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Article:2008 MLB Fantasy News and Notes 4/4/08

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What are we going to do with the Detroit Tigers? After today’s loss, the Tigers are still the only team yet to get a win.  Worse than that, they have scored only 14 runs in the first 5 games. Fantasy owners were expecting guys such as Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Granderson, and Carlos Guillen to produce possibly the best offense in the AL. Don’t panic, or try to move any of your Tigers. The runs are coming, trust me. It might not be a bad time to check with the owner of Cabrera. With a nagging little injury and a 1 for 8 start, maybe he might come a little cheap.

Bill Hall had himself quite the day today, as he went 3-5 with 2 HRs and 6 RBI. Is he going to go back to his 2006 numbers and 30+ HRs? Today has got fantasy owners asking themselves that question. My answer: Probably not.  Before this game he had two hits in the first three games and 6 Ks! If you have a spot on your roster that is just “dead weight” than I would take the flier on Hall. But I wouldn’t drop an established player (say, Kevin Youkilis for example) to take the chance on Hall.

The weekend series between Houston and Chicago is a showcase for J.R. Towles and Geovany Soto, two young catching prospects, and they aren’t disappointing. Although he isn’t exactly lighting it up so far, Soto drove in a run for the third consecutive day today, while Towles connected on his first Major League home run, and is also showing some signs of life. Keep an eye on these two young guys, as they might be able to help you at a position that is very shallow.

The Colorado Rockies are another struggling team. They have just 6 runs in their first four games as they fell again today. They have managed just two home runs so far, and have people wondering if last year was just a fluke. Todd Helton is obviously toward the end of his fantasy career, but did the hype machine pump up guys like Troy Tulowitzki and Brad Hawpe too much? The next couple of months will tell that tale. I wouldn’t worry about Garrett Atkins or Matt Holliday yet though.

Justin Upton hit his second homer of the season today. He is still striking out at an alarming rate (7 in just 4 games), but after thinking it would be 2009 before his potential started to show through, I am having thoughts that he might arrive this year. See if his owner in your league has him on the bench, or is not too high on him yet. Don’t give up a star for him, but checking out his availability isn’t a bad idea.

Ian Kennedy made his 2008 debut today and there’s only one word to describe it: ugly! Kennedy didn’t make it out of the third inning and gave up 6 runs and walked 4 in just 2 1/3 innings. Of the three young Yankee arms, Kennedy will struggle the most, and see if you have a Yankee fan in your league and get what you can for him. If not, I believe he is a candidate to send to the waiver wire if there is someone you are thinking of picking up. If Kennedy continues to struggle, and Mike Mussina keeps being Mike Mussina, the Yankees could be in trouble in 2008.

Chase Utley left the yard twice today in the first five innings.  There isn’t much fantasy news here. If you don’t already know that he is the best option at second base and worthy of a first round pick, then you really don’t play fantasy. But he is one of my favorite fantasy players and on my dynasty team league, so I enjoy days like this and wanted to report his good game.

Pirates CF Nate McLouth is off to a really nice start. After an impressive Spring season, Nate has continued right into the regular season. He has a hit in every game so far, and pushed his early average up to .389 after a 2-4 day today. He doubled for the third time already, and stole his first base of the season. Check your free agency to see if he is available if you have a spot open that you can afford.

I haven’t given Minnesota Twins' CF Carlos Gomez much chance to succeed, but so far he is proving me wrong. Gomez stole bases 3 and 4 today, and he is off to a .450 start. We knew Gomez would run in Minnesota, I just questioned how much he would be on base to get opportunities to steal. Obviously he won’t keep up this pace, but it may be safe to bump up expectations on steal numbers into the 60 range.

Pitcher turned slugger Rick Ankiel continues to rake in the majors.  His feel good story was tainted by links to HGH, but it appears that Rick may have put that behind him. Ankiel connected on his second homer tonight, and is hitting for a good average. If he can continue to keep his strikeouts under control, you could be looking at a breakout season here. His owners are hoping that Tony LaRussa continues to hit him in front of Albert Pujols as he did tonight, so Ankiel continues to see a lot of fastballs. Not to mention, you know he has to have a cannon of an arm playing centerfield, but can he keep his throws home from going to the backstop???

Japanese pitcher Hideki Kuroda is making his United States debut tonight and is giving the Padres fits. As of right now, the only run he has given up is a solo shot to Brian Giles. Kuroda has given up only three hits through seven innings and is looking quite impressive. He has four strikeouts and hasn’t walked anyone. Upon looking at his Japanese stats, I wasn’t blown away, but maybe he will be a Hideo Nomo type and be successful his first few times through the majors.

Finally, Russell Martin is finally off the schnide. After going 0 for his first 13, Martin hit a 2 run double in Friday night’s game. I ranked Martin as the number one catcher, and it is not time to panic when a guy had a horrible first three games. He will still approach 20/20, and there will be no other catcher who can claim that.

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