Today marks the end of the 1st month of the baseball season, and it’s about that time to start panicking about my fantasy baseball team.  I Like Ike has some serious starting pitching problems.

Right after my draft, I was worried about not having enough power in my outfield.  I drafted Carl Crawford in the 2nd round, but then didn’t pick another OF till round 9 with Hunter Pence.  After the draft, I was left with Crawford, Pence, Juan Pierre, Jason Kubel, Franklin Gutierrez, Chris Young and Josh Willingham.  So I traded John Lester for Jason Werth to add some power to that OF.  And now I’m in a panic.  My starting pitching has a total of 7 wins.  Ugh.  I’m going to need Justin Verlander’s corpse to get its act together and pitch better than 1-2 5.33 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP.  How are the Giants 12-9 and Matt Cain is 0-1 with a 3.80 ERA?  C’MON ON MAN!

Only time will tell if my SP wakes up.  I’ll probably have to move one of my 4 closers and an OF to get a stud starter.  But for now, I LOVE Ike Davis and have a small man-crush on him.  Kevin Gregg…I’ll take your saves and your goggles till you blow 4 saves in a row and get thrown on waivers…

April Studs n’ Duds

Every April there are early round picks that are off to a slower start than Charles Barkley running 100ft.  It feels like you have to trade them at 50 cents on the dollar just to rid your team of the possibility of getting genital warts or some other god awful disease from their mere presence.

Studs (based on where they were drafted in my league, expectations and any other things you’d like to consider)

Paul Konerko, 1b Chicago White Sox – 18th round

Leads the majors with 10 HR and is hitting .292.  Every year this guys scares you to death about his health and he is starting getting old.  It just alway seems like he’s playing with a nagging injury.  The Cell is a homer friendly park though.  I don’t expect him to keep that .290 avg, but 30 HR is almost a lock if he doesn’t get hurt.  And that ‘s a BIG if.

Robinson Cano, 2b Evil Empire – 5th round

I was dying to take him in the 5th round since he was still rotting there.  But he got snatched up a few pick before me.  Low and behold, he’s basically been the opening month MVP while hitting .408 8 HR 17 RBI’s with 21 runs scored.  Everything this guy has hit has been a laser beam.  If Teixeira and Aid-Roid could ever get on base, Cano would probably have around 30 RBI’s right now.  This guy can flat-out rake, and it wouldn’t shock me if he contends for the batting title this year.

Alex Gonzalez, ss Toronto Blue Jays – Undrafted

There’s no way in hell you drafted this guy.  But if you picked him up after the 1st couple of days into the season, he’s been great.  He has shown the ability to pop a few over the fence in a few seasons, but his real hot start (4  homers in the first 6 games) had owners grabbing him up off the wire quickly.  He hasn’t hit for much power since then, but is still at a respectable .275 5 HR 15 RBI’s for the opening month.  No one expected this.

Jorge Cantu, 1b/3b Florida Marlins – 13th round

Coming off two highly productive seasons as the Marlins 1b/3b, Cantu fell all the way down to me in the 13th rd.  I absolutely loved this pick and it has immediately paid off.  Cantu is 2nd in the league with 22 RBI’s and has 5 homers and a .290 batting average to sweeten it.  With he likes of David Wright, Pablo Sandoval and Kevin Youkilis going many rounds before him, he is the definition of a value pick.

Vernon Wells, OF Toronto Blue Jays – 16th round

A few years back, the Jays signed Wells to an NBA type, salary cap killing contract that was for 7 years and $126 million.   Needless to say he’s earned about $57 of that contract so far.  I don’t know if it was nagging injuries or what, but this year he looks healthy and back to the pre-contract form he had.  He ranks first in the AL in runs scored with 18, first in total bases with 58, first in extra-base hits with 17, is tied for first in doubles with nine, is tied for second in home runs with seven and is third in slugging with a .714 average.

Mike Pelfrey, SP New York Metropolitans – Undrafted

Lick.  Wipe.  Adjust hat.  Lick.  Lick some more. Step on rubber.  This was Pelfrey last year.  A complete headcase and his stock was stock falling faster than a sub-prime mortgage lender.  He was awful in spring training as well.  So there was no indication that he would be tied for the major league lead for wins (4),  leading in ERA (0.69) and have a save to his credit.  He is on pace for 100 walks at this rate, so it’s safe to say that his ERA will be on the rise.  Armed with his new splitter, you can still expect him to be in the 13-15 win range at this pace and a mid 3 ERA.

Francisco Liriano, SP Twinkies – 20th round

Coming off Tommy John surgery last year, Liriano looked terrible.  He was walking the park and couldn’t locate any of his pitches.  After a 5-13 campaign last year, he looks healthy and determined to make a statement that this is his pitching staff.  He’s started off 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA and a 0.966 WHIP.  His stuff has been flat-out electric.  My only concern is that he might tire out in the 2nd half.

Matt Capps, RP Nats – 16th round

Capps was the closer in Pittsburgh the past few years, collecting 66 saves.  He signed on with the Nats and along with last year’s mid 5 ERA, his stock plummeted.  Well all he’s done so far is save a MLB high 10 games and has allowed only 1 run so far this season.  The Nats are more competitive this year, but don’t expect 40 saves out of this guy.

*No catchers have really done anything great (Mauer is just being Mauer)

Duds (High draft picks that are just killing your team)

Victor Martinez, C Red Sawx – 3rd round

Having C and 1b eligibility make V-Mart even more valuable.  But being picked in the 3rd round means you are a cornerstone for a fantasy team.  The Sawx offense is flat-out miserable right now and V-Mart is a big part of it.  .237 1 HR and 5 RBI’s is just gross.  Calista Flockhart has meatier stats than those.  Being flanked by Pedroia and Yoooook makes this even more absurd.  He can’t throw anyone out so a move permanently to 1b is in order.  Lifetime, he hits about 50 points higher at first base.  You can’t give up on him yet, but till he gets out of this funk, scour the waiver wire for a Pudge Rodriguez or Rod Barajas to pass the time.

Mark Teixeria, 1b Evil Empire – 1st round

So far, he’s my LVP (Least Valuable Player) for April.  A notorious slow starter, Tex has been quite possibly the worst every day player in the majors.  Keep in mind, you can probably pencil him in for .300 35 HR 115 RBI’s right now, but I am getting a little worried.  With an April stat-line of .135 2 HR 9 RBI’s, it’s time to start getting worried.  Those are putrid numbers.  His on-base percentage is a paltry .300.  So let’s see…he’s not walking and he’s not making good contact.  Please excuse me while I vomit.  He’s gonna turn it around, but it better be sooner than later.

Ben Zobrist, 2b Tampa Bay Rays – 6th round

Last year, Zobrist might have been the guy who won you your fantasy league.  He had eligibility at like a gazillion positions and hit .297 27 HR 91 RBI’s with 90 runs and 17 steals.  So he signs a big contract extension coming off his 1st full year in the majors, and what does he do?  Lays a gigantic duce comin’ out of the blocks to the tune of .240 0 HR 10 RBI’s.  I really don’t know what to make of this guy.  He’s still young and is hitting in one of the best lineups in the game.  I guess wait it out and hope he starts producing.

Jose Reyes, ss New York Metropolitans – 3rd round

OK, Reyes missed all of spring training and the first week of the season due to a thyroid condition.  But 40 or so at bats into the season, Reyes has been moved into the 3rd slot in the lineup, breaking his streak of 591 straight games that he batted in the leadoff position.  Carlos Beltran’s slow heeling knee has made manager Jerry Manuel make this bizarre move.  Jose hasn’t gotten off to a good start.  Even though the Mets had won 7 straight games with Jose in the 3rd spot, his stats aren’t indicating that he’s has much to do with it.  He’s hitting .237 with zero homers and only 6 RBI’s.  Jose isn’t running either.  With only 4 steals in the first month, he’s only on pace for about 30 steals or so.  Please don’t give up on Jose yet.  By the time the All-Star break rolls around, I bet he has 30 steals and a ton of runs.

Aramis Ramirez, 3b Chicago Cubs – 7th round

Many people in my league thought this was a great pick.  You’d expect about .290 27-33 homers and 100+ RBI’s from this guy every year.  But this year he’s off to an extraordinarily slow start.  For a guy who’s a lifetime .283 hitter, a .150 average through the first month is a bit alarming.  He does have 3 homers and 13 RBI’s.  So you might be able to get by as he tries to regain his form.  The south side in the summer usually is a haven for power hitters, so I’d stick with him.

Grady Sizemore, OF Sons of Geronimo – 2nd round

To me, this guy is one of the most overrated players in baseball.  I don’t understand why people continue to overvalue him.  Over the past 4 years, he hasn’t been healthy and his batting average has gone down from .290 to .247.  He’s off to another very slow start.  He’s hitting .205 with no homers and only 9 RBI’s.  Another factor against him is that the Indians lineup is pathetic.  The only player in that lineup worthy of a fantasy roster spot is Shin-Soo Choo.  I’d think about trading Sizemore for just about anything at this point. 

Carlos Lee, OF Houston Astros –  7th round

One of the most consistent producers in baseball, Carlos Lee is off to one of the worst starts imaginable.  He plays in a park that has a left field wall that you can essentially piss over. It’s only about 315 ft to the 18 ft high wall.   It’s a complete joke of a ballpark and yet, he still hasn’t hit a single home run all month.  With a career OPS of .840, Lee is a prototypical power hitting corner outfielder.  His OPS this year resembles Cliff Lee’s rather than his own.  Carlos has no homers this season with only 5 RBI’s and is hitting .182.  I’m thinking that either he’s hurt and not saying anything, or he’s just getting real old…real fast.  I hope he’s hurt and comes back strong, because if he’s not, owners will have blown a #1 or #2 OF spot on him. 

Justin Verlander, SP Detroit Tigers – 3rd round

Verlander is a bona-fide fantasy ace.  But just like last year, he’s off to a painfully slow start.  He’s getting hit around and getting no run support either.  He isn’t going deep into games due to his high K and BB totals.  Last year through his first 4 starts, he had a 9.00 ERA and was 0-2.  Thankfully that turned around in his 5th start and he was well on his way to a 17-9 record with a mid 3 ERA and 269 punch-outs.  So far this year, it’s more like last season’s early struggles with only 1 win and a miserable 5.53 ERA.  I expect much of the same as last year from Verlander, so sit tight with him and take the early lumps. 

Trevor Hoffman, RP Brew Crew – 12th round 

The all time saves leader had a fantastic season for the Brew Crew last year with 37 saves and a 1.83 ERA.  This year?  3 saves and a 13.00 ERA.  He’s been a complete disaster with 4 blown saves already.  During the draft, I just kept thinking that he’s a ticking time bomb.  I am so glad I followed my rankings and passed up on him.  I would normally say to gobble up set-up man LaTroy Hawkins, but he’s been equally as awful.  I’m just crossing my fingers that you didn’t draft Hoffman, because at this point, he’s not even startable. 

If anyone has any other nominees for Studs n’ Duds, state your case to totalsportsblog@yahoo.com and their case will be made.

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