News, Analysis & UpdatesMay 13, 2004

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Selling High Part II

By Patrick Martin

Coming up with a Buy Low list is easy. It’s like picking sleepers: if they don’t pan out, nobody remembers. At worst, a player takes up a spot on your bench for a few weeks before you realize that the Jays really are going to use a bullpen by committee!

A Sell High list is a riskier proposition. Nobody wants to trade Barry Bonds only to see him bat .500 with 5 HR against you in the playoffs or, worse yet, give away this year’s Esteban Loaiza.

The tough part about actually selling high is that you need a trading partner, somebody willing to ‘buy high.’ Owners who offer up Matt Holliday or the current flavour of the month receive the type of scorn that I normally reserve for motorists with stuffed animals or bobble-head dolls in their rear window. Selling high means that you give up something that actually looks appealing to another owner.

With this in mind I humbly offer my selections for worthwhile trade bait:

(all stats are BA-HR-RBI-SB through games of Wednesday, May 12)

Charles Johnson � Col (.272-7-15-2)
For me this is a no-brainer. Selling CJ now is like trading MC Hammer from your fantasy rap team when “U Can’t Touch This” was at the top of the charts. It can only get worse for Johnson. He has batted .225 over the past two years and last year hit for a woeful .153 average away from Coors. He is not the next Javy Lopez; the power may stay but the average is sure to fall.

First Base

Hee Seop Choi � Fla ( .239-9-20-1)
I am a huge fan of Hee Seop Choi (or “The Funk Seoul Brother” as he is known in the hood � my apologies to Fatboy Slim). Choi was on a number of pre-season sleeper lists, and deservedly so. He should have broken out last year, but was unlucky to suffer a concussion and then have Eric Karros steal his job while he was out. Following a late-April power tear, Florida’s first baseman has hit only two home runs less than the league leaders. The trouble is that he does not have a very discerning eye and sports a career .218 batting average. Choi also has trouble against lefties and again has the misfortune of having two veterans, Jeff Conine and Wil Cordero, breathing down his neck for playing time. I would hang on to Choi in a keeper league, but in single-season games, you should move him now.

(all stats are W-L-SV-K-ERA-WHIP through games of Wednesday, May 12)

Let me start off by saying that I much prefer trading away pitchers. Pitchers are notoriously flaky and inconsistent. There are studs out there that do it year after year, but there are also many more that capture lightning in a bottle for half a season and then settle back into mediocrity. You have to love Esteban Loaiza for making fantasy managers believe that a pitcher can find his groove in his 30s and keep that magic for a few years. Don’t believe the hype. Trade away the hot arms for reliable bats, and then find yourself the next Johan Santana before your fellow managers do.

Matt Clement � ChN (5-2-0-47-2.78-1.39)
When and how did Clement ever pick up the reputation as a good pitcher? He is a 30-year-old with a career 65-64 record and 4.38 ERA. Clement is as streaky as they come and his hot run to start the season is just longer than others. Dusty Baker has also been fairly hard on Clement, who has run up a few high pitch counts.

Randy Johnson � Ari (3-4-0-68-2.83-0.93)
It is great to see RJ back and pitching like his old self, but how long can this last? As a 40-year-old with knee problems, the Big Unit, of course, comes with an injury risk. The Diamondbacks also have the potential to be one of the worst teams in baseball. Consider also the possibility that shaky Matt Mantei could return as the Diamondbacks’ closer, and there are too many question marks beside Johnson’s name. He could pitch the entire season and win another Cy Young, but you don’t get something for nothing. Trade his tenuous potential for Abreu and thank me later.

Troy Percival � Ana (1-0-9-7-2.99-1.09)
For a guy with injury problems, Troy is holding it together fairly well. Percival has nine saves already, but he is 34 with a bad hip and Francisco Rodriguez (0.50 ERA and 0.89 WHIP) knocking on his door. Percival may wind up leading the league in saves, but it seems like a safer bet that either injury or poor play will open the door for Rodriguez to steal his share of saves this year.

When not practicing law, Patrick Martin finds time to post in the Cafe Forums as Mookie4ever.

Which players have you been able to trade for more than their value? Share your success stories with the Cafe!

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