The NBA and NHL Finals are just one game away from being decided, and it's usually around this time, just over a third into the season, when your team's surpluses and shortcomings start becoming real apparent. If you haven't corrected those categories that you're falling a little behind in, get on it. In a deal that continues to look better and better, I traded Bobby Abreu, Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gordon for Alexei Ramirez and Jack Cust to try and gain some power. Clearly this swap was the epitime of the "sell high, buy low" theory. Abreu wasn't that far off from batting twice what Ramirez was, and I thought he might be capable of stealing 30-30 bags. Now Abreu hasn't swiped a base since May 19th, and the deal is looking great.
But not all deals are going to be that good. A majority of us play in fantasy leagues of all sports over the internet, where we don't know most of the owners (or sometimes any of them). So upon the numerous reasons for why it might be hard to make a fair value trade, being able to contact someone and work out a deal even in competitive leagues can be tough.
You always want to be evaluating your team and try to project the categories you're coming up short in, if you can't already tell by the standings. Surpluses of a category, however, can be trickier. In that same league, I have a lead in SB by over 20 with burners like Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton on my team. I don't think my team has any apparent weakness, but several areas I could sure up if I traded a guy like Upton. But the lesson is to be careful; even if you're leading a category by a good amount, trade your surplus too early and you can wind up finding yourself needing more of what you had too much of at one time. Say, for instance, Crawford pulls his hamstring, or otherwise misses time, and I lose his steals. Almost half of my steals came from this guy! Suddenly I'd be missing far over a majority of my production in that category.
You can't be too careful, so really analyze how safe your lead is with any given statistic before you dish it away. Unless you're emphatically stacked, I think that waiting until halfway through the year is a safe gauge.
Speaking of being halfway through, about this time of the season we can start seeing patterns and splits that are meaningful. There'll be a column coming sooner than later on that, but a few in the meantime:
- With all the hoopla made about what a launching pad new Yankee Stadium is, would you believe 9-of-12 Nick Swisher home runs have come on the road ? Supposedly Swisher was gunning for the short porch in right field and was pulling balls a little too much, but has corrected that, as evidenced by his two HRs in the Tampa Bay series. Assuming he stays on pace for his current ABs, I think he's a good bet for about 30 HRs on the year.
- At what point is Jered Weaver going to come down from up there? With a 2.31 ERA coupled with a 1.04 WHIP, Weaver has been a top five starter in the AL so far. What's the difference? Well his home runs haven't gone down, and his near 3-to-1 K/BB is about the same as it was in 2008. Meanwhile his strand rate and BABIP are abnormally low for league averages still, which raises some serious red flags. If you can sell on him now, I think this is the time. I'd be highly surprised if he finishes in the top 10 among AL starters.
- A few years ago, I talked smack to a buddy to had Tim Wakefield and got a mindblowing 17 wins out of him while he sported a 4.76 ERA. That's either some good run support, luck, or a mix of both. Now I'm not going out and saying he wins 20 games this year, but he is on pace with a very solid 8-3 record. And here's another fun fact: despite that some of us who played ball in high school might of seen fastballs with more velocity, guess who's fastball has been the most effective among all Major League starters this year? That's right, Wakefield. His ability to keep hitters guessing coupled with his knuckleball is a big reason why he remains effective. Eat your heart out, Joel Zumaya.