This week, it’s THT Fantasy’s turn to host the Fantasy Baseball Roundtable. Thanks go to Eriq Gardner, Eric Hinz, and Michael Lerra for helping to put this question together:
Is there ever a time when you ‘Buy High’ or ‘Sell Low’ on a player (interpret the meanings of those two phrases as you wish)? Choose a player who you would currently ‘Sell Low’ (i.e. David Ortiz, Garrett Atkins) or ‘Buy High’ (i.e. Michael Young, Raul Ibanez, etc.) and give us your sales pitch for that player. If, for example, you’re trying to trade Ortiz, how would you market him to the other owners in your league? Finally, what is the minimum requirement you would accept in a trade for the player you selected (or the maximum you would offer in the case of a ‘Buy High’ player’)?
Jon Williams – Advanced Fantasy Baseball
This is a great question. If I must do one or the other, I would prefer to ‘Buy High’ rather than ‘Sell Low.’ I guess I would rather ride out a hot streak than wait for a player to come around. I think it is just as likely that a Raul Ibanez has an unexpected great season as David Ortiz continues to have a miserable one. However, before I bought Ibanez, I would kick all the tires at least twice.
Ibanez spent the last few years of career playing at Safeco Field one of the better pitcher’s parks in the American League. This season he moved from that difficult situation to much more favorable one at Chase Field. He moved from an okay at best lineup in Seattle to a killer lineup in Philadelphia. This all gives me reason to expect to see some improvement.
Ibanez’s strikeout-rate, walk-rate, and BABIP are about the same as always so nothing to worry about there. He is hitting a few more groundballs and fly balls but fewer line drives, but he’s mostly in his career ranges here as well. Ibanez’s production looks very real to me so I would be willing to offer what it takes to get a top outfielder who is probably priced very well in NL-only leagues. I would be okay with offering a solid outfielder and a top prospect to a re-building team, or a solid starter, or an extra closer (assuming I had one) if trading pitching for a bat was an option.
If I had to sell David Ortiz, I would have done it after he hit his first homerun. I would mention his consistent production as a Boston Red Sox. I would note that he began slow last season and still finished as a productive player. I would mention that Dave Magadan has found a mechanical problem with his swing (he was holding his hands lower than usual to start his swing), a problem that Ortiz believes he has finally addressed. I would also wish you luck.
Patrick Cain – Albany Times Union
This idea of Buy High/Sell Low is very much how I approach players, as I treat players like stocks. Whaaaat? you might say. The old notion of buy low, sell high is flawed. From a stock stand point its very difficult to do; for each Warren Buffet you have 10 broke schmucks. There’s a reason stocks go down, it’s because they stink. Baseball players aren’t much different. It’s really hard, with the information available to fantasy managers, to determine what is a good buy low opportunity. Yes, occasionally we’ll strike gold and pick up CC Sabathia or Roy Oswalt early in the 2008 season. But for each of those starts in decline, there are people mired in a bad season or in the declining phase of their career.
Buying high is relative. Right now there is no person flying higher than Zach Greinke. Let’s say he was valued at like $20 in the preseason and now he’s worth $50. Buying high doesn’t mean paying $51. It means paying $30. He’s not going to end the season with a sub 1 ERA (I think). But he’s also not going to become a pumpkin (I think, again).
I think buying low is just playing with fire. Right now Ortiz is playing like a $2 player. But you’re not getting him for $2. You’re probably not even going to get him for $12. Whoever owns a slumping guy, believes in said slumper. Or, that is, he probably believes a lot more than you do.
If I was trying to get rid of a guy mired in draught or a collapse, I’d move him in a package. That way the owner feels like their risk is diversified. He’d get not only Ortiz, but also Ibanez. That way you set them up with base of stats and get them dreaming of what could be. But guess what, it won’t be. It simply won’t.
Brett Greenfield – FantasyPhenoms
I consider a “Buy High” a player who is exceeding expectations, yet has the ability to sustain such a high level of production. On the other hand, a “Sell Low” is somebody who is underachieving but, for example, because of age or lack of lineup protection could continue to underachieve. It isn’t often, but there are times when buying high or selling low make sense.
This year, Adam Jones has started off scorching hot. I say “Buy High.” He was the main cog in a deal that sent Erik Bedard to Seattle a few years ago. Bedard had come off of a Cy Young-like season and Jones was the Mariners best prospect. Jones hits in an ideal spot in the Orioles lineup. This spot is similar to the spot that Shane Victorino was put in when he broke out for the Phillies in 2007. Jones is sandwiched between Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis, two quality, proven fantasy studs. After them, lies Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora and the potential of Matt Wieters.
Currently batting .359, Jones’ average is certain to drop. He only hit .270 last year, but is seeing a better selection of pitches this year because of where he’s batting second. A .290 – .300 AVG is possible. After hitting only nine homers last year, Adam has already hit 10 and should easily surpass 20 at this rate. Jones is on pace for over 100 runs scored and over 100 runs driven in. If I had to choose one to stick, it would be the runs scored. It seems likely that he’ll score 100+ runs, while the RBI are likely to come back down, but 80+ is possible. Somewhere between 15 and 30 stolen bases seems like a realistic number for him to steal. He was 7-7 this spring in stolen bases, yet has not attempted many so far during the regular season. Expect his to steal more bases in the near future. Fifty percent of Jones’ hits have gone for extra bases, limited his opportunities to steal.
Jones is only 24 years old and is quickly becoming a five-tool fantasy stud. Despite batting .359 and on pace for 140 runs and 117 RBI to go along with 36 homers, Jones is the ultimate “Buy High.”
If I were to try dealing for Adam Jones I would have no problem parting with someone like Alex Rios, BJ Upton or Matt Kemp. You might even be able to get something else thrown back along with Jones in exchange for one of the aforementioned hitters.
Mike Podhorzer – Fantasy Pros 911
Yes, there is absolutely a time to “Buy High” or “Sell Low” on a player. In fact, I think this type of strategy may be a lot simpler to execute than the mythical “Buy Low” and “Sell High” trades that are nearly impossible to make in leagues with any bit of competitiveness. Though his 6.60 ERA will undoubtedly come down, I would sell Francisco Liriano low. His skill set has changed dramatically since his pre-TJ Surgery days and he now looks like a slightly better than league average pitcher at best, with little upside or potential to post a sub-4.00 ERA like his owners counted on.
The great thing about Liriano is that he still carries much more name value than other pitchers who have performed just as poorly. It would be easy to point to Liriano’s strong second half of last season and convince a league mate that he is buying low and Liriano’s value can’t fall any further. Point out that he is still only 25 years old and as he moves further away from TJ Surgery, he should continue to gain strength and improve, leading to another strong second half. In addition, a 7.7 K/9 is still above average and could help any fantasy team in the strikeout category.
The minimum pitcher I would require in a straight up deal for Liriano would probably be someone like fellow buy low candidate and rotation mate Scott Baker. Though I would definitely expect to get more than Baker, in terms of projected future value, he would be acceptable. The hitter would depend on my positional and categorical needs, but based strictly on value, I would say someone like Jose Lopez or Kelly Johnson.
Tommy Landry – RotoExperts
First off, never get high before managing your fantasy team, unless you like the nickname “Bob” (a.k.a. Bottom of the Barrel). That goes for buying OR selling.
But seriously, I am never one to go out and pursue a guy who is already playing like an All-Star, unless I think his ceiling is still much higher than what he has done so far. Unfortunately, it is rare that you’ll find a taker in that situation without seriously overpaying. In the case of selling low, I have been known to have the occasional fire sale in hopes of landing a replacement guy who I think is due to come out of a slump himself. This is where you can achieve some nice profit. You start by highlighting extended slumps that the player-to-be-dealt has endured in the past and sell it as the same thing. Then you show all the big chinks in the armor of the guy you secretly covet. Typically, I like to do this with players of different styles – e.g. dealing away a “stick a fork in him” power slugger for a speed guy who just healed up from a lingering hamstring problem. You can really harp on the hammy issue in this case, meanwhile playing up the “his walk rate is still great, his contact rate has to get better, and look at all the doubles he hit last week” angle for the slugger.
Of course, you have to draft a bust to have someone to sell low, and I’m risk averse to the point that I wouldn’t have taken a guy in severe decline like Big Papi before the tail end of any of my drafts this year. Then again, I’m sitting on Rafael Furcal in two leagues waiting with baited breath for him to “come around”. I might be waiting a long time.