Hitch, ditch, or pitch: Week six

After a month-long hiatus that included, among other things, countless hours of baseball watching, I am back to bring you the first installment of what I’m going to call “Hitch, Ditch, or Pitch.” The players we’ll discuss over the next several weeks will be players who are, in one way or another, underperforming.

The term “hitch” will be used to indicate that you should hang onto the player mentioned, stash on your bench, or monitor on the waiver wire.

“Ditch” is pretty self-explanatory. These are the guys that I’ll be encouraging you to let go.

Lastly, there’s “pitch,” which is probably my favorite category we’ll be exploring. This category will be reserved for trading advice, whether that be advising to trade for/away any certain player. Hopefully, this can be a fun exercise to, at the very least, get your wheels spinning about the future of your fantasy team.

As we enter week six-ish of the baseball season, we should all be pretty acquainted with our rosters. You should know by now the strengths and weaknesses of your own personal ball club. If you don’t, I encourage you to warm up a Hot Pocket and spend some time looking over the stats you’ve accumulated to this point.

As in life, it’s always a good idea to take time-outs where you step away from your team and take a bird’s eye look at the overall picture. I like to seek out the advice of people that have a worthwhile opinion.

For example, my FantasyPros 911 NL-Only expert league team is really starting to suffer from my lack of closers. During the auction, I made the rookie mistake of devaluing the closer spot so severely that it left me without any considerable option. Furthermore, I missed out on Sean Burnett.

With the Cuban Missile (Aroldis Chapman) as my lone reliever, I have found myself in a very desperate place. Overall, my team is playing well, but the ten points I have punted to the rest of the league has started to worry me. I have now begun to question my ability to squeeze enough saves out of the waiver wire to make an impact.

Now we segue into my next point. A weakness is only a weakness if you let it fester. It’s like a tick on a dog. If you find the little bloodsucker soon enough, it can be a relatively painless ordeal. On the other hand, if that tick goes unnoticed, it can cause all kinds of problems—even physical harm—to the dog. It’s time for us all to check our rosters, grab some cauterized tweezers and rid our teams of the “ticks.”

Hitch

Matt Wieters C BAL: Chances are that if you currently own Wieters, you are most likely out of many other catcher options, especially in deeper leagues. You can’t trade him, and you can’t drop him. He has been showing some life lately, and I think his managers should weather the storms that Weiters will undoubtedly bring throughout the rest of the season.

Nelson Cruz OF TEX: Cruz represents the guy you should have traded away when he started off the season with five home runs in five games. Trust me. I pitched this guy all over the league and was unsuccessful in every query. My thought was that Cruz’s value would never be greater than it was at that moment.

Hurriedly, I began throwing out insane offers for Pujols, Braun, and the like. They were all unsuccessful, but I remain proud of myself because I was able to recognize that every player you own should have a price tag. Understanding how to manage value is still key to winning fantasy baseball.

Cruz is now relegated to the 15-day disabled list, and his stats are a shell of what they were. I’m hitched now for better or worse to Nelson.

Ian Desmond SS WAS: I was a Desmond fan going into the season, and I am a Desmond fan here on May 9. With three home runs and 10 steals through 112 at-bats, he’s on pace for roughly 15-17 homers and 50-plus stolen bases over the course of the entire season. Those stats alone prove his value. I don’t care how much he strikes out or how bad his average may be by season’s end. I would even go as far as say that if I were to re-rank shortstops, I would move him into the top five.

Jayson Werth OF WAS: His strikeout percentage is down from previous years. He’s walking at generally the same rate. Werth’s BABIP is a frustrating .261 when he never had a BABIP below .300 previously in his career. I look at his HR/FB rate of 11.4 percent, and I further my belief that Werth is really getting unlucky.

My only concern is his eye-popping 25.5 percent infield flyball percentage. So he’s definitely pressing way too hard to jumpstart his bat. That 25.5 number is ridiculous considering he was a five percent IFFB guy last year. Something that should be monitored.

Ditch

Carlos Pena 1B CHC: I’m done with you Pena. I loved your value at the beginning of this season, and your three home runs this week have begun to tug at my heartstrings. I advise all those in 12-team leagues and shallower to jump ship and open the door to all the studly up-and-coming talent about to enter the majors over the next month or so (Anthony Rizzo, Brandon Belt, Mike Moustakas).

Marlon Byrd OF CHC: Maybe I am too harsh on the Cubbies, but when two of your best players are named Darwin and Starlin and weigh a combined 200 pounds, then you should really examine the depth of your baseball team.

I know Alfonso Soriano has rediscovered his inner 2004, but it’s time to cut ties with all these other fringe players. Byrd is one of those guys that I just don’t think has the chops to be an impact player in 2011. I know he’s hitting over .300, and if you can deal him, then more power to you. I just can’t stomach the lack of home runs, steals, runs, and RBIs.

Adam LaRoche 1B WAS: I don’t have time to wait until the second half of the season to cash in on LaRoche. Maybe all you guys out in the THT world can, but I have given up on this guy. There are too many good first baseman out there. Honestly, I would take the slumping Michael Morse over LaRoche. If you have the roster space, the patience, or depth of league, then by all means, wait it out. I’m not.

Miguel Tejada SS/3B SFO: Tejada is done as a viable option in all but the deepest of leagues. There are too many serviceable third basemen to even consider him there, and I would rather salvage my shortstop position off the waiver wire. Grabbing a guy like Tyler Plouffe for example, would make me feel that I am at least working towards bettering my team. If you are rostering Tejada, then you’ve already given up on your shortstop position.

Pitch for

Dan Uggla 2B ATL: I tell you why I’m trading for Dan Uggla. Normally, I’m not one to let my emotions play a huge role in my decision making, but I have always held a grudge against Uggla. I have never been able to obtain his services on my fantasy teams for one reason or another, and he cost me one hundred dollars in the All-Star Game where he struck out twice with runners on base and booted three balls in the field.

Well, needless to say, I’m older now. I don’t bet on baseball anymore—real baseball, anyways. I find myself drawn to this guy. His power is obviously legit. The table in front of him will always be set in Atlanta. I believe he has enough maturity as a hitter to make it through these early-season struggles.

Jason Heyward OF ATL: I’ve always been a Heyward fan. His large, looping bat looks like it’s twice the size when he releases it through the strike zone. I truly feel he will be every bit as good as all the analysts prognosticated he would be in 2011.

As I watch him, I have noticed that he can tilt the head of the bat ever so slightly as it enters the zone, which sometimes causes that uppercut swing that generally doesn’t work well with his bat movement. I don’t think that will linger long, and the time is fading on getting Heyward cheap.

Carl Crawford OF BOS: I would honestly pitch for any of the Boston regulars. I feel they are all representing a decent bargains right now. Some recent trades that I saw involving Crawford were for guys like Francisco Liriano, Brandon Morrow, Heyward, and even an Aaron Hill/Jason Kubel 2-for-1 deal (courtesy of CBS Sports).

That’s downright disrespectful for as valuable a skill set as Crawford has. He’s rocking a .250 BABIP that is a far cry from his .323 career average. With only five steals to his credit, many owners may be over-thinking the injuries, which would definitely work to your advantage.

Pitch away

Derek Jeter SS NYY: I know he finished Sunday with a 4-for-6 day with two home runs and a stolen base, but as I have stated earlier in my preseason articles, I’m a true believer that we are witnessing the twilight of this Hall of Famer. His mechanics as a hitter are shot, and his defense is even worse. There’s nothing the Yanks can do, but you, as his fantasy owner, can jump ship. Sure you’ll be only getting thirty cents on the dollar, but I’d rather have thirty cents than twenty, maybe.

Chone Figgins 2B/3B SEA: Here’s another guy that I wasn’t high on entering the season. For me Figgins was nothing more than a middle infield filler and much lower than even Danny Espinosa in my personally rankings. I don’t think he’s even rosterable in shallow leagues.

His history as a speedster works to your advantage as an owner if you can still get some poor sap to rid you of him. I just don’t think there’s much hope for him, and he’s one or two call-ups from being out of a job. It’s time for the Mariners to usher in the Dustin Ackley dynasty, and you should do the same. I am, of course, assuming you are using Figgins as a middle infielder. If he’s your third baseman, you have bigger fish to fry.

Gordon Beckham 2B CHW: He’s too streaky for me. I’ve always loved his skill set and his hard-hat demeanor, but his two week-long droughts really irk me, especially in my head-to-head leagues. I don’t know if he’ll always be this kind of player where when he’s on, he’s on and when he’s off, he’s off. But I’m beginning to think he is. For head-to-head gamers, it is time to cash in on the “Beckham” name. Ideally, I’d time the trade around the call up of Brett Lawrie.

Adam Jones OF BAL: What player are we looking at with Jones? Is he the future 30/20 guy we all once thought he could be? Or is he the sub-20 homer guy with 10 steal potential that he is perennially showing us he is?

I don’t know what it is about Adam Jones. Some people really like him, and some people have no interest in him whatsoever.

I may be one of the few who remain undecided. I own him in our THT writers Yahoo! league, and I routinely find myself questioning why I continually start him over guys like Ryan Roberts. I say if you can find someone willing to give you 100 percent of his preseason value, I would jump all over it. I see someone like a Neftali Feliz as a preseason equal to Adam Jones.

Lastly, here’s my “Pritch Slap” for week six: It’s never too early to better your team, but it’s always too late to panic.

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Comments

  1. Will Hatheway said...

    Ben -

    I had Cruz (an 8th round keeper, so I can’t complain) but of course need a replacement. I’m thinking Carlos Lee or Huff, and not sure which (this is a league that is very shallow in offense but not pitching… kinda weird). There are probably lots of others, and both of those are slumping bad, but any ideas? It has to be a LF, not just OF, btw.

  2. Ben Pritchett said...

    It was pointed out to me that Miguel Tejada doesn’t play for Baltimore anymore, and I agreed. Apparently, I am no different than Alfonso Soriano, and I too, am trying to channel my inner 2004. Sorry about the typo. I guess he’ll always be an Oriole to me.

    That’s actually a good question. If the steroids allegations don’t keep him out of the hall of fame, what hat does he wear, Orioles or Athletics?

  3. Mark said...

    No Liriano recommendation?  He’s the most confusing of all these guys right now.  Everyone’s recommending sell, but in serious leagues no one’s really buying a 6 BB, 2 K no hitter.  I’m holding him for now, hoping there’s a snowball effect with his confidence that leads to more consistent mechanics and that his velo perks up a bit more as the weather warms, but I probably was one bad outing away from ditching him before that outing and it didn’t really change my opinion that much.  If he strings together a couple decent ones, I’m hoping then he’ll be sellable. 

    Surprised you’re ditching Pena now.  A week ago that would have made sense, but he finally had a nice little stretch there, seems like now is the time if any to be patient if you’ve already been so this long.  I wasn’t counting on him to really show signs of rejuvenated life until the weather warmed up in Chicago anyway, then I could see him pulling a David Ortiz 2010/Carlos Delgado 2008 type second half.  Maybe its just that I was fortunate enough to deal away a hitter for Matt Garza a week ago and forced to put Pena in my lineup this week, but I’m at least waiting to see if I can get something for him if he hits another bunch of homers over the next few weeks.  I already added Smoak early on, drafted Wright and Alex Gordon, and have Pablo Sandoval stashed on my DL.  I have a hitterless bench (three bench slot format) at the moment, so if/when I’m going to nab Rizzo or Mous (Belt and Hosmer were gobled up already) I’ll probably drop a pitcher (I’ve held out on Matt Thornton but it looks like its time for him to go).  Then again, if I can inch up in waiver priority, Danny Duffy becomes an immediate must-add too (he’s not in the Yahoo! player universe yet), so that could change my plans as well.

  4. Ben Pritchett said...

    I don’t know your eligibility rules and the price you are wanting to pay for a LF right now. I’m assuming you want to trade for one considering you mentioned Carlos Lee and Aubrey Huff as possible options.

    High Value:
    Trade Nelson Cruz for Carl Crawford

    Not alot of easy options here

    Medium Value:
    Jerry Sands- still like him even thought the newness has worn off

    Alex Gordon

    Brennan Boesch

    Low Value:

    Mike Morse

    Travis Snider

    Raul Ibanez- streaking positively lately

    I would target one of these lower tier guys unless Sands is on the free agent list. Morse would be my first choice considering I think he may be the easiest to get.

  5. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Mark- Pitchers are next week. I will probably rotate back and forth, hitters to pitchers, from week to week.

    I’m done with Pena. I still own him in my NL Only league, but I just don’t think he’s very valuable anymore. If you can let his stock rise a little more and then move him, then I would be impressed.

    Lastly, I love Danny Duffy. He has replaced Mike Montgomery on their stacked pitching talent list. He seems to have rejuvenated his career, and I crave left handed pitchers. Keep an eye on Mike Minor also. I’m sure alot of other guys in your league are giving up on him. But if the Braves have a spot open in their rotation, it’s going to Minor not Teheran.

  6. Mark said...

    Ahh, fair enough should have noticed the absence of pitchers here.  Do love the column concept btw. 

    Yeah I’m pretty high on Minor too, was frustrated that he lost out to Beachy, so frustrated that I wasn’t patient enough with Beachy even though I liked him quite a bit too. I’m just hoping Duffy gets called up before he gets too much attention though, since I’m middle of the pack in waiver priority right now.  I’m assuming the Royals will wait until Super-2 potential has passed, since they may not be as sure they want to buy out his arb years, but his upside is absurd.  If I wind up with a Top 3 or 4 waivers spot by then, I may drop someone like Masterson who I’m not crazy about but will almost certainly get claimed at this point (Yahoo tends to add players to their universe the day after they debut, so if I drop Masterson the day of Duffy’s debut I’m pretty sure this would work), just in the hope of moving up another spot and knocking off someone who was looking for pitching.

  7. Brad Johnson said...

    I’m pretty sure Will’s talking about a league we share. It’s a linear weights format that devalues Crawford’s fantasy contributions considerably. His best bet is to hang onto Cruz, cut 4 of the 11 pitchers he has rostered (seriously Will, you need 4.5 full time SP to hit the innings cap), and add 3 OF’s and a speculation prospect. Top guy on the wire appears to be Rios…plenty of better guys than Huff/Lee though.

  8. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Will- You shouldn’t be asking advice on a column read by your league mates. You have me email address, I know.

    @Chris Cropper- This is as tough a call as there is in fantasy right now. I would seriously give it some thought. His K rate is the worst baseball I believe. I would lean to dropping him, but I would make sure it’s for a solid guy. I could see riding a guy like Ryan Roberts or Jack Hannahan while they’re hot and then grab a Chisenhall or Moustakas upon their call to the show.

    Personally, I’d weather Alvarez for right now.

  9. Will Hatheway said...

    Brad -

    I can now choose where I get those innings. Tonight, I sat Latos (who you wanted from me) because he was away and against MIL’s offense (and he only got 4.5 points btw) while going with Cahill (who got 45). Are you saying I should drop Lilly, or play him when I don’t have a choice? I have a choice keeping him (there is a reason he went where he went) but not playing him at the moment. Then the next day, I like Stauffer and Garza in the right situations, but not @ MIL and @ STL respectively. I will then, on Thursday, go with Hudson in SF but let Zimm avoid having to go in ATL.

    That is what I like about my bench management, since I didn’t have the luxury of keeping elite pitchers at high draft picks. You may disagree, and at this point you are ahead so who will argue, but not by much… I just don’t think what I’m doing is all that crazy…

  10. Oh boy said...

    From the start of the season Carlos Pena has reportedly played with a hurt thumb that affected his swing. The three homers you saw him hit in a week, as well as two near-miss warning-track fly balls, suggest to me that he’s healthy again. Given that he hit 15 homers in just two months last year, I’m going to hang on to him and hope that he feasts on the NL.

  11. Chris Cropper said...

    What about those of us stuck with Pedro Alvarez.  12-team mixed league without a deep bench.  He’s killing me!!  How long before its acceptable to pull the plug?

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