Fantasy baseball Trade Tips: Sell B.J. Upton, hold Josh Hamilton
There are few things more disappointing than when your favorite hole-in-the-wall deli undergoes a change in management. Invariably, the new owners come in, clean the place up and try to offer some new menu items with most cost-efficient ingredients. While the food tastes fine, it's not the same as before -- you're looking for that certain flavor that the grilled chicken breast acquires after sitting in the deli case for nine hours. But still you go, time after disappointing time, hoping that the refurbished deli rediscovers its greasy mojo.
A similar phenomenon happens in fantasy baseball. Every owner develops this relationship with a certain player every season: He may not anchor your team, but you generally know what to expect. But when that player comes out of the gate slowly, you still hold him, hoping he'll rediscover the mojo that hooked you in the first place. These players aren't easy to pry from their owners, but if you can see past the sentiment sooner than later, you may find a solid selling opportunity.
Still, I'd rather have that greasy grilled chicken hero.
On to the trade tips ...
• Martin Prado, Arizona Diamondbacks: Prado's power has been better than expected, but his average has been downright sickly through April. However, remember that he's playing for a new team for the first time in his MLB career, and he needs to adjust to the change of scenery. Prado was a career .292 hitter in one of the NL's most pitcher-friendly parks, and he's now playing in one of its most hitter-friendly fields. He's a bit of a grinder, which should keep him in manager Kirk Gibson's good graces despite the slow start. Begin drafting the email to make an offer for Prado, because his price isn't going down.
• Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers: A few weeks back, we suggested holding on to deposed Brewers closer John Axford. Well, we may have been wrong. After a string of promising performances that had him back in the closer discussion, Axford said thanks, but no thanks for now, telling Brewers manager Ron Roenicke that the team shouldn't mess with the success Henderson has had as closer. Who are we to argue? Don't overpay for Henderson, but he appears to be in the saves mix for the foreseeable future. Since he isn't a lock to hold the position, he may come somewhat cheap.
• Eric Hosmer, Kansas City Royals: The season is only a month old, but our patience with the Royals' first baseman is already wearing thin. After yet another spring filled with proclamations about how this would be the year the 23 year old broke out, his owners can count exactly 0 homers and eight RBI in his first 23 games this season. Zero homers. Weather has played havoc with plenty of teams this spring, but shouldn't we all be getting the impression that Hosmer is what he appears to be: a .250-ish hitter with ceilings of 15-20 homers and 80-90 RBI. Not bad, but also not a cornerstone. Deal him for someone with a better track record while Hosmer still carries the tag of being a potential breakout; you'll get more than when he's labeled as a disappointment.
• B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves: It seemed like a nice story. The Upton brothers would unite on the same team, sparking Justin to rediscover his MVP stroke and B.J. to find some consistency at the plate. While Justin has more than done his part in the fairytale, B.J. has been the same old B.J.: He's headed for another sub-.250 average (sub-.150 this season) and the worst walk-to-strikeout ratio of his career. His 30 steals aren't worth the drag on your average and on-base percentage. As soon as his average creeps up above .200, deal him -- fast.
• Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: A column like this is supposed to make a bold statement about Hamilton's poor start. Should I tell you that it's merely the result of moving to a new team, which will surely ease once he grows more accustomed to the pitches he's seeing and the new teammates around him? Or, am I supposed to tell you how the beginning of this season is a continuation of a distinct slide that began in the second half of 2012, and that Hamilton should be moved as soon as an offer is on the table? The truth is, I could say either. Our head says a hitter like Hamilton has to rebound, especially with all of the talent around him in L.A. However, our heart has a nagging suspicion that it could be a disappointing year for Hamilton owners. Go with the head for now, but if a good offer comes your way, feel free to act on those suspicions.
• Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants: The ugly 6.49 ERA isn't an easy sell to nervous owners, but six straight years with an ERA under 4 and a career .227 batting average against should be enough to calm those fears. We'll chalk this up to a bit of World Series hangover. His K/9 ratio is higher than it's been since his second season in the majors and his control is still solid, having walked only 10 in his first 34.2 innings this season. Further, according to Fangraphs, Cain's velocity has remained generally in line with his previous two seasons. Opponents are hitting him now, but that'll change. Cain's track record is too good.