News, Analysis & UpdatesApril 20, 2004

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Buying Low

By Arlo Vander

It’s like your mother always said: patience is a virtue. Come to think of it, Dan Spazierer has been known to say the same thing, but he probably doesn’t carry as much authority as Mom.

In any case, Mom was right. Patience is indeed a good thing, particularly in the first few weeks of a new baseball season. Admittedly, seeing your first-round pick hitting less than .150 can cause any fantasy owner to contemplate pulling a Trump and firing the underachiever, but relax: your struggling stars have plenty of time to get back on track.

Other owners may not be quite as patient, however, opening up opportunities to trade for solid players at bargain-basement prices. If you notice an owner’s blood pressure rising when you mention any of the following names, the time might be right to submit an offer.

Eric Chavez – 3B, Oak: 1 HR, 5 RBI, .235 average … Just how high was this guy on that preseason hot corner cheat sheet? Not to worry – Chavez has always been streaky, and when he’s on top of his game, he’s an asset to any fantasy team. Having red-hot Jermaine Dye hitting behind him certainly won’t hurt.

Brian Giles – OF, SD: How does someone as consistent as Giles begin the season hitting .122? In fact, how does anyone begin the season hitting .122? Nobody hits for an average that low, for crying out loud. If it weren’t for consensus number one pick Alex Rodriguez, Giles would be a candidate for biggest disappointment so far. Yet Giles is too good – and too intelligent – a hitter to remain stuck in this slump for too much longer. He’ll once again be the player the Padres expect him to be before too long.

Alex Rodriguez – SS, NYA: Speaking of A-Rod, you don’t really think he’ll continue to hit .160, do you? If there was ever a time to trade for Rodriguez, this is it.

Carlos Delgado – 1B, Tor: Then again, Giles’ .122 is still ahead of Delgado’s dismal .119 average. Toronto’s cleanup hitter has been introduced to the bench by many fantasy owners, and might be available for far less than he’s worth.

Octavio Dotel – RP, Hou: Many were expecting Dotel to step right into departed Billy Wagner’s shoes and assume his place among the game’s top closers, but so far, Dotel has rewarded his owners with just one save. His 5.06 ERA also isn’t pretty, but probably doesn’t accurately reflect his performance so far. The save opportunities will come, and Dotel should be fine.

Juan Pierre – OF, Fla: Admit it: you thought that the team which drafted Pierre had the steals category all but clinched, didn’t you? Yet Pierre has only two swipes so far, and even worse, he’s been dropped to second in the Marlins’ batting order, behind Luis Castillo. Keep an eye on this situation, but in all likelihood, Pierre will be tearing up the basepaths again very soon.

Mike Mussina – SP, NYA: Alex Rodriguez isn’t the only Bronx Bomber to have underachieved so far. In fact, the entire Yankees team seems to be playing below its ability, and Mussina is a prime example. Moose should return strong, but his owner may already be fed up with seeing that 7.52 ERA on his roster.

Joe Mauer – C, Min: Everybody’s favorite catcher prospect hasn’t played badly, he just hasn’t been available to play at all, spending all but two games on the disabled list. Now that the hype has died down a bit and his owner has made alternate plans, Mauer may be available for a lot less that his preseason price.

Jason Isringhausen – RP, StL: See Dotel, Octavio above. The saves will come.

Jose Vidro – 2B, Mon: Prior to the season, Vidro looked like a pretty good option at a shallow position, but so far, his performance has been mediocre. He might not be an easy trade target, since he may still be the best 2B option on his team, but if his owner has jumped on the Tony Womack bandwagon, Vidro may be considered expendable.

Aubrey Huff – 1B/OF, TB: Huff’s poor start out of the gate isn’t the only reason that now may be a good time to inquire about his services. The young Ray may also be seeing substantial time at 3B in the near future, which would considerable boost his value.

Up next: Selling High

Arlo Vander would love to deal for any of the above players. He might even be willing to include Cafe favorite Matt Riley in any offer.

Which underachievers are you trying to trade for? And which struggling stars are you already giving up on? Share your tips with the Cafe!

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