No April For Old Men: Ramirez, Youkilis, Rodriguez

It seems every team I’m running this year has a glaring issue. I have some with issues at catcher, others with some pitching issues, but there’s one in particular where I have just no solution at third base. We’re just a handful of games deep into the season, but there might already be fertile ground for trying to cherry pick brutal starts to the season by few old dogs. Yes, the small sample size applies throughout, but I like these guys as fantasy targets early on since there were enough question marks about age, health, and/or production before the season began which likely gave their current managers pause when they ultimately selected them. Now that the stats count, you might find a second-guesser willing to listen.

Aramis Ramirez

Ramirez has been a slow starter for the last few seasons, but he’s taken it to new levels so far. His .114/.179/.182 line is so bad it makes it hard to see beyond the fact that it’s just 39 plate appearances. He’s hit no home runs, two doubles, and he’s struck out eight times and generally been useless on the real and the fake field. He’s had little fortune from the bouncing ball with a paltry .143 BABIP, his swinging strike rate isn’t completely out of control at 11%, his contact rate is down a tick, but not overwhelmingly so. Aside from having a detached retina or something, I’d fully expect the proverbial pendulum to swing the other direction and he’s either going to start getting a little luckier, he’s going to start driving the ball, or both. It has typically taken him until June to really put things together — and that has been exacerbated in the last couple of seasons — but another week of falling on his face and you might have a real opportunity on your hands.

Alex Rodriguez

ARod rolled a couple singles out yesterday to pull his batting average up to .250 but so far he hasn’t shown the typical pop that we expect from him when healthy as his SLG sits at just .375. If his current owner is cognizant of the fact that Rodriguez finished the 2011 season with a .241, .276, and .334 wOBA, hitting just .212/.322/.333 from July through September, they might be concerned enough to be in a dealing mood. It would probably be a little pushy to point all this out to someone, after all – why would you bother to target him if you didn’t think he’d rebound. But floating an e-mail wondering if you could get an ear on ARod might not be a terrible idea if you’re hurting at the hot corner. You’d be wagering on decent health of course, but as of now, Rodriguez is still walking at a good clip, striking out at normal rates for him (actually lower), and his swinging strike rate is well below career averages. If he’s not hurting, the power is going to come, and it’s probably going to be soon – his next two series are at Boston and at Texas, both parks where he has historically raked in his career. In my mind, he would be a great guy to grab for a (hopefully) big power surge, and then flip in another deal.

Kevin Youkilis

Already nursing a groin injury and dealing with the little problem of being publicly called out by his new manager, the start to 2012 couldn’t have gone much worse for Youkilis owners. He’s striking out more, he’s not hitting for any power whatsoever, and even the Greek God of walks has lost his path with “just” an 8.8% walk rate. But his eye is still there it seems as his swinging strike rate is well within normal range and he’s not chasing many pitches outside the zone. Pitchers don’t appear to be too afraid of him thus far, giving him 70% first pitch strikes and although he’s making contact, everything is getting pounded into the turf at this stage. At some point, that’s going to change.

With Youk, you either believe or you don’t – and although he comes with the same warning flags that everyone gnashed their teeth about all spring long, I’m not buying that he’s going to continue to be this bad. He will always drive you nuts with his frequent ailments, but Youkilis owns a career .201 ISO, so it’s just unrealistic (ridiculous) to think that it will stay at .033 for long. Clearly, if you own him, try to have the patience to ride this out because if he can stay on the field, he’ll produce for you. But if you don’t own him, this whole Valentine controversy and the ineffectiveness might have created enough panic/angst/frustration to get him at a discount.




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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.


11 Responses to “No April For Old Men: Ramirez, Youkilis, Rodriguez”

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  1. Atari says:

    Joey Bats is struggling too.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      indeed. I just feel like, from a fantasy baseball perspective, there were fewer questions (if any) about Bautista than these three guys above. Trying to acquire first round talent after the first two weeks is typically pretty tough and managers tend to ride it out for a couple months before they get itchy.

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  2. Bret says:

    Another case of unrealistic buy low scenario. What owner is selling low on Youk? Seriously, do these authors think we are in fantasy baseball leagues with toddlers and morons.

    If Youk is still hitting .200 in May, maybe you can get a discount but mid-April, come on. No way.

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    • Michael Barr says:

      just leagues with moron toddlers, in fact.

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    • batpig says:

      that’s true with a stud like Joey Bats or Pujols but, as Pods pointed out in his article a few days ago, the key to they “Buy Low” is the story behind it.

      Youk isn’t some established 1st round stud just off to a slow start; he’s 33 now, he’s been sliding down for 2 years due to injuries, and there were legitimate concerns coming into this season about whether or not he’d lost something. K rate is climbing, GB rate is soaring, he only hit .258 last year and has missed a lot of time with injuries the last two years.

      I can tell you that if I were a Youk owner, especially in a keeper league, I’d be a bit nervous right now. Obviously he’s not going to hit .200 with a .498 OPS, but it’s no guarantee that he’s going to return to the levels of a few years ago.

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    • oldschoolways says:

      I got Youk straight-up for Cameron Maybin in a reasonably competitive league. Wasn’t even my offer.

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      • batpig says:

        exactly, you see these where now the trendy thing is to exploit the corollary “buy high / sell low” market efficiency. Youk is exactly the kind of guy that people might want to “sell low” on because they are panicked that he is falling off a cliff.

        and, honestly, they may be right. last year:

        maybin = .264 / 82 / 9 / 40 / 40 in 137 G
        youkilis = .258 / 68 / 17 / 80 / 3 in 120 G

        maybin was better in 2011. And the probability of him being better in 2012 is not insignificant. Thus Youk is exactly the type of guy that might be a “buy low” candidate.

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      • oldschoolways says:

        Yeah I mean I’m not sure I got the better end of the deal. I am figuring in some value for keeping Youk on the DL when he has his inevitable DL stint and I can plug in a fantasy replacement level corner infielder. I also grabbed Schaefer off the free agent list, figure he gives me a poor man’s Maybin.

        But yeah if my experience is anything to go on, Youk and Lincecum are legit “sell low” candidates right now. I’m betting on a return to form from both, but I could be wrong.

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    • jsp2014 says:

      completely disagree.

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  3. einstein q rockefeller says:

    my league has 15 offensive categories, including 2b, obp, slg, BB.. it’s very varied. i had youk both last year and this year and i can say, i was really close to dropping him and taking a flier on headley, encarnacion, or prado. i don’t know how long i can wait, i don’t know if he’s ever going to be his old self again. and i don’t know how long i can take him having 1 or 2 days off a week.

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  4. Jeff says:

    Shallow 5 * 5, typical categories. Drop Duda for Youkilis? Berkman’s my usual 1B, Longoria at 3B.

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