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Di Fino: The art of buying low

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Fortunes have been made on being able to figure out when it's just the right time to buy something low.

Cars, stocks and bread are just a few examples. Of course, each comes with its own set of risks: the car could be a lemon, the stock could plummet further, and that day-old bread could be really stale. Still, the upside of each makes the gamble worth it; it's mainly just a case of doing some research and nosing around to see what, exactly, these things will cost you. And, since this is a Fantasy baseball column, you know what's coming next: The same can be said for [insert player's name here]!.

Look, the "buy low" column isn't a novel Fantasy concept. At all. But there is a fun science in determining which players to target. Let's just pretend I threw a couple more pop culture references in here (go see Cabin in the Woods! How about that Kate Upton baseball card? OMG guys -- Sarah Phillips!), and instead move on to the players who can help you make that push from fifth place to first.

Most Traded Players (as of 5/4)
Player # of trades
1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels 620
2. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants 385
3. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins 360
4. Jose Reyes, SS, Marlins 321
5. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees 311
6. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox 300
7. Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins 294
8. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates 287
9. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers 280
10. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals 278

1. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
Ownership: 100 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: Teixeira is hitting a frustratingly-low .226, with just three home runs through 23 games this season. He has two hits, one run scored and one RBI in his last six games.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Mark Reynolds and Victor Martinez; David Ortiz and Omar Infante; Andrew McCutchen; Bryce Harper and Mike Trout; Shane Victorino
How This Could Work Brilliantly: In his career, Teixeira has hit .239 in April; his May average rises to .286. Furthermore, his OPS jumps from .767 to .903. In 2010, he hit .136 in April, with a .559 OPS. He finished the season with 33 home runs and 108 RBI. In 2009, his OPS leapt from .738 in April to 1.138 in May. The slow April and powerful May has become an almost yearly Teixeira tradition.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: Defenses seem to be loving the shift when Teixeira is at bat, and Joe Girardi has said that his strategy for Teixeira is this: "swing the bat and hit balls hard and things will work out." So the power will likely continue, but his batting average, which has declined every year since 2008, will likely continue to suffer as a result. A career .280 hitter, Teixeira hasn't hit over .256 since 2009.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Man, I didn't realize Teixeira is already 32 years old!"

2. Huston Street, RP, Padres
Ownership: 77 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: Street has just four saves on the season so far, and has been riddled with injuries throughout his career.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Nick Markakis; Ty Wigginton; in a package deal with Pablo Sandoval for Kyle Lohse; Martin Prado
How This Could Work Brilliantly: Street pitches in a forgiving park for a team that has scored the fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball, which makes for plenty of save opportunities in close games. Street also has a 37-save season under his belt and has double-digit saves in all of his eight major league seasons -- he's averaged 28 saves over the last three years. And if San Diego's low run-scoring output frightens you, consider this: Heath Bell had three straight seasons of 40-plus saves from 2009 to 2011 as the Padres closer. In 2009, they scored the second-fewest amount of runs; in 2010, the ninth-fewest; and, in 2011, the third-fewest. Scoring the fourth-fewest runs in MLB is a bit of a luxury for the team.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: Street has the skill to be an effective closer, he just doesn't always have the health -- he hasn't pitched 65 innings in a season since 2008.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Andrew Cashner is averaging 98.3 mph on his fastball this year?"

3. Erik Bedard, SP, Pirates
Ownership: 55 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: He's won one game in five starts so far this year.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Cameron Maybin; Paul Goldschmidt; in a package deal with Justin Morneau for Vance Worley; Todd Helton
How This Could Work Brilliantly: Bedard's problem has always been with injuries -- since 2004, he's thrown over 100 innings just five times. But a healthy Bedard is an effective one: he has a 3.66 career ERA and has produced a sub-1.20 WHIP in two seasons. His trade to Boston -- and subsequent poor performance -- masked a stellar half-season in Seattle last year, where he had a 1.17 WHIP in 91 1/3 innings before the deal. On top of it all, Bedard is usually good for a strikeout per inning.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: With Bedard, there is always a chance he can get hurt. And before his start on April 28 against the Braves, the Pirates had given him a whopping .75 runs of support per game.
But ...: The Pirates have scored seven or more runs in two of their last three games.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Ugh. 1-4 but I need a pitcher bad!"

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4. Ian Stewart, 3B, Cubs
Ownership: 18 percent of leagues.
Why He's A Buy Low: Stewart is currently batting .173, with two home runs and 18 strikeouts.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Todd Helton; Chris Parmelee; Scott Rolen; Alex Presley; as a package deal with Drew Stubbs for Desmond Jennings
How This Could Work Brilliantly: Stewart's defense has been praised by Cubs manager Dale Sveum, and while that won't directly help your Fantasy stats, it will keep him in the lineup regularly, which will give him steady at-bats. And those at-bats should be getting a little better; Stewart insists that he is hitting balls well -- they're just going into the gloves of the opposing teams. The numbers actually bear this out; Stewart's batting average on balls in play is .197, and his line drive percentage is at 21 percent, implying that he's been a victim of bad luck. For a Fantasy team looking to replace an injured Evan Longoria, for instance, Stewart could be a very deep gamble that might pay off in a big way once the balls start going where the fielders aren't.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: All that being said, Stewart has a career batting average of .232 and has just one season of 20 or more home runs.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Blech. .173. I'm desperate without Longoria, though. I guess I'll relieve you of your Ian Stewart anchor. LOLCATZ."

5. Delmon Young, OF, Tigers
Ownership: 61 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: After a drunken incident in New York, Young was suspended by MLB for seven days.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Tim Hudson; Adam Lind; Colby Rasmus; as a package deal with Jacoby Ellsbury for Shane Victorino
How This Could Work Brilliantly: A former number one overall pick, Young had a bit of a breakthrough last year after being traded to the Tigers, hitting .274 with eight home runs in 168 at- bats. He has hit as many as 21 home runs and stolen as many as 14 bases in a season. Over seven MLB seasons, he has a .287 average. And this latest transgression could force him to focus on the field and explode when he returns.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: It's not an exact science, but the last time Young found himself in trouble -- in 2006, after throwing a bat in the direction of an umpire -- he hit just 11 home runs. And even though the 21-homer and 14-steal seasons are nice, they didn't come in the same year, and the next-highest were 13 home runs and 10 steals.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Man! Remember when he threw the bat at the umpire, too?? What next??"

The Strange Case of Adam Lind ...

This came up in a podcast this week, and it's worth investigating here in the column: Adam Lind has become everyone's favorite throw-in to sweeten -- or, at least, even out -- a lot of trades. He's one of the top-10 traded players on CBSSports.com. Currently batting .203 with one home run, Lind is as tantalizing a nugget as any player in Fantasy Baseball: He could hit 35 home runs. He could bat .300. He could steal three bases. But he hasn't batted over .265 since 2009. And he only once went over 30 home runs, in the same year. The gap between his own percentage and his start percentage (74 percent owned; 45 percent started) further emphasizes Lind as a complementary piece to both teams and trades -- cast in the proverbial, "I have him on my bench, and I'll start him when he gets hot, at which point I can trade Prince Fielder for a pitcher ... or I just cut him for Bruce Chen if he stinks," role.

So here's your Fun Fact: In the last two days, trades involving Adam Lind have had an average of 4.41 players.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsi.com .

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Player News
Orioles limiting pitcher Kevin Gausman early in spring training
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:20 pm ET) The Orioles are taking things slow with relief pitcher Kevin Gausman. He pitched just one scoreless inning on 14 pitches in Wednesday's game, but it's a part of the plan, reports MLB.com.

"Every year is a little bit different," said Gausman. "My first year I wanted to come into camp and show what I had and possibly be an option for later in the year, knowing I wasn't going to make the team. But pitched well. Last year came to camp, felt I had a good chance of making the rotation and then we signed Ubaldo [Jimenez]. So, it’s one of those things. Every spring is going to be different."

Gausman went 7-7 in 2014 with a 3.57 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 113 1/3 innings pitched.

"That's one thing that's different this year is they kind of held me back. [The Orioles] told me don't throw any bullpens before you get to camp. Normally I throw 7 or 8 bullpens before camp."


A good spring could help Brewers' Morris in getting back on track
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(2:16 pm ET) Brewers first baseman Hunter Morris is trying to re-establish himself this spring after he was removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason. It wasn't long ago that Morris was considered the Brewers' top prospect.

“I don’t feel any pressure to make this team right away,” Morris said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I’m still confident in my ability and I firmly believe I’m going to play in the big leagues.

"My goal is go out and force the Brewers’ hand and not give them any choice but to have me in the big leagues.”

Morris was named the Brewers' minor-league player of the year in 2012 after he hit .303 with 28 home runs, 40 doubles and 113 RBI at Double-A. While he totaled 24 home runs the following year, he hit just .247. He ran into more offensive struggles in 2014, and he also missed time due to a wrist injury.

“It was frustrating, the way everything played out,” Morris said.

Now, the 26-year-old first baseman must prove to the Brewers he still has a future in the majors, and it starts this spring.

“He needs to have a good year this year, get back on that right track,” manager Ron Roenicke said. “He hasn’t performed well in spring trainings for us. That’s the hard part, that we don’t get to see him when he’s really good.

“All I get is what I see in the spring, and he hasn’t had good springs. It’s really hard for me to get a good read.”


Royals' Hochevar (elbow) emerges unscathed after BP session
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:52 pm ET) Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar threw his first batting-practice session of the spring Tuesday and emerged from the outing without any issues, per MLB.com.

"Everything was fine this morning," Yost said. "He felt great."

Yost liked how Hochevar, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, threw in batting practice.

"A good live fastball," Yost said. "Good curve. He looked really good. Just a normal progression for him."


Angels' Roberto Baldoquin could join club this weekend
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:21 pm ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters that Roberto Baldoquin could be with team as early as this weekend, according to the Orange County Register. Baldoquin, who has been dealing with visa issues, agreed to an $8 million bonus in November and is expected to work with the minor-league squad before starting the season in Class A.

Orioles' J.P. Arencibia making strides working with bench coach
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:16 pm ET) Orioles catcher J.P. Arencibia has made a favorable impression on manager Buck Showalter, per MASNsports.com. Arencibia, who is in camp on a minor-league deal, has been working with bench coach and catching instructor John Russell on improving his defense.

"He and John are working on a couple of things," Showalter said. "I've seen John do some things with guys that I didn't think was possible. I keep a real open mind about anything with a catcher here. I think John very quietly is one of the best I've ever been around, but he doesn't make everybody do it exactly the same. We'll see how it plays out.

"He's very engaged. He knows what the job description requires and he's trying to bring it. I think we all know offensively he's capable of better, but his damage has always good."


Angels' Garrett Richards begins light fielding drills
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:15 pm ET) Along with completing his sixth bullpen session of the spring, Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards began light fielding drills on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Richards is roughly six months removed from left knee surgery, and is not expected to be ready for opening day.

Indians' Kluber (illness) could have Cactus League debut pushed back
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:12 pm ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber is dealing with flu-like symptoms, and manager Terry Francona is unsure if he'll have his Cactus League debut pushed back, per the Northeast Ohio Media Group. Kluber, who is coming off his AL Cy Young campaign in 2014, is penciled in for Saturday.

Report: Jace Peterson may have outside shot to win 2B job
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(1:04 pm ET) Because of he reported to camp in exceptional condition and Alberto Callaspo did not, Jace Peterson may have an outside shot at the Braves' second base job, per the Atlanta Journal Constitution on Wednesday.

Callaspo signed with the Braves as a free agent in December was penciled in as the starter while top prospect Jose Peraza works his way through the minors. However, if Callaspo doesn't play his way into game shape over the next month, Peterson, along with Phil Gosselin could have a crack at the position.

Peterson was traded to the Braves from the Padres in a deal that involved Justin Upton in late December. Last week, manager Fredi Gonzalez confirmed to reporters that the second base gig is "wide open."


Cubs taking wait-and-see approach on Welington Castillo's future
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:49 pm ET) Although Cubs catcher Welington Castillo is on the trade block and could be dealt before opening day, manager Joe Maddon told reporters that he's going to let the Castillo rumors play out before he decides whether he'll break camp with three catchers, per Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

"Let's just play it (out)," Maddon said. "Let's get him ready. He's really good. I really mean it. I like Castillo a lot. He's really opened up also in talking to guys and among the group, which is really nice to hear. There's a lot of good stuff going on there."


David Wright apologizes for scolding prospect in front of media
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:46 pm ET) Mets third baseman David Wright apologized to prospect Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday for scolding him Tuesday "within earshot" of the press, according to the New York Daily News.

However, Wright was not apologetic about the message he delivered to the highly touted pitching prosect.

"I talked to Noah yesterday, that's the thing I apologized to him for not realizing that obviously I choose to do it, so it's not the media's fault by any means, but I didn't notice the media was within earshot. So that's what I apologized to Noah for," Wright said.

"Now he has to answer questions, I have to answer questions, (Mets manager) Terry (Collins) has to answer questions, that's not the way that I like to handle things. I wasn't aware of my surroundings. As far as the content of it, I think that's something that I think Noah did an excellent job understanding the situation, he was very remorseful of the situation."

On Tuesday, Wright and reliever Bobby Parnell were upset Syndergaard went into the clubhouse to eat lunch while the Mets were in the middle of an intrasquad game. Wright told Syndergaard he needed to be on the bench during the game, but Parnell went one step further by throwing out the plate of food Syndergaard was eating.

Syndergaard, who added staying in the clubhouse was "straight up" ignorance on his part, said Wright has spoken to him twice since the incident.

"He wanted to make sure I knew that Bobby (Parnell) and he were not picking on me," Syndergaard said Wednesday. "He just wanted to make it clear, they care about me, they want me to be a part of the team, they think I can contribute in the future."

 
 
 
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