At this point in the season, what is Yasiel Puig worth in a trade? Will Justin Verlander turn around in the second half, or should his owners shop him around? Is Rickie Weeks worth a buy?
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1. If an owner is considering trading Yasiel Puig, what should be demanded in return? How high should an owner aim?
Beller: After posting a .436/.467/.713 slash line with seven homers and four steals in his first month in the league, Puig already has the folks in Cooperstown preparing his bust. Don't let that blind you to a good deal, though. If someone needs a piece of Puigmania so badly that they're willing to give up an established star, you should jump all over that. In a redraft league, I'd rather have the likes of Andrew McCutchen or Jose Bautista. At the same time, in a keeper league, I'd really have to be knocked off my feet to trade Puig. He looks like he's going to be one of the best players in fantasy leagues for years to come, and that carries a hefty price tag in keeper leagues.
Mack: Well, Puig isn't showing any signs of slowing, so shoot for the moon if you are inclined to make a deal. You are playing with the house's money right now with him, though, so there's no urgency to sell high during this torrid first run through baseball. It's understandable to worry if he'll fall apart, leaving an owner with nothing but yesterday's news. Trading him for another outfielder isn't necessary, although Beller made a good suggestion with McCutchen. It is equally doubtful McCutchen's owner would make that deal. Dealing hitting for pitching is rarely a good idea, unless you're in a head-to-head points league that rewards a point per inning or a point per out. You can deal him for a top 10 fantasy ace in that event.
2. Justin Verlander hasn't performed like a first-round pick so far this season. Will he turn around in the second half, or should an owner look to trade him?
Beller: You should always be open to potential deals, but I wouldn't be shopping Verlander by any means. His 3.77 ERA may be poor by his standards, but his 3.04 FIP is a lot more indicative of how he has pitched this year. Last year, his FIP was 2.94. The year before, it was 2.99. His .344 BABIP isn't just ridiculous; it's the third-highest in the majors. The pitchers around him on the infamous leaderboard aren't exactly reminiscent of the '93 Braves: Wade Davis, Barry Zito, Joe Blanton, Edwin Jackson, Dillon Gee and Scott Diamond. A lot of this has to do with the Tigers' subpar infield defense. In fact, four of their starters are among the highest 20 pitcher BABIPs. But Verlander remains a force on the mound, striking out 114 batters through 105 innings and walking 39. If I'm a Verlander owner, I'm standing pat.
Mack: While Beller dips into BABIPs and FIPs, I am more simple with my fantasy decisions. Trading Verlander at a reduced rate would just compound the problem at this point. With that said, if you're in a rotisserie league, you learned a painful lesson of fantasy owners past: Pitching is notoriously risky of the high-end investment on draft day. If someone is offering an elite hitter, you can should take it.
3. Which waiver wire pickup has made the biggest impact in the first half of the season?
Beller: There are a lot of good candidates for this question, but I'm going to go with Jean Segura. You'd have to be in a very deep league for Segura to have been drafted back in March, but he's now the No. 1 shortstop in standard 5x5 leagues. He could easily end up posting 20 homers, 50 steals, 90 runs and 60 RBI while hitting over .300. Find me another pickup who can say that.
Mack: Yes, Segura is a prime pickup, but Puig can also be clumped into this category. In SI.com's early April mock draft, players including Domonic Brown, Josh Donaldson, Matt Carpenter, Puig, Starling Marte and Shelby Miller all did not get drafted. Brown, on pace for 40 homers, 110 RBI and 15 stolen bases is the leader of that group. Segura was actually selected in that SI.com mock draft, so we are inclined to go with Brown as the first-agent pickup of the season to date.
4. Drop Zack Wheeler, Andrew Cashner or Julio Teheran for Tony Cingrani?
Beller: The problem with Cingrani is that we can't know for sure how long he'll be in the rotation. The Reds will likely be more cautious with Johnny Cueto now that he's on the DL for the third time this season, but when he does come back, Cingrani will likely be the odd man out again. Even if he weren't, I wouldn't drop Cashner or Teheran for him. Those guys are established in their respective rotations, and both have been having success lately, especially Teheran. However, even with Cingrani's long-term status unknown, I'd rather have him than Wheeler. They're both top prospects with big-time strikeout ability, but Cingrani has already proved himself at the major league level this year. That makes him a better bet in my book for the rest of the season, even if Cueto is back in the next month.
Mack: I have to disagree wholeheartedly with Beller here. The guy to drop is Wheeler, because he pitches for the non-contending Mets, and the others have far more experience and potential for the rest of the season. If Cingrani can regain his early season magic -- I don't see a reason why he can't -- he is going to be too valuable to take out of the Reds' rotation. I wouldn't worry about anything but the next three weeks with relation to Cingrani's rotation status.
5. Are you buying Rickie Weeks?
Beller: Given the lack of depth at second base and Weeks decent-enough track record, I am buying him. He was a complete mess in April and May, but hit .355/.429/.677 with five homers. Despite a line-drive percentage north of 21 percent in both April and May, he had a .276 BABIP for the season's first month and a .236 BABIP the next. That number skyrocketed to .395 in June. He's not going to be a monster in the rate categories, but then again he never has been. Weeks is definitely worth a shot at this point.
Mack: I have to admit I was ready to bury Weeks as a complete fantasy bust, before he showed this recent life in his bat. I am buying into this stretch, because Weeks hadn't been that inept in seasons past, even if he has been a victim of streaks. Weeks is never going to be the .300/30/20 player he was predicted to be, but he is certainly useful in mixed leagues when he's hitting well.