What good is talent to a fantasy owner who lacks timing?
Fantasy baseball—just like the real thing—is a game of skill, luck and timing. That last trait, in particular, comes in handy in regards to trading.
Knowing which player to trade away and which to deal for—and knowing just the right time to do so—can make all the difference. It doesn't get much better than making a move to unload a hot flavor-of-the-month type who's about to cool off in exchange for a slumping stud who is about to take off.
If you want to check out last week's suggestions, look no further than here.
Now, speaking of timing, let's get to a batch of players to sell high and a group to buy low for Week 19.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
Fantasy Stats: .300 BA, 64 R, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 39 SB
We know two things about Ellsbury: He's fast, and he's a very good fantasy player when healthy—mainly because he's fast.
That "when healthy" qualifier has to be weighing on his owners right about now, no? Don't you feel like you're already on borrowed time by getting a strong .300 average, a very nice 64 runs scored total and, of course, those league-leading 39 steals to this point?
This isn't to say that Ellsbury will get hurt, but it's also a reminder that he's a prime told-you-so candidate should it happen.
Given the 29-year-old's production in the steals department so far, his owners have to be sitting pretty in the SB category by now, which means he's probably worth more to another owner—one who's desperate for swipes—than he is to your bottom line.
In roto-scoring formats, that's the type of situation where it's worthwhile to part with the player, even if he's been a stud all year, in order to get much-needed help in another category (or categories) over the final two months.
Manny Machado, 3B, Orioles
Fantasy Stats: .293 BA, 62 R, 9 HR, 50 RBI, 6 SB
While Chris Davis' post-break slump has gotten a bit more attention, owners should be more worried about Machado for the remainder of 2013.
After all, this is a 21-year-old who's never yet played a full season of Major League Baseball.
Machado was a doubles and batting average machine through June, hitting 38—thirty-eight!—two-baggers and posting a .321 average. You might not have noticed, in large part because his average is still a respectable .293, but Machado really struggled in July: .196/.226/.314, with only—get this—one double.
Some owner in your league is going to remember the hot start or drool over the hype surrounding a player who looks like a perennial MVP candidate—eventually—and offer up something nice in return.
Bartolo Colon, RHP, A's
Fantasy Stats: 14 W, 2.50 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 4.8 K/9
This sell-high talk isn't related to any suspension. It would be a little late for that, anyway.
But now that word has it that Colon is unlikely to face another ban, according to John Hickey of the San Jose Mercury News, other owners might be a little less leery of acquiring a guy who has 14 wins and a 2.50 ERA.
In case you're wondering, those stats rank second and seventh in all of baseball.
Colon has exceeded everyone's expectations this season—at age 40, no less—so he might not bring back a major piece by himself. But in the right package, he could be a good guy to include. Like, say, a two-for-two deal where part of it involves you getting back a seemingly worse starting pitcher who actually has a good chance to outproduce Colon from here on out.
Some owners still buy into trading for wins and might not notice that 4.8 K/9 or that 4.10 xFIP, per FanGraphs.
Jake Peavy, RHP, Red Sox
Fantasy Stats: 8 W, 4.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.6 K/9
Which of these sell-high candidates would you most look to move?
The trade to the other color Sox could very possibly do one of two things to Peavy's fantasy production—send it soaring or plummeting. That's occasionally how it goes when players change clubs midseason, especially when it means heading to Boston.
If you buy the former, then by all means, keep the 32-year-old.
But if you're thinking the latter is more likely—maybe it's the injury history, maybe it's the switch from the AL Central to the tougher AL East, maybe it's the uncertainty over how he'll fare at Fenway, where he's made only one career start—then your best bet is to capitalize on the hype surrounding his trade by trading him yourself.
Howie Kendrick, 2B, Angels
Fantasy Stats: .301 BA, 44 R, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 6 SB
When will owners finally learn that Kendrick is what he is at this point in his career?
Year after year, the second baseman—who's now 30 years old, by the way—has been a candidate for a potential breakout...that never comes.
That's why folks started to get excited all over again when Kendrick started out by hitting .336 with eight homers, 35 RBI and six steals through June 15.
"Maybe this is the year!"
Well, it's not: He's hitting .236 with three homers, 10 RBI and no stolen bases over his past 35 games.
Don't misunderstand: Kendrick is fine, a perfectly useful option for fantasy, because he does a little bit of everything. But he fits much better in fantasy lineups as a starting middle infielder rather than a starting second baseman.
Consider it a near-guarantee, though, that at least a couple leaguemates would be willing to acquire him to fill their 2B position—and pay a price above what he's actually worth, too.
Kris Medlen, RHP, Braves
Fantasy Stats: 7 W, 3.74 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 6.8 K/9
After a breakout second half in 2012, Medlen's 2013 has been all over the place.
He looked to be on the outside of the rotation looking in once Brandon Beachy came back from Tommy John surgery, but then Tim Hudson went and got himself injured for the rest of the year.
Since Atlanta didn't make any deadline deals for a starter, Medlen is in line to stay in the five-man, at least until the return of Paul Maholm, who's eyeing August 10 for a possible comeback from his wrist injury, according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com.
In a competition with rookie left-hander Alex Wood to remain in the rotation, that gives Medlen two starts—likely at the Phillies and at the Nationals—to make a statement.
We'll put our money on the guy who went 8-0 with a 0.92 ERA from the start of August last season.
Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks
Fantasy Stats: .276 BA, 21 R, 5 HR, 19 RBI, 1 SB
One of fantasy's best second basemen a year ago, Hill's 2013 production has been torpedoed by a broken bone in his left hand that cost him 63 games earlier in the season.
The 31-year-old hasn't exactly been on fire since coming back on June 25, either, but a .266/.314/.440 line with three homers, 13 RBI and 16 runs over 30 games isn't horrendous.
With Hill's rare type of broken bone, the risk is that it hasn't healed properly. But that also calls for a price markdown in Aisle 3.
Don't purchase him to be your starting 2B, but Hill still has the skills to work his way back up to that before the season is over.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, Padres
Fantasy Stats: .252 BA, 37 R, 8 HR, 26 RBI, 1 SB
A lot of the above applies here. A 24-year-old rookie, Gyorko's numbers are down because of a midseason groin strain that kept him out for 30 games.
He's done absolutely nothing (.100/.118/.100) since getting back on the field three games prior to the All-Star break, but it's a small sample—only 13 games.
Besides, Gyorko was really starting to do some damage before he went down. In the 35 games prior to his disabled list stint, Gyorko hit .309 with 28 runs and 17 RBI—not to mention all eight of his homers.
In 12- or 14-team leagues or NL-only formats, Gyorko is a good target on the cheap.
Alex Cobb, RHP, Rays
Fantasy Stats: 6 W, 3.01 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 8.2 K/9
Which of these buy-low options would you target most in a trade?
Call this a reminder as much as a buy low. Cobb, 25, was pitching very well before getting struck on the head by a comebacker in what was a very scary injury.
But the recovery has gone fairly well, at least as far the the head injury goes. He did have to cut short a July 23 rehab start due to a blister, but he threw a simulated game Tuesday, according to Andrew Astleford of Fox Sports Florida.
Better yet, Cobb is set to make a rehab start Saturday at the Class-A level, per Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. If all goes well, he could be back by the middle of the month.
With Matt Moore hitting the DL Wednesday with a sore left elbow, the Rays may be anxious to get Cobb back. Even if Moore checks out okay, Cobb could easily replace Roberto Hernandez (6-11, 4.71 ERA) in the five-man.
Cobb was probably dropped in most leagues, but if you're in an AL-only and looking for a stretch-run pick-me-up at SP who could be had for a song, he's the guy.
Ian Kennedy, RHP, Padres
Fantasy Stats: 3 W, 5.23 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
Kennedy has been pretty terrible, right?
The 28-year-old also been at least a little unlucky, as his 66.5 percent left-on-base percentage and 4.31 xFIP indicate (per FanGraphs).
Additionally, the trade to San Diego makes Kennedy both a change-of-scenery candidate and a better-home-park play now that he gets to throw at Petco Park more often.
Ian Kennedy at Petco Park: 35.2 IP, 48 Ks, 2.27 ERA. Of course, he was pitching against the #Padres.— Dennis Lin (@dennistlin) July 31, 2013
As the above points out, yes, those digits have come against the below-average Padres' offense in recent seasons. And yes, Chase Field hasn't been quite the hitter haven it used to, according to ESPN's Park Factors, meaning it's not as if Kennedy is escaping some pinball machine.
But by that very same measure, Petco remains the third-lowest run-scoring venue in the majors—even with the shorter fences this year—so there's at least some potential in Kennedy when it seemed there was none as recently as Wednesday.
Hoping to acquire a back-end option with upside? NL owners should take a look.