Di Fino: The art of buying low

by | Senior Fantasy Writer

Fortunes have been made on being able to figure out when it's just the right time to buy something low.

Cars, stocks and bread are just a few examples. Of course, each comes with its own set of risks: the car could be a lemon, the stock could plummet further, and that day-old bread could be really stale. Still, the upside of each makes the gamble worth it; it's mainly just a case of doing some research and nosing around to see what, exactly, these things will cost you. And, since this is a Fantasy baseball column, you know what's coming next: The same can be said for [insert player's name here]!.

Look, the "buy low" column isn't a novel Fantasy concept. At all. But there is a fun science in determining which players to target. Let's just pretend I threw a couple more pop culture references in here (go see Cabin in the Woods! How about that Kate Upton baseball card? OMG guys -- Sarah Phillips!), and instead move on to the players who can help you make that push from fifth place to first.

Most Traded Players (as of 5/4)
Player # of trades
1. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels 620
2. Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants 385
3. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins 360
4. Jose Reyes, SS, Marlins 321
5. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees 311
6. Jon Lester, SP, Red Sox 300
7. Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins 294
8. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Pirates 287
9. Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers 280
10. Matt Holliday, OF, Cardinals 278

1. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees
Ownership: 100 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: Teixeira is hitting a frustratingly-low .226, with just three home runs through 23 games this season. He has two hits, one run scored and one RBI in his last six games.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Mark Reynolds and Victor Martinez; David Ortiz and Omar Infante; Andrew McCutchen; Bryce Harper and Mike Trout; Shane Victorino
How This Could Work Brilliantly: In his career, Teixeira has hit .239 in April; his May average rises to .286. Furthermore, his OPS jumps from .767 to .903. In 2010, he hit .136 in April, with a .559 OPS. He finished the season with 33 home runs and 108 RBI. In 2009, his OPS leapt from .738 in April to 1.138 in May. The slow April and powerful May has become an almost yearly Teixeira tradition.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: Defenses seem to be loving the shift when Teixeira is at bat, and Joe Girardi has said that his strategy for Teixeira is this: "swing the bat and hit balls hard and things will work out." So the power will likely continue, but his batting average, which has declined every year since 2008, will likely continue to suffer as a result. A career .280 hitter, Teixeira hasn't hit over .256 since 2009.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Man, I didn't realize Teixeira is already 32 years old!"

2. Huston Street, RP, Padres
Ownership: 77 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: Street has just four saves on the season so far, and has been riddled with injuries throughout his career.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Nick Markakis; Ty Wigginton; in a package deal with Pablo Sandoval for Kyle Lohse; Martin Prado
How This Could Work Brilliantly: Street pitches in a forgiving park for a team that has scored the fourth-fewest runs in all of baseball, which makes for plenty of save opportunities in close games. Street also has a 37-save season under his belt and has double-digit saves in all of his eight major league seasons -- he's averaged 28 saves over the last three years. And if San Diego's low run-scoring output frightens you, consider this: Heath Bell had three straight seasons of 40-plus saves from 2009 to 2011 as the Padres closer. In 2009, they scored the second-fewest amount of runs; in 2010, the ninth-fewest; and, in 2011, the third-fewest. Scoring the fourth-fewest runs in MLB is a bit of a luxury for the team.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: Street has the skill to be an effective closer, he just doesn't always have the health -- he hasn't pitched 65 innings in a season since 2008.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Andrew Cashner is averaging 98.3 mph on his fastball this year?"

3. Erik Bedard, SP, Pirates
Ownership: 55 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: He's won one game in five starts so far this year.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Cameron Maybin; Paul Goldschmidt; in a package deal with Justin Morneau for Vance Worley; Todd Helton
How This Could Work Brilliantly: Bedard's problem has always been with injuries -- since 2004, he's thrown over 100 innings just five times. But a healthy Bedard is an effective one: he has a 3.66 career ERA and has produced a sub-1.20 WHIP in two seasons. His trade to Boston -- and subsequent poor performance -- masked a stellar half-season in Seattle last year, where he had a 1.17 WHIP in 91 1/3 innings before the deal. On top of it all, Bedard is usually good for a strikeout per inning.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: With Bedard, there is always a chance he can get hurt. And before his start on April 28 against the Braves, the Pirates had given him a whopping .75 runs of support per game.
But ...: The Pirates have scored seven or more runs in two of their last three games.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Ugh. 1-4 but I need a pitcher bad!"

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4. Ian Stewart, 3B, Cubs
Ownership: 18 percent of leagues.
Why He's A Buy Low: Stewart is currently batting .173, with two home runs and 18 strikeouts.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Todd Helton; Chris Parmelee; Scott Rolen; Alex Presley; as a package deal with Drew Stubbs for Desmond Jennings
How This Could Work Brilliantly: Stewart's defense has been praised by Cubs manager Dale Sveum, and while that won't directly help your Fantasy stats, it will keep him in the lineup regularly, which will give him steady at-bats. And those at-bats should be getting a little better; Stewart insists that he is hitting balls well -- they're just going into the gloves of the opposing teams. The numbers actually bear this out; Stewart's batting average on balls in play is .197, and his line drive percentage is at 21 percent, implying that he's been a victim of bad luck. For a Fantasy team looking to replace an injured Evan Longoria, for instance, Stewart could be a very deep gamble that might pay off in a big way once the balls start going where the fielders aren't.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: All that being said, Stewart has a career batting average of .232 and has just one season of 20 or more home runs.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Blech. .173. I'm desperate without Longoria, though. I guess I'll relieve you of your Ian Stewart anchor. LOLCATZ."

5. Delmon Young, OF, Tigers
Ownership: 61 percent of leagues
Why He's A Buy Low: After a drunken incident in New York, Young was suspended by MLB for seven days.
Who People Are Trading For Him: Tim Hudson; Adam Lind; Colby Rasmus; as a package deal with Jacoby Ellsbury for Shane Victorino
How This Could Work Brilliantly: A former number one overall pick, Young had a bit of a breakthrough last year after being traded to the Tigers, hitting .274 with eight home runs in 168 at- bats. He has hit as many as 21 home runs and stolen as many as 14 bases in a season. Over seven MLB seasons, he has a .287 average. And this latest transgression could force him to focus on the field and explode when he returns.
How this Could Blow Up In Your Face: It's not an exact science, but the last time Young found himself in trouble -- in 2006, after throwing a bat in the direction of an umpire -- he hit just 11 home runs. And even though the 21-homer and 14-steal seasons are nice, they didn't come in the same year, and the next-highest were 13 home runs and 10 steals.
What You Should Write In The "Comment" Line When Proposing The Trade: "Man! Remember when he threw the bat at the umpire, too?? What next??"

The Strange Case of Adam Lind ...

This came up in a podcast this week, and it's worth investigating here in the column: Adam Lind has become everyone's favorite throw-in to sweeten -- or, at least, even out -- a lot of trades. He's one of the top-10 traded players on CBSSports.com. Currently batting .203 with one home run, Lind is as tantalizing a nugget as any player in Fantasy Baseball: He could hit 35 home runs. He could bat .300. He could steal three bases. But he hasn't batted over .265 since 2009. And he only once went over 30 home runs, in the same year. The gap between his own percentage and his start percentage (74 percent owned; 45 percent started) further emphasizes Lind as a complementary piece to both teams and trades -- cast in the proverbial, "I have him on my bench, and I'll start him when he gets hot, at which point I can trade Prince Fielder for a pitcher ... or I just cut him for Bruce Chen if he stinks," role.

So here's your Fun Fact: In the last two days, trades involving Adam Lind have had an average of 4.41 players.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsi.com .


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