The deadline to make fantasy trades either has already happened or is just around the corner, depending upon your league rules. If your league still permits trading, start working the phones and see what you can do. In that regard, here are five guys to pick up and five guys to move.
Alex Rodriguez – A lot of owners are worried about Rodriguez’ relative lack of power this season, especially given the way new Yankee Stadium has played. Rodriguez has not hit a HR since July 19th and 13 of his 19 HR this year have come at home. But his HR/FB rate is better than it was last season and Rodriguez is unlikely to maintain a .263 BABIP going forward.
Clayton Richard – In his second season with the White Sox, Richard held his own. He posted an ERA just slightly above league average and his K/9 of 6.67 was good. Now he finds himself pitching in the NL without a designated hitter and he goes from pitching in hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field to Petco Park, one of the best pitching parks in baseball. It should add up to make him a valuable fantasy pitcher for the rest of 2009.
Alex Rios – The expectations for Rios always seem to exceed the actual production. Some hoped he would threaten 30-30 while batting close to .300 and it just has not worked out that way. But Rios is on target to exceed last year’s HR and RBI totals while coming close to his career-best steal output. His BABIP is 30 points below his career mark and RoS ZiPS forecasts him to hit .282 for the remainder of the season.
Jeff Niemann – There is nothing in Niemann’s overall profile to recommend acquiring him, while his FIP and HR/FB ratio might even suggest him as a sell candidate. But since the middle of May, Niemann has been a steady and consistent fantasy hurler. In his last 14 games, Niemann is 8-2 with a 2.94 ERA and a 1.197 WHIP. Niemann has started throwing more curveballs, giving batters another pitch to consider.
Lastings Milledge – Many fantasy owners expected Milledge to have a breakout season in 2009 and that just has not happened. But the trade to Pittsburgh offers him a new start and he has two things in his favor now that he did not have earlier in Washington. First, Milledge is not a leadoff hitter and with Andrew McCutchen around to fill that bill for the Pirates, it frees Milledge to bat lower in the order. And while it does not appear on the surface to matter in fantasy, McCutchen also allows Milledge to play an outfield corner in Pittsburgh, where he is much more suited defensively. Milledge is only owned in 23 percent of CBS Sports leagues and is worth a flier if he is available on your waiver wire.
Aramis Ramirez – Fantasy owners have been without Ramirez for most of the year, so it seems an odd time to be shopping him now. Since returning from the DL, Ramirez has posted a .321-5-17-15-0 fantasy line in 21 games. But Ramirez also has a .353 BA BIP, 58 points above his career average. And his HR/FB rate of 16.4 percent is his highest since 2005.
Joba Chamberlain – He has been lights out in his last three starts, offering fantasy owners the production they dreamed about when they selected him in the top half of their draft. But while he is doing his best pitching of the season, word is that the Yankees are going to cap his innings somewhere around 160 innings this season. Now, when push comes to shove, New York may not go through with that plan but Chamberlain owners owe it to themselves to see if they can trade him for equivalent value and minimize their risk going forward.
Alex Gordon – After spending most of the season on the DL with a hip injury, Gordon is back for the Royals. His first two weeks back have been nothing special. Like Rios, expectations for Gordon always seem to outstrip his production but Gordon is unlikely to offer the upside of Rios in any single fantasy category for the rest of the season.
Jarrod Washburn – He was exceeding all expectations this season in Seattle and now he has to keep that performance up in the heat of a pennant race in Detroit. Washburn has been through the playoff chase numerous times before while with the Angels but owners should be wary of how he will do moving away from Safeco Park and the vaunted Mariners defense. And for what it is worth, Washburn has a lifetime 5.33 ERA in eight starts in Comerica Park.
James Loney – In his last 14 games, Loney is batting .397 with 14 RBIs. But even in this hot streak, Loney has zero HR. Loney’s HR/FB rate checks in at a dismal 5.4 percent and in order to be a valuable corner infielder in fantasy, Loney will need a much higher AVG than his .293 mark this season with such puny HR production.