Second thoughts on Price
But I digress.
I pretty much wanted to be Fonzie. I had the leather jacket, worked on my thumbs up and perfected the ability to snap loudly with either hand, although this never resulted in girls in poodle skirts running over to me and swooning on my shoulder.
But the one place I've always diverged from Arthur Fonzarelli is when it comes to admitting I was wrong. The Fonz couldn't even say the word, while I'd say it's a cornerstone of my vocabulary. Now, to be fair, I'm right from time to time. But when I'm wrong, I have no problem admitting it, and better yet, learning from it. Does this make me a flip-flopper or a pragmatist? I don't know. But I do know that when it comes to fantasy sports, the ability to change your mind is directly related to your ability to change your team.
Casing the joint
It's far too easy during the course of the season to write off a player as a lost cause or a fluke because then it's easy to miss the fact that they've quietly produced at a level that demands a second look. Likewise, once a player becomes "untouchable" to an owner, it will take far too much evidence that the player is not that good before he is removed from the "untouchable" list.
However, if you're really looking to improve your team and make deals, it's important that every once in a while, you look back over the deals you've made and rejected and dig in to see if your opinion of the players involved has changed. If you can identify evidence of a new approach or uncover something in their situation that has changed, you have a real reason to reconsider.
I would go as far as to say you should look over the players you traded away, because we all have the tendency to hate on the guys we deal. If they stumble with their new team, we feel smarter, right? But if you moved Jonathan Papelbon in mid-May because a certain columnist whose name rhymes with "Schmon Schmeters" suggested he was looking less than dominant, that doesn't mean you can't try and get him back now if you're 10 saves away from gaining a half-dozen points.
In the spirit of this column's call for second looks, I went over the players I was stealing and dealing from the first few months of the year and found a trio from each column that have switched sides. And for the sake of not wasting your time, I won't even bother putting Fred Lewis in the "Three I'm Dealing" section. I'm sorry. I was wrooo wrooo wrong.
Three I'm stealing
Josh Johnson, SP, Marlins: Early on, I simply didn't believe he was ready to be as dominant as he has been all year long so close after Tommy John surgery in 2007. But at this point, he has kept a strikes/base on balls ratio close to four-to-one all season long, and he hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in a game since April 18th. The Marlins' mediocre record and weak closer situation will keep him from being a guy who wins more than 15 games this year, but if your roster needs an infusion of strikeouts accompanied by elite level ERA and WHIP, pay full price because this J.J. is dy-no-mite! (I know, I'm mixing my old school sitcoms.)
Matt Cain, SP, Giants: Less than a month ago, Cain's drop in strikeout rate scared me off his other selling points, but in his past five starts, Cain has struck out 34 in 35.2 innings. Did I mention he's undefeated in that span? Because of a paucity of pop in San Francisco, he'll have to be nearly perfect to continue on his 23-win pace, but there's actually a possibility he could perform better, considering his batting-average-against this season, .241, is higher than his career mark of .232. I'm more than a little buy-curious.
David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Is he back to being a guy who could belt 10 dingers and drive in 30 in any given month? No, probably not. But Papi has officially answered the question of whether his lack of power and production was physical or mental by batting .342 with four homers and an OPS of 1.168 in June. If his reflexes were shot or his power was gone, he might show flashes, but this is longer than a flash. Ortiz clearly has responded to being moved down in the order, and now believes that if he just hits the ball where it's pitched, rather than cheating to try and pull every fastball, he'll get his extra-base hits. You can see it in his new approach at the plate and in his demeanor, making him a player worth pursuing if he's still at a discounted rate.
Three I'm dealing
David Price, SP, Rays: You love that 3.46 ERA and 31 punch-outs in 26 innings, right? The dude has no-hitter stuff too. Yeah, well, Price also has shown the control of a cross-eyed drunk on rollerblades, and when he finally pounded the strike zone on Wednesday at Colorado, the result was no walks but 10 hits including two homers. You can expect great games and abysmal games, at least until he figures out how to get through a major league lineup more than twice. If you were counting on him to come up and be polished right away, I think he can be dealt for a safer, more established arm.
Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers: Early on, I thought Furcal's health was the only thing that could prevent him from being a valuable fantasy asset in 2009, but he's on pace to log more playing time than any year since 2006, yet he has been virtually worthless. The main issue is that he simply isn't stealing bases, or even trying to. Despite the fact that Furcal has seen more than half of his at bats come out of the leadoff position, he has attempted only seven swipes. Juan Pierre's 20 stolen base attempts is pretty good proof that it isn't Joe Torre's managerial style to squash Furcal's speed. He simply isn't running, so he's now someone you want to sell on reputation.
J.J. Hardy, SS, Brewers: Ouch. Rough day for NL shortstops in GTR-land. Hardy's recommendation came in the midst of his bounce-back May -- .313 batting average, .888 OPS -- and since he's always been a streaky batter, I expected the streak to last well into June and beyond. Instead, Hardy's June has looked every bit as bad as his April, and now his name is turning up in trade rumors in the real world. With middle infielders Herman Iribarren and Alcides Escobar both tearing up the Pacific Coast League, I think you deal him to someone with a hurt shortstop, because if he loses his starting role, all you can do is drop him.
Pulling the job
In The S.T.E.A.L. this week, Danny "Wrong Braun" Heifetz exchanged Cubs closer Kevin Gregg for Jayson Werth from Michael "Bernie Tradoff" Spettigue. Clearly, it was a classic deal swapping the scarcity of saves for the rounded, four-category production of the Phillies outfielder. What got me was I had been trying to work out a deal with Mr. Tradoff to give him saves for a big bat, but we hadn't gotten close yet when he pulled the trigger with Wrong Braun. I would have given him Ryan Franklin or Trevor Hoffman for Werth straight up, so did I make a mistake by not making that simple offer early on, or did he stub his toe by not coming to me before accepting a deal for a shakier closer in Gregg? Maybe both.
Until next week, don't just win your league. Steal it.
Shawn Peters is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. You can e-mail him your own grand theft rotos by clicking here.