Fantasy Spotlight

Sifting through the waiver wire to find players that may be able to help cover a slumping or injured player is a key to winning in fantasy baseball. This week, the spotlight shines on some guys that might provide temporary, and in some cases, long-term help for your team. Plus, we'll answer some reader e-mail, too.

In fantasy baseball, every little bit really does help. It's amazing, but every year a large number of leagues are decided by a handful of RBI, a couple homers, or 0.02 in the WHIP category. This is why it's so important to stay on top of how everyone on your team is performing. If your starting third baseman is going to miss a few days with a groin injury, you have to get on that waiver wire and find a guy who can not only fill in for him, but put up some solid numbers too. One of your outfielders hitting .097 over the last couple weeks? Bench him in favor of a hot bat until he gets his act together. Even if your league's waiver wire appears to be all picked over, I'd be willing to bet there are a few hidden gems in the there that can help you out in situations such as the ones mentioned.

The following is a collection of a few guys who could be put in such a category. While they might not pan out to be a permanent fixture in anyone's starting lineup, there's a good chance they could help you through a tight spot for the time being.

Minnesota Twins: Everyone knows catcher is a thin position, so that's probably a good place to start. Henry Blanco has been around for a while now, but rarely sees action in fantasy leagues. However, if you find yourself in need of an injury replacement or temporary fill in at the moment, Blanco could be your man. He's currently hitting more than 100 points over his career batting average and with three homers, Henry is almost halfway to his personal best for a season. With a hot bat and playing all but two games so far this season, Blanco definitely deserves a look from the catcher needy owners out there.

Chicago Cubs: Sticking with the catcher theme, next up is Michael Barrett. This former Expo was once a big time prospect, and just might be on the verge of fulfilling those high hopes finally. At 27, Barrett should be hitting the prime of his career any day now, so fantasy owners should start to pay him more attention. He's gotten off to a fast start in '04 with a line of .333/4/12. Maybe he's a late bloomer or it's the change of scenery, but whatever the case may be, Barrett is hitting well right now and could continue to do so throughout the season. At the very least though, he's a solid start for the short term.

St. Louis Cardinals: Thus far in his career, Marlon Anderson has been a big tease with fantasy owners. He tears it up in the minors, and then when he's given a shot with a big league club, he doesn't do much of anything. Maybe his body was possessed by a better ballplayer in the offseason, because 2004 has been different for Marlon so far. Hitting .323 with four homers, seven RBI, and two steals, Anderson has found some action in both the infield and outfield thanks some injuries. Coming into the season, the Cards planned on using Anderson as a bench guy, but when you have Ray Lankford and Tony Womack in your starting lineup, bench guys don't stay on the bench for very long. As long as one of the many old timers on this squad is hurt, look for Marlon to find his share of at bats here and there. Anderson will give you a little bit of power, and some speed (he stole 19 bases in 145 games with Tampa last season). With that dual eligibility, chances are Marlon will be able to help a number of fantasy teams somewhere.

Atlanta Braves: Don't ask me where he came from or how he was able to find his way back from wherever he was hiding for the last few years, but Jaret Wright is back and pitching well. He was able to wiggle his way into the Braves' pitching rotation thanks to an injury to Paul Byrd, and boy has he made the most of it. In two starts, Wright has a win, a 2.25 ERA, and 10 strikeouts in 12 innings pitched, which isn't bad at all for a guy who had a 15.71 ERA just two years ago. Jaret is still just 28 years old, so maybe the tutelage of Leo Mazzone can do the trick to get his career back on track. Byrd is supposed to return in the next few weeks, but if Wright continues to pitch this well, Paul could be delegated to a bullpen gig.

To round out this week's Spotlight, we have a question from a reader who asks about Scott Rolen.

Brooks,

I currently have Scott Rolen and have been offered Vernon Wells. I have Chavez, ARod and Beltre to fill the 3B gap. I was wondering if I could get your thoughts...

If not, do you have any other suggestions as to who to go after for Rolen given his hot start?

Thanks

Looking to deal a guy like Rolen now while his value is probably peaking is a great idea. You obviously have more than enough talent at third to replace his bat. The only problem here is that I think you might be able to do a little better than Vernon Wells for Rolen. Wells is a solid OF that can get you 30 homers and 100+ RBI, but Scott can do that to, in addition to stealing a few bases and being eligible at a thin position. Actually, you might want to consider pairing Rolen with Beltre, and going after a first round caliber player. Like Rolen, Beltre is playing way over his head right now, and could be sold high before he starts to come back to reality.

That'll do it for this week. Remember, if you want to ask a fantasy baseball question of your own, send an email to qwaz21@aol.com with "Fantasy Spotlight" in the subject line. Until next time.

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