I've mentioned my affinity for senior citizens who drive like they're in a motor brigade. Around the same time that the snowbirds return, however, a more nettlesome phenomenon rears its ugly head. You'll start to see it sprout this coming week as fantasy columnists inanely advise you to "be patient" and tell you that it is better "to sell high and buy low."
"Be patient?" You mean making rash decisions is not the way to win your league? I had no idea. Which brings me to the next point: Everyone tries to buy low and sell high. It's like telling people that they should volunteer in their community. We all know that. However, it is far easier said then done.
If it was so easy to sell high and buy low, you should be able to sell the undefeated Paul Maholm, who currently has a 1.32 ERA and .95 WHIP along with hitters Kosuke Fukudome, Endy Chavez and Jason Bartlett (who are hitting a combined .394 with 6 HRs and 8 SBs) for the winless Tim Lincecum (sporting a 7.56 ERA and 2.40 WHIP) and the trio of Magglio Ordonez, BJ Upton and Jimmy Rollins (who are hitting a combined .156 with 0 HRs and 2 SBs), right?
What? You mean no one in your league is crazy enough to do that? I'm shocked! You mean you're not playing in a league with Brian Sabean, Matt Millen, Isiah Thomas and a bunch of chimps? You actually play in a competitive league with levelheaded owners?
Since you can't buy low or sell high, what are you supposed to do? Here's a wild solution for you: Buy High and Sell Low.
Maybe you're thinking wackaloon Milton Bradley (OF, CHC) and I switched brains, but hear me out first. Consider that in 2008, Nate McLouth (OF, PIT) finished April with six home runs, a .330 average and two stolen bases. Between being in small market Pittsburgh and not being an über-talented prospect, there was not a lot of hype around McLouth. Unlike some better-known studs, McLouth would have been easier to pry away than some other eventual outfield studs, possibly for less than market value. But buying McLouth in April would have still been buying high as his average would never again be that high. Do you think any owner that sold him (or for that matter any owner that bought him) actually expected him to hit an additional 19 HRs and swipe 21 SBs? No way. That's why buying high can be a golden opportunity.
So, who are some good "buy high" candidates?
First, why not start with McLouth's teammate, Nyjer Morgan (OF, PIT). As of Friday, Morgan was hitting .400 and had stolen three bases already. Is he going to hit .400 or anywhere close to that? No. But could he hit .300 and steal 40+ bases? Why not? Those numbers are below his typical minor league season. I'm not saying you should trade Josh Hamilton (OF, TEX) for him, but you could probably get an owner to bite for a Top 30 to Top 50 OF for him and you'll still come out ahead.
You want someone more established? How about Miguel Cabrera 1B/3B, DET) ? He's batting a menial .467 with three homers. Cabrera will undoubtedly cost you a stud. Let's say you have the 2B-eligible Skip Schumaker (2B/OF, STL) backing up Chase Utley (2B, PHI) , but only James Loney (1B, LAD) and Todd Helton (1B, COL) at first base. Substitute names or positions, but if you're weak at 1B and have depth at the position of a tradable stud, make the deal. Cabrera actually hit better as the weather got warmer last year. Can you imagine if he does that this year?
Are you looking for a pitcher to buy high? How about Chad Billingsley (SP, LAD)? Owners don't sell a starting pitcher with a K/9 of 10.38, an ERA of 2.08 and a WHIP below 1.00 very readily. But sell the owner on the fact that his three year WHIP average is 1.40, thus his WHIP will rise quickly the rest of the season and will be closer to 1.50 ... because it won't. It won't be sub-1 either. However, when a guy shaves 0.20 off his ERA each of the last three years and strikes out 201 batters in his first full year, that's someone I'm willing to buy high.
Now let's look at the other end of the spectrum. The poster boy for whom you should have sold low on last year is Andruw Jones (OF, TEX). Jones was hitting .155 at the end of April and had gone yard just one more time than the light-hitting Pokey Reese (who in case you were unaware was not even playing in the majors last year). If you had "sold low" on him, yes -- his owner would have got twice the amount of home runs you got, not to mention a slightly better average, but I'm sure you could have lived with his new owner getting two more homers and a few extra points of batting average total. And that's assuming you just traded him for "future considerations" or even a bag of beans. Odds are almost anyone else you got back in return did more.
So, who should you "sell low" on this year?
Please realize that I was on the Andy Sonnanstine (SP, TB) bandwagon last year. It unfortunately hit a rock last week, followed by another bump this week, and I don't see too much more success this year. Sure, he'll probably improve on his current 6.52 ERA and 1.76 WHIP. Nix the probably -- he will. But every World Series team has at least one guy who regresses. The expectations are higher this season, and with talented prospects like David Price (SP, TB), Wade Davis (SP, TB), and Jacob McGee (SP, TB), Sonnastine better pull it together soon or he'll be on the next train out. Punch his ticket to Not-Your-Teamville while you still can.
Despite three homers, Casey Blake (3B, LAD) is currently flirting with the Mendoza line (.200 as of Friday). Blake will raise his average. However, Blake's best power season was when he hit 28 homeruns and that was five years ago. In his best contact season, he hit .281. Maybe if we were talking about a catcher, I'd take a chance. But do you really want a corner man (and there are probably 35 better cornermen and at least 20 in the NL that I would rather have) who's hitting that low and his upside is .281 and 28? Dodger Stadium is not exactly the best hitter's stadium either. Cut bait now!
There is absolutely no way Brian Giles (OF, SD) will hit .128 this year. I bet he doubles that, so if you sell low on him, you'll miss out on some average-padding. But is he worth it? He hasn't stolen double-digit bases or even "slugged" 15 home runs in over three years. And that "average-enhancer" you're looking for? He hasn't hit over .310 since the Clinton administration. Well, at least he'll score 100 runs, right? Go ahead, look up the last time he did that and come back. I promise you that Giles won't score before you get back. The sun is setting on the career of Brian Giles. Don't get blinded by the light. Sell now.
All statistics through Friday's action.