Can't Drop.... Can Trade
The first set of players I'm going to talk about here is all players who you won't be dropping, but I don't think will produce near what was expected at the start of the year.
Evan Longoria - ADP 5.2 - Longoria is still going to be a good player when he gets back, but he's not going to produce at the level of the first round pick you had to spend on him because of the lack of a line-up around him on the Rays. See if you can shop him to someone who still likes his name value. If you can get 90 or even 80 cents on the dollar for Evan here, it's a good trade
Joe Mauer - ADP 25.7 - Mauer has been more value than production since before draft day. You payed for 2009 with Mauer but you are going to be getting something closer to 2010. Catcher is deep right now, and there are some free agent guys available with potential. If you can trade away Mauer based on name to get something else your team needs right now. UPDATE: Mauer has been placed on the DL as of Thursday night. This lowers value obviously, but might help you find more people looking to Buy Low on him. Still pull the trigger.
Jacoby Ellsbury - ADP 53.5 - Ellsbury is another guy who's started slow on the season, but his name power is still there. If his move down the Boston lineup sticks, he's not going produce the way he's projected to. Get the value while it's still there.
Delmon Young - ADP 87.5 - Young doesn't have the same name value as the rest of these guys, but is listed here more as a reminder that you drafted him too high to cut him. The Minnesota lineup will come around at some point, and Young's numbers will pick up. That said, if you can find someone trying to trade for him, don't hesitate too much.
- Didn't list any pitchers as undroppable but tradeable, because pitcher value works very different from hitter value. Pitchers only pitch once every five days, so generally people are overreacting to even smaller sample sizes at this point. I'm not trying to trade any of my stud pitchers because of a few bad performances, but I am willing to go the other way. In one league I'm shopping around Dan Haren because the complete game one-hitter and relief appearance win have boosted his value even though it's just 3 games. I want to trade him for hitting while his value is high, because he'll level out to regular pitcher numbers, and is, like most starters in my opinion, nearly replaceable with spot starts.
Always Shop Sales
Meaning always buy low when trading for guys. You don't want to try and trade for Matt Kemp right now, because he's been the best fantasy outfielder in the league through the first two weeks. You instead want to try and trade for one of these guys, who have underperformed so far. Try to find the foolish owner in your league who is impatient with his guys, and get one of these guys off their teams.
Carl Crawford - ADP 4.2 - PRK (Positional Rank) 102 - Crawford was drafted as the number one overall outfielder in a lot of leagues and is going to end the year as a top ten outfielder despite his slow start. See if his owner is panicking though, because he has had such a bad early start that you might be able to get him for like second or third round value.
Andrew McCutchen - ADP 37.2 - PRK 63 - McCutchen was drafted just outside the top ten outfielders, but hasn't performed like one so far. Luckily, the Pirates are sticking with him as their number three hitter, and there is nothing really wrong with him, just some bad luck thus far on balls in play. His numbers will come up soon and he will start running when he's on base more. See if his owner is getting impatient and you can get him for cheap.
Shin-Soo Choo - ADP 35.8 - PRK 60 - Choo has started slow, but WILL end the year as a 20/20 guy hitting close to .300. If the rest of the Indians offense keeps producing the way they have, he'll probably actually beat out his runs and RBI projections. I'd pay even pre-draft value for him at this point, because Choo is going to get things done.
Ichiro Suzuki - ADP 44.7 - PRK 40 - Ichiro is Ichiro. I shouldn't even have to list him here because no one should be thinking about trading him after he's shown what he can do over the course of his career. Unforunately.... Well fortunately for those of us who are smart, there are many stupid people out there. If there is one that owns Ichiro in your league, attack.
Mike Stanton - ADP 64.9 - PRK 104 - Stanton is going to rake this year. I still like him for over 30 home runs on the year even after this slow start and the injury time missed. If you can give the owner someone who's hot now for Stanton, get him and enjoy the power.
Dan Uggla - ADP 34.4 - PRK 45 - Uggla was never a good average guy to begin with, so don't be worried by his early lack of success. He's a career just .239 hitter in April, so I'm not worried about the struggles continuing. Uggla will hit for power this year, which is something that's hard to find at second base. Put an offer out there for Uggla.
Chris Carpenter - ADP 47.4 - PRK 98 - Didn't list many starters here because I generally don't like trading for starters, but Carpenter is a guy worth buying low on. He has the stuff of an ace and there is nothing apparently wrong with him. The St. Louis offense seems to be getting back to being as good as expected with the return of Matt Holliday, so the wins will be there too. Try and trade a hot cheaper starter for him, and enjoy the returns.
- I don't like trading hitting for mid-level starting pitching in standard mixed leagues. You can trade for aces and studs like Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum or the above mentioned Chris Carpenter, but don't trade hitting for "regular" starting pitching. I've proven with my daily starter pickup column that you can get strong performances out of guys available on waivers.
Trim The Fat
I don't like overreacting too much based on early season returns, but once you get out of the top hundred players, there are some guys that simply aren't living up to their draft spot that aren't going to be turning it around. Include them in trades if you can get something for their value, but I don't have a problem with outright cutting any of these guys in a ten team mixed league.
Ben Zobrist - ADP 96.1 - PRK 26 (at 2B) - The Rays' lineup isn't the same as it was last year,and Zobrist is being asked to shoulder too much of the burden. He's another player where you paid for 2009 but are going to end up getting 2010 or worse. Whether or not you can cut him depends on who else is available in your league, but if you can package him with another player for an upgrade at second base, you might find an owner willing to take the trade.
Pedro Alvarez - ADP 124.1 - PRK 30 - Normally, waiting is recommended with young players, but I don't like Alvarez's profile as a hitter. Even if the power numbers are there, he strikes out way too much and had a high BABIP in his one year in the majors. If that number lowers like I expect it too, his already bad average is going to become an anchor on your team. Cut away.
Vernon Wells - ADP 129.4 - PRK 142 - Wells has been very poor to start the year and i don't know if when he comes around he'll get near his projections. He had a few poor years before his solid contract year last year, and might just be into the wrong side of his career. I'd hold onto him instead of cutting him if possible, because the money he's getting paid means he'll stay in the lineup, but take a trade if you can figure one out.
Ian Stewart - ADP 160.8 - PRK 46 - Stewart is another third baseman like Alvarez who is a historically bad average guy, who you are only playing for his pop. The problem is, you can get someone else at the corner infield spot who has the same power that Stewart does with a better average. And after the way Stewart has started off this season, he needs to be cut from your roster now.
Derrek Lee - ADP 172.8 - PRK 29 - Lee is old and I think he's officially done. You drafted him hoping that last year was an aberration, but it's not. Cut him and find someone else to play the corner spot for you.
Sean Rodriguez - ADP 191.3 - PRK 36 (2B) - Rodriguez is a worst version of Zobrist in fantasy. Rodriguez has the same eligibility but also isn't helping you at either position. Worse here, Rodriguez has been striking out excessively to start the season. Teams might be onto him as he's gotten more playing time. Cuttable.
Phil Hughes - ADP 153.5 - PRK 166 - Hughes was a guy who it was easy to be high on going into the year however, until he gets his velocity back up he's not going to be a good start. Cut him, but keep an eye on him for later in the year if he gets it together.
Madison Bumgarner - ADP 176.1 - PRK 160 - Bumgarner is another guy who might get it together, but who doesn't have his stuff right now. Until he gets his control together and works his walk-rate down some, I'd cut him for someone else available.
- Early season trades should be for one of two reasons. You should either be trying to buy low on a player, or be trying to sell a player who has looked good to start the year but didn't cost you much. You shouldn't be forcing early season trades overreacting to what your own guys have been doing poor or overreacting to what other teams players are doing. It's simple business...Buy low and sell high.
Improve Your Lineup For Free
The best way to acquire players is through free agency. Unless you have FAAB in your league, it is a way to upgrade your team that doesn't cost you anything compared to spending draft picks or trading players to get players. Always watch the free agent list for values. This list is light on starting pitching because i rank all the available starters every day right here on the blog. Percentages listed are ownership values in ESPN standard leagues.
Chipper Jones - 78.4% - Jones was easy to not draft because of worries about injuries and age, but if Chipper Jones is playing well, hes worth an own and a start at the corner spot in most mixed leagues. Pick him up while he's free and enjoy the production for now.
Logan Morrison - 83.7% - LoMo has been drilling the ball so far this year, and if you are in one of the leagues where he's still available, you should go pick him up right now or put your waiver claim in for him now. Morrison is going to keep hitting well. You should have him on your team.
Scott Rolen - 67.3% - Rolen is still available in almost a third of leagues despite being the number four ranked third baseman so far on the year. Like Chipper Jones, Rolen's biggest problem is with his age, but as long as hes producing he deserves to be on your team.
Justin Smoak - 15.9% - Smoak isn't owned in many leagues but is the 16th ranked first baseman on the player rater so far in the year. This isn't a permanent recommendation, but Smoak gets four games with the Royals followed by three games against the back half of the Tigers' rotation. He's worth a pickup and play if you need corner help or are in bigger leagues.
Mike Aviles - 17.8% - I know he hasn't been that good to start the year, but I started the year high on Aviles and still am. He went 2-4 Wednesday against the Twins and looks to be getting playing time again. Second Base is so weak that even with his average at .156 he's still the 21st best second baseman. I think he's about to start pulling that up, so he should be owned if you need second base help or are in a deeper league.
Alex Gordon - 85.0% - I doubt he's still available if your league is fairly competitive, but grab him if he's there. This is looking like it might be his breakout year and even if he doesn't keep up his average, he'll still hit. The Royals offense is finally looking up, which makes Gordon a viable fantasy play all year long.
Nick Hundley - 16.8% - Hundley is a player who might be really getting it together here at 28 years old. Even if he's not, he's been off to such a good start that he should be picked up if you don't have one of the top catchers. He's been the second best Catcher so far this year even though he plays for San Diego, so even if he cools off later, he's worth playing right now.
Angel Sanchez - 22.2% - Sanchez has been hot to start the year at a weak short stop position. As the number four short stop, he's worth rostering even though it's going to be impossible for him to keep up this pace. Realize he still can lose his job when Clint Barnes comes off the DL, so don't pick him up and consider short stop fixed.
David Murphy - 8.9% - Murphy is going to see a large playing time increase with Hamilton out for a while, and that makes him startable in deeper leagues and AL-Only leagues. He's just a stopgap, but if you need the help or have an injury, Murphy can fill in admirably.
Alex Avila - 7.0% - Avila is a guy that was only worth targeting in AL-Only and deeper leagues because he's going to sit against left handers this year, but if he keeps hitting with power like this, he'll work his way to being owned in standard leagues as well. I like Hundley better, but Avila isn't a bad consolation prize.
Zach Britton - 62.6% - Britton is the only starting pitcher who makes this list, because he's owned in too many leagues to be eligible for my pickup column, but should be owned in every league. Britton has had two good starts already this year. Even if he has a problem against the hot Indians on Friday, he still has enough talent that he should be owned in every league even if you're going to want to sit him at times against AL East foes.
Sean Burnett - 37.0% - While I still think Drew Storen is going to get the majority of the saves in Washington this year, Manager Jim Riggleman continues to state that its going to be a closer by committee and Burnett has gotten the majority of the saves so far this year. Burnett should be owned in almost every league because he might get the spot by himself, and if you own Storen you should pick up Burnett right now. You can cut a lower level starting pitcher for him, and just stream starters at one spot if you need them.