Posted: Monday June 6, 2011 2:44PM ; Updated: Monday June 6, 2011 3:00PM
Eric Mack
Eric Mack>INSIDE FANTASY BASEBALL

Weekly Planner: Pujols punishing those who lost faith in superstar

Story Highlights

Albert Pujols was the most traded player in fantasy baseball last week

Pujols shook off early-season slump to hit five homers in last seven days

Aaron Crow could lose the Royals closer job without getting a save

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Albert Pujols served notice he is past his slump with walkoff home runs in back-to-back games against the Cubs.
Albert Pujols served notice he is past his slump with walkoff home runs in back-to-back games against the Cubs.
AP

Whoops! Reports of Albert Pujols' demise have been greatly exaggerated.

The regret of this fantasy writer not formally admonishing fantasy owners that were trading him is about as great as those of the masses that mistakenly have. We had planned to lead one of our fantasy columns with the warning of not giving up on Pujols, even for a star haul.

It now comes one week too late for so many.

Pujols was the most-traded player in fantasy last week. He was easily the most productive player in fantasy thereafter. The monster is out of his cage with a five-homer week and scoring a fantasy-high 59 points in a standard mixed league.

That total is roughly the amount of points Pujols produced in the entire month of May, the four weeks prior, when he went a career-long 21 games without a homer. Pujols scored just 63 points combined from fantasy weeks 5-8. After going 12-for-27 (.444) with 10 RBI, 11 runs, two steals and a pair of walk-off game-winners, Pujols is back in the top 10 of fantasy hitters for the season.

He looks ready to surge all the way back to No. 1 again.

It should have been reminded: He is still in a contract year with the potential to blow away every other player in fantasy for months on end. This big week won't be the last and it could extend for weeks on end. It is why Pujols is ranked No. 1 every spring.

Hopefully you didn't make one of these trades that went down in CBSSports.com's premium single head-to-head leagues before his huge breakthrough:

Trade No. 1

Pujols and SP Chris Carpenter, STL
For
SP Dan Haren, LAA and SP Jon Lester, BOS

Trade No. 2

Pujols and Zack Greinke, MIL
For
1B Ryan Howard, PHI and SS Troy Tulowitzki, COL

Trade No. 3

Pujols
For
1B Howard, PHI and SP Kyle Lohse, STL

Trade No. 2 is the least objectionable return, but none of them will be good enough if Pujols stays this hot for even one more week. Sluggers famously do 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season and this is Pujols' market correction.

If you're looking for some more buy-low opportunities, let's make this a lesson learned and look to the most-traded players right now:

1. 2B Dan Uggla, ATL
2. 1B Adam Dunn, CHW
3. SP Cliff Lee, PHI
4. 1B Pujols, STL
5. SP Roy Oswalt, PHI
6. SP Chris Carpenter, STL
7. SP Ubaldo Jimenez, COL
8. 1B Howard, PHI
9. OF Carl Crawford, BOS
10. OF Nelson Cruz, TEX

Save for a potential career decline of Uggla at the age of breakdown for a middle infielder, these players are pretty good bets to be better than they have to date. That is what makes a player tradable. That doesn't mean you should trade them as much as trade for them, though.

Pujols has taught us once again: Selling low is a costly and regrettable mistake.

Player of the Week

Pujols is back with a vengeance! He has been one of the most-traded players in fantasy for most of the first two months of the season and those that bought in low are scoring a huge bargain now. Maybe the year of the pitcher is about to turn to the hitters as we get into the heat of the summer.

Past players of the week: 8. SP Yovani Gallardo, MIL; 7. SP Michael Pineda, SEA; 6. OF Jose Bautista, TOR; 5. SP Francisco Liriano, MIN; 4. 2B Ben Zobrist, TB; 3. SP James Shields, TB; 2. SP Dan Haren, LAA; 1. SP Jered Weaver, LAA.

The Replacements

SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins (back) -- One of fantasy's other biggest busts to date, the one picked right after Pujols, is going the other direction: Right to the DL. Ramirez remains a great buy-low candidate if anyone remains impatient. Surprisingly, there are 15 other players getting dealt more often right now. That suggests owners are either more wary to buy or wary to sell. It should be the latter. Ramirez will be a second-half star.

OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals (quadriceps) -- He tried to play through his pain and it has cost him more time than it should have now. Allen Craig and Jon Jay will get the bulk of the at-bats and have value in mixed leagues now. In fact, if Jay and Craig both play with a healthy Lance Berkman, Pujols might even get those two more games at third base to become eligible there in standard leagues.

C Joe Mauer, Twins (legs) -- Mauer is finally on a rehab assignment. He will need at least a good week of catching before he is a candidate to be activated. His first true appearance behind the plate comes Monday. That should be telling.

3B Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals (abdominal) -- The bat looks like it is there right away on his rehab assignment. The question is whether he can handle the throws across the diamond. So far, so good. A return to fantasy lineups for Fantasy Week 10 (June 12-18) looks possible.

3B David Wright, Mets (back) -- The news has gotten worse for the Mets' "non-superstar." He will be inactive for the next three weeks, which puts him out at least another month and likely until the All-Star break. GM Sandy Alderson even went so far to suggest, perhaps, that Wright returns when Johan Santana (shoulder) makes his season debut. That was figuring to be after the break. Ouch. The Mets will continue to ride with the mildly effective trio of 1B Daniel Murphy, 3B Justin Turner and 2B Ruben Tejada.

Jason Heyward, Braves (shoulder) -- The Braves seem in no rush to get him back right now. He might not return before the end of June at this point. The Braves will continue to use a platoon of Eric Hinske and Joe Mather in right, while Jordan Schafer plays center for Nate McLouth (oblique). Hinske is the only one with potential to really help mixed owners.

3B Pablo Sandoval, Giants (wrist) -- Kung Fu Panda is starting a rehab assignment this week, putting a mid-June return on the horizon. Track his progress for potential activation next week. Panda's return could put Tejada back in the mix for starts over Brandon Crawford at shortstop.

SP Matt Garza, Cubs (elbow) and SP Francisco Liriano, Twins (shoulder) -- They are expected to return from the DL for starts Monday and Tuesday, respectively. It would be best to let them pitch and prove effective before starting them. No one will miss the pitchers they will replace in their rotations.

The High Five

The most-added players:

1. OF Michael Morse, WAS
2. SP Dillon Gee, NYM
3. RP Aaron Crow, KC
4. SP Josh Collmenter, ARI
5. OF Craig, STL

Crow is an interesting case, because he got the closer's role while pitching his least impressive baseball of the season. Joakim Soria had two very good outings over the weekend and the struggling Royals were never able to get Crow a save opportunity amid Soria's demotion. Crow could lose his closer's job without nary a save chance. Gee and Collmenter are surprisingly winning games for anticipated non-contenders, while Morse and Craig have streaked into mixed-league starting lineups.

The Low Five

The most-dropped players:

1. SP Kyle McClellan, STL
2. SP Vance Worley, PHI
3. SP Fausto Carmona, CLE
4. C Buster Posey, SF
5. SP Wade Davis, TB

McClellan is the buy-low candidate here. He should only be out a couple weeks for his injury and he was useful in all formats for much of the first two months of the season. The time off will do his arm some good in his transition from the bullpen to the rotation. Worley is back to being worthless, along with Posey outside of keeper leagues. Carmona and Davis are struggling right now, but the contenders they pitch for are likely to make them sleepers once they start showing more consistency later this month

The View-Makers

The most-scouted players:

1. SP Phil Humber, CHW
2. SP Edinson Volquez, CIN
3. OF Morse, WAS
4. 1B Mark Trumbo, LAA
5. OF Carlos Beltran, NYM
6. SS Hanley Ramirez, FLA
7. SP John Danks, CHW
8. 2B Brent Lillibridge, CHW
9. 3B Chase Headley, SD
10. SS Jimmy Rollins, PHI

Humber and Danks have survived in the White Sox rotation, especially of the likely return to the DL by Jake Peavy (groin). Danks is a great buy-low candidate, albeit one too dangerous to start right now in mixed leagues. Volquez is making his return to the Reds' rotation and is a must-add in all leagues, while Morse, Trumbo and Headley are streaking right now. Beltran, Ramirez and Rollins are dealing with injuries. Ramirez is headed to the DL, while Beltran and Rollins should avoid it.

Eric Mack rounds up the fantasy baseball movers and shakers every Monday of the season at SI.com. You can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice on Twitter @EricMackFantasy. Hit him up. He honestly has nothing better to do with his free time.

 
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