When I say “gut call” I mean that I have little to no evidence to support my opinions (an approach I strongly warn against). So those who take my advice, beware.
You are going to want Phil Hughes from the All Star Break onward. There is some scuttlebutt about his fastball reaching the mid-90s in rehab, which means strikeouts and he pitches for the Yankees, there’s wins to be had.
I will take as many Chicago White Sox bats as I can get. Right now in my 18-team league I employ Adam Dunn, Carlos Quentin and Alex Rios. I’d be happy to have Alexei Ramirez and, as a matter of fact, I would trade for Gordon Beckham if I could get him dirt cheap. Though there might be a DL stint coming for Quentin, considering his history.
Staying on the White Sox, gut call, I think Chris Sale will be worth owning by August, either as the closer, or as a starter.
In seasonal leagues, I would trade Michael Pineda. I don’t see his value getting any higher this year, and right now you can get legitimate proven stars. If I can get a star for a rookie, I do that ten times out of ten.
Gut call, I think Daniel Bard is the closer for Boston on August first. Jonathan Papelbon has a 4.18 ERA in 18 games, which is unacceptable for a closer. Meanwhile, Bard has a 2.67 ERA and an astounding 0.832 WHIP.
As a matter of fact, Papelbon could quietly be trade bait, if the Sox feel they need to add something before the deadline. He is a free agent at the end of the season.
You’re going to want Brian Matusz. Don’t be shocked if he has a 3.00 ERA or better after the break. Also expect good things out of Brandon Morrow the rest of the way. He is still striking people out, and that’s always a good sign.
I dont think James Shields will end up a top-20 starting pitcher, but I’d say top-30 is possible. I would still deal him if I could get more value. Also look for muddy waters ahead for Josh Beckett.
Side note, not fantasy related, leading vote getters on the American League All Star Ballot includes Russell Martin, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter (inexcusable, over Asdrubal Cabrera), Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson. Nine positions and Yankees lead five of them.
Also non-fantasy related, I said it before the season, the Pirates are not horrible. If they can hold onto their guys, they’ve got talent all around. Jose Tabata, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen.
Francisco Liriano… the bane of my fantasy existence. I love him, but I hate owning him. He’s been excellent for the last month. I’m definitely not 100% back on the bandwagon. This is a guy you could trade for or away four times in a year and be right every time. Trade for him when he has four bad starts in a row. Then trade him away when he has a month of dominance, then trade for him when……. you get it. Gut feeling… he does the same stuff all year, one month on and one month off. And when he’s on, he’s a top-15 SP. When he’s off, he’s almost not ownable. Good luck.