Every week from now until September, you can come here to find an in-depth look at fantasy baseball's buy-low and sell-high candidates. Because there's nothing better to do with your work day than work out some fantasy trades ...
Raul Ibanez, OF, Phillies
Ibanez's situation comes down to a matter of perception. If you thought he was going to repeat his monster 2009 season (34 HRs in 134 games), for shame. Even moving to the bandbox that is Citizens Bank, a 37-year-old doubling his HR/FB rate is the definition of fluke (well, not literally, but you get the point).
However, the kind of decline he's suffered this season is also a bit fluky. Ibanez's strikeout rate is down from last year and his line drive rate is where it was during his Seattle years (currently 19.1 percent). He should be hitting about 40 points higher than his current .246 average.
While Ibanez seems to be swinging for the fences less often, his HR/FB rate in Seattle usually hovered around 11 percent. The expected decline due to age over the past two years should be offset by the move from spacious Safeco, so his current rate of 6.3 percent seems way too low. Ibanez still has legit 20-home run power.
If the shine of his monster '09 line has worn off for the Ibanez owner in your league, it's a good time to make a move. You could be picking up a .290 hitter with 12-to-15 more home runs in his bat on the cheap.
Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Astros
Proceed with caution on Wandy, keeping in mind that he hasn't found the magic with his curveball this season, and that GM Ed Wade has re-built the Astros in the mold of the Washington Generals.
But with just three wins, a 5.60 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, the majority of Wandy owners have run out of patience (and understandably so). But his performance hasn't been nearly as bad as those numbers indicate.
The Astros are below average defensively, but not so bad that Rodriguez's opponents BABIP should be sitting at .353 right now. If you remove the luck factor, his mid-5s ERA should be closer to the low-4s with a WHIP in the 1.35-1.40 range, not good, but not crippling to your fantasy staff. If he can make the necessary tweaks to get back on track as far as strikeout-to-walk ratio goes, those numbers could fall to '09 levels.
Wins aren't a guarantee (that's life on a team with a combined .288 on-base percentage), but the risk-takers out there can feel good about getting Wandy on the cheap.
Nick Swisher, OF, Yankees
It's a good year to be Nick Swisher. Just look at how his more aggressive approach is working out. Look at his BABIP, 70 points higher than his career average. Heck, look at his fiancée!
Of course, for fantasy owners, the BABIP is the red flag. It's gotten a boost from his new-found aggressiveness, but a .353 BABIP for a 30-year old with a career .281 BABIP isn't sustainable no matter what kind of changes he's made.
Swisher's power is legit -- 30 home runs and 100 RBIs are well within his reach. But a .296 batting average isn't. Expect it to hover in the .260s from here on in. Considering Swisher has that Yankee mystique to go along with a great line right now, he could net you a four-category star easy.
Fausto Carmona, SP, Indians
This one should be obvious, but the Carmona bandwagon seems to be gaining steam after his complete game win over Washington last week. So, here goes ...
At this point, Carmona's ERA sits at 3.23, 13th-best in the A.L. In reality, it should be somewhere in the mid-4s. His strikeout rate is actually lower than last season (from 5.67 per 9 innings to 4.69), when he posted a disastrous (and unlucky) 6.32 ERA. He's also backed by one of the worst defenses in baseball, especially in the infield, his .258 opponents BABIP might be the luckiest in baseball.
True, he has cut down on the walks (3.34 per nine, down from 5.03 last year). But Carmona is still a potential ERA and WHIP killer. Considering the Indians won't be getting any better between now and September, the wins aren't going to come. Carmona is a zero-category contributor, a guy who belongs on the waiver wire. If you can get anything in exchange for him, you have to do it now.