Phantasy Philes: Who's Hot, Who's Not

This week we're going to get right to the point and take a look at who's hot and who's not. We'll determine who you should make sure you play, and who you'll want to bench until further notice. It's as simple as that. In addition, there's a reader question to answer and our non-Phillie of the week.

Who's hot:

As we discussed in the very first Phantasy Philes a couple weeks back, Jim Thome is a notoriously slow starter. Luckily for the Phils, and Jim Thome owners, it looks like that slow start has come to an end. If you were one of those people that benched Jim during his annual slow start, four homers and eight RBIs to go along with his current five game hitting streak, should be reason enough to reactivate him right now. The timing of this hot streak really isn't a surprise at all. Thome usually gets it going in May, so I doubt he will slow back down now. Those of you that don't have Thome on a fantasy team may want to find the guy in your league that does, and make him a trade offer. Surprisingly, I've come across a number of people that don't know about Jim's historical splits, and are still very frustrated with his lack of production thus far. Maybe you'll be lucky enough to have one of these people in your league that will gladly give you Thome at a cheap rate.

Coming into the season, if I told you there would be a Phillie that's second in the NL in batting average and ninth in OBP around the middle of May, you'd probably have guessed that it was Bobby Abreu. Instead of Mr. Abreu, the Phil that holds those distinctions, is the guy that some people didn't even think would make it this far into the season without getting hurt. Obviously, the player I'm talking about is Mike Lieberthal, and saying that Lieby is feeling it right now isn't exactly breaking news. So, we'll skip all that and go straight to my recommendation of trading the potential All-Star now while he's at peak value. It's very unlikely that Mike will continue at his current pace, and with an injury filled past like his, dealing him while he's healthy and hot doesn't sound like such a bad idea.

Who's not:

After a great start, Vicente Padilla has hit the skids in his last three outings. It's been very clear that there is something wrong with either Vicente's mechanics, or Vicente himself, since his troubles began at the end of April. The most noticeable difference in Padilla's stats has been the increase in walks allowed, as well as homers (and fly balls in general). Hopefully the lost movement on his fastball that Padilla admitted to is just the result of a flaw in his delivery, and that his losing streak comes from the lack of confidence. If this is the case, Vicente's problems should be corrected soon. I would still bench Padilla for a start or more, depending on how well he can rebound from his recent problems, but trading him away in desperation right now would be an ill advised move. Wait until he gets a few solid outings under his belt before dealing him away around the All-Star break as I suggested last week.

Saying that David Bell is as cold as a pudding pop in the middle of January is an understatement. To be honest, I'm not sure there are words to describe how unbelievably bad his current 0-for-20 stretch is. I mean, the guy is just three hits away from being zilch for the month of May! We can only hope that one of three things happens for David as soon as possible. First, he realizes that hitting with your eyes closed is not a good idea. Second, that opposing pitchers start to feel sorry for Bell and decide to throw him beach balls instead of baseballs. Or third, that Larry Bowa tells him that he can expect a fungo bat right between the eyes for every hitless game from now on. Now, Bell surely won't keep this up for the rest of the season, so it's just a matter of time until he gets hot. However, as a fantasy owner, I'd drop him like a SARS infested monkey before whatever his problem is spreads to the rest of my team. Let him work out the kinks on the waiver wire, then grab him back when he figures it out.

Our non-Phillie of the week is a guy that I feel is very underrated by many fantasy owners out there. Playing for Baltimore sure doesn't help his case, but the fact of the matter is that Jay Gibbons is developing into a nice addition to any fantasy roster. After a bit of a slow start, Gibbons has picked up his game to hit .320 with three homers and eight RBI in his last seven games, which raises his season totals to .277/7/25. That line may not seem too great now, but looking at what it projects out to over a full season, 31 homers and 109 RBIs, it becomes something that any fantasy owner would want to have. At 26 years old, Jay has yet to hit his prime, so improvements on last year's .247/28/69 should be expected. Gibbons could very well be a waiver pickup or cheap trade away from joining your team, so if homers are a need, go look him up.

Before we get to the reader mail for this edition of the Phantasy Philes, let me remind you all that any fantasy related questions, whether it be a possible trade, waiver pickup, or whatever can be sent to qwaz21@aol.com. Along with questions, I also welcome any requests for guys you want to see covered in future articles. Just be sure to put "PBN" in the subject line of any message you send my way. Anyway, lets get on to the reader mail.

Question: Hi Brooks. I have the 'can't watch my Phillies cause I'm in State College blues' right now, but not to worry as I'll be home to go to a game against Arizona. That was a nice article on the fantasy value of the Phils pitching. I grabbed Myers a week and a half ago and I'm loving it right now. I have two questions for you. For my third closer I can get Cliff Politte, Braden Looper, Mike DeJean, and Lance Carter. Should I get Politte? Also my second base spot is questionable with Jerry Hairston, should I get Marcus Giles or Junior Spivey instead.

Thanks a lot, Drew

Answer: Drew, Out of that group of closers, I would go with Looper. Dejean has done well thus far, but with a bad pitching staff and ugly bullpen ahead of him, he probably won't get as many save opportunities as you would like. Carter is probably the worst option of the bunch. Not only does he play for a horrible team, but his manager is starting to lose confidence in him. After blowing three of his first eight save opportunities, Pinella has decided to only use Carter in three out save situations, which will obviously cut down on his save production a bit. Politte has never been a full time closer before, so while he could end up doing a good job in that role, there's a chance that he won't. What worries me about Politte is his high WHIP (1.46) so far this season. Don't get me wrong though, I think he'll be serviceable in the new role, but Braden will most likely end up being better. With Looper, we've seen that he can get the job done well, so in this case I would go with fact over speculation. Know what I mean?

As for your dilemma at second base, I'd rather have Giles or Spivey over Hairston. But which of the two you should pick up depends on what your team needs. Spivey will give you a little less power, and little more speed, probably a better batting average as well. Giles will give you a good amount of pop for a middle infielder, and should end up with a solid batting average, but just not as good as Spivey's.

That'll do it for this week folks. Remember to send you questions and suggestions over. Until next week, I'm out like David Bell after an at bat.


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