Fantasy Mailbag: 10-player trade

It’s time for another fantasy mailbag, and this week’s batch of questions includes three potential trades and a keeper issue. If you need advice on your own fantasy problems, don’t hesitate to e-mail me. Even if I don’t use your question in a mailbag, I’ll try to answer you as quickly as possible. As always, be sure to include your full name, city and state.

I have been offered a trade (5X5 league, with OBP replacing BA): I get Eric Chavez, Cliff Floyd, Ray Durham, Paul Lo Duca and Eric Milton for Derek Jeter, Corey Koskie, Scott Hatteberg, Johnny Estrada, and Jamie Moyer. This is a keeper league, and Chavez has to be dropped while Jeter can be kept for next year (at a middle of the road price range, he is no bargain at $21). I am realistically competing for second place (outside chance at first) and am losing ground in HR and RBI. Is this worth it to me, especially since Chavez recently stated his hand is still bothering him and may have ‘sapped’ some of his power.Lou Poulas, Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey

That’s one heck of a trade, Lou. To start things off, let’s break the players being traded down into pairs. It works well for this trade, since you’re almost just swapping five positions — C, 3B, SP, MI, 1B/OF. We might as well start with the easy ones first. Eric Chavez is clearly better than Corey Koskie and Derek Jeter is clearly better than Ray Durham.

You said Chavez claims his wrist may be sapping some of his power, but his SLG is right in line with the last two years and he’s on pace for 28 homers in just 400 at-bats. More importantly for you, his OBP is at .405 after hovering around .350 much of his career. He and Koskie have similar run and RBI totals, but Chavez should have a considerable edge in homers and OBP the last two months.

Jeter is not having a good season. His OBP (.326) is just two points higher than his batting average (.324) was last year. Still, he has 14 homers, 11 steals, 60 runs and 49 RBIs. Durham has the higher OBP (.342), but just nine homers, six steals, 35 runs and 46 RBIs. At this point in their careers, Jeter has more power, more speed on the bases and hits in a better lineup.

The catchers are essentially a toss-up. Estrada has a higher OBP (.375 to .351), but Lo Duca has more home runs (10 to 5) and they’re probably both playing over their head anyway. They have similar run and RBI totals and neither is much of a threat to run. I’d probably rather have Estrada, but not by much.

Surprisingly, Hatteberg looks like a better option than Floyd, whose body seems to be giving up on him a little. Hatteberg is combining the impressive OBP from two years ago with unexpected home run power. The only category that Floyd has a significant edge in is steals (5 to 0) and I wouldn’t necessarily expect that to change.

So, on the offensive side you’d be getting a better player at one position and getting a worse player at two positions, although you’d probably improve your home run total for the rest of the year. I don’t think the keeper aspect should really play into it because I probably wouldn’t keep Jeter at $21 anyway. He’s had one great month, one terrible month and two below average months and he’s getting older.

The question to whether or not you should make this trade lies in the pitchers. There’s not much difference between the two of them except that Milton pitches for a team with a better offense, so he’ll get more wins, and he also strikes out more hitters.

Another thing to consider is that while Wednesday’s outing was Moyer’s first quality start since mid-June, Milton’s made three quality starts in a row. If he can keep that up to some extent, he’ll be a very nice improvement over Moyer.

Ultimately, however, I probably wouldn’t make this trade. Unless you think Floyd is going to have a resurgence or Estrada’s going to fall apart, you’re not helping your offense at best and hurting it at worst. Since Milton’s not even a sure thing to be better than Moyer, the deal doesn’t make a ton of sense.

I’m in a 5×5 league (R, RBI, TB, SB, BB, WHIP, W, K, ERA, SV) with the following positions (C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, Util, SP, SP, RP, RP, P, P, P) and 10 owners with 21 man rosters. We are taking 5 keepers into the next season (3 position players/2 pitchers). My keeper quality position players are Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, Hank Blalock, Carlos Beltran, and Marcus Giles. For pitchers I have Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Joel Piniero, Francisco Rodriguez and Octavio Dotel. How high of a premium do you place on position when determining keepers? Mauer is the weakest hitter of the group (with injury concerns), but do you think he’s worth keeping because of his potential and position? Do you think it is wiser strategy to protect assets at the weakest positions, or to simply protect the best performing players you can?Jeff Maynes, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Well, unless something unexpected happens in the next six months or so, Beltran, Giles, Oswalt and Blalock should be definite keepers for you and Halladay, Pineiro, Rodriguez and Dotel should not be. I don’t like keeping closers in mixed leagues and I don’t like keeping pitchers with injury problems if I can avoid it. If you have to keep two pitchers, I’d keep Halladay and you wouldn’t have to worry about Mauer. His position doesn’t make him valuable enough to leapfrog Giles, Beltran or Blalock.

If you don’t have to keep two pitchers, however, I’d only keep one (Oswalt). In that case, your question boils down to Mauer against Teixeira, and that’s where the position question becomes very relevant. Teixeira is clearly a much better hitter than Mauer, even if Mauer is capable as hitting as well as he has so far over a full season.

If Mauer gets 500 at-bats and Teixeira gets 550 at-bats next year and they both produce at the rate they have been this year, Teixeira would have more TB (310 to 285), more BB (69 to 51), more runs (114 to 84) and more RBIs (111 to 79).

Those are significant advantages, and then there’s the problem of Mauer even getting to 500 at-bats. As you mentioned, Mauer’s a significant injury risk. First, he’s a catcher, and they’re more exposed to injury than any other position player. Second, his knee (a vital part of a catcher’s body), has already knocked him out of action twice this season.

I do put a premium on position and I have advocated keeping Mauer over superior hitters, but you have to go case by case. In this case, Teixeira is a good enough hitter that his stability is more valuable than Mauer’s position and potential.

I am in a 12-team, 5×5 Roto league. Someone is offering me Carpenter (or Glavine or Ishii) for Eric Chavez. I am leading almost all of the offensive stats and near bottom on pitching contending for first. My pitching is: Gordon, Hawkins, Lee, Lima, Millwood, Perez, Pineiro, Quantrill and Zito with Arroyo and Greinke on the bench. Offense is: Lo Duca, Ortiz, Vidro, Chavez, Uribe, Berkman, Burnitz, Burrell, Dunn, Lawton, Womack, Blake, Hafner and Overbay with Everett, Choi, and Spivey on the bench. I think my offense will handle the loss of Chavez and Carpenter will improve my pitching, but this is Chavez!John C. Yarosh, Worcester, Massachusetts

Eric Chavez is a popular player to ask questions about this week, it seems. It’s a big step down from Chavez to Blake, but you’re probably right that the rest of the big hitters in your lineup could make up for the loss, and you definitely need help with your pitching.

Pineiro is now out for a month and Zito, Millwood and Lima are all question marks in the rotation. Of the four pitchers you mentioned as players you could trade for, I like Glavine the best.

He’s probably overachieving this year, but he’s only made one bad start all season and he has a little room to slip and still be a help to your team. He doesn’t strike people out, which hurts in a 5×5 league, but as long as Mike Cameron is roaming center field at Shea Stadium, I have more faith in Glavine than Carpenter or Ishii.

So, I wouldn’t be against you trading Eric Chavez and I wouldn’t be against you acquiring Tom Glavine. However, Chavez seems like an awful lot to give up in order to get Glavine. I’d see if you can’t get Glavine a little more cheaply or if you can’t get somebody a little better in return for Chavez. If this is absolutely the best move you can make to upgrade your pitching, though, I’d do it.

I’m in first place and our trade deadline is approaching. I can trade for Leiter and Colon for draft picks to solidify the back end of my rotation. I just need to know whether you think I should or not. Our categories for pitching are IP, W, ERA and WHIP. I can get both of them for picks or I can stick with who I’ve got already in Jerome Williams and Jose Contreras. So I guess my question is, of Colon, Contreras, Leiter and Williams, who will put up the best numbers for the final couple of months?Trenton R.

Trenton, I’d probably stick with what you’ve got, unless somebody’s breathing down your neck in the standings.

Leiter’s having a very nice year with his ERA, but he’s not striking many people out, his WHIP indicates that his ERA’s probably a little too low and he’s not getting many wins because he can’t pitch deep into games. In 17 starts this year, he’s only pitched past the sixth inning six times. Williams isn’t as good a fantasy pitcher as Leiter, but I don’t know that it would be that big an upgrade.

Colon has three very impressive starts in a row, but I don’t know that he’s back to being a reliable starting pitcher. The enigma you’ve already got (Contreras) also made three very impressive starts in a row before falling apart against Boston.

Basically, you have a solidly average fantasy pitcher (Williams) and an inconsistent pitcher with potential to be very good or very bad (Contreras) and you’re thinking of adding another inconsistent pitcher with potential to be very good or very bad (Colon) and a pitcher who’s been good for as long as he can stay on the mound (Leiter).

If there are people right behind you in the standings, it might be nice to have the extra options Colon and Leiter would provide you. If there aren’t, though, I don’t think it’s worth giving up draft picks for what is likely just a marginal improvement, if that.

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