Peaks and Valleys – Fool’s Gold
Welcome to the newly revamped ‘Peaks and Valleys!’
For those of you that did not read the previous fantasy hockey columns, or are new to ‘Peaks’ in general, let me run down how this goes. I give you friendly advice about who to add and/or drop or who to from your team, as well as who to watch if you cannot pull the trigger on dropping a player. I do this all while maintaining a fun, laid back style. I enjoy numbers and stats, but I also put a lot of weight into seeing what the players do on the field.
The season is entering its third week, and yet this is the first column. Why you ask? It is simple, adding and dropping so quickly into a season is a good way to ruin the rest of it. It happens every season, and every season, a manager or two falls for the quick fix. How often does that quick fix work? I tried it once and fell for two players. Needless to say the guys in my league poked fun the rest of the season.
I am not saying that certain players should be avoided after starting out hot, but do not go looking for fools’ gold. Fools’ gold does not only apply to hot starts. Plenty of us have at least one player that is playing below their average level of play, or is showing signs that their time as a fantasy relevant performer is running out courtesy of your team.
With that being said, let’s get to the meaty portion of this week’s column.
Denard Span, Centerfield/Outfield, Washington Nationals: Span is playing for a team that craved a solid leadoff type. His move from a struggling young Minnesota organization to a potential powerhouse in D.C. made him much more attractive in fantasy. His is reliable health-wise and will add the occasional home run. Where Span is truly valuable is in the runs and stolen bases categories. It would not be all that surprising to see Span eclipse the 100 run mark, as well as steal close to 30 bases. He is a great 4th or 5th outfielder with upside as a low 3rd if he plays over his career averages. Span is widely available.
Matt Adams, First Base, St. Louis Cardinals: Simply put, the guy can hit the baseball. In the minors, Adams began to roll offensively, showing an ability to spray the ball to all fields. For a big guy, he can move, too. That is why I have him as a guy you should look to add. In spring training, the Cards’ coaching staff gave Adams the opportunity to play at second base in an attempt to further his chances of playing. The St. Louis infield is extremely crowded now that David Freese is back manning the hot corner. That could very well change with Freese’s injury history. He will not hit .600 for the remainder of the season, but it is fair to expect at least 400 at-bats, a .300 average, and close to 20 home runs. Stash him now before he becomes an everyday player.
J.P. Arencibia, Catcher, Toronto Blue Jays: Yes, he is hitting well above his career average. Yes, it will come back down to the .240 range. More people own Jesus Montero, who is stuck in the doghouse in Seattle and has proven little in the majors over Arencibia. At least J.P. can hit 20+ long balls and drive in enough runs to be around the top five at the catcher position. He is also owned in less than 50% of leagues in most formats.
Jon Jay is the leadoff man for a powerful Cards offense. His ability to hit around .300 and score 85+ runs makes him someone to keep an eye out on. A.J. Pierzynski is not owned in all formats. That has to change, especially since he has seemed to age well despite playing a physically demanding position.
Down In the Valley
John Buck, Catcher, New York Mets: Really? Really?!? His power display has been nothing short of amazing and fun to watch, but to think he is worth nothing more than a weekly rental is crazy. If you have him, give it a week and watch his numbers go back to normal. Even better, trade him to a team that is starving for a catcher. Owners of catchers like Salvador Perez and Jonathan Lucroy could be worried about their player’s slow start. I would gladly trade Buck for any of them. Sell high now and try to get some value before he becomes waiver fodder.
Closers: Carlos Marmol, John Axford, Phil Coke. Need I say more? There is a good chance you paid for one of them in an auction league, or spent a pick that was not one of your last few to get them. I would say shame on you, but the closer carousel has been in business for years, and only a handful of owners wait to hop on that ride. In my league of record, I have Jason Grilli, Rafael Betancourt, and Jim Henderson. I spent a whopping five dollars to get them. Jason Motte, likely out for the season, went for $16. Never pay for saves. Henderson was an easy pick up, and there are a few more relievers getting the chance to win their team’s closer role seemingly every day.
Clay Buchholz, Starting Pitcher, Boston Red Sox: Buchholz’s curveball may break more than my decision to put him in the Valley section, but hear me out. Buchholz has stranded every runner that he has let on base, and his lone run tainting his 0.64 ERA was on a solo home run. Those numbers are beyond attainable for 30 or so starts. Add in the facts that he walks a lot of batters and has an extensive injury record, and you have a recipe for a sell-high candidate. Someone will want to take him in another week or so if you own him. If he continues to pitch well, then the decision to trade for a more durable, reliable starter or ride the Clay wave will be a hard one to make, but one you should consider.
I have enjoyed seeing the sort of rebirth that Barry Zito has had, but I cannot trust him to be anything more than a spot starter for the season. Jose Fernandez is young, raw, and very talented. Proceed with caution.
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