Because we have come to the one-third mark of the season, it is time to assess your roster with more than a thought of "there is still plenty of time left."
To be sure, there is still plenty of time, but if your unproductive players don't drop the "un," the remaining four months of the season will slip away and as a result so will your chances for competing.
As we have seen recently with the Seattle Mariners' frustration over Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero, along with the Tribe's relegation of Lonnie Chisenhall, in a world rooted in patience, sometimes the hand of fate must be helped along.
So, let's look at some of the slow starters this season and try to judge whether we should sit them or keep on trotting them out, week-to-week, in our lineup.
Quittin' on Quentin?
Carlos Quentin (.218-5-16): The good news is, Zack Greinke aside, Quentin has been able to play pretty much every day for the San Diego Padres. The bad news is his average is 32 points below the outfielder's 162-game mean. However, if you have been watching the Friars as a team, and also are willing to note that, OPS-wise, Quentin is only about 40 points below his .838 career average over the same span, it is probably safe to let him play and get a chance to heat up during the summer months in San Diego.
B.J. Upton (.148-4-8): Ugh. So much for rebirth with a new team and being motivated playing with his brother. I am not sure if Upton is simply trying too hard -- or perhaps not hard enough -- but there is a painful trend towards "badness" in Justin's elder sib. Upton has not hit over .243 in five seasons, and his on-base numbers continue to tumble (.236 at present). Not to mention a guy with a speed game only has three swipes. At best I would think about swapping Upton to a team lower in the standings, ready to gamble. Then I would sit him. If I am in a really shallow league, with a better alternative in the reserve pool, I would consider dropping, believe it or not.
Rickie Weeks (.174-3-10): Almost "Ugh," but not as much as Upton. To Weeks' credit, last year he hit .199-8-29 with six swipes the first half, and .261-13-34 with ten steals in the second, so Weeks could be a classic cold first-, hot second-half player. I'd give him some latitude.
Mike Moustakas (.178-4-12): OK, a guy tears it up over two levels in the minors and has a .321-43-115 season. And we all drool at the next big thing. Well, that guy was Brandon Wood, who since has a .186-18-64 Major League presence. As opposed to Moustakas, who hit .322-36-124 -- also over a couple of levels in the minors -- and since has .240-29-115 totals. The Kansas City Royals grow weary of strikeouts. You should, too.
Still like Ike?
Ike Davis (.158-4-11): So many of us (me included) predicted a breakout from this guy, on the heels of his hot second half last year. Unfortunately, Davis has only showed us why sometimes gauging player performance is so difficult. He hit .201-12-49 over the first half in 2012, but then basically exploded with a .255-20-41 after mid-July. The key here, though, is Davis knocked in 8 more runs despite eight fewer homers and ten fewer hits the first half of 2012. Meaning it looks like his ability to hit with runners on is a separate issue from his ability to simply hit. He does have some ugly numbers this year, however, and there has been talk of the New York Mets sending him down to regain his swing and some confidence. I would let him ride a bit longer. However, if things don't pick up by the break, I would reserve the first baseman. Or, worse.
Jeremy Hellickson (2-2, 5.37): Hellickson has always been nagged by the long ball (62 over 466 major league innings) and this year is even worse, as he has allowed 11 over 63 2/3 frames. But aside from the dingers, Hellickson has actually improved his WHIP this year, down to 1.209, over last season's 1.254. And since he finished last season 10-11, 3.10, with a 6-6, 2.80 record after the break, I would cut him some slack and see how well he can right himself.
Dan Haren (4-5, 5.43): Haren is having even harder time than Hellickson keeping the ball in the yard this season, allowing 1.9 dingers per nine innings (as opposed to Hellickson's 1.6). Worse, his ratio has ballooned to 1.367 over his career mean of 1.186. On a closer look, it appears the problem started last season even, when Haren's hits over nine innings shot up to 9.7, the second highest over his career with more than 100 innings pitched in a season. Unfortunately, that number is 10.9 this season -- hardly an improvement. What this suggests is with age, Haren's velocity is down, and he is adjusting and having problems with being too fine, which basically means he will get clobbered from time to time. As a fifth or sixth starter, Haren might be an OK gamble, but chances are you drafted him to be a No. 1 or 2. If that is the case, it is time to explore other options.
Matt Cain (4-2, 5.00): Another pitcher being killed by the long ball, Cain has already allowed 13 big flies this season over 68 1/3 innings. Note that the most he has ever allowed was 22 -- in both 2009 and 2010 -- but over 217 and 222 innings respectively. What is funny is that in the past. "The Horse," as he is known in the Bay Area, pitched well with lousy run support. This year, however, with decent support, Cain struggled some. Still, over his past five starts, he is 4-0, 3.48, suggesting you can wipe your forehead and let him throw.
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.