Unreads for 6/11

I’m looking to ditch Brad Penny as I have Brett Myers.  This is an ESPN league w/ the 10 major pitching categories.  I’m already have a staff of Oswalt, Halladay, C. Zambrano, E. Santana, Marcum, Jer. Weaver, Pedro, C. Lee, Big Unit and Cordero and Hoffman as closers.

Here’s the replacement options I am considering: Padilla, Contreras, S. Olson, Rasner, Mussina, Floyd, Cook, Cain, Litsch, Laffey, Danks and G. Smith for starters and Gregg, Rauch or Putz as closers.  There are some other decent pitchers out there, but these seem like the best available.

Based on consistency (this season), experience and strikeouts, I was leaning towards Contreras or Padilla.  I like Olson and Mussina.  I’d look at Cain, but I don’t think he’ll get the wins.

Who would you pick up?


Hey Chris,

I see Cain followed by Mussina as the most appealing options from this list.  Cain’s been extremely inconsistent over the season’s first couple of months, posting a 4.43 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and putting together quality starts in just 7 of his 14 outings.  But he’s got ace type stuff and has plenty of upside pitching in a big ballpark and providing a steady dose of strikeouts.  It’s true that he may struggle to pick up the victories, but wins should never be the main focus when evaluating a player’s fantasy value.  After an injury plagued 2007, many questioned whether or not Mussina was done.  I guess the answer is “No!”  The Moose has allowed three runs or less in 11 of his 14 starts and is looking more like the pitcher he was in 2006 (15-7, 3.51 ERA).  And as the 411 saying goes, “Don’t chase wins, but don’t be afraid of them either!”  Having the Yankee lineup behind you certainly doesn’t hurt.  All the other starters here are either too unproven or proven to be mediocre, as is the case with Padilla and Contreras, the latter of which got smacked around by the Tigers on Tuesday for 13 hits and 6 runs over 6 innings (We knew that sub 3 ERA wouldn’t last!)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Rather than going for a starting pitcher, I think adding a closer would be the better option for you.  Having just two stoppers might not be enough to rank near the top of your league in saves.  J.J. Putz left Wednesday’s game with elbow soreness and another DL stint could be in his immediate future.  Rauch and Gregg are pitching really well this year but for now, at least until Chad Cordero returns to action, I’ll give the edge to Rauch, who’s allowed just one run on nine hits over his last 18 innings of work.  If you’ve got the roster space to add both of these guys, go for it!  
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     You already have a ton of depth at SP and from the starters you say are on the waiver wire, I wouldn’t be too concerned about who to pick up as your #10 starting pitcher!  I’d actually look to package some of these pitchers for an upgrade at another position.  While trading one of your top guys could be an option, see what you can get for Cliff Lee or Ervin Santana, both of whom have gotten off to ridiculous starts and are due for somewhat of a stat correction.  I’m not saying they won’t go on to have very good years, but it’s likely that we have already seen the best part of their seasons.  Should you have trouble finding a deal to your liking, feel free to shop Halladay, Zambrano, or Oswalt for either a big time bat or a stud closer.  Work from strength to make your squad as well rounded as possible.

Zach Steinhorn

Hey guys!  Long time Podcast listener and big fan.  Need help with a trade I was offered.  It’s a 12-team, 7×7 deep keeper roto league. We have a 40-man roster (25 major league, 15 minors) and play positions.  Start 9 hitters and 8 pitchers. Extra hitting cats are BB and K’s with TB rather than HR while pitching cats are holds and IP. We were in first place before we were beset with injuries (our DL is A. Hill, Byrnes, Furcal, Carmona and Chris Young).

The following trade was offered:

We give up Lincecum, Masterson and Uggla
We get Penny, Cano, Saunders and A-Rod

He said we could also switch Arroyo or Suppan for Penny or Saunders.  I want to win now but my co-owner thinks we’re sacrificing too much future with Lincecum.  If I was Cory, I would say that Uggla for Cano is about even if Cano reverts to his averages by the end of the year. Lincecum to Saunders is a definite downgrade but we get A-Rod.  Our 3B is not real strong right now as we have only Wigginton, Tracy and DeRosa that qualify there.

Is this trade a slam dunk?  I don’t like Penny so would Arroyo or Saunders
be better for the remainder of the year?  Thanks guys.  Look forward to
hearing your answer (maybe on the Podcast?)

Tim from Baltimore

Hey Tim,

It’s a fascinating dilemma, but I would pull the trigger on this trade. At the end of the day, you’re getting the best fantasy player in baseball – Alex Rodriguez – who fills a need position. I actually like DeRosa (.309 AVG, 8 HR, 35 RBI), but there is no doubt he is more valuable as a roami
ng player on your roster due to his multi-positional eligibility. And, face it, you play to win the game, just like Herm Edwards would say. If you feel like the added offense would help you win a championship this season, then bite the bullet and go for it. Keep reminding yourself that you would be getting Alex Rodriguez in this trade. That should calm your co-owner’s nerves.

Your league stats play an important role in analyzing Uggla vs. Cano. Uggla’s greatest asset as a fantasy second baseman is his home runs and OPS, of which he has 18 and 1.014, respectively. Of course, neither is a stat in your league. Uggla’s batting average was as high as .323 on May 21, but it has descended to .299 and it may stay below .300 the rest of the season. He hit just .245 last season after batting .282 in 2006, and he never hit higher than .297 in the Minors. You must also consider the rate at which he strikes out. He fanned an average of 145 times the last two seasons and has already struck out 71 times in 234 at-bats this season. I’m not saying he’s not a productive player, but his greatest fantasy contributions don’t align with your league’s statistical categories.

Cano is becoming one of the more noteworthy late-bloomers in fantasy baseball. His pre- and post-All Star break splits last season were alarming. He hit .274 with 52 strikeouts before the break, .343 with 33 strikeouts after. He’s batting just .227, but his .236 BABIP is far below his .321 career rate. This shows that he’s had an inordinate amount of bad luck and should be in line for a correction. Remember, too, that Cano has averaged 39 doubles in his career, his RBIs have increased each season and he was a .314 hitter coming into the year. He will get hot and it appears you would be buying him at an opportune time – and getting A-Rod!

Of course, giving up Lincecum (8-1, 2.15 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 83/32 K/BB ratio in 83 2/3 innings) is tough, but Penny might be a good buy-low option. As much as Penny has struggled (5.38 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 47/34 K/BB in 82 innings), things presumably should get better, right? He has made two quality starts in a row, dropping his ERA 28 points in the process, and he has been inducing more ground balls in his last five starts. His 59-to-21 ground ball-to-fly ball ratio in those five starts shows that he is reducing his risk for doubles and home runs, thus possibly setting the stage for a hot streak which will further lower his ERA.

Saunders has been fine, posting a 9-3 record with a 3.32 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, but he isn’t to be valued for his strikeout rate. He has fanned just 43 batters in 86 2/3 innings, so if you are desperate for strikeouts, then take a look at Arroyo (71 Ks in 73 2/3 innings). Of course, Arroyo’s 5.74 ERA and 1.69 WHIP are troubling, so choosing between the two is simply a question of which stats you value more: strikeouts or ERA and WHIP.

Masterson has been very good in four starts for the Red Sox, going 3-0 with a 2.59 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. However, his turn in the rotation may be temporary as Dice-K, Clay Buchholz and, possibly, Curt Schilling return in the next 4-6 weeks.

If you go through with this trade, you are making a monstrous upgrade at third base by acquiring fantasy’s top player. You break even at second base, and possibly upgrade, with a player better suited to your league’s statistical categories. You take a hit on pitching, now and maybe for the future, but you acquire two solid starters. I would go with Penny and then decide between Saunders or Arroyo. Again, that decision boils down to whether you need more strikeouts, in which case you choose Arroyo, or a lower ERA and WHIP, which is Saunders’ strength.

Kyle Stack


1 Comment

Cory and Mike,

Thanks for fielding my question the other day re: which player to drop for a back-up catcher in a points league. Of the three mentioned, Delmon Young seemed to be the consensus though Cory cautioned that Mauer will probably play about 140 games and my league limits the number of roster moves so it might be wise just I am still considering the advice. None of the catchers on the WW stand out right now–Laird, Kendall, Bako, Napoli, and Inge are the high scorers so far. I like Inge’s ability to play OF, 3B, and C too.

Anyway, thanks again for the advice.

Curtis in Texas

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