By Eric Mack
April 21, 2013
Albert Pujols is hitting, but how long until his foot problems land him on the DL and off your roster?
Danny Moloshok/AP

Often, by the a fantasy owner sees signals to trade a player, there's an the obvious crimp on a player's production making it tough to get reasonable return through a trade. But that's not the case for the Angels' Albert Pujols; he's performing for his owners -- hitting over .300 with power -- but consider this your warning: he's not healthy.

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For years, Pujols has said that chronic plantar fasciitis in his left foot would not keep him from being productive, and his impressive and consistent numbers supported his claim. Now, he might be cracking.

"I'm dying," Pujols told the Los Angeles Times before Sunday's game. "It's hurting real bad."

Consider that statement a good reason to sell him. Pujols has gotten off to a solid start, hitting for a .322 average, but he's started four consecutive games at DH, with no immediate plans to get him back at first anytime soon. He is closer to a stint on the disabled list than playing the field right now.

"We've discussed every alternative imaginable," Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told the Times. "We've consulted with specialists. He is particularly tough, mentally and physically. He's handling it as well as you can. ... There's not a whole lot anybody can forecast. It's based on his own tolerance."

If you listen to Pujols' words, he is reaching his limit on pain. It has been hard to watch him run at times in these latter years of his career.

For those that merely pay attention to stats, ignoring the news and players' words, you might be able to get solid return for your first-round pick before he falls apart or hits the DL. In the year of injury, the team that has the healthiest core players will be the best off.

Injuries have you down?

We have yet to really see a flood of the top prospects coming to the Major Leagues, but if this incredible rate of injuries continues, we are going to see them arrive.

The problem right now is the stress that injuries put on your roster flexibility, particularly in leagues without DL spots. You cannot cut the likes of Zack Greinke (shoulder), Curtis Granderson (forearm), Johnny Cueto (lat) or Jered Weaver (non-throwing elbow), so there might be owners jumping off stashing the top prospects.

Here are the top-five most-owned minor leaguers right now:

1. OF Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays (owned in 78 percent of leagues) -- He dodged injury this week and returned on Apr. 20 from a sore foot with his first homer.

2. SS Jurickson Profar, Texas Rangers (53 percent) -- He homered early this past week but hasn't had a hit since.

3. OF Oscar Taveras, St. Louis Cardinals (50 percent) -- 'Tis the week to hit the first homer of the season. Taveras went deep and has been hot this week.

4. OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers (44 percent) -- A sprained thumb landed him on the Double-A DL, spoiling his hot start after a torrid spring.

5. SP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets (41 percent) -- While Matt Harvey has been the No. 1 pitcher in fantasy, the Mets' future co-ace, Wheeler, has struggled in Triple-A. He walked six in his past start and is 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA through four starts.

Player of the week

OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- He woke up with his first two homers of the season this week. You really didn't think he was going to be a bust this year, did you? Betting against the best player in baseball is a bad, bad idea.

Player of the weak

DH Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox -- Arguably the streakiest slugger of our generation, Dunn snapped an eight-game hitless streak with a homer on Apr. 21. You knew you were buying a streaky guy, so you have to ride him through these lows. He can erupt for a huge week after snapping his funk, too. You will want to keep him active in deeper leagues.

Rookie spotlight

3B Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals -- A future star gets a two-week audition with the Nationals because Ryan Zimmerman (hamstring) landed on the DL. Assuming Zimmerman can come back in a couple of weeks, Rendon should head right back to Double-A. At 22 years old, Rendon is a future top-10 fantasy third baseman, but he is not going to perform like one in just his second season as a professional. Don't own him outside of NL-only or long-term keeper leagues.

Bargain bin

RP Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals -- With Jason Motte (elbow) facing Tommy John surgery if he doesn't significantly improve physically by May 1 and Mitchell Boggs struggling, the Cardinals are going to be a bit of a bullpen by committee. Boggs and Edward Mujica have the saves right now, but they will be merely keeping the closer's job warm for the eventual rise of top prospect Rosenthal, who has shaken off a slow start. Consider taking the flier on Rosenthal now in any format. He has the potential to perform like a top-10 closer once he gets the job. Unfortunately, he is already owned as a middle reliever in Tout Wars. That is telling, especially with Mujica still a free agent.

Roster trends

Most added:

1. SP Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals -- The 27-year-old breakout candidate is off to a great start. The former first-round pick is a legit fantasy gem. Own and start him in all leagues.

2. SS Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres -- The steals were expected. The hot start with the bat, not so much. He is still just a mixed-league rotisserie starter over the long haul. The bat will cool off.

3. OF Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics -- Like Cabrera above, Crisp is a rotisserie-only outfielder who is temporarily hot enough to use in mixed-points leagues. His steals will stay consistent, but his bat will cool off, too.

4. OF Torii Hunter, Detroit Tigers -- We called him a bust candidate because we couldn't see him hitting over .300 again. That looks bad right now.

5. 2B Daniel Murphy, New York Mets -- He has gone from sleeper to second-base fantasy star. Save for Detwiler, he is the best bet of these others to have a career year.

Most dropped:

1. SP Mike Fiers, Milwaukee Brewers -- The 27-year-old is slated to make a few starts back in Triple-A. He can return in May, but he is merely a matchup option best left for deeper leagues.

2. SS Derek Jeter, New York Yankees -- Age and injury has finally caught up to this Hall-of-Fame legend. You are justified cutting him in leagues with no DL spots.

3. SP Matt Harrison, Texas Rangers -- His surgery to repair a herniated disc knocks him out until the All-Star break and ruins his fantasy value. Back issues are notoriously bad news long-term for pitchers, and back surgery never seems to be a perfect fix.

4. SP Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics -- His last start is a signal he is out of his brief funk. This talent is the first of this bunch that shouldn't have been dropped.

5. SP Joel Hanrahan, Boston Red Sox -- Manager John Farrell isn't ready to declare Hanrahan his closer once healthy. That's interesting news for Andrew Bailey owners right now.

Most viewed (Rotoworld):

1. SP Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds -- As intriguing as that first start on short rest was against the Marlins, the fact he is a two-start pitcher this week is even more appealing. He stands a good chance to stick around for the rest of the season if he pitches well.

2. SS Didi Gregorius, Arizona Diamondbacks -- The 23-year-old is off to a hot start that can earn him the regular job long-term. He is more of an NL-only option this season, though.

3. OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins -- His slow start is partially due to health, but his lack of supporting cast is getting him pitched around. This is a dangerous year for him, but it is still a bad time to sell.

4. RP Edward Mujica, St. Louis Cardinals -- He earned a save this week and is a hot hand, but eventually that closer's job is going to be Trevor Rosenthal's. Mitchell Boggs and Mujica will be Rosenthal's setup men.

5. 3B Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays -- The 23-year-old has returned from the DL with a cold bat, but he's still far too intriguing to give up on or sell low with right now.

Most traded (

1. OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He is showing signs up snapping out of his funk. He just might be the best buy-low candidate in fantasy right now. BUY

2. SP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants -- Reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated, even if that was merely the lowly Padres he beat last time out. His strikeout rate is still great and this is a contract year. HOLD

3. SP Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He is going to be out until mid-June, but at least his throwing elbow and shoulder are getting rest. He is a must-stash in all leagues with reserves. HOLD

4. OF Mark Trumbo, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- It is a good time to take advantage of an impatient owner. He is off to a good start, so you shouldn't have any concerns about the lack of homers. The approach is good, and the power will come. BUY

5. SP Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies -- Back-to-back quality starts give you a chance to get some value for him. He is still a shell of his former self and might give you more value in trade than in your lineup here on out. SELL

Tout Wars moves

Fixing the catcher position again -- This is an admission of a mistake in the first FAAB run of the year. Refusing to put in an aggressive bid on John Buck (whoops!) and prioritizing Erik Kratz over Francisco Cervelli were compounded mistakes earlier this month. Also, Travis d'Arnaud is out for two months and won't be a candidate for a call-up until the second half. It is time to drop Kratz (.192 through Saturday) for Cervelli (.310 through Saturday).

Adding another starting pitcher -- After losing out on Cingrani (he would have required a $26 bid in a $100-cap league), it is time to find another starting pitcher to help improve in the strikeout category. James Russell still can get save chances for the Cubs, but he is going to be reserved, and d'Arnaud is going to be cut for a starting pitcher flier.

1. SP Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins (he's a two-start pitcher who warrants being owned)

2. SP Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals (he has 15 strikeouts)

3. SP Jorge De La Rosa, Colorado Rockies (he has 17 strikeouts to date)

My daily lineup

If you play in those daily fantasy leagues, here are the players by position that yours truly will be going with for Monday's games. If you want to challenge me, hit me up on Twitter: @EricMackFantasy.

SP -- Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays SP -- Derek Holland, Texas Rangers C -- Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers 1B -- Lance Berkman, Texas Rangers 2B -- Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers 3B -- Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds SS -- Jean Segura, San Diego Padres OF -- Nick Swisher, Cleveland Indians OF -- Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners OF -- B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves DH -- Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins

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