I'm participating in a season long fantasy roundtable along with a few other fantasy writers, and though I missed one of the previous entries due to moving, we're back this week, and it's my turn to play host. This week's topic: Casey McGehee, and whether you would buy or sell based on his production thus far.
Tim Dierkes (Roto Authority): I would either sell or hold, but not buy. In CBS leagues, McGehee alone has recently been traded for Wandy Rodriguez, Edwin Jackson, Joey Votto, Pablo Sandoval, Mike Pelfrey, Ian Kennedy, Vladimir Guerrero, Alex Rios, Clay Buchholz, and Max Scherzer. My guess is that in most leagues you will still encounter enough skeptics where the offers won't exceed the Jackson-Pelfrey-Kennedy range right now. Since those guys are waiver bait, and pitchers are easier to find in free agency, I'd be inclined to hold. I'd make the move if offered Votto, Sandoval, or Scherzer, on the other hand.
Clearly McGehee's big league power numbers are not supported by his minor league work, but that doesn't mean his latent power didn't increase in the last year. More likely, it's a Chris Duncan/Luke Scott situation, where a guy plays over his head for longer than you'd expect. If McGehee hits .275 with 13 HR from here on out, that's only worth a couple of bucks in a mixed league. I do think he can remain an asset in RBIs, batting fifth in the Brewers' lineup. But right now he doesn't strike me as significantly better than Scott Rolen or Casey Blake, so if I could cash him in for a first ten rounds-type guy I'd do it.
Patrick DiCaprio (Fantasy Pros 911): I am definitely selling, and fast. There is no minor league precedent for any power of the type he has displayed in the majors so far. We either accept that 2009 was a fluke or ascribe it to a new skill set. But to me that misses the point. It doesn’t matter if it is a new skill set or not nor does it matter if he is for real.
What matters is the perception of the guys in your league. There is little doubt that some people will be believers that McGehee developed a new skill set or at least that he is no worse than a solid every day player. And for that guy, McGehee is a nice trade target.
Let’s assume that it is a 50-50 chance of continued strong production ($20 player) versus a flop ($5 player). If you sell him for 75% of his full value as a continued productive player you gain immensely. Half the time he is worth $20 and half the time he is worth $5, for an expected value of $12.50. If you sell him at 75 cents on the dollar of that $20 value you get $15 back. You can play with the numbers however you want but the general principle here is correct. If you in an NL-only league these numbers are probably fairly close, but in a mixed league it is probably closer to $10 at full value and zero as a flop.
My personal view is that he will still flop and that 50-50 split is far more likely to be something like 70% flop 30% productive player going forward. So not only do you gain you do not even have to get full value to make trading him the right play, assuming you find a trading partner.
Marc Normandin: McGehee had a solid 2009 in limited duty, and has also excelled this year to start the year, but I'm still not sure I'm confident enough in him to buy. The main problem with that is the cost: since he's put up nearly 500 PA of great production in his time in the majors, the cost to acquire him is going to be high, even if someone is just trying to sell. I think of it this way: if you already have him, he's not worth selling unless someone is going to give you more than he's worth, because the more PA he racks up, the more realistic it is that he's got a legitimate bat that is here to stay. He's hit .301/.366/.509 in the majors since 2009 over 442 at-bats.
Though we are nowhere near close enough in terms of PA to make any kind of determination about his L/R splits, he hasn't shown any issues facing either so far. He's hit at home, he's hit on the road–he's just flat out hit since he got to the majors. This is one of those times where the fantasy analyst and the baseball analyst in my start to argue, but you probably don't have time to wait for things to stabilize if you're playing fantasy either.
If he stays where he is, he's an excellent third baseman. If he drops back, he's still better than a lot of the options you have, and his placement in the Brewers order should help get him some RBI opportunities (remember that Prince Fielder isn't hitting well yet, so even if McGehee's performance dips a bit, there may still be more opportunities for him than there are now).
He's not worth buying because the price he commands will be too high, but he's not worth selling unless you can pick up something significant for him. Your best bet is to hold if you have him, and just forget you passed him up late in the draft or for a few bucks at auction if you don't.