It's OK to panic now
By David Owen Cymerman, Contributing Editor
(Sports Network) - There's nothing like leaving your fantasy draft feeling like you aced it.
You love how your team looks on paper and you're ready to fly to the top of the standings right out of the gate. Then the games start. And so do the early season slumps. Suddenly, you're in last place, feeling flatter than a month-old bottle of soda.
During the first month of the season, everyone tells you, 'Don't worry, it's only April.' Well, what do you do when it's not April anymore? I say it's time to stop giving your stars a free pass and start getting worried. Of course, "panic" may be a bit strong. I don't mean drop anyone of potential value. I do mean take action and make some roster adjustments, if necessary.
Closely examine the situations of everyone who's underachieving. In some cases, it will be best to stand by your man and hang in there. In others, you may see too many red flags to ignore. Look for signs of a turn around and determine whether it to hold out for a breakout, like Ryan Braun's recent three-home run explosion in San Diego, or whether you need to cut bait, make a trade and move on.
Below is The Geek's All-Bust Team for April 2012. It has big names who have putting up small numbers at each position in the season's first month. Some are starting to step up, now that the calendar's flipped over to May. Some still haven't.
APRIL 2012'S ALL-BUST TEAM
Catcher - Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
There was some debate over which catcher should come off the board first in drafts this season. The consensus pegged Santana, who was coming off a 27-HR campaign in his first full season. To this point, he's hit more like the guitar legend of the same name than an all-star. With a terrific track record, however, Santana appears to be suffering a bit of sophomore slump. Since catcher is one of thinnest positions in fantasy baseball, your best bet is to ride it out with this potential difference-maker.
First Base - Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels
Sure, Pujols has changed teams and leagues. But that didn't explain an 0-for- April in the home run department. There is something to be said about learning all new pitchers. Of course, AL pitchers never shut down Pujols in interleague play. Bottom line: the guy's too good to give up on after a month. He came on strong after a slow start last year. Look for a repeat of that outcome. He finally snapped the homer-less streak on Sunday, but one hit doesn't really mean a whole lot. For now, the slump is so bad, I would absolutely bench Pujols in daily leagues if you have a Chris Davis or Brian LaHair on your bench. The moment Phat Albert shows the slightest flicker of a hot streak, you can just pop him right back in your lineup.
Second Base - Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
Cano can't hit a thing these days. Everyone expects fellow pinstriper Mark Teixeira to be ice cold in April, not Cano. Right now, both the power and average are down. As the weather heats up, so will Robbie. I'm holding steady with him, though the zero-filled lines are certainly getting old in a hurry.
Shortstop - Jose Reyes, Miami Marlins
Not the start the Miami Marlins had in mind for their new, high-priced shortstop. In April, Reyes hit just .219 with an absurd six runs scored through 82 at-bats. And four steals in seven attempts didn't cut it, either. But there is a silver lining. Reyes drew nine walks, which is more patience than he's typically shown. Through April, Reyes had a .229 BABIP. His career BABIP is .313. So those hits will start falling in soon. And when they do, the steals and runs will follow.
Third Base - Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays
Perhaps, Bautista's deal with the devil has expired. He spent much of April under the Mendoza Line, which leads me to believe last season's .302 average was a big-time fluke. I expect more of 2010 season as far as the average goes, when Joey Bats batted .260. That's part of the reason I didn't love him as a high first-round pick. However, I was happy to retain Bautista in a keeper league. But I recently tried to trade him to a Blue Jays fan for Braun to no avail.
Outfield - Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks
Owners drafted Upton to be the centerpiece of their outfield. To date, scrubs like Michael Saunders have posted better stats. That will change soon. Upton was hampered by a thumb injury that now appears to be healed. He ended April with a home run and a stolen base. There should be a lot more of that to come in May.
Outfield - Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
I was expecting huge things from Stanton. After a slow start, it seemed Stanton's name change (from Michael) sapped his power, much like Samson chopping off his hair. Miami's spacious new park didn't help matters. I wouldn't be shopping this young Marlin now, though. After making some adjustments, he's come on strong in early May and could soon make that ugly April a distant memory.
Outfield - Shin-Soo Choo, Indians Coming off of an injury-plagued 2011, it felt like owners were reluctant to take Choo. Turns out, that apprehension was justified. A perennial 20-20 threat, Choo simply hasn't hit his stride. That stride has been hindered by a hamstring issue that has kept the Indians outfielder out of the lineup a few games. It's hard to have a lot of faith in the Korean slugger at the moment. It's unlikely you'll find an excited suitor, so you'll have to keep testing your patience here.
Starting Pitcher - Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds
Turns out, pitching in Great American Ballpark isn't as pleasant as Petco Park. Owners are quickly becoming Latos intolerant, as the 6-foot-6 right-hander has had just one quality start. There's reason for optimism. He punched out 11 in six scoreless innings his last time out. And even in San Diego, Latos was a slow starter, so this poor stretch could be nothing more than the usual trend. The jury's still out on this talented, young arm. I wouldn't expect the usual numbers, though.
Relief Pitcher - Heath Bell, Marlins
Lots of Marlins on this list, huh? And we have another former Petco pitcher who is having issues in another home ballpark. Bell has had his bell rung in 2012, blowing three saves in six chances. Taken as a Top 5 closer, the stocky stopper is further proof that you shouldn't invest too much in closers in most leagues. Edwards Mujica and Steve Cishek are filling in as Bell tries to get his act together. But with a long track record of success and some gas left in the tank, he should be able to turn things around and reclaim the role.
David Owen Cymerman also is known as The Fantasy Geek. He runs a fantasy sports web site appropriately named TheFantasyGeek.com. Stop by for more observations, advice and absurdity from the world of fantasy sports, including articles, live chats and podcasts.
05/09 09:49:26 ET