Fantasy Baseball 2009 – Top Homerun Threats in ’09

Homeruns are not only one of the most exciting events at a baseball game but are also one of the most exciting to take place in the fantasy realm as well. The homerun shares to multiple stat categories all in one mighty swing. Depending on the league format you are in, a long ball can…

Homeruns are not only one of the most exciting events at a baseball game but are also one of the most exciting to take place in the fantasy realm as well. The homerun shares to multiple stat categories all in one mighty swing. Depending on the league format you are in, a long ball can produce in more than just the HR category but in the runs, RBI, total bases, batting average and slugging percentage departments as well, to name a few. Due to the multiple category influence of the homerun, the big power hitters of the game have the most influence and predicting who will hit the most each year can pay big dividends towards the total performance of your fantasy team.

The league is already about to enter its second month. Below a few of the names that litter the top of the HR list are profiled and a view is given on whether you should expect the same output, expect more, or in some cases expect the HR pace to diminish. Barring any major time lost due to injury, below are some predictions.

Carlos Pena (TB): Pena hits atop the HR list as of April 26th with 8 homeruns crushed in the month already. This should not come as a huge surprise as Pena put up a whooping 46 HRs in 2007 before slipping to 31 HRs last season. Pena's power is legitimate and though its batting average is in the .250 and below range, its power numbers can make up for it. Pena is seeing the ball well and is getting pitches to hit thanks to a lineup that also features guys with last names like Longoria, Crawford and Upton. Expect Pena to put up 40+ this season as he sees locked into his power so far, with the possibility of him hitting 50 still remaining very realistic. He will strikeout a ton and his average will be nothing to write home about, but barring a major setback plan on seeing his name among the leaders in homeruns all season long.

Adrian Gonzalez (SD): Gonzalez has hit 7 long balls through the first three weeks of the season and is flexing his power numbers. He has seen a rising trend in his power numbers the past couple seasons, hitting 30 in '07 and 36 in '08. He is off to a quick start here in '09 but Gonzalez unfortunately I do not see finishing as the HR champ in the MLB or even in just the National League. His power is very real and is far from being a fluke, and I would plan on seeing another 35-40 HR year. However, due to playing at pitcher friendly Petco Park in San Diego half of the year, Gonzalez's homerun numbers will suffer and he will continue to be overlooked as one of the game's most powerful hitters.

Albert Pujols (STL): Pujols is another National Leaguer with 7 homeruns to his name and is looking like his usual unstoppable self. Potentially the best hitter in the league and possibly one of the best hitters ever, Pujols can do just about everything at the plate and that includes its fair share of homeruns. Throughout his first 8 complete seasons in the majors, Pujols has hit no fewer than 32 homeruns in a given year. His best year was 2006, where he hit 49 homers. Pujols is typically a safe bet to accumulate he will get near or to 40 homers year in and year out. A key difference between Pujols and others is that he seems to always have an upside, and this case is no difference. Pujols is expected to hit 40ish homeruns, yet his upside is that he has the potential to hit 50 or even more.

Carlos Quentin (CHW): Profiled in some of the other articles I have written, Quentin was a homerun machine in 2008, hitting 36 before succumbing to injury which ended his season prematurely. He has set out to prove his stats in 2008 were not a fluke and has gotten off to a quick start swatting 7 past the fence through the first few weeks of the year. Quentin has mammoth homerun potential well beyond the 40+ in a year range and closer to the 50 in a year range. If his wrist is cured from the injury he sustained in '08, Quentin has the potential to win the HR crown for both his American League and for the MLB as a whole.

Others to Watch:

There are a ton of players to watch when talking about the season long homerun race. Some have started off quick (Pena – 8 HRs) and others have started off slow by their own merit (Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard, 3 HRs each).

The previously mentioned Fieller and Howard both have 50 HR potential, but I think only Howard will near that mark this season and Fielder will have to settle for a number below 40.

Others to follow inclue: Nelson Cruz of Texas, Jermaine Dye of the White Sox, Ryan Ludwick of the Cardinals, Ryan Braun of the Brewers and Adam Dunn of the Nationals to name a very select few.

Fantasy Soccer ’08, ’09 – The Year Comes to a Close – English Premier League

Fantasy soccer is not a mainstream fantasy sport in America just like soccer is not a mainstream sport. However, if you are someone who follows the game abroad, then here is a look at how some of the big names have performed for your fantasy team this season and what may lie ahead in next…

Fantasy soccer is not a mainstream fantasy sport in America just like soccer is not a mainstream sport. However, if you are someone who follows the game abroad, then here is a look at how some of the big names have performed for your fantasy team this season and what may lie ahead in next year's campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd): The off season found him at the heart of the rumor mill with the ungoing debate of whether the Man United player would switch over to the Spanish league and play for Real Madrid. Speculation arose and was shot down time after time until finally the window shut and the season got underway. Ronaldo missed a few of the opening games which if you were paying attention, managers in salary cap leagues waited to purchase Ronaldo until a couple weeks into the season, when his price had dropped several dollars. Ronaldo returned and thought his goal scoring touch with him. With a handful of games remaining in the 2008/2009 campaign, Ronaldo once again finds himself at the head of the goal scorers list, yet with a significantly lower total this year with 17 netted. He is chashed closer by Nicolas Anelka of Chelsea who has 15 and then a three split between Robinho of Manchester City, and Gerrard and Torres of Liverpool who have 13 each. However, Ronaldo has once again been a huge fantasy producer and is a consistent source of points week in and week out, though not to the extent of last season. Looking ahead, the speculation is sure to start right up about a transfer but this time I think he will indeed make a switch, probably leaving behind the EPL.

Robinho (Manchester City): As previously mentioned, Robinho has slotted 13 goals so far this season in his first year in the EPL. Expectations remain high as Robinho can be truly brilliant from moment to moment, yet he seems to have not found his full stride as his year has been marked with inconsistency on the score sheet. When all is said and done, I would label his first year as a positive one and a stride forward with hopes of bigger things to come. Looking ahead, a lot of Robinho's value will be determined by what transfers Manchester City make in the off season. They have declared their desire to bring in the world's best to Man City, which a flourish of talented supporting players could increase Robinho's value higher than it is at present.

Frank Lampard (Chelsea): Lampard has put together a very solid season for himself, notching 12 goals and 10 assists in his campaign. He has been a consistent contributor to the Blues offense during a season where seemingly more questions than answers have been raised about their core group of athletes. Drogba, Ballack and Deco have been a few that have under performed with their efforts in the '08 / '09 season and have not produced as the Chelsea faithful would have hoped they would. Lampard meanwhile has been the key to the puzzle and the main driving force in Chelsea's late season push towards Manchester United in hopes they may be able to win the EPL in a last second flurry.

Liverpool / Arsenal: It is hard enough to lump these two teams together when both have a plethora of dynamic players, but the stories underlining their seasons have run similar. Both made impressive runs in the Champions League and both remain in the elite four atop the EPL standings. Injuries have marred Arsenal's year with Cesc Fabregas, Van Persie and Gallas (arguably their two most pivotal players) missing chunks of time during the year. Liverpool have been well … Liverpool. The never say die mentality has been ever present once again but they too have been bit by injuries to their key players including Fernando Torres and Gerrard. Liverpool is still well within striking distance of winning the EPL away from Man United, while Arsenal is looking to finish out the year strong, finish in the top four and try again next campaign.

The Rest: Ok, admittedly it is not fair to lump all the other players, teams and stories into one section but the EPL is typically segregated between the top four of Man U, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, and then the rest. Another year will come and go and another year will find the top four unchanged as the rest of the EPL stares upwards. There have been some clutch performers on these bottom sixteen teams such as Crouch, Bent, Davies and Zaki who all put forth solid scoring seasons.

It is tough to admit but when it comes to fantasy soccer the season is won and lost by who has more big name players come years end. Unfortunately, in the EPL the most important fantasy stars are found on the big four teams which cause the remaining teams and performers to be shrouded by the stats the larger names put forth.

Looking ahead to next season, once again the most important players that will make up the core of nearly every successful fantasy soccer team will be created from big four teams. It is a sad, harsh reality, but one that must be followed to win a championship.

Fantasy Baseball – The Cons of the Head to Head Format

Fantasy baseball is enjoyed in a mainly three forms one of which is the head to head set-up. In this style, a league is typically comprised of 10 to 12 managers and each week (Monday – Sunday) you compete against one of these managers trying to win the most categories versus them individually. Statistic categories…

Fantasy baseball is enjoyed in a mainly three forms one of which is the head to head set-up. In this style, a league is typically comprised of 10 to 12 managers and each week (Monday – Sunday) you compete against one of these managers trying to win the most categories versus them individually. Statistic categories in head to head leagues are much more customized on average and the one I currently find myself in uses 18 different statistics, 9 each for hitting and pitching. Although this format is a ton of fun and usually creates some epic battles and rivalries, the system is not without its major flaws.

More week to week based rather than season long

The head to head format focuses much more on a week to week basis rather than the rotisserie format which rewards a season long performance. In a head to head league, like the 18 category one I mentioned earlier, it is possible to have a marginal week, yet due to your opponent having an awful week, win 14-4 or by some other large margin. On the same token, you may have an extra week and accumulate better stats than eight other teams, yet the team you are matched up against bests you (more on this to follow below). Huge victories with marginal stats skew the league the entire length of the season.

Top 3 stats but 9th place

This is the problem I currently face. My hitting ranks in the top three in nearly every off category save stolen bases where I rank 7th. My pitching also ranks in the top three in every category except innings pitched where I stay 5th. My win / loss record with my pitchers is the tops in the league. So across the board through roughly fifteen of the eight hundred stats, my numbers through three weeks have fallen into the top three of the ten managers. Surprisingly, despite these overall very solid numbers, I am in the cellar in 9th place. Unfortunately for me, each week so far this year I faced a team that put up the best numbers in the league for the week, besting only my teams. This has led to losses of 5-12-1, 6-9-3 and 4-12-2: far from pretty results. For each of these weeks, if the match up was against any of the eight other teams, I would have been victorious by varying margins. This idea that stats do not reflect in the stands is a huge flaw of the head to head system.

Playoffs

Playoffs in fantasy baseball just never seem to work. The motto of baseball is that it is a marathon not a sprint. However, come play time in fantasy sports it more often than not is a “who is hotter for three weeks” rather than who has been good the whole season. Granted, this is true in real life as well, but in fantasy it is magnified. The number one seed can have a solid week yet fall to the sixth seed that had an extraordinary week, yet had marginal to poor numbers all season long. This is part of the excitation as well as the frustration that comes with the head to head format.

Overall, head to head can be a very fun and exciting format to play in but I would recommend playing in a rotisserie style league in addition to the head to head league. Rotisserie will suit the season long competitor while head to head will give the patience lacking and short term thinking managers a thrill.

Fantasy Soccer 2009 – The Year Comes to a Close – La Liga

Spain's La Liga has produced some thrilling moments and is sure to keep doing so all the way until the last game is played in the 2008/2009 season. This year we have seen some huge scoring numbers tallied by a large collection of players from competing teams. The current leader in La Liga, Eto'o from…

Spain's La Liga has produced some thrilling moments and is sure to keep doing so all the way until the last game is played in the 2008/2009 season. This year we have seen some huge scoring numbers tallied by a large collection of players from competing teams. The current leader in La Liga, Eto'o from Barcelona has netted 27 with a few games still to be played. This looms over the much smaller mark of the leafing English Premier League scorer, Ronaldo, which has collected only 17. Below some of the most influential players in this years campaign are represented as well as a look ahead to next season.

Barcelona 's Three: Incredible. That is just one way to describe Eto'o's 27 goals he has produced so far for Barcelona. A key member of the “tri-attack” that Barca deploys, Eto'o fits in perfectly between Thierry Henry and Lionel Messi to form a devastating line of attack. Eto'o leads with 27 goals, but is closely followed by his partners Messi with 21 and Henry with 17 at the top of the score sheet. Combined they have been a powerhouse of offense and have led Barca at the top of the table nearly all season long.

Looking ahead, Messi is showing why he can be called the best there is and should do more of the same if not improve. Eto'o is a goal machine, and plan on huge returns if he remains with Barca. Henry has been linked to several teams including the MLS. Naturally, if he departs, his stock in fantasy La Liga will disappear.

Steady Real Madrid: Overshadowed by Barca most of the year, Real has been consistent as the year rolls down to an end, and we might find the boys from Madrid as the champion of Spain. Led by Raul and Gonzalo Higuain (whom have both stuck 18 times) they have propelled Madrid along all season and kept pace with Barca's furious winning clip. Madrid has seen solid contributions from Huntelaar when he came over in the transfer window, and he should figure into the long term Real Madrid plans along with Higuain.

Looking ahead, plan on Madrid to be very active come the off season and I would not be shocked to see Ronaldo finally come over from Manchester United. Raul will be another year older, and with Higuain showing his worth and Huntelaar providing additional stability, Raul may find there is more pressure to keep his spot in the starting eleven.

The Standouts: This year's title race has once again come down to Madrid vs. Barca, but there have been some major performances from players around La Liga which have been huge to have from a fantasy perspective. The oft-talked about David Villa has had a spectacular year to follow up his great showing in EURO 2008. This year he has fired off 25 goals, which is second behind only Eto'o. Valencia may not be able to hold their super star, so Villa will likely be on the move to money laden pastures. Atletico Madrid has seen several noteworthy campaigns from Diego Forlan, who has tallied 23 goals, and Sergio Aguero has had a solid year.

Looking ahead, the transfer window will just as it has every year of late be the big story, and can change fantasy values ​​from one week to the next. Keep an eye on the news to see who goes where, and who's fantasy value will increase or decrease by the additions or subtractions around them.

2009 NFL Draft Impact on Fantasy Football (NFC)

After months of analysis and projections leading up to the April 25-26 NFL draft followed by days of draft recap and team grades, we focus on what really matters to us; how the draft affects our fantasy football leagues. While we may have thoughts on the absurdity of the contracts signed by high draft picks,…

After months of analysis and projections leading up to the April 25-26 NFL draft followed by days of draft recap and team grades, we focus on what really matters to us; how the draft affects our fantasy football leagues. While we may have thoughts on the absurdity of the contracts signed by high draft picks, it has no effect on our fantasy football team's salary. Players may have been drafted higher or lower than projected, but that has no impact on where they will be drawn in our leagues. What matters most to us is if the player will play and if it will be this year or in coming years. Let's take a quick spin through the NFC and look at each team's new additions that could factor into our fantasy football drafts.

Arizona – The Cards happily grabbed RB Chris “Beanie” Wells with the first pick in the second round. He will play immediately as Edgerrin James was released and Tim Hightower appears to be best suited as a goal-line back. Beanie should be drawn in one-season in rounds 4-5 in standard 12-team leagues and rounds 3-4 in Keeper leagues.

Atlanta – Eight picks, all on defense. So, obviously, the Falcons D is the only position that improved. They have some solid additions to support their corners as well as help John Abraham, especially DT Peria Jerry, S William Moore and DE Lawrence Sidbury. This will propel them into the top half of draftable defenses.

Carolina – DE Everett Brown and S Sherrod Martin will help the defense a bit, though not near as much as keeping Julius Peppers will. Their defense should remain in the same draft position.

Chicago – The Bears did pretty well considering they only drafted on Day 2. WR Juaquin Iglesias is a nice addition to a weak receiving core and could be a productive late round pick on draft day. DT Jarron Gilbert will help the Bears D out a bit, though not altering their draft position.

Dallas – The Cowboys traded their way into a lot of worthless picks. Even though the Cowboys had no draftable backup QB last year, I do not believe that QB Stephen McGee is in that category this year. If you draft QB Tony Romo, your backup should be a starting QB on another team.

Detroit – QB Matthew Stafford is giddy knowing that he will be given the reigns to a winless team, so the bar for success in worm-high. It also brings a rare smile to his face when he envisions WR Calvin Johnson in his huddle. However, he is still a rookie QB on a winless team, so do not pick him as your number 1 QB. He should be drafted higher in Keeper leagues. TE Brandon Pettigrew is a must-draft TE in later rounds.

Green Bay – Green Bay's D was productive in the TD category last season, but was a bit of a sieve. Adding DT BJ Raji and LB Clay Matthews enhances this position a few rounds.

Minnesota – The Vikings grabbed WR Percy Harvin to add a new dimension to their offense. The kid can flat-out play, if he adjusts to life in the Twin Cities. I would definitely recommend picking him up in early double-digit rounds.

New Orleans – The Saints' D was startable at certain times last season coming off the waiver wire. That will change a bit this year with the additions of CB Malcolm Jenkins and S Chip Vaughn. I feel good recommend drafting them in the last round.

New York Giants – The G-Men addressed their biggest need right away by drafting WR Hakeem Nicks. He should be drafted in early double digit rounds. I would recommend a late round handcuff of RB Andre Brown if you draft Brandon Jacobs. RB Derrick Ward is now on Tampa so Brown will be taking over for him.

Philadelphia – Philly will have the most rookies drafted this year. They landed WR Jeremy Maclin, TE Cornelius Ingram and RB LeSean McCoy. Maclin may be a DeSean Jackson clone in play making ability, which is good if he waits until he crosses the goal line to celebrate his scores. Ingram will be a favorite target of McNabb when he needs a tough catch across the middle and McCoy is a must-draft handcuff to Westbrook.

Seattle – LB Aaron Curry will definitely help Seattle on defense, but makes no difference in fantasy land. WR Deon Butler was drafted to replace Bobby Engram, but I see no reason to draft him unless you are in a really deep league.

San Francisco – The Niners get a gift in picking up WR Michael Crabtree with the 10th pick. He is the class of the receiving group and will be a flat-out receiving stud in the NFL. I do not think you'll get him if you wait until the middle rounds of your draft. You especially want to grab him early in your Keeper Leagues. In addition to Crabtree, the Niners picked up RB Glen Coffey who should be your handcuff to Frank Gore.

St. Louis – The Rams picked up T Jason Smith to replace Orlando Pace and will show immediate dividends in the passing and running game as Pace is vastly overrated and almost stationary nowdays. That being said, Marc Bulger is a late draft pick and Steven Jackson is still a first round pick. As much as I love LB James Laurinaitis, he does not make the Rams D draftable in any format.

Tampa Bay – Good luck with QB Josh Freeman. If he only played as well as he talks. He has the size for an NFL QB (6 '6 “), but I do not even recommend drafting him in a Keeper League.

Washington – The Skins further enhanced their defensive front by drafting DE Brian Orakpo. In addition to line help, they also grabbed two LBs and CB Kevin Barnes. This greatly enhances the attraction of the Washington D and moves them into the top 8-10 defenses to draft.

Fantasy Baseball 2009 – Surprises to Start Off the Year

The first few weeks or even couple months of the MLB season bring with it surprises and unexpected storylines. The hot starts no name players get off to as well as the early season slumps that big names fall into. Here are a few of the biggest surprises of the '09 season are examined. Pittsburgh…

The first few weeks or even couple months of the MLB season bring with it surprises and unexpected storylines. The hot starts no name players get off to as well as the early season slumps that big names fall into.

Here are a few of the biggest surprises of the '09 season are examined.

Pittsburgh Pirates / Florida Marlins / Toronto Blue Jays

Each team has gotten off to a quick start with the Pirates holding a 9-6 record, the Marlins a very impressive 11-4 record and the Jays with an American League East leading 10-5 record. A story could be written about each of these three teams and how effective they have looked through April 22nd. The Pirates have had some lights out pitching and have been solid at the plate. The Marlins have produced some big scoring games and mixed in some great outings on the mound. The Blue Jays have had one of the top offs in the entire league so far, putting up big numbers almost every night.

Fantasy Impacts: Naturally, winning teams produce some of the best and most productive fantasy players. Seeing as the three teams mentioned above were not expected to start this hot, a lot of producers so far went un-crafted in most leagues. Scan your league to see if any of the hot bats of Toronto remain on the free agent wire (Hill, Scutaro, Lind), as well as the pitching in Florida and the all around balance that Pittsburgh has that far.

Nelson Cruz (TEX) / Carlos Quentin (CHW)

When you see these names you probably wonder why I have chosen to put them in this surprises of '09 article when both have pretty colored pasts in the league already. Quentin had a monster '08 and Cruz's potential has already been talked up in the past. Well, both got off to a blast this season with Quentin already hitting 7 homeruns by the 22nd of April. Cruz has been solid himself, hitting 6. Quentin's wrist injury at the end of the '08 season had people doubting he could turn out the HRs at the pace he did in the early parts of 2008, but he has proven them wrong so far. Cruz has never lived up to his potential, but to date he has been driving driving in the Texas lineup.

Aces Getting Rugged Up

You name the ace on a staff and odds are he has been lit up in the early goings of 2009. Sabbathia, Hamels, Wang, Webb, Lincecum, etc etc have all seen ugle ERAs beside their name. Dan Haren, one of the best pitchers so far, has 17ks through 19 innings and an ERA under 2, yet has a 0-3 record to show for it. The big name pitchers across the board have not fared well and this will be a continuing situation to follow to see which players emerge from their early season slip and which continue to struggle.

Fantasy Baseball – The Machine – Albert Pujols

Albert Pujols is a force at the plate. And that's putting it lightly. Pujols has numbers through 8 seasons that anyone would dream to have through an entire career. He has just started his 9th season with the St. George. Louis Cardinals and he is blowing by the 1,000 RBI mark. He already has 325+…

Albert Pujols is a force at the plate. And that's putting it lightly. Pujols has numbers through 8 seasons that anyone would dream to have through an entire career. He has just started his 9th season with the St. George. Louis Cardinals and he is blowing by the 1,000 RBI mark. He already has 325+ home runs and a career average over an impressive .330.

Even the most casual of baseball fan knows Pujols and is aware that he will end up among the greats when all is said and done, if not already.

It may not seem possible, but what Pujols does from a fantasy stand point may not be appreciated enough. Pujols is regularly drawn in the top three, if not first overall yet some managers just plug him in at first and never stop and admire what he is doing.

In his first eight seasons, the lowest HR total he ended with in a season was in 2007 when he hit … 32. His lowest ever total for RBIs in a season was also in 2007 with … 103. That's right, his worst season to date had a line of 32 home runs and 100+ RBIs, and that is his “off” year.

For fun, his best year was in 2006 where he played his few # of games (143) and hit 49 HRs and drove in 137. Simply incredible.

Pujols is as dependable as there is in the fantasy world, and having him in your lineup ensures solid production through the duration of the year.

Not enough can be said about what Pujols does, and just how rare the reliability he offers is in the modern baseball game.

As for the future, it is unclear just how deep into the record books Pujols will go, as it is uncertain how many years he will play. He is only 29 years old this year, which seems remarkable for the #s that I listed in the first paragraph of this article. Pujols is beyond a doubt the best current player in baseball and when all is said and done he may very well be the best ever.

Fantasy Baseball 2009 – Closer Confusion

Saves. This lone fantasy baseball stat can evoke some major heads on draft day, as fantasy owners try to piece together a few of the pro teams bullpen questions. A player is your closer one day and then just another bullpen piece the next. The year is almost a month in and here is a…

Saves. This lone fantasy baseball stat can evoke some major heads on draft day, as fantasy owners try to piece together a few of the pro teams bullpen questions. A player is your closer one day and then just another bullpen piece the next.

The year is almost a month in and here is a brief look at some of the closing confusion there is across the league.

Toronto Blue Jays

Heading into the year, it was clear that the Jays would use BJ Ryan as their closer, but most fantasy owners knew that this might not be the case as Ryan has been battling a variety of injuries. This week, Ryan was officially placed on the DL with shoulder and back issues, allowing Downs to replace him as the role of closer (for the time being). BJ Ryan had been ineffective so far this year with an ERA over 11 through 5 and two third innings. Shaky would be a good way to describe it. Monitor this situation closely and add Downs if you need some help in the saves department. When Ryan does ever come back, do not expect everything to fall back into place. A few more rough outings may leave him permanently removed as the Jays closer.

St. Louis Cardinals

Where to start? Heading into the season, the closer battle for the Cardinals appeared to be down to two men to the casual viewer: Motte and Perez. Perez succumbed to an injury and that was sent down to the minor leaving Motte a chance to start the 2009 season as the Birds closer. He got lit up in his first save opportunity and the closing role was handed to Ryan Franklin. Perez has been promoted, leaving all three in the Cards pen and little idea to who the actual ninth inning man will be from night to night. Few people outside of St. Louis predicted that Franklin would be seeing all the save opportunities in the third week of the season. This is one situation that is pretty impossible to predict. As Motte regains his confidence pitching in the seventh and eighth as well as a few non-save situations, will he reclaim his role? Franklin can be solid at times, but overall does not have the make up to be a closet for an entire season. And of course, what about Chris Perez? He is another candidate that could be a viable closer yet is still unproven. Basically, the situation here is no clearer than it was before the season. For now, Franklin will earn some cheap saves but as for the long term, do not bank on him remaining at closer.

Tampa Bay Rays

Their closet is currently set: Troy Percival. However this is one that I feel will not last and will end sooner rather than later. Percival has been pretty rough in his outings so far this season and has the age factor working against him. He appeared to be in the waving stages of his pitching career, and with some solid arms in the Rays been, one must imagine that the Rays could be tempted to try someone else out there if things get too shaky. Percival's job is safe but the question here is for how much longer, and how interesting it will make the ninth inning in Tampa.

Fantasy Baseball 2009 – The Season Has Started – How to Manage Successfully

How is your team doing? If it is anything like mine, you are in the middle of the pack with a team that should be able to run circles around the competition, but due to some key players under performing and pitching getting lit up across the board, your team is just not getting it…

How is your team doing?

If it is anything like mine, you are in the middle of the pack with a team that should be able to run circles around the competition, but due to some key players under performing and pitching getting lit up across the board, your team is just not getting it done as you hoped.

So the question is, what to do?

As I have preached in one of my other articles, patience early in the season is key. Do not be too quick to give up on your big dogs, for more often than not you will be regretting it the whole rest of the year as another owner reaps the rewards.

My solution is this: Always be looking to improve your team, but put some thought behind your moves before making a swap. Keep an eye out on ALL of your players, and an eagle eye on the waiver wire. If your league is like mine and has limited bench space, it is tough to pick up the players that have started '09 with a bang such as Scutaro, Lind, or any of the other Blue Jays.

The general rule of thumb is the studies in the game will turn things around – eventually. Until then try and plug the other areas you can, to keep your fantasy ship afloat until the big guns turn it on. As far as pitching goes, the first couple starts for a pitcher to start the year should be tossed out, and not even considered when making roster changes. Now, if your pitcher is still awful say 4 or 5 starts in, thats another story.

The early part of the season is when managers get an itchy mouse clicking finger and dropped some big names just because they have started off slow. Do not fall into this trap, and though I encourage filling what weaknesses spots you have early, dont abandon your team yet – there is a lot of baseball left.

Fantasy Baseball 2009 – Hot Starts – Which Will Last and Which Won’t

Some players start slow and some start with a bang. Of those that get off to a quick start only a useful are able to sustain it while most fade away after a month or two into the year. Below I have outlines a few players that have all got off to hot starts, and…

Some players start slow and some start with a bang. Of those that get off to a quick start only a useful are able to sustain it while most fade away after a month or two into the year. Below I have outlines a few players that have all got off to hot starts, and have detailed which will continue and which are about to cool off.

Key:

Hot – Expect this player's fast start to continue and end with big #s in 2009 barring injury

Lukewarm – The fast start will slow, but will not fade entirely. Plan on a solid bottom-line, but nothing extraordinary by the conclusion of the season.

Cooling – The fast start is ending, and a slump is looming. Plan on a steep decline, and some sub-par overall stats at the end of the year.

Albert Pujols: HOT – Appropriately depicted as a machine in the latest Sportscenter commercial on ESPN, Pujols seems to be the best there is. He is consistent regardless of the time of the year, and his start to 2009 is no different. Through two weeks, Pujols isitting .433, with 4 HRs and 14 driven in. The only thing that can slow Pujols is an injury, so plan on some huge numbers this season for Pujols is showing some immense skills at the dish. Plan on his average becoming a more realistic .103 -3.30 but other than that, expect Pujols to keep on hitting.

Carlos Quentin: HOT – Through two weeks, Quentin leads the league in HRs with 7. He has picked up where he left off after injuring himself near the end of the '08 season. He has shown no signs of any lingering effects of his time on the DL, and is proving those who thought 2008 was a fluke wrong in a big powerful way. He looks to be locked in, and I expect a huge year out of Quentin. He should remain one of the most reliable sources of power through out the year.

Emilio Bonifacio: COOLING – Bonifacio busted out of the gates in 2009 with an intense first game for the Marlins. He showed his incredible speed which left many fantasy owners drooling over the potential he carries. He has been one of the most added players to fantasy teams so far in this early season, but he is one player that I think is going to fade off and in a hurry. He may still be a worthy stub base artist for your team, but his batting average is coming back to earth. Bonifacio has struggled to hit the ball in recent years, so do not plan on his .300 average to last much longer.

Aaron Hill: LUKEWARM – Hill has started off big, hitting .388, hitting 4 HRs and driving in 14 through the first 2 weeks of the year, but do not plan on this to be the norm. Hill is slated to have a very worthy 2009, and could be a top 10 second basemen, but he will not keep the power numbers up for the duration of the season. Dating back to 2005, he has only hit more than 15 HRs once, while the other years he has never accrued more than 6 in a single season. He had a mostly injured 2008, so it makes it hard to predict what the bottom line for Aaron Hill will be, but one thing is certain is he will not continue his ridiculous pace. Plan on a very solid, and fantasy worth year for Hill, but he will not break into the super star plateau this season.