Fantasy Baseball 2011: 5 Players to Sell High on ASAP
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Stock traders know all about the buy low, sell high philosophy. So do fantasy baseball owners.
To win in fantasy baseball, you have to get guys on the cheap who turn out to provide a lot of bang for little buck over a short period of time, and then you have to trade those same players away when their values are at their highest points in order to acquire better players who will help you win your league.
Two-plus months into the season there are several hitters and pitchers who are exceeding expectations, and chances are they are not going to keep up their frenetic paces, whether it is because they will get injured, lose their jobs, or come crashing back to earth.
Here are five players I would trade now before their fantasy values start dropping like afternoon soap operas. Deal them away for solid fantasy performers before they realize they are playing over their heads, or else wind up stuck with them at the All-Star break when their trade values dry up.
Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays
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If you think Joyce will continue to hit around .340 for the entire season, raise your bat. And if you raised your bat, please allow me to join your fantasy league in 2012.
Joyce has made the Joyce-for-Edwin Jackson swap Tampa Bay made with Detroit three years ago not look like the lopsided looting it had since it was consummated.
After years of bouncing between the majors and the minors, Joyce has finally found a full-time home in the middle of the Rays’ light-hitting lineup. He has 10 home runs, 34 RBI, a .338 average, and an impressive .987 OPS.
Joyce has always had a good eye at the plate, which bodes well for him being a decent fantasy performer in the future. But there is nothing in his past to suggest that he is going to pull a Bill Madlock and win a batting title, and he still cannot hit southpaw pitchers (.216 this year), so that will continue to dent his stats.
I would package him with a pitcher for a more established slugger if I owned him.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers
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Offensive-minded catchers are harder to find than women Anthony Weiner has not sent x-rated pictures to, so Lucroy has been one of the most important fantasy finds this season.
His half-dozen homers, 27 RBI and .283 batting average in 159 at-bats have made him one of the late-round or waiver wire steals of the fantasy year.
But you must wonder how long Lucroy can keep up the Mike Piazza routine. His minor league numbers were not overwhelming before he made it to the big leagues, and in 2010 he only had four dingers in 277 at-bats. His walks are few and far between (26 in 436 career at-bats) and in June he is only hitting .179.
Lucroy handles pitchers well, so he is going to play the bulk of the games from here on out unless he gets sat on by Prince Fielder. His June swoon has to scare you that it is a sign he is wearing down and that he will fade as the weather gets warmer and more foul tips rattle off his body.
If you own him in a dynasty league you should be more apt to hold onto him, but if you’re not than I would try and trade him before he hits .150 in July.
Kyle Farnsworth, Tampa Bay Rays
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Farnsworth has had a storied career in a way. For a man who throws close to 100 mph, you would think he would have more than 40 career saves in 13 seasons, especially since almost one-third of those saves have come this year with the Rays.
But even when armed with a fastball that Lucifer could not make any hotter, Farnsworth has never shown an ability to close games. He has been a semi-decent setup man during his professional life, although his fastball seemed to get flatter in big games or in past save situations. For someone who should be so dominant, Farnsworth was usually so hittable. Until this season.
This season Farnsworth has pitched like Bruce Sutter, converting 13 of 14 save opportunities and posting microscopic a 1.17 ERA and 0.70 WHIP. And this is exactly why you should trade him faster than Charles Barkley can say “I hate the Miami Heat.” It is hard to believe that suddenly at age 35 Farnsworth has fully mastered what it takes to be a closer.
There will be someone who needs saves in your fantasy league. There always is. Trade Farnsworth now while he is impersonating Bobby Thigpen in his prime and before Farnsworth reverts back to the inconsistent reliever we have witnessed for a decade-plus.
Bartolo Colon, New York Yankees
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Ah, the wonders of modern medicine. Colon was as washed-up and bloated as Hideki Irabu a couple years ago, but thanks to a mysterious elbow injection Colon is throwing as well as he did back in 2005 when he went 21-8.
At 4-3 with a 3.39 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 66 strikeouts in 71.2 innings, Colon has been one of the biggest surprises of the season.
Now the details of this secret stem cell procedure are sketchier than the plot of Super 8. You have to wonder if Colon’s velocity will hold up over the course of the entire season, and you have to be curious as to whether Major League Baseball might have something to say about what his doctor did for him.
And you know that if he falters for a few starts the Yankees will waste no time replacing him with a high-priced, soon-to-be-free-agent that they trade prospects for.
There will undoubtedly be a Yankee fan in your fantasy league who will overpay to have a popular pinstriped player on their roster. Trade Colon now before he breaks down or gets slapped with a suspension
Dustin Moseley, San Diego Padres
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Petco Park has helped turn more mediocre pitchers into fantasy forces than St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan.
Moseley is the latest to benefit from Petco’s pitcher-friendly dimensions. Although he is 2-6 thanks to having less support than Newt Gingrich, his 3.16 ERA and 1.29 WHIP have been helpful for fantasy owners.
The warning sign is that Moseley’s career ERA is 4.75 and his career WHIP is 1.46, numbers much higher than what he is posting now. And considering he is not winning games, nor is he striking guys out with his soft stuff (37 strikeouts in 77 innings), chances are his ERA and WHIP will start heading north shortly.
Trade him to somebody in your NL-only league who has a hankering for Padres or thinks Moseley can be the Clayton Richard of 2011.