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So long, farewell, goodnight, Prince Fielder. One of the most disappointing starts to the 2014 season has been Mr. Fielder with his .162/.205/.216 line.  To exacerbate things, his offseason move to Texas led to him being hyped heading into drafts and his current owners paying top dollar to roster his .421 OPS. Following a disappointing 2013 season, his slow start has caused some owners to panic, pointing to his inability to walk or hit a home run. So what do I recommend doing at this point? Buy Prince Fielder while you still can. I really don’t like using “small sample size” to dismiss early starts, because it feels like the lazy way out. A better approach would be to see that Fielder has had 0 for 4 games against Alex Cobb, David Price, etc., notice that his batted ball distribution hasn’t dramatically changed, and remember why he was rated so highly in drafts. Even with the slow start, I’d be surprised if Fielder didn’t improve on last year’s .279/.362/.457 line this year, especially the slugging. And while it’s on my mind, here’s a few other players who have had surprising starts and what it means for OPS and OBP leagues:

Anthony Rizzo has been fantastic so far. Since I’ve already been at a few Cubs games, I can say that the main thing I’ve noticed was his improved approach against lefties. Yes it’s early, but it’s still a good sign. If he’s able to improve against lefties, that would make him a good bet to beat his pre-season projections. A .270/.350/.500 line is a reasonable expectation, with slight upside from there.

Chris Carter has struck out in 44% of his plate appearances, which is pretty remarkable. He’s also hitting far more ground balls at the expense of fly balls, which hurts his chance of hitting home runs. His OBP will improve, but I don’t believe he has a good chance of topping anything decent, like .330. He could be worth a buy low offer in OPS leagues because 30 homers and last year’s .770 OPS is attainable going forward.

Alexei Ramirez has one of the best OBPs in the league right now, which was hard for me to type because he’s had around a .300 OBP and a .670 OPS over the past couple years. I don’t think anything has changed though, so if you own him for some reason in an OBP or OPS league, I would absolutely look to sell high if that is possible.

Jason Kubel is worth owning and had been fairly consistent before his down year in 2013. At best, he may give you a .330 OBP and a .450 slugging, which isn’t the greatest endorsement, but is still useful as your fifth outfielder. It’s worth noting that he does better against righties so he’s more valuable in daily leagues.

Joe Mauer could be a great buy low, although he has a .386 OBP, despite his slow start. His track record is long enough to give me confidence that he will have no trouble topping an .850 OPS going forward.

 

You can find Tom Jacks on Twitter @votetomjacks. He spends far too much time praying for the Cubs, planning his next concert, and wondering if there’s an instrument that could ever rival the theremin (there isn’t).

From Around The Web

  1. VinnyCora says:
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    Drafted Prince 7th overall, team pretty much sucking it up but I’m in for the long haul. Love buying low. Just traded Khris Davis and Boneface for Lynn and Gyorko.

    Who wins this trade?

    Pence, Jordan Zim

    Austin Jackson, Gray, Smyly

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @VinnyCora: Love the gyorko trade. I’d want the pence side.

      • jal179 says:
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        @Tom Jacks:

        I disagree- gimme sonny

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @jal179: Even if Zim and Sonny are close, I think Pence is an upgrade over Jackson.

          • jal179 says:
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            @Tom Jacks:

            I think Pence played over his head in Sept last year boosting his number– add Smyly to that deal and I’m all for the Sonny side. Zimms numbers were boosted greatly by Ws and frankly Id dont chase those….

  2. Shake N Bacon says:
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    Definitely agree with you on Rizzo. I’ve been watching most of his at bats and he’s figured out a better approach to lefties this year. One of the announcers referred to it as a “poke and a walk” approach. Try and go 1-3 against lefties with a walk, don’t try to do too much and then do most of his damage against RHP.

    He’s having much better swings all around this year. OBP league or not, I think he’s gonna have a good year.

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Shake N Bacon: I’m crossing my fingers that it continues…

  3. Principal Blackman says:
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    Been offered Butler in exchange for Chisek in my 6×6 (OPS and k/9) league. My other RPs are Veras Lindstrom and Mujica. I should do this trade, right?

  4. Tulogit says:
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    Sorry for the lame question but I’m tired of Castro sucking at catcher. Should I replace him with Tyler Flowers, Russ Martin, Salty balls or zunino? Thanks and good article!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Tulogit: No worries. I’d still stick with Castro, but Martin could be decent

  5. RotisserieJedi says:
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    Nice post Tom. I know you’re all about the OBP/OPS but your comments about Fielder reopened my eyes. Fielder, E5, Will Myers, Gyorko (Grey wrote about), all of these guys have started slow, and all of these guys have been dropped in leagues where they’re not on the “No Drop” list. I’m 100 percent sure that in public leagues, if Fielder was not on the undroppable list, someone would have dropped him by now. It actually really calms me down to realize that many of our fellow “fantasybaseballers” just don’t learn!

    I would be remiss if I did not chastise you for somehow failing to make any mention of Joey “The God of OBP” Votto! In a 5×5 OBP league, he’s currently languishing in the #139 zip code. My somewhat serious question is: (warning preamble) Unlike the other players I mentioned above, some of Joey’s value seems tied to BILLY HAMILTON. So may question (finally) is: do you expect a bounceback to form for Votto. Or do you expect a drop in his production if Billy’s OBP doesn’t increse dramatically?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @RotisserieJedi: Thanks! And you read my mind- I nearly mentioned Votto. I’m not worried about him and I actually think Billy will improve too. Maybe I’ll have to write about that next week…

      • That guy says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Please do. I can’t stop putting Hamilton in my lineup! I have serviceable+ options (J. Upton, Craig, Kemp, Heyward) but need SB. Also wondering if I should trade him before he kills his value in my 10 man 4 keeper 6×6 (no OBP/OPS, thankfully)

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @That guy: Will do. He’s faced some pretty tough pitchers and it’s still early, so I’m not too worried.

          • That guy says:
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            @Tom Jacks: thanks! I’ll try to make it back. This is my first visit to the site. Oddly enough I clicked a link to get here but my brother recommended you guys the other day :-)

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
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              @That guy: Well, welcome! And see you around…

  6. Fish says:
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    I thought recommending Joe Mauer is breaking the 11th Commandment given by Grey to his Chosen People from on top that stupid ass hill in the center of the Juice Box (Minute Made Park)?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Fish: Haha I figure it’s a bit different in obp leagues, since Mauer is so much better than the average catcher

  7. Mike says:
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    Would a keeper league trade in a OBP/SLG (plays slightly different than OPS, surprisingly) of Jose Abreu and Justin Upton for Prince Fielder and Bryce Harper be a smart move in the long run?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Mike: I would love to get the fielder and harper side in that deal.

      • Mike says:
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        @Tom Jacks:

        Ok. Since it’s a keeper league, I was getting held up by Prince’s age compared to the other players involved in the deal.

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Mike: I think Harper is easily the best player in the deal in a keeper league, so that’s why any concerns with fielder don’t bother me

  8. Riggs says:
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    Fielder+Holliday for Abreu+Trumbo, which side?

    • That guy says:
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      @Riggs: Fielder/Holliday for me

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Riggs: I agree with That guy. The fielder side.

  9. Alan says:
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    Greetings Mr Jacks,

    So I have 3OF and 2 UT

    Jose Bautista, A Gordon and J Upton for OF and Belt/Ortiz at UT. Have Pagan/Yelich for bench

    If I kinda need steals bad is it worth dropping yelich or pagan in 7×7 with OBP and SLG or just stick with the pagan/yelich duo?

    Thanks

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Alan: I’d probably stick with them, but who are your other options?

      • Alan says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Guys like EY, fowler, calhoun and de aza are available. Thanks for the feedback

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @Alan: I’d drop yelich for fowler if it’s not a keeper league

          • That guy says:
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            @Tom Jacks: not Kalhoun? Poised for excellent run production once he starts hitting. Should get a decent number of steals too, imo

            • Tom Jacks

              Tom Jacks says:
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              @That guy: I like Kalhoun, but I prefer Fowler in this case since he’s looking for steals and I think Fowler will have the slightly better OPS too. I think Kalhoun would be better in a standard 5×5 format.

              • That guy says:
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                @Tom Jacks: ah, makes sense. I don’t have any experience using OPS so just asking. Appreciate the info, and not coincidentally, interaction with the author

                • Tom Jacks

                  Tom Jacks says:
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                  @That guy: Thanks for chiming in. I’m a fan of feedback and other views on questions from commenters.

  10. marc says:
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    MY Team is hitting
    Mauer, hosmer, prado, donaldson, zobrist, alveraz, pence, holliday, cuddyer, jennings, morse,Matt adams,aramis, smoak
    Pitchers
    Cliff lee,bumgarner,sale, cole,dickey, Jesse chavez, colon, kimbrel,rosenthal, Soria, fister

    As you can see I punted Steals is there in suggestions on how to make my team better or should I wait it out and see

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @marc: Your team seems fine to me. I’d hold, unless any buy low opportunities present themselves.

      • marc says:
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        @Tom Jacks: Alright I’m in a league with Seattle guys who want smoak any buy low suggestions on pitchers you can think of

        • marc says:
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          @marc: victorino yelch bourn Blackmon and middlebrooks on waiver right now

          • Tom Jacks

            Tom Jacks says:
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            @marc: Victorino is worth an add if you have an open DL slot

        • Tom Jacks

          Tom Jacks says:
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          @marc: Homer Bailey and Jordan Zimmermann could be good buy low pitchers

    • jal179 says:
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      @marc:

      With 3 elite starters maybe kick tires on a Ellsbury or Segura type. Cole for Segura maybe?

      OR SAGNOF all the steals !!

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @jal179: Cole for Segura is definitely an interesting idea

  11. nick the dick says:
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    Wow what are the odds you write this right when I get offered prince in a deal. 10 team h2h 3OF 3UTIL standard 5×5:
    My team is stacked due to a good draft and huge trade I made where I got harper, heyward, andrus, and santana and then got rizzo off waivers somehow, fairly shallow league.
    C-santana 1b-edwin 2b-hill 3b-donaldson SS-desmond OF&UTIL-jones/puig/harper/heyward/pence/andrus/rizzo SP-JoFer/ryu/wacha/teheran/salazar/cingrani/archer/santana/walker(dl) RP-koji/balfour/cishek/valverde
    Was offered my harper and ryu for his fielder and liriano. Not the hugest fan of liriano and I think harper will be big this year, plus steals but its enticing. Whaddaya think?

    • That guy says:
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      @nick the dick: edwin and ryu, maybe, but i say keep Harper. I like what ryu brings, may even be better than Liriano this year

      • nick the dick says:
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        @That guy: exactly my thoughts. Plus last year I went to draft ryu and accidentally clicked on jared burton and was pissed as ryu was solid all season so I’m reluctant to let go now. Prob better off just holding. I wouldn’t trade top guys I drafted this early into the season, id rather have edwin too. Thanks guy

        • That guy says:
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          @nick the dick: lol, who’s that? Ryu was a waiver for me couple weeks into the season. Too bad you weren’t able to capitalize on a good scout. Best thing about him is he made me regret dropping him when he hit that expected regression in the second half. Don’t make the same mistake I did!

          If I were you I would start working on a 2 for 1 deal so you can improve somewhere (maybe catcher, though I think Santana will put in a decent season) and open a roster spot for walker. If I remember right you’ll need that soon.

          • nick the dick says:
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            @That guy: Burton was speculative saves before perkins got the job but still definitely meant to hit ryu. I’m cool with just santana, league is ten teams with no MI/CI so free agent pool is always deep if I need it. Had gattis too but he was involved in that trade I mentioned. As far as walker, yeah I’ve been really debating who to drop as he could start tuesday and all my guys are too good to drop. Almost makes you hope a guy goes on the dl so you can keep everyone. Could be too with uehara hurting but pretty much the one guy id feel ok dropping is valverde. Only thing is I started with 5 closers so I could lock down ths category then henderson didn’t get the job and I traded robertson. Picking up valverde gave me 4 again but I lose him, then koji hits dl ill be down to 2 closers from 5 which really shits on my plan there. Gotta say poopie grande blowing the save tonight mightve just made my decision…

            • That guy says:
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              @nick the dick: lol, poopie grande. Love it. Might want to give him one more blown save, he used to bounce back pretty well after blowing a save. Can’t say much about what to expect from him, but can’t imagine you’d miss him much. There’s also a pretty good chance 4 or 5 new relievers pop up before the Break.

              2B could be a target for you. I like Hill as a backup but don’t trust him as a starter yet. I could be wrong, but Rizzo and Hill should net a good option. Just start with Kipnis and work your way down the list lol

              • Tom Jacks

                Tom Jacks says:
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                @That guy: I really like the idea of trying Hill and Rizzo for Kipnis

              • nick the dick says:
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                @That guy: ya hill is prob the weakest link out of everyone but still he’s solid if he’s healthy. Had utley too but dealt him also in that trade. As far as valverde (grey coined poopie grande), I absolutely wouldnt miss him its just rough going from 5 closers to 2 within two weeks. And I know more closers will pop up but then it becomes the same problem, who do I drop? Damn shallow leagues…I guess activating walker is worth losing the saves though. But ya I’m cool with just hill for now, if I need to there’s plenty servicable guys to fill in on FA

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @nick the dick: I agree with you guys – I wouldn’t make the deal, although it’s certainly not a bad offer.

  12. MATT says:
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    Would you deal Adrian Gonzalez for Prince Fielder straight up? OPS league.

    • jal179 says:
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      @MATT:

      Hells yes. Buy low on the Chubby royalty!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @MATT: Absolutely

  13. jal179 says:
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    I’m so pissed at Prince. I felt like he “fell” to me in the 2nd and could NOT lay off him with the 15th overall pick. Was loving my first 4 rds of A Jones, Prince, Freddie F, and Madbum….

    But Im losing patience with the chubby Ranger…. yes yes its only week 2 BUT honestly hes been shart.

    Is trading him for Matt Adams and Kimbrel a silly move?? 10 team h2h nonkeeper

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @jal179: It’s not silly, but I think you’d still be selling yourself short. Give him at least a couple more weeks. And I agree that getting him in the second round was considered a good value.

      • jal179 says:
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        @Tom Jacks:

        I think im gonna drop Jim Johnson and fill Prince spot with Laroche until he heats back up in the Texas sun

  14. MB says:
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    Hey Man, I need a 3B. Should I trade Belt for Aramis OR Freeman for Longo, Wright, E5? OPS+AVG league with 5 keepers. Thanks!

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @MB: I’d trade Freeman for Longo. Trading him for E5 would be fine too.

  15. Moscowitz says:
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    Hey,

    Haren, Straily, Eovaldi or Masterson ROS?

    Thanks

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Moscowitz: Despite his rocky start, I still like Masterson.

  16. stonepie says:
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    prince’s BABIP is a miniscule .184 and his walk rate is back up at 12%
    ride out the storm

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @stonepie: Yep, it seems unlikely that he’ll continue this slump

  17. Daniel0ascs says:
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    I have been offer Prince Fielder and Starling Marte for Adrian Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer. Thoughts?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @Daniel0ascs: You’re getting the Prince side, right? I like the deal for you.

    • stonepie says:
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      @Daniel0ascs: he’s selling low to buy high! hit accept ASAP!

      • Tom Jacks

        Tom Jacks says:
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        @stonepie: Yep, these kinds of trades, especially this early in the year, really affect the final standing in the league

  18. AJ says:
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    I just traded Pedroia for Prince in an OPS league, more or less straight up (couple of throw ins on each side). I already have Abreu so this limits my positional flexibility somewhat but I have Rendon to replace Pedroia. Given the start that Pedroia is off to, I was surprised that it worked. What do you think?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @AJ: I think it was a great move by you. Also, kinda surprised it worked.

    • That guy says:
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      @AJ: nice! I shopped Pedi for pitching and ended up with Segura and a 2nd round pick next year (with 4 keepers it has 6th round value). Love Abreu, wish I could have snagged him. Good deal, though, you won’t be disappointed how our ballpark treats Fielder!

    • goodfold2 says:
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      @AJ: it probably only worked due to both Prince’s ugly end to last year mixed with this year’s start.

      • That guy says:
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        @goodfold2: almost definitely, with a little disappointment in expectations for the new park. I like to think that most people simply don’t understand how averages work. Stats don’t come spaced out nicely so they get scared when it starts low not realizing the equalization, by default, must be above average. Take advantage when that happens!

        Yeah, I know it’s a little negative to think that, but am continually surprised by lack of common knowledge

  19. c0wfunk says:
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    Gmorning.. Guy in my league is looking for a 2b. I’ve got Wong and gyorko and with my team balance Wong fits better for my needs. Thinking about offering gyorko for heyward. Coco crisp is my 4th of / util2 and I’m a little worried about his wrist long term. How do you like gyorko for heyward?

    • c0wfunk says:
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      @c0wfunk: we are h2h cats 5 + obp and tb

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @c0wfunk: I’d do it. Heyward is even more valuable in an obp league.

  20. M-Bizz says:
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    Would you trade Jose Abreu or Adrian Gonzalez for Fielder?

    • Tom Jacks

      Tom Jacks says:
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      @M-Bizz: Yes, I’d trade either for him.

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