Fantasy Mailbag: Two Big Trade Questions

This week’s mailbag is going to be a relatively short one for two reasons. First, it’s a very busy week for me at work. Second, I didn’t get that many interesting questions this week. If you want to make sure next week’s mailbag isn’t short as well, e-mail me any fantasy questions you need answered. Even if I don’t use it for the mailbag, I’ll try and answer it as quickly as I can. Make sure you include your full name, city and state.

I’m in an 8-team, 5×5 league, and I just traded away Jim Thome for Roy Halladay and LaTroy Hawkins. I can slide Frank Thomas to 1st, Adrian Beltre to CI from Utility, and then I can put either Scott Hatteberg, Pat Burrell or Hideki Matsui at Utility. To make room on my roster I dropped Derek Lowe. I have Carl Pavano, Javier Vazquez, Jon Lieber, Roy Oswalt, Zack Greinke, Brandon Webb, Matt Clement and Jose Contreras as starters, and I’m currently second-worst at ERA and WHIP, but I have a particularly strong offense. Was the trade a good one? Also, which of the three players should I put in the Utility position, and should I have dropped Lowe, or do you think he will be more valuable over the rest of the year than one of my other starters?Ryan Langrill, Bend, Oregon

Thanks for giving me as much info as possible, Ryan, now let me see if I can help you out. Last things first, Lowe was probably just as good a choice for a player to drop as you could have made. He may outperform Lieber and/or Contreras over the rest of the season, but it’s not like he’s going to become an ace and make you kick yourself over losing him.

Now, to answer the real question, I think you made a fine trade. Thome is a great player, hitting .320 and on pace for 56 home runs and 120 RBIs. That would be a career high in home runs, but not by a ridiculous amount (he had 52 two years ago), and he’s had at least 118 RBIs each of the last three seasons. He’s not going to hit .320, but he could certainly hit .300, or maybe even .310.

Basically, Thome is a great player in the middle of a typically great season. Since you’re doing well on offense and struggling with your pitching, however, it makes sense to trade Thome for two pitchers. And I think you did a nice job getting quality pitchers in return.

Halladay is only 6-4 with a 3.66 ERA and 1.28 WHIP, but everybody obviously knows what he did last year. He’s actually not pitching much worse this year than he did last year. His strikeout rates (6.9 K/9IP last year, 6.84 K/9IP this year) are essentially the same and while he’s issuing more walks (1.08 BB/9IP last year, 2.72 BB/9IP this year), he’s also allowing fewer homers (0.88 HR/9IP last year, 0.66 HR/9IP this year).

The big difference for Halladay this year is the support he’s getting from his offense, and there’s not much he can do about that. Last year, Halladay had a 3.70 ERA at the end of June, but he was 11-2 thanks to his offense. I expect his ERA to be reasonably close to last year’s and he should start winning more games when Carlos Delgado and Vernon Wells return.

Hawkins is now in the middle of his third consecutive dominant season. His strikeout rate is down a bit, but it would be the same as the one he posted two years ago if he strikes out the side in his next inning, so it’s hard to get too worked up about that. He’s not walking people, he’s not giving up too many home runs and he’s going to finish with at least 25, and probably 30, saves.

For the final part of your question, I’d probably use Matsui at Utility with Burrell as my next option. I think Hatteberg’s the least likely to continue his strong play, and the other two are already outperforming him in several of the counting stats. Matsui seems to be finding the power that he displayed in Japan and he’s in the better lineup, so I’d expect him to be of more use than Burrell, who is a very nice fallback option.

I have a couple trades to ask you about. First, I am considering trading Renteria, Odalis Perez and Guardado for Tejada, Oswalt, and Smoltz. I figure Smoltz will get more saves than Guardado and Oswalt will make up some of the difference between him and Perez. The second trade is Sheets and Guardado for Schilling and Dotel. I am not sure if Sheets will keep up this first half although I am rooting for him. Which one do you think would be better for me?Tim Moreland, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Both of these trades look pretty good for you, so let’s look at the first one first. At the beginning of the season, I would have loved that first trade because you could have split it into three one-for-one trades (shortstop-for-shortstop, starter-for-starter and closer-for-closer) and you would have won all three. However, it’s now the middle of the year, not the beginning.

Tejada is outplaying Renteria right now and, as expected, will have more home runs and RBIs while Renteria has more steals. Tejada has a much higher average right now, but I’d expect them to finish near each other with a .290-.300 average. However, Perez and Guardado are pitching lights-out baseball while Oswalt and Smoltz are struggling a bit.

I expect both Perez and Guardado to cool off some and I expect both Oswalt and Smoltz to turn things around a bit, but you never know. That’s why this trade doesn’t look as good now as it would have three months ago.

The other trade, meanwhile, looks a little bit better to me. Sheets is having a wonderful season, but he’s never done anything like this before and he’s not going to pitch that well for the rest of the season. His ERA will go up at least half a run, his WHIP will be around 1.00-1.10 and his strikeout rate will almost certainly drop below one per inning.

Meanwhile, Schilling is simply doing what he always does, with some small adjustments for the fact that he’s in the American League now instead of the National League. The Boston offense will certainly help him win more games than Sheets, and over the rest of the season, I’d expect Schilling to have a lower ERA, better WHIP and more strikeouts.

The closer exchange, meanwhile, is pretty much a wash. Guardado has much better numbers right now, but his ERA will not end up below 2.00 this season, and Dotel’s probably won’t end up above 3.00. At the same time, Dotel notches many more strikeouts, which is important in a 5×5 league.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

Basically, both of these trades could help your team, but I’d go with the second one. Schilling seems like a clearer upgrade over Sheets to me than the exchange of trios in the other trade.

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