While Major League Baseball marks its trade deadline tomorrow afternoon at 4 fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhPM, many Fantasy Baseball owners have a little more time to digest the MLB moves and act accordingly.  In the Hausier’s Krowedum Fantasy Baseball League, owners have until August 5th before trades are no longer an option for improvement.  The deals started last week as players like Roy Halladay, Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Howard turned up on the rosters of the teams at the top, acquired from those out of the running.   With many fantasy leagues facing deadlines over the next few weeks, it seems like a good time to discuss trade strategy and protocol from both sides of the transaction.

Contenders should always target statistical categories when making a trade and factor potential monetary gains into a player’s valuation.  For instance, if you find that there is potential for a bump of three points in a tightly bunched ERA category and the prize for winning your league is $500, you should give up significantly more for Joel Pineiro or Jarrod Washburn than you would have back in April or May.  They may not be players worthy of a high draft pick or stud keeper under normal circumstances but they are when you can win.  Don’t underbid.

Be alert for peripheral deals that can help you by hurting your opposition.  Earlier this week in the HK League, Bobby Carr found his Skippy Shakes looking up at the Shady Gradys.   Carr saw that he had a big lead in HR and was locked into 6th place in SB; 20 behind and 20 ahead of his closest rivals.  The Gradys however had a slim 2 SB lead over the Four Horsemen.  As Carr is just 6 points behind the second place Gradys in the overall standings, he sent Alex Rios to the Horsemen, hoping the addition would vault the Horsemen to the top of the category and take a valuable point away from a rival.  A deal like this can be more valuable to you than an acquisition.

If you’re back in the pack and find yourself selling instead of buying, act quickly, as the contenders will be willing to give up only so much and you could be left holding the bag.  Such is the case for Ken Jankowski of GMoney, who came out of the HK Fantasy Baseball draft with a team full of studs that would soon end up on the DL.  Disappointed, Kenny set out to improve draft position for next year.  The problem was, the four contenders had already made a number of deals for high draft picks and there wasn’t a lot left.  He moved Alex Rodriguez for a 2nd rounder and as of this writing was still holding Mark Teixeira without a deal in sight.

Finally, if you are a seller, don’t just turn your attention to your Fantasy Football Draft as soon as the deadline passes.  Keep an eye on your team as it is your responsibility to help maintain the integrity of the standings.  You don’t have to grab free agents every day, especially if it’ll cost you money, but you owe it to the rest of the league to replace injured player

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Buy Low- Don’t let Cliff Lee’s record fool you.  After a rough April, he’s spent the last three months throwing every bit as well as he did in winning the Cy Young last year.  Now that he’s in Philly, look for the W to pile up… Despite a seven game win streak, Rockies’ starter Aaron Cook remains a free agent in some mixed leagues.  Even if he’s not, see if his owner’s been paying attention… Cole Hamels has put three strong starts together since the break and might be a nice deadline pickup for your squad… Might be your last chance to

Sell High- The Orioles are actively looking to move George Sherrill with the Dodgers as one of the destinations.  With Jonathan Broxton entrenched in the closer’s role, Sherrill would no longer be a source for S… Tampa’s James Shields is winless in his last 7 starts… Rangers’ 2B Ian Kinsler has struggled for two months while his BA has dropped to .242.  If you’re NOT in a keeper league, he’d bring a boat load of draft picks… Clint Barmes’ slump has gotten so bad that Rockies’ manager Jim Tracy recently dropped him from 2nd to 8th in the batting order…

Grab Bag- Cubs’ C Koyie Hill has started every game since Geovany Soto went down with an injury. OF/3B is his only backup… Bronson Arroyo has put together quite a few solid starts over the last two months and could see his value leap if he’s traded to a contender… This might be your last chance to pick up the red hot Josh Willingham. Hope you read Moonlight two weeks ago…

Drop Zone- No room at the inn for Ben Francisco, who moves from the Indians’ OF to the Phillies’ bench… Magglio Ordonez needs just 130 plate appearances for a 2010 option for $18 million kicks in.  The way he’s hitting, can’t see the Tigers allowing that to happen… Royals’ reliever, Juan Cruz, is 0-2 with two blown saves since the All Star break… Despite the Angels’ success, Joe Saunders continues to struggle with a 6.58 ERA over his last 11 starts… Chad Tracy is no longer an option in even the deepest of NL only leagues as the D’Backs look to the future…

Sick Bay- Carlos Beltran estimates he is 2-3 weeks away from a return to the Mets lineup after sitting out with a bone bruise in his knee… Yanks’ hurler Chien Ming Wang will undergo season ending surgery, as will Twins’ starter Kevin Slowey… Seattle 3B Adrian Beltre is expected back from a shoulder injury in two weeks… Houston’s Lance Berkman is on the 15 day DL with a strained calf…

Keep an eye on Royals’ hurler Gil Meche over his last few starts.    Sunday, in his first outing since throwing a career high 132 pitches in going the distance vs. Arizona , Meche was lit up by the Cardinals to the tune of 9 ER in just 3 IP… Look for the Cubs’ slumping young hitters to get a little boost with the addition of hitting coach Von Joshua.    After firing Gerald Perry, Chicago reached into its farm system to promote Joshua, who established strong relationships with the likes of Geovany Soto and Ryan Theriot as they rose though the Cubs’ system… Yovani Gallardo, despite another stellar performance on Sunday vs. the Tigers, lost his fourth of the season.    With any kind of offensive support, (he gained a 1-0 win against the Pirates in which his HR was the only run), Gallardo might be 10-1… Have to wonder how long the Padres can remain competitive without starters Jake Peavy and Chris Young, both on the DL… Looks like Seattle ace Felix Hernandez has finally decided to live up to his “King Felix” moniker…Cito Gaston is the latest AL’er to whine about losing a pitcher during Interleague play after losing closer Scott Downs to injury after Downs was hobbled running the bases in Philly.   Gaston, in much the same rant as Hank Steinbrenner after the Yankees lost Chien Ming Wang last year, bemoaned the fact that AL pitchers are not used to running the bases.   A professional athlete not used to putting one foot in front of the other?! C’mon, Cito…

Buy Low- Gotta love the warmer weather and the affect it has on players dealing with wrist and hand issues.    In Chicago, Derrek Lee has been on fire; adding a power stroke to supplement his rising BA… In Boston , David Ortiz has started to calm the fears of Boston fans thinking he might be through.    Not only has he popped 5 HR over the last two weeks, his Sunday blast was over the Green Monster, something he wasn’t able to do early in the season as he dealt with the lingering effects of a hand injury…Casey Blake is the latest Dodger to step up and fill the void left by steroid cheat Manny Ramirez… In St. Louis , Adam Wainwright has been pitching like the ace of the staff for the last month.    At an unspectacular 7-4, he might be able to be had… Moonlight followers jumped on Cliff Lee a few weeks ago while his poor won-loss record was camouflaging a stellar season.    This may be your last chance to acquire the Cleveland ace… Kevin Millwood, the leader of a Texas rotation that has the Rangers in contention, struck out 10 on Sunday in lowering his ERA to 2.62…

Sell High- Time to cut your losses and sit Jay Bruce for a little while as the Reds’ OF has seen his BA drop as low as .215… Vernon Wells, mired in a season long slump that may or may not have to do with his health, may be losing the confidence of his manager.

Grab Bag- The Pirates seem to have lost all patience with Brandon Moss as indicated by the increased playing time of Delwyn Young; a nice grab in an NL only league… Can’t find a reliable starter in you AL only league?    Why not turn to O’ middle man, Brian Bass, instead?    He’s 3-0 1.117 over his last 23 IP an could eventually find himself in the Birds’ rotation…

Drop Zone- Arizona ’s Doug Davis has not only been cuffed around in his last few starts but has a very uneasy relationship with new D’Backs’ manager A.J. Hinch.     Davis may be the odd man out when Brandon Webb returns to the rotation… Don’t know if the Giants can afford to remove Jonathan Sanchez (2-7 5.43) from the rotation but you can’t afford not to…

Sick Bay- Edinson Volquez is about ten days from returning to the Reds’ rotation as he continues to rehab his elbow… Brad Lidge will be back in the Phillies’ bullpen sometime this week… Jake Peavy could be out as long as three months with an ankle injury… Carlos Quentin will likely not return to the Chi Sox until the All Star break and, even then, will still be at risk of a recurrence of the plantar fascitis that has plagued him… Tigers’ OF Carlos Guillen may be facing shoulder surgery…

Moonlight’s Final Report Card

Never let it be said that anyone mistook Moonlight for Mel Kiper Jr.  While the ESPN NFL Draft pundit subjects each franchise to his highly subjective scrutiny each April, he rarely, if ever, looks back at his own projections to review how successful or disastrous they might have been.  Not so here at the Fantasy Forecast.

It is the nature of Roto players to not only crow about their selections that worked out but also bemoan those picks that derailed their chances at winning.  So, as a dyed in the wool Roto man myself, here is the Moonlight report card for 2008.  A review of the fantasy sleepers that panned out and the studs that blew up.

Best Picks- SP A.J. Burnett fell just short of 20 W in Toronto while leading the AL in K. SP Rich Harden remained mostly healthy and posted an incredible ERA and K ratio.   C Geovany Soto worked his way up to the middle of the Cubs’ order by September while posting 23 HR and 86 RBI in his first full year.  OF Corey Hart gave the Brewers a 20-20 season while Rays’ C Dioner Navarro made his first All Star team. In Texas, 2B Ian Kinsler was leading the league in BA and TB when he went down in August and Rockies’ OF Brad Hawpe was a second half RBI machine. Even Manny Ramirez, devalued in many drafts, brought smiles to those who followed Moonlight’s advice.

Worst Picks- Tigers’ 1B, 3B, SS Carlos Guillen made a mockery of his 100 RBI projection with a sub-par fantasy season filled with injury.  Troy Tulowitzki did the same.  What many fail to realize, however, is that he was really bad before he got hurt, raising questions about the Rockies’ SS heading into ’09.  Rickie Weeks was a Moonlight favorite who turned into a bust as he spent most of the year battling to raise his BA over .220. In Houston, C J.R. Towles was so bad, the Astros turned to Brad Ausmus.

Incomplete-Angels’ C Mike Napoli started and finished the season on fire.  It was the injury plagued middle that turned out to be the problem.  Still, a C who pokes 20 HR in under 300 AB has value in any season.  The Twins spent most of the summer with their best pitcher in Rochester.  In a financial gambit that likely cost them the AL Central crown, they left SP Francisco Liriano in AAA where he posted a 10-1 record with a sub 2.00 ERA rather than recall him and start his arbitration clock.

Best Call-SP Chad Billingsley would be the Dodgers’ ace by year end.

Worst Call- Braves’ OF Jeff Francoeur would win the NL MVP award.  (The HK Fantasy League has had a lot of fun with this one.)

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