Fantasy Clicks
By David Sabino
Dominican Duds
Jose Reyes: Icon SMI

When team Dominican Republic took to the field right before the World Baseball Classic in March, the lineup looked like a dream fantasy team. However as disappointing as that Caribbean nation was in the tournament, the 2009 regular season has turned into a nightmare for the fantasy owners unfortunate enough to have used early draft picks on it's national team members. There was little doubt that 2009's best fantasy player was part of the roster, but would it be A-Rod? Hanley Ramirez? Jose Reyes? As it's turning out, with few exceptions being part of the paper tiger team that managed to lose two games to the Netherlands and win just one game against overmatched Panama was the fantasy kiss of death, especially for the most experienced members of the team. Here are the major fantasy flops followed by the monumental underachievers thus far.

The Bad

Hanley Ramirez, Marlins: A .295 batting average is credible but the most popular preseason choice for No. 1 Fantasy Player is tied for 104th in runs, 86th in home runs, 107th in RBIs and 49th in stolen bases.

Jose Reyes, Mets: Carl Crawford stole nearly as many bases in one game (six) than Reyes, a perennial 50 steals man has thus far this season (seven). He ranks fifth on his own team in runs scored (11).

Miguel Olivo, Royals: Led his team with two home runs and five RBIs in 11 at bats at the Classic. Has two home runs and seven RBIs in 61 at bats and has lost playing time to backup John Buck in Kansas City.

Carlos Marmol, Cubs: Pick your poison: Despite being the clear favorite during the offseason, he lost the chance to close to Kevin Gregg, his ERA is nearly five and he spent time on the DL with a knee injury.

Willy Taveras, Reds: A .330 on-base percentage, six steals and just two RBIs five weeks into the season is not what the Reds were looking for out of their new leadoff hitter.

Julian Tavarez, Nationals: The veteran is part of Washington's closer mix but really hasn't earned it after giving up eight earned runs in 10 1/3 innings.

The Ugly

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: Perhaps A-Rod's decision to play for his second country in as many Classics wasn't the best idea as he developed the hip injury that's kept him sidelined all season surfaced in an exhibition game for his ancestral home.

David Ortiz, Red Sox: Big Papi looks pooped, batting just .229 with no home runs. His .333 slugging percentage matches those of Cesar Izturis, Brett Myers and Juan Uribe.

Miguel Tejada, Astros: Like Ortiz, the onetime 30-home run threat is still looking for his first blast of the no-longer-so-young season.

Damaso Marte, Yankees: He was ailing when he returned from the WBC and before being placed on the DL last week was downright flammable, allowing 15.19 earned runs per nine.

Rafael Perez, Indians: Joins his fellow lefty Marte at the unseemly 15.19 ERA level but is even easier to get a hit off of (.420 opp. avg. to Marte's .360) which prompted his demotion to Triple-A.

OK, they're not all bad

These less heralded and largely the youngest members of the squad are off to a great start:

The Good

Robinson Cano, Yankees: Ironically, the player with the most questions swirling around him following a sub-par '08 season has been the Yankees best hitter, batting .333 with five home runs and 17 RBIs, and sits just below Ian Kinsler and Aaron Hill at his position in the AL.

Nelson Cruz, Rangers: The supposed weak link in the Dominican's lineup, Cruz topps the bunch in slugging percentage and home runs. Among his countrymen, only Albert Pujols, Carlos Peña, Manny Ramirez and Aramis Ramirez slug at a better rate.

Johnny Cueto, Reds: The only winner during the classic is dealing, posting a 1.65 ERA in five starts.

Edinson Volquez, Reds: Opponents are batting just .172 against him and his four wins ties him for second-most in the league.

Tony Peña, Diamondbacks: Three vulture wins and a 1.32 ERA makes him one of the league's top setup men.

Five Units In Flux

Indians Rotation: Aaron Laffey has been moved from the rotation to help bolster a truly pitiful bullpen (see Perez above) and Jeremy Sowers steps into his spot. However Laffey is the team ERA leader at 3.60 and will likely fight his way back into the rotation sooner rather than later in place of Carl Pavano (6.61 ERA) or Anthony Reyes (6.84 ERA).

Blue Jays Rotation: How can the staff with the best record in the AL be in flux? Cito Gaston's pitching staff is stocked with injury replacements from three through five as is the closers spot, yet still they keep winning. The best pickup right now is Brett Cecil who despite being winless with an ERA of 8.31 in Triple A showed why he's one of the top young arms in baseball by holding Cleveland to one earned and six hits with six strikeouts and no walks in his 2009 debut.

Yankees Catcher: Chien-Ming Wang and Alex Rodriguez are in extended spring training, center field is still a mystery but now with Jorge Posada out of the lineup, you can count the number of hits they'll get from behind the plate in a week on one hand. Under no circumstances should Jose Molina be added to your team.

Tigers Outfield: Carlos Guillen and Marcus Thames are on the disabled list opening up playing time for a bunch of relative unknowns. As discussed here at the season's start, Josh Anderson is the main beneficiary and is a good mixed-league speed pickup. Also in AL only leagues, keep an eye on Clete Thomas who has always given a great effort in his big league chances.

Phillies Rotation: Chan Ho Park threw a gem on Wednesday night, holding the Mets to one hit in six innings. That lowered his ERA to 6.67, which isn't even the worst among the defending champs starters. That distinction belongs to ace Cole Hamels who has given up 14 earned in 17 1/3 innings. Joe Blanton (6.84) isn't doing his fantasy owners any favors either. Look for '08 rotation mainstay Kyle Kendrick (2-1, 2.61 at Triple A Lehigh Valley) to be called upon soon.

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