Guys to get for the stretch run
Soriano, Sandoval, even old favorite Jeff Francoeur among players worth targeting
Well, are you, punk?
If you haven't decided by now, you need to figure out if you are a quitter or a fighter this year.
It's weird. I'm actually going through something similar in my personal life right now and I understand all the emotions involved. On one hand, hey, no one wants to quit. You still believe. Your guys can turn it around. Come on! Go down swinging. Quitting is for losers. And Brett Favre of course. Repeatedly.[+] EnlargeMatt Stroshane/Getty ImagesBrett Favre finally has a lot of time to relax now, until the next round of "will he or won't he".
And yet at some point you wave the white flag. You're tired of fighting. Fantasy football is just around the corner. If you stop trying, you can actually spend time with your family, maybe even learn your kids' names. You don't want to keep flailing away, trying to win when you have no chance, overstaying your welcome like Brett Favre. Repeatedly.
I haven't decided what I want to do in my personal life. I go back and forth on a subject where I've already done a bunch of fighting and frankly, it wears on you. So I get it if you want to bail. I really do. But if you're on the fence, I say you go for it.
There are two months left in the season and believe it or not, you still have a chance. Even if it's not at winning, you have a shot at fantasy pride. Don't be one of those folks who quits on the league midway through. Your games ARE important. If not to you, then to someone in your league. You signed up for this, so man up. Even if you are a woman. You can learn your kids' names later.
You still have a chance to win. And here are some guys who are going to help you do it. With the non-waiver trade deadline in Major League Baseball tomorrow, here are the MUST-HAVE guys as you head down the stretch, either to trade for or, in some cases, pick up.
The high-end player is an elite guy for whom you would have to deal (maybe you have a surplus of steals, for example), the midrange guy is someone you probably still have to trade for but not give much up to get (this is if you don't need a total overhaul but just a nudge in the right direction), and the cheap version is someone you can pick up right now in 10-team mixed leagues.
If you need power
The high-end version
Alfonso Soriano, OF, Cubs: I've mentioned him so many times it's like I'm related. But the fact remains that since moving into the six hole, he's been ridiculous. He's hitting .364 with five home runs and 15 RBIs in 66 at-bats. You're no longer going to be able to get him low, but you will be able to get him cheaper than it would have cost on draft day and his best baseball, this season, is still ahead of him.
Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs: Five home runs, 13 RBIs and a .362 average in his past 47 at-bats. I'm fairly high on the Cubs down the stretch, if you can't tell.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants: Yes, they are small pieces, but the Giants have added some offensive help to a guy who has 39 RBIs since June 1. Point out to your trade partner that he hasn't hit a home run since the All-Star break and buy a bit low. The home runs are coming.
The midrange guys
Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees: Hitting .337 in July, he has two home runs in his past three games, three in his past nine and four in July. In case you haven't noticed, the Yankees are on fire. Excuse me while I bash my skull against Jeff Francoeur.
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Pat Burrell, OF, Rays: Look, it won't be pretty and he's not gonna help your average, but despite the fact that he's been all sorts of brutal lately, I like Burrell to hit for some power down the stretch and I don't think it would cost much to get him. He's hit at least 29 home runs in each of the past four years and despite his isolated power being down, sue me, I'm making a gut call here that he figures it out. Over the past three Augusts and Septembers, he has 30 home runs and yeah, I'm saying he can hit 10 more this year. He's also available in better than 40 percent of leagues, so you might even be able to pick him up.
The low-end guys
Jonny Gomes, OF, Reds: Five home runs in his past 10 games and owned in only 1 percent of leagues.
Jeff Francoeur, OF, Mets: Make no mistake, my epitaph will read "He believed in Jeff Francoeur." But once a sucker, always a sucker, I guess, so I'll bite. I'm putting him in the power section more for RBIs than for home runs because he now plays in Citi Field. Since coming to the Metropolitans, though, Frenchy has three home runs, 16 RBIs and is hitting .327 in 14 games. The change of scenery has done him well and more help is on the way. He's available in 65 percent of leagues.
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds: His home runs have increased for four straight years and he has four of them in July so far.
Kyle Blanks, Padres: He might qualify at first or outfield depending on your league, but either way, he can hit and he's the reason the Padres are considering dealing Adrian Gonzalez. Four home runs in his past nine games, he's going to play every day and his batting is no mistake. He had 20-homer, 100-RBI seasons each of the past two years in the minors.
If you need speed
The high-end version
Nyjer Morgan, OF, Nationals: He's still available in about 35 percent of leagues, but I'm putting him in the high-end version because if he is owned, his owner knows how ridiculous he's been recently. Since coming over from the Pirates, no player has more steals than Morgan, who is also hitting better than .300.
Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies: Hitting .318 with nine stolen bases in July, J Ro (I call him J Ro) has at least 40 steals in three of the past four years.
The midrange guys
Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers: With four steals in his past 10 games, he now quietly has 20 on the season, 14 of which have come since June 1. At just 20 years old, his learning curve took a bit of time, but it seems to have kicked in. He's not gonna do much better than .250, but if you need steals in the middle infield area, I like him.
Orlando Cabrera, SS, Athletics: Hitting .377 in July with eight steals, my guess is he gets traded and wherever he winds up, he'll get to run even more than he does in Oakland.
The low-end guys
Everth Cabrera, SS, Padres: He can flat-out fly. Six steals in his past seven games and he ran like crazy in the minors. He's available in 98 percent of leagues.
If you need a little bit of everything
The high-end version[+] EnlargeDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesTroy Tulowitzki has a .994 OPS in July after a 1.008 OPS in June.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies: A consistent second-half guy, Double-T is hitting .293 in July with seven home runs, 17 RBIs and three steals. As podcast listeners know, I've been drinking his bathwater for a long time and over the past three years, he has hit 50 points higher after the All-Star break.
Adam Jones, OF, Orioles: Seems to have snapped out of a midyear funk and has been on fire lately. I expect this to continue and just traded for him in an AL-only league two weeks ago. Home runs in three straight games, four in his past seven, he's hitting .280 in July with three steals.
The midrange guys
Gordon Beckham, 3B, White Sox: Like Morgan, he's actually available in a lot of standard mixed leagues, but if he is owned, his owner knows how solid he's been. Over the past 30 days, he's the No. 4 third baseman on our Player Rater. Home runs in two of his past four games, he'll get close to double-digit home runs and steals for you the rest of the way.
Carlos Guillen, 1B-3B-OF, Tigers: A career .288 hitter with power and speed, he's very quietly come off the DL (finally) and been solid. Hitting .348 with a home run and six RBIs in 23 at-bats since coming back, it's a small sample size and he won't run that much, but being in that offense and his position flexibility make him desirable.
The low-end guys
Erick Aybar, SS, Angels: Hitting .318 on the year, he's hitting .439 in July with 17 RBIs, 16 runs and three steals.
Andy Marte, 3B, Indians: Lost in the Garko trade is that one-time trendy prospect and many-time failed prospect Andy Marte is getting another shot, this time at first base. He was hitting it all over the place in Triple-A (.327, 18 home runs, 66 RBIs) and he's going to play every day. I put him here because I didn't really have any place to put him.
If you need starting pitching
The high-end guys (other than the obvious)
Ricky Nolasco, P, Marlins: Over his past 10 starts, he's 5-2 with a 2.71 ERA and a 73-to-14 strikeout-to-walk rate in just 66.1 innings. Redonkulous.
The midrange guys
Joba Chamberlain, P, Yankees: I'm playing with fire here, I know. But he's 4-1 with a 3.45 ERA over his past 10 starts. Over his past three, he has a 0.83 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 21 innings. You know he's gonna get run support, he's pitching deeper into games and last year, post All-Star break, he had a 2.57 ERA.
Bronson Arroyo, P, Reds: Another guy who is probably available in a ton of leagues but check out these numbers: 3.50, 3.55, 3.47. Those are his ERAs the past three years post-All-Star break. This year, he's 1-2 with a 3.86 ERA post-All-Star with a 20-to-8 strikeout-to-walk rate in 18.2 innings.
The cheap guys
Well, there are tons and tons of guys out there in standard mixed leagues whom you can stream. I mean, Joel Pineiro and Brett Anderson are still available in 90 percent of leagues. So frankly, I'm moving on at this point.
If you need saves
Well, a lot depends on who gets traded and as soon as I type this it may all be moot. But, if I were speculating for saves, there are two types of nonclosers: those who are behind someone struggling and those who are behind someone who might get dealt.
This is all for deeper leagues because in 10-team mixed leagues, saves tend to be available (Leo Nunez has eight saves for Florida and is available in 90 percent of leagues).
Behind struggling guys, Jason Frasor (behind Scott Downs) would be my first pickup. Jason Bulger of the Angels, Scott Linebrink of the White Sox (I think they'd keep Matt Thornton as a lefty set-up) and Takashi Saito of the Red Sox (in case of a Jonathan Papelbon injury) would be worth snagging in deep leagues where you are scrounging.
I don't think any of those current closers (except Downs) lose their job, but I could see any one of them placed on the DL with a mysterious injury if they continue to struggle. Eric Karabell does a really good job with his Relief Efforts column and you can see our Bullpen Depth chart here.
I am not even going to try to predict who might or might not get traded, so yeah, if Heath Bell gets dealt, go grab Mike Adams (my choice over Edward Mujica). The one last guy I'll mention is J.A. Happ. If Brad Lidge continues to struggle and now that the Phillies have added Cliff Lee, I could see Happ becoming the closer. He was terrific in the bullpen at the start of the year.
Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- would like to point out Dan Haren's current post-All-Star ERA is 3.50. He is a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, including a Writer of the Year award. He is also the creator of RotoPass.com, a Web site that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off. Cyberstalk the TMR | Be his Cyberfriend
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