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MLB Fantasy Fixer-Uppers May 21st
To drop or not to drop. That is the question. At least that is the question most fantasy owners ask themselves every day as they debate whether or not to keep a struggling player on their roster. Every year there are big names that flop. It happens. People have off years. While the team they play for professionally may keep them on the roster for a number of reasons it doesn't mean that you should. Look, it isn't easy to give up on a player but sometimes it has to be done. Maybe the player bounces back and has a great year for someone else in your league who scooped them up but maybe he doesn't. Maybe he stays on your roster and keeps the team down. If you want to win your league you can't be swayed by the big name. Fantasy sports is a what have you done for me lately business. Baseball is a long season. Trust me when I say you can find someone better on the waiver wire. But this week lets take a look at who you should finally cut bait with.
Tony Cingrani, SP, Cincinnati Reds
OK. This is an easy one. Baby steps. Cingrani was sent back down to AAA when the Reds activated Johnny Cueto from the disabled list. Cingrani made a splash during his callup by piling up huge strikeout numbers in his first three starts but he was knocked around a bit his last three times out. He needs more conditioning in the minors and really needs to work on a secondary pitch. It doesn't matter how fast you throw if you don't have anything else in the tank. A major league hitter can tee off on any fastball. Barring another injury to a starting pitcher I don't envision Cingrani coming back up to the bigs until September. That said, he is safe to drop.
Junichi Tazawa, RP, Boston Red Sox
Tazawa was the interim closer for Boston when Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan went down with injuries but Bailey is back now so Tazawa will shift back to his setup role. Time to drop him right? Well, I'd hold off on that. Tazawa's secondary numbers are exemplary as he boasts an 11.6 K/9 and he doesn't walk anyone. I mean no one. In 91 2/3 career innings Tazawa has issued a mere 18 free passes. Those strong numbers alone should merit a spot for Tazawa. The fact that Bailey is injury prone is the cherry on top as he should assume the closer's role again if Bailey were to go down. Bottom line? I'd keep him.
Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins
Let me start by saying I own Willingham on one of my teams. Now that that is out of the way I want to see if the real Josh Willingham is suiting up for the Twins because these numbers are all out of whack. His batting average (.200), slugging, (.416) and OPS (.779) are all way below his career norms. This is a guy who last year slugged 35 home runs and drove in 110 while playing half of his games at the power-sapping Target Field. I took him as a starter and kept him as one most of the year. If you were also ripping your hair out but have a bench spot for him use it. Maybe the power comes back when it starts to warm up in Minnesota? Does it ever get warm there? For now he rides the pine but if a better option presents itself I am willing to drop him. You should be too.
Ichiro, OF, New York Yankees
The biggest name on the list so far. For a long time Ichiro was a dominant force. A 10-time all-star Ichiro also has a rookie of the year award and an MVP which he also won in his first year in the league. He led the league in hits for five straight seasons and six of seven. He was a serious threat on the basepaths swiping 30 or more bags in a year 10 times. Have you noticed the trend? Did you notice everything I said was in the past tense? That is where Ichiro's career is now. The past tense. With Curtis Granderson coming back from the disabled list Ichiro isn't even a starter anymore. While he is a big name he is unownable at this point. A part time player with no power who isn't running as much equals a player you don't want on your team. If you own him, you shouldn't. Cut the bait.
Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels
Now I've got your attention. How can Albert be mentioned in a column like this? I'll tell you how. His slash line stands at .241/.314/.418. Those numbers are way, WAY below what you expect from the machine. The disturbing part? He looked like this for part of last year as well. It was the change to the American League everyone said. Well, maybe not. Prince Albert looks like a shell of his former self and he has eight years left on the massive free agent contract he signed with LA. Now I am not suggesting you drop him. Oh no. Odds are you spent a high draft pick for the rights to Pujols. What I am suggesting you do is try and trade him. You might still be able to get a nice return from someone who believes Pujols will turn it around. I am beginning to believe he won't. Couple that with the plantar fascitis and it is time to set Albert free.....in a trade that is.