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Fantasy Baseball Update with Brian Phillips

Our editor sent me a Facebook message the other day with some fantasy baseball questions he was hoping I would answer. Ok, it was two weeks ago. Not much has changed in the interim except 67 more players have been severely injured. Elbows are exploding, hamstrings are shredding, discs are bulging. Hell, one player - Matt Cain - missed a start after trying to catch a knife he had dropped while making a sandwich. Cain makes several million dollars a year so it is charming that he's making his own sandwiches. This should end immediately. Not that it matters as Cain is now on the DL anyway (hamstring, not ham sandwich this time). I don't think it's a coincidence that most major league clubs are hovering one side or the other of .500. The DL is amplifying baseball's trend toward parity the past few seasons. As I write Oakland and Detroit hold the best records in baseball, and both clubs have stayed relatively healthy. 

Anyway I digress. Let's plow through em so I can get to another beer and the Mariners/Astros game at 10pm. (Oh yeah, I care.)

Q: How are your various fantasy teams doing?

A trap question, because if there's anything less interesting to everyone than your fantasy teams I have yet to find it. 

I'm in first in a league with our editor, 6th place in my long running keeper league (though I've been as high as third lately, it's pretty close), and 10th place in my 12-team no-trade league. I blame all of that on my pitching. Woeful. Homer Bailey needs to fall out of love with his shitty curve ball at some point. He'll be sitting on the bench for now. 

Q: What five players on your teams have been a pleasant surprise?

1. Nolan Arenado. I spent nine bucks at auction for the Rockies' third baseman. I liked his contact skills for such a young player and figured he'd play a ton owing to his nifty glove. After he reeled off a 28 game hitting streak with some pop here and there I've gotten way more than I thought. I think he'll be on my roster for a long time. Nice player.

2. Starlin Castro. I have the Cubs shortstop on two squads and have been very happy, especially with how late and cheap I obtained him. Sure he was crap last year, but always remember: Once a player displays skills he owns them. The kid needed to grow up a bit. The fact that he's put up solid numbers on a terrible Cubs team is all the more impressive. Pure profit so far.

3. Marlon Byrd. I know, I know. Hardly sexy. He had a nice year last year, but I was a skeptic. He was moving to a new club, he was a year older. That said he cost me almost nothing to keep, so I did. As I write he's around .300 with 6 bombs and 29 RBI. I run him out there every day without much thought and with all the injuries that's worth something.

4. Nelson Cruz. Like Byrd, Cruz is a former 'roid cheater. It's fantasy though and in this game I'm mercenary. He was a late pick and I was hoping maybe he'd give me some pop here and there. All he's done is put up a .282 14/41 slash line and he's a big reason why I'm sitting in first place. 

5. Scott Kazmir. I'll be honest, I was a bit baffled at the deal the always smart Oakland A's gave the resurrected Kazmir. Still, I threw down four bucks for him on a flier. Why? Always remember! The A's front office knows way more about pitching than you do. (See also Tampa Bay.) In 52 innings Kazmir has surrendered a scant 12 walks to go with a decent 43 strike outs. Guys aren't getting a ton of hits off him either. It's real and it's fantastic. 

Who have been your disappointments?

1. Homer Bailey. I know Bailey had a reputation for being a bit of a red ass, but with a great year in 2013 and a new contract I figured we were past all that. Boy, was I wrong. He's stunk up the joint. In the starts I've watched he's been throwing way too much breaking stuff and he's getting killed. 

2. Prince Fielder. I spent big bucks on Prince. He's never hurt and always puts up the numbers, until this year. At least we know why. Fielder will undergo season ending back surgery soon. 

3. Trevor Rosenthal. He was money in the closer role last year and I always assume the Cardinals know what they're doing. Sure he's logged 14 saves, but with an ERA pushing five he's on the verge of losing his gig. It's pretty simple, the kid isn't locating his fastball. He'd better get straight fast because ex-closer Jason Motte is back from Tommy John. 

Who should owners dump and have patience with?

Tough question. I've been doing this long enough to have grown a great deal of patience. I'll answer the question generally. You drafted guys for a reason. For example I don't own Carlos Santana, but if I did I would wait. This has happened before and he's too good a hitter to be this guy all season. Stick him on your bench and wait. That said Homer Bailey is on thin ice.