Hopefully sometime last week you were able to pull off a Jarrod Washburn for Justin Verlander trade. But even if you stood pat there are still plenty of trade targets and trade bait guys out there for you. So, here are five guys to pick up and five guys to move.
Justin Upton – A terrible start to the season, where he opened 0-15, has kept Upton’s overall numbers low. But last week he had five hits, including two home runs. Upton likely won’t contribute much in SB but otherwise he should be a four-category star. Last year he was sidetracked by numerous injuries but when healthy in September he had a .919 OPS in 85 PA, having just turned 21 the previous month.
Francisco Liriano – The electric pitcher from 2006 may never come back. However, Liriano has pitched much better than his 7.06 ERA indicates. He has a 4.96 FIP and a lot of the discrepancy can be explained by his dismal 50.4 percent strand rate. His peripherals are slightly worse than both last year and the pre-season projections. You should not trade for him thinking he is a No. 1-type SP. But if his current owner is disgusted with his early-season poundings, he could be a nice No. 2/3-type SP the rest of the season.
A.J. Burnett – The second time through the order against the Red Sox this past Saturday, Burnett got lit up. But the highly-publicized meltdown is obscuring his three other outings this year, in which he had a 3.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 20.2 IP. Burnett gave up eight ER twice last year and his main value is not ERA anyway. He is a wins and strikeouts guy and should provide plenty of both for the remainder of the season.
Howie Kendrick – Okay, he is not going to walk and he is not going to appear on the HR leaderboards. But let’s focus on what he can do. Kendrick’s main asset is an AB-heavy high average. His overall AVG sits at just .258 but, much like Upton, he started off the year in a funk, going 10-51. In 1,011 career at-bats, Kendrick has a .303 average in the majors. His ISO sits at .167 which would be a career best. As always with Kendrick it comes down to health. But I like the breakout potential if he can somehow manage 150 games played.
Jon Lester – The 4.88 ERA is not pretty but the FIP is almost exactly what it was a year ago for Lester at 3.66 so far. He is striking out more batters and walking fewer but his HR rate has nearly doubled. Last year’s HR/9 of 0.60 was unsustainable so we should assume that this year’s 1.13 mark is here to stay. But the .384 BABIP should come down significantly, which should help his other numbers.
Aramis Ramirez – The five projection systems all agreed on Aramis Ramirez, seeing him before the season basically as a .287 hitter with 28 HR. Right now Ramirez has a robust .358 AVG thanks to a .372 BABIP. All of the projection systems showed Ramirez with a BABIP between .289 and .299 for the year. He is not off to a great HR start. Ramirez could still easily meet his HR projection, but it would be nice for his chances to once again top 30 HR if his hot start included more than three homers.
Kosuke Fukudome – Congratulations if you had Fukudome in your lineup so far! Now do yourself a favor and sell. He simply is not going to have a .273 ISO or a .348 AVG or 15+ RBI months going forward. Last April he had a .327/.436/.480 line in April and those numbers declined each month.
Chris Volstad – In the last three seasons, the highest K/9 in Volstad’s career was the 6.64 he posted in 126 innings in the Hi-A Florida State League. He currently has an 8.49 K/9 without a significant increase in velocity or the addition of a new pitch. Additionally his ERA is a nifty 2.70 but his FIP stands at 4.66 so far. If the strikeouts disappear at the same time the hits start falling in, this could get ugly quick.
Brandon Phillips – Many touted Phillips as a top-3 second baseman heading into the season. So you would think a .172 average at the end of April would qualify him for the “Acquire” part of this list. But Phillips was overrated coming into the year based on his 2007 season. Plus this is getting into Robinson Cano territory from last year where the first month was so bad that the rest of the season could not compensate. Obviously, the .189 BABIP and the .078 ISO will go up significantly in the weeks and months ahead. But now is the time to cut your losses if anyone offers good talent in return.
Matt Cain – The past two seasons have been pretty similar for Cain. In 2007 he had a 3.65 ERA and a 3.78 FIP and last year he had a 3.76 ERA and a 3.91 FIP. This year his FIP checks in at 3.97 yet his ERA stands at 2.08. He is succeeding thanks to an 89.7 percent strand rate, which is likely to come down quite a bit. Also, his velocity is down nearly a full point, from 92.4 to 91.5 and his K/9 has dropped from 7.69 to 6.23.
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