Weekly Planner: Lack of action often best action at trade deadline
Fantasy owners should useu caution in making moves before trade deadline
Jon Lester hasn't gotten past five innings in any one of his last three starts
After terrible first half, Tim Lincecum has posted two straight quality starts
For every trade, there are 10, maybe 20, 30, 40, 50, rumors that amount to nothing but hot air. It is easy to get sucked in by the news. It is wiser to let it all just unfold, and react thereafter.
The last week of July always is an exciting time for fantasy owners who love to debate and talk trades, but it can also lead you to do something you'll regret. Like, making a deal you probably don't need to make. Like, dealing a closer who might get dealt to be a setup man elsewhere.
If you're in an AL-only or NL-only league where you stand to lose someone dealt to the other league, sit tight. Sure, you might be stuck with nothing if Zack Greinke, Matt Garza, James Shields or even Cole Hamels are dealt to the opposite league. But we should remind you of the alternative; those pitchers can stick where they are, or get dealt to an even brighter situation in the same league.
Those are three potential outcomes in this next week. Only one is bad.
It is usually not a fantasy writer's job to tell you that inactivity is your best action. They need you to read, think, react and come back to analyze all over again. But the last week in July is the best time to do nothing.
... Until something actually happens.
As for the rest of the weekly fantasy baseball trends:
OF Jason Kubel, Diamondbacks -- The 30-year old has found himself in the Arizona desert, enjoying a six-homer week and bumping his season's pace up to .300-35-121-85 (.372-.585). Those numbers, while unlikely to be reached even still, would represent career highs across the board, not bad for a player that might not have been drafted in your league. Clearly, he is a must-start in all leagues now and has been for since May.
SP Jon Lester, Red Sox -- We might have seen Tim Lincecum turn his inexplicably lost season around, and now it is Lester's turn. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you make your climb back up, and Lester certainly hopes fantasy Week 16 was the worst. Lester was showing some improvement at the end of June and early in July, but he hasn't gotten through the fifth inning in any of his past three starts and was bombed for 11 earned runs, nine hits and five walks in just four innings Sunday. That came on the heels of a six-run, seven-hit, three-walk, four-inning performance earlier in the week. Lester, if he's not skipped in the rotation to lick his wounds, draws the Yankees over the weekend. You're best off reserving one of fantasy 2012's most mystifying busts this week.
1. RP Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers -- K-Rod is back in the closer's role, but the Brewers say it will be temporary to get John Axford righted and back as the closer of choice. "[Axford's] still got the best arm on the club," GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com.
2. SP Ben Sheets, Brewers -- He posted a second scoreless start in his triumphant return to the majors. He is a must-have in all leagues and is still available in almost one-third of them.
3. SP Homer Bailey, Reds -- One of this year's quiet breakthroughs, Bailey has won four consecutive starts and is racking up innings (30 2/3) and strikeouts (27) in that span. He is posting top 25 starter numbers in a season where so many former elite options have gone in the tank. At 26, Bailey's career arrow is finally pointing up.
4. RP Francisco Cordero, Astros -- He moves to the NL and back into a closer's role. The Astros won't get him many save chances, but he still has the ability to help in deeper leagues where you're desperate for saves.
5. SS Josh Rutledge, Rockies -- He has hit the ground running after going .306-13-35-57-14 (.338-.508) in Double-A. This is a serious 23-year-old with a future in Colorado. Once Troy Tulowitzki (groin surgery) returns later in August, Rutledge figures to move to second, where he should stay long term. This is a talent worthy of a look in mixed leagues.
1. SP Trevor Bauer, Diamondbacks -- His bouts with wildness in the minors carried over to the majors and proved to be his downfall. He still has an elite arm and prospects long term, but he has soured many fantasy owners for the next time he arrives.
2. SP Franklin Morales, Red Sox -- The 26-year-old lefty is back in the bullpen for now, but he pitched well enough to get another look for the Red Sox and fantasy owners in the second half.
3. SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves -- After some promising starts going into the break, Jurrjens has regressed back to his early season (poor) form, allowing 14 earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in his two post-break starts. He's at risk again for losing his rotation spot and shouldn't be owned in mixed leagues.
4. SP Travis Wood, Cubs -- The wheels have come off for the surprising 25-year-old lefty in his past two starts. He's too risky to use, or own, outside of NL-only formats right now.
5. OF Brett Gardner, Yankees -- An elbow 'scope all but ends his season. He can be cut in all non-keeper leagues.
Most traded: Buy, sell, hold
1. SP Tim Lincecum, Giants -- Don't look now, but two great starts out of the break have given his patient owners hope for a huge second half. He has posted back-to-back quality starts before in this awful season, though, so withhold judgment. HOLD
2. SP Cliff Lee, Phillies -- It is hard to pitch better than he has since the break and now win a game. The fortune in the wins column should come back his way. BUY
3. SP Jon Lester, Red Sox -- His value has never been lower, but he is not injured (we suspect), so we have to expect a rebound in the second half. It is a great time to bid for a pitcher who could win as many as 10 of his last 14 starts. BUY
4. SP Roy Halladay, Phillies -- The masses saw enough in his return start last week to buy, perhaps. That makes him worth selling if you own him. A 35-year-old pitcher with his name is worth more to you as trade bait than the actual production here on out. SELL
5. 1B Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Time is running out to buy on one of the first-half's biggest busts. A huge week is going to start jacking his price up to the first-round range he should be in. Act now before it's too late. A-Gone is starting what is going to be a huge roll. BUY
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. You find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).