'Mickey Mouse Atlanta Braves Statue in the Western Esplanade/Downtown Disney' photo (c) 2010, Loren Javier - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/ People try to play fantasy baseball like they try to time the stock market. If it works, an it rarely does, you look like a genius. In the long run, most of the time if you just stand pat, provided of course that you have the right commodities in your portfolio, you will come out ahead. Today I'll give my thoughts on which ballplayers you'll want to hold on to, and which might end up disappointing you with only a moderate return on your investment.

I still find it rather surprising that so many people seem so willing to toss away Michael Bourn in trade offers. I know he has no homers and seven RBI, but folks, do you realize how good he has been otherwise? Besides hitting .333 this speedster also has a .404 OBP and he's on pace for 108 runs scored and 59 steals. Deal him at your own peril.

Rafael Furcal is hitting .342 with 15 RBI, 22 runs scored and six steals for the Cardinals reminding everyone that he can still be a dynamic talent when healthy. However, and you know how I hate to bring bad news, the guy has failed to appear in 100 games in three of the past four years so I wouldn't be at all adverse to anyone trading him while they can because things are bound to get ugly at some point.

Ryan Howard (Achilles), finally, took batting practice Monday for the first time since February. Howard still doesn’t have a target date for a return, but the prevailing wisdom is that he will be back in action, barring any more setbacks of course, in late May or early June. Given his rate of production the past two years – he's averaged 32 homers and 112 RBI the past two campaigns – if he starts action on June 1st he'd be able to play in 2/3 of the Phillies games this season. That would equate to about 21 homers and 75 RBI. Of course, that's if he hits the ground running and matches his level of production from the past two seasons. I'm not sure that is going to happen given how much time he has missed (for more on Howard see his Player Profile).

Ask around and people will tell you that Andrew McCutchen has been a major disappointment. I can't sit here and say I'm not leaning in that direction myself, but let's keep things in perspective. He's one hit from batting .300 at .298 which would be a career best. His current .356 OBP is just under his career .364 rate, and that's despite the fact that his walk rate has gone down by about 40 percent from his career level. He's also on pace for 29 thefts after averaging 26 his first three big league seasons. The reason he's been disappointing is that he's gone 94 at-bats without a home run leading him to a paltry seven RBI. He's also scored only seven times since the Pirates offense has been so anemic. I'm on record though as a big time McCutchen supporter, an I'm still in that camp.

There's only one more show for Smash. Who will be named MarilynKaren Cartwright or Ivy Lynn? I can't believe that I just admitted to the world that I actually watch Smash. Go Karen.

Remember when you were panicked because Brandon Morrow had a 4.50 ERA and just nine strikeouts in his first three starts? Hopefully you held on tight to the fire balling righty as he's gone 3-0 with a 0.41 ERA and 0.74 WHIP over his last three starts. He's also struck out 20 batters and walked just one in stamping himself as an arm to watch this season.

Sounds like Brad Penny faked an injury to his shoulder to get out of his two year deal with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in the Japan League (tests showed no structural damage). Count me as shocked. That guy is a joke, has been for years. Regardless, it's only a matter of time before some team takes the plunge and signs Penny even though his performance since 2008 has been flat out bad: 31-33, 5.11 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 4.79 K/9, 1.64 K/BB.

Dale Thayer got the save for the Padres Monday night. Andrew Cashner, thought by many to be the presumptive favorite for 9th inning work with Huston Street out with a lat injury, threw 39 pitches Sunday so he was likely unavailable meaning we still don't really know who will serve as the 9th inning arm (Luke Gregerson could also get some work). Cashner has a huge arm, but he also often has no idea where the ball is going. In 13.2 innings he struck out 12 batters but he's also walked 12. That's ugly. Thayer, who has more than 170 minor league saves in his minor league career, has walked only one batter in 31 big league innings as the anti-Cashner. You have to think that Cashner who is younger and has the bigger arm will get a crack at the role, but Thayer is there to pick up the pieces in the even that Cashner struggles.


By Ray Flowers


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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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