Trade Targets: 4 Starting Pitchers to Go After and 1 to Avoid

This is a great time of year to make some trades. The All Star break is a natural time for people to evaluate their teams. Many team owners have now realized they are out of contention and may be willing to sell off some of their assets. Other owners who are in contention will want to beef up their squads before the upcoming trade deadline. For all of these reasons late July is historically a time when trading activity heats up. It is one of the best opportunities of the entire year to improve your team. Make sure you get in on the action!

Let’s take a look at some starting pitchers who can be expected to put up better stats in the 2nd half than they did in the 1st half. You should be able to obtain these guys at a bargain price compared to their future production…

Wade Miley — Arizona Diamondbacks

Miley’s season line of 5 Wins, 118 Ks, 4.18 ERA and WHIP of 1.24 isn’t very good. He is playing for one of the worst teams in baseball and they are unlikely to get better any time soon. Continue reading

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Breakout Prospects: Berrios, Nimmo, Williams and Renfroe

Time for another look at some fresh names that are thriving in the minor leagues. This week we will examine several players who made it onto the Midseason Top 50 lists published by Baseball Prospectus and/or Baseball America this week despite not being considered consensus Top 100 prospects prior to the season. There were several other players who met the same criteria but I have already written about them in prior columns (links below).

Jose Berrios — Starting Pitcher, Minnesota Twins

The 2012 1st round pick from Puerto Rico put up a solid season in Low A ball last year with a 3.99 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 103 innings along with 40 walks, although in the second half he lost a lot of steam that degraded his stuff and depressed his overall season stats compared to his stellar first half rates. But it was good enough to get him ranked this Spring at #75 on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects, #93 by FanGraphs, #90 by and #102 by The Dynasty Guru, but he wasn’t ranked by Baseball America or ESPN. He kicked his game up a notch here this year in the High A Florida State League where he put up a 1.96 ERA with a fantastic 109:23 K:BB ratio in 96 innings. He was promoted to Double A last week and managed to give up 5 runs in 5 innings in his first start, although he only gave up 3 hits. That bump from High A to AA is considered the biggest jump in baseball, so we could find out really quickly just how good the 22 year old Berrios really is. He gets a lot of velocity from his smallish frame. His fastball averages about 94 mph. He also sports a plus slider, a good curveball and a solid changeup.  About a month ago I traded Berrios to ESPN’s Chris Crawford for Michael Lorenzen in the #TDGX experts’ league, so of course Berrios has been on an epic hot streak ever since. Yikes. My trade doesn’t look quite as good as it did at the time, although Lorenzen also made the BP top 50 list just a few slots behind Berrios so I am still happy with the deal. Verdict: Top 40 Prospect. Potential #3 starter. Continue reading

Struggling Stars: Votto, Bruce, Hosmer, Kemp and Santana

This week I will take a look at some good hitters who were highly drafted in your league but are killing their owners. Putting one of your star hitters on the bench is a hard decision to make and it is too important to get it wrong. We don’t want to let emotions and sentiment steer us off track. Don’t allow anger over a player’s slump to trick you into benching a good performer, and don’t let fondness for a favorite player trick you into keeping him in your lineup long after he should have been sacked. Halfway through the season the sample sizes have now grown plenty large enough for us to evaluate our rosters with a discerning eye.

Joey Votto — 1B Reds

The Canadian’s 2014 slash line of .259/.396/.417 pales in comparison to his career .311/.418/.533 record. Votto won’t admit he is playing hurt, but the grimaces and limps during his plate appearances prove otherwise. He missed nearly a month on the disabled list in an effort to allow the muscle strain in his knee to heal. It clearly didn’t work. He is playing in pain and it has severely sapped his power. His OBP is holding steady but his overall performance is drastically degraded. This is not a short term problem and it is going to dog him for the rest of the season. The only way to heal is extended rest and the Reds have said that Votto will continue to play through the injury. The good news is that this type of injury will probably heal itself over the long winter and he will be back to normal in time for the 2015 campaign. Verdict: Damaged Goods. If you are in contention to win your league this year you might want to trade him now. If you are rebuilding you might want to trade for him while his price is depressed. Continue reading

Current Events: Is Now The Perfect Time to Trade Mookie Betts?

I am a Red Sox fan and Mookie Betts is in the majors. I should be rejoicing.

But while I’m certainly happy to play along with “Feats of Mookie” on Twitter and to follow Betts’ every MLB plate appearance, I have to admit I’ve been a bit distracted by another thought over the last few days:

Isn’t now the perfect time to deal Mookie Betts?

His stock has never been higher, and it very well might never be higher. The expectations for him are off the charts, and one look at the MiLB season he’s had tells you why. He’s in a major market, he has speed, he has a terrific name and in some leagues, he still carries MI eligibility. It’s a sexy package.

But all of that ignores the very real fantasy deficiencies that plague Betts’ game. He’s not going to hit for much power right now. He’s fast, but he’s not a 70-grade runner or a 40-steal guy. And in many leagues, he’s only eligible in the outfield. That skill set still makes for a good fantasy prospect, yes. But it doesn’t make for an elite one.

Beyond Betts’ specific profile, there are plenty of reasons to try and trade hotshot prospects the moment they reach the majors anyway. Savvy owners looking to flip prospects who don’t fit their teams or who they feel are generally overrated can reap pretty significant rewards if they’re willing to deal at the apex of prospect value.  Continue reading

Breakout Prospects: Binford, Thompson, Ramsey, Taylor, Severino and Vargas

Identifying breakout prospects early is an absolutely vital key to success in dynasty leagues. The best way to build up an elite minor league roster is to acquire the best prospects cheaply before any of your leaguemates realize the youngsters are future stars. You can’t wait for the famous Top 100 Prospects lists to be published in the Spring. Don’t wait until your next draft to grab these players. You need to snare these guys before someone else picks them up from the free agent pool. Today we will take a look at a group of unheralded minor leaguers who are still available in many leagues.

I have written a couple of columns about breakout prospects this season twice previously (Here and Here). Today’s edition will feature players who will be participating in the 2014 Futures Game. Many of the players in that game are bigtime prospects and are already taken in your league, but some of them are guys who were not really on the prospect radar prior to this season and are likely still available in your league. I will focus here on some players who have exploded onto the scene recently. Their exposure in the upcoming Futures Game will give their fantasy trade value a big boost, so get them now before the game is played… Continue reading

Breakout Prospects: Winker, Norris, Bell, Hader, Coulter and Lorenzen

Today we will look at some hot prospects who are tearing up the minor leagues. Now that guys like George Springer, Gregory Polanco, Andrew Heaney, Jonathon Singleton, Eddie Butler, Oscar Taveras and other top prospects have been promoted to the majors there are a lot of fantasy teams that have open slots on their minor league rosters. Here are some guys you should consider to fill those spots. These guys were not on many top 100 prospect lists prior to the season, but all of them are shooting up the rankings this Summer. If you are looking to get the jump on your foes in a deep league now would be a great time to snag these breakout youngsters. I imagine all the elite prospects are already taken in most dynasty leagues, so let’s get a head start on the next batch of future stars…

Jesse Winker: Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds

A supplemental 1st round pick in 2012, Winker has failed to get much love from the prospect industry and I think people have missed the boat on him. He gets dinged because of a perceived lack of athleticism that could limit his utility defensively. He may not be a great fielder, but I don’t see a future first baseman. He can play left field at least as well as a lot of major leaguers I have seen in recent years. But I don’t really care about his fielding because this guy can hit baseballs so well that he would be a nice fantasy commodity even if he were limited to playing as a DH. He is not a true power hitter, but he does have more pop than people have given him credit for. He hit 16 home runs last year and already has 13 this year. He is still only 20 years old, so even more power development is highly likely. He is an OBP machine and draws almost as many walks as strikeouts every year. He does one thing very well: barrel up the baseball with hard contact. The hitter-friendly Cal League has certainly helped boost his stellar 1.006 OPS this year, but he has hit at every level and there is no reason whatsoever to think that Winker is just a Cal League mirage. Winker just got promoted to AA Pensacola and is on track to make his major league debut next year. He is likely to be an above average contributor in all the fantasy baseball statistical categories, even stealing some bases. He will be one of those guys that doesn’t blow you away in any category but somehow ends up ranked in the top 50 hitters in your league every year. He is an easy top 40 fantasy prospect already and could go much higher. Continue reading

Can I Rely On These Streaking Hitters? Gordon, Moss, Frazier, Alexei and VMart

Let’s take a look at some raking hitters who having been filling up the stat sheet. All of these guys have performed as top 25 hitters this season but none of them were ranked in the top 100 hitters prior to the season. Will they be able to continue shining brightly or will they fade to black? Should you trade for them, hold onto them or sell high?

Dee Gordon — 34 Runs, 1 Home Run, 19 RBI, 36 Steals, .280 AVG (Yahoo Overall Ranks: #268 preseason, #26 now) Continue reading

Time to Worry About These Struggling Aces? Verlander, Price, Cole, Zimmerman and Miller

This week I will take a look at some really good starting pitchers who have not met our expectations. All of these guys were highly ranked and drafted early and their owners were depending on them to perform much better than they have thus far. We have now played more than 1/3 of the season, so if these guys are going to bounce back it is now or never. Let’s figure out which of these guys you should try to dump and which of them you should trade for while their owners in your league are panicking over their nasty stats.

Justin Verlander — Yahoo preseason rank #10, current rank #263 among SP
6-5 Record, 61 Ks in 86 innings, 4.19 ERA, 1.47 WHIP Continue reading

Unexpected Aces: Keuchel, Beckett, Simon, Richards, McHugh and Chavez

We are now two full months into the 2014 season and several unheralded starting pitchers have been making headlines.  None of these guys were ranked highly this Spring and some of them weren’t ranked at all, but they are all ranked in the top 30 for the season thus far. Let’s examine them to see if they are true breakout stars or if they are merely mirages. Will they continue to put up ace-like numbers or will they implode while ruining your team’s stats? Read on to find out…

Dallas Keuchel —  Yahoo SP Rank #9
Fantasy Stats: 6-2 Record, 61 Ks in 70 innings, ERA 2.55, WHIP 0.98
Peripherals: SIERA 2.42, K%-BB% 18%, BABIP .275, LOB% 76.5%
Continue reading

Trade Targets: Myers, Kluber, Bailey, Bogaerts and Salazar

This week I will take a look at some players who you should try to target in trade negotiations.  The two best times to trade for a player are at the end of a slump when his price has bottomed out,  and just before he goes on a hot streak that shoots his trade value skyward. The players below can be expected to provide future production that exceeds their current trade value, so now is the time to get them while you can!

Wil Myers — 24 Runs, 4 Home Runs, 20 RBI, 1 Steal, .238 AVG (Rank among all hitters: Yahoo #130, CBS points #127, ESPN #140) Continue reading