Phantasy Philes: Time To Start Dumping?

Every Tuesday, <i>PhillyBaseballNews.com</i> will bring you our Phantasy Philes, authored by Brooks Peck. In our first installment, we take a look at some key Phillies players and fill you in on who may be worth keeping, who you may want to pick up and who you may want to take the first offer you can find on to trade.

With the first month of the 2003 season coming to an end, now is the time when fantasy owners start to get impatient with players that aren't performing as they expected on draft day. Everyone knows that feeling of frustration when a guy you picked in the third round is hitting .246 with one homer going into May. So this week, in our first look at the world of all things fantasy baseball, we'll take a look at a few of the big name Phillies that haven't exactly started off the way their fantasy owners would have liked. In addition to that, I'll answer a few reader questions, which will be a regular part of these columns.

The Fightin' Phil that has caused the most aggravation for fantasy owners and Phillies fans alike, seems to be Pat Burrell. Coming off a great third season in the bigs, where he posted a stat line of .282/37/116, Burrell had many people expecting 40, or maybe even 50 home runs, along with increased RBI production. These high (but reasonable) expectations for the 26-year-old slugger prompted many to draft Pat somewhere around the fourth or fifth round of their fantasy drafts, thus making him an offensive key to success. Now, flash forward to the end of April, and you'll see a lot of disheartened Burrell owners wondering what #5's problem is.

Before you go ahead and accept that Burrell for Rondell White trade offer, allow me to remind you that mediocre starts are nothing new to Pat the bat. A quick look at past splits reveals stat lines of .265/6/15 in April '02 and .281/3/10 in April '01, aren't too much better than his present .230 average with three homers and 12 RBIs. Another reason for his lack of production so far could be that he hit fifth behind Abreu and Thome for much of this first month. Now that Pat is snuggled in the cleanup slot between the protection of Abreu and Thome (at least for the time being), he may see more quality pitches to hit. Couple that with the fact that Pat has hit .341 in May each of the last two years, and we may see turn around in the not too distant future. The bottom line here is that Burrell is not a guy to be worried about. He's going to have the numbers when all is said and done, but just not in a consistently produced fashion.

One of the other big offensive concerns for many fantasy owners at this point is the new kid on the block, Jim Thome. However, the former Cleveland Indian can also be filed under "slow starter." With a stud like Jim, it's easy to forget what he did at the beginning of the season, when he ends up with a .304 average, 52 ding-dongs, and 118 RBI. But, as we did with Burrell, just look at the splits to relieve yourself of that Thome worrying. Over the last three Aprils, Jim has averaged a line of .217/5/15, which is obviously even worse than his current .264/3/18.

The final member of the Phillies' trifecta of destruction has already emerged from his slump. Hitting .455 in his last six games, it's safe to say that Bobby Abreu is now officially locked in. If you can find a sucker that is still looking to trade Abreu, try and pull off a deal now while you still might be able to get him relatively cheap. That goes for Burrell and Thome as well. With their numbers looking even worse than Bobby's, chances are they'd be significantly less expensive to acquire, and could be a flat out steal.

All right, with all that out of the way, lets get to some questions.

Question: I'm in a 10-team head to head league with Mark Bellhorn and his .181 average on board. David Bell is sitting on the wire and plays all over the place like Bellhorn does. Should I pull the trigger and get D. Bell? Thank you for your time.

Kolola

Answer: Well Kolola, I think dropping Bellhorn for Bell would be a smart move. Rumors have been swirling about how Chicago is looking to trade for a replacement at third base, which further complicates Bellhorn's position on the team as he tries to work his way through a 1-for-17 slump. Bell on the other hand has a firm hold of his starting job in Philly, and is even hitting .385 in his last four games. With all that in mind, David Bell looks to be the safer bet for the immediate future, as well as a few months down the line should the Cubbies trade for a new third baseman.

Question: Hey, I just traded for Jimmy Rollins. Do you think he's going to put up 30 steals again or have the Phils given him the order not to steal due to their new power packed lineup? Thanks a ton.

Aaron

Answer: Hi Aaron. J-Roll's stolen base total very well could take a hit this season, because of that "power packed lineup." At the very least, Jimmy will be much more selective as to when he tries to steal a base this season, since Bowa will want guys like Abreu, Burrell, and Thome to get their hacks in without worrying about what Jimmy is doing on the base paths. I still think Rollins will end up with 20-30 stolen bases by the end of the year, as long as he is able to keep that OBP up. His speed is just too valuable a weapon for Bowa not to use.

That'll do it for this week folks. If you have a fantasy question that you want me to answer, send it to qwaz21@aol.com and be sure to put "PBN" in the subject line.


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