“65 Mustangs” Selling High on Starting Pitching: Yeah, Breaking Up is Hard to Do!
Some people are hard to say goodbye to. Like the otherwise perfect girlfriend who wants you to go with her to the Himalayas to join a commune and finally capture the Yeti. Then there is the great bunch of co-workers trying to get you to stay at the old stale job when a can’t refuse offer comes in. Finally there is your best friend from College who is still getting high every day and wants you to take a few weeks off to come with him to Spring Break. Oh, and how hard is it to say goodbye to that starting pitcher you drafted in the 4th round who is the main reason you lead your league in Wins, Strikeouts, ERA & WHIP on the 4th of July. That pitcher might be the hardest of those four to let go of unless you are afraid to take that job offer, still high yourself, or well she really is THAT perfect.
Last week we discussed Starting Pitchers to Buy Low here. This week we will be looking to Sell High.
When I think of some of the league championships I’ve won over the years and the trades that helped me get there, they were usually bold trades of quality for quality that helped me most. One perfectly executed high-end trade usually has more of an impact than making several lower tier trades even if they all turn a profit. So I’m suggesting offering the player on your roster who has the most value right now to get the missing piece of your choice back in trade. This presumes of course that you are dealing from an area of strength and not further crippling a weakness. We’ve all had that season where the 6 starting pitchers we drafted all perform better than expected. On July 4th we decide to capitalize on that lead we built up in pitching (Roto) or fill a glaring hole in our playoff bound team (H to H) and we offer some pitching in trade. We’re tempted to try trading the #5 or #6 guy from that list either because we think he will regress or we just can’t imagine letting go of that #1 because, well, she really is that hot. But which trade will get you more in return and truly impact your team where you need it most? Sorry Sally, thanks for the memories. I’d call this type of Sell High the “Go Big or Go Home” strategy.
Often when people think of selling high in trades they want to capitalize on players with inflated values from better than usual first halves of the season. That is great if you can land on a player like Matt Harvey in 2012 or Jose Fernandez last season that people are excited to trade for. But it may be tough to entice someone in a competitive league to give up a top player for a player, especially a pitcher who is clearly over-performing. It may work out if you don’t set your sights too high, especially if your main goal is to move that player no matter what because you don’t think his value will ever be higher. This is like deciding to take that new job no matter what because you’re not confident you’ll keep the current one or you think the offers will never be higher. I’d call this type of Sell High the “Wall Street Sell Order” strategy.
The third type of Sell High is the hardest to pull off in a competitive league. You are trying to capitalize on that “out of nowhere” performance you got from a late draft pick or timely waiver wire pick up. In this type of trade one is hoping the buzz surrounding that upstart player will cause a league mate to trade for him before his value goes down. If someone is high every day no matter how much fun they are they will come back down at some point. We don’t want to be around then, do we? I’d call this type of Sell High the “Turning Water into Wine” strategy.
One caveat is that I always assume trades will be fair and balanced. I would never advocate trying to get over on a league mate based on any of these scenarios. Trading should use a strength to fill a need and if done successfully will improve your team going forward.
The season is nearly half over and in a Roto league the foundation has been laid for your pitching ratios by now. You may be able to move them up or down a few places but it is doubtful it will change much more than that before the end of the year. You are in the lead or at least in good position on the counting stats. So why not take your best & biggest name pitcher and offer him around instead of that surprising 5th or 6th guy? He’ll likely net you a much better player than the over performer will in a trade. Plus, if you have a decent pitching staff behind him you likely can withstand the loss of your Ace far better than you might think. In Roto, the goal is not to have the best roster at the end of the season, but to have the right players at the right time to maximize your stats even if you cross the finish line without many of the players who got you there. This type of trade may not be good for you in a H to H league where you need your studs in the playoffs, or in a keeper league unless you are dealing from strength to fill a big hole.
So, who will bring us the most in trade?
1. MASAHIRO TANAKA (11-1, 1.99 ERA, .953 WHIP, 113 K’s) – Crazy as hell right? “She is so hot how could you let her go?” Look, he may very well be the best pitcher in baseball right now, but unless it is a keeper league or H to H you need him less now than you might think. Even in a H to H there is no guarantee that Tanaka’s innings won’t be cut in his first season stateside. Can you think of another pitcher that might net you Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout right now? Besides he already lost one more game than he did in Japan last season, isn’t that regression?
2. YU DARVISH (7-3, 2.39 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 109 K’s) – Anyone who is hurting in K’s will remember his 277 from 2014.
3. CLAYTON KERSHAW (7-2, 2.52 ERA, .917 WHIP, 86 K’s) – Biggest non-Japanese pitching name in Fantasy Baseball. I know, I know you always draft him in the first round and have a huge crush on him, but maybe that is why you need offensive help now. Think Miggy/Trout/Edwin.
4. ADAM WAINWRIGHT (10-3, 2.08 ERA, .914 WHIP, 98 K’S) – Every League has one or two Waino lovers. Who are the ones in your league and what will they trade for him?
5. JULIO TEHERAN (6-5, 2.41 ERA, .955 WHIP, 94 K’s) – This is the ace pitcher least likely to help you in September. He made it to 185 IP last season but i have to think the Braves are the most gun-shy team right now.
6. CHRIS SALE (6-1, 2.20 ERA, .750 WHIP, 75 K’s, Missed one month) – Sick numbers that cannot be maintained and another September shut-down candidate.
7. CRAIG KIMBREL, AROLDIS CHAPMAN, GREG HOLLAND – Look, if you are set in saves, why offer Chad Qualls and get laughed at. Throw one of these names in there if you want to bring home the piece that will put you over the top.
Does anyone ever remember seeing this many WHIP’s lower than 1.00 this late in the season? In fact that is making it harder to trade starting pitching this season. That is why we have to “Go Big or Go Home”.
Hey, they can’t stay high all the time can they?
8. JOSH BECKETT (5-4, 2.28 ERA, 1.015 WHIP, 84 K’s, No Hitter May 25) – May 26th would have been a good time to trade him. However the 2.00 ERA in his next 5 starts has made him gain some real value. So, why trade him? I don’t think his value will ever be higher this season and he seldom sees the 7th inning.
9. MARK BUEHRLE (10-4, 2.32 ERA, 1.232 WHIP, Few K’s) – Could not have happened to a nicer guy. Few remember he won 19 games in 2002 and averaged over 16 per season from 2001 – 2005. This is his 14th consecutive season with more than 10 wins and if he gets 200 IP it will be 14 in a row for that as well. None of that will win you a Fantasy Baseball championship unless you are in a H to H final and want the stability. He logs few K’s and has lifetime ratios of nearly 4.00 and 1.30. Maybe you can get a closer for him?
10. ALFREDO SIMON (10-3, 3.05 ERA, 1.105 WHIP) – That record will probably get him an All Star nod. I’d have my broker put in a Sell Order for the moment he is named to the squad. His value will never be higher. You just may have trouble getting anyone to give up much for him. in trade.
11. SCOTT KAZMIR (9-2, 2.08 ERA, .947 WHIP, 80 K’s) – Everything I said about Simon above is true for Kazmir. He might bring a better return, especially from those who have been waiting for him all these years.
12. KYLE LOHSE (8-2, 3.09 ERA, 1.020 WHIP) Had I been writing articles like this since 2007, Lohse would have been on this list every single season. He has notoriously come out of the gate putting up ridiculous ratios in April only to have an unusable 2nd half with ERA’s at least a point higher after Independence day. However, that changed in 2012 & 2013 when there was no similar regression. I love to use him to help set my ratio base early and then trade him since his counting stats don’t usually offer much. Some team is in last place in your league in ERA and WHIP and wants Lohse. He just doesn’t know it yet.
13. FRANCISCO RODRIGUEZ (24 SAVES) – Ok, his value was surely higher back when he saved over 60 games for the Angels, but when has it been higher in the last few years. If I was hurting for saves he would be at the top of my wish list. If you own him, trade him to me.
This is probably the least effective strategy for Selling High in a competitive league. With some of these players you may be better off patting yourself on the back for grabbing them in the first place and assume the grass is not that much greener at a new job anyway. Unless of course someone does offer you more than you can turn down. In no particular order, these guys are likely worth a lot more than you paid for them and may get you something in return before they regress. While it is likely, there is no guarantee that they will regress, so don’t just give them away when they are still quite usable.
14. DALLAS KEUCHEL (8-4, 2.63 ERA, 1.056 WHIP, 79 K’s)
15. HENDERSON ALVAREZ ( 4-3, 2.39 ERA, 1.272 WHIP, 3 SHUTOUTS)
16. JESSE CHAVEZ (6-4, 2.71 ERA, 1.183 WHIP, 82 K’s)
17. JAKE ARRIETA (3-1, 1.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 55 K’s IN 50 IP, 11 K’s IN LAST START)
18. JOHN LACKEY ( 8-4, 2.96 ERA, 1.152 WHIP, 90 K’s)
19 ZACK BRITTON ( 9 SAVES)
20. SEAN DOOLITTLE. (10 SAVES)
So, good luck beefing up for the stretch run or the playoffs, and hopefully you can find some willing trade partners. Before you nickel and dime with the over-performing pitchers why not try to “GO BIG OR GO HOME” and see how big of a fish you can land? And don’t forget, if you really miss her that much she’ll probably be back next year once she realizes there is no Yeti and it is time again for Spring Break, I mean Spring Training. I’ll see you next week when we try to pick the National League All Star Pitching Staff.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio starts on Sunday July 13th and will run every Sunday for the rest of the season at 11:30am – 12:30pm EST until the season is finished on Sports Palooza Radio Network.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio will continue every Monday from 1-2pm EST. We will wrap up the N.L. side of the amateur draft with Bryan Luhrs as well as discuss some players to sell with Bryan Robinson. Use this link for the June 23rd show.
We will be starting the baseball show a half hour early on Monday the 30th of June at 12:30pm – 1:30pm so we can accommodate a featured guest. You will want to tune in for Phil Weiss. He is a financial expert, has been on numerous TV shows, is a Major League Fantasy Baseball owner, youth baseball coach, and is a sabermetric expert.