by Howard Bender
One of the things I love about the month of April is learning about the other fantasy GMs in the league. Usually, the people in your league are all friends or come from similar walks of life, i.e. co-workers, but you never really know someone until you're competing with them in the same fantasy circle. Some guys that are normally quiet turn into obnoxious know-it-alls, some passive folk turn into aggressive trade hounds, and you even have some cases where braggarts and bullies turn into silly little push-overs that get steamrolled every year. But the owner that I love most, the guy I watch the closest in the month of April, is the guy with the itchy trigger finger and his hand on the panic button.
You know that guy. Three weeks into the season and he's totally down on his team. He hates his players and laments over picks he could have made instead of the ones he did. If it's a keeper league, then he's already talking about tanking the season and is looking to trade for protects for next season. And the only thing I love more than listening to this guy whine every year is trading with him.
Look for this guy. Talk to him. Study his team. There is no doubt in my mind that he has some quality players that are just off to a slow start. But he doesn't care. He wants immediate gratification. He wants to lead the league from wire to wire and anything less than that means that his team sucks and his players are terrible. Find him. Email him. Don't try to raise his spirits or anything. Don't give him the old "it's a marathon, not a sprint." No way. Use him. Abuse him. Exploit his feeble-minded ways. Try and trade for some of his underachievers that you expect to break out. Dish off some of your guys that are playing over their head right now. You'll probably end up pulling off some sweet deals that will massively improve your squad long-term.
Top Buy-Low Candidates
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS PHI -- I love it when someone like this starts off the season like crap. A .173 average with one home run, 4 RBI and no stolen bases??? My mouth is watering just at the thought of his owner putting his name out there in trade talks. Start making as many offers as you can. Last year, Rollins started off the season slowly due to injury and while his HR production was the lowest it had been since 2005, he still finished the year with a .277 average and 47 swipes. Point to his injury from last year. Point to his age and his time spent in the WBC and talk about how tired he must be. As the season progresses, he'll catch fire atop that Phillies lineup and you'll be reaping the benefits all year long.
2. Chris Davis, 1B/3B TEX -- When Davis broke onto the scene last year and pounded 17 dingers in just 295 at bats, heads were turning and people were enthralled with another Texas masher in that lineup...hell, in that ballpark. We were looking at a 30+ HR guy if he played a full season, right? Well, opportunity came a knocking and for right now, Davis is hiding under the bed pretending to not be at home. 21 K's in 43 AB?? We're looking at striking out almost 50% of the time! That's insanely ridiculous. But fear not. Greener pastures lie ahead so don't be afraid to make a move and grab him. He's still making adjustment to starting of the year in the bigs and, while his average may be a bit of a burden, the home runs will come. You probably won't find another opportunity to grab him cheaper.
3. Matt Holliday, OF OAK -- We all said his numbers would suffer with the move to Oakland, but a .265 average with no home runs, only 9 RBI and not a single steal seems like a bit much. Yes, his overall production should drop from the hitter-friendly Coors Field induced numbers, but not this drastically. Holliday is still making the transition to the AL and is learning pitchers he's never had to face before. He will hit a groove soon though and when he does, his price will surely sky-rocket. Also remember that if the A's aren't in the thick of the playoff picture by the trading deadline, Holliday will most certainly be moved to a contender in need of his stick..
4. Alexei Ramirez, 2B/SS CHW -- Alexei's not so sexy anymore with his .159 average is he? And the no HR and only 1 SB aren't making him any prettier are they? Well, that's a good thing...if you're trying to trade for him. Last year, Ramirez started off slowly and took some time before working his way into regular playing time. He had only 90 at bats through April and May, but finally got into a groove and took off in June and never looked back. Don't worry about rumors of him movin gto centerfield as it won't affect his PT at all. They want his bat in the lineup and know that a stark improvement is coming. He's pressing a little right now, but that should end soon along with his slump. If you've got a panicky owner, Ramirez coul dbe had for cheap right now. Later on, not so much.
5. Jay Bruce, OF CIN -- If you were looking to pick up the young phenom, you better get on it fast. Bruce's start of the season has been quite slow and a little hand injury didn't help either. He's only hitting .211 right now with 2 HR and 7 RBI, but he's just getting ready to break out. In fact, after sitting a few games out with the hand problem, Bruce came back last night to go 2 for 4 and crushed a ball off of Rich Harden in the second inning of the game. He is a pure hitter and will be a stud for years to come. And once the rest of that Cincinnati lineup gets their asses in gear, the RBI are going to pile up.
6. Brandon Phillips, 2B CIN -- Speaking of Reds who need to get their asses in gear, Phillips is off to a horrific start. A .143-1-5-1 April is not going to helpyou get back into the coveted 20-20 club. But I have full confidence that all wrongs will be righted soon. Phillips is too good and that ballpark is too friendly for him to not catch fire soon. You don't go 20-20 two years in a row for nothing and with young studs like Bruce and Joey Votto hitting behind him, the team will start to take off. When they do, you're going to want a piece of the action. Point out to your fellow owners that Phillips has never been a slow starter and maybe that will help them release him to you. Definitely worth the effort.
7. Alex Rios, OF TOR -- The enigmatic outfielder is off to his worst start in years right now with his .206 average, no home runs and only 1 stolen base. He has been frustrating fantasy owners for years as he has all the skills to be a top 5 tool guy, but he just never seems to put it all together at once. But in 2007 he made improvements across the board and in '08 he took a step back in power but a big step forward in speed. This was the year that he put it all together...we thought. Now I've never been a huge fan, but the talent might be too hard to pass up if you can grab him for cheap right now.
For more fantasy advice, waiver wrie suggestions and other insights, check out what's going on over at RotoBuzz.com.
Howard Bender is a freelance fantasy sports writer and champion in both rotisserie and head to head leagues. For questions, thoughts, or comments, you can email him at Howard.Rotobuzz@yahoo.com.