Lord Zola's Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Debating who to sell, searching for steals

by Todd Zola, MastersBall.com on June 20, 2011 @ 10:55:46 PDT


The trade winds are blowing. Decisions must be made, should I stay or should I go. Do I go for it or do I rebuild for a title run next season? Today we will tackle a couple of trade questions. If you want your deal analyzed, help on a waiver pickup or some strategy advice, just e-mail it to lordzola@kffl.com, post it on the KFFL Baseball Facebook page or via Twitter by following @KFFL_Baseball.

I am in a keeper league that has been together for several years, and let's just say that after a winning year last year this year I am not getting things to come together. I've pretty much decided to get ready for next season as the half way point is a few weeks away and like to get something out of the quality players I have left after my ten keepers. My question is what are my odds of coming back for win this season? The league is a 5x5 roto with ten teams. I am second to the bottom with 40.5 points, I have 6 points in runs, 3 points in home runs, 4 points in RBI, 10 points in steals, 5 points in average, 1.5 points in wins, 2 points in saves, 6 points in strikeouts, 2 points in ERA and 1 point in WHIP. The leader has 84 points out of a possible 100. My players are

C Miguel Montero
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Dustin Pedroia
3B Michael Cuddyer
SS Starlin Castro
OF Carlos Gonzalez
OF Colby Rasmus
OF Mike Stanton
Util Michael Bourn
BN Stephen Drew
DL David Wright

SP CC Sabathia
SP Ubaldo Jimenez
P Michael Pineda
RP Jonathan Papelbon
RP Joakim Soria
P Mark Melancon
P Tyler Clippard
BN Wandy Rodriguez
BN Colby Lewis
BN Mike Leake
BN John Danks
DL David Aardsma

- James Newhart

Okay James, time to make an objective call on the potential of your squad. The first sign I look at with respect to hitting is home runs. Studies have indicated that the vast majority of champions fare quite well in the category. Admittedly, this is intuitive, but that does not minimize the relevance. To be completely honest, James' team is a bit lacking in power. Having Bourn is great for steals, but necessitates picking up extra pop at another spot, specifically 2B and SS as that is the other primary position where speed is an asset. Pedroia, in theory, would be a perfect choice but his power is down. Drew is another excellent choice for power at shortstop, but he too is not performing as expected. Castro is nice, but he does not provide the necessary counting stats in a league of this nature. The injury to Wright does not help either. Truth be told, James constructed this team very well as Pedroia and Wright would provide the aforementioned power while adding steals to supplement Bourn. It just did not work out as planned.

Los Angeles Dodgers OF Andre Ethier
Prime bargaining chip: Ethier

Looking at pitching, while I lead the crusade that it is never too late to gain points in the ratio categories, this is a pretty deep hole which will be difficult to dig out of and accrue ample points to compete. Chances are James' pitching will improve, but to win a keeper league, he will need to finish top-3 in ERA and WHIP and that is just not very likely. Sabathia and Jimenez are both performing below expectations, not to mention Soria is also scuffling.

James, my honest evaluation is to amass the best keepers you can for next season.

Presently, I count Adrian Gonzalez, Pedroia, Carlos Gonzalez, Wright and Pineda as no-brainer keepers. Ideally, I would look to do a bunch of two for ones to add more no-brainers and then pick from what is left to round out the ten. The two I would look to keep if at all possible would be Stanton and Rasmus. If my first eight keepers were solid, I would roll the dice on those promising youngsters.

The idea is to trade Drew and either Sabathia or Jimenez for a better shortstop, something like that. Or perhaps target another young pitcher like Latos. If you feel frisky, maybe make a play for Josh Johnson and hope he stays healthy next season. The closers are also excellent trade chips. Heck, if it meant upgrading shortstop or starting pitching, I would do a three for one, preferably a pair of three for ones. Look to package Drew, a starting pitcher and a closer for a star shortstop and Bourn, a starting pitcher and a closer for a better starting pitcher. That leaves nine keepers with worst case scenario being Montero as the 10th. My sniff test for a strong keeper list is if I am on pins and needles all winter waiting for the draft. With a keeper list of Adrian Gonzalez, Pedroia, Carlos Gonzalez, Wright, Pineda, Stanton, Rasmus and Montero with a newly acquired shortstop and starting pitcher, I would be pretty giddy.

Lord Zola, I have a trade on the table. I need help in wins, saves and strikeouts. I lead in ERA and WHIP. I am top 3 in all offensive categories. A dumping team offered me Jered Weaver, Neftali Feliz, Chris Young (ARZ) and a few throw ins (Brandon Lyon and Tyler Colvin) for Andre Ethier, Tim Hudson, Randy Wolf, Rafael Furcal and Aaron Crow along with my first rounder next year.

I'd be giving up too much right? My outfield is solid but Ethier is my best. What Hudson and Wolf are going to do for the rest of the year probably equal to what I'd get out of Weaver, no? Weaver is keepable, as is Ethier. I'll need Furcal at some point since I am starting Stephen Drew and Jamey Carroll. Steals are going decide this league; I fluctuate from 2nd to 8th. Please advise. PLEASE!!! - Rich Hundley III

Plead and ye shall receive. Here's the deal. When it comes to dump trades, there is no too much or too little, it is what your league's market will bear. That said, this looks more like a value for value deal than a straight dump deal where one team builds for the future while the other fortifies a title run. Complicating matters a little more is Rich divulges that Weaver himself is a keeper, which has to be factored into the equation. Usually, the idea is to maximize present value return, some of the equity in this deal is tied up in Weaver's keeper value.

To be upfront, there are a few questions I would like to ask to get extra information, so Rich, if you are reading this, please feel free to help me out in the comments below. Are Wolf and Hudson good keepers? What about Rafael Furcal? Do Weaver and Feliz replace Wolf and Hudson? Where does Crow fit in, was he starting for you?

Short of that, I disagree that you will get the same production Randy Wolf and Tim Hudson that Weaver will provide. Weaver plus anyone of substance will more than match Wolf and Hudson. I am assuming that Feliz replaces Crow and Rich can add another starter. This accomplishes the task of increasing strikeouts and saves, with wins up to fate.

If steals are that important, Young is not the impact player in the category as he was last season. His success rate is poor and he is not running as much. Ethier should fetch an impact player and Young does not appear to be the best option in this instance. In addition, I am bothered by the fact Rich is giving up both Furcal and a first rounder, especially if Wolf and Hudson are keepers. At minimum, I would ask to pull back one of the others, preferably Furcal as he will steal a little.

All in all, I have definitely seen worse deals, but I have also seen much better and this considers the fact it is impossible to grade dump type deals. On the surface, I would recommend reworking the deal but again, I need more details to get the best picture.

When Todd is not plotting how to put together a killer keeper list, you can find him hanging out on the forum at Mastersball.

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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com

Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.

Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.

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