While the All-Star break provides a few days of respite for the non-participants. It represents a breather for many other players dealing with the dog days of the baseball grind.
It is a convenient time for teams to slow players down, particularly young pitchers and those dealing with injuries. Unfortunately, it is also a crucial time to start a push for the top of the standings in fantasy leagues. It makes it a very important time to stick your eyes to the news-makers and the injury report.
Baseball teams just don't have us in mind when they are setting their schedules for injury-returnees.
Reports had Albert Pujols potentially sneaking back into the lineup before the end of the break. Instead,
The Red Sox are taking that route with Carl Crawford and Clay Buchholz. Mets third baseman David Wright might be a candidate to return shortly after the break, too.
With all the players taking some time off -- and those preparing to come back -- it should be a very busy few weeks on fantasy waiver wires. Those will more roster space to add some of the talent that is dropped could pick up some valuable stretch pieces on their opponents.
For this reason, the All-Star break is also a great time to make trades. You are going to get some talent back in your active lineup and can trade more depth for a big piece. And you're going to have those days early next week without games to re-evaluate your roster and make some deals during the down time.
Here's a piece of advice in this: Buy into Pujols, Wright, Buchholz and Crawford if anyone is selling.
Now on to the rest of our regular Monday look at fantasy baseball's roster trends:
Sluggers famously do 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season. Fantasy Week 13 (June 27-July 3) was part of Aramis Ramirez's 25 percent. He hit six homers in 28 at-bats and has gotten his full-season numbers up to a respectable level after a quiet start. He had just two homers through May and hit eight in June and already has two in the first few days of July. His outburst trumps the revival of struggling fantasy first-rounder Carlos Gonzalez.
1. SP Antonio Bastardo, Phillies
Bastardo and Hernandez have taken advantage of sudden opportunities to close games with Ryan Madson and J.J. Putz going on the DL. They are solid options for saves in the near term. Worley is a two-start sleeper this week, while Harden made a surprisingly effective return from the DL. Murphy, who has been scorching, is a sleeper in deeper leagues.
1. SP Brian Matusz, Orioles
Matusz gets a demotion to the minors -- a much-deserved one -- while Blackburn, Collmenter and Lannan have cooled off after hot stretch. Olivo has slipped into a slump and is dealing with a hamstring issue right now that has kept him out. All are worthy drops in mixed leagues and will be readily available if they heat up.
1. OF Mike Morse, Nationals
All but Thames and Snider are dealing with injury situations that could affect their playing time this week. None appear headed for the DL, so you can likely expect them to return by the middle of the week. Thames is hot after his call-up; Snider has just gotten the call, too. Both should get playing time in the coming weeks and are viable options in mixed leagues when they are going well. Snider has a considerably higher ceiling of the two, though.