Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fantasy Baseball Musings And Pickups From Week 1 (3/31-4/7)

This column is going to be all about the season so far.  Where you should be reacting.  Where you shouldn't be reacting.  Who to grab off of waivers.  All the good stuff you need to know through the first week.

What To Do With Your DL Guys

As a general rule of thumb, you never want to trade a player while they are on the DL.  I understand that it hurts to have to hold a roster spot up with a guy who is not playing, but trading him is going to hurt your team more in the long term than it will help in the short term.  You are never going to get full value for a DL player, so it's better to just hang on to them than to trade them away.

Having said that, here are a few exceptions to that rule.

Chase Utley - Second Base - Philadelphia Phillies - I don't like hearing that a guy might begin jogging sometime soon.  They don't have a solid timetable at all for his return, saying they don't want to rush him and want him playing in July-August-September.  I don't think he'll be back until at least June. I'm not saying to ship him off for anything you can get, but if you can get like two thirds value for Utley, it's definitely worth making the trade.  I'd target the Neil Walker/Brian Roberts level players and see if you can get someone dumb enough to take Utley off your hands.  If you can't, I've got a second base pickup for you later in the column to hold you over till Utley gets back.

Evan Longoria - Third Base - Tampa Bay Rays - With Longoria, I'm not worried about his injury lingering...I'm worried about the team around him.  The Rays are 0-6  so far and have scored just 8 runs on the year.  Their lineup is just plain embarrassing this year.  As a small market team, this is something the Rays have to go through every few years.  Their lineup will get reinforced by young players by the end of the year and they'll be competing again next year, but this isn't going to be a good offensive year for Tampa.  There is no way Longoria is going to come close to his 100+ RBI and Run projections and he won't be able to break 30 Homers without any lineup protection behind him.  See if you can find someone who thinks they are getting value on the injured Longoria and trade him to them.  You're not going to be able to get Kevin Youklis or Alex Rodriguez, but if you can get Adrian Beltre or Jose Bautista, you're robbing your opponents.

The Don't Be Stupid Section
  • Don't even think about trading Albert Pujols.  You can also stop complaining about his lack of production so far please.  He's the best player in fantasy. Period.  Your lucky to have him on your roster.
  • Don't be the guy offering horrible trades around your league hoping someone is stupid enough to take one. That almost never works and is just going to lead to no one wanting to trade with you.  Always have to keep the trade lines open.
  • Don't worry about your Red Sox players.  They Rays lost players last year, but the Sox just got guys back from injury and added great players in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.  They are 0-6 but their roster is too good for them not to come around.
  • Don't trade your hitting for pitching in standard mixed leagues.  I've been showing with my daily pitcher pickup column that there are always quality starters available in free agency because there are always good matchups to play.  If you can go the other way and trade starting pitching for hitting where you need help, I recommend it.
  • Don't fall for Derek Lowe's early season stats.  He turns 38 this year and won't keep striking out guys at this rate.  There are other pitchers worth scooping up.  You've missed the best of Derek Lowe already.
Guys to Grab

Mike Aviles - Second Base - Kansas City Royals - 29.0% Ownership - I've been talking about Aviles since before the season and I'm going to keep talking about him until he's owned in at least three quarters of all leagues.  Aviles has a homer and a pair of stolen bases already and is going to continue running.  Don't worry about the .115 average so far.  It's both really early and he has been unlucky, its also a small sample but he has just a .105 BABIP on the year.  As long as he's putting the ball in play those numbers will go up, and when he gets on base he will be stealing bases.  30 steals isn't out of the question in my opinion, worth playing at middle infield in almost any format.

Edwin Jackson - Starting Pitcher - Chicago White Sox - 34.3% Ownership - My Thursday starter recommendation is also today's must pick up recommendation.  Jackson had a great game against Tampa Bay, striking out 13 guys over 8 innings and giving up just one earned run.  Jackson has been much improved since he was traded to the Sox and has been working with pitching coach Don Cooper.  He is striking guys out, keeping the score down, and has a monster offense giving him run support.  He is a must own in all formats.

Jordan Walden - Closer - Los Angeles Angels - 52.3% Ownership - I've already mentioned Walden in the last two starter pickup columns, but he's worth mentioning again because of how many leagues he's still available in.  He's available in almost half the leagues out there, so double check and see if he's available in yours still.  If you have weekly pickups or FAAB, Walden should be your number one target.

Chipper Jones - Third Base - Atlanta Braves - 66.0% Ownership - Chipper is Chipper.  You didn't draft him because he is a huge injury/performance risk at his age, but picking him up is a whole different story.  If you need corner infield help then Chipper is worth a grab.  If it's free to acquire him he definitely has value and you can always cut him when his performance drops off.

Russell Martin - Catcher - New York Yankees - 37.5% Ownership - Martin got off to a quick start as a Yankee, and that makes him an intriguing play.  Playing in the Yankee lineup is going to help anyone's runs and RBIs and if he keeps stealing bases, he'll be an extremely rare source of speed from the catcher position. He doesn't need to be owned in every mixed league, but if you missed out on one of the top eight guys or have the extra roster space at the moment to platoon him on days where your starter isn't playing, he's worth a pickup.  He should be owned in any AL only leagues as well.

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