  I'd set my expectations at an ERA below 4.00 from here on out rather than below 3.00.  But his peripherals are decent and he gets a lot of groundballs.

What do I do with Matt Wieters? He hasn't really been all that good yet. Should I trade him while he's got some value or hold on to him? - Brandon

I would hang on to him in the hopes that he has a big or at least decent second half.  I doubt the trade return would be impressive in a non-keeper league.  In his one full month (June), Wieters wasn't that bad (.257-2-7-7-0).

What's the deal with Mike Napoli, he's batting around .300 and has around 10 HR. Weren't we predicting more HR and a lower AVG? How will Napoli play in the second half? - Max

Napoli has actually been better-than-expected with the bat, with his improved contact rate contributing to his .290 AVG.  I expected 23 HR from Napoli in 367 ABs.  Just doubling his stats he's on pace for 20 HR in about 372 ABs.  I'd expect the AVG to come down a touch, and Napoli owners have to be slightly disappointed with the Jeff Mathis job-share.  But ESPN still ranks Napoli 7th among catchers this year for fantasy value.

When will Clay Buchholz rejoin the Bosox? Will he contribute this season? - Alan

Buchholz, 25 in August, owns a 2.05 ERA in 87.6 Triple A innings.  He has a 3.3 K/BB as well.  I think he can get big league hitters out, but the Red Sox don't have a rotation spot for him currently.  There are six pitchers ahead of him: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Tim Wakefield, Brad Penny, John Smoltz, and the injured Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Dice-K is dealing with a shoulder injury and has no timetable for return.  Smoltz is always a risk for re-injury, and Penny is a trade/injury candidate.  Penny had a strong June, though, and the Sox might not want to risk their depth.  My suggestion is to hold Buchholz for the next four weeks while gathering more info about Dice-K, Penny, and Smoltz.  But don't be so married to the idea of Buchholz taking the AL by storm that you're afraid to cut him for someone with more certainty and immediate value.

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Replacing Rafael Furcal, Chris Davis

A mailbag question from a reader named Mitch:

I made two terrible picks in fantasy baseball this year. I took Rafael Furcal in the 5th round, followed by Chris Davis in the 6th round. It seems like Davis has not hit a home run in a month and Furcal has not stolen a base all season. Is it time to give up on these guys and work the waiver wire or hold on to them hoping they will turn it around?

As someone recommending both players in the preseason, I feel partially responsible.  My standard answer is that it depends on who you're picking up as replacements.  But let's look at some guys who might be available on the wire.

As expected, the available shortstops in most leagues are terrible.  It's only about 75 plate appearances, but Furcal has been tolerable in June.  I would be surprised if the waiver wire offers better.  I wouldn't cut Furcal for Willie Bloomquist, Orlando Cabrera, or Edgar RenteriaElvis Andrus is someone I'd keep an eye on, but I'd rather add him for a bench spot.  Ditto for Maicer Izturis.

With Davis, it will depend on whether you're using him at first or third base.  I would pull the plug on him for Lyle OverbayPedro Feliz or Andy LaRoche, only if I had a comfortable lead in HRs.  Joe Crede doesn't feel like a big upgrade, and I worry about Ryan Garko's playing time.  A guy like Overbay doesn't seem flashy.  But he's a guy who won't hurt you, and he's tallied 41 RBIs despite batting seventh for the Jays.  There is something to be said in roto for guys who won't hurt you.

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Mailbag: Sanchez, Sabathia, Peavy

A look through the mailbag...

Should I keep waiting on Jonathan Sanchez to break out, or should I cut him
loose?  I love those Ks, but he seems to get hit hard every time. - Ellis

Perhaps you can let us know in the comments who you'd be cutting Sanchez for.  But I see the same old Sanchez - lots of Ks, WHIP killer.  He's shown no progress with control; in fact, it's gotten worse.  Most likely there are several starting pitchers on your waiver wire I'd rather have.

Hey Tim, who would you rather have from this point onward in a mixed 5x5 roto league: C.C. Sabathia or Jake Peavy? - Ian

Pretty easy call for Sabathia for me.  Less injury risk, better chance at getting wins.  Peavy could end up playing for a better team, but at the cost of his advantageous ballpark.

Tim, any chance you make make a complete list of pitcher eWHIP available or know where such a list exists? - Tom

Unfortunately it only exists as a spreadsheet on my computer, and it's outdated since it does not update continually.  Maybe we can make it a monthly feature if the interest is there.

Get in on next week's mailbag - submit your question here.  The goal is to find questions that can help everyone rather than ones specific to your team or league.

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Mailbag: Liriano, Nolasco, Ortiz, Rays Pen

Digging through the ol' mailbag...

After yet another bad showing by Francisco Liriano, would you drop him? He has lost pretty much all trade value, but I just do not want to jump the gun considering Liriano, Jon Lester and Scott Baker (dropped earlier this week) were supposed to be my anchors. I feel Lester will bounce back; Baker appears to be a lost cause but I cannot figure Liriano out. - Kevin

I wouldn't have dropped Lester or Baker.  Lester has a 3.88 xFIP, while Baker has a 3.5 K/BB ratio.  As for cutting Liriano, well, it depends on who you'd pick up.  But yes, I would seriously consider it.  At this point Liriano is no better than, say, Jorge De La Rosa.  Lefties with control problems are a dime a dozen, but at least De La Rosa has velocity and a 9.4 K/9.

Tim, what is your take on the struggles of Ricky Nolasco and David Ortiz?  - Michael

I didn't see it coming in either case.  It's easy to keep repeating that Nolasco's peripherals are strong, but a 9.07 ERA is a 9.07 ERA and that is brutal on a fantasy team.  On the other hand, a .395 BABIP is not something that is going to last.  For those with 150 IP, the highest BABIP last year was Ian Snell at .360.  And Snell's BABIP is a normal .305 in 2009.  It would not surprise me to see Nolasco take a few minor league starts and come back strong.  He's on many waiver wires right now...the cost of stashing him is minimal.

My guess is that Big Papi has a DL stint in his future.  He's been so awful this year that a complete 180 is hard to envision.  Again, dropping him depends on who you are picking up, but I would not be starting Ortiz.

Just wondering if any of the players in the mix of the Rays closing situation are worth picking up? I'm on the wavier wire for a closer and am contemplating dropping Rafael it worth it? - Joliet Jake

I would hold on to Soriano rather than dive into the Tampa Bay mess.  Mike Gonzalez's job is safe, but Soriano is the better pitcher right now and he is also racking up Ks.  You never know, Gonzalez could get hurt.  In the Rays pen, you have to wonder if J.P. Howell could get a look.  He's a southpaw, but he's actually pitching poorly against lefties and well against righties.  Longer-term I expect the Rays to trade for someone, so follow the rumors.

So what exactly can we infer from BABIP? - Tom

What I am trying to do with the BABIP posts is determine which starting pitchers have been lucky or unlucky.  I know it's not ALL luck or random, but abnormal BABIPs tend to get back into the .290-.310 range.  The current top 3 in BABIP: Lester at .375, Tim Lincecum at .358, and Kevin Slowey at .354.  I take that to mean that all three will see their WHIPs come down (via fewer hits), if they keep pitching at the same level.  On the flip side, the WHIPs of Yovani Gallardo (.231), Matt Garza (.233), and Brian Tallet (.236) will increase to some extent.  (I'm not saying to sell on Gallardo...a 1.07 WHIP might be 1.19 from here on out, something like that). 

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Mailbag: Francisco, Manny, Recommendations

Let's answer some mailbag questions today.

Tim, conceptually, would you rather have two average players, or an elite player and a replacement level player? - Tom

I'd rather have the elite player and the replacement level player, for sure.  In most leagues I have faith that I can dig up a few above average players off the waiver wire.  But I don't go in expecting to find elite players on the wire.  So I'm usually willing to swap two decent players for one first-round monster.

Would you trade Frank Francisco to get Garrett Atkins? - Dennis

My opinion is that in all but the most insane of leagues you can get closers off the waiver wire if you are vigilant.  So yes, I'd be willing to move Francisco.  He's dealing with biceps tendonitis for a few days so you should probably let that pass so you're not moving him at a low point.  I would shoot higher than Atkins though.  Maybe Adam Lind?

I was wondering what your take is on looking to acquire Manny since I have room on my bench to store him.  What should I offer as fair value for half a season of Manny, assuming his owner will bite? - Rafi

Check out the recent trades involving Manny at CBS Sports.  Manny alone has brought in Jayson Werth, Bobby Abreu, Johnny Cueto, David Ortiz, Andre Ethier, Mike Cameron, Carlos Lee, Nick Markakis, Aaron Hill, Lance Berkman, and Adam Dunn.  So maybe offer a player at the low-end of that spectrum as a starting point.

Tim, other than your fine website, what other fantasy baseball resources would you suggest (paid services or free) to help with in-season management of fantasy baseball teams? Are there any paid services (such as Rotoworld's Season Pass) that you would recommend to your readers? - Ali

I'm interested to hear reader recommendations on this question.  The one resource I cannot do without is RotoWorld's player news.  I look at that quite often.  I am a fan of the work at Baseball HQ (subscription) and ESPN, but I'll look at those irregularly.  So I don't think it's necessary to spend a bunch of money for fantasy info.

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Thoughts On Andy Sonnanstine

Doug asks:

What are your thoughts on Andy Sonnanstine from a fantasy perspective this year?  He was just OK last year but with all the studs in the Tampa organization he appears to be a guy that would be vulnerable.

This year my spreadsheet kept saying Sonnanstine was the best available pitcher ($8.21 value), and I never pulled the trigger.  I have him at a 4.16 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with 121 Ks and 11 wins in 180 innings.  So he doesn't excel in any one category.  I just can't see the upside here - Sonny has great control but he throws 87 miles per hour and pitches in the AL East.  Who knows, maybe his new changeup will be effective.  But for me Sonnanstine is a guy you spot start.  You don't want to be using him against the Yankees.  He's the #4 so I don't think he gets bumped when David Price is ready. 

Sonnanstine is being drafted in the reserve rounds, but even then there are plenty of interesting upside picks like Clay Buchholz, Jordan Zimmermann, and David Purcey.

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Francisco Cordero Concern

Mike K. asks:

What do you think is going on with Francisco Cordero?  Is he being sent to the minors to pitch so that the Reds can put him on the DL and not lose time?  Could Jared Burton take over this year as closer?

As I understand it, Cordero only pitched in the minor league game Saturday to get extra innings under his belt.  He's coming off September ankle surgery, and has had a terrible spring.  The surgery caused him to start his program late.  Cordero finally pitched well Monday, touching 93-94 with his fastball.  The hope is that the adrenaline of the regular season will push him into the mid-90s as it did last year (he averaged 94.6 mph).

So Cordero's not without his risk, yet he's a 13th round pick.  As such he's not on any of my five fantasy teams.  But if you own him, it's no time to panic.  He still projects to outpitch Burton in terms of ERA and WHIP.  And when you're paying a guy $12MM a year to be the closer, he gets every chance to do the job.

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Oakland Closer Situation

Nathan P. asks:

Has Oakland settled on a closer yet? I've got both Joey Devine and Brad Ziegler, but I only want to keep one of them. Please tell me they aren't going to share save opportunities.

Devine and Ziegler were originally penciled in to share closing duties.  However, Devine will be examined by Dr. James Andrews Wednesday or Thursday.  His sore elbow will keep him out at least three weeks.'s Mychael Urban learned from A's manager Bob Geren that Santiago Casilla and Russ Springer could also see save opportunities.  But for now, Ziegler is the man.  If you own Devine, you might as well wait until the diagnosis before deciding what to do with him.

Ziegler is being drafted in the 18th round currently, so he'd be a nice bargain if other relievers don't chip away at his saves.  I have him down for a 3.58 ERA and 1.33 WHIP with a 5.2 K/9.

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How Does Draft Order Influence The Standings?

Reader Chris O. writes:

Are you aware of any research on the relationship of draft order to ultimate league finish order? I was in a draft a few weeks ago where some participants were complaining about where the commissioner had place them in the draft order and I started wondering if it made any difference. I went back to all of the 2008 baseball and football drafts that my son and I took part in and tabulated draft position and finish position for each. Out of 39 total drafts, only 1 team with the #1 pick overall ended up winning the league. No team that had the last pick in the first round won the league. I know this is a small sample size, mixes autopick and live drafts, and had leagues of 8, 10, 12 and 20 teams so it is by no means a uniform sampling. Do you know of any other research that would support or refute this?

Unfortunately I don't have any data on this, but I'd love to see how draft order and the standings correlate.  If we're to figure this out it'll require a lot of help from readers. It's worth a shot.  Check out the attached Draft Order spreadsheet  - I'm asking for the team name, draft spot, and finish in the standings. In an attempt for some amount of uniformity, we will only include 12 team leagues in this study.  Also, please only submit if your league did the snake style of draft, where the first round goes 1-12 and the second round goes in reverse order.  If your league(s) fit those two criteria and you'd like to help, fill out the spreadsheet and email it to  You can include as many leagues as you want in the spreadsheet.

If we can gather data from, say, 100+ leagues, maybe we will be able to conclude that the person drafting first finished, on average, in position 3.8 (for example).  What do you think this study will reveal, and are we going about it the right way?  Has it been done before?

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Integrity Of The League

Kevin writes in with a question:

I had a thought about what "Integrity of the League" means to different people.  I have been told that this doesn't exist and you win at all costs (screw everyone else) and I have been told that this means a great deal, especially in pay leagues. So my question is...what does "Integrity of the League" mean to you?

Integrity can mean a lot of things, even when applied to fantasy leagues.  Are we talking about a moral code?  Honesty?  A lack of hypocrisy?

This is similar to a post I wrote in September, The Fantasy Baseball Code Of Honor.  To have integrity, here are the requirements for the league:

  • The commissioner does not abuse his power in any way.  The commissioner is probably the only person who can cheat without pairing with another person in the league.
  • No collusion.  The second a team decides to help another team, integrity is lost.  And it doesn't always have to be the last place team helping a contender.  Maybe a team is running away with first place and colludes to help a friend get second place.
  • The half-baked idea of league members voting on trades never made sense and encourages self-serving votes.
  • Gray area: in a perfect world, the league wouldn't have an owner who gets pillaged by smarter owners.  If your league does have a dumb guy, is it wrong to swing a lopsided deal with him?  I lean toward no, but it does make me uneasy.  I feel similarly about a person quitting on a league - I hate that, but it's more an issue of competitiveness than integrity.
  • What about lying?  Say word hasn't spread much that your pitcher is out with Tommy John, so you quickly swing a deal to get rid of him.  That seems to cross the line beyond gamesmanship.  But other lies are part of the game - being coy about whether you like a player, for example.
  • Streaming?  It's never bothered me.  If the league rules allow any annoying strategy, the league was set up poorly.  I can't think of any reason that any type of roster move would lack integrity.  Picking up a guy and then dropping him immediately just to put him in waiver limbo?  Haven't tried it, but I'm OK with it.
  • Talking smack is OK to a point...most of us can tell when the line has been crossed.  It's up to the commissioner to diffuse those situations.
  • Going back to Kevin's question...I don't think it should be "win at all costs" - there are things you shouldn't do to win a fantasy league.  For example, slipping a laxative into his drink at the live auction.  But, every team should be focused on winning the league and hopefully having fun, operating within boundaries that are pretty much common sense.

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