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A.L. weekly fantasy planner


Fantasy Baseball; frustration one minute and glory the next. If you are the proud owner of Ian Kinsler, Daisuke Matsuzaka or Cliff Lee, rejoice, they all returned from the DL this past week. However, Brett Anderson hit the DL and Justin Morneau may not be far behind ... pure speculation of course. OK, enough about the DL, I will leave that to our injury expert, Nate Pigott.

Let's go ahead and dive into the planner and get your team headed in the right direction.

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Packin' heat

Andy Pettitte vs BAL: At 37 years old, Pettitte is having the most productive April of his career; 3-0, 1.29 earned run average (ERA), 1.07 walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) and .216 batting average against (BAA). Over 38 career starts against the Orioles, he is 26-6, with a 3.60 ERA, and 0.70 home runs per nine innings (HR/9). While I do not know how long the ride will last, I do know that you need to jump on board while it's still in motion.

Joe Saunders @ BOS; @ SEA: Saunders is off to a rough start this season; 1-4, 5.74 ERA, .311 BAA, and he's given up 32 hits and 5 HRs over 26.2 innings pitched. However, he's simply dominated his next two opponents. Saunders has eight career starts against the Red Sox, and holds a 4-1 record with a 3.24 ERA. While Fenway Park typically favors the hitter, in this case the park favors Saunders, as he is 3-0 with a 2.84 ERA there. Saunders also owns the Mariners and pitcher-friendly SAFECO Field. In 10 career starts against the Mariners, he's 7-1 with a 3.19 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, and in six starts at SAFECO, he is 5-0 with a 2.55 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and .208 BAA. If you were wondering when to start Saunders, now is your chance to take the plunge.

Fausto Carmona vs TOR: I have been dogging Carmona for most of the SEASON, but I admit, he has been solid so far (3-0, 2.96 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, .196 BAA, 6.3 H/9 and one HR in 27.1 IP). His solid start should continue against the Blue Jays at pitcher-friendly Progressive Field. In three starts there, Carmona is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and zero HRs over 21 IP. Not only is he solid against the Blue Jays over his career, the hitters that he will face are batting a weak .216 against him over his career.

Shaun Marcum @ CWS: Career against Chicago; 3-0, 2.16 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 4.68 H/9 and 27:7 K:BB. In two career starts at U.S. Cellular Field, Marcum is 2-0 with a .135 BAA and 14:1 K:BB.

Carl Pavano vs DET; vs BAL: In seven career starts against Detroit, he is 4-2 with a 2.88 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 31:5 K:BB and has allowed 16 ERs over 50 IP. Pavano is also 4-2 in seven starts against the Orioles.

John Danks vs TOR: Solid start to the season (3-0, 0.86 WHIP and a .183 BAA) and was solid in his last outing against Toronto (one ER on two hits over seven IP). The Blue Jays hitters that he will face are batting .218 against him.

Doug Fister vs LAA: A surprising start to the season (2-1, 1.67 ERA and 0.93 WHIP) and in his last start against the Angels, he allowed one ER on five hits over 7.1 IP.

Keep em' in the pen

Gavin Floyd vs KC; vs TOR: I thought Floyd was supposed to be a key player in Chicago's rotation this season. Apparently not! In five starts this season, he is 1-2 with a 6.49 ERA, 1.67 WHIP and a 11.03 H/9. Not exactly what I would call a "key player" in the rotation. Floyd starts twice this week and I do not like him in either game at home. Over his career against the Royals, he is 1-5 with a 4.84 ERA and 1.42 HR/9. During his next start, he is going to jump out of the frying pan and into the fire. He is 0-4 with a 7.23 ERA, 1.77 WHIP, .317 BAA and 12.41 H/9 in four starts against the Blue Jays.

Javier Vazquez @ BOS: Just when we thought he was going to climb out of the cellar, he implodes against the Angels by allowing five ERs on five hits over three and two-third innings. His life won't get any easier at hitter-friendly Fenway Park, where he is 1-4 over six games. In 10 starts against the Red Sox, Vazquez is 2-7 with a 4.23 ERA, 9.68 H/9 and 1.50 HR/9. It seems that Vazquez will continue to be a spot start, at best.

Freddy Garcia vs KC: In his first three starts this season, he is 0-2 and has allowed 11 ERs over 17 IP. His stat line wouldn't look that bad had it not been for his loss to Toronto, where he allowed seven ERs on eight hits over three IP. Unfortunately, I would expect a similar outcome in his upcoming matchup against Kansas City. In 25 career starts against the Royals, he is 8-13 with a 6.03 ERA, 11.7 H/9 and 1.49 HR/9. We all know that the Royals have never been a dominant team, so to have pitched that poorly against a historically weak team, imagine how badly he'll do against an improved Royals team this week.

Kevin Millwood @ MIN: In 12 starts against the Twins, Millwood is 0-7 with a 5.90 ERA, .328 BAA and a 12.53 H/9.

Kevin Slowey vs DET: Yes, Slowey does have a career record of 3-0, but he has had some serious run support. Over five starts, he has a 6.20 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, .340 BAA and 13.01 H/9. While he could have a solid outing, I am not banking on it. To further drive my point home, the Tigers hitters that he will face are batting .419 against him.

Kyle Davies @ TEX: Career at Rangers Ballpark: 0-3, 6.87 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. Over his career, the hitters that he will face are batting .315 against him.

Brian Bannister @ CWS: In 12 career starts against Chicago, Bannister is 3-4 with a 7.61 ERA. Over 24.1 IP at U.S. Cellular Field, he has allowed 31 hits, 22 ERs and six HRs.

Ben Sheets vs TB: Is it just me or is Sheets looking weak on the mound? Anyway, in his lone start against the hot Rays, Sheets allowed eight ERs on nine hits with two HRs in 4.0 IP. The Rays hitters that he will face are batting .432 against him.

Two-start pitchers

You have all heard the saying, "two is better than one," right? There could not have been a truer statement spoken as the two-start pitchers below are excellent options and are must-starts this week.

Jon Lester: vs LAA (05/04); NYY (05/09)C.C. Sabathia: vs BAL (05/03); @ BOS (05/09)Ricky Romero: @ CLE (05/04); @ CWS (05/09)Carl Pavano: vs DET (05/04); vs BAL (05/09)Joe Saunders: @ BOS (05/03); @ SEA (05/08)James Shields: @ SEA (05/04); @ OAK (05/09)

The following pitchers are decent options and while you should get a solid game out of them, there is a chance they could burn you during one of their outings.

* Note: The pitcher has the best chance at a win against the team in bold

Scott Baker: vs DET (05/03); vs BAL (05/08)Clay Buchholz: vs LAA (05/03); vs NYY (05/08)Brett Cecil: @ CLE (05/03); @ CWS (05/08)Mitch Talbot: vs TOR (05/03); vs DET (05/09)Max Scherzer: @ MIN (05/03); @ CLE (05/09)Rich Harden: @ OAK (05/03); vs KC (05/08)Dallas Braden: vs TEX (05/03); vs TB (05/09)Ervin Santana: @ BOS (05/04); @ SEA (05/09)Brian Matusz: @ NYY (05/04); @ MIN (05/09)Luke Hochevar: @ CWS (05/04); @ TEX (05/09)Scott Feldman: @ OAK (05/04); vs KC (05/09)Jason Vargas: vs TB (05/04); vs LAA (05/09)

Disregard what I said earlier about "two is better than one," in this case, erase that quote from your brain-housing group for the moment. You would be better off with one solid pitcher than these unfulfilling options:

Jeremy Guthrie: @ NYY (05/03); @ MIN (05/08)Gil Meche: @ CWS (05/03); @ TEX (05/08)Gavin Floyd: vs KC (05/04); vs TOR (05/09)Jake Peavy: vs KC (05/03); vs TOR (05/08)

Start 'em if you got 'em

Alex Gonzalez, SS: Gonzalez is starting to heat up again as he belted a pair of HRs on Friday against the A's, which gives him seven HRs on the season. His hot hitting will continue against the Indians and White Sox at their respective parks. In 66 at-bats against the Indians, he boasts a .348 batting average (BA) and 1.010 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Progressive Field is a pitcher-friendly park, but Gonzalez has fared well, going 6-for-21 with two HRs and a .971 OPS. He has fared even better against the White Sox (.380 BA, 1.075 OPS), and plays just as well at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field, going 11-for-30 with a .413 on-base percentage (OBP). The domination does not stop there, as he is batting .355 against the White Sox probables.

Alex Rios, OF: So far this season, we have seen a slight improvement at the plate, but the key factor is that Rios' speed seems to have returned. During the previous two seasons, he totaled eight SBs in April, as compared to eight SBs this season alone. In 132 at-bats against the Royals, he is batting .333 with a .403 OBP and is 16-for-36 against the Royals probable's. During his limited plate appearances against the Blue Jays, he is 6-for-17 with a .882 OPS. Another factor that is working in Rios' favor is that across the board, May has been his best month at the plate over his career.

Andruw Jones, DH: It seems that a change of scenery is exactly what the doctor ordered, as Jones has hit six HRs and has a 1.024 OPS over 54 at-bats. While I would not expect this solid start to carry over deep into the season, he should be able to continue his solid play during May, which has been the most productive month over his career. Jones does not have a lot of history against the Royals, but he has taken advantage of his limited at-bats (6-for-24 with a 1.051 OPS). In 101 at-bats against the Blue Jays, he is batting .323 with a .926 OPS. If you have been waiting to plug-in Jones, go ahead and play him while he is healthy.

Alberto Callaspo, 2B/3B: In 68 at-bats against the White Sox, he is batting .324 with a 515 slugging percentage (SLG). Career at SAFECO Field; 4-for 14 with a .571 SLG and .946 OPS.

Hideki Matsui, DH: In 172 at-bats at Fenway Park, he is batting .331 with a .960 OPS, and a .321 BA and .911 OPS in 202 at-bats against Seattle.

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Austin Kearns, OF: He has taken full advantage of everyday at-bats (.383 BA, 1.091 OPS, two HRs and 10 RBIs) and with the Indians out of options, he should continue to bat cleanup. He is decent against Toronto and Detroit, but you cannot overlook his hot bat this season.

Paul Konerko, 1B: Speaking of riding someone while they are hot, you have to get on the PaKo railroad. With the first month of the season in the books, Konerko is first in the majors in HRs, fourth in RBIs and third in OPS. He also boasts a solid 8:15 K:BB.

Look away ... far away

Scott Podsednik, OF: If you were able to scoop Podsednik off the wire, you have been rewarded. However, if you have any other viable options this week, Podsednik would be best served on your bench. In 86 at-bats against the Rangers, he is batting .198 with a .239 OBP and three SBs. We all know that Rangers Ballpark is hitter-friendly, but the park has not been so friendly to Podsednik. In 48 at-bats, he is batting a pedestrian .188, with a .200 OBP and a lone SB. Unfortunately, he is even worse against the Rangers probable's (3-for-18). While he has little to no history against the White Sox, he has been decent at U.S. Cellular Field (.284 BA, .733 OPS). Let's call this a hunch, but I think he is going to struggle in the series against the White Sox, making him a poor start the entire week.

Mike Napoli, C: Regardless of how bad Napoli has been at the plate (.167 BA, .514 OPS, zero HRs and two RBIs) he is the Angels backstop for the foreseeable future with Jeff Mathis and Bobby Wilson on the DL. While Napoli owners may be excited that he will play every day, if you are struggling at the plate, as is the case with Napoli, this option does not seem that enticing. If you were expecting Napoli to begin warming up, let that thought go right now. In 49 at-bats against the Red Sox, he is batting .224 and is 0-for-9 against the Red Sox' probables. In 21 at-bats at hitter-friendly Fenway Park, he is sporting a .190 BA with nine Ks. While he struggles against the Mariners (.238 BA), and at SAFECO Field (.239 BA), his downfall is going to be with the Mariners' probables (7-for-32 with 13 Ks). I understand that catcher is a shallow position and you may be forced to go with Napoli, but I would urge you to scour the wire for a temporary replacement.

Brett Gardner, OF: Gardner is batting a solid .323, but I would not expect this pace to continue for much longer. In 17 games against the Orioles, he is batting .242 with a .286 OBP. In 55 at-bats against the Red Sox, Gardner has a .218 BA with a .250 OBP, and is 3-for-20 against the Red Sox' probables. With 39 at-bats under his belt at Fenway Park, he is batting .231 with a .262 OBP. I know that he is a consistent SB threat, but it is hard to steal bases when you have a combined .258 OBP against both teams.

Nick Johnson, DH: Combine Johnson's bad back with his poor play at the plate and you have a recipe for disaster. Career against the Orioles; .188 BA and .336 SLG in 149 at-bats. Career against the Red Sox; .233 BA, .328 SLG and 3-for-16 against the Red Sox probables.

Adrian Beltre, 3B: In 479 at-bats against the Angels, Beltre is batting .240 with a .277 OBP and he is 15-for-63 (.238 BA) against the Angels' probables. He is a mixed bag when it comes to the Yankees' probables; 1-for-14 and six Ks against C.C. Sabathia, 0-for-4 and two Ks against Phil Hughes and 15-for-34 against Javier Vazquez.

J. D. Drew, OF: For the first time in his 12-year career, Drew will close out the month of April hitting below .200 (.181). Don't expect him to increase his average this week, as he is batting .216 with a .662 OPS against the Yankees. He is 8-for-25 (.200 BA) against the Angels' probables.

Brandon Inge, 3B: Even though Inge has been warming up, he is still not worth a start against the Twins (.214 BA, .280 OBP).

Aaron Hill, 2B: In 93 at-bats against Cleveland, Hill has a .258 BA and .324 OBP. In 31 at-bats against Chicago, he has a .194 BA and .500 OPS.

Are they for real?

During the 162-game baseball SEASON, we will see players in the dumps and players riding high. Some players will get it going, while others will not. That is what makes fantasy baseball such an exciting game. What we also see during the season, are players that come out of nowhere to contribute to their respective team, whether they come from the minors or off the bench. The question that all fantasy owners have ... will these players be able to keep it going and thus warrant a roster spot on my fantasy team? This week, I am going to answer those questions about a few players that have come out of nowhere and are playing solid ball.

John Jaso, TB, C:

2010 Minors: 4-for-11 and a .788 OPS2010 Majors: 10-for-25, one HR, 10 RBIs and a 1:9 K:BB

Analysis: Jaso has been knocking the cover off the ball since being called-up from Triple-A Durham. Dioner Navarro returned from his two game suspension on Friday, but Jaso remained in the lineup. "Just could not walk away from Jaso right now," manager Joe Maddon said. If Jaso can continue his solid play, which I think he will, he could very well get the majority of the at-bats over Navarro, who has been struggling.

Conclusion: While I think he will be able to continue his solid play, he is an AL-only option at this point as he will more than likely share starts with Navarro. However, if Navarro were to hit the DL, Jaso could emerge as a mixed league option ... but not yet.

Ty Wigginton, BAL, 1B/3B:

2010: 20-for-62, six HRs, 12 RBIs and a 1.064 OPSCareer: .272 BA and .786 OPS

Analysis: Wigginton has been a breath of fresh air for an Orioles team that has question marks at all positions. He can play multiple positions, and even when Brian Roberts returns from the DL, the Orioles will ensure that Wigginton continues to get at-bats. If he is able to get consistent at-bats, 20 HRs and 80 RBIs is not out of the question.

Conclusion: He should be owned in all formats. While I do not see him being able to continue this pace, he should be a serviceable option this season.

Jeremy Hermida, BOS, OF:

2010: 12-for-48, three HR, 10 RBIsCareer: .264, .343 OBP

Analysis: Hermida is filling the spot vacated by Jacoby Ellsbury, who is on the DL with a rib injury. With no timetable set for his return, Hermida will continue to accumulate at-bats. Hermida does not hit for power or average as he has never hit more than 18 HRs or 63 RBIs. Once Ellsbury returns, Hermida will find his way back to the bench and should pinch hit on occasion.

Conclusion: He is a decent option in AL-only leagues, but only while Ellsbury is out.

Darnell McDonald, BOS, OF:

2010 Minors: 14-for-43, two HR, eight RBIs and a 1.055 OPS2010 Majors: 8-for-24, two HR, six RBIs and a 1.074 OPSCareer: .272 BA and .737 OPS over 13 seasons in the minors

Analysis: McDonald is a career minor leaguer and has only 171 at-bats over four seasons in the majors. McDonald was called-up to fill a need as Ellsbury and Mike Cameron hit the DL. So I expect to see him sent back to the minors once the Red Sox OF is healthy again.

Conclusion: I would leave McDonald on the wire at this point. I do not expect him to keep this pace up for any length of time and when Ellsbury and Cameron return, McDonald will be expendable.

Brennan Boesch, DET, OF:

2010 Minors: 22-for-58, three HR, 17 RBIs, .379 BA, 1.075 OPS2010 Majors: 6-for-23, one HR, seven RBIs

Analysis: Boesch was called-up to fill the void left by Johnny Damon, who has moved to the DH spot while Carlos Guillen is on the DL. I would expect to see Boesch sent back to the minors once Guillen returns. Boesch has a ton of potential, but it would take another key player hitting the DL.

Conclusion: Guillen is scheduled to come off the DL sometime this week, but if he is not ready, Boesch will stick around. With that said, he is not worth a roster spot as he will be heading back to Triple-A sooner rather than later.

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