I made a mega-trade on Saturday:
GAVE: Dan Haren and Dan Uggla
GOT: Johan Santana and Prince Fielder
This is a kind of speculative trade. Thus far in 2008, Haren has been more valuable than Santana, and Uggla's been more valuable than Fielder. This was basically selling high, for a few reasons:
1) Haren is always better in the first half and tails off. While this year might be different since he switched to a new team in the NL, players do tend to follow patterns.
2) Santana is the opposite of Haren, almost always pitching better in the second half. And he's been pretty good already, he just hasn't gotten run support and it's damaged his W/L record.
3) Like Santana, Fielder has been better in the second half in his career.
4) Uggla has been hitting FAR above his career norms; his sky-high ISO (.319) and BABIP (.346) strongly suggest a drop in production in the second half.
I also picked up Orlando Hudson to play 2B, and Manny Corpas, who will get a shot at closing for the Rockies again if/when Brian Fuentes is traded (which looks pretty likely). Aaron Harang was put on the DL after one of his worst starts ever. So now my team looks like this:
C - Geovany Soto
1B - Mark Teixeira
2B - Orlando Hudson
3B - Adrián Béltre
SS - Carlos Guillén (1B, 3B)
OF - Adam Dunn
OF - Jacoby Ellsbury
OF - Vladimir Guerrero
Util - Prince Fielder (1B)
BN - Paul Konerko (1B)
BN - Joey Votto (1B, OF)
BN - Jeff Clement (C)
DL - Troy Tulowitzki (SS)
SP - Brandon Webb
SP - Johan Santana
SP - Carlos Zambrano
SP - Daisuke Matsuzaka
SP - Ryan Dempster
RP - Joe Nathan
RP - Huston Street
RP - Manny Corpas
DL - Troy Percival (RP)
DL - Aaron Harang (SP)
(Names in italics are players I drafted.)
Interestingly, I've wound up with a lot of players who are traditionally better in the second half: In addition to Santana and Fielder, Teixeira, Guerrero, Beltre and Webb have all had better 2nd-half numbers in recent years. And oddly enough, of those six players, I only drafted two (Teixeira and Beltre). Both Tex and Beltre might get shaken up a bit since they're the subjects of trade talk, but I'm still pretty confident in getting solid numbers from them.
My team as a whole looks very, very strong; in fact, I had one other manager protest the trade I mentioned above because he thought it was "totally unfair" (which I don't agree with), and "created a competitive disadvantage" - in other words, my team was already in first and now it's even stronger. Well, too bad. He's only made one trade all season; maybe he should get a move on.
Here are the 7 weaknesses I see in my team:
1) Closers. Nathan has been awesome, but Street is shaky and Corpas isn't a closer (yet). My saves have been thin recently - enough that I considered punting the category. But Percival is scheduled to return from the DL maybe as soon as this coming Sunday or Monday, and if he does - and doesn't get hurt again - then my relief corp will be fine, especially if Corpas reclaims his closer role.
2) Second base. Orlando Hudson is actually a fine fill-in, but he's not terrific, and dropping from Uggla's first-half production to Hudson's is a huge step down.
3) Shortstop. Carlos Guillen is pretty much Orlando Hudson except at SS... disappointing considering his previous few years. His 3-position eligibility makes him valuable, though. Tulowitzki is supposed to come off the DL - again - shortly after the All-Star break (maybe a week or 10 days from now). If he does, and produces (and can keep from having any more temper tantrums), he'll be a fine SS and Guillen can be my SuperSub bench guy.
4) Jacoby Ellsbury. I got Ellsbury for BA, Runs and Steals. He was great for the first couple months, but has only 9 steals since June 1 (and has been caught 5 times). ALL his numbers have been bad recently: his OBP since June 1 is below .300. I do expect him to turn it around, but until he does, the Steal category is a huge weakness for me (I needed a steal from Fielder, of all people, on Sunday just to tie the category at 3 SB last week. It was his 2nd of the year and 11th of his career. The fact that he got it on his first day on my roster, on a Sunday, is insanely lucky.).
5) Too many 1B. I traded away Uggla, weakening 2B, and received Fielder. Now I have 3 players (Fielder, Teixeira and Konerko) who are ONLY eligible for 1B. I'm anticipating a resurgence from Konerko in the second half now that he's healthy, but he's still going to be riding my bench; on top of that, Votto is also 1B eligible, althought he's really my 4th OF.
6) Wasted roster spot. Why the hell am I carrying Clement? In 109 AB he's hitting .165/.258/.349/.607. I picked him up because of all the potential, but he's yet to turn it around. He does have insanely low ISO and BABIP, but being forced to platoon with Molina is killing him, and the Mariners are in full sell mode, which means the little protection in the lineup is going bye-bye. When the second of Tulowitzki/Percival/Harang comes off the DL, Clement is the one who'll get cut.
7) Not enough SP. Anyone with a rotation of Webb/ J. Santana/ Zambrano/ Matsuzaka/ Dempster should be ecstatic. And I am. But I like to have 6 SP, and Harang's out until at least July 24 or so.
Fortunately, a number of these problems may solve themselves shortly: If Percival and Tulowitzki come back strong, Harang returns (and returns to form) and Ellsbury starts reaching base again, that solves # 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 (although it would create the problem of 1 too many players). I'm thinking of solving #2 by trading Fielder, thus also solving #5. But I'm not too unhappy with Hudson, so I'm also considering trading Fielder for an excellent SP; then I wouldn't have to care when/if Harang sorts himself out, and #5 would still be taken care of.
What I do will depend a lot on the Percival and Tulowitzki prognoses. But even as my team is now, i think I have a good shot to take the league... and the standings seem to agree with me.