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Posted at 11:14 AM ET, 06/01/2011

Fantasy baseball: Think September now

The beginning of June is the perfect time to start thinking about September.

Don’t mentally skip over the summer full of cookouts and beach trips, of course. But, fantasy owners, do spend a few minutes thinking about whether you want to have a monster lineup for the stretch run, or be envying the person in your league who does.

If you’re in decent shape, and feel you can tread water or remain in the hunt, now’s the time to deal someone decent or an overperformer for a player who will be a game-changer at the end of the year if he simply gets healthy and/or reverts to his normal self.

After the jump there are 10 hitters and five pitchers to target:

The idea isn’t anything groundbreaking: Buy low. But one of the (many) reasons why some of us lose so often is because we fail to think far enough into the future. But baseball seasons are long, and April and May’s production is worth just the same as August and September’s. Two months in, you can take advantage of your leaguemates’ impatience with their players and add them on the cheap. Try for:

Evan Longoria: The Rays’ star third baseman missed almost all of April, and is hitting just .250 with 12 RBI, including Tuesday’s two-run homer. I tried to acquire him this week, got an eight-player counteroffer and ended up making fun of how bad it was. On the chance you’re not an awful negotiator like I am, this is a rare opportunity to get someone to unhand one of the game’s best hitters.

Ryan Zimmerman: A player’s value is lowest while he’s on the DL. Too many of us make the mistake of waiting until he’s about to return before trying to make the trade. Offer the owner who’s gotten 28 at-bats out of Zim someone who can play now.

David Wright: Third base is thin enough before three of baseball’s best were hurt. Wright is on the DL with back trouble, and he has contributed nine steals, but is batting .226 in 146 at-bats.

Hanley Ramirez: Healthy and has 30 runs and 11 SBs, but his .210 average is no help.

Carl Crawford: Batting .313 over the past two weeks has brought Boston’s left fielder up to. 232 overall.

Derrek Lee: Paying a lot for a 35-year-old who’s on the DL isn’t advisable, but he always heats up in the summer. His career splits in May are .250 with 46 HR and 142 RBI, and in June .310/54/170.

Derek Jeter: The focus is on his pursuit of 3,000 hits, but if he were having a normal season, he’d be there already. He’s beginning to heat up, with hits in six straight games, so pounce now.

Adam Dunn: Former National is batting .181 with five HRs in long-anticipated switch to American League.

Joe Mauer: Getting production from your catcher is always a nice bonus, and with the Twins slugger out since April 14 and still at extended spring training, maybe a frustrated manager is willing to cut his losses.

Jason Heyward: After the phenom’s breakout season, he’s — you guessed it — batting below .220 and on the DL.

PITCHERS

Ubaldo Jimenez: Perhaps no pitcher in baseball is struggling as famously as the Rockies’ ace, who has no wins, a 5.86 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP heading into Wednesday’s start.

Zack Grienke: The move to Milwaukee is off to a slow start, with just 28 innings pitched and a 5.79 ERA. The WHIP (1.14) still looks good and he’s won his past three starts.

Chris Carpenter: Age (he’s 36) might get you a discount; he was traded for Starlin Castro this week in my league. But aside from two terrible starts (7 ER on May 15 at Cincinnati and 8 ER April 12 at Arizona), he’s allowed three earned runs or fewer in seven of his other nine starts.

Francisco Liriano: He’s thrown a no-hitter and still has a 5.73 ERA, plus he’s on the DL with shoulder inflammation. Given his injury history, an owner might let you take him off his hands for a decent price.

Ryan Dempster: John Danks and Phil Hughes, who are also struggling, might come even cheaper, but Dempster has 62 strikeouts in 69 innings, an enviable rate. He’s got to get the 6.00 ERA and 1.49 WHIP down. If he does, he could find himself traded to a contender in August and September in in real life, not just in your league.

By  |  11:14 AM ET, 06/01/2011

 
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