Fantasy baseball Weekly Planner: Digging through trash
The following advice might fall on deaf ears, because self-respecting humans don't like picking through another person's trash. But remember: you play fantasy, which means you're not necessarily a self-respecting human at all times. You will stoop to any (legal) level to win, and SI.com's Weekly Planner will point you in the right direction.
So, if there is someone in your league blaming their fantasy troubles on these early May buy-low candidates, go take their troubles off their hands:
1. OF Josh Hamilton, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- Yes, he was a bust candidate after signing that huge contract, a trend we learned with Albert Pujols last year. But go back and check Pujols' damage after mid-May -- he was back to his normal self again. Clearly, there is an adjustment period when a big-ticket free agent signs somewhere new. Hamilton is struggling through it, but eventually he'll find those huge numbers from a year ago. When bargaining with his current owner, just remind him how Hamilton dragged down his ERA, causing him to lose two weeks in a row.
2. OF Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds -- He has just one homer to date, but that means there are about 35 of them to come, along with a boat-load of RBI. He racked up some hits and drove in some runs this weekend, but the true damage is still to come. Buy while the buying is still good.
3. OF B.J. Upton, Atlanta Braves -- This flies in the face of what Paul Forrester said earlier this week, but Upton is not a .150 hitter, no matter how little you think of him. He is a streaky hitter who has the potential to hit 25 homers and steal 30-plus bases before this bummer of a season is said and done. Get him now and have this hits roll up on your stat sheet.
4. SP Brett Anderson, Oakland Athletics -- Buying pitchers in fantasy is never truly advised, because an owner can usually just grab a flavor of the week off the waivers and play matchups with him. However, Anderson is currently on the DL, and it's likely that when he returns, he'll pitch better than 1-4 with 6.21 ERA. It's a great time to buy an arm that can pitch like a top-25 starter from here on out.
5. RP Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis Cardinals -- Relief pitchers are usually a dime a dozen, and this arm is the Cardinals' closer of the future. Edward Mujica is still the Cards' current closer and has yet to blow a save in eight opportunities, but he gave up two runs last week. Closers don't have much of a margin of error, and Rosenthal is the best arm in the Cardinals' bullpen. The best will eventually rise to the top, so make sure Rosenthal's on your team when that happens.
• OF Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers -- Coming off a career year with 19 homers and 37 steals, many are probably wondering how much better this 27-year-old can be this season. Thus far, it looks like the sky is the limit. Right now, he's on pace for a .300-30-30 season, but .280-25-70-100-35 is more realistic. Gomez is a must-start in rotisserie formats and arguably the best 27-year-old breakthrough in his class.
• SP Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies -- Did you ignore this column's sell-now comments when he had posted three consecutive quality starts in mid-April? That's unfortunate. Halladay's outing Sunday (nine runs in 2 1/3 innings) makes him impossible to sell now, especially after he allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 earlier in the week. On top of that, he'll be hitting the 15-day DL with a right shoulder injury. When Halladay posts some back-to-back quality starts again, sell him for a fantasy football magazine. This guy has ruined your season and will continue to do so, even if he fools you in the short term again.
• SP Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins -- After three subpar outings, the 20-year-old Cuban twirled a gem against the Phillies on Saturday with seven one-hit innings and nine strikeouts, racking up the first victory of his career (not necessarily his fault, because he's held to tight pitch counts). He's going to get many more of those, even for the lowly Marlins, this season. He has been dropped in 20 percent of leagues since Week 3, so pick him up if you can.
• SS Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He was making a lot of errors in Triple-A, but the Dodgers grew tired of Justin Sellers and will deal with any defensive issues Gordon has while Hanley Ramirez (hamstring) returns to the DL for the next few weeks. Gordon was working out at second base before games in Triple-A, so he could move that permanently once Ramirez returns. Gordon showed in his debut Saturday night that he can hit and steal 40-plus bags here on out, so the time to buy is right now.
1. OF Nate McLouth, Baltimore Orioles -- What a renaissance. McLouth hasn't looked this good since 2008. This hot streak makes him a must-have and must-start in all leagues.
2. SP Kyle Kendrick, Philadelphia Phillies -- His ownership has tripled in three weeks, and he gets two starts at San Francisco and Arizona this week. Those are not tough matchups, even if on the road.
3. C Russell Martin, Pittsburgh Pirates -- He has scorched after a slow start. He is too hot to sit right now and might even have added third-base eligibility in your league.
4. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies -- A grand slam off of David Price caps a great first week for the rookie. He is going to stick around, unlike the Nationals' Anthony Rendon.
5. SP Andrew Cashner, San Diego Padres -- He has a great arm and warrants being owned, but he is not quite a must-start, evidenced by his past outing. Consider him a matchup play until he shows consistency. He does at least get two viable starts this coming week.
1. SP Wade Davis, Kansas City Royals -- Many dropped him after two ugly starts, but take a chance on him again after Sunday's quality start.
2. SP Garrett Richards, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- His demotion from the rotation makes him an easy cut in all formats, even AL-only leagues.
3. SP Ryan Vogelsong, San Francisco Giants -- The 35-year-old has lost his mojo. He was a back-end fantasy starter even when he was pitching surprisingly well, and he doesn't deserve to be owned now.
4. RP Jason Motte, St. Louis Cardinals -- You had to figure he would eventually succumb to Tommy John surgery. The question is how long do you wait for prospect Trevor Rosenthal to elevate to the closer's role over Edward Mujica. Give it until at least mid-June.
5. SP Ted Lilly, Los Angeles Dodgers -- It took all of two starts for the 37-year-old to require a return trip to the DL. You don't have to bother waiting for him to return in mixed leagues.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. SS Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He returned quickly from his thumb surgery, but apparently didn't do a great job keeping his legs in shape. He will be out for two to three weeks with the hamstring injury, giving owners a chance to get a good look at speedster Dee Gordon.
2. 3B Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies -- He's had two huge games in his first seven, showing us he can have a huge impact in fantasy as a rookie hitter this season. Expect a streaky young player, though.
3. 3B Chris Nelson, New York Yankees -- He will at least have an opportunity in New York, but don't consider him anything more than an AL-only flier.
4. 3B Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers -- He came off the DL early with the caveat he won't play back-to-back games. That news means you probably should keep him out of your starting lineup if you have a productive alternative.
5. OF Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals -- The 33-year-old is dealing with a hamstring issue that could affect him for another week and perhaps even keep him out of the lineup. If you have alternatives this week, use them.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. OF Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins -- A bad start and now a DL stint has added injury to insult for his owners. He is still a good buy-low guy, if you can afford to stash him until the end of May. BUY
2. OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers -- The power isn't there yet, but he has been getting hits in bunches. It is still a great time to buy. BUY
3. SP Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants -- He is the latest example of a postseason hero coming off a career year not performing up to his elevated draft position. You can't give up on him; yet, you probably still don't want to buy him. HOLD
4. OF Josh Hamilton, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- He is completely lost right now, but remember, a year ago today, so was Albert Pujols. Sluggers do 50 percent of their damage in 25 percent of the season. Hamilton's time will eventually come. BUY
5. SP Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers -- He has been a mostly healthy starter with the potential to become an ace, but we have been saying that for years. A high WHIP for a pitcher in his class makes him a good candidate to get something for him. His name seems to be better than his numbers. SELL
I'm going all in on Dee Gordon, because my team has extra middle infielders, but I am short on steals. Gordon has a bad glove, but there is a lot to love about his offensive game. He was hell on wheels in his debut Saturday and can earn a full-time job -- perhaps at second base -- in this two-to-three week fill-in period for Hanley Ramirez (hamstring). With Brett Anderson (ankle) and Chris Young (quad) going on the DL, I won't have to release a player.
Finding an outfielder -- Young had a mere .277 on-base percentage, so while he has pop and steals potential, replacing him isn't too painful. I wait impatiently for Wil Myers' arrival in Tampa Bay, but rookie A.J. Pollock has scorched, so he will be the first choice here.
1. OF A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
2. OF Jason Bay, Seattle Mariners
3. OF Nolan Reimold, Baltimore Orioles
4. OF/2B Ryan Raburn, Cleveland Indians
5. OF Gregor Blanco, San Francisco Giants
6. OF Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City Royals
Going back to the well at catcher -- Missing out on John Buck after Week 1 continues to sting more and more. Austin Romine just isn't playing enough for the Yankees after I lost Francisco Cervelli, and Erik Kratz has moved back to the bench with Carlos Ruiz off his suspension for the Phillies. I will need to come up with two of these scrub catcher fill-ins.
1. C Martin Maldonaldo, Milwaukee Brewers
2. C Devin Mesoraco, Cincinnati Reds
3. C Jason Castro, Houston Astros
4. C Kelly Shoppach, Seattle Mariners
Taking a flier on a prospect -- If you read the Prospect Watch on this website, you will notice a lot of names rotating in and out of prominence in the Minor Leagues. One of those on the helium watch is the fourth-overall pick of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Kevin Gausman. I figured I would buy really early and stash him for the long haul, even if he will be limited to 150 innings this season. The Orioles would be wise to make the next 100 of those innings big-league ones. Take note: To do this, I am willing to take the zeroes on Gausman in my starting lineup for one week. Tout Wars rules require you start a player who has been added via FAAB.
1. SP Kevin Gausman, Baltimore Orioles
2. SP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates
3. SP Anthony Ranaudo, Boston Red Sox
If you play in those daily fantasy leagues, here are the players by position that yours truly will be going with for Monday's games. If you want to challenge me, hit me up on Twitter @EricMackFantasy:
SP -- Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
SP -- Trevor Cahill, Arizona Diamondbacks
C -- Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
1B -- David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
2B -- Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
3B -- Todd Frazier, Cincinnati Reds
SS -- Dee Gordon, Los Angeles Dodgers
OF -- Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
OF -- Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
OF -- Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres
DH -- Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds