It is at this time of year that some fantasy owners start to panic over their underperforming draft picks. This is when the veteran owner (you) swoops in. The Warren Buffett of fantasy, you hold your undervalued players and buy stars at a discount.
In a recent article dedicated to Buying Low, Arlo Vander picked a number of struggling studs who will likely put it all together in the near future. Most owners, however, give their first- and second-rounders plenty of slack and would rather lose with a slumping A-Rod than have him bust out for a competitor. Buying Low Part II focuses on the mid- to late-round selections that can be found on the trading block or on the wire more frequently.
(all stats are BA-HR-RBI-SB through games of of Sunday, April 25)
AJ Pierzynski – SF (.232-0-6-0)
Everything seemed to be in place for Pierzynski to have a breakout year. Entering his prime (27-years-old), the .300 hitter was set to bat after Barry Bonds in the Giants lineup and was predicted to top last year’s RBI high of 74. With the exception of an early season muscle strain in his neck, there is no reason for AJ to fall short of expectations. Backup Yorvit Torrealba has been downright awful, and Pierzynski has recently shown signs of breaking out of his early funk. Pick him up cheap while you can.
First Base/Third Base
Mark Teixeira – Tex (.280-2-7-0)
First basemen are tearing it up. Bagwell, Pujols, Sexson, Thome, and even Sean Casey, who is batting over .400, are leading all offensive categories. A restless Teixeira owner may see lesser lights such as Hee Seop Choi and Casey atop the stat sheet and could be coaxed into pulling the trigger on a deal for the injured young stud. Make sure that you are on the other end of that transaction. Tex is on the 15-day DL, and reports out of Texas predict that he will be back in time for the Red Sox series this week. His value may be even lower after facing Pedro and Curt while nursing his strained oblique.
Mark Loretta – SD (.364-3-12-0)
Always useful for help in batting average, nothing indicated that the 32-year-old Loretta would set offensive highs in all categories (by a wide margin) in 2003. Loretta is for real. He is building on last season’s statistics and will be a top ten second baseman by the end of the year. You might be able to get Jeff Kent value at a Warren Morris price if you don’t wait too long.
Jack Wilson -Pit (.368-2-8-3)
A career .318 hitter in the minors, Wilson has developed slowly. Average was the only thing missing from a breakout year last season, when he posted a .256-9-62-5 stat line. Now entering his prime at age 26, Wilson is an important sparkplug for a young and exciting Bucs team, and just like Loretta, you can get Kazuo Matsui value at a Pokey Reese price � but not for long.
Orlando Cabrera – Mon (.286-2-5-2)
It’s a shame that Cabrera is stuck in the middle of a mess in Montreal. A number of factors have worked against him in the early season. The fences were moved back at Hiram Bithorn, the Expos have not been able to settle on a suitable outfield, and Nick Johnson and Carl Everett have been beset by injuries. Cabrera is doing the best that he can, but once all of the parts are in place you can expect this classy, professional hitter to drive the Expos offense.
Tike Redman – Pit (.250-0-5-0)
Redman stole 42 bases in his first four months for AAA Nashville in 2003. A pre-season hamstring injury has slowed him down this year, but he has recovered and is batting leadoff for the Pirates. Built like Juan Pierre, he will have the green light in Pittsburgh. The Bucs are not going to be hitting many homers and will rely upon speed from Redman, Jason Bay (when healthy), Raul Mondesi and even Rob Mackowiak. Redman is a good source of cheap SB for your roto team.
Vernon Wells – Tor (.221-1-6-1)
Wells is hitting in the middle of an anemic Jays offense. He has also lost some weight, and owners interpreting this, together with his slump, as signs of going off steroids may be eager to unload this young star cheaply. Take a closer look at Toronto’s lineup card: Reed Johnson .206, Orlando Hudson .190, Wells .221, Carlos Delgado .246, and Josh Phelps .282. So far, Wells has had nobody to drive in and is not seeing the hittable fastballs that having Delgado behind him in the batting order dictates. This cannot continue. The Blue Jays will turn it around in the near future, and the prime beneficiaries will be Wells and his fantasy owners.
Patrick Martin is a Toronto lawyer and a Cafe regular better known in the Forums as Mookie4ever.
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