Wow. It is June 1st already. The baseball season is 1/3 over, though it seems that we still had 2 feet of snowpack on the ground a few weeks ago. I just planted my tomatoes and peppers today, a couple of weeks late, and had to skip the peas and spinach this season as the ground was still frozen when I’d normally plant them. There is still plenty of summer to go, in fact all of it, but your fantasy baseball team does not have that luxury. Sure, some may still call it early, especially if one was in the top 5 of their Roto league or in contention for a playoff spot in a Head to Head. If, however, you are struggling in a Roto league or getting blown away in your Head to Head league, it is now or never to turn things in the right direction.
As the prophet Yogi once said, “It gets late early out there.” This season is moving fast.
I would normally write this type of article on Memorial Day weekend, since that has always been my team’s personal barometer day for the rest of the season. This year was different for two reasons: 1) Memorial Day came a week early this year, so it was not yet the 1/3 point of the season. 2) More importantly, I was busy last weekend. Corey Roberts, who lives in Indianapolis where Major League Fantasy Sports has its headquarters, invited us to Indy this year for the Indy 500. A half dozen of us made the trip and spent the weekend at the world’s largest single sporting event. Thanks, Corey, for a great time. I’m going to try and do it again next season. Now that the garden is planted, I can write my Memorial Day article. Thanks to our editor and fellow writer Joe Ciccone for taking care of my real Memorial Day article while I was having fun in the sun. I owe you one Joe.
Unless you have a loaded disabled list with several vets starting rehab assignments, there are only a few ways to change your team in areas it is weak. Scouring the waiver wire for those last few diamonds in the rough, or players the rest of the world is overlooking, is one way. You may find that guy or two who are just about to break out, and they may be the missing pieces for you to be relevant again. The only other way to improve is through trades, and that impact can be quick, be it good or bad. If you are in an active league I’ll bet there has been at least one trade already this week, and more to come. In two weeks you’ll have trouble getting the pieces you need as the sellers will have sold out, and the buyers may be the ones splitting the winners pot in October. If you are a member of MLFS or reading one of my articles, I can assume I don’t need to explain the concept of Buying Low and Selling High at this time of year. You also likely play in a league with veteran fantasy owners who tend not to make emotional trades, so the traditional Buy Low/Sell High concept is quite a bit narrower than one might expect to run into when planning a trade target strategy. We can still talk about players worth pursuing whose value may have dropped, or players coming off a great first two months that may be worth cashing in if the return makes you a better team.
I’ll throw some names out there that would fall in either category and what I’d be trying to do with them. Remember, some categories are hard to move the needle on. Saves are hard to accumulate since only a few guys at a time are contributing. So, if you are going to trade for a closer, the time is now if you expect him to help you this season. In a Head-to-Head league you have some more time as long as saves are not going to keep you from making the playoffs. But, the hardest cats to move the needle on as the season wears on are the ratios. The more AB’s and Innings your players accumulate, the larger the base of data that makes up your ratios is. After July 1st it is next to impossible to greatly move the ratios in a short period of time. If you need a big boost you’d best be looking now. By now you know where your team is strong and where it is weak, and where you may be able to trade a surplus to get a bargain. Here are some ideas.
Boston Red Sox:
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, BOS – His value quite possibly is the highest it will ever be. You know you were smart to have picked him up when you did. I think he is going to be a good pitcher, but right now he is a big buzz in the Northeast. With so much pitching available, why not see what you can get for this guy. Don’t wait until next week though, he might give up 6 runs in 2 innings. He is a kid remember.
Big Papi, DH, BOS – David Ortiz is a hitter. That is what he is. He will hit, we’re just not sure when. Don’t overpay though as he is 40 years old and the possibility of him NOT turning his season around is feasible. I think he will though. In one of my leagues where he is being advertised (and who advertises a player at his low point?) he is drawing plenty of low ball offers.
Hanley Ramirez, LF, BOS – Why are you surprised I included him here? He’s been one of Boston’s best hitters all season, but the Boston offense is terrible so far. Hanley’s numbers don’t look all that hot and his owner may be a bit fed up with owning him at this point. He’ll still require a premium offer, but it might take less than you think.
Mike Napoli, 1B, BOS – If you need power, this sleeping giant just woke up. Don’t expect major contributions in anything but the power cats, but Napoli should be a good source of HR the rest of the way. Don’t wait until his recent batting spike gets attention.
Mookie Betts, OF, Bos – Why not? He hasn’t really done too much yet. You know he is special though, and maybe he will figure it all out in the 2nd half. If the Betts owner is a contender offer him a player in an area he is weak.
Clay Buchholz, SP, BOS – Hey, you know what he can do when he is on. He might even be hanging out on waivers. He’s tossed four quality starts in a row.
Tommy Lane, RP, BOS – He was just promoted to top lefty with 8th inning responsibility. That might net some more holds, but if you play in a league that counts IRS there is nothing better than a quality lefty specialist who comes in with men on base and is also there in the 7th and 8th for potential holds.
New York Yankees:
Andrew Miller, RP, NYY – What? “I was smart enough to draft him as a good set up man and now you want me to trade my biggest prize of the season?” Yup. You probably lead the league in saves by now, so why do you need them all? If another closer nets you more than Miller, than trade the other one. You will not get more for a quality closer than you will right now.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, NYY – Nah. Just kidding. If you were smart enough to take a flyer on him enjoy the bonus. It is doubtful you’ll get more than token offers for him anyway, though 3b is especially thin this season. Heck, even Juan Uribe might get his job back.
Masahiro Tanaka, SP, NYY – Yes, he is risky, but when he is on the mound he is nearly unhittable. Somewhere in between trading for a risky ace and preying on a distraught Tanaka owner is a fair price for a guy who could carry you to the promised land. See if you can find it
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, NYY – He was arguably the best Yankee hitter before getting hurt. Quite a few OF have hit the DL recently. There is risk not knowing how soon he’ll be back, but if the price is right………
Delin Betances, RP, NYY – What? It was bad enough a lot of people drafted him early thinking he and not Miller would be the closer (including this writer), but he is putting up tons of K’s, Holds, and great ratios. Exactly. His owner might still be in shock that Betances was not the closer. Offer him a low end closer, and if he bites you will get the K’s and ratios that more than equal having an extra starter in your lineup. Oh, and some of us are still waiting for him to find his way into that closer role at some point. Bonus.
Adam Warren, SP, NYY – Today on the Yankee radio broadcast Susan Waldman said, “Adam Warren pitched his heart out today”. Hopefully that won’t land him on the DL, but I’d use him in a good matchup in a heartbeat. Depending on your settings his RP/SP eligibility could be a strategic advantage.
Toronto Blue Jays:
Devon Travis, 2B, TOR – Travis has had a setback and will be shut down for a week. Bummer or Opportunity? His hot start was the time to sell high if you were going to, but he was probably your best middle infielder at that time. Advertise him, but if you don’t get a decent offer, you still may have the AL ROY. If you are trading for him, remind the other owner of the setback.
Jose Reyes, SS, TOR – This paragraph has become a staple on my Memorial Day articles. If you can get him cheap, what the hell have you got to lose? Just don’t trade a necessary piece of your team to get him.
Jose Bautista, OF/DH, TOR, Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR – These two bash brothers have not had good seasons so far when it comes to batting average. Age and minor injury have become issues with these two in recent years, and that may create an opportunity to buy low. Bautista is off the DL, but can only DH for now. Edwin has 12 HR and Bautista 6 HR, but both are still on pace for 100 RBI. We know they will hit far better than this and soon. The owners of these guys might just be willing to move them.
Chris Colabello, 1B/OF, TOR – Just like last season, he has left the gate red hot after a call-up. Ride the wave baby, you can still drop him later. It would be nice if he found his HR stroke though.
Chris Archer, SP, TB – Yeah, he’s been one of your best pitchers, but where you drafted him shows you still have a good staff. Archer’s value may never be higher, and depending on the league settings and the other SP you drafted, you might be able to do just fine without him if you can get a good bat and a closer for him.
Evan Longoria, 3B, TB – Ok, he is having an alright season, mediocre even, but I still believe. 3B is very shallow this season and Longo is probably still a top 10 option. His numbers are low enough though where an owner may think he can do better. If you had been playing Juan Uribe, this would be a serious plug in replacment. I think Longo will come back very soon but he may not come too cheap.
Brandon Guyer, OF, TB; Nathan Karns, SP, TB – Guyer is hitting close to .300 and put up Shane Victorino type numbers in the minors. His average won’t last, but if you need some help you could do a lot worse than Guyer. Karns has righted his own ship after a couple of brutal early April starts, and now has given up less than 2 runs in 7 straight starts. He’s also pretty close to a strikeout per inning for the season.
Jimmy Paredes, OF/2B, BAL – Well, unless you cashed in already. Have you seen his Minor League resume? Get out while his career is hot! It won’t last long. His batting average is already starting to correct as the opponents adjust and now know what he is dealing.
Manny Machado, 3B, BAL – Machado is off to another disappointing start and his owners may have grown impatient with that hole in their everyday lineup. But, he is on pace to set career highs in HR and SB, and is still only 22. Where is Bryce Harper when you need him? Manny’s wife is easier on the eyes than his stat line was before his 2 HR Sunday.
Chris Davis, 1B, BAL – I hear a time bomb ticking, I just wish we knew when it was going to go off. They say energy is pent up momentum. If you need power, where else are you going to look?
JJ Hardy, SS, BAL – Hardy is not hitting for a high average yet since his DL stint ended, but we know he’ll hit some homers and be productive enough to unseat many starting fantasy SS. Just be patient and don’t spend a lot to get him. He is still available on many wires.
Pitching grabs for next week: Bolded pitchers are two start pitchers for the week.
Mon: Michael Pineda, NYY vs SEA , Ubaldo Jimenez, BAL @ HOU, Clay Buchholz, BOS vs MIN.
Tue: Chris Archer, TB @ LAA, Mike Wright, BAL @ HOU, Marco Estrada, TOR @ WAS.
Wed: Eduardo Rodriguez, BOS vs MIN, Masahiro Tanaka, NYY vs SEA, Michael Gonzalez, BAL @ HOU, Nate Karns, TB @ LAA.
Thu: Wei-Yin Chen, BAL @ HOU, Steven Wright, BOS vs MIN.
Fri: Aaron Sanchez TOT vs HOU, Jake Odorizzi, TB @ SEA.
Sat: Ubaldo Jimenez, BAL @ CLE , Drew Hutchinson, TOR vs HOU, Adam Warren, NYY vs LAA.
Sun: Chris Archer, TB @ SEA, Michael Pineda, NYY vs LAA, Clay Buchholz, BOS vs OAK.
(Click the BLUE link below to listen)
Major League Fanatsy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D. Roberts on Sunday June 7th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports radio sponsored by The Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in at 646.915.8596 This week’s topics are the A.L. Central, and N.L. West.