Fantasy Mailbag: International E-Mails

The reason I ask people to include the city and state they live in when they send in a question is that I’m interested in finding out where everybody’s logging on to read from. This week, I got my first questions from readers who don’t live in this country, so they got priority in a week in which I got many more e-mails than I could get to. Don’t worry, though. If I haven’t answered your question here, I will still try to respond in the very near future. If you have a question you want me to answer for next week, please send it my way. As always, include your full name and the city and state you live in.

I’m in a 5×5 league with full keepers, offensive categories are: R, RBI, SB, TB and OBP. I’m thinking of trading Jeff Kent for Michael Young. Here’s the context, my IF currently looks like this: Bellhorn at 3B, A-Rod at SS, Kent at 2B. Looking forward to next year, Arod will have to move to 3B (damn Yankees!) and I’m left without a SS and Bellhorn becomes superfluous (if he has a full-time job). If I make the trade, then next year I’ll have Arod at 3B, Young at SS and Bellhorn (if he has a job) at 2B. So, is this a good trade for me?John Walsh, Pisa, Italy

When I first read your e-mail, John, I didn’t think I’d advocate making this trade. However, now that I look more closely, I think this trade would actually make sense for you. First, let’s just look at how this would affect your team for this season.

Kent is hitting .310/.353/.538 with eight homers, 39 runs and 41 RBIs, which doesn’t really seem out of line with what you’d expect from him. Along with the runs and RBIs, the numbers you care about are his .353 OBP, 106 total bases and two steals.

Young, meanwhile, is hitting .338/.372/.529 with eight homers, 36 runs and 34 RBIs, which is much better than anybody probably thought he’d be hitting at this point. He has a .372 OBP, 119 total bases and five steals, so he’s better than Kent right now in three of the five categories.

The tough part is figuring out what Young is going to do. He’s not a .338 hitter and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is troubling. This season, hit 14 walks and 31 strikeouts put him on pace for 44 walks and 98 strikeouts, which would actually be good for him. He has 36 walks and 103 strikeouts last year and 41 walks and 112 strikeouts the year before. Young’s not as clueless about the strike zone as his double play partner, but he’s still not good in that regard.

On the other hand, Young has improved his IsoP (slugging minus batting average) from .120 in 2003 to .140 last year to .195 this year and his SecA ((TB-H+BB+SB-CS)/AB) from .190 in 2002 to .210 last year to .267 this year. Those numbers aren’t going to stay quite that high this season, but I think Young will be just about as good as Kent this season. He should score more runs while Kent will knock in more. I think they’ll be close in OBP and Kent should pull away a little in total bases and homers, while Young steals more bases.

As for next year, it depends on two things. Will Kent be significantly better than Young? If so, will Bellhorn play enough to make up the difference? First of all, I don’t think Kent will be that much better than Young next season. He’s going to be 37 while Young will still be in his prime at 28 years old, and has demonstrated over the last eight months that he could be a pretty good hitter. I think Kent will be better, but I think he’s also more of a risk to fall apart completely.

The second part is harder, as the $64,000 question right now is how much will Bellhorn play once Nomar gets back? Some people think he’ll only play a couple games a week. I hope he continues to play every day, but my guess is that he’ll end up playing about 80-percent of the time. If he gets that kind of playing time and continues to put up the type of numbers he’s putting up now, he should have a full-time (or nearly full-time) job next year.

If he plays 140 games next year, he should be able to give you a .370-.390 OBP and 215-230 total bases. His runs and RBIs will depend on what team he plays for (likely the Red Sox) and where he hits in the order, but you could probably hope for around 75 of each.

To summarize, I don’t think this trade would hurt you for this season and if it does, it probably won’t be significant. For next season, I think it greatly increases your chances of having a capable fantasy player at each infield position. Basically, Young would have to fall apart and Bellhorn would have to not play much next year for this trade to really hurt you. I don’t think that will happen.

In a standard 5×5, ML league, I just traded Adam Dunn and Miguel Tejada for Todd Helton. I had Rafael Furcal on my bench, so he’ll slide into the shortstop slot. I’m first in HR and RBI and second in runs, but I’m lagging in the middle of the pack for average and stolen bases. With Furcal bound to perform better, and with as little as I trusted Dunn to keep up his hot start, I pulled the trigger without hesitation. Thoughts?Jeremy Reinholt, Nishinomiya, Japan

I don’t think I would have made that trade, Jeremy. I do think that Furcal will get back on track as he works his way back from his injuries and I also think that Helton will eventually get his batting average up into the .330 range like normal. However, going from Dunn and Tejada to Helton and Furcal is likely to be a significant drop in homers and RBIs, and maybe in runs as well.

For argument’s sake, let’s be as optimistic as possible from your point of view. Let’s say that Helton finishes the year hitting .330 with 115 runs, 30 homers, 110 RBIs and a few steals and Furcal finishes at .280 with 100 runs, eight homers, 50 RBIs and 25 steals. Let’s also say that Tejada finishes the season hitting .300 with 90 runs, 25 homers, 120 RBIs and a few steals and Dunn finishes at .240 with 90 runs, 35 homers, 90 RBIs and five steals.

If that happens, it means that for the rest of the season. Helton and Furcal will hit approximately .313 while Tejada and Dunn hit approximately .267 and Helton and Furcal will outsteal Tejada and Dunn by about 20 and outscore them by about 30 runs. Tejada and Dunn, meanwhile, would have about 10 more homers and a dozen more RBIs.

That would make the trade pretty darn good from your point of view, but keep in mind that I’m being as optimistic as possible. I think Tejada and Dunn will actually combine for more than 60 homers and Furcal and Helton might not quite get 38 between them, which would increase the gap there. Also, Furcal only stole 25 bases last year playing 156 games, so it might be unreasonable to expect him to steal that many in at least 10 fewer games this year.

Realistically, I think Helton and Furcal will have a combined average about 20-30 points higher than Tejada and Dunn while stealing about 15 more bases and the two duos should score about the same number of runs. Meanwhile, I think Tejada and Dunn will hit at least 15 more homers the rest of the way and knock in at least 20 more runs.

I wouldn’t call this a bad situation for you, because Helton and Furcal really should improve (Helton a little and Furcal a lot) and while I think you’ll get less overall production, you should balance out your offense a little. However, it seems like an awful lot has to go right over the rest of the season for this trade to really improve your team.

So, I have the fortune, which preseason would have seemed to be very good fortune, of sitting on both Renteria and Jeter at the moment. One of the owners in my league just got fed up and dumped Jeter in favor of Valentin — immediately before Derek proceeded to hit close to .500 with 4 hrs over the last week. Here’s my question. Not content with having these two generally top-5 fantasy shortstops, right now I’m trying to put together a trade with another owner of Javy Vazquez and Renteria/Jeter for A-Rod and a pitcher, hopefully Kevin Millwood. I don’t know if he’s going to go for it, but he values Vazquez and has expressed interest in the past. Which of Jeter or Renteria would you rather part with? This question includes the following nuance, however: if I trade for A-Rod, I’ll probably want a further deal including Renteria or Jeter (whichever I’m left with) down the road. So which do you think will be a) a better contributor for the remainder of the season in a 5 x 5 league (traditional except that OPS replaces runs); and b) better trade bait, preferably for a top of the rotation starter or a strong hitter a few weeks or so down the road?Rob Schwartz, New York, New York

First of all, if you can trade Vazquez and either shortstop for A-Rod and Millwood, you’re making a great trade. The drop from Vazquez (probably 15-17 wins, 3.50 ERA, 1.10-1.15 WHIP and 180 strikeouts) to Millwood (probably 13-15 wins, 4.00 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 170 strikeouts) isn’t nearly as big as the upgrade from either Jeter or Renteria to Rodriguez (probably .300 average, .950 OPS, 40 homers, 110 RBIs and 20 steals).

However, you did ask which of the two shortstops you should try to trade, so let’s see if I can help out. Before the season, I thought Renteria would be better than Jeter and I guess I still think that. Jeter’s overall numbers look a little better right now, but that’s because he’s riding a super-hot streak while Renteria is in the middle of another super-cold streak. Jeter’s on pace for the second-most home runs (22) of his career, and I’ll be surprised if he hits more than 15 or so.

If you were just trying to trade one and keep the other, I’d suggest trading Jeter and keeping Renteria. However, you’re planning on eventually trading the other one too. And, since Jeter’s a Yankee and having a very good stretch right now, I think he might have a bit more trade value than Renteria. So, if the guy with A-Rod doesn’t care which shortstop he gets back, I’d give him Renteria and try to trade Jeter elsewhere.

The key thing for you, however, is to make the trade. If he’s sounds like he’s willing to make the trade for Jeter but not for Renteria, I wouldn’t hesitate to give him Jeter and either keep Renteria or try to trade him elsewhere. Upgrading from Jeter/Renteria to Rodriguez is huge, so don’t worry too much about which one of the two you’re left with.

I am in a 5×5 AL/NL 10 team league, and I am struggling right now. I am near the bottom of my league in wins, ERA, and WHIP, and not doing well in K either. I have guys like Zito, Santana, and Prior. Should I sit tight and let them bust out of their slumps/recover from injury, or should I look to trade for another pitcher with some of my power hitters like M. Ramirez, Delgado, and Ortiz? Or is it too early to start panicking about WHIP and ERA?Ty Williams, Lincoln, Nebraska

Fantasy baseball doesn’t seem fair sometimes, does it, Ty? You draft those three pitchers and you probably figure you’ve got the best pitching staff in your league locked up. That’s why, as they say, they play the games.

First of all, I wouldn’t do anything drastic until you’ve given Prior at least a few starts to see how he affects your team. If he can pitch as well over the last four months as everybody thought he’d pitch over the entire season, it will have a huge impact on your place in the standings and you might not need to trade away your offense after all.

Second of all, I wouldn’t give up on the other two yet either. Zito’s been striking out a lot more hitters this year than last year, and he just had a very nice month of May. He only had one win, but he posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.26 WHIP with 28 strikeouts in 34 innings and followed that up by allowing just one run in eight innings against the Blue Jays on Thursday. If he can keep that up (or at least stay close to that level), then it will be like you’ve added two ace starters to your staff.

Finally, Santana teased you with five no-hit innings Thursday before falling apart a bit and giving up four runs in 7.2 innings. Santana did strike out seven batters, however, and he’s getting almost as many strikeouts as you might have expected this year. His problem is that he’s giving up too many hits and way too many homers. If he can cut both of those down a little bit, and I think he should, then he’ll at least be a decent pitcher for the rest of the year.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’d wait another 2-3 weeks before doing anything. See how Prior pitches, see if Zito continues to pitch well and see if Santana can start to turn things around. If you’re still languishing at the bottom of all the pitching categories at that point, then you should try and shake things up a bit.

I am currently carrying Kaz Matsui on my bench in a 14-team league where runs scored is a category. My starting SS is Edgar Renteria. I’d like to improve my starting pitching (currently have Oswalt, Peavy, Odalis Perez, Harden). I want to deal him, but only for fair value. Some of the names sent my way, by owners lacking a quality SS, seem to be a joke (Rodrigo Lopez, for example), while I’ve been asking for Freddy Garcia. Am I overvaluing Matsui by asking for Garcia, or are some of the owners in my league undervaluing him?Keith Levin, Bayside, New York

I’ve heard some grumbling about Matsui’s performance this season, and I don’t think it’s warranted. Nobody knew exactly what to expect from him coming over from Japan, and if you had told me he’d hit .262/.342/.429 with 16 homers, 22 steals, 112 runs and 59 RBIs (which is what he was on pace for through Wednesday), I wouldn’t have argued with that. And that’s a quality fantasy player, especially in a 14-team league. There aren’t a lot of shortstops who can give you homers, steals and runs without killing you in average and RBIs.

I don’t think Garcia’s too much to ask for in return for Matsui at all. Garcia won’t keep his ERA around 3.00 all season (I’d expect him to at least be up in the 3.50-3.75 range) and that Seattle offense will probably limit him to 12 or, at most, 14-15 wins this year. He’s not a strikeout artist, he already doesn’t have a great WHIP and no starter can help you in all five categories, so I don’t really see him having more value than Matsui the rest of the way.

If you continue to have trouble finding fair value for Matsui, however, you might consider using him and trading Renteria. I still think Renteria will hit better over the rest of the season than Matsui will, and because of what he’s done over the last two seasons, people might be more comfortable trading for him.

I’d definitely continue to try and trade one of them, because you’re wasting value if you keep them both. They’re both among the 14 most valuable fantasy shortstops, so they’re both better than what at least one owner in your league is using as a starter. Due to that, you should be able to get something of value that you can use in return for one of them. You just need to figure out which one you can get the best value for.

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