Welcome to the first installment of this year’s Trade Possibilities column. Since we are running daily Waiver Wire columns this year, this article will focus more on players likely to be on rosters in most formats. Another change for this year is the inclusion of a player to buy or sell based mostly on a hunch, rather than any firm statistical basis. This new feature is meant to be fun, so take it for what it is worth.
Remember, any player can be involved in a good or bad trade, depending upon what else is in the deal. If Ryan Howard shows up in the “Sell” category, it does not mean to trade him for a bag of magic beans. Conversely, if John Maine shows up in the “Buy” category, it does not mean to trade Tim Lincecum for him. These labels are used to describe players whose future value I believe is out of whack with their present value.
Difference of opinion on players is good. That makes it more likely for trades to happen in the real world. If every single thing points to a player being a Buy or a Sell, you are unlikely to find an owner willing to be your trading partner with that player. Not many owners are going to sell you Josh Johnson now for pennies on the dollar. If I describe a player as a Buy because of factors A, B and C and someone in the comments points out he should be a Sell because of X, Y and Z – this means a deal with that player has a better chance of happening in your league.
Lastly, the markers for a player can be mostly or all negative and that player can still have trade value. If a player entered the draft with an ADP of 50 and is stinking up the joint in every conceivable fashion, he can still be a Trade Possibility. Now you will not get ADP value near 50 in return. Instead, the question becomes: At what point is another owner willing to role the dice with him? If you are the owner of the bum, should you cut your losses and take an ADP value of , say, 200 in return? Some owners refuse to make a deal of this nature, as if refusing to admit they made a mistake in drafting the player. Others take advantage of any opportunity to upgrade their roster, no matter how humiliating in the short term it may be.
Chris Davis – Everyone’s favorite 2009 sleeper who did not pan out, Davis again found himself on those same lists for 2010, even if people did not trip all over themselves to draft him this year. In the early going, Davis is hitting for a worse AVG than 2009 and has yet to hit a HR in 24 ABs. Now he is starting to be platooned versus LHP. But Davis is showing much better patience at the plate. After posting BB/K marks of 0.23 in 2008 and 0.16 last year, Davis has a 0.50 mark in 2010. He has nearly doubled his walk rate while cutting his whiffs from 38.4 percent to 25. His B/K numbers are now in line with what he did in the high minors the past three seasons. Eventually, the BABIP will rise from his current .222 mark. And if Davis maintains this K rate, he should bounce back nicely.
Carlos Lee – Since 2006, Lee’s annual HR output has been 37, 32, 28 and 26. This year he has yet to hit a single homer. In that same time frame, Lee’s BB% has gone from 8.3, 7.6, 7.7 and 6.2 and now this year it sits at 3.6 percent. Dating back to 2004, his O-Swing% has been on (almost) a perfect rise up from 16.9 to this year’s 38.3. Right now Lee has the double whammy of a low BABIP (.167) and an abnormally high K% (33.3). The BABIP is certain to rise, as he has yet to hit a single line drive. And since 2002, Lee has consistently posted Contact% numbers ranging from 83.0-87.7 while this year’s mark sits at just 74.5 percent. Lee’s track record shows he is going to make better contact and eventually the hits will come.
Vicente Padilla – The Diamondbacks, Phillies and Rangers all grew tired of Padilla and his antics, despite his powerful arm. He has been brutal in two starts this year. While his FIP and xFIP are both considerably better than his ERA, neither shows a good pitcher, with his xFIP of 5.12 being the best mark of the bunch. But Padilla is still striking out batters at an excellent clip, with an 8.31 K/9, similar to the 8.69 mark he posted last year after being acquired by Los Angeles. In addition to bad luck with hits and HR, Padilla is also walking more batters than normal. His 4.15 BB/9 is his highest since 2005. When the luck stabilizes, Padilla’s stuff is still good enough, as evidenced by his K rate. How much he improves his BB/9 and FB% will determine how successful he is this season.
Fausto Carmona – An encouraging Spring has been followed up with a nice ERA. Unfortunately, nearly every other marker is negative for Carmona. He has an unsustainable BABIP (.127) and his BB/9 are a career-worst 6.43. And while he had a solid 2.25 K/BB in his breakout year of 2007, this year it sits at 0.50 thanks to a 3.21 K/9. It is not going to be easy to trade Carmona. But he remains a player that fantasy owners still believe in. Surprisingly, he is rostered in 73 percent of CBS Sports leagues. For reasons unknown to me, people view him as a worthwhile fantasy pitcher. Shop him and take any offer that has positive value.
Raul Ibanez – On June 2nd last year, Ibanez had a .340/.399/.716 slash line. For the remainder of the season he posted a .228/.313/.446 line in 342 PA. This year he has a .222/.333/.333 line in his first 33 PA. Ibanez still has value as a power hitter. RoS ZiPS shows him hitting 23 HR the rest of the way. But I am bearish on Ibanez because I think the AVG is going to be an anchor. This year his .273 BABIP has produced a .222 AVG. The BABIP is 33 points below his career average in the category. How much above .250 can he possibly hit this year? Ibanez turns 38 in June and even Citizens Bank Park will have a hard time making up for that.
Miguel Tejada – He looks like a nice acquisition target thanks to a .194 BABIP, which is 103 points below his career average and 124 points below last year’s mark. But Tejada’s value has been propped up the past two years by playing his home games in hitter-friendly Minute Maid Park. The past two seasons away from the Juice Box, Tejada posted a .278 AVG with 9 HR. And after a neutral year handling FB in 2009, Tejada has reverted to struggling against them in 2010. Pitchers have fed Tejada FB 73 percent of the time, the fifth most in baseball. He is above average against sliders, cutters and changeups. But Tejada is 3.8 runs below average against fastballs, the third-worst mark in the majors.
Daric Barton – He has a .375 BABIP, a mark he is unlikely to maintain going forward. Even with the hot hitting to start the year, Barton has a .077 ISO, a terrible mark for a first baseman. And top prospect Chris Carter, last year’s MVP of the Texas League, is waiting in Triple-A. But my hunch is that Barton keeps the 1B job all year, flirts with a .300 AVG and 20 HR and is a useful fantasy player.