Eric Mack
Monday April 30th, 2012

Struggling veterans beware: It is the season of the axe. Fantasy owners, you should be wielding the same iron.

With the sudden call-ups of impact phenoms Bryce Harper, 19, and Mike Trout, 20, the Nationals and Angels have announced the closing of one month of baseball. Four weeks is plenty of time to give players to come around. If they haven't, it is time to break out the old: "The organization has decided to make a change."

Sure, Harper and Trout are probably coming to the majors a bit too early -- likely briefly -- and we should fully expect them to struggle, at least initially.

But like their major league teams decided: We might as well shake things up as the calendar turns to May. That struggling mid-round pick, trade him or even cut him. Only your early round picks should be given more than one month's rope.

The Nationals started it off with the call-up of Harper, because -- without Mike Morse for what could be until the All-Star break -- Nationals left fielders were hitting .093 with zero homers, nine RBI and ranked last in the NL with a .320 OPS.

Harper doubled off the center-field wall in his first game. If he can sustain this, this short-term call-up can become a long-term one.

In the case of Trout, the Angels said they wouldn't make the move until there was a full-time role for their 20-year-old phenom. Room or not, they are looking for a spark. Trout was hitting a robust .403 with 21 runs scored and 10 extra-base hits (four doubles, five triples and a home run).

"We want to get Mike into the lineup, see if we can add a little energy, get some spice," Angels GM Jerry Dipoto said. "He's off to a great start. Just looking to shake things up a little bit is probably the best way to put it."

While these moves reek of temporary (largely unsuccessful) ones because they are being rushed to the majors, Trout, too, can stay as long as he produces. One month in, the time is now to make the call and make a move.

SP Jake Peavy, White Sox -- Not only has Peavy proved healthy enough to take a turn every fifth day, he is completing his own games, too. With a pair of complete games in Week 4, Peavy has managed to stay atop the scoring list for starting pitchers in head-to-head points leagues. At 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA and an amazing 0.69 WHIP, Peavy looks like a comeback player of the year candidate more than just a player of the week right now. As long as his shoulder can stay healthy, you should expect elite numbers. The only question is for how long. Barring an incredible trade offer, give him until the All-Star break before you sell him.

SP Michael Pineda, Yankees -- It is official: The Yankees got hosed on the Jesus Montero deal. It was written here that the Mariners had to be out of their mind to deal a young ace like Pineda for a slugging catcher who had to become a DH. Well, apparently the Mariners knew exactly what they were doing. Pineda has a torn labrum and will need shoulder surgery. We should expect he never regains the velocity he showed at the start of 2011.

Most added

1. OF Mike Trout, Angels -- A scorching hot streak gets him called up to the majors, but he was hot last year and did nothing for a month, remember.

2. 1B Bryan LaHair, Cubs -- The Cubs' offseason faith in him is being rewarded to the tune of a .382 average and four homers. He is a starter in mixed formats right now.

3. 1B Chris Davis, Orioles -- For all the ability he showed in Triple-A back in his days in the Rangers organization, he could never sustain a stretch like this in the majors. Maybe he has finally arrived.

4. OF Cody Ross, Red Sox -- He has thus far proven to be one of the biggest bargains of the offseason and one of the biggest bargains in fantasy's first month. He is not a full-year star, but a good pick-up to use in spurts.

5. RP Pedro Strop, Orioles -- With hot-starting Jim Johnson banged up, it is Strop and not the struggling former closer, Kevin Gregg (7.94), getting the saves in Johnson's absence. Matt Lindstrom (0.00) wasn't Buck Showalter's pick either. Strop hands the closer's job back to Johnson now, though.

Most dropped

1. OF Delmon Young, White Sox -- At 27 and in a contract year, this is a make-or-break year for the former phenom. With a .242 average and .333 slugging percentage in the first month, it looks like break.

2. SP Danny Duffy, Royals -- A sore elbow has cooled him off, but he is on track to make his start this week. Until he proves consistent, he belongs in the weekly pitch-or-ditch category.

3. 3B Ryan Roberts, Diamondbacks -- One of last year's biggest surprises was one of this year's most over-drafted third basemen in mixed leagues. He is below replacement level in actuality and his .159 batting-average in April has proven that. The good news is he is now available off waivers for when he does get hot. Once he cools off from that, you can send him right back to waivers.

4. RP Brad Lidge, Nationals -- Quietly, Henry Rodriguez should be one of the most-added players in all of fantasy right now. H-Rod has been lights out and both Drew Storen (elbow) and Lidge (abdomen) are on the DL.

5. OF Peter Bourjos, Angels -- It wasn't just Vernon Wells or Bobby Abreu who necessitated an influx of offenses with the call-up of Trout. Bourjos is hitting just .167. But what's worse, he has stolen just one base in the first month.

1. DH Adam Dunn, White Sox -- He is still a Mendoza Line hitter (.231), but he draws walks (16), hits homers (five) and drives in runs (16). This is more Dunn than last year's aberration. He is going to have a few tears that make him look like a fantasy MVP this season. BUY

2. RP Jonathan Broxton, Royals -- He isn't anywhere close to his dominant Dodgers days but he still qualifies as a bargain at the closer position for as long as he holds off Aaron Crow or Tim Collins. HOLD

3. 1B Mark Trumbo, Angels -- The Angels are pushing the panic button early with the move for Trout, so it shouldn't be that hard for them to go to one of their 2011 standouts who is outproducing people in front of them. Only Maicer Izturis (because of the steals) has more fantasy points per at-bat among Angels. Trumbo will have to get more chances going forward. BUY

4. 2B Jason Kipnis, Indians -- They have found their second baseman, and you probably have too. Kipnis' .256-18-75-75-20 pace looks legit. HOLD

5. 1B Gaby Sanchez, Marlins -- We usually don't preach to sell low on someone, but in Sanchez's case, you should sell if anyone is buying. Or you should just cut him. Sanchez lacks the pop needed out of the first base position in fantasy and should be readily available off the waiver wire when he does finally heat up and drive in runs again. SELL

Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).

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