Fantasy Clicks
The Reyes Four-Day Window Of Opportunity
Jose Reyes: Paul Jasienski/Getty Images

In the original Fantasy Baseball Preview, I stubbornly listed Mets shortstop Jose Reyes at No. 20 overall, even though he was coming off a disappointing season of weak stats and weaker hamstrings; it was also a sympathy projection of sorts, since the fantasy community, by and large, had turned on Reyes so quickly in the last 12 months (same goes for Josh Hamilton, but that's for another day). My thinking at the time: No under-27 star should ever lose his spot amongst the fantasy elite to non-catastrophic injury. Well, fast forward to late-March, when word broke Reyes had contracted some mysterious thyroid condition that no one could accurately diagnose (and that he MIGHT miss the entire 2010 season). Upon hearing the speculative news -- but never officially dropping Reyes in my Top 200 list -- I simply wussed out when given the chance to select him in Rounds 2, 3, 4 or even 5 in mixed-league drafts.

And now, I live in total regret.

Look, I'm not saying Reyes will recapture his glory days of 2006-08 (47 HRs, 206 RBIs, 198 steals, .293 batting average) this season. After all, hamstrings can often be dicey and thyroid problems don't vanquish overnight. But to pass on Reyes around the 50th pick of a 5x5 league is as dense as ignoring Miguel Cabrera late in Round 1 -- if not more. With healthy hammies, Reyes' upside in spacious CitiField remains excellent ... unless you're banking on 15-16 homers (which I'm not).

The way I see it, fantasy owners have 96 hours to effectively trade-low for Reyes, who's slated to return to the Mets on Saturday against Washington. Why 96 hours? Well, he won't play Friday ... and the Mets will most definitely restrict his base-path shenanigans for Saturday and Sunday, before quietly giving him the green light to run unfettered against Colorado on Tuesday. After that window closes, Reyes owners will probably want near- or full value in trade talks.

Great First Impressions

Making definitive fantasy judgments on players right now -- both good and bad -- seems like an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, here's our early all-star team for Week 1:

C Jorge Posada, Yankees
1B Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B Placido Polanco, Phillies
SS Edgar Renteria, Giants (batting .727 after three games -- a number that'll likely come down)
3B Ian Stewart, Rockies
UTIL Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (two late, game-changing HRs on Wednesday/Thursday)
OF Vernon Wells, Blue Jays
OF Garrett Jones, Pirates (homers on back-to-back days to start season)
OF Curtis Granderson, Yankees
OF Nelson Cruz, Rangers
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies (20/20 seems doable; how about 25/25?)
SP Mark Buehrle, White Sox
SP Dallas Braden, Athletics (10/1 K-BB ratio in his first start)
SP Roy Halladay, Phillies
RP Mariano Rivera, Yankees
RP Brian Wilson, Giants

Saturday's Surprise

Seeking an off-the-radar pitcher for Saturday? Here's one possible gem to consider for AL-only leagues:

David Hernandez, Orioles (vs. Blue Jays)
**In five spring appearances (15 innings), he posted a 3.00 ERA and Slowey-like 20/3 K-BB ratio
**At 24, Hernandez is finally ready to live up to his big-time billing in the minors
**Likely to collect 6 strikeouts in at least 5 innings of work against Toronto
**Has the inside track on Baltimore's No. 4 or 5 starting slot

**Saturday's picturesque weather in Baltimore (67 and sunny) may be conducive for home runs
**With Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman, Jake Arrieta, Brad Bergesen, Zach Britton and Matt Hobgood getting all the publicity as the Orioles' arms of the future, Hernandez may be feeling the now-or-never pinch of Saturday's start. One false move or two could end his dreams of being a lifelong big-leaguer with Baltimore (or any other club).

Take This To The Bank

Based on Accuscore's sophisticated statistical evaluations, here are the top 20 projected strikeout studs from this point forward (April 9-Oct. 1):

1. Tim Lincecum, Giants -- 258
2. Rich Harden, Rangers -- 244
3. Justin Verlander, Tigers -- 242
4. Zack Greinke, Royals -- 227
5. Javier Vazquez, Yankees -- 226
6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers -- 218
7. Jon Lester, Red Sox -- 217
8. Jake Peavy, White Sox -- 216
9. Roy Halladay, Phillies-- 215
10. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers -- 213
11. Dan Haren, Diamondbacks -- 210
12. Jonathan Sanchez, Giants -- 206
13. Phil Hughes, Yankees -- 199
14. Felix Hernandez, Mariners -- 199
15. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals -- 198
16. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins -- 197
17. Matt Garza, Rays -- 194
18. Wade Davis, Rays -- 191
19. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies -- 190
20. Josh Beckett, Red Sox -- 188

Take This To The Bank, Part II

And here are Accuscore's top 25 projected HR leaders from this point forward:
1. Albert Pujols, Cardinals -- 47.1
2. Ryan Howard, Phillies -- 44.6
3. Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks -- 43.1
4. Prince Fielder, Brewers -- 41.8
5. Nelson Cruz, Rangers -- 40.0
6. Adrian Gonzalez, Padres -- 39.4
7. Garrett Jones, Pirates -- 38.2
8. Carlos Pena, Rays -- 38.0
9. Mark Teixeira, Yankees -- 37.3
10. Derrek Lee, Cubs -- 36.7
11. Justin Morneau, Twins -- 36.7
12. Raul Ibanez, Phillies -- 36.6
13. Adam Lind, Blue Jays -- 36.5
14. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees -- 35.7
15. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers -- 35.4
16. Curtis Granderson, Yankees -- 35.1
17. Adam Dunn, Nationals -- 35.0
18. Evan Longoria, Rays -- 34.7
19. Kendry Morales, Angels -- 34.3
20. Aaron Hill, Blue Jays -- 34.3
21. Jayson Werth, Phillies -- 33.0
22. Jason Bay, Mets -- 32.3
23. Paul Konerko, White Sox -- 31.7
24. Ian Kinsler, Rangers -- 31.7
25. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies-- 30.9

Glaring Omissions?

Two names that immediately stand out from Accuscore's home-run projections, primarily from their absence: Ryan Braun and Chase Utley.

Home Run Derby -- Vegas-Style!

Speaking of the long ball ... I couldn't help but notice that Las Vegas oddsmakers only have Mark Reynolds -- fresh off a 44-HR, 102-RBI, 24-steal campaign with Arizona in 2009 -- as a 15-1 bet to win the MLB home run title this season, behind such luminaries as Albert Pujols, Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Howard. Outside of blackjack, I'm not really much of a gambler; but who among us can resist the temptation of a prop bet that (foolishly) marginalizes Reynolds' all-world fantasy goodness AND doesn't even acknowledge Kyle Blanks with a simple board bet? (Yes, he hasn't played a full season in the bigs and calls PETCO Park home for 81 games ... but Blanks has top-10 potential in this category.)

It goes without saying: I'll be cheering extra hard for Reynolds in 2010.

TV ... Good! Baseball On TV ... Better!

It's not every day that we stump for unsolicited products on Fantasy Clicks; but we absolutely have to make an exception for the MLB Extra Innings package that's running FREE on all cable and satellite systems through Sunday afternoon. For the regular subscribers to the year-round MLB package (like me, since 2006), you already know the rush of having 80-plus games at your fingertips each week; and for those still sitting on the fence ... this weekend's preview could literally be the turning point of your summer.

Say you're a Chicago native living in Washington D.C., could you really be happy with seeing the Cubs or White Sox only when they're playing the Nationals or Orioles (local TV in the Beltway) -- or whenever FOX or ESPN come calling on the weekends?

Say you're a diehard Cardinals fan living in southern California -- the home of aspiring actors -- are you OK with only seeing Albert Pujols swing the bat on pre-taped highlight shows?

Say you're a Knoxville, Tenn. resident who plays in 10 fantasy baseball leagues: Could you really survive the season with limited access to games on ESPN ... or on the hope your radio will get AM 700 in Cincinnati (home of the Reds) on clear summer nights?

Last but certainly not least, say you're a Dodgers fan living in Texas: Are you really going to miss what could be Vin Scully's last season in the TV booth? The man is such an icon ... even Giants fans love him (I think).

Hmmmm ... seems to me this weekend's preview can answer all the above questions. For a listing of Extra Innings channels and the corresponding cable/satellite systems, click here.

Jedi Mind Tricks: Bait-And-Switch Trading

Are you in the market for a starting pitcher in a deep mixed league ... but don't want to appear too desperate to the other owners, even though that position has been absolutely picked clean on the free-agent wires? Here's how you turn a frustrating negative into an overwhelming positive:

First, identify a team with a surplus of solid, yet non-superstar-like staring pitchers.

Second, identify that owner's favorite MLB team, the one club that he/she obssesses about eight days a week. (For the sake of discussion, let's pretend you're stealthily chasing Cardinals co-ace Chris Carpenter and/or Jered Weaver ... and Owner B is a diehard Angels fan.)

Third, offer an even-handed blockbuster deal (2-for-2, 2-for-3, 3-for-3) to the owner -- a swap that calls for him losing a beloved Angel, like Weaver. Assuming the owner rejects the deal, more out of Anaheim loyalty than anything else, keep sending thoughtful, non-condescending emails explaining why it'd behoove he/she to take the deal.

Eventually, the other owner will relent and strike a compromise: As a token of good faith, he/she will offer you an easy-breezy deal involving Carpenter -- the pitcher you quietly coveted all along -- as a way of saying, I appreciate the way you conducted yourself during trade negotiations, and I like how you respect my desire to keep Chris Carpenter. So, just so you don't go away empty-handed, here's a win-win deal for now ... in case we want to do a blockbuster swap down the road. BOOM!

Predictions, Part Deux

You didn't think we'd go seven looooong weeks of exhibition Clicks without seasonal predictions, right? After all, what good comes from having a fantasy column (warning: rhetorical question alert) ... if you're NOT being exposed for six subsequent months of public ridicule and embarrassment? That aside, the Predictatron 5000 has churned out the following picks:

American League
Wild Card Race
1. Boston -- 94-68
2. N.Y. Yankees -- 93-69
3. Detroit -- 84-78
4. Chicago/Anaheim -- 83-79

Cy Young
Zack Greinke, Royals

Evan Longoria, Rays

Home Run King
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees

Prince of Thieves (most steals)
Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

Victory Lane King
Justin Verlander, Tigers

Best Fantasy Breakout
Pitcher: Jon Lester, Red Sox
Hitter: Adam Jones, Orioles

Relief Pitcher of the Year
Mariano Rivera, Yankees

AL Playoffs
Tampa Bay over Texas
Boston over Minnesota
ALCS: Tampa Bay over Boston

National League
Wild Card Race
1. Philadelphia -- 90-72
2. Colorado/Atlanta -- 89-73
3. Milwaukee -- 86-76 (amended from Monday's Fantasy Clicks)
4. Cincinnati -- 82-80

Cy Young
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

Albert Pujols, Cardinals

Home Run King
Mark Reynolds, Diamondbacks

Prince Of Thieves (most steals)
Njyer Morgan, Nationals

Victory Lane King
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

Best Fantasy Breakout
Pitcher: Tommy Hanson, Braves
Hitter: Hunter Pence, Astros

Relief Pitcher of the Year
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers

NL Playoffs
Florida over St. Louis (Cardinals get nod over Milwaukee -- amended from Monday)
Philadelphia over San Francisco
NLCS: Philadelphia over Florida

World Series
Tampa Bay over Philadelphia in 7 games

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