Rabbit Season? Duck Season? Trading Season!

It’s almost upon us. Trading season. For me, trading season starts the minute the draft ends (unless I have the perfect draft, which, let’s be honest, doesn’t happen). Despite my gusto toward making deals, many owners are not as prone to moving guys as I am. Regardless, once that clock strikes May 1st (assuming you own some sort of month clock, but I digress), the other fantasy players in your league probably feel a lot more comfortable hawking the trading block. That’s where you can take advantage. These same dumb owners who hate to trade players “too early” also can be taken advantage of once they finally opt to join the party. As always, there are specific under-performing guys to target and some who are playing out of their skull to deal. The following are three players worth trading for (four of them, actually) and three you should probably deal while their hot (*Note* I refuse to include Mark Texiera in this list, everyone knows he sucks in April).

Bros to Buy

Carlos Lee (OF) – Houston Astros
“El Caballo” (or “The Horse”, for those who lack high school-level romance language training) has been more Barbaro than Secretariat to start the season, hitting .162 with no homers and 5 RBI. That shouldn’t scare you away, though. For his career, his BABIP has been around the league average, at .289. This year, that number is an incredibly unlucky .196. It should improve, which will raise his average and his RBI total. The homers present a different story, we need to look at his batted ball percentage. For his career, about 20% of the balls Lee’s hit have been line drives (those are good), this year, it’s 5%. Where have those line drives gone? Into weak fly balls, visible through his fly ball percentage, which has gone from 44% for his career to 58% this year. This tells me he’s pressing to hit that first home run. Once he hits those former line drives better, which he will, those numbers will trend back toward the average and we’ll see his numbers return to normal.

Jon Lester & Josh Beckett (SP) – Boston Red Sox
The Ambiguously Crappy Duo that top the Sawx rotation obviously won’t be this bad all year. They’ve got ERA’s of 7.22 (for Beckett) and 6.23 (Lester) and WHIP’s of 1.74 and 1.75 respectively. That’s horrific for guys who you probably had at or near the top of your rotation. Looking at BABIPs though, which displays luck more than anything else, we can see that these two guys have been incredibly unlucky. Beckett’s is 52 points above the league average, at .352, while Lester’s is even worse at .365. Those are going to come down, without a doubt. Beckett’s been inducing a lot fewer ground balls than he has in the past and not striking out nearly as many guys. His career K’s/9 is 8.50 and that number this year is 6.28. At age 30, Beckett isn’t nearly at the point where strikeouts should be dropping so dramatically. His walks are up too, with a BB’s/9 of 4.08 compared to a career mark of 2.76. These are all anomalies that won’t hold up.

Lester meanwhile, is even younger so his numbers are even more of an aberration. His K’s/9 are down from 9.96 last year to 8.72 this year. That number was expected to go up. His BB’s/9 are unexpectedly up, to 5.40 compared to 2.83 last year. Those extra base runners and added contact made combine to really hurt his numbers early on. Safe to say, that isn’t going to continue. If some idiot in your league wants to trade those bros already, jump at the opportunity to own them.

The Sox team Bus.

Jimmy Rollins (SS) – Philadelphia Phillies
Yes, he’s hurt, so you’ll need the DL spot and someone to start at short. Still, there’s always that owner that deals injured players for a Natty Light and some brownies (and maybe someone to play short, like sucky Marco Scutaro), so take advantage! All we’re missing with this injury is the impending awful first half that J-Roll had last year and has had for his career. His average is .266 before the All-Star break for his career and .285 after it, so what you’re doing is avoiding part of that .266. Rollins hopes to be back by the second week of May, so if you can hold tight until then (and maybe pick up Miguel Tejada, a Backwards K All-Star, as a stop-gap), go for it. If you do, your team will be the one that owners look at in July and ask “how’d he get all those guys?” Your answer will be Venuing Voices.

Hoes to Sell

Paul Konerko (1B) – Chicago White Sox
“Should we really trade the league leader in home runs, Backwards K?” Well, fictional guy who asks me the perfect questions at the right times, yes you should. His metrics are off the charts, and won’t continue. His Isolated Power (ISO, extra bases per at bat) is .435, compared to his career average of .216. Clearly, that won’t keep up. On top of that, his HR/FB (homers to fly ball ratio) went up from 13.2% last year (and 25.9% for his career) to 32% this year. He is far too old for that to be a logical progression. He’s also got an OPS (OBP+Slugging %) of Pujols-esque proportions, at 1.126, compared to his lifetime mark of .846. Every stat that doesn’t end in “ome runs” says this won’t continue. I agree. Hopefully some owner in your league hates every stat ever and wants Paulie from Providence to anchor his team.

Andy Pettite (SP) – New York Yankees
As much as this pains me to say as a Yanks fan, Pettite probably won’t stay undefeated with a 1.29 ERA all year. He’s been incredible so far and the metrics back it up, but when combined with his age it does not compute. 87.1% of runners who have gotten on base against Andy have been stranded, an incredibly high number compared to his career average of 71.4%. That means runners that have crossed the plate in the past haven’t been this season. His career BABIP is .315 and this year hitters against him have a way lower number than that, at .269. Translation: he’s been lucky. Infield Fly Balls have also been more common to hitters facing the man my grandfather used to call “Petite,” coming 17.4% of the time players face him, compared to a 9.1% lifetime number. Hopefully some Yankee fan who is far more dedicated to the team than his fantasy squad will pay top dollar for him.

Magglio Ordonez (OF) – Detroit Tigers
I’m pretty sure that the last time he was this good, Mags was facing Dizzy Dean. His OPS so far this year is over 100 points more than last year (.804 to .911), and higher than his career average despite his being far past his prime. On top of that his ISO is .213 this year, the last time it was that high was 2007, when it was .232 (and last year it was .118). His numbers that year? .363 with 28 homers and 139 RBI. That’s a career year and his ISO hasn’t approached that since. His ground balls are down and his fly balls are up this year (ground balls 7% below his career average and fly balls 7% above his career average), possibly leading to some balls falling in and his stats being higher than they’ve been in years. Hopefully the memory of the ’07 season hangs over some owner, and you can move him for full price.

Make these deals. Hell, maybe even trade Konerko for Lee or Pettite for Lester. You’ll be pleased. Hopefully an owner in your league will overreact to a hot start or an early slump. There’s almost always one, so take advantage.

Keep the bat on your shoulders,
-Backwards K

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