The more things change, the more they stay the same.
The last time I did a rendition of Buy or Sell -- that's right: I have a new baby -- we found Johan Santana's name at the top of the list of most traded players in CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues. Well, now that I've come back for Phase 2, there he remains.
Why would anyone not want this guy?
The top six most traded players in Fantasy:
Is he old? No. Is he hurt? No. Is he fat? No. Is he anything that might give anyone cause for concern in the coming weeks? No. Is he the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball? Well, not statistically -- not yet, anyway. But he pitches for a contender, strikes out three times as many batters as he walks, and has a history of performing better in the second half. I have nothing against Roy Halladay, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia and -- who else? -- Cole Hamels, but I wouldn't hesitate to trade any of them if someone offered me Santana. He just has too much history and hasn't performed poorly enough this year to distance himself from it. Sure, his 8-7 record doesn't look great, but his luck has to turn eventually. After all, he goes at least seven innings more often than not, which is more than anyone can say for Jake Peavy. Count me among the buyers.
Ah, Harden -- owner of some of the most beautiful stats I've ever seen. That 2.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 11.3 strikeout rate really make him out to be one of the best pitchers in Fantasy Baseball. But you also have to consider another stat: those six trips to the DL in four seasons, making his 15 starts this season equal to his amount from the last two seasons combined. He tempts fate every time he takes the ball and stomps up the side of the mound, each start potentially his last. Certainly, he has Fantasy value even with the risk, but if someone wants to pay ace value for him, why not listen?
Like Santana, Crawford had a spot on this last time, but he's only gotten colder since then. His .269 batting average makes his chances of finishing under .300 for the first time since 2004 pretty likely, and his .689 OPS makes owners in leagues that hardly reward steals wonder if they should even own him. I admit his prospects have looked better, but if you sell him now, you sell him for less than his actual value. When he gets hot again, his batting average will rise, and his stolen bases and power numbers will follow as the number of opportunities (in this case, hits) increase. And he has the potential to get really hot, as evidenced by his .358 batting average after the All-Star break last year. Stick with him.
I love this move and all the people who make it. I'd kiss them on the lips if I could. And if I had the foresight to draft Volquez in one of my leagues, I hope I'd also have the foresight to trade him now. See those 122 2/3 innings of his? His career high is 144 2/3. That gives him -- what? -- four starts before he slows down, if he hasn't already (5.20 ERA over his last five, anybody?). Now, if you do decide to trade him, keep in mind this isn't a panic maneuver, but a shrewd one. Don't sell him for less than you'd sell one of the best pitchers in Fantasy Baseball. You want to cash in on his maximized value, so don't slip into the mindset that you have to get rid of him before it's too late.
Depending on how much his owner wants, I'd happily buy Sabathia right now. If he sees his 10-8 record and 3.30 ERA and decides those numbers make him less than a Fantasy ace, swoop in for the kill. Sabathia has three straight complete games since his move to the National League, making him like Roy Halladay except he strikes out a batter per inning and allows fewer runs. Oh yes, I said fewer runs, despite him having a higher ERA. Don't underestimate the impact of Sabathia's dreadful April on his cumulative totals. He clearly trumps Halladay right now, and I came within an eyelash of ranking him the No. 1 starting pitcher in all of Fantasy Baseball earlier this afternoon. Buy, buy, buy.
Does anybody trade hitters anymore? Other than Crawford, apparently not. I don't know what angle I can take with Peavy that I didn't take last time. I like his ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. I hate that he pitches for the Padres and has a history of arm problems. In Fantasy, I'd rather own Santana or Sabathia, so if someone wants to buy Peavy as the second-best starting pitcher in Fantasy (how he began the season), I'd hear him out. If someone wants to sell Peavy because he no longer sees him as an elite option, well, I'd hear him out too.
That's all for now.