It is the silly season for baseball, the two weeks leading up to the trade deadline. It should be entertaining, if not maddening, for fantasy owners -- particularly those in AL- and NL-only leagues where you lose players dealt to the other league.
It also tends to be the last gasp for those gamers looking to improve themselves before their own league's trade deadline.
With this before us, it is a good time to break down some sell-high and buy-lows. These are personal picks -- and aggressive ones because of what we have seen to date -- so feel free to hold them against us if they don't pan out.
If they do, just go ahead and send a frosty beverage to your favorite fantasy forecaster.
Take a chance on ...
DH Adam Dunn, White Sox -- We have said it before, but have to repeat it just because there is still time to do it on the cheap. Dunn is going to figure out the AL's strategy of pitching him and is going to be getting homers in bunches in that hitter's park on the south side of the Windy City.
Get what you can for ...
SP Jair Jurrjens, Braves It looks too easy after his bad first start out of the break, but Jurrjens was pitching well over his head for the first half. Heck, his numbers put him on a Roy Halladay pace for the NL Cy Young. He is not that kind of an elite arm and you can get a real good hitter for him. The second half is a great time to deal pitching for hitting in Rotisserie formats.
It will be high times for ...
SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins -- This is another one that has already started changing course from his awful first half. He is on pace for around .250-15-70-85-25 -- still pretty good for a shortstop -- but the bet here is he finishes .280-20-90-100-25. He is going to be as good as any hitter in the second half. Seriously. Bet the fam ... err, farm ... on it.
His worst is yet to come ...
SP Alexi Ogando, Rangers -- We said it earlier this year, but the proverbial wall is still there to roadblock him. It will. Young pitchers don't just go from around 72 innings as a career high in a full season to the 180 Ogando is on pace for. Deal him now, and then ...
Take a flier on ...
SP Kyle McClellan, Cardinals -- So, you see what we said about Ogando? Ignore it on the buy-low of McClellan. He has hit his wall, gotten some time off and will be recharged for a strong second half en route to his career high in innings. Unlike Ogando, McClellan has made it through full seasons in the majors -- albeit as a reliever.
The wall is also creeping up on ...
SP Ian Kennedy, D'backs -- We hate to say this because Kennedy is so darn good and capable. The problem is he is coming off an already-career high 194 innings a season ago and is on pace for an incredible 235-plus innings this season. There figures to be some trouble for him around the 200-inning mark. So, he has another month before he really falters, but if he does falter in the near future, you might be best dealing him while his value is the highest.
He's (almost) back -- pun intended ...
3B David Wright, Mets -- He is looking good -- no, great -- in his rehab assignment through the weekend and could be activated any day. It is most likely the Mets wait until the weekend, though, so keep him reserved for now. The problem is Wright wasn't any good when he was healthy earlier this season -- and the Mets lineup figures to lose Carlos Beltran before the deadline. That latter point is good news. Wright is affordable for the hell he still has to pay the NL.
It won't end here, but these appear to be the most premium of second-half buy-lows and sell-highs for fantasy owners right now. Heck, check out the weekend's big hitting star directly below, too.
Everyone was ready to bury him, but Nick Markakis just might not be a lost cause after all. He homered in back-to-back games over the weekend and has extended his hitting streak to 10 on Sunday. It has been a much longer stretch for the former elite fantasy outfielder. He has hits in 31 of 33 games. He hit .351 in June and is hitting .333 since early May. Here is one of the most unlikely of players of the week, but Markakis earns the nod and could be a big-time performer for fantasy owners in the second half. A long stretch like this could get him back up to being a .310-20-90-90-15 player.
Past players of the week: 14. OF Jose Bautista, TOR; 13. 3B Aramis Ramirez, CHC; 12. SP Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; 11. SP Justin Verlander, Tigers; 10. 1B Prince Fielder, Brewers; 9. 1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals; 8. SP Yovani Gallardo, Brewers; 7. SP Michael Pineda, Mariners; 6. OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays; 5. SP Francisco Liriano, Twins; 4. 2B Ben Zobrist, Rays; 3. SP James Shields, Rays; 2. SP Dan Haren, Angels; 1. SP Jered Weaver, Angels.
SS Jose Reyes (hamstring), Mets -- He is a risky start but a risk worth taking in deeper leagues. He is scheduled for a one-game rehab stint and will be activated Tuesday if he can make it through Monday healthy. Ruben Tejada is going to move back into the second-base mix, but he hardly has any fantasy value anyway. With Wright also on the come, the Mets figure to line up Wright, Reyes, Tejada or Justin Turner and Daniel Murphy as their infield by next week.
OF Shane Victorino (thumb), Phillies -- He looks like he will return Tuesday, too, and he is a much safer start in mixed formats. The Phillies will go with Raul Ibanez and Domonic Brown on most occasions flanking him in the outfield.
OF Carl Crawford (hamstring), Red Sox -- Yet another returning outfielder from the DL. He is expecting to be activated Monday, so get him into lineups for Fantasy Week 16 (July 18-24) in all leagues. Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald will go back to spelling J.D. Drew in right field, mostly against left-handers.
SP Jon Lester (latissimus) -- He isn't expected back until July 26 at this point, so Andrew Miller and Tim Wakefield will continue to see starts through the next week. One of them -- or both -- will have to vacate the rotation once Clay Buchholz (back) is deemed healthy, too. Buchholz is not close, so Miller and Wakefield should get a decent reprieve.
1. 3B Emilio Bonifacio, FLA2. OF Nate Schierholtz, SF3. RP Bobby Parnell, NYM4. 3B Eduardo Nunez, NYY5. SP Jeff Karstens, PIT
It was widely reported Parnell would be the Mets' closer of choice. Not here. We figured, correctly, Jason Isringhausen would be given a look before the trade deadline to build up his value for a deal. Izzy likely only closes for the next couple of weeks, though. Parnell should get a look come August at least. Bonifacio is on one of his streaks that makes you believe he is not a reserve, but he should only be trusted in Rotisserie formats. Schierholtz and Nunez are stopgaps merely for the deepest of leagues, while Karstens hasn't slowed down and he looks like a legit starter for mixed owners on a regular basis.
1. SP Brett Anderson, OAK2. SP Zach Britton, BAL3. SP Carlos Carrasco, CLE4. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN5. SP Jake Peavy, CHW
Britton and Volquez are back in the minor leagues, but they should be back up in the second half and prove useful again. Anderson is out for the year and most of next, while Carrasco and Peavy should prove to be solid stashees in any format, if you want to take a flier on a pitcher for the second half. They probably don't deserve to be dropped.
1. SP Jeff Niemann, TB2. RP Isringhausen, NYM3. OF Carlos Beltran, NYM4. 3B Bonifacio, FLA5. SP Josh Collmenter, ARI6. 1B Murphy, NYM7. SP Matt Harrison, TEX8. SP Javier Vazquez, FLA9. OF Matt Joyce, TB10. OF Ryan Braun, MIL
Beltran (illness), Joyce (knee) and Braun (calf) have missed games and are not 100 percent, but they aren't headed for the DL yet. Beltran and Joyce can sit in smaller leagues, while Braun probably shouldn't. Niemann has been lights out in his return from the DL, so he is going to be a popular pick-up in all leagues. Harrison and Vazquez are finally on the right side of streaky, proving to be trustworthy in mixed formats again. Bonifacio and Murphy are finally proving to be solid regulars. Collmenter might be getting two starts this week, but he should be avoided.
Eric Mack rounds up the fantasy baseball movers and shakers every Monday of the season at SI.com. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.