7/8/2014 3:38 P.M. ET
Fantasy Q&A: Should owners trade Upton for Cueto?
Participants in search of advice tweet what's on their minds this week
By Fred Zinkie / MLB.com
Tweet your questions each and every Monday to @Fantasy411 and you could find your answer in our weekly mailbag. Here are some of the topics that are puzzling fantasy owners right now:
How were Jeff Samardzija's Jason Hammel's and Brandon McCarthy's values affected by their trades to the AL? Will Addison Russell help this year? -- @fink_thinks1
Moving to the American League is usually a bad thing for a pitcher's fantasy value, but in the case of Samardzija and Hammel, the trade could be an improvement on their already lofty status. Samardzija could especially benefit from pitching in front of arguably the most productive offense in baseball. The Notre Dame alum is an elite talent who can handle himself anywhere. He looked terrific against the Blue Jays on Sunday, and he should be able to manage AL offenses outside of possibly a road start against an elite squad.
Hammel is a slightly different story because he has struggled in previous AL trials. But Hammel has never had the chance to work in a home park that favors pitchers as much as O.co Coliseum. Like Samardzija, Hammel should be well-supported by his sluggers and defense. Mixed-league owners may want to bench Hammel in tough road starts, but that will likely comprise very few appearances.
The outlook for McCarthy is not nearly as rosy. The 31-year-old was far too hittable in his time with the D-backs, and it is hard to see him changing that pattern with the Yankees. McCarthy generates a fair number of ground balls, and his new infield defense is not talented enough to help him limit baserunners. If McCarthy tries to change his style and get the ball into the air, he will quickly run into trouble at Yankee Stadium, or in most road starts within his division. The Yankees are 12th in the AL in runs scored, so their offense will not help him out many nights. In general, New York starters have had little fantasy value this season and McCarthy is unlikely to change that pattern.
Russell is a terrific long-term prospect, but he will not help fantasy owners this season. No team in baseball is looking to the future more than the Cubs, and there is no reason to bring Russell to the Majors anytime soon. Fantasy owners will likely see Arismendy Alcantara and Javier Baez put on a Cubs uniform before Russell. But those in dynasty leagues can be excited about a Cubs lineup in the second half of 2015 that could include Alcantara, Baez, Kris Bryant, Russell and young veterans Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro.
What should I do with Shelby Miller ?? -- @_HappyMeal_
In mixed leagues, it is time to move on from Miller. With 50 free passes in 104 innings, his walk rate is simply too high for consistent success. It is possible that Miller will improve in the second half, and the Cardinals definitely have a great track record of working with their starters. But there are so many quality pitching options in mixed leagues, meaning owners can feel free to dump Miller to waivers and then consider bringing him back if he shows improvement. Starters such as Jeff Locke, Vance Worley, Jake Odorizzi, Danny Duffy and Jose Quintana are just a few of the names that are sitting on many mixed-league waiver wires. They are all pitching much better than Miller and can help teams right now.
Should I keep [Taijuan Walker ]? -- @unique2routine
At the moment, the best plan of action with Walker is to keep him on the bench and assess him later in July. The 21-year-old is considered one of the most talented young starters in baseball. His first-half injury could be a blessing in disguise, as Walker should be fresh in August and September when many starters are wearing down. Walker has made a pair of road starts since joining the Mariners on June 30, and he may find his starts more manageable when he makes appearances at pitcher-friendly Safeco Field. The right-hander is likely a mix-and-match option in mixed leagues for the second half, but he has the upside to be a permanent fixture if he can mature quickly.
I was offered [Justin Upton] [Brandon Moss] for [Johnny Cueto]? Yes or no and which one if yes? I have the best ERA & WHIP in the league -- @Enuff187
Fantasy owners knew that Cueto could be a good starter, but he has far exceeded expectations, as he has been a top-5 fantasy hurler so far this season. The 28-year-old has thrown five consecutive quality starts, so even if he has a bit of regression during the second half, he should still be a staff ace. During the second half, a fantasy team's lead in ERA and WHIP could quickly evaporate. The ratio categories can move faster than the cumulative ones because one fantasy team can see its ratios rise while another team's drops at the same time. For example, it is impossible for a fantasy team to lose strikeouts or saves, so teams can only catch up in those categories by racking up large totals. But in ERA, a leading club could rise from 2.70 to 2.85 during July, while the team in second place improves from 3.00 to 2.85 over the same span. The team in second did not have to catch up all the way, as the first-place club regressed and made the road shorter. For that reason, keeping Cueto is important unless the return is a consistent, outstanding slugger. Upton can have dominant stretches, but he can also disappear for entire months. He is a top-20 outfielder, but not an elite hitter. Moss is more consistent than Upton, but his inability to find consistent playing time vs. lefties caps his value. The return for Cueto should be a better hitter than Moss or Upton. If you are still in first place in ERA and WHIP in the middle of August, then you may be able to lower your trade demands. But for now, they should be very high.
Fred Zinkie is a fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.