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Trade Strategy - Cliff Lee & Laundering Pitchers

Cliff Lee won his 10th game for the Cleveland Indians last night and a look at his ERA and WHIP show him to be amongst the best AL pitchers. At 2.52 and 1.07, most fantasy players who see those ratios still think he hasn't "crashed" since his great start to the 2008 season. I beg to differ albeit not terribly strenuously.

I happened to acquire Lee in a trade seven starts ago so I have an insider's view of Lee's 2.52 ERa and 1.07 WHIP. I'm not complaining as the deal was Lee and Brandon Inge for Ivan Rodriguez, Erick Aybar, Manny Delcarmen and Mike Moustakis. Lee's 5 Wins since then likely makes me the winner of the deal at this point, but that is tangential to my post.

The point being is a pitcher's great ratios at this point do not show how well he has pitched from an arbitrary point in time between now and the start of the season. It is a lesson any fantasy owner still riding Gavin Floyd, Jose Contreras, Ryan Dempster, Todd Wellemeyer etc should remember as they attempt to trade any of the shockingly good SPs of 2008. Even if you deal them and their ratios still look acceptable a month down the road, you did the right thing in trading them.

The cynic in me advises those owners with any of these pitchers to launder them for ones who have better peripherals over a longer period of time or to trade them for quality hitting. By swapping these fakes for the real thing, you accomplish two goals on your way to winning your fantasy baseball leagues. First, you get all the good stats from the pitcher and then the quality player(s) acquired for them going forward, and, second, you put a bomb on a competitors team who explodes and keeps them trying to dig out of an even larger hole.

Believe me? Maybe. Here are the numbers for Cliff Lee since I acquired him. Do these help your ratios?

Period IP ER H BB K ERA WHIP
Pre-trade 37.7 4 19 10 32 0.95 0.77
Post-trade 44.3 19 55 12 38 3.86 1.51