Wednesday, April 12, 2006


As happens every season, fantasy baseball is sprinkled with disappointments.

Some top fantasy players aren't performing, others are injured, and several youngsters are just emerging. Let's take a quick tour.

Catchers: These guys are doin' some "rotten squattin'!"

1. Texas Rangers; Rod Barajas: In a lineup that features a cast of mashers and bashers, Barajas manages to stand-out by virtue of his mediocrity.

2. Oakland A's; Jason Kendall: Ehh', whattya' want, none of the A's are hitting right now.

Catchers: Some Red-Hot Receivers!

1. Seattle Mariners; Kenji Johjima: This Japanese import is exceeding all expectations. On a team with little punch, Johjima's bat and sparkling Defense stands out.

2. Chicago Cubs; Michael Barrett: Finally, Barrett's bat is garnering him some notice. He could turn out to be the most offensively productive Catcher of the year.

3. NY Mets; Paul Lo Duca: The Mets do not want for offense. However, with Piazza gone... Lo Duca's Home Run power from behind the plate is most welcome!

1st Basemen: Brrr, you guys are chillier than Mount Everest in December!

1. Arizona Diamondbacks; Shawn Green: Cold? Green's currently swatting .150 (3/20). The former 1st Bagger turned Outfielder is always a slow starter and he's best relegated to the fantasy bench until such time as he goes on his usual tear. That being said, though, his production is often erratic and Shawn Green may no longer an everyday player. At least, a top to second tier everyday fantasy athlete.

2. NY Yankees; Jason Giambi: Another corner man who has an irritating habit of picking-up in sometime around mid-May, the "Giambino" is currently hitting a cool .210. One of the protagonists in the best-selling "Game of Shadows," it took Giambi all of spring training AND 7 regular-season tilts to record an extra-base hit; Giambi cranked a Joe Mays offering into the Right-Field stands yesterday... and accepted walks 8, 9, and 10.

3. San Diego Padres; Mike Piazza: Frankly, I don't know if Piazza's a Catcher, 1st Baseman or DH. Further, I'm unsure as to whether or not the Pads' have a handle on it either! Anyway, the Cooperstown-bound backstop is hitting an empty (for him, anyway) .263, with 1 HR, 1 Double, 3 Ribbies', and no Walks.

4. Milwaukee Brewers; Prince Fielder: Although growing pains were expected, the staff thought Fielder would be better than .269/1/3. Sure, a few more months of Trip-A' seasoning wouldn't have hurt the soon to be 22 year old (May), but after he systematically dismantled minor league pitching it was believed that Prince was ready to be "Kinged" everyday 1st Baseman. But, with 9 whiffs in 26 plate appearances... ahhh, perhaps not.

1st Basemen Whew! You boys are "en fuego!"

1. Detroit Tigers; Chris Shelton: Putting the bite back into the Tiger O, Shelton's been one of this season's brightest lights and the dude's been smackin' the white offa' the ball. Pulverizing opposing pitching at a .536 clip, Shelton's already notched 5 Round-Trippers', 3 Doubles, 2 Triples, and has knocked in 10 Runs. With a Slugging % of 1.321 and an OPS that approaches 2.0, obviously there's no way the Tiger can keep up such a white-hot pace. Still, it'll be fun while it lasts! Chris Shelton... assuming he's really this good and the lineup around him plays to its full potential, could finish the season with a line of .320/38/135.

2. San Diego Padres; Adrian Gonzalez: After Ryan Klesko elected to undergo the kife, the everyday 1st base job was given to Adrian Gonzalez. And now that the former Texas Ranger is displaying great poise and discipline at the dish, he'll be hard to dislodge once Kleso returns. Currently, "A-Gone" is hitting .304, with a Homer', 3 Doubles, 6 Runs scored, and has struck-out just twice in 23 ABs.
***The hits just keeep on comin'! At the time of this writing, the Pad' 1st Sacker is 4/4, with 2 Ribs' and 2 Runs.

3. Chicago White Sox: Jim Thome: Naturally, Jim Thome's known to every Baseball fan. But after a horrifying and abridged .207/7/30 2005 season, it would appear as if Thome's back in the groove! Off to a crushing start, the savvy veteran has rediscovered his power stroke and is hitting at a .318/5/8 pace including today's 1 Homer', 2 Ribbie' game. Reports of Jim's demise were, apparently, premature!

2nd Basemen: 2... Two... Too Bad!

1. Baltimore Orioles; Brian Roberts: As per my "Positional Preview" and though I concede it's too early to predict any real trend, Roberts' season is shaping up precisely as I'd anticpated; he's much, MUCH closer to the middle infielder we saw over the 2nd half of 2005 than the "out of his mind," Babe Ruth-esque 2nd Bagger who exceeded his 2004 Home Run total... by the end of April of last year!

2. Tampa Bay Devil Rays; Jorge Cantu: To say that Cantu's in a slump is a marked understatement. Whether or not he'll be able to reach last seasons' numbers is a matter of some debate... but it's far too early to bury him.

3. Philadelphia Phillies; Chase Utley: Dude was red-hot last year... he'll heat up, but his owners are starting to squirm.

4. Milwaukee Brewers; Rickie Weeks; Another much-hyped youngster, Weeks also could've used additional Minor League time. The Brewers trot out a number of youngsters and WILL experience substantial growing pains.

2nd Basemen: Too Hot to Handle... They're Surprising Me Too!

1. Kansas City Royals; Mark Grudzielanek: He's knocked the rust off and is a legit' fantasy start.

2. Chicago Cubs; Ronny Cedeno: Cedeno may not have much pop, but for a guy who entered the season with a job and knew he faced no competition, he's worked awfully hard.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates; Jose Castillo: The Pirates field more talent than many realize, and the 2nd Sacker's one of 'em.

4. Washington Nationals; Jose Vidro: Nice. Plain and simple, nice! The Nats' are a much better team than many realize... I said it last season and I'm sayin' it again this season.

Shortstops: Owners Are Getting Short-Shrift!

1. Oakland A's; Bobby Crosby: Coming off an injury-marred year, 2006 has been marked by... umm, another injury. This is becoming a nasty little trend.

2. St. Louis Cardinals; David Eckstein: Gritty yes, nifty with the bat? So far... not so much.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers; Rafael Furcal: The soft Dodger offense isn't helping him any, but 1 XBH in 32 ABs is inexcusable.

4. Washington Nationals; Ryan Zimmerman: Over-hyped at this point, owners were duped into drafting him much too early by over-zealous writers.

Shortstops: Nobody's Getting Shortchanged!

1. San Francisco Giants; Omar Vizquel: Absolutely ageless!



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