Now that you've had a few days to process the stunning turn of events for Matt Kemp -- from his activation from the DL to the aggravation of his hamstring injury to his subsequent return to the DL -- the moping has to stop. The time has come for you to break out of the funk, look yourself in the eye and ask yourself this one pressing question:
Can your Fantasy team survive all those weeks without him?
Fortunately, you've already gotten a sneak peak at how it might respond thanks to Kemp's earlier DL stint. The difference then was his return at least seemed like it was just around the corner. And now? Well, it could take a while.
|Player||# of trades|
|1.||Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants||807|
|2.||Cliff Lee, SP, Phillies||495|
|3.||Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Red Sox||495|
|4.||Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox||469|
|5.||Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies||457|
|6.||Jason Heyward, OF, Braves||432|
|7.||Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Nationals||421|
|8.||Dan Haren, SP, Angels||420|
|9.||Bryan LaHair, OF, Cubs||409|
|10.||Michael Young, DH, Rangers||387|
Of course, if you've built up some cushion in the standings and have a little depth to your outfield, you should be able to keep your head above water even without your best player. But if you're struggling to reach .500 and have known nothing but misery without Kemp, as is the case for many of his owners, you might be looking down the barrel of an 0-4 month that would effectively end your season.
And keep in mind Dodgers trainer Sue Falsone said a month was the minimum amount of time that Kemp would miss. The Dodgers are already paying the price for bringing him back too soon. They wouldn't want to chance it again. If he's iffy come the end of June, they might just hold him out until the All-Star break.
So what do you do, then? You can't get something for nothing, of course, which severely limits your trade possibilities. But you do have at least one valuable trade chip in Kemp himself.
It's a radical idea and obviously not the preferred one. Selling a player when his value is at its lowest is generally a bad move. But if it's the best way to prevent yourself from getting buried in the standings, it's an option to consider.
You'd want to do it the right way, though. If your team was barely surviving with Kemp, you can only justify so much of a downgrade. And considering you're offering your league a chance to buy low on arguably the best player in Fantasy, you shouldn't have to settle for too much of one.
SW: From the perspective of the Kemp owner, this move makes sense to me.
Kemp was the top Fantasy outfielder last year and has continued to distinguish himself from the rest of the pack with his performance this year, but it's not like Granderson is that far off. He was the fourth-ranked outfielder in both Head-to-Head and Rotisserie leagues during his breakthrough 41-homer performance last year and is on pace for even more home runs (51) this year.
On a per-game basis, his 3.56 Fantasy points per game pale in comparison to Kemp's 4.22, but relative to all the other outfielders in the game, the two are more or less in the same tier. What Granderson gives you now might just keep you in the race later.
If I owned Kemp and was far enough down the standings that I couldn't afford more than a loss or two in his absence, I'd be happy to trade him straight-up for Granderson. The pitcher swap only makes the deal more palatable.
Granted, I think both Wainwright and Latos will bounce back from their early-season inconsistencies, but Wainwright strikes me as the safer bet to do so. His struggles come with the perfectly reasonable excuse that he just returned from Tommy John surgery, and with that excuse comes the assurance that those struggles will eventually end. Any excuses with Latos would be little more than guesses. Surely, as long as the stuff is still there, the numbers will eventually follow, but I'd rather trust in the Tommy John track record than continue along those lines of speculation.
SW: It'd be a brilliant move if you could pull it off. By the sound of it, you have both the cushion and depth to survive the short-term loss, and when Kemp eventually does return ... well, you can't underestimate the upgrade to your outfield.
Maybe on paper, it doesn't look like much, but in reality, Bruce's streakiness makes him so frustrating to own that chances are you won't even miss him when he's gone. The week-by-week breakdown of his Head-to-Head scoring says it all. In nine weeks so far this season, he has reached or exceeded 20 points twice. By comparison, Martin Prado has done it five times, Alex Rios has done it four times, and Michael Brantley has done it three times.
Twice is nothing. Shoot, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Gerardo Parra have done that. The reason Bruce is so ahead of them in Fantasy, ranking 23rd among outfielders, is because he happened to score 45 points in one of those two weeks. And that's pretty much the norm for him. Last May, he had a .342 batting average and 1.140 OPS sandwiched between a .237 batting average and .687 OPS in April and a .217 batting average and .647 OPS in June.
He's kind of like the little girl in the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem: When he's good, he's very, very good, but when he's bad, he's horrid.
And since the math works out to him being bad more often than he's good, the chances of him being good during Kemp's relatively brief absence are low enough that you might be better off with a waiver wire option anyway.
Which is exactly why I wouldn't advise this move for the other side, for all you Kemp owners out there. No matter how far back you are in the standings, trading Kemp only makes sense if the player you get in return is one you can trust to put up big numbers in Kemp's absence, meaning one who's both high-end and consistent. Bruce may fit the first description, but certainly not the second.
SW: Often in these situations, ownership percentage is the best gauge of value. Personal preference is a factor as well, but if perception drives value and ownership percentage measures perception, then ownership percentage is at least a good starting point when formulating your rankings.
And in this particular case, I happen to agree with the ownership percentages all the way down the line.
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Infante and Kendrick are the only two owned in more than 75 percent of leagues, and I think they're far and away the best of these options. Infante isn't quite the power threat he made himself out to be in April, but he contributes enough in other areas to remain a viable-mixed league starter. His high-contact bat makes him relatively consistent as well, which is why I give him the edge over Kendrick, who has done nothing but disappoint his Fantasy owners so far. If past precedent is any indication, though, the numbers will be there for Kendrick in the end.
Third on my list (and in ownership percentage) is Hill, who after several years of searching for his identity, with wild fluctuations in batting average, home runs and stolen bases, has finally leveled off as a decent across-the-board contributor. Of course, since he doesn't stand out in any one area, he doesn't stand out in Fantasy either. He's the kind of guy you pluck off the waiver wire when you have a need or when the matchups are right. As an every-week option, he'll leave you wanting more.
Beckham's ownership percentage is just a point behind Hill's, which is fitting because he's on the verge of overtaking the Diamondbacks second baseman in my mind as well. He probably has the most upside of anyone on this list, and for that reason, I'd be more likely to invest a roster spot in him than in Hill in a shallower league. But because I have to account for the full spectrum of leagues, including those with no waiver wires to speak of, I have to approach the rankings as if I'd be stuck with that player at second base for the rest of the season. And if that's the case, I still think Hill has a greater than 50 percent chance of being the more productive of the two from now until the end of the season. Beckham's track record is still too shaky for me to buy into him completely, as encouraged as I am by his recent progress.
Walker and Scutaro round out the list, with Walker's pop giving him the edge. It's a little overstated, though. He won't hit 15 homers, in all likelihood. If I still trusted Scutaro to get on base at a high rate, I might rank him ahead of Walker, but at age 36, what he's doing now might very well be the best he can do.
What is your outlook for Allen Craig for the rest of the season? -- @wags_28 (via Twitter)
SW: It's pretty spectacular. Between his numbers as a part-timer last season, a full-timer last October, and a full-timer between DL stints this season, I think we have enough data to deduce he's the second coming of Matt Holliday.
I understand he's not quite there in terms of plate discipline, but hey, neither was Holliday when he first broke out for the Rockies in 2006.
My one worry with Craig is and always has been playing time, and though Lance Berkman's injury seemed to eliminate that concern, Matt Adams' promotion has once again muddied the waters. But Craig's start (and subsequent home run) against a right-hander on Monday has me thinking it's again a non-issue. If Craig really is as good as I think he is, the Cardinals will find a place for him, whether it's in the infield or the outfield. Adams won't be the one who forces him to the bench.
Over a full season, I could see Craig hitting .300 with 30 home runs. Because he's missed so much time already, let's go with 25 homers instead. That's probably a best-case scenario, of course, so don't go cutting Shane Victorino for him or anything crazy like that. In a close call, I actually stuck with both Alex Gordon and Alejandro De Aza over him in one league, but he's clearly a player I'm buying right now, and if I already own him, I'm anticipating keeping him in my lineup.
I've been offered Jonathan Broxton for Jason Vargas in my 4x4 AL-only league. I'm doing well in wins, ERA and WHIP, but I need saves. It looks like a good deal, but my concern is the possibility of Broxton being traded. Do you think Kansas City will trade him at the deadline? If he goes to the NL, I don't get his stats, and if he becomes an AL setup man, he'll be of little use to me. -- Scott Shea (via e-mail)
SW: With the Royals expected to fall out of contention, I'd say the chances of an impending free agent like Broxton getting traded are pretty high, and since he's been a little more hittable than preferred for a closer, I'd say his new team would most likely use him in middle relief. Your concerns are one thousand percent valid, and in fact, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman recently included Broxton among his 45 players likely to be traded by July 31.
Still, I think this move might just be worth the risk.
Ask yourself what you're really losing in Vargas. He's given you a healthy number of wins so far, but he had to overachieve to do it. Now that he's come back down to earth a bit with a 5.01 ERA over his last five starts, he'll need even more support from a typically light-hitting Mariners lineup to maintain his current pace.
I say he doesn't even come close. He has seven wins now; between his own personal regression to the mean and his luck evening out as far as supporting cast goes, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if he had only five or six the rest of the way.
And because he's come back down to earth, you can assume he'll once again finish with about a 4.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, as his track record would suggest. Even in AL-only leagues, those are below-average ratios. He would actually be hurting you in those two categories, and if he's not helping all that much in wins, what's the point? In a league like yours where strikeout totals aren't at all a consideration, you're better off starting one of the many middle relievers available in free agency who are likely to produce better than a 4.00 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
Or better yet, you could start a saves guy like Broxton.
I don't know if you have some sort of innings requirement in your league that would make Vargas more valuable than I'm giving him credit for, but judging strictly by your four categories, I'm not sure he's so worth protecting. If it was a Head-to-Head points league where the innings he accumulates would count for something in and of themselves, it'd be different. But in a league where ratios matter more than totals, a middle-of-the-road starter like him doesn't do much for you.
What should I do with Ryan Zimmerman? He's the worst player on my team, and I don't know where to play him anymore. I can't bring myself to bench any of my other utility options for him, and I have Jose Bautista at third base. Should I drop Zimmerman for Dayan Viciedo? I've tried to trade him, but no one wants him. -- John Hyland (via e-mail)
SW: I can certainly understand you benching Zimmerman right now. He has offered next to nothing at the plate so far this season, producing about the same number of Head-to-Head points per game as Chris Johnson -- and that's after disappointing all of last year as well. Whether or not injuries have played into it -- he had abdominal surgery early last year and has been dealing with a shoulder issue this year -- is practically irrelevant at this point. Since the start of the 2011 season, he has a .756 OPS. That's not an elite third baseman.
Still, you have to show him a little more patience. He was an early-round pick, after all. If nothing else, he has name value. I understand nobody's willing to pay anything for that name value at this point, but that's either because those other owners honestly couldn't see themselves starting Zimmerman in his reduced state either or because they can tell you're on the verge of releasing him.
If you release him, somebody else will make room for him -- guaranteed. His potential is too great -- we're talking first-round type numbers -- and, at age 27, he's too capable of reclaiming it to go unowned. As long as he's on the bench, where he can do no harm, he's worth every last benefit of the doubt.
Might as well be your bench, right?
It's not like the waiver wire offers some can't-miss player who you couldn't stand to see go to someone else. Viciedo will hit his share of home runs, sure, and he's plenty hot right now. But he's not a complete hitter. He doesn't profile as a consistent mixed-league type. Given his strikeout-to-walk ratio, he's due for another miserable stretch like he had at the beginning of the season, and then you'll have just replaced one useless player for another.
Don't release Zimmerman out of frustration. I can't promise he'll repeat his former numbers -- in fact, I'm predicting he won't -- but if nothing else, he'll get hot at some point himself. And then you'll probably find a few takers for him, given his name value.
Is Bryan LaHair for real, or should I sell now? -- @catjett (via Twitter)
SW: Oh, he's for real. Considering he still has a batting average over .300 with an OPS near 1.000 now a third of the way through the season, I'd say the question of whether he's a Quadruple-A player or a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat has been answered.
Of course, his lack of production over the last few weeks might be just as legitimate.
It's not as contradictory as it sounds. You asked about LaHair's abilities, and he's relieved every last concern I had about those abilities. But his recent lack of production has less to do with his abilities than how the Cubs have chosen to use those abilities.
They sit him against left-handed pitchers. It's not the most novel approach, but in stretches like this most-recent one in which the Cubs faced six lefties in 12 games, it's a bit of a hindrance in Fantasy.
I can't say I blame them. In his limited opportunities against lefties this season, LaHair has collected just three hits in 23 at-bats for a .130 batting average. But in Fantasy, you'd still like to see him get the opportunity just so he has some hope of improvement. Even if it's a fleeting hope, at least he'd be accumulating a few walks, a handful of runs scored and the occasional homer along the way, which is certainly better than the nothing he gets from sitting. As things stand now, the nothing comes far too often for LaHair to make a significant Fantasy impact.
It's frustrating, no doubt, but if it hasn't diminished this deep into the season, when LaHair is clearly the best source of offense in an otherwise woeful lineup, I'm guessing it won't any time soon. He's still worth keeping around for those weeks when the Cubs face mostly right-handers, but as a platoon player, he won't be an every-week option in Fantasy, no matter how good his percentages are.
I guess, then, he's a sell-high candidate if you still feel like you can get an every-week option in return.
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