June 01, 2010

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Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to start worrying. Albert Pujols is looking like a mere mortal. I mean seriously, a .280 average? Two HRs in May? I'm sorry, it's time to think about other options. ... What's that you say, May is not over? Pujols did what? Three bombs? As I was saying, Pujols is the best hitter in baseball and should never be doubted.

In all seriousness, there is a point to be made here. In the last few weeks I've received e-mails asking whether it was time to bench players like Jose Reyes, Pablo Sandoval and Dustin Pedroia. Was it time to bail on struggling hurlers like Dan Haren, Tommy Hanson and Jake Peavy? Yes, these guys are struggling, but by cutting bait now, you guarantee yourself negative value from a player that you were counting on to be a prime cog in your fantasy machine. Unless there are injuries involved, these players will have the numbers at the end of the season (OK, maybe Peavy is worrying me a little), but are you patient enough to be the benefactor?

But I play in a head-to-head league, you say? It matters not. All it means is that you'll be getting the good parts of their season right when you need it, in the middle of your playoff run. Head-to-head does require a little different thinking, but don't put too much into it. Stop tinkering with your lineup and let the players play. Otherwise, you're likely going to be dancing around the hot streaks and falling into the cold streaks all year.

• One player you can safely kick to the curb is Grady Sizemore. He will be undergoing knee surgery this week and will be out a minimum of six to eight weeks. There's also a strong possibility that a micro-fracture is discovered, in which case he'll be out for the season, and fantasy owners will be doing the same dance they've done trying to wait for Carlos Beltran. One thing is pretty clear; Sizemore will not be the same player he was until this knee situation is cleared up.

• Those of you "rushing" to pick up Brad Lidge as he returns from the DL on Monday can relax. With the way Jose Contreras is pitching, there's no reason for the Phillies to throw Lidge back in the closer role anytime soon. I've taken a little heat from my colleagues for my lukewarm endorsement of Contreras, but this is a pitcher who has been dominant at times in his career. He wouldn't be the first failed starting pitcher to harness his stuff in the pen. At 39, he's a little late for the Dennis Eckersley career path (Eck started closing at age 32), but a year of solid work as a transitional closer is not out of the question. I hate to pay for saves, whether it's in the spring or in June. A small trade investment here could net you 20-plus saves from here on.

• It's hard to recommend a player hitting .163 this late in the season, but I'm giving Aaron Hill my whole-hearted stamp of semi-approval. He's hit three long balls in his last four games and should be a solid middle infield option from here on ... maybe, possibly, could be. Hey, I said it was hard to recommend him.

• Mechanics are important; and I'm not talking about when your year-old car starts knocking and chugging when it gets up to 60 mph (sorry, little personal matter). Max Scherzer supposedly tweaked his mechanics during his little foray back to the minors and came back to strikeout 14 batters in under six innings. After working in the low 90s/upper 80s much of April and May, Scherzer was consistently in the mid-90s on Sunday and hit 99 on his second-to-last pitch. I'm just hoping my mechanic can get my car up to 70. If you haven't already grabbed him, it's probably too late (14 Ks gets you noticed). His ERA and WHIP may be up and down, but Scherzer should be an elite source for the strikeouts that we thought were a given.

• I love medical reports. Derek Holland, who has been impressive in 19-plus innings, left Sunday's game after complaining that he couldn't feel the ball coming out of his hand. Holland said he wasn't in pain, but obviously had to be removed. The diagnosis following the game: left shoulder soreness. Wow, thanks for the detailed report; now I know what's going on. Holland will be re-evaluated on Monday, but those of you who picked him up in AL-only leagues have to be worried. It's usually a good thing to be able to feel the baseball.

• In the "When is this guy going to get noticed" category, when is this guy going to get noticed? Angel Pagan continues to fill in nicely for the Mets. He's currently on pace for a .295 BA, 93 runs, 12 HRs, and 29 SBs. Of course, Beltran is expected to return in early July, or maybe late July, but it could be August ... you get the point. Pagan is a sneaky five-category contributor that is getting no fantasy love. Stick him in your lineup and let him play.

Buster Posey looks a whole lot better in his early 2010 work than he did in his '09 trial and the Arizona Fall League. Those of you who pick him up in mixed leagues may be a little disappointed, though. Posey is likely to hit for a solid average, but the power is not there. He should play five or six times a week and be eligible at first base as well as catcher. Posey seemed to wear down in his first full professional season, so the time away from catcher should benefit his bat. Expecting an impact similar to that of Chris Coghlan, circa '09, is not out of line. Just don't hold your breath waiting for the long ball. Fantasy owners will not be able to rely on Posey Power.

• Those of you waiting for the return of Mark DeRosa ... never mind; I just realized that no one is waiting for him to come back. Let's forget I mentioned him.

• Rumor has it that Stephen Strasburg will make his much-awaited major league debut on June 8. In case you've been all wrapped up in your American Idol fantasy league, Strasburg has been doing OK down in the minors. His ERA is actually in the negative numbers and he's struck out more than four batters an inning. Expectations sit somewhere between Roy Hobbs and Sidd Finch. You're going to see a lot of experts telling you to expect the bumps that most young pitchers go through. I'm telling you that's a load of hogwash. Elite arms succeed. Ask Tommy Hanson, Mark Prior and Kerry Wood how they did in their introduction to the majors. Let's just hope Strasburg's story doesn't play out like those of Wood and Prior. Plug Strasburg into your rotation and enjoy the ride. He may be shut down later in the season in an attempt to limit his innings, but there's no reason not to be onboard right from the start.

* All statistics current as of May 30.

Don't forget to check out our Xclusive Edge Rankings for help with tough lineup decisions.

Doug Anderson is the Executive Editor at RotoExperts.com. Look for Man in a Box every Tuesday and catch him on The Fantasy War Room, Thursdays at 8 ET.

Feeling lost and confused? Want to help Doug understand what the finale of Lost really meant? E-mail Doug at rotodaddy@rotoexperts.com.

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