July 2007

Braun’s the Real Deal

I need speed and one owner keeps bugging me for Justin Morneau (I’m currently second in HR’s).

He’s offering me Jose Reyes and Ryan Braun and I would have to give up Morneau and either Furcal, Michael Young or Orlando Hudson.

Help!!!

Kevin in SoCal

Kevin,

If you can do the Reyes and Braun for Morneau and Hudson deal, go for it!  Losing Morneau’s power is a risk, but there are a couple factors working in your favor.  First, you say you’re strong in homers. Second, the way Ryan Braun’s performing since making his big league debut on May 25th (.349 AVG  13 HR  36 RBI  8 SB), is the dropoff from Morneau to Braun really that great?  And by getting Reyes without having to give up either an established star in Young or a proven speedster in Furcal (who also happens to be a much better second half player), your potential payoff is huge.  Orlando Hudson may be having a career year in both average and RBI, but offensively he’s the least accomplished of the three and offers virtually nothing in steals.  Quickly accept the Hudson version of the deal before your fellow owner reconsiders.

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com      

Blanton Always a Quality Start

I was offered Johnny Estrada and Bartolo Colon for Corey Hart and Joe Blanton.  I’m not high on Colon.  Estrada is having a great season and I am stuck with Ramon Hernandez having a lousy year behind the plate.  Also, Corey Hart has been hot but is really cooling off.

Also, is Joe Blanton as good as he’s been pitching?

Thanks, Jesse from New York

Jesse,

Reject this offer!  By taking the deal, you would be paying for the upgrade from Hernandez to Estrada with the significant step down from Blanton to Colon…PLUS Corey Hart, whose five-tool production is very valuable, especially in roto formats.  Right now, Colon is barely worth a roster spot in a standard 12 team 5×5 league (To read more on Colon, see my previous post).  I understand Hernandez has so far had a miserable year, but I’m not giving up on him just yet.  Over the past three seasons, Hernandez has hit around 20 points higher after the All-Star break.  Even if you don’t believe in Ramon, why lose BOTH Blanton and Hart?  Either get back a better pitcher than Colon or trade Hart for Estrada straight up.  Of the two, the Hart for Estrada trade option would be my choice.

This leads to your question about Blanton, who I would be in no hurry to trade.  Blanton’s been very consistent this year, allowing three earned runs or less in 14 of his 19 starts and pitching at least six innings in all but two of them.  If his career post-break numbers mean anything (15-9 3.63 ERA), more solid outings are to come.  Let’s not forget he was a top prospect in the A’s farm system for several years.  Though it’s unrealistic to expect his ERA to remain in the low 3’s, don’t be surprised if Blanton finishes the season with an ERA in the 3.50-3.60 range to go along with 16-18 wins.

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com   

Examining the Home Run Derby Curse

Is the “Home Run Derby Curse” real?  In the past two years, both David Wright and Bobby Abreu experienced major second half power outages after impressive performances in the Home Run Derby (Abreu won the event while Wright finished second to Ryan Howard).  The post All-Star break home run struggles of Wright and Abreu led many to question whether success in the Derby has an adverse effect on a player’s power stroke once he returns to regular game action, as he would be trying too hard to hit homers rather than relying on his natural swing.  On Monday’s 411, Mike and Cory briefly discussed this subject.  Here’s a closer look.  Below you’ll find pre and post All Star break stats for both the Home Run Derby winners and runner ups over the past five years.  Keep in mind that the break is slightly more than halfway into the season, so first half HR and RBI numbers will often be greater regardless of any “curse.”

2006

Ryan Howard

Pre ASB:   .278 AVG 28 HR  71 RBI
Post ASB:  .355 AVG 30 HR  78 RBI

David Wright

Pre ASB:   .316 AVG  20 HR 74 RBI
Post ASB:  .305 AVG   6 HR 42 RBI

2005

Bobby Abreu

Pre ASB:   .307 AVG  18 HR  58 RBI
Post ASB:  .260 AVG   6 HR  44 RBI

Ivan Rodriguez

Pre ASB:   .292 AVG  6 HR  32 RBI
Post ASB:  .252 AVG  8 HR  18 RBI

2004

Miguel Tejada

Pre ASB:   .311 AVG  15 HR  75 RBI
Post ASB:  .311 AVG  19 HR  75 RBI

Lance Berkman

Pre ASB:  .299 AVG  16 HR  59 RBI
Post ASB: .335 AVG  14 HR  47 RBI

2003

Garret Anderson

Pre ASB:  .316 AVG  22 HR  78 RBI
Post ASB: .313 AVG   7 HR  38 RBI

Albert Pujols

Pre ASB:   .368 AVG  27 HR  86 RBI
Post ASB:  .346 AVG  16 HR  38 RBI

2002

Jason Giambi

Pre ASB:   .318 AVG  22 HR  71 RBI
Post ASB:  .309 AVG  19 HR  51 RBI

Sammy Sosa

Pre ASB:   .307 AVG  28 HR  58 RBI
Post ASB:  .264 AVG  21 HR  50 RBI

Besides Wright and Abreu, Anderson and Pujols, the 2003 finalists, are the only other examples of significant second half decline.  Of these four players, only Pujols is most known for his home runs.  Wright, Abreu, and Anderson were all excellent hitters the year they competed in the Derby, but homers were not their primary strength.  You can make a convincing argument that the high first half home run totals of Wright, Abreu, and Anderson were just as flukey as their second half home run drop.  But the drastic decrease in RBI specifically of Wright, Anderson, and Pujols do support the “curse” theory.

What have we learned from all this?  There’s just not enough evidence for us to directly blame the Home Run Derby for our fantasy star’s second half plunge, as there are plenty of other factors involved.  And for every Wright and Abreu, there’s a Howard, who hit an amazing 30 homers AFTER the break last year, and a Tejada, who was a model of consistency in 2004.  So don’t panic, Guerrero and Rios owners!  For now, it seems that the “Home Run Derby Curse” is just a myth.

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com

Set a High Price for Coco

Standard 10 team 5×5 mixed- what type of bat should I expect to get back for Coco Cordero right now?  I’m being offered Aaron Rowand, but I think it’s gotta be a bigger bat than this…thoughts?
                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Blake in Austin

Blake,

I absolutely agree.  Rowand is having an impressive season, hitting over .300 and on pace for more than 20 homers and close to 100 RBI.  But Cordero has been much better.  Not only is Coco routinely racking up the saves (27 for 30 in save chances).  He’s looked great doing it.  In 36 appearances this season, Cordero’s allowed at least a run just five times!  With these kinds of numbers, it’s not a stretch to anoint him the title of MVC (Most Valuable Closer) of the first half.  Assuming you’re looking for an outfielder, try offering Cordero for guys like Sheffield, Hunter, or Rios.  Maybe you even want to buy low on Manny in hopes that he can pick it up after the All-Star break.  A top notch closer should get you at least a #2 type outfielder in return.

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com   

Colon’s No Angel in Fantasyland

In my 16 team mixed, head-to-head league, Bartolo Colon has hit the waiver wire.
Is it worth dropping one of Dave Bush, Claudio Vargas, Doug Davis or Jake Westbrook to pick him up?

Regards
Neil in England, where it’s still monsoon season

Neil,

Bartolo Colon scares me.  And it’s not because of his series of injuries over the past year and a half.  It’s not even because of his declining strikeout rate.  The real reason why merely the sight of Colon’s name causes me to sweat is that you have no clue what to expect from start to start.  In 2005, Colon put it all together for a full season, winning 21 games en route to a Cy Young.  But since then, he’s been one huge mess.  Though you can point to health as a factor in Bartolo’s demise, let’s not forget 2004, when he somehow managed to win 18 despite a 5.01 ERA and a ******** 38 homers allowed.  Even this year, Colon began with two dominant outings only to pitch to a near 7 ERA from that point on.  The bottom line?  Colon’s name far exceeds his fantasy worth.  If this were my team, I’d stay away.  Owning both Bush and Vargas is important should one eventually lose their rotation spot to Gallardo, while Davis and Westbrook have decent upside.  But if you feel like gambling, Davis (1.75 season WHIP) would be the one to drop.  Just don’t come back to me asking whether to start or sit Colon for a certain matchup.  I can’t help you there!

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com   

Position Overload

Last night, without thinking much about it, I sent out the following trade proposal:

I sent away Justin Morneau and Edgar Renteria for Jose Reyes.

My east coast counterparts OK’d  the deal by the time I woke up this morning.

In 12 team / 9 man lineup / weekly head-to-head / 6×6 format that counts OPS, do I have enough power remaining with a lineup of:

C: Varitek/Salty Platoon
1B: Gordon/Sexson Platoon
2B: Upton/Kendrick Platoon
SS: Reyes (with Furcal and Peralta on my bench)
3B: Wright
OF: Crawford, Holliday, Dunn
Util: Frank Thomas, JD Drew or one of the platoon above

I’m running away with the league and fear I may have done more harm than good.

Luke from Los Angeles

Luke,

The first thing that comes to my mind when I look at your lineup is that you’ve got an awful lot of talent.  The problem, specifically at the shortstop position, is that too much of this talent gets forced to the bench.  Although this offense isn’t terrible in power, it could definitely now use an overall upgrade at first base.  I fully endorse the Reyes deal, but it clearly threw off the power/speed balance of your roster.  Without making another trade to go along with it, you might take a step backwards.  There’s no reason to now hang onto Furcal or Peralta.  Try trading both of these guys in separate deals.  Peralta currently has more value than Furcal, but if the last four games are any indication (.316 AVG  2 SB  5 R), Furcal, a traditionally stronger second half player, may be on the verge of snapping out of his month-long funk.  With Reyes and Crawford, not to mention Wright, you’ve got more than enough speed to afford the loss of Furcal.  But I’d wait a few weeks before moving him, as his stock will only rise.  Start by unloading Peralta.  Can Peralta and Sexson net Lance Berkman?  If that doesn’t work, think about buying low on Derrek Lee, whose home run total is considerably below what it should be.  These are the kinds of names you ought to be targeting.

Zach Steinhorn, MLB.com    

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