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Reality Check: Solving the Timmy, Roy riddle

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It seemed like such a good idea at the time, drafting Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum on the cheap, hoping they could deliver ace numbers for a fraction of the price.

But how soon you wanted out of it.

You didn't necessarily want to purge them from your roster, locking in your bad decision by swapping out a ninth-, 10th- or 11th-round pick for waiver fodder. You just didn't want to be the one to take the chance on them anymore.

But neither did anyone else.

That's not true for every pitcher off to a slow start, of course. Matt Cain fetches as much as ever on the trade market even though he has a 7.15 ERA through four starts.

The difference for Halladay and Lincecum is that their poor starts only reinforced what perception had already decided: With their velocities down and their walk rates up, they're no longer the pitchers they used to be.

So what are they? It's a guessing game at this point, which is sort of the problem. Having seen their spring struggles carry over to the regular season, most Fantasy owners assumed the worst. Only the dimwits who drafted them continued to see the upside in them.

I consider myself one of those dimwits.

I understand the concerns. I understand a drop in velocity gives a pitcher less margin for error, but Halladay never relied on pure power to put hitters away. He's a control artist with a varied enough arsenal that, provided he overcomes the mechanical flaws that developed when he tried to pitch through a strained muscle in his upper back last season, can still be a consistent winner for the Phillies.

Mechanical flaws, you say?

"Today was as close as I've felt to where I want to be," Halladay said after his start against the Cardinals Friday, when he allowed two runs on two hits with two walks and six strikeouts in seven innings. "When I stay within myself and execute the mechanics the way they should be done, I feel good where I'm at."

I also understand a loss of control leads to an increase in baserunners, both because of walks and because the pitcher constantly puts himself in hitter's counts, but it's not like this latest rendition of Lincecum is incapable of throwing strikes. He threw them in the postseason last year, issuing just five walks in 17 2/3 innings, and the result was a 2.55 ERA and 0.79 WHIP, not to mention a World Series championship for the Giants. If he can regain the focus he had during that high-pressure situation and translate it to regular-season games, his reduced stuff should more than hold up, as his strikeout rate also shows.

Regain the focus, you say?

"I just went out there today with purpose and knowing that every pitch has got a meaning to it," Lincecum said after his start against the Padres Saturday, when he allowed no runs on four hits with two walks and eight strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. "When I can go out there and do that and you can stick to your game plan and know that it's going to work, it gives you something like a springboard to jump off of, instead of kind of going out there aimlessly."

True, it's just one isolated start for Halladay and one isolated start for Lincecum, but if you buy into arguments that aren't entirely numbers-based -- since pitchers are people, after all, and not machines -- then each did in his one start exactly what he needs to do to make the most of what he has left. And the results speak for themselves.

Most Traded Players (as of 4/23)
Player Name # of trades
1. Matt Kemp, OF, Dodgers 178
2. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants 148
3. Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers 147
4. Mark Trumbo, OF, Angels 146
5. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies 146
6. CC Sabathia, SP, Yankees 143
7. Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees 139
8. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels 137
9. B.J. Upton, OF, Braves 136
10. Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays 134

More importantly, though, Halladay's and Lincecum's best starts were their last starts, which means, for the time being, they've regained some small sliver of the value they lost in between Draft Day and their first starts. Once again, Fantasy owners have reason to question if Halladay and Lincecum are really washed up. Perception has changed, if only slightly, making these two-time Cy Young winners potentially tradable again.

And if you genuinely believe Halladay and Lincecum are toast, the time to trade them is now, before they remind everyone how bad they are.

Understand I'm not saying they're toast -- not this dimwit -- but plenty of people believe they are. And if you consider yourself among that group, now is your golden opportunity to get something more in return than whatever retread or shot in the dark you could pluck off the waiver wire.

Of course, shopping them isn't such a bad course of action for the dimwits either. Hoping to provide some context for when they should and shouldn't pull the trigger, I petitioned my Twitter (@CBSScottWhite) followers to send examples of trades involving Halladay or Lincecum -- ones they were considering or had already made.

Let's take a look.

I got Asdrubal Cabrera straight-up for Lincecum. I needed a shortstop. -- @xVITALOGYx

That works for me. Both were drafted in about the ninth or 10th round in Fantasy. If that one good start was enough to get Lincecum's value back to where it started, you should probably capitalize, especially if it fills a need.

I offered Halladay for Wilin Rosario. Still waiting to hear back. -- @natzingg

Same situation as the first one, except with Halladay. In leagues where each team starts only one catcher, the position is deep enough that I wouldn't be in a rush to make this deal, but if I had been trying to get by with some Jason Castro type, I'd probably pull the trigger.

I'm thinking about offering Ross Detwiler for Lincecum. -- @Hjalmar02

And I'm thinking you just fell off the turnip truck. Wasn't Detwiler on the waiver wire just last week? Why not just drop Lincecum for the next flavor of the week instead of gift-wrapping him for someone else? Unless you're the world's biggest Detwiler believer -- and if you were, you would have claimed him first -- I don't see how you can justify this deal.

I was offered Lincecum and Will Middlebrooks for Alex Cobb. -- ‏@TylerHuck

Whoa. If someone else is willing to sell low on two early-season underachievers, don't try to talk him out of it. Personally, I feel like Middlebrooks alone is too much for Cobb, and I'm a proponent of Cobb.

In a keeper league, I offered Halladay for Marco Estrada. --@gabeisaacson

I'm also a believer in Estrada, so I hesitate here. I'm tempted to do it just to make the headache someone else's, but I feel like Estrada has peaked as a middle-of-the-rotation option at age 29, and Halladay still has a chance for more than that.

Hypothetically, I think I could see Lincecum for Jayson Werth. Or Halladay for Michael Bourn if someone wants to deal for a DL guy. -- @PeteSmick

I like those hypotheticals. I'd probably agree to both unless I was loaded in the outfield.

I got offered Josh Johnson for Lincecum. -- @DanMitchell23

Take it. No concerns over Johnson's velocity (apart from that 35-degree affair in Detroit).

I've been offered Lincecum for Jason Heyward. -- @BrettHensley1

Just because Lincecum was the first to put up usable numbers? Come on. Heyward's concerns still pale in comparison.

Halladay and Jedd Gyorko for Michael Young and A.J. Griffin. -- ‏@KJDiorio

The infielders more or less cancel each other out. Griffin, hot start at all, still doesn't measure up to Halladay in terms of upside.

Got offered Angel Pagan for Lincecum. I declined. Also got offered Yoenis Cespedes for Lincecum and Desmond Jennings. Declined as well. -- @aka_MR_FANTASY

Good call on the first one. You might regret the second one if Cespedes ends up doing what everyone thinks he can do, but if you're lacking in pitching depth and consider Jennings a breakout candidate (like I do), passing on it is defensible.

I traded Halladay straight-up for Mark Reynolds in a 14-team mixed league. -- ‏@joshilles

Then you fell right into your opponent's trap. I think we all know where Reynolds will end up. Even with power numbers in shorter supply these days, I'd rather take my chances with a declining Halladay than a one-trick pony.

As you can probably tell by some of my responses, I'm a little more open to trading Lincecum than Halladay. Halladay is coming off two good starts as opposed to one, had an actual injury to blame for his struggles last year and wasn't terrible even then. Plus, his velocity seems to be trending upward ever so slightly.

But the bottom line is I'm encouraged enough by both that I'm not looking to dump either at my first opportunity to do so. If someone else is willing to take on more risk than I am or offers to fill an obvious need, I'll surely listen, but considering I still rank Halladay 34th at starting pitcher and Lincecum 38th, I'll likely stick with them for now and hope I don't look back at this date as a missed opportunity.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers working to fix command issues
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:25 am ET) Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers gave up four runs on four hits in Thursday's game, his first rough patch of spring training. Brothers thinks his command faded when he got batters down in the count, reports the Denver Post.

"It was like an out-of-body experience," he said Friday. "Just one of those oddity nights. I was sharp until I got into put-away counts, then it was brutal. Absolutely brutal."

Manager Walt Weiss isn't concerned about his appearance and thinks it was more of an aberration.

"There's been enough positive signs in spring to feel good about where he is," Weiss said. "But fact of the matter is, that stuff is always right around the corner. Not just him, but anybody."


Seven no-hit innings for Royals' Yordano Ventura
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:56 am ET) Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura threw seven no-hit innings in Friday's start. 

Ventura walked two and struck out four, while throwing 49 of his 88 pitches for strikes. He lowered his spring ERA to 5.14.

The Royals took Ventura from the game after the seventh, as reliever Jason Frasor made it one out further before giving up a hit. 

The bullpen completed the one-hitter. 


Brewers pitcher Will Smith holds key to success out of the bullpen
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:49 am ET) Brewers pitcher Will Smith could be the best cog in Milwaukee's bullpen this season. Manager Ron Roenicke sure hopes so, reports MLB.com.

"I think coming into it, we're counting on him to pitch some high-leverage innings," Roenicke said Friday. "He's going to be a huge part of that bullpen and what we do and how I match up the seventh and eighth inning. He's going to be important."

Smith has a 0.87 ERA in eight appearances this spring and posted a 3.70 ERA in 78 games last season.

"My last two outings I felt really good out there, really strong," Smith said on Friday. "Me and the catchers are on the same page for everything now. I think I'm good to go now."


Still no decision between Mariners' Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:43 am ET) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon still hasn't named a winner in the battle for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. 

RHP Taijuan Walker and LHP Roenis Elias are in the running for the spot. Walker has a 0.00 ERA in 18 innings this spring, while Elias' ERA is 6.75. 

McClendon said he wouldn't announce his fifth starter until the final week of spring. Saturday marks the start of the final week, and McClendon said he'd "be close" to making the call, per MLB.com's Greg Johns.


Brewers to decide leadoff hitter Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:36 am ET) Brewers manager Ron Roenicke plans to decide between Scooter Gennett and Carlos Gomez for the leadoff spot in the lineup by Monday, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Gennett hit .289 with 54 RBI and 55 runs scored in 440 plate appearances last season while Gomez hit.284 with 23 home runs and 73 RBI in 574 plate appearances.


Phillies' Jake Diekman historically bad in loss
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Phillies pitcher Jake Diekman declared his Friday appearance, "the worst outing in the history of the world." 

Diekman entered a scoreless game in the fifth inning and promptly gave up a double and four singles before recording an out. He ended up allowing seven runs in one third of an inning.

"I fell behind in counts and every strike I threw they took a good swing at," Diekman said, per CSN Philly. "It’s embarrassing. ... It's unbelievable." 

Despite his 12.27 ERA, Diekman got a vote of confidence from manager Ryne Sandberg. "There’s no concern," he said. 


Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy gets first start at first base Friday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:30 am ET) Brewers regular catcher Jonathan Lucroy drew his first start at first base after being cleared from a strained right hamstring injury. Manager Ron Roenicke wanted to be able to see Lucroy's versatility.

"Thought we needed to do it, so hopefully we can do it at least once more,” said Roenicke to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But as much as he gets out there, it will help. There’s some pitchers that we still want him to catch and if we can get through those then maybe some other days we can get him over there again."

Lucroy was happy to finally be back on the field.

"I've been doing a little bit out there every day," Lucroy said. "Taking some grounders and stuff to stay sharp over there."


Cardinals' John Lackey ready for the regular season
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(12:25 am ET) John Lackey pitched seven innings, the longest of any Cardinals starter so far this season. 

Lackey allowed one run on six hits and didn't walk a batter, throwing 84 pitches. 

"Throwing seven innings, that was probably a little bit further than I thought I'd go today with the pitch count," said Lackey, per MLB.com's Jennifer Langosch. "But they were pretty aggressive, and I was throwing a lot of strikes. It worked out pretty good."

Lackey had his catcher call the game as if it were a regular season game, and his performance indicates that he's ready for the season to begin.

"That's what it looked like," coach David Bell said. "It looked like he was making all his pitches. The velocity was there. He probably had a little more in the tank, which is a good thing."


Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez not worried about role on staff
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez gave up just one run on five hits in five innings of work Friday against the Nationals. Martinez, who is competing for the final spot in St. Louis' starting rotation, has allowed just seven runs in 16 innings of work.

"I've been working hard," Martinez said through an interpreter to MLB.com. "Some of the outings haven't gone as good as I've wanted to, but I'm just trying to learn from that and get better every day."

Martinez is still focused on earning a starting spot.

"Right now I'm fighting to be a starter," Martinez said. "But if they call me into the bullpen I'm going to be ready for the team. I just want to help the team win, and I'm going to be ready when my name gets called."


Rays pitcher Everett Teaford making push for spot on pitching staff
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) Rays pitcher Everett Teaford tossed two scoreless innings Friday, sending all six batters down in order. The 31-year-old is making management give him an extra look before deciding on the final pitching staff, reports MLB.com.

"I thought he threw the ball well. First pitch, Reimold was ready to go, but after that I thought Teaf did a nice job of mixing pitches just like he always does," manager Kevin Cash said.

Cash likes that Teaford can get out of nearly any situation that arises.

"He's been around enough that he's probably given up enough home runs and big hits so he knows how to handle it when he does deal with some adversity," said Cash. "I wouldn't have expected anything other than that from him. Just getting right back into the strike zone again."

Teaford has spent most of spring training working on his command and effectiveness.

"That's really been the biggest thing I wanted to do this spring is not walk anybody. If I'm going to get beat, make them beat me and up to this point, I really have," said Teaford.


 
 
 
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