Fantasy Watch: Furcal, Fick Impressing

One positive development I have observed is that Rafael Furcal is not striking out as much so far this season--a good sign if he can keep it up. He has only struck out twice Now he just needs to stay consistent, draw more walks and start running at the top of the lineup. The good news is the ankle injury does not seem to be adversely affecting him so far. His value has only increased during the first week of the season.

That said, it is important not to let the first few games wreck havoc on your fantasy mindset. One bad start, one bad inning by a relief pitcher, a mini slump, these are all magnified at the beginning of the year. Robert Fick's numbers do not look so good, but he is looking fine and you should not worry about him. I still think his overall numbers will make him very useful in NL leagues, and deeper mixed leagues. Greg Maddux has had two dismal starts, but again, do not jump the gun. His trade value is at the lowest it will be all season, so stick with him. He will not win a Cy Young, but will bounce back with one of the best WHIPS in the league with 15-16 victories.

By the same logic, do not read anything into Vinny Castilla's hot start. It is very unlikely he will be able to keep it up for more than another week. Need a quick fix, maybe you pick him up in a NL league, but I still suggest staying away.

Mike Hampton threw off a mound for the first time in nine days without any troubles. He is still looking to return in two weeks; I would keep him on the bench even after he returns. That means he may not be useful in fantasy ball until May. Paul Byrd, meanwhile, had a disastrous outing against AA Greenville. He is obviously rusty, and will need at least one more rehab start. I definitely recommend staying away from him until he has two consistent starts in a row. I have been very vocal in my opinion that Byrd is not someone you want on your fantasy roster and I am still standing by it (hoping I am wrong for real life purposes!!!!)

Horacio Ramirez had another solid start, picking up his first major league victory. He is someone to grab right now in NL leagues, just have your finger on the trigger if he starts to struggle. Rookie pitchers are very inconsistent, and he will have some ugly starts this season. Meanwhile, Jason Marquis is still slated to return to the pen when Hampton and Byrd return.

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