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Old 04-29-2006, 10:07 AM
jeanpi jeanpi is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 5
Default Fantasy Baseball Breakdown

The Six-Month Grind

We’re three weeks into the 2006 baseball season, and if your fantasy team looks anything like mine, you’re ready to unload half of your roster. I know it’s hard, but be patient. The worse thing you could do right now is panic and make a bad trade or drop a good player.

Off to a Hot Start

While it’s very difficult to watch your team stumble out of the gate (as I’m writing this, my offense is a collective 0-15 today and I’m about ready to have a fire sale), there was a reason why you drafted these guys. If you were lucky enough - or smart enough, depending on how you look at it - to draft Chris Shelton, Jonny Gomes or Nick Swisher, you’re probably at the top of your league, right now. But are these guys really going to lead the league in home runs?

Manny Ramirez hit his first two home runs of the season, last weekend. Mark Teixeira and Richie Sexson have three and two homers, respectively, through the first three weeks. These guys are all perennial 40-home-run-hitters, and barring injury, you can be sure that they will get their numbers by the season’s end.

Waiting for the Right Time

Everyone’s heard the clich? “buy low, sell high.” It’s sound advice. Knowing the right time to deal that guy who’s off to a hot start is the key to making this happen. There’s no way Shelton, Gomes and Swisher are going to keep up the pace they’ve set so far - Shelton’s already started to slow down - but how can you not ride their hot streaks a little longer? Just don’t wait too long if you’re planning on dealing them.

Knowing players’ trends is another key in making the right deal at the right time. Some players are traditionally slow starters, like Ramirez and Jim Edmonds, and trading for them at the end of their slow start could mean big stats for you the rest of the way. A lot of hitters heat up when the weather does too, so they could be busting out of these slumps any day now.

On the Rise

Targeting players who are showing signs of breaking out is another key to making the right roster adjustments. Here are a few players who might be available and could definitely help some teams:

Josh Barfield - The rookie second baseman has excelled since being moved to the No. 2 spot in the Padres lineup. He’s got his average over .300 and has 2 HRs and 6 steals. Grab him if he’s still available.

Ty Wigginton - Playing for his third team in four years, the journeyman third baseman seems to have found a home in Tampa Bay. He’s taken advantage of Aubrey Huff’s knee injury and already has 8 home runs and 20 RBI. Playing in hitter-friendly Tropicana Field should help, too. Ride him while he’s hot.

Brad Hawpe - The Colorado Rockies outfielder has established himself as the everyday right fielder and is firmly entrenched in the heart of the Rockies lineup. He’s batting over .340 and already has slugged 5 HRs. The 2000 College World Series MVP is well on his way to a .300-30-100 season. You never can go wrong having a Rockie in your lineup.

The Pitching Hole

While there is plenty of time to make up ground on offense, falling behind in the pitching categories - especially ERA and WHIP - can be a killer. Avoiding those complete disasters in the early season is a key to remaining competitive on the mound.

With pitchers, it’s all about the matchups. Don’t be afraid to bench one of your better pitchers for a riskier play if the matchup is right. Throwing a marginal starter against Kansas City or Pittsburgh is always better than having just about any starter face the Yankees or pitch at Colorado.

Whether you find yourself at the top of your league or at the bottom of the pack after these first three weeks, don’t stop looking to make your team better. Stocking your bench with productive players who could be used as trade bait is always a good idea. The inevitable injuries will come, and having players to step in during those times will help you avoid having to make a desperate deal.

Michael Brody

Contributing Writer

Mike has been writing and reporting on sports for 14 years.

He started his career as a sports writer and radio broadcaster at Cal State Northridge. Mike has written for the Los Angeles Daily News and has been a writer/editor for KNBC in Los Angeles, where he worked on the nightly sportscast with Fred Roggin. He also wrote and edited material for NBC network specials and has more than 10 years of online journalism experience.

Although he lives in Southern California, Mike was born and raised in the Boston area and is a diehard fan of all the Boston professional teams.

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