Every Monday we'll take a look at the Fantasy Baseball gainers and decliners in our Fantasy Stockwatch.
It stood to reason you should not put too much stock into spring training, so consider opening day the same beast. You can be fooled by a lot of things on opening day. Remember when Tuffy Rhodes homered thrice off Doc Gooden in the opener years ago? No? There is a reason for that. He didn't amount to anything afterward and wound up being bigger in Japan. Speaking of Japan, we were excited by one big thing ...
| Rich Harden, SP, OAK |
Harden showed a glimpse of what he could do. Hopefully you got him on the cheap on Draft Day. Harden struck out nine Red Sox in six spectacular innings and looks like he could be a big winner even on a sub-par A's club. Own and start Harden in all leagues for as long as he stays healthy.
| Kelvim Escobar, SP, LAA |
Escobar has a tear in his shoulder and might need season-ending and career-threatening surgery. Typical for him, so hopefully you didn't actually trust this often overrated Fantasy pitcher. If you did, cut him in all leagues where you cannot stash him on the DL. He might never pitch again and the best-case scenario is a late second-half return. By then, the Angels might not need him as a member of their rotation.
| Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD |
This 19-year-old talent is so fresh, we had to dig up a profile photo of him. What the lefty did this spring is borderline biblical. Getting a cameo in big league camp, he struck out 18 batters in 14 innings, walking just three and allowing a measley .163 batting-average against and a 0.64 ERA. Manager Joe Torre said they wouldn't hesitate to bring this phenom up early this season if they have a need in the rotation. If that happens, own Kershaw in all Fantasy leagues as a teenager.
| Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, TEX |
He might not deserve to start the year in the minors, but you likely wasted far too much money or too high of a pick to add the pop of Salty at your catcher position. Gerald Laird is the Rangers' starting backstop and Salty is still wasting away on 60 percent of Fantasy rosters. It will be a month or two before he is recalled, so cut him in all mixed leagues and take a chance on 27-year-old breakout candidate Chris Snyder, who is owned in just 53 percent of CBSSports.com's leagues.
| Mike Pelfrey, SP, NYM |
Owned in just 13 percent of our leagues, it is pretty clear few expected Pelfrey's so-so spring to earn him the No. 5 starter's spot out of spring training. This is a full-go, big-time prospect we considered the next Justin Verlander last spring. Granted the 6-foot-7 right-hander hasn't been able to harness all of his mid-90s stuff, but tall guys tend to take longer to get command. Take the flier now on Pelfrey, who will start for one of the best teams/offenses in baseball as long as he pitches well. Orlando Hernandez won't stand in Pelfrey's way if he pitches up to his potential.
| Felipe Lopez, SS/2B, WAS |
It shouldn't have taken you this long to realize he wasn't going to start over Ronnie Belliard or Cristian Guzman because of his suspect defense. Lopez is nothing more than a reserve infielder, but he is still owned in 48 percent of our leagues. That just should not be, unless you are hoping for some token steals in NL-only Rotisserie leagues. And we certainly don't have that many of those formats on our site, certainly not 48 percent.
| Bobby Crosby, SS, OAK |
Crosby is the quintessential injury-risk sleeper, even though my colleague Scott White didn't want to include him in our Draft Prep story on the subject. Fantasy players like Mr. White are the reason talents like Crosby fall to you. Scott said he just didn't think enough of the former Rookie of the Year after years of injuries and failing to live up to the hype. But Crosby has had a fine spring and was the Troy Tulowitzki franchise shortstop before 'Tulo was even drafted as a pro. Lopez (above) is almost owned in as many leagues as Crosby (52 percent). Buy now. In fact, cut Lopez to add Crosby.
| Doug Davis, SP, ARI |
There are more important things than Fantasy, as Davis will be fighting for his life after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He will have surgery after making his season debut and will be out at least six weeks thereafter. Six weeks should be considered a minimum. There is a lot of treatment to go through before he can even throw a baseball again. Consider him a sentimental member of your Fantasy reserves, but you cannot count on him pitching this year after his one start this week.
| Jair Jurrjens and Mike Hampton, SP, ATL |
Jurrjens is an elite 22-year-old pitching prospect with a big-time opportunity on a contender and is owned in 47 percent of leagues. That is warranted and will continue to rise in the coming weeks. But, amazingly, Hampton is owned in about half as many leagues (25 percent). Hampton has proven healthy and is worth the risk off the waiver wire at this point. You should give these two arms as much of a chance to pitch a full season as you would 40-somethings John Smoltz and Tom Glavine.
| Josh Fields, 3B, CHW |
The White Sox choose to start Joe Crede and send Fields to the minors, perhaps to build up Crede's trade value a la Laird above. Crede is owned in just 31 percent of leagues, while Fields is wilting in 55 percent. Laughable really. Fields can arrive in a month or two, but he is mostly dead weight on your mixed-league roster in the opening weeks of the season.
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