Drafting Ryan Braun this season was a bit like eating blowfish. In the preseason, Braun had the upside of being the best offensive force in fantasy. So I have read, Blowfish has the upside of being a divine dining experience. The problem is that both come with plenty of risk.
For Braun, it's possible that he might be suspended in the wake of the Biogenesis scandal. For the blowfish, it's possible that one may die while eating it, if the chef preparing the fish doesn't properly cut away all of the poisonous parts.
OK, so dying from dinner is a bit riskier than dying in fantasy, but you catch the drift. In both cases, you've made the decision to gamble; now you've got to survive to tell the story. Will Braun's fantasy owners be among the lucky or among those headed to the ER for eating something toxic? We like our chances with Braun more than we like the idea of playing Russian roulette with a fish.
And now, this week's trade tips:
• SP Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves: Reportedly on pace to return June 18, Beachy could provide a nice boost to a pitching staff for patient fantasy owners. He missed most of last season with Tommy John surgery, so he may have some iffy outings out of the box, but don't forget this is a pitcher with a career 3.07 ERA with 252 strikeouts in 237.2 career innings. That track record may require an offer with a spare bat or middle reliever to sweeten the deal; Beachy's price may never be lower than now.
• SP Francisco Liriano, Pittsburgh Pirates: At some point, we have to trust the former phenom, right? Since returning from a broken (non-throwing) arm, the Pirates hurler has given up seven earned runs in five starts while striking out 39. That's elite production. And considering his last outing was a six-inning, four-hit, 11-K performance against the Reds, we're buying in assuming the price is reasonable.
• SP Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks: Unless you are in a single-league format, there isn't much reason to hold onto someone with a 5.01 ERA through 11 games. Yes, the talent is still there, but why wait on it when there are better options available (see: Liriano, Francisco) whose pasts have made owners reluctant to add them. At a certain point, a player is who he is for the season -- and so far this year, Miley is struggling to get the ball past hitters, having given up 66 hits in 64.2 innings so far. That's not a good recipe for success. Sell his rookie numbers and deal his disappointing sophomore season before it sinks your season.
• 2B Dan Uggla, Atlanta Braves: How much is 30 homers worth to your lineup? Uggla owners are asking that question, because that's about all the Braves second baseman can offer nowadays. Thirty isn't a bad number, but when it comes attached to a .183 average (after hitting .220 last season and .233 the year before) and a potential 60 RBI, what's the point? You can get better power dealing Uggla and his reputation for Adam Dunn and a sneaky extra to throw in the bargain.
• OF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers: For all but the gutsiest of gamblers, Braun is radioactive on the trading market with reports swirling that Major League Baseball may hand the former MVP a 100-game suspension. Even if an owner could get someone to bite on Braun, it surely wouldn't be for full value. So, sit tight and hope that he fights any potential disciplinary measures for his alleged involvement in the Biogenesis scandal as hard as he did when he tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone after the 2011 season. We're no legal experts, but one can imagine that this ends up in the courts and takes much of the season to decide; all the while, Braun will remain active. (Well he better, since I own Braun in the SI.com office league.) Further complicating matters is the possibility that the scandal will distract Braun at the plate -- it's a risk, just like drafting him was in the first place. Cross your fingers the bill doesn't come due too soon.
• OF Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: The numbers are ugly: .165 batting average, three homers, 10 RBI. The track record is not. And after this historically slow starter was placed on the DL with an appendectomy early this season, it stands to reason Heyward will need even longer than usual to get into gear. With all of the protection in the Braves lineup, Heyward should get plenty of chances to find his groove. Just give him the time before you give him up for some other team to make a second-half run.