May 28, 2009

Did you ever watch a movie or old TV show and wonder if an actor was dead or alive? OK, maybe that's just me. Did you ever wonder if a player on your team was dead (in a fantasy sense) or if he still has some life in his bat (or arm)? I knew you did. It's one of the harder decisions to make: when it's time to give up on a player, particularly a veteran with a strong track record.

We are just about two months into the season and we have some tough choices to make. Should he stay or should he go? Slow starters with some upside are for better. Those with no heartbeat are for worse.

Milton Bradley, OF, Cubs: The 31-year old Bradley played in 126 games last season, which is a lot for him. Bradley has played in 100 games only three times in his nine big league seasons. Not surprisingly, Bradley was again hampered by injuries in 2009. Bradley, when he plays, hits for power and high OBP -- Bradley's OBP will run about a 100 points higher than his average. Unfortunately the average is currently a Mendoza-like .198. Bradley appears healthy for now and is starting to hit like it. He is four for his last 13 with a homer. A healthy Bradley is worth having, particularly leagues with OPS as a category.

Matt Holliday, OF, Athletics: Holliday, 29, recovered nicely from a slow start. His numbers are better than you think: .264, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 22 runs. That projects to 23 HR, 104 RBI and 84 runs. Last year in Colorado he had 24 HR and 104 RBI. If and when the last-place Athletics trade Holliday that .264 average will improve substantially. Oakland has one of the toughest ballparks in which to hit. Holliday is hitting .232 at home with a .732 OPS versus .299 on the road with an .814 OPS.

Chris P. Young, SP, Padres: The Padres are red-hot and Young is one of the reasons why. In Young's last two starts he has given up only three earned runs in 13 innings. Young is worth starting at Petco Park, where he is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP. Bench him on the road where Young is 0-2 with an 8.03 ERA and a 1.86 WHIP.

Daisuke Matsuzaka, SP, Red Sox: Matsuzaka's first start since coming off the DL was no different than his previous two starts. In three starts Matsuzaka has surrendered 13 runs in 11.1 innings -- that's a 10.32 ERA. Expect Dice-K to improve, but don't expect him to pitch like he did last season. That 18-3 record was an aberration. However, Matsuzaka is a top strikeout pitcher on a team with excellent run-support. He is well worth stashing on your roster until works out the kinks.

David Ortiz, DH, Red Sox: Has anyone declined more rapidly over the past two seasons than Big Papi? Ortiz has a lower OPS than Julio Lugo! Their respective OPS are .600 and .683. The 33-year old Ortiz looks done. Ortiz is still owned in 90% of leagues ... and yes, I would cut him.

Rafael Furcal, SS, Dodgers: Before the season I penciled Furcal in for a .270 average and 20-25 steals. That looks highly unlikely at this point. Furcal has only three steals on the season and his average (.238) and OPS (.602) are pathetic. Now Furcal has a sore left buttock that will keep him sitting on the bench a day or two ... well, out of the lineup anyway. In a year of disappointing shortstops, the 31-year old Furcal is one of the biggest busts.

Brandon Morrow, RP, Mariners: Morrow pitched his was out of the Seattle closer job, walking 13 batters in 14.1 innings. Lately Morrow has improved -- The line on his last two outings: 4 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 2 BB and 3 K. Unfortunately, David Aardsma has pitched very well and is six-for-six in save chances for the Mariners. Morrow needs to consistently throw strikes while waiting for Aardsma to falter. Morrow is not anywhere close to regaining his job and is not worth stashing on your roster.

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