Fantasy Mailbag: Blockbuster Trade Advice

Only four questions this week instead of the usual five, but the answers are a little more longwinded than normal. If you’re in need of advice, a second opinion or even just some reassurance, don’t hesitate to fire an e-mail my way. Even if I don’t include it in my next fantasy mailbag, I’ll try to answer it as quickly as possible. Please include your full name and the city and state you live in.

(Here’s) a fantasy baseball trade I found in the box today. It’s a blockbuster too. He gives me: A. Jones, J. Giambi, J. Wilson, K. Brown. I give him: M. Tejada, S. Green, B. Sheets. Right now, I’m thinking the best player in the deal is without a doubt Tejada. However, I’m getting a lot of value (in Jones) for a TERRIBLY slumping Shawn Green (shoulder injuries lingering?). Also, an established pitcher like Kevin Brown is an upgrade on paper from the unproven, but electric, Ben Sheets. So as you can see, I’m torn here as this is an unusually good trade proposal, compared to the ones I normally get.Justin Hartfield, Irvine, California

Well, Wilson’s outplaying Tejada right now, but I don’t think he’s going to come close to keeping this up, so you’re probably right that Tejada’s the best player involved here. Since Wilson’s not going to hit .361 all season and Tejada should start hitting for decent power soon, this trade is a substantial downgrade for you at shortstop.

However, as you noted, Jones and Giambi are each better than Green right now. Together, you’re getting a lot of offense in exchange for somebody who’s hitting just .220, although he does have seven homers. Jones and Giambi should both have higher averages than Green, they may both hit more home runs and they both play in better lineups. I don’t think Giambi’s ankle injury will affect him much the rest of the season, so he should continue to be one of the best power hitters in the league when he returns. You’re really improving your offense in this part of the trade.

The last part is the swap of starting pitchers. You’re right that Brown’s probably a good bet to finish the season with better numbers than Sheets, but he’s also a better bet to lose a significant amount of time to injury. And while Brown has proven himself as a great pitcher time and again in his career and Sheets is still looking for his first great season, the fact is that Sheets has pitched much better than Brown and it wouldn’t shock me if he has a better year. Overall, I’d call this part a wash.

If you make this trade, you’re definitely adding some risk to your team. You’re taking a risk that Wilson won’t go back to hitting in the .250 range with no power. You’re taking a risk that Brown won’t suffer a significant injury this season. And you’re taking a risk that Giambi’s current injury won’t affect him, and he won’t suffer any other serious injuries.

If all of those risks work out in your favor, you’ll come out way ahead in this trade. If they all go against you, you’ll regret the trade. If it’s closer to the middle ground, you should still do well with the trade. All things considered, I’d pull the trigger. You’re giving up two good players and getting three while giving up one player who’s really struggling and getting one who’s on fire. With decent luck, it’ll be a helpful transaction.

I play in a 5×5 roto league, AL only, 10 teams. My team is currently first in ERA, WHIP and K’s, while I’m next to last in every offensive category. I’m also at the bottom in saves, although I have Keith Foulke. Anyway, I just traded my prized pitcher, Curt Schilling, along with my pothole of a third baseman, Eric Hinske, for Vlad and Cerda, one of the guys in line to save for KC. I think it’s a good trade, as it should help balance my team out. Any thoughts?Jim Greer, Baltimore, Maryland

First of all, Cerda is a waste of a roster spot, even in an AL-only league. He might end up with a handful of saves, but he might not. And he’s no sure thing to help your ERA and WHIP. He has a 3.46 ERA, but a 1.46 WHIP so far, and his 11 strikeouts and nine walks in 13 innings doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence. So, I’m going to pretend he wasn’t involved in the trade, as he’s unlikely to add anything to your team.

I really thought Hinske would turn things around this season, but now I’m wondering if he just isn’t as good as he showed during his first three months. In those first three months, he hit .293 with 14 homers, 48 runs, 44 RBIs and five steals in 259 at-bats. In the nearly two seasons since then, he’s hit .245 with 26 homers, 145 runs, 121 RBIs and 22 steals in 917 at-bats.

In his first three months, he averaged a home run every 18.5 at-bats, a run every 5.4 at-bats, an RBI every 5.9 at-bats and a steal every 51.8 at-bats. The only category he’s improved is steals, to one every 41.7 at-bats since July 2002. His homers are down to one every 35.3 at-bats, runs are at one every 6.3 at-bats and RBIs are at one every 7.6 at-bats. As long as you had somebody decent ready to take over at third base, you’re probably not going to miss Hinske at all.

Since Hinske and Cerda are unlikely to factor into the final equation, this trade essentially boils down to Schilling for Vlad. If you’re dominating the pitching stats and stinking up the hitting categories, then this is exactly the kind of trade you want to make. So far, Schilling and Vlad are both doing almost exactly what I thought they would.

Schilling’s 6-3 with a 2.82 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 66 strikeouts in 70.1 innings. He’s been the best fantasy pitcher in the American League so far and he’s likely to continue to be the best fantasy pitcher in the American League for the rest of the season.

Vlad’s hitting .344 with 42 runs, 11 homers, 36 RBIs and one steal. He’s not going to score 150 runs and he probably won’t have 130 RBIs, but I expected him to hit for a high average, provide a lot of homers, runs and RBIs and stop stealing almost completely. He’s been one of the three best fantasy hitters in the AL so far and he’s likely to continue to be one of the three of four best fantasy hitters in the AL for the rest of the season.

You’re obviously going to fall in the pitching categories, but you probably did what you needed to do. You’ll have trouble making a big push on offense without a great offensive player, and you’ll have trouble getting a great offensive player without giving up either a great pitcher or another great offensive player.

I’m in a 10-team, 4×4 AL-only keeper league, with our four pitching categories as W, S, ERA, & Ks. I loaded up a bit on offense and went with one high profile pitcher in Halladay and a few young guns for a pitching staff. I’m currently down in the rankings for Wins and Ks, but performing well overall and only looking to tweak things a bit. The young pitchers I have this year are Kyle Lohse ($4), Jason Davis ($6), Cliff Lee ($6), Matt Riley ($7), and Jimmy Gobble ($1), all at possible good bargain prices for next year, except Lohse who I kept from last year. If I were to deal some pitching for hitting, who would you recommend I drop/look to deal from that group? (The rest of the staff is Buehrle, Baez, & Julio).Chris Bromark, Charlestown, Massachusetts

Of the five young pitchers you mentioned, Lee is clearly in a class by himself. He has five wins and a 3.21 ERA while the other four have five wins combined and only Gobble (4.28 ERA) has an ERA below 5.60. So, if you’re going to try to add a hitter who can actually help your fantasy team, you’ll probably need to part with Lee.

I’d probably hang on to Gobble, because he looks like he can at least be a useful pitcher (despite his horrendous strikeout rate) and he should be worth more than just a dollar. He also probably doesn’t have a ton of trade value, so you’re better off just keeping him.

As far as the other three, I’d trade them if you can get a hitter who you think even has a remote chance of helping out. I also wouldn’t have a problem with dropping any of the three, as I don’t have high hopes for any of them. They’re all struggling tremendously right now, and their peripherals are very bad. If you made me put them in order of how much I like them, it would be Riley, Davis, Lohse.

If I were you, I’d probably see what I can get for Lee. His value’s unlikely to get much higher than it is right now, and his low price tag might entice somebody to offer you a pretty good hitter for him.

I’m in an AL-only, 5X5 league, and my season has gone horribly wrong thanks to injuries (Nomar, Lieber, Mauer, LeCroy, Koskie, Teixeira) and the incredible convergence of crappy starts by guys I was counting on (Huff, Hinske, Teixeira, Contreras). I guess I mostly wanted to complain about all the losers on my team, but I’m also looking for something, anything, to reassure me that Huff or Hinske, or Tex, can’t keep up their abysmal performances, and if not, which one I should bail on first.Chuck Rohde

Well, Chuck, the only thing I can say is that you’re not alone. There have been just a ton of serious injuries so far this season. In one of my leagues, I drafted Nomar, Koskie, Ray Durham, Richie Sexson, Dmitri Young and Nick Johnson, all of whom are on the disabled list. In fact, I don’t have a single fantasy team that doesn’t have at least two players on the DL.

The good news for you is that things should be getting better soon. Lieber has looked very good since coming back and LeCroy has contributed nicely in the 10 games he’s played since returning. Koskie is expected to be activated today and Mauer has been crushing the ball in extended spring training and should be back next week. Nomar is somewhat less certain, but even he should be back within a couple weeks.

So, once you’ve got your entire team in tact, the only concern will be the players who are underperforming. Contreras looked very good in his first start back from the minors, and he’ll get his next chance today against Baltimore. If he has another decent start, you can probably feel safe using him consistently, and I think he’ll at least be an average (or slightly above average) pitcher the rest of the way.

Teixeira has started to heat up nicely, and I think he’ll end up with numbers fairly similar to what he put up last season. Huff has also been better in the last week or so, but his overall numbers are still terrible. I think he’ll have a fine second half to the season. As you probably guessed from the second question, if you’re going to bail on somebody, I’d bail on Hinske. He’s better than he’s playing right now, but he just might not be good enough to be an everyday fantasy player.

I hope that eases some of your concerns about your fantasy team. It’s still only May, so you can’t be out of the running quite yet. See how much you improve once your team is fully healthy, and you might find yourself close enough that a savvy trade could put you right back in contention.

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