Fantasy Baseball 2011: 5 Critical Tips to Rebuild Your Team into a Contender

John ZaktanskyCorrespondent IMay 26, 2011

Evan Longoria has been underperforming this season and could present a good fantasy investment for the right price.
Evan Longoria has been underperforming this season and could present a good fantasy investment for the right price.Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

“You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, know when to run …” Kenny Rodgers in “The Gambler”

Nearly two months into Fantasy Baseball 2011, and many owners are looking at their respective teams and considering running—far, far away. Shoddy drafting, injuries, underperforming players, etc. all chip away at the fantasy baseball championship sugar plums that were dancing in our heads in early April.

And yet, we chinstrap ninjas have an unspoken code to never give up regardless of the endless 0-fers our first-round slugger puts up, or the lengthy DL stint that our alleged ace is wallowing away on.

What to do? How do you pick up the pieces from a season shattered? Time to do your homework.

First, delve deep into the free-agent pool. Ninja ep had an excellent piece on the value of well-timed free agent/waiver wire moves. You can check it out here.

Check back soon for my list of some diamonds in the rough for your fantasy team in regards to free agency. In the meantime, there are excellent and timely player updates at

Secondly, there is the trade. For some, it is a lost art form. Some fear the trade so much, they avoid it altogether, and in the process miss out on some possible season-saving maneuvers.

To be successful in any fantasy sport, you need to be willing to make some moves, take some risks and tread both into free agency and the world of trading as needs arise.

Check out our 2011 fantasy baseball preseason content here.

For all your hard-hitting fantasy baseball or fantasy football advice, go to

As Kenny Rogers (the singer, not the former starting pitcher) suggests, it is important to know which players to hold onto, which to dump and when you simply need to walk away from negotiations.

In fantasy sports lingo, the mantra boils down to selling high and buying low. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, but mostly you’ll want to target players who are due to rise while their price is affordable, and move guys who are streaking and soon ready to stumble in value.

When it comes to trading, I’ve been on the front lines for well over a decade and have learned by trial and error. There have been teams destined to be fantasy doormats that I’ve been able to turn into contenders, and other squads that I’ve ruined by being overly active on the trade market.

Finding a happy medium is important.

Here are a few fantasy trade rules of thumb that I learned the hard way:

1. Build solid relationships.

Perhaps cliché, but there is real value in getting to know your league mates. For one, they’ll be more likely to work out a trade with someone they feel comfortable with. Someone who takes the time to get to know them and shows interest in how they’re doing.

This also allows you to run a little recon. The better relationship you build with those in the league, the more you’ll get a feel for what sort of players each owner may favor. Want to move Placido Polanco? You may have an easier time doing that with the Philadelphia fan in your league. Joe Owner starts telling you about his woeful pitching staff, than you suddenly have a possible trade partner if you want to move a hurler.

2. Analyze your squad.

Simple advice, yes, but advice that sometimes gets overlooked too quickly. It is hard to make a good trade if you don’t know exactly what you need.

Look at each position. Do you have a player there that will be solid over the course of the season? Which positions do you feel the weakest?

What about stat categories? At this point in the season, you can get a good gauge of where you stand in most major fantasy providers (like ESPN and Yahoo) by using the sortable standings. Your team may be leading the league in homers but a doormat in strikeouts.

Jot down some of the discrepancies and use these notes to develop a plan of action…looking for players that fill needs on your team without sacrificing the farm in other categories or positions.

3. Analyze your opponents.

You need to figure out which teams to target with your negotiations, and it usually is a good idea to find a team that has excess where you feel shallow.

For example, you have too many decent second basemen but feel short in the outfield? Find someone who is starved for help at the middle infield but has excess in the outfield.

The same goes for specific categories. If you have more than ample power numbers but need pitching assistance, then look for the team wallowing in home run pity and throw an extra slugger their way for some pitching help.

4. Communication and follow-through are critical.

Want to get the trade winds blowing in your respective leagues? Than make your intentions known. Send out some mass e-mails that you’re looking to make a splash in the trade market and announce specifically what you’re willing to move and what you are looking to obtain.

Feel free to start throwing some offers at target teams that seem to have an excess in areas you need help in. Like a used car salesman, start a little high and work your way down. Some people get upset if they feel you are trying to “low-ball” them in an offer, so be mindful of what you throw out there.

On the flip side, though, don’t be one of those owners yourself. Every trade offer, no matter how ridiculous, should be viewed as a learning experience. What players are being offered? Who is being asked for? Use those trends to develop a counter-offer that better fits what you feel will work for your team.

And don’t, in most every case, cut off negotiations or stop communicating with owners about trades. Even if the other owner seems to want your filet mignon for his roadkill raccoon, keep talking with him, throwing out some counter offers and looking for an angle that could ultimately lead to a solid move.

5. Get unbiased feedback on your trade situations.

It can be way too easy to get excited about a possible trade and not realize that it will actually hurt your squad in the long term. That’s why with every trade I seriously consider, I also ask some trusted fantasy baseball minds for some feedback.

If you aren’t sure where to track down such advice, feel free to tap into your chinstrap ninjas for help.

You can leave comments at the bottom of any post, talk to ninja-nation via our online forum or e-mail me directly.

Another site that I like to use for this task is


    Giants' Strickland Fractured Hand Punching a Door

    MLB logo

    Giants' Strickland Fractured Hand Punching a Door

    Timothy Rapp
    via Bleacher Report

    Yanks Topple M's Behind German, Homers

    MLB logo

    Yanks Topple M's Behind German, Homers

    Report: D-Backs, O's Have Discussed Machado

    MLB logo

    Report: D-Backs, O's Have Discussed Machado

    Scott Polacek
    via Bleacher Report

    Morrow Injured Back Taking Off His Pants

    MLB logo

    Morrow Injured Back Taking Off His Pants

    Alec Nathan
    via Bleacher Report