This week's fantasy decisions and some sleepers to help your lineup.
Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.
Should I stay or should I go?
One of the most difficult decisions that fantasy managers face each season is what to do with a top draft pick who is underperforming. Patience can pay off through a bad April, but sometimes players just never come around. Here are eight tough calls:
Albert Pujols – Los Angeles Angels
Obviously this has been the most talked-about slump in MLB history. You know the pain (.213, 4 HR, .589 OPS) if you own King, Prince, Duke, Dogcatcher Albert, but you also know the past greatness. After 58 games in 2011, he was hitting .265 with nine homers. Pujols hit .320 with 28 long balls the rest of the way. Stay patient.
Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees
Much like Pujols, there is enough past accomplishment to stay with Tex. You knew at draft time that the first four to six weeks would be a grind. His batting average may never go north of .260, but the homers and RBIs should increase for Teixeira as the summer continues.
Eric Hosmer – Kansas City Royals
It’s probably time (or it was three weeks ago) to give up here unless there are keeper/dynasty factors. Hosmer showed a lot last season with 19 home runs and a .293 average, but there is not enough of a track record to suffer this long with a .191-hitting first baseman. In 1,006 minor-league at-bats, he hit 29 dingers.
Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers
The hope here is that you dropped him a few weeks ago, but go ahead and get that .155 average out of your lineup. Weeks peaked in 2010 with 29 homers and 83 RBIs, but those numbers are looking more like outliers as time goes on. In only 155 at-bats this season, he has struck out a league-leading 58 times.
Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees
As last year showed us, A-Rod is just never going to approach his past greatness. But with the rash of injured third basemen (Longoria, Sandoval, Youkilis, Zimmerman, etc.) this season, Rodriguez is still a solid producer at the position. Just get that average season in New York from 2004-10 (.296, 38 HR, 120 RBIs) out of your head.
Ryan Zimmerman – Washington Nationals
He showed major potential in 2009-10 but has been injured and ineffective since. The Nationals ownership obviously feels Zimmerman will turn it around with the franchise-player contract they gave him this offseason, but fantasy owners may not see those 2009 results (or even 550 at-bats) again. There is more bark than bite here.
Jimmy Rollins – Philadelphia Phillies
The Phils’ shortstop looks to be in major decline. The signs have been there for the past few seasons, but his usually-solid power for a SS has disappeared (one home run in 166 ABs). You never expected a high average with Rollins, but .229 with a below-.300 OBP is going to hurt his stolen base totals as well. Find another solution.
Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels
The power tease of last season (18 home runs) has already faded somewhat this year, and the .256 average has fantasy owners frustrated once again. The batting average should come around (.292 career hitter from 2006-11) when the Angels get going as a lineup. You’ve probably heard this with Kendrick before, but stay patient here.
There is nothing in fantasy baseball like having a stud prospect join your lineup in the middle of the year and produce like an All-Star. Here’s a look at a six-pack of prospects (three currently in the bigs and three in the minors) who could help your club.
Matt Adams – St. Louis Cardinals
With the injuries to Lance Berkman and Allen Craig, the champs have installed the husky Adams at first base. The former Slippery Rock slugger hit .300 or better in all four of his minor-league seasons, while clubbing 32 homers last year and nine in 141 at-bats this season. Adams should produce in a solid lineup and be a crowd favorite.
Will Middlebrooks – Boston Red Sox
The BoSox third baseman has done nothing but produce since Kevin Youkilis went on the DL. Middlebrooks has the stat line of a big-time fantasy starter (.296/.889 with five home runs and 17 RBIs in only 81 at-bats), and Boston would be nuts to take him out of the lineup. Even if that happens with Youk back, hold on to this solid third sacker.
Josh Bell – Arizona Diamondbacks
The former big-time Orioles prospect has seen his expectations fade over the last couple of years. Now in the desert, Bell may just have needed a change of scenery to bring out his potential. In Triple-A Reno, he hit .381 with 30 RBIs in just 26 games. The D-backs are giving him a shot at third, so keep your eyes on his progress.
Trevor Bauer – Arizona Diamondbacks
The third-overall pick in last summer’s draft is on the fast track to the bigs. After dominating Double-A hitters (7-1, 1.68 ERA, 60 Ks in 48.1 IP) to start this season, he has a 1.38 ERA and 16 Ks in 13 IP in his first two Triple-A starts. Arizona may not need him immediately, but Bauer’s talent will have him there soon enough.
Wil Myers – Kansas City Royals
Much like Bauer, Myers began this season by starring in Double-A (.343, 13 HRs, 30 RBIs, 1.146 OPS in 35 games). He’s now moved to Triple-A Omaha and has a .417 average with two home runs in first seven games. With the struggles of the Royals, the 21-year-old could be in K.C. soon.
Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
He had a rough MLB debut in San Diego last year, but Rizzo is crushing Triple-A pitching again this season. In 44 games at Iowa, Rizzo is hitting .355 with 16 homers, 43 RBIs and an OPS of 1.130. Despite a great April by Bryan LaHair, Rizzo is the Cubs future at first base. Look for him to arrive at the Friendly Confines in June.
Weekend Series to Watch
Tampa Bay at Boston
The Red Sox have been hot lately, and they have won four of six over the Rays this season after struggling against Joe Maddon’s bunch the last two years. The Josh Beckett-David Price matchup on Saturday will be worth the high Fenway admission.
Washington at Atlanta
The Nationals have the only ERA below three (2.90) in all of baseball, while the Braves have scored the second-most runs in the National League. Atlanta had been hot until the trip to Cincinnati this week, while the Nats are still looking for any offense. This will be the first matchup of the season for the NL East rivals.
Philadelphia at St. Louis
This NLDS rematch will see two big-time organizations just looking for some healthy players these days. The Phils have struggled mightily for offense outside of catcher Carlos Ruiz, and the Cards seem to be suffering injuries on a daily basis. The Halladay-Wainwright duel on Sunday should have a postseason feel.