Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.
Aaron Harang – Since winning 16 games in 2007, Harang has gone 6-17, 6-14 and is now off to a 1-3 start in 2010. His K/9 has fallen a full point over last season and his WHIP is an ugly 1.59, which is tied for 16th-worse in baseball. But Harang is suffering from the one-two punch of a .352 BABIP and a 59.6 LOB%. And to make matters worse, he has a 20 percent HR/FB rate. On the plus side, Harang is getting more ground balls than he has since 2004 and his K/BB ratio remains a very nice 3.00 despite the drop in strikeouts. Harang’s velocity is a tick better than last year but he is having some problems with his curve. An improvement with his breaking ball, combined with regression in his BABIP and LOB%, could make Harang a valuable pitcher the rest of the way.
Matt Lindstrom – Not many people viewed Lindstrom as a good bet at closer, coming off a 2009 season where he lost that job twice while a member of the Marlins. To make matters worse, the Astros had a viable alternative available in Brandon Lyon. But all Lindstrom has done this year is to be lights out in his nine games. His fastball velocity is down and he is throwing his slider more often. And with that he has 10 Ks and 1 BB in 9 IP. Lindstrom is getting a career-best 33.3 O-Swing% and has a personal best 48.1 GB%. Ideally, owners would have traded for Lindstrom while the Astros were losing every game at the beginning of the season. But it is still worth checking to see what the asking price is on a pitcher who looks primed to have a dominating season.
Brian McCann – His AVG is down 31 points and his SLG is 57 points beneath his final 2009 numbers. Pitchers are treating McCann with extra care, as Martin Prado is the only Braves player currently riding a hot streak in the season’s first month. McCann carries a career-best 21.6 BB%, which is tied with Josh Willingham for the sixth-best mark in the majors. But McCann has been unlucky with a .240 BABIP. And historically, April has not been the best month for him. McCann has a .271 lifetime AVG in April and an .829 OPS. In May those numbers are .350 and .976, respectively.
Robinson Cano – An unbelievably hot start for Cano has caused the hype machine to go into overdrive, as evidenced by this story, where Reggie Jackson said the Yankees second baseman would be recognized as the best in the American League and ready to take on Chase Utley by the end of the season. While Cano has usually had an above-average BABIP, his current mark of .390 cannot last. Additionally, his .292 ISO is nearly 100 points above his personal best. Cano is likely to be one of the top players at his position at the end of the year, but now is a great time to see if you can cash in on his value. His ADPs put him at the end of the fourth round coming into the season and he currently has delivered first-round production.
Adam Jones – A breakout season last year made Jones a favorite of many fantasy players. This year he is off to a slow start, thanks to a .242 BABIP. But his ISO of .178 is nearly identical to last year’s .180 mark. Updated ZiPS shows him beating last year’s marks in HR, R and RBIs while tying his production in SB. But I am pessimistic about Jones reaching that forecast. His BB rate has collapsed from bad to atrocious, his HR/FB rate has regressed significantly from last year’s 17.8 mark and his 38.9 O-Swing% is tied for the 10th-worst mark in baseball.
Mike Pelfrey – One of the feel-good stories for the first-place Mets has been the production of Pelfrey, who is 4-0 with a 0.69 ERA. In the process, he’s gone from being owned in 25 percent of CBS Sports leagues on Opening Day to 86 percent currently. But by xFIP, Pelfrey is essentially pitching the same as he did last year, when he had a 5.03 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP. Yes, he is throwing strikes and adding more pitches to his arsenal. But he also has a .249 BABIP, a 93.6 strand rate and has yet to give up a home run. Trade him before regression hits.
John Maine – As good as Pelfrey has been for the Mets this season, Maine has been every bit as bad. Both his FIP and xFIP are over 6.00, his BB/9 are up to an unacceptable 5.40 and his velocity is down two miles per hour on his average fastball. But I like Maine’s chances to turn things around. He has been able to throw his slider nearly 20 percent of the time. If he can regain the velocity on his fastball he can return to being the pitcher he was during his 15-win 2007 season. Maine had to leave his last start early, due to muscle spasms in his non-throwing arm. He has been cleared to pitch, and is scheduled to take the mound this afternoon, in just under an hour from when I write this. Make me look good, Maine!