Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mailbag Questions: July 28th

MAILBAG – Week 17
Contributed By: Ray Flowers of

In my keeper league, I was offered Vladimir Guerrero for Grady Sizemore, should I accept it? I really like Sizemore and he's still only 23, but is Vlad too good to pass on?
-- A.J., Colorado Springs, CO

Wow, this is huge trade in a keeper league. Since I don’t know the rules of your keeper league, I will work under the assumption that your league allows you to keep either player for three years. Let’s start with Sizemore who was a stud last year going 20/20 with 111 runs while hitting .289. This season, Sizemore has slightly increased his average (.307), power (16 HR) and SB rate (15). More impressively, Sizemore is on pace to score 133 runs this year, a monster number, partly because he has upped his OBP almost .040 points from last season (.386). And as you mentioned, Sizemore is 23-years-old, so, as they say, the sky’s the limit with this guy. But what about Vlad?

With Vlad the most important number is 30. In 7 of the last 8 years he has hit at least 30 HRs and knocked in 100 runs. Come to think of it, Vlad has also scored at least 95 runs in 7 of the last 8 years as well (in 2003 he injured his back but still hit .330-25-79, not a bad “off” year huh?). In addition, Vlad owns a career average of .323, not to mention a career OPS of .970. Sizemore might hit .323 one day, but the chance of him producing even a single season of .970 is far from certain. To summarize, in 7 of the past 8 seasons Vlad has hit at least .305-32-108-95, numbers that Sizemore might be hard-pressed to ever match in a single season. Sure he will steal more bases than Vlad at his age, but is that enough of an incentive to count on him over Vlad? Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the most important “30” of them all for Vlad; he is only 30-years-old.

As much potential as Sizemore shows, hitters like Vlad come along once every 20 years. I would do this deal if I were in your shoes, even with the age discrepancy, which as we have seen isn’t all that great. Vlad’s overall game is just too much when combined with his amazing consistency and that fact that he is only 30-years-old.

I know that Kenny Rogers stinks in the second half, and with his performance this week (7 ER, 2 outs), I need to pick up a SP off waivers. Who would you recommend out of Gil Meche, Matt Morris and John Garland?
-- Kenny

Meche (9-5, 4.19 ERA, 106 K, 1.37 WHIP) had been on a solid streak of 7 games in 9 starts allowing 2 or fewer ERs. Of course, he isn’t that good, and he got lit up the other night (7 ER) to end that steak. Meche has talent, no dispute here with that, but it has simply never translated to consistent big-league success (career 4.61 ERA, 1.43 WHIP). Meche had a 1.60 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in June, fantastic numbers, but those numbers skyrocket to a 5.15 ERA and 1.48 WHIP in the other three months of the season, closely approximating his career numbers. He isn’t a long-term answer. Morris (8-8, 4.82 ERA, 75 K, 1.36 WHIP), like Meche, was great in June (3-1, 2.19 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) and has been pretty terrible the rest of the time (5-7, 5.86 ERA, 1.43 WHIP). Morris isn’t the answer here either.

That leaves us with last year’s darling, Garland (10-3, 4.78 ERA, 63 K, 1.36 WHIP). On the surface the numbers of all three of these pitchers are very similar. However, we have shown that Morris and Meche are really the products of their righteous June performances. Garland on the other hand has gotten better as the season has worn on going 6-1 with a 3.25 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP since June 1st. Sure, Garland will probably post fewer Ks than the other two hurlers, but with his recent hot trend, combined with the fact that he is on the strongest team in the White Sox (that is if they start winning again), the best bet at this point is Garland.

I was wondering what you thought of this trade offered to me. I get: Corey Patterson and Austin Kearns. I give up: Ryan Howard. I have Morneau at 1B, Howard has been my UT, and my current OF is S. Green, G. Matthews, Carlos Lee and D. Roberts. Your thoughts?
-- James, Brookfield, IL

I could see the need to improve your OF here, I would agree with that assessment. However, I wouldn’t suggest accepting this offer. With Morneau at 1B and Howard at UT, who is better than you in your league at those two spots? Howard (.282-32-80-51-0) has been great, though that is not to say I don’t have concerns about him considering he is second in baseball with 110 Ks and his batting average has gone down every month this season. Howard also has only 40 BB on the season, 33 less than Adam Dunn, the only man with more K’s than Howard this year (115). In addition, Howard has the worst GB/FB ratio (1.35) of any of he top 37 HR hitters in baseball, so there should still be some concern with Howard despite all the bombs he hits.

The two OFs you would be getting come with their own concerns. Patterson (.282-10-37-48-32) has been an amazing find this season, especially with those career-high tying 32 SBs. However, every player in the majors who has at least 15 SBs this year has an OBP better than Patterson’s .315 mark, so you have to figure he will either need to improve his OBP or he will simply begin to fall off in SBs (he has only 2 SBs in 19 July games). The reason is that he gets on base so infrequently that he has to steal a base around 50% of the time that he reaches first base. Also, Patterson still struggles against lefties hitting .220 against them in 85 ABs, so there is always a chance he will start to lose playing time in that situation.

Kearns (.268-17-51-56-8) has finally been injury free and with 45 ABs will record his first 400 AB season in the major leagues. The 8 SBs are nice, but his other numbers really aren’t that interesting to me nor should they be to you if you are going to be counting on him the rest of the way. Kearns’ batting average has gone down every month this year, and he is hitting just .200 since his trade to the Nationals. And therein lies another issue, his new situation in Washington. Besides moving from a great power-hitting park (Cincinnati) to one in the lower third of the league, the Nationals lineup is a mess. Alfonso Soriano will likely be traded and Jose Guillen is out for the year with TJ surgery, so depending on who they pick up at the deadline, it might just be Kearns, Nick Johnson and Ryan Zimmerman in the middle of that lineup, and that threesome isn’t scaring anyone. So if his injury history wasn’t enough of a concern for you, his playing situation should be. Pass on this deal.

I have a handful of players that I've been shuffling in and out of my line-up that I know have talent, but just haven't produced in several weeks or more (guys like JD Drew, F. Lopez, A. Kearns, C. Shelton, and K. Youkilis). I want to be patient because it is such a long season, but what should I do with these guys? Should I pick up someone like J. Barfield, S. Drew, J. Hermida, or C. Quentin?
-- Jason, North Brunswick, NJ

The age-old question of when is enough, enough? Let’s review all the guys you mentioned, and I will give you some quick thoughts on each.

J.D. Drew (.281-9-54-47-2) – Tremendous talent, always injured. Tough to count on.
Felipe Lopez (.265-10-34-60-25) – Terrific SB total but hitting only .241 since June 1st and now on a much less potent offensive team in Washington.
Austin Kearns – See my comments above.
Chris Shelton (.272-16-44-46-1) – Has worse numbers this year than last. Should have been cut 2 months ago. Since May 1st: .252-6-24-29 in 250 ABs.
Kevin Youkilis (.296-11-47-69-5) – Hitting only .232 with a .672 OPS in 82 July ABs.

As for the free agents.

Josh Barfield (.299-5-31-44-15) – One of the leagues hottest hitters in July: .438-1-9-12-6.
Stephen Drew (.282-0-2-3-1) – Craig Counsell is still at least 2 weeks away (ribs).
Jeremy Hermida (.303-4-18-26-4) – No one has noticed, but hitting .327 since June 1st.
Carlos Quentin (.357-3-7-5-1) – One of the D’backs top prospects. The D’backs are exploring a trade of either Shawn Green or Luis Gonzalez to open up a full-time spot for Quentin.

Ray Flowers, a member of SABR and the Fantasy Sports Writers Association can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at: Also don’t forget to listen to his fantasy baseball radio show at, where you can call in for live advice, on Friday’s from 2-3 PM EST.


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