Returns On Matt Harvey, Buying Matt Moore, JP And Buck, Raising Cain & Pain And Gain


Friday night was outstanding, and not just because I was up all night to get lucky. No, far before the clock struck 4 a.m. – when a towering figure sporting an earpiece informed me that my dancing/air punch grooving would no longer be tolerated inside the establishment — Citi Field featured enough electricity to power the entire city during Strasburg v. Harvey 1. The best part? It more than lived up to the hype, at least from a Mets fan/Harvey Fantasy owner perspective. Strasburg clearly didn’t have his primo stuff, giving up four runs, two earned, lasting only six innings, but Harvey did. Something he’s had in every start this year. Through four turns, the Mets ace of the future present is sitting with a sub-one ERA, allowing two-thirds of a base runner per frame, fanning over a batter an inning, while working into at least the seventh in each outing. If I weren’t so afraid of the dark, I’d say he’s been lights out. Now, almost a month into the season, Harvey’s been far and away the most valuable Fantasy hurler. And as much as I’d like to witness any pitcher finish a season with a (35-0)/0.93 ERA/0.66 WHIP/240 K stat line – hate to tell ya – it’s just not going to happen. The majority of us understand that, mainly because we’re not certifiably insane, but not everyone comes to grip with reality so easily. They live in the bizarro Matrix, where Bizarro Boller is rules over all.

The easy answer is OH HELL YA. As quickly as you can. His value will never touch this vertex again, probably for the rest of his career. So like I outlined with Bryce Harper during the season’s first week, you owe it to your team to sell high. If you’re serious about still being in first place come September, that is.

Normally, whenever I talk about “selling high” on any player, I immediately get a string of nasty of e-mails – more than usual – telling me I’m a hater. Completely untrue, except when it comes to Howie Kendrick. I spew venom in Howie’s direction at every junction. But not Harvey. I think he’s a terrific talent, and will certainly be a very useful Fantasy commodity. And yes, it’s certainly possible to win your championship with Harvey as your ace, he’s a borderline Top 10 starting pitcher. But, it seems Stitchules, the God of baseball alchemy, has taken a dash of hyped prospect, mixed it with an upper 90s fastball, added a giant market and topped it off with an unsustainable start resulting in a transmutation more valuable than a Honus Wagner rookie card lined with rhodium – embodied in the form of Harvey.

Now comes the hard part. What can you get for him?

That question is a Fantasy Rubik’s Cube, one where the stickers don’t peel off very easily. Fortunately, I’m like Will Smith in the Pursuit of Happyness –minus being homeless and so off-puttingly nice – I can solve this puzzle.

Since I don’t play in your league, there’s no specific trade I can outline for you, but I can say I’ve personally seen Harvey swapped straight up for Felix Hernandez already. For reals. In another he was dealt for Adrian Beltre. And someone got the hilariously lopsided combo deal of Albert Pujols and Homer Bailey in a third. And these are just ones I’ve witnessed – all awesome exchanges for the former Harvey owners.

Since you’ll be losing, presumably, your premier pitcher shipping Harvey away, I’ve complied this handy list of hurlers I’d immediately trade Harvey for in a one-for-one deal. Why? Because I feel it’s helpful, and I’m always making lists anyway.

Justin Verlander
Clayton Kershaw
Felix Hernandez
Stephen Strasburg
Cliff Lee
Yu Darvish
Adam Wainwight
Madison Bumgarner
Cole Hamels
David Price
Max Scherzer

You’d be floored by how many of those names people would gladly give you for Harvey. You know what’s really the tops, though? You don’t have to settle for any of those trades, Harvey’s demand is higher, the precedent has been established. Ideally, you’re looking to get a pitcher from the bottom half of that list, or someone on the Matt Cain, Mat Latos, Jon Lester level; with a hitter to go along with them. A player like Ben Zobrist or Brandon Phillips or Billy Butler – basically a Top 50 batter that fills a position of need on your roster. Seems like too much to ask, doesn’t it? Since you’re compos mentis – although that may be in question since you’re reading this – it should appear that way. But never underestimate the value you can extract solely from hype. Much like a whiff of Sex Panther, hype clouds the senses; it’s a twister, and once you’re caught in it, there’s no escape until it passes. We’re currently in the eye; it’s almost run its course, so sell now or be doomed to a fate of diminished returns.

Now, let’s say you’re in the other camp, one of the crazies that wants to give up their entire team for Harvey, I have a solution that should placate your problem, temporarily at least.

Say hello to Matt Moore.

Moore pitches in the AL and is left-handed – weirdo – making him essentially the mirror/mirror version Matt Harvey. But where’s the love? It’d be there if Moore played in NYC instead of… ahhhhh… wherever he the hell plays. In fact, if he wasn’t a Ray, you probably could have traded him for Mike Trout halfway through his Tuesday night lockdown of the Yankees: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K. His only blemish being a hanger Robinson Cano mashed into the bleachers – something he does every once and again. So now, in four starts, Moore’s stats are eerily similar Harvey’s. But he probably won’t command half the return in a trade. So if you want to make a deal for a burgeoning ace, you’ll give up far less for Moore’s services and may actually end up with the superior Fantasy asset by season’s end. IMDABES Remember Ryan Braun and Mike Trout’s slow starts? THAT WAS WEEKS AGO! Or so it seems anyway. It’s important to check in every so often to see who’s going to be the best player from this point forward. Right now, there is no single player I would trade for Trout, expect Braun. Hedabes… SWAG!


After living through his Hare Krishna experience – “Everything’s about Krishna!” – and getting rejected by a pair of tweens at a Stones concert; it’s been nice to see Harry Crane emerge unscathed out the other side, finally nutting up and demanding his fair share in SCDP. Harry has been a favorite of mine for years, mainly because he’s really one of the few characters that seems like he could exist in the present, along with covert Sci-Fi enthusiast Ken Cosgrove. But he’s stepped his game up a level this year, and it’s not just the new, Poochie-esque, in your face attitude or those fresh sideburns… it’s the suits. Behold their majesty.

Of course, Harry still doesn’t compare Stan Rizzo. The greatest of all time. This week, Stan spent the entire episode locked in a private room, working on Project K, geeking out at the first munchies fueled mention of lunch – A regular occurrence for anyone with this beard, past or present.


Lorenzo Cain morphed into Ted Williams during a four game stretch last week, going 11-for-16, smacking a long fly and swiping two bags. Is this finally the breakout for which the Fantasy community has been since he arrived in Kansas City as piece 1A, with Alcides Escobar, in the Zack Greinke deal? Slow your roll for a moment. While I’m hesitant to look at any advanced stats so early in the season, sample size is just too tiny, Cain’s ridiculous .455 batting average of balls in play (BABIP) says regression is coming. And when that happens, say goodbye to that plus-.300 average and .431 OBP. When Cain was coming up in the Brewers system, there were always rumblings of a 20/20 season in his future, I just don’t see that, though. Yes, he hit seven home runs in just 244 plate appearances last season, stealing 10 bags; translated out to an entire season it would be roughly 18 HR and 26 SB. So if he can stay healthy for the entire season, and make a leap at age 27, that potential exists – it’s just not going to happen. For starters, he’s only played more than 130 games in a season twice in his pro career: 132 in 2006 in rookie ball, and 134 in 2011 between AAA and the Royals. Injuries are impossible to predict, but those who’ve succumbed to them in the past are far more likely to get hurt again. And, since he was such a known prospect, people tend to overrate his power. Cain watched 16 leave the yard in 2011 in AAA, by far the most in any one season. After that, we have to go back to 2008 when he split time between high-A and AA, when he managed 11 HR. I’m sorry I deflated your Cain balloon, but we’re not looking at the next Top 20 OF here. Top 40, sure, if the speed keeps up, but he’s more of a backend Fantasy outfielder, not someone you should be targeting in a trade. That would be Carlos Gomez.


ICYMI – which I recently figured out, years later, stands for “in case you missed it”, crystallizing my belief I have a series of undiagnosed learning disabilities – I broke down the benefits of streaming pitchers a few weeks back. Many complained it was too long, to which I responded, “Get a better attention span, PAL!”, but I eventually felt bad so I cooked up this helpful video for the ADD, and its hyperactive brother ADHD, crowd.


Do you know why the Blue Jays gave up John Buck just minutes after acquiring him? Because John Buck Jr., sometimes known as JP Arenciba, was already on the squad. I throw the concept of selling high out for a lot of players because, well, they warrant it. But Buck and Arenciba are not sell-highs. I mean, they are, but no one’s buying. Where people can see the upside oozing from Matt Harvey’s pores, they understand power catching duo is fraudulent. If you can get any sort of return for either, take it. Buck’s probably posted 50-percent of his total 2013 stats already, but fortunately, a slight selling window has been opened because of Travis d’Arnaud’s broken foot. The Mets catching prospect is expected to miss the next six to eight weeks with the injury, so what you have to do now is convince someone in your league that Buck isn’t going to lose his job sometime in this first week July. Now, he is going to lose his job, expect to see d’Arnaud in Queens as soon as he can stand without crutches. Just remember, when you’re doing the hard sell, don’t mention that part. Also, there’s absolutely no chance Arenciba keeps his average anywhere close to his current .250. Not walking once for every 28 strikeouts. It just doesn’t work that way. I will concede he could finish with 30 HR – not likely, but certainly possible – and that number would be higher too if the Jays played every game at Rogers Centre – Arencibia has hit all seven HR at home – but he’s going to be an anchor to your average. At least in Roto leagues you’ll look at the end of the year and see some decent counting power totals. In head-to-head formats, I guarantee you’ll drop him after suffering through consecutive 0-for-30 weeks. So see if there are any takers.


We all feel this way. Just embrace it.


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