h2h Corner ~ The Buddy Garrity, Don Draper, Ed Norton Sales Convention

Buddy Garrity sales time (sell now)
When it is Buddy Garrity sales time, you should be moving players immediately. These are players that will likely regress to means or not perform as well as they have been (i.e., sell high candidates). In addition, they include guys I don’t think will perform well at all during the rest of the season. These are players you are best cutting your losses with.

Jose Bautista, John Buck, Rod Barajas, Jon Garland – Not surprisingly, I don’t think any of these guys will sustain their pace. It’s not like you can get much for them though, unless you are swindling a newcomer. So, if you are in a league with newcomers, go ahead and offer these guys around. None will maintain their current AVG/ERA/WHIP. Buck, Barajas and Bautista do have some power, so this isn’t a complete aberration, but they’ll accompany it with horrid averages.

Andy Pettitte – Pettitte is on pace to put up his best season ever – which is incredibly odd considering this is 16th season. The southpaw is sporting a nifty 1.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 5-0 record. He has done so while posting one of the lowest K/9 rates (5.8) and K/BB (1.81) of his career. He has been helped by a .269 BAbip, which is lower than his career mark of .312. With that record and playing for the Yankees, Pettitte should make a pretty nice trade chip. I’d be moving him because his ERA/WHIP will rise and he’s old. The odds he remains healthy are long.

Johnny Cueto Cueto is coming off two very impressive outings which have lowered his ERA to 4.07 and WHIP to 1.21. Those starts weren’t against premiere offensive talents (Pirates and Brewers) and in those starts batters hit .212 on balls in ball. Cueto can be unhittable at times but he always comes back to earth (mid-4.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP), so if you can sell based on the past few starts and an ERA around 4.00, I suggest doing so.

Jason Vargas – Vargas probably belongs in the first group, except that his success has been throughout the entire season. He has a 2.93 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Clearly, no one is going to assume he can maintain those numbers. That said, he does have seven good starts this season against some decent teams (including, Tampa twice and Texas). There has to be someone in your league who’s pitching has fallen apart (if they owned say Zambrano, Beckett, Vazquez, etc.). So there are desperate owners and with each solid start there is more validation in Vargas’s numbers. I’d try to move him after every decent start, especially to those who are at the bottom of the pack in pitching categories, and see what you can get.

Don Draper sales time (moderately/slyly begin to move)
The Don Draper sales time requires that you be a less obvious trade partner. I advocate proposing a range of players that are available. Make sure to include those players who you think your trade partner might slightly overvalue. If he is interested, emphasize the positive stats of your Don Draper candidate. However, don’t seem eager. The best reaction to a trade proposal is a slow one. Take your time; be fair and vague, like how Don Draper picks up women.

Brett Gardner – Gardner is on pace for a ton of SBs and has a 162-game average of 56 steals. However, that number is buoyed by the fact that he is getting on base far more frequently in 2010 than he ever has before (.391 OBP in 2010 versus .325 from 2007-2008). He isn’t really walking more, but rather has been a tad lucky on some hits falling (2010 BAbip: .359, career BAbip: .319). I think his average and OBP will come down over the course of the season, which means he’ll have less stolen base opportunities and thus less stolen bases. I’m not saying you dump him, but if someone is buying based on his current pace, you almost have to do the deal.

JD DrewDrew has been hitting gangbusters of late. Since May 1, he has raised his average from .200 to .280. None of this should surprise you, as Drew kills the ball in the month of May. He also, typically, torches the rawhide in June before coming back to earth for the rest of the season. I’m advocating that you ride Drew’s hot streak then start to try to move him in late May. Most trade talks take a few weeks to get done, so you’ll have gotten the majority of Drew’s peak before you unload him.

Phil Hughes – I don’t mean to pick on Yankee pitchers, but it sure is fun. As you remember, I thought Hughes would be a good sleeper coming into the season, as he was likely to win a spot in the rotation. He has certainly impressed to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. Of course, pitching in the AL East in Yankee stadium makes it incredibly unlikely that he’ll maintain such dominant ratios. In addition, he has profited from a .223 BAbip. I don’t think he’ll fall off the face of the earth, but he is probably at his zenith of value at the moment. You aren’t moving him in keeper leagues, but, in regular leagues, I’d be putting feelers out there.

CJ Wilson – CJ Wilson has been dominant since returning to the starting rotation. In addition, he has a pretty good twitter presence. Unfortunately, like Hughes, Wilson has benefited from a lucky BAbip (.250). However, that is not the real reason I’m advocating moving Wilson. Wilson has never pitched over 73.2 innings in a major league season. In fact, he only eclipsed that number twice in the minors (in 2002 and 2003). I simply have no idea what will happen to him when he reaches 100, 125, 150 IPs. Will his arm break down? Will he lose some juice on his stuff? The time to be asking these questions is now, before it happens. However, I’d make finding the answers to those questions someone else’s job.

Mike Leake – Leake has been nothing short of phenomenal for the Reds. However, he has the same concerns as Wilson: a lucky BAbip (.248) and no track record of throwing a significant amount of high leverage innings. In addition, most young pitchers face an adjustment period the second time they pitch against teams. Oh and there is one more concern: the potential the Reds want to limit his innings. This doesn’t seem to be in Dusty Baker’s nature and the Reds could be competing for a play-off spot so it is unlikely, but still a possibility. Add all these concerns up and I’m pricing Leake to move. There is just too much uncertainty surrounding the guy.

The Ed Norton hold pat time (Keeping the Faith)
I don’t love Edward Norton because he’s an Orioles fan (although that doesn’t hurt). I love him because he is an awesome actor. The players in his group can’t be moved for fair market value and shouldn’t be dropped in any competitive league. They’ll likely rebound to near draft value so don’t sell low. Instead, if you see any of these guys available, you should be buying at a discount.

I’ve spoken about Josh Beckett, Rick Porcello, and Gavin Floyd ad nauseum lately. You still need to hold the fort with those guys.

Brian Matusz – While Matusz has improved over last year’s ERA, his WHIP hasn’t followed suit. Both numbers (4.18 and 1.50) are not kind on a team’s ratios. However, there are a number of things in favor of the young lefty: an unlucky BAbip (.347) and a 7.5 K/9 rate. When that luck corrects itself, his WHIP will come down and you’ll start benefiting from all those Ks. I’m buying Matusz.

Carlos Zambrano – While Zambrano has been jerked around all season (and the latest is a move to long relief), he has posted his best ever strike-out rate (10.6). His jet-sized ERA (7.07) and WHIP (1.89) are catastrophic, but he has been about as lucky as John Locke (the character); to wit a .429 BAbip. My hope is that the move to long relief serves as a chance to “stretch” Zambrano out for a potential return to the starting rotation. In 10-team leagues, you can probably drop him, but in deeper leagues, he’ll eventually provide a good source of Ks.

Scott Baker – In 2009, Baker posted a useful 4.37 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, while giving up 8.6 hits/9, 1.3 HRs/9, and 2.2 BB/9, and striking out 7.3 batters per nine. In 2010, he has given up 1.1 HRs/9 and 2 BBs/9, and struck out 7.8 batters per nine innings. However, his 2010 ERA (4.93) and WHIP (1.36) are noticeably worse than 2009. The reason? He is giving up 10.2 hits per nine innings, mostly because he is saddled with a .336 BAbip. I actually think Baker is in for a better 2010 than his 2009 (owing to an improved K:BB rate). I wouldn’t be parting with him unless you are getting top dollar.

Adam Lind – Lind has seen his average drop from .274 on May 1 to .225 on May 17. During that time he has hit .143 on balls in play. In fact, over the last 28 days, his BAbip is a paltry .197. His career BAbip is a nice .311. Expect Lind to come back and post a reasonable average over the remainder of the season. He might not hit the 35 HRs he did last year, but 30 is definitely not out of the question. Now isn’t the time to panic.

Stats as of 12:00 PM ET May 18.

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