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Fantasy Baseball Musings Week 5: Crawford, Jennings, Cingrani, Goldschmidt, Samardzija and more

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Let’s start off with some trade suggestions: Jeff Samardzija (be honest, can you spell his last name without looking?) and Starlin Castro are good players on a very poor team, which is going to diminish their counting stats throughout the season. Dangle them to your more unaware peers and get a solid performer (or two) with a supporting cast.  When the season is over, you’ll thank me.

Reds speed-demon prospect Billy Hamilton is running in Louisville (AAA), seemingly every time he gets on base. The problem for the young blazer, however, is his trouble getting to that first square-shaped safety station on the diamond. So far, he’s 14-for-15 in the steals department, but he’s batting .213 and has struck out fifteen times against just eight walks in 75 ABs. If you’re in a keeper league and can afford the space to keep him on your roster for next year, go for it. But don't count on him contributing much to the Reds this season.

Carl Crawford on April 21, 2013Speaking of speed demons, or at least former ones, Carl Crawford seems to have a penchant for ticking off East Coast fans. Is this young Orioles fan a Boston transplant? OK, so Crawford's split with the Red Sox wasn’t exactly amicable. Maybe he was looking for love in all the wrong places. In L.A., he seems to have found a complementary relationship. Crawford is hitting at .316 with eight extra-base hits, three SB, and he's scored eighteen runs so far for the Dodgers this season, which is helping to take  up the slack for slumping Matt Kemp.  Kemp, meanwhile, is finally beginning to show signs of life (8-for-16 from 4/21 through 4/25 with his first homer, which was only the fourteenth hit given up by Matt Harvey so far this season).  You surely grabbed Crawford at a bargain price. I think it is time to investigate sellling high.

Desmond Jennings, Crawford’s one-time heir apparent in Tampa Bay, is one of my man-crushes. I’ve had the 26-year-old on my radar since his minor league days and pick him up every chance I get. Why? Because he’s going to bust out some day and I want him on my roster when it happens.  I’ve been patient. I think you should be also (he’s currently batting .226/2HR/5SB-- essentially the same stats as struggling Andrew McCutchen). Hopefully, this is the year his speed/power combo flows over with riches.  And while we'r on the topic of McCutchen, his poor start (.226/2HR/6SB) might compel anxious owners to consider trading the first-round pick. If so, jump in with both feet.

Tony Cingrani is to the 2013 Reds what Ryan Ludwick was to the 2012 team. Ludwick took up the slack at the plate for the Reds last season when Joey Votto went down. Cingrani, called upon to replace Johnny Cueto (strained lat; will miss three or four more starts), has 17 K in 12 IP and has allowed only 3 ER and 3 BB. Granted, these masterpieces were painted while facing the Marlins and the Cubs, but this kid sure looks like a gamer.  Tuesday, he struck out nine Cubs in seven frames to help keep the free pizzas from Papa John’s rolling out to the Reds' faithful.  In 211.2 minor league innings, Cingrani struck out 278, walked 60, and carried a 1.62 ERA. Not that it matters, but he also hit .280 last season at Bakersfield and Pensacola. Grab him and enjoy the free pies!

Jeffrey Loria has totally destroyed the Miami Marlins. Now, he’s resorting to gimmicks to bring fans to the ballpark (most of which, God love ‘em, refuse to be bought). One product of Loria’s shamelessness is the early promotion of 20-year-old Jose Fernandez as a turnstile-mover. Fernandez is a great pitcher, but the young man should be honing his craft and building confidence in the minors. He’ll likely not pitch deep into many ballgames due to pitch counts, which will diminish chances for quality starts and impressive strikeout totals. Plus, he plays for a horrible team, so the wins won’t be there.  And he cannot possible have much more than 150 or so innings in that young arm.  Admire him, but don’t count on him to help your fantasy team down the stretch.

Paulgoldschmidt1Paul Goldschmidt is my man-crush of man-crushes. This guy has stud potential, despite his limited press (.310/17Runs/5HR/18RBI so far, and he stole his first base Friday night. He swiped 18 last season). I would trade any front-line 1B for him and not lose sleep over it, mostly because I would get booty in return. If you can get him, get him. You can thank me later.

The Kung-Fu Panda, Pablo Sandoval, fell like a Bernie Madoff stock portfolio on draft day due to lingering injury concerns and the Panda’s apparent disdain for P90X. But the 26-year-old can hit! He’s already amassed more than 2,100 ABs and is a career .302 hitter. He won’t steal bases and he’s yet to develop into a huge RBI producer, but wait for it. If he stays healthy, he’ll be a top-five 3B.

Another under-the-radar player to watch is Brewers #3 starter Marco Estrada. He’s 2-1 with a 3.86 ERA in five starts this season, has turned in four straight quality starts, and has 28 K in 30 innings against only six walks. He gives up the long ball, mostly because he pitches without fear and believes in his stuff. At 29, Estrada may be reaching his peak. Week 5 is a two-start week for Estrada, (4/30 @ PIT, 5/4 vs. STL). Grab him and put him on the mound.

It’s a small sample size against a poor hitting team, but Tim Lincecum has flashed some of his former dominance in his last two starts (both against the Padres). In 13.1 innings, the two-time Cy Young winner fanned seventeen and allowed only two earned runs.  If you want him on your roster, now is the time to start talking trade with his owner. This window will soon be closing.

Get your Phillies pitchers and hitters ready for next week. Philadelphia goes to Cleveland for two games before returning to The Bank for four against the Marlins. Roy Halladay goes twice next week. He’s pitched very well since I dumped him in my Marty and Joe league. Don’t be me. Get him in your lineup.

Aníbal Sánchez (2012-09-09)Same goes for the Tigers. They have three at home against the Twins before invading Houston for four. Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander both go twice next week. Keep an eye on the abrasion on Verlander’s pitching hand that forced him out of his last start, but it doesn’t look like a big deal. Potential stats buffet ahead. Anibal Sanchez has a new K record they’d both like to break.

Yankees RHP David Phelps gets the nod Wednesday with Ivan Nova headed to the DL. Phelps is a must-add to your lineup. He punched out nine of the fifteen Blue Jays he faced in relief of Nova Friday night. Wednesday, he will face the Astros, whose batters lead the major leagues in whiffs by a large margin.


Be sure to check out the Ultimate Waiver Wire Watch List for in-depth analysis on gems that you may be able to find sitting on your waiver wire.  It's one of the best fantasy baseball features currently on web!

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