Fantasy Fever with Joel Beall From WhatIfSports.com image

Fantasy Fever with Joel Beall

It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday
By Joel Beall, WhatIfSports.com
May 18th, 2010

Hideki Matsui. Carlos Lee. Scott Kazmir. Javier Vazquez. Pat Burrell. At one point, all could be called "Seabiscuits," fantasy studs that owners could ride to rotisserie glory. In 2010, all are running like Barbaro.

Mid-May has always been the time of year when fantasy owners are forced to face an inevitable predicament: stay with struggling stars or cut them loose. Players, teams and media will maintain it's still too early to worry about an individual's performance, but with almost 25% of the season in the books, we usually have a good indication of what type of production is imminent for the rest of the summer.

For some lucky owners, this choice is easy, as the Major League clubs have already made the verdict for them (Vazquez to the bullpen, Burrell designated for assignment). But for the rest of us, we are left to our intuition and magic-8 balls.

It should be noted that player evaluation should not be standardized, as some players deserve a longer leash than others. However, there are two consistent contributing factors that should weigh into your decision-making process: past performance and age. For example, Kazmir has been one of the more reliable and steady pitchers in the AL since 2005, and at age 26, still has plenty of gas left in the tank. Yet for guys who are battling Father Time, like Lee and Matsui, the prudent move it to wash your hands clean and start anew.

Personally, the Matsui revelation is a hard pill to swallow, as "Godzilla" was a major contributor to my early-season fantasy success, hitting .302 with 4 HRs and 11 RBI in his first 17 games. Yet the hot start has stalled, as Matsui is batting .163 in May and down to .234 overall, giving me no alternative but to send him packing on the Waiver Wire train.

American author Napoleon Hill once stated that, "Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in all walks of life." Most would view this declaration as a warning towards giving up on besieged ballplayers. But to me, this quote sends only one reflection:

"Hmmm - guess Napoleon Hill never played fantasy baseball."

David Ortiz

Start 'em: David Ortiz, Red Sox. Can you say "revitalized" in Spanish? Big Papi is on a tear in May, with 6 jacks, 14 RBI and a batting averaging hovering around .350. I'd personally like to apologize to the Boston bruiser after doubting him during his dubious display from the plate in April. In fact, I just reacquired him in favor of --

Sit 'em: Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians. Cabrera is headed to the DL after fracturing his arm after colliding with Jhonny Peralta on Monday night. Cabrera was hitting .287 for the Tribe at the time of the train wreck. Rough week for the city of Cleveland. First their King crumbles in the clutch, now this. Hey, at least they still have the Browns.

Fantasy Flashback: 1935 Arky Vaughan. According to noted baseball historian Bill James, Vaughan's '35 campaign ranks as the greatest season registered by a shortstop not named Honus Wagner. The Ark-inator put up a .385 average, .491 OBP, and a staggering .607 slugging percentage, along with 19 bombs, 99 ribbies and 108 runs scored. Even better, he did it with the impairment of having the name "Arky."

Waiver Wire Watch: Eric Hinske, Braves. Owned by less than 5% of fantasy owners, the 2002 Rookie of the Year has started to see consistent playing time for Bobby Cox, and with good reason. Hinske is 12 for his last 21 with 2 HRs and 9 RBI. Better yet, Hinske is eligible for three positions (1B, 3B, OF), making him a valuable pickup.

Chris Shelton

Rookie Review: Ike Davis, Mets. A 2008 1st-round selection, Davis lit the Mets' minor league system on fire in 2009. He hit .298 with 20 HRs, 71 RBI to go along with a .381 OBP, earning the Mets' Organizational Player of the Year award. After hitting .480 in spring training in 2010, Davis put the baseball world on notice, and has hit .271 with 3 HRs in 85 at-bats this season.

This Week in Jonathon Broxton: Ox-mania has taken America by storm! In the past week, Broxton has compiled 4 saves without allowing a run. To quote legendary base-runner Benny "the Jet" Rodriquez, "People say he's less than a god, but more than a man. Like Hercules or something." Granted, Benny was referring to the Great Bambino when he made this statement, but I think the passage still rings true for Ox. And you're damn right, I just compared Babe Ruth to Jonathon Broxton.

Trade Talk: One of the enormous no-nos in fantasy is the panic trade. These transactions are seeded in either two categories: underperformance or injury. In my circumstance, when word broke that Triple Crown-threat Andre Ethier went down in batting practice, I hastily compiled numerous proposals around my league to insure my offense in case of a prolonged Ethier-absence. I ended up dealing James Loney, Jon Lester, and Barry Zito for Justin Morneau and Andrew McCutchen. I think that should steady the ship. Maybe. I don't know. It made sense at the time. The moral of the story kids: Don't trade in the heat of the moment.

Big League Chew Player of the Week: Jose Contreras, Phillies. After a rough couple years, Contreras looks to have found new life in an unfamiliar role: closer. With Lights Out Lidge and Ryan Madison on the DL, Philadelphia has turned to the 38 year-old for help. Already successful in '10 as a set-up man (0.68 ERA in 13.1 innings), Contreras is now slamming the door shut for the Phillies, and notched his 1st save of his career on May 15.

Spit Your Tobacco at: Jeff Francoeur, Mets. Francoeur is 1 for his last 20 at the plate. For all you non-mathematical scholars out there, that equates to a less than stellar .050 average. And since I have nothing else nice to say about the New York outfielder, a slight unrelated rant.

Does anybody else dream of what they'd do if they ever made the Kiss Cam? The smart and safe play is to give your girl a peck on the cheek, inspiring some half-hearted "awwwwws" from the audience. There's always the "animal attack," but unless it's two senior citizens going at it (which always draws the biggest roar of the night), the exploit sends a creepy vibe throughout the stadium. The "avoidance" is hit and miss; sometimes it evokes laughter, other times it will be showered with "boos." Which leads me to the only logical play if you're a man - slapping a wet one on your beer. Surefire approach to induce laughter and applause, as well as vitriol from every woman in attendance. As "The Office's" Michael Scott would call it, "a Win-Win-Win."

Since I haven't discovered/created a good catchphrase to close this weekly bad boy up, I've decided to do the next logical thing: see how long I can getaway with concluding with a Dumb and Dumber quote. Let's give it a whirl.

"Hey guys. Woah, Big Gulps, huh? All right! Well, see ya later!"

Yep, that'll do just fine. Until next week.


Joel Beall is a Content Writer for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

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