by Moonlight Graham

We’ve all heard the opinion espoused by Fantasy Baseball Owners everywhere: No championships are won on Draft Day. However, whether you agree with that or not, most titles ARE won in April. Too many of us put in a ton of work preparing for the Fantasy Baseball Draft only to make the fatal mistake of ignoring our squads during the season’s first few weeks. Don’t be one of those guys.

Every year, even in the deepest of leagues, there are Major League Baseball players on the verge of a Fantasy Breakout season that go undrafted. Last season, alone, Miguel Montero and David Aardsma were just two who were integral parts of many Fantasy League championships despite being left unselected on draft day. The key for you, as an owner, is to identify those hidden gems as early as possible and incorporate them into your daily lineup.

That’s only half the battle, however, as t is just as critical to cut ties with drafted players not performing up to expectations. Daily perusal of the box scores and injury reports is the first step in this process; followed by the much more difficult one that forces you to admit you may have been wrong about a player. Once the draft is over, forget preferences and simply evaluate performance.

Kansas City’s Gil Meche may be back as early as Sunday if a mid-week bullpen session goes painlessly. However, he’s still just an AL-only option at this point… In Baltimore, Miguel Tejada’s Opening Day home in the cleanup spot may not be permanent. Make note of his 3B eligibility after 20 games… Do not be swayed by reports from Los Angeles that long time prospect Brandon Wood is finally ready to produce. He looked lost during the first two games of the Minnesota series and may simply be a 4A player… Angel’s LHP Scott Kazmir (right) is on course to start his first game next week vs. the Yankees…OF Alex Rios’ strong camp and first week have many White Sox teammates expecting big things. Fantasy Owners, however, will remember two straight disastrous seasons before jumping on his bandwagon… While Jon Rauch has been given the closer job in Minnesota, don’t forget that he struggled in the same role as a National and failed to emerge as the stopper in Arizona despite a muddled bullpen situation. Matt Guerrier is the Twins’ best reliever and one whom Ron Gardenhire won’t hesitate to call should Rauch falter… Oakland’s Trevor Cahill has been hampered by a sore shoulder since last September and saw the pain worsen this spring…With the release of Jack Cust, the A’s turned their backup C and DH roles over to Jake Fox. Given the injury history of current DH Eric Chavez, Fox, already eligible at  OF and 3B, could be a nice stash in an AL-only league…In Seattle, C Rob Johnson says he’s healthy after three, off-season surgeries to alleviate hip and wrist problems. The long time prospect and new starting backstop drilled an Opening Day HR… If Jays’ 3B Edwin Encarnacion has his usual slow start, look for Toronto to hand the job to rookie Brett Wallace…Rangers’ 2B Ian Kinsler is eligible to return from an ankle sprain on Saturday but looks like he’ll be out awhile longer… Be wary of owning Marlins’ starting pitchers as their defense, especially on the infield, seems like a baseball version of slapstick comedy… Franklin Morales may hold on to the Rockies’ closer job for longer than expected as Huston Street made the dreaded visit to Dr. James Andrews this week regarding his sore right shoulder… Astros’ 1B Lance Berkman has had his knee drained five times but is still hampered by swelling. He’s on the DL with no date set for his return… Erik Bedard is said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from shoulder surgery and could be back in the Seattle rotation as early as June.

Fantasy Baseball News and Notes

Buy Low

- As a full time DH, Vladimir Guerrero is more likely to remain healthy in 2010. If so, he’ll get a huge boost from hitting in the middle of the powerful Rangers’ lineup… San Diego’s Kyle Blanks, whose 10 HR last season came in just 148 AB, posted a .407 BA this spring and landed the cleanup spot behind Adrian Gonzalez.

Sell High

- Can’t understand how smart Fantasy guys continue to draft Cubs’ RHP Carlos Zambrano (right).  He’s still out of shape, (despite losing fifteen pounds), has seen a three year drop in dominance and battles emotional instability. Talk up his weight loss and dump him on anybody who didn’t notice he got shelled on Opening Day… Toronto’s Jason Frasor, who inherited the closer’s role by default in ’09 when Scott Downs was injured, blew the save in Monday’s opener vs. Texas.  Don’t expect Cito Gaston to be patient with him, especially with Kevin Gregg and a healthy Downs on the roster.

Grab Bag

- Twins’ OF Delmon Young had a strong camp and opened the season with a HR vs. the Angels. Don’t forget that, despite his struggles since arriving in Minnesota, he does have a 90+ RBI season already on his resume…Reds’ 3B Scott Rolen had a terrific ’09, hitting .305 while splitting time between Toronto and Cincinnati. While he is always an injury risk, he’s in a great hitter’s park and looks very strong.

Drop Zone

- RHP Jake Westbrook threw four wild pitches in Cleveland’s opener. Lack of command is the biggest obstacle for a pitcher coming back from shoulder surgery; something Westbrook has yet to overcome. He should not be on your roster even in an AL-only format… The catching situation in Colorado’ with Chris Iannetta and Miguel Olivo splitting time equally, devalues each of the platoon mates. Avoid both… If Jays’ 3B Edwin Encarnacion has his usual slow start, look for Toronto to hand the job to rookie Brett Wallace…

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