T.I.P.S. remains bullish on Hawpe, favors Maholm and Winn

Six weeks into the season, odds are you have a pretty good picture as to how your team is shaping up. The waiver wire has probably been massacred like turkey vultures on a rotting gazelle carcass, so how can you find immediate help for your team? The answer is twofold. The first is to actively throw some trade offers out there. Do you have a plethora of talented outfielders but need some pitching? See who has plenty of pitching and start a conversation. Be proactive and realize that your competition is probably itching to get a trade done as well. Now is the time to buy low and sell high so make sure you do a thorough needs assessment. See where you stand in your stat categories and determine if your current lineup can approach the leader in each category. If not, it's probably time to start proposing offers. The second way to improve your team is to target incoming rookies that can make an immediate impact. Check out Bill Root's weekly column to get the lowdown on all the young talent ready to get called up.

Let's take a look at this past week to determine which players you should target in your upcoming trade talks. Please feel free to e-mail any trade thoughts you might have.

All statistics through May 17.

Hawping Along

After a down year of sorts a season ago, many people simply bypassed the potential of Brad Hawpe this season. In 2007, the sweet-swinging lefty knocked in 116 runs and crushed 29 homers. Last year, Hawpe battled a hamstring injury and still managed 25 homers and 85 RBI. Although his defensive presence is worse than my "game", Hawpe remains the Rockies right fielder and began 2009 on a tear. Swinging at fewer pitches, the 29-year-old is throwing the lumber at only 19.9 percent of pitches outside the plate, down from 23.7 percent a year ago. He's also swiping at fewer pitches in general: taking hacks at 42.1 percent of all pitches as opposed to his 47.5 percent career average. The result is less strikeouts and more balls in play. Sitting in the middle of the Rockies order, Hawpe is on pace to match his 2007 numbers.

Just Winn, baby

One of the more underrated fantasy veterans, Randy Winn is still available in 85 percent of mixed leagues. While he isn't flashy, Winn fills up the stat sheets and is one of the unheralded players that helps teams (both real life and fantasy) win games. He spent the past week hitting .414 with 10 runs, eight RBI and two stolen bases. The Giants are better than advertised and Winn hasn't played less than 149 games since 2001. In that span, he's hit over 10 home runs, 56 RBI, 10 steals and 73 runs each season. He's also hit over .285 in six of those seven years. Winn's hitting the ball in the air at a higher clip this year, and odds are he should start sending more of them over the fence.

Jo-ball Chamberlain

While his ERA sits at a respectable 3.76, one can't help but wonder how effective Joba Chamberlain could be if he found a way to throw more strikes. A troubling trend, and one that is a bit surprising, is Chamberlain's new penchant for walking batters. In seven starts, Chamberlain has racked up 21 walks, with at least two in each of his last six starts. A BB/9 ratio of 4.65 is a full walk higher than his rate of 3.50 last season. The result is a 1.50 WHIP that is nowhere close to last year's 1.26 . Relying less on his fastball, Chamberlain is throwing more curveballs and four percent more change-ups than he did a year ago. With his immense talent, those pitches will find the strike zone sooner or later, but it may be at the expense of your WHIP for the time being.

Some things don't change

At 42 and on a new team for the first time in 16 years, all the signs were there for the Brewers' Trevor Hoffman experiment to backfire. A strained rib cage to start out the year made the outlook even bleaker for baseball's career saves leader. However, you can't teach an old dog new tricks and Hoffman apparently isn't ready to stop piling up saves. Since returning from the DL, Hoffman has pitched 10 scoreless innings and saved nine ball games. With precision accuracy, the future Hall of Famer hasn't walked a batter while striking out nine. His 1.33 GB/FB rate isn't consistent with his 0.75 career rate, so expect a few more balls to leave the park. His start has definitely alleviated some concerns, so feel free to consider Hoffman a No. 2 closer for your team.

Pat Burrell's neck opens up room for Willy Aybar

Burrell was placed on the 15-day DL after missing five games with a strained neck. Burrell's season hasn't exactly gone to plan, so hopefully the time off gives him some motivation to produce when he returns. In the meantime, Aybar has been filling in admirably. The utility player has started five of the Rays' last six games and has knocked in a run in three of them. With a bit of pop and two-position eligibility (1B/3B), Aybar is a solid play in AL-only leagues for the next 10 days.

Tyler Yates' injury brings call-up of a familiar face

As if getting shelled on a continual basis wasn't enough, Yates now finds himself on the DL with right elbow inflammation. His replacement is former 14-game winner Tom Gorzelanny, who started the year in the minors after failing to keep his ERA under 6.50 last year. While the move is primarily for the short-term in case the Bucs need someone to chew up innings, his 14-win, 3.88 ERA from 2007 still gives hope that he can get it together. Gorzelanny has been effective in Triple-A this year (3.98 ERA) so odds are that he will be starting in Pittsburgh at some point this season.

Over the Hill

Once one of the most promising southpaws in the game, Rich Hill made an impressive 2009 debut on Saturday, striking out six and giving up only two runs in 5.2 IP. After back/elbow/mental issues in 2008, the Cubs basically donated Hill to the Orioles this past February. Finally free of elbow problems, Hill has hopes of repeating his 11-win, 183 K 2007 season. While there are still reasons to be hesitant, AL-only and keeper leagues should definitely be monitoring Hill closely.

Josh Willingham taking advantage of playing time

Lost in the shuffle behind Austin Kearns, Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes, Willingham is seeing more PT and sending balls over the fence in the process. With four homers in his last five starts, Willingham's six long balls are one less than Kearns and Dukes combined. While Kearns mends a sore hand, it appears that Willingham is slowly earning "starting right fielder" honors. Don't forget that this is the same guy who cracked 21 homers and added 89 RBI in 2007. Not yet mixed-league worthy, Willingham is worth the addition in NL-only leagues.

Jerry Hairston Jr. on a tear

For the second straight week, Hairston has been scoring runs and stealing bases for the Reds. Hairston has scored 15 of his 21 runs and stole all four of his bases in the month of May. Despite being a bit of an injury risk, Hairston has the backing of Dusty Baker and his utility role with the Reds will give him plenty of at-bats. It's always an injury risk with Hairston, but you can't find a cheaper source of steals, runs and average.

Gary Sheffield getting a long look

With Daniel Murphy and Ryan Church struggling to find consistency, Sheffield has found himself starting in the Mets outfield each of the past five games. His contribution in those starts has been enormous, batting .409 with nine runs, nine hits, one HR and two RBI. With interleague play approaching, Sheffield will continue to see playing time either in the outfield or at DH. He's always been a streaky hitter, and those in deep mixed and NL-only leagues should seriously consider adding Sheffield's hot bat to their lineup. At this point, it seems he will contribute runs, hits and average, while mixing in some power.

Give Emmanuel Burriss a bench spot

Burriss is firmly entrenched in the Giants leadoff spot and is a great source of runs and steals for someone that is only owned in 23 percent of mixed leagues. Burriss is freakishly fast and the move from No. 8 in the order to No. 1 is significant. It should give him plenty of opportunities to run as the Giants are forced to manufacture runs however possible. He will also get better pitches to look at, resulting in more hits and more steals. There's no reason to doubt that Burriss can steal 35-plus bases, and for someone with 2B and SS eligibility, he can help solidify a middle infield bench spot.

Trade for Paul Maholm

Still available in 27 percent of leagues, Maholm is one of the unsung heroes that can help you win a fantasy championship. Coming off a nine-win, 3.71 ERA, 1.28 WHIP 2008 season, Maholm seemed to be widely avoided on draft day. It may have something to do with the combination of a low strikeout rate (4.38 K/9) and pitching for a miserable Pirates team, but Maholm has certainly proven his value. Almost all his peripheral numbers have improved this year, and his 3.51 ERA and 1.27 WHIP can certainly help your team. With a few rough outings in his past four starts, Maholm owners may be willing to give him up on the cheap.

Start monitoring the minors

With June rapidly approaching, make sure to constantly monitor the minor league news on a daily basis. It's only a matter of time before studs like Tommy Hanson, David Price and Matt Wieters get the call. If you have the roster spots, I'd advocate picking up any of these three immediately if they are available. We've already seen Matt LaPorta, Mat Gamel and Brett Cecil, but there are many other talented rookies primed to make their mark on the last four months of the season.

Follow Brad on Twitter: http://twitter.com/bradrysz

Have some T.I.P.S. for Brad? Send him your questions, comments or concerns to brysz@rotoexperts.com.

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