News:Vlad Guerrero out indefinitely with chest injury
Views: He will pay a visit Friday to Dr. Lewis Yocum, the second-scariest name in fantasy baseball after Dr. James Andrews. Vlad's strained chest muscle limited him to DHing over the season's first eight games. Guerrero says the injury is only affecting his fielding, not his hitting, but he has one extra-base hit in 32 at-bats this year. It's been a rough couple of weeks for Guerrero. On top of the slow start and the injury, it was revealed last month that he's 34 years old, not 33.
Verdict: Right now, think of Guerrero as The Simpsons, circa 1999. He was once a reliable, superstar-caliber option every year. But the decline has been steady over the past two seasons and soon, the bottom will fall out. Once a 40-40 threat, Guerrero doesn't run anymore (seven steals since 2007), hasn't hit 30 homers or scored 90 runs since '06, and still has little protection behind him (unless you think a soon-to-be 34-year-old Torii Hunter scares anyone, in which case you'd be wrong). The one plus this season is that Bobby Abreu will be getting on base in front of him. But considering age and recent track record, you made a mistake if you took Vlad among the first 40 picks on draft day. You're better of selling sooner rather than later.
News:Zach Duke does Sandy Koufax impression
Views: The soft-tossing lefty has allowed one earned run through 15.1 innings over his first two starts and has been one of the most-added pick-ups in leagues everywhere. While it's certainly feasible that Duke could be coming into his own just days before his 26th birthday, it's unlikely he'll be any better than a league-average innings eater. That 0.59 ERA gets a nice boost because of two unearned runs (not that 1.76 would be bad, but you get the point), and his shutout came against an Astros lineup that's Atlantic League-caliber with the exception of Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee. Duke continues to induce ground balls at a solid rate, but he has a middling nine strikeouts and four walks.
Verdict: Luck could always intervene. But at this point, there's no reason to think Duke will significantly improve on his 2008 ERA (4.82) or WHIP (1.50). And considering the lack of support he's likely to receive from his offense and bullpen, 10 more wins would be a stretch. If Duke is still available in your league, let him sit out there. If he's currently on your roster, sell, sell, sell.
News:Alex Gordon needs hip surgery
Views: It's a double-whammy. Not is Gordon's potential breakout season derailed -- he'll miss a month at least -- but anyone cagey enough to take Mark Teahen in anticipation of second base-eligibility is out of luck. Teahen will slide over to third base once Jose Guillen returns, and Alberto Callaspo and/or Willie Bloomquist will fill the void at second.
Verdict: Obviously, Gordon's value takes a huge hit. Assuming the timetable is set at 6-to-8 weeks (my best guess), he's not worth rostering in shallow leagues. After missing that much time, there's no telling what you'll get when he returns midseason. Teahen owners are also stuck with a mediocre (though versatile, with third base and outfield eligibility) fantasy option. Bloomquist could be an source of cheap steals in the deepest of leagues.
News:Nelson Cruz takes AL lead in HRs, RBIs
Views: A year ago, it looked like Cruz would join Calvin Pickering, Laynce Nix and all your favorites as the latest Quadruple-A star. But between last year's strong finish and this year's strong start, he's quickly becoming a fantasy league darling. He's tied for the AL lead with five homers and 12 RBIs. Just don't go nuts yet. Home runs off the likes of Radhames Liz, Alfredo Simon and Eddie Bonine (no relation to Jeff Conine) does not a superstar make. Considering his all-or-nothing approach that batting average is likely to hurt, and despite 24 steals at Oklahoma City last year his speed is in the above-average range.
Verdict: Cruz profiles like a poor man's Adam Dunn. The hype is starting to out-measure logical expectations, but Cruz should be a solid source of power in 2009. Whether he helps anywhere else is still an unknown.
News:Nats demote Lastings Milledge
Views: This isn't the end for Milledge owners. Sure, you're in trouble for now, but Manny Acta is still a big Milledge believer. If Acta keeps his job through midseason (granted, that's a big if), Milledge will get every opportunity to re-establish himself. But the bigger news here is that Elijah Dukes is now very much an everyday player, a situation that looked unlikely two weeks ago. While he doesn't quite match Milledge in the speed department, Dukes most certainly has 20-20 capability. And hitting behind on-base machine Dunn, he could be a darkhorse to drive in 100. Because of his patient approach, Dukes (like Dunn) won't hit for average. And, of course, there's the whole complete headcase thing, as well as a long injury history.
Verdict: Milledge owners should sit tight. Austin Kearns is about to wear out his welcome, and Milledge should be back in Washington by the end of May. And if Dukes is on your waiver wire, he shouldn't be. For now, the risk is worth the potential reward.
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