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First Half Fantasy Flops

Javier Vazquez is pitching almost exactly as he did in 2004 with the Yankees.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - As the first half of the 2010 baseball season approaches its finish, it's time to evaluate our rosters and make changes.

We can look at our lineups and see who is playing above expectations. For those players, we must determine if they will keep playing at the new higher level, in which case we want to keep them, or will revert to their "normal" playing level in which case we want to trade them while they are at their peak fantasy value.

We must also look at the other end of the spectrum...at those who have disappointed us. If we determine that they will continue to falter, then we must either cut them or trade them for what we can. Or, if we think they will improve, we can determine to "stay the course."

Below are the top-10 mound failures for the first half of 2010. Not because they haven't pitched well, some have on occasion, but because they haven't pitched up to our preseason expectations.

Albert Einstein was quoted as saying that "insanity: is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Which must explain something about the New York Yankees management team and fantasy owners. Yankees pitcher Javier Vazquez had already disappointed the team in 2004, yet they brought him back in 2010 to be a key part of the starting staff. And fantasy owners bought into the idea, selecting him in the seventh round, the 16th pitcher overall, in preseason drafts.

Both the Yankees and fantasy owners apparently expected different results this time around. And both must be extremely dissatisfied with his first half results. They have no one to blame but themselves, however. Vazquez is pitching almost exactly as he did in 2004. His ERA is 4.81 in 2010 versus 4.91 in 2004 and his WHIP is 1.26 vs. 1.29 six years ago. Shame on you for thinking he would suddenly turn into a 20-game winner.

Wandy Rodriguez owners couldn't be blamed for thinking the 31-year-old lefty was just coming into his prime. In 2009, he won a career-high 14 games and posted career bests in ERA (3.02) and WHIP (1.24). His early season failure was completely unexpected, but things might be turning around for the Astros starter. In his last two outings, Rodriguez is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 14 innings. I believe you should hold onto Rodriguez if you still have him on your roster and in the 35% of all leagues where is currently a free agent, a pickup is in order.

Cole Hamels' owners and Phillies fans obviously keep thinking about the 2008 playoffs when he was a dominant force on the mound and believe that pitcher will return some day. I have my doubts. Though his strikeout totals are still solid, he's simply giving up too many home runs. Hamels has already yielded 19 homers this year as compared to 28 in 227.1 innings in 2008. And he is walking too many batters, 36 so far this year. My advice is to trade Hamels while he still have value.

The Yankees have a second pitcher who made the list - A.J. Burnett. His 2010 statistics are significantly worse than last year when, despite a 13-9 record and 195 strikeouts, he still posted a subpar 4.04 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. This year he is dragging fantasy owners down with a 4.90 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. Burnett has been even uglier in his last four starts, going 0-3 with a 10.06 ERA and a 2.35 WHIP. You can't trade him, he'll bring you nothing in return, but you can't let him start another game until he straightens out his problems. Sit him on the bench and pray he finds something to make him "tradable."

Also making the list are Chad Billingsley, Carlos Zambrano, Rick Porcello, Rich Harden, Scott Feldman and Kevin Millwood. Of those five, the only one I would have any interest in is the youngster, Porcello, and only in keeper leagues. He has a long way to go before he'll become the guy who went 14-9 last year as a rookie, but for him I'd be willing to make a spot on my bench.

2010 Selected Pitchers Statistics

Javier VazquezNYY7788.047734.811.2680
Wandy RodriguezHOU6695.153715.001.55106
Cole HamelsPHI67104.1471044.051.34109
Chad BillingsleyLAD6488.240804.061.38120
A.J. BurnettNYY67101.055784.901.50126
Carlos ZambranoCHC3355.235535.661.69137
Rick PorcelloDET4770.148336.141.69156
Rich HardenTEX3365.041595.681.68165
Scott FeldmanTEX58101.162615.511.63182
Kevin MillwoodBAL28107.269845.771.58257

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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