Hitch, ditch, or pitch: Week 8

There was a time during my fantasy sports career when I was so statistically driven in my decision-making that I was quick to pull the trigger on guys. More often than not, this technique would eventually even itself out, but in the process made my team way too fluid and lacking in overall consistency.

I don’t advise over-managing, nor do I endorse the use of “streaming” strategies. Back then, I would genuinely fall in and out of love with a player in a matter of days. I guess you could call this my junior high fantasy phase. I was way too fickle and way too proud.

Today I’ve grown to view fantasy player management as a sort of art form. Anybody can invade the free agent list because ESPN alerted them before everyone else that a certain player’s status had changed. True skill is shown in preseason forecasting and in-season trading, especially.

I love to trade, but I must admit, I don’t get a lot of deals done during the course of the year. The reason every player is on my team is because at some point I fell head-over-heels for them. I find trading difficult in that I may really, really like a player on an opposing team, but I still have that love for all the guys on my own team, especially guys I think will continue to produce.

I say all this to prepare you for my next statement. It is time to pitch away Hanley Ramirez. I know what you readers are muttering to yourselves and even the thoughts you are formulating for the comments section. I also know that few have had the track record of success over the past few seasons as has Ramirez. Listen to my reasoning, and all you Ramirez owners out there can decide for yourselves what should be the next step you should take.

Pitch Away

Hanley Ramirez SS FLA – I know the season is still young, so some of these stats can still be a little misleading. Over the previous five seasons, Ramirez has been one of the best fastball hitters in the big leagues (13.0, 25.4, 26.3, 19.3, 15.7 wFB). This year Ramirez is hitting a pitiful -4.5 against the fastball. His ISOP, OPS, OBP, SPD, and BABIP are all the lowest of his career. He’s been caught stealing five times out of 13 attempts.

Please don’t confuse what I am saying. I don’t think it’s time to necessarily give up on Ramirez, especially seeing that he’s showing improvement this week particularly, but I think it would be foolish not to test the market. If you can get some premium players, I would give it some serious thought.

Normally, I would be hard-pressed to deal him under normal circumstances. I could see something like Starlin Castro and Shin-Soo Choo as being a deal I would give some serious thought to if I am a Ramirez owner.

Austin Jackson OF DET - Last year we saw his BABIP of .396 and thought there was no possibility he could continue to produce at a high level. Well, he did. Fast forward to 2011, and I think the story has changed. It’s time to start putting Jackson under a finer microscope.

I get that his speed will always help his value. He has a miserable .640 OPS highlighted by a .286 OBP. On CBS, I’ve seen him dealt for the likes of David Ortiz, Martin Prado, Neil Walker, and Aramis Ramirez. If I’m a Jackson owner and not desperate for steals, then I’m doing all those deals, and I’m very happy about it. If you need steals, I’d be willing to take the risk of trading Jackson for Jason Bourgeios.

Alfonso Soriano OF CHC – Soriano has never set the world on fire with his batting average or plate discipline. Additionally, I like to focus in this column on players that have struggled more than succeeded. One could argue that Soriano has succeeded this season with his 11 home runs and .263 batting average.

I can see huge holes still. He’s free swinging is getting even more free. He has only walked four times in 160 plate appearances. He is striking out at a near career-high rate of 27.6 percent. You’d have to go all the way back to the Yankee days to find a comparable rate.

I think he had little value entering 2011, and my feeling is that this 35 year old has as much trade value as he will the rest of the year. He might be a guy you will need to package with another player for a 2-for-1 deal. I would try a deal like Soriano and Zach Britton for Jay Bruce.

Pitch For

Carlos Santana C CLE - In all the craziness that has surrounded the success in Cleveland so far this season. Santana’s dismal start to the 2011 season has gotten overshadowed. Most of us fantasy writers at THT, myself included, thought of Santana as the best catcher prospect. Oliver, our player forecasting engine, loved him as well.

What is happening with Santana is my favorite part of playing fantasy. His value to some has changed. My value for him has not, but I know that I can now get him at a cheaper price. It’s like I just got a coupon. Folks, he is still an extremely gifted switch-hitting catcher.

He’s been very unlucky (.229 BABIP) and still maintained his power stroke. People forget this guy is still getting back into a groove since returning from his injuries. Look for him make huge strides over the coming weeks, and jump all over him if you can pry him away from his frustrated owner.

Shin-Soo Choo OF CLE - Noticing a theme? I guess it doesn’t make a lot of sense to endorse Indians players when the team as a whole is bound to cool down, right? Truth is, I don’t think people should discount the Indians, especially regarding their hitting.

What’s been so amazing about their run thus far has been that all this success has occurred without stellar performances from their two best players, Choo and Santana. Choo has been the most consistent performer in baseball over the past few years. You could generally chalk up a .290 AVG with 20 homers and 20 steals.

So far in 2011, he has underperformed. His strikeout rate is up, and his walk rate is down a bit. I think the key with Choo is to take advantage of owners’ lack of patience. The chances of Choo normalizing his stat line to career averages is far more likely than the opposite.

Mark Teixeira 1B NYY – It’s time to start grabbing the slow starter guys like Teixeira now. As the weather begins to heat up, so will his bat. Most of Teixeira’s owners may have a grip on his career tendency of starting out slow, but in my remembrance, I don’t think I’ve seen him start with such ferocity in the power department at the beginning of a season (12 homers). It really makes me wonder what kind of season he will be able to put together over the course of the remaining four months. His average could be a little scary to his owners, especially the younger, less-experienced ones.

Hitch

Danny Espinosa 2B WAS – We all knew he had a power/speed skill set and yielded potential from the scarce 2B position. We also knew that he would struggle with his batting average. At least you could say he hasn’t disappointed.

His paltry .211 average is almost a copy of last season’s .214. He has struggled to get a decent BABIP so far in his career (.239 and .234 in 2010 and 2011, respectively). Part of me wonders how good Espinosa could be if he could get a little lucky.

My favorite thing about Espinosa isn’t that power/speed potential or even the 2B eligibility, it’s his clutch hitting. As a baseball fan in general, you have to love guys that produce in important situations. Danny does just that. He has 27 RBIs in the few times he’s actually hit the ball. That success has been due in large part to an incredible .346 BA and four home runs with runners in scoring position. Basically, he’s a gamer and a ball player.

Mark Reynolds 3B BAL - I must first say that I have never been a fan of Reynolds. I always felt that he represented way too much risk for his skill set. His strikeouts, in particular, were always a big red flag for me.

As we enter the third month of the 2011 season, I think Reynolds is finally worth rostering in deep mixed leagues as a potential David Wright replacement. He’s cutting down on his strikeouts so far in 2011, and he’s put together a two-home run, two-stolen base week, very reminiscent of 2009. If you can deal with the BA and/or have a need for a 3B, I feel like Reynolds has the highest upside available.

Brandon Belt 1B SFO - I don’t know why the Giants gave up on Belt so early. I also don’t know why Belt’s managers are being so quick to cut ties with him. Read these words carefully, Belt is still a must-own quantity in all but the deepest leagues. His call-up is looming, and I feel like you will lose out on him if you don’t make the move this week.

Since his demotion, Belt has reinvigorated his bat, and he will be getting his second chance very soon. My advice is to strike while you can still get him. If for some reason he’s owned, and you’re looking to the minors for an upside play, look to Anthony Rizzo, Jesus Montero, and Brett Lawrie as the next great group of call-ups, Rizzo especially.

Ditch

Jorge Posada C NYY - I read about his falling out with Girardi, and I heard about his apology. I still believe there’s a lot of underlying frustration here. With Jesus Montero raking in Scranton, I doubt that Posada has enough clout to continue to warrant playing time.

Coming into this year, I liked Posada’s fantasy potential since he was relinquishing the catching duties to Russell Martin. I stand corrected today, and I’m ditching Posada in all but AL-only formats. If a guy like Wilson Ramos, Hank Conger, JP Arencibia, or Jonathan Lucroy is still available, I’m ready to move on. Like Jeter in the last hitters’ Ditch section, there comes a time when somebody’s history with the team is just that, history.

Nick Swisher 1B NYY - Before too long you guys might start considering me a Yankee hater. I didn’t believe that Swisher was for real last season, and I was wrong. I don’t believe Swisher is for real this season, and I’m right. His success last year was largely BABIP driven, and so far in 2011, his ISO is .090. To give you a frame of reference, that’s below Emilio Bonifacio, Dexter Fowler, and Cliff Pennington. Ouch! There are other options out there. Swisher owners, it’s time to go a different route.

Ryan Raburn OF/2B DET- Owning Raburn meant that you believed his second half surge in 2010 could carry over into 2011. Needless to say, it really hasn’t. He’s too old to continue to roster him on the hopes that he can replicate a half-season’s success. I was a fan as a long-shot play, but if you are still rostering Raburn with guys like Espinosa on the free agent list then you are being very foolish and unwise with your roster management.

Raburn still has value in AL-only formats, but I could see potential for a playing time loss as Scott Sizemore begins to find success and other outfield options start to become available for the Tigers. If you are in desperate need of second baseman in a deep league, I’d look to Daniel Murphy or open a bench spot for future star Brett Lawrie.

Pritch slap for Week Eight, “Focus on the who, not the what.”

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Comments

  1. Drew said...

    I think Fielder would be too much to give up.

    What is the format of your league, and who do you currently use at short? If there’s someone else you can slot in at 1B and/or ultility, and there’d be a minimal downgrade at 1B vs. a large bump up at short, maybe it’s not so bad.

    I recently offered Ian Kennedy for Hanley, just to see what would happen, but I also have Tulo at short, so its not a huge need for me right now.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    This isn’t related to hitching or ditching, or pitching, but that Indians offense is definitely for real. Not all of those hitters will keep performing at this level, but most will and guys like Santana and Choo will likely improve.

  3. Ben Pritchett said...

    @GSS- I think Fielder is a decent price for Hanley, assuming you have other first base options. That’s a good 1-1 offer in my opinion.

  4. Ben Pritchett said...

    Juicy J, I don’t think I would be too quick to deal Hanley in a keeper league. I think your hesitation is very intelligent unless of course you are looking at dealing for a Ryan Braun.

  5. Mark said...

    Also, what do you think of the Tood Frazier callup?  I’m intrigued.  I picked him up in a league where I’d basically been devoting a roster spot to matchup plays while I wait for Wright, Heyward, and Sandoval to get healthy.  He’s defaulted to 2B eligibility in Yahoo!, but he’ll likely be playing in the OF to start off and should also be Scott Rolen’s backup, meaning 3B eligibility might not be far off either.  I know he’s not guaranteed playing time the way the Reds outfield is crowded and Dusty Baker operates, though some of that depends on the corresponding roster move.  Yes, he’s a bit old for prospect age, but he’s got his K% back to the more nominal levels they were at before 2010 and he’s a fly ball hitter in a bandbox park with a dash of speed too.  He was mashing in Triple-A with a .294 / .368 / .581 line including 11 HR and 5 SB.  If he plays every day I think there’s a nice chance he’s a mixed league asset with his power/speed potential and eventual multi-position eligibility, but if he doesn’t he’s only a fringe NL-Only play.  Interesting situation.

  6. Mark said...

    One more actually…Asdrubal Cabrera, buying or selling?  In the same league I have Jose Reyes at SS and Asdrubal at MI.  They’re actually ranked #1 and #2 right now at MI, let alone SS.  Should I be trying to sell high on Asdrubal?  There aren’t a lot of inspiring MI available, but if I can get good value I still think it might make some sense.  I could also sell Jose, if I think Cabrera’s breakout is legit, which is looking more reasonable by the day.  If Frazier plays every day and hits, I definitely lean towards selling one of them, but that’s far from certain.

  7. GSS said...

    Drew, it’s a 12-team mixed, 5×5 roto. I have Votto at first and Alcides Escobar at short, so I could definitely use the upgrade there esp. in steals.

    Thanks, all. I’ll float the offer out there and see what happens.

  8. Will Hatheway said...

    SSS on Swisher’s ISO (fewer than 200 PAs, while over 1000 PAs in the two year past were well more than double this year’s mark. I think I’ve heard 550 PAs to stabilize … could be wrong, but if not, I’d wait a few months before calling it a day on his power potential.

  9. Drew said...

    In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve always been a huge Swisher fan, both as a cheap fantasy option, and in “real life”. But doesn’t his high ld% (over 25% right now, top 10 in baseball) support a return to the high BABIP days of 2010. I would also assume his ISO regresses at least partially to career norms, no? I have been targeting him lately as a buy low guy – is it just wishful thinking from a longtime fan?

  10. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Drew- Are you really Billy Beane?

    I see what you’re saying about the line drive percentage, but his career BABIP doesn’t necessarily point to a pattern of maintaining a high BABIP. .264, which is his BABIP this season, is closer to his career AVG than the .335 he hit last year.

    Obviously you’re right about his ISO. There’s little reason to think he’ll only hit 8 home runs in 2011. Although, if you’re thinking he still has 20+ home runs in his bat, then you may be wishful thinking.

    If you are targeting him as a possible 6th OF with potential to be in your starting line up I would have no problem with that. I always say if you really like a player you should get him, no matter what crappy sabrs he has right now.

    Personally, I would just seek some other opportunities available to me out there in waiver wire land.

  11. Juicy J said...

    I’m in a keeper league. Have given some serious thought to dealing Hanley, but can’t do it.

  12. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Mark- I don’t see anything wrong with rostering Frazier as long as you keep the attitude it seems that you have. He’s a wait-and-see guy. I don’t think you could consider him anything more than that.

    Also I like Asdrubal Cabrera. His value is really high right now, but I don’t know if you’re going to get somebody to give you Tulow or anything. SO I think he’s a guy you should ride at least a little longer. If his value continues to skyrocket then I would probably say it’s time to start trying to deal him.

  13. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Sam- Everytime I look at a box score lately it seems that Arencibia had an impact. He’s still not playing everyday, but I think that’s just a matter of time before that changes.

    Iannetta definitely has the more consistent playing time and experience.

    They’re pretty similar players actually, but I’m going Arencibia all the way on this one. He’s really been putting it all together lately.

  14. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Will- You can have your Nick Swisher HR potential. I just don’t see anything impressive with the fact that we’re hoping for what? 15 HRs the rest of the season. I’d rather hit up the waiver wire with the up-and-coming rooks like Rizzo, Lawrie, Trumbo, etc…

    At least they’re more fun to bring to the party. Owning Swisher is boring and disappointing.

  15. Drew said...

    Would you use Arencibia over Iannetta in an OBP league?

    I know Arencibia’s walk rate has come up, but projections are low.

  16. Mitch said...

    Did anyone see Choo last night? The guy looks lost at the plate, which is not the first time he’s looked that way this year. Considering also his recent DUI I’m wondering how likely that normalization we’re waiting for really is.

  17. Ben Pritchett said...

    Freddy, we were off for Memorial Day Weekend. Maybe, we’ll get something up by tomorrow or Wednesday with a pitchers-centered piece. If not, the Hitch, Ditch, or Pitch column will be back for week 10 with the pitchers of course.

    Thanks for keeping an eye out for the column, though.

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