The Marlins’ decision to send Ricky Nolasco to the minors earlier in the year is fieldwithballmoon_copy_2zyhpaying tremendous dividends right now as Nolasco is leading Florida’s charge to the top of the NL East. Sunday, Nolasco continued his hot streak with 12 K over 8 shutout IP… I’ve been asked more than a few times if Tigers’ 3B Brandon Inge is a Sell High candidate. At the hot corner, he might be, but his eligibility behind the plate makes him a keeper…Chicago’s Jermaine Dye, already with 20 HR and 51 RBI, is not only one of the more consistent performers in the game, he’s also one of the most underrated in most fantasy baseball rankings… While the Rockies try to convince themselves and others that Garrett Atkins will turn things around in the second half, the fact that the third baseman’s numbers have not improved a bit while Colorado has become the NL’s hottest team is enough to make me stay away… Mike MacDougal, 5 for 5 in S opportunities since becoming Washington’s closer, is this week’s example of why you should never reach for closers in your fantasy baseball draft… Baltimore’s Matt Wieters 3 H, 1 HR performance on Sunday raised his BA to .277 during a hot streak that started on Father’s Day when I got my Wieters t-shirt from my kids… Derrek Lee and David Ortiz have spent the month of June proving that players with hand or wrist injuries need warm weather more than anything in order to return to form… Seattle’s Brandon Morrow has strung together three solid performances as he readjusts to the starting rotation… Be careful if you have Alex Rios on your fantasy baseball team. You might be inclined to try and time Rios’ hot streaks, especially now that he’s been dropped to seventh in Toronto’s order. Don’t… In St. Louis, Colby Rasmus has 10 HR and 32 RBI in limited playing time. Keep an eye on him, though, as he’s still struggling to gain Tony LaRussa’s confidence and may lose AB when Mark DeRosa returns to the lineup… Tigers’ rookie hurler Rick Porcello, after a sensational start, may be hitting a wall, as indicated by two straight tough outings. Don’t give up on him… Vladimir Guerrero returned to the Angels’ outfield this weekend after serving exclusively as the team’s DH to this point… Dan Haren has issued just 15 BB in 17 starts… In his last 43 plate appearances, Lance Berkman has reached base 25 times… Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder have combined for 134 RBI to this point and the anemic Brewers have needed every one of them… Only Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Ralph Kiner, and Harmon Killebrew hit 300 HR in less AB than Adam Dunn, who reached the plateau this weekend…

Buy Low- With his A’s in the basement and the trade deadline approaching, look for Billy Beane to move Matt Holliday soon. A move out of Oakland’s spacious ballpark could be just what he needs… Might be your last chance for David Ortiz, as his 8 HR in June indicate his hand is all the way back…

Sell High- Now that the Padres have traded Scott Hairston, no one is left to protect Adrian Gonzalez, who had 21 BB while Hairston was on the DL… 3B Aramis Ramirez is expected to return to the Cubs’ lineup today, signaling the likely end of regular playing time for Jake Fox… Alfonso Soriano is on this list instead of the Drop Zone only because he has a recognizable name. He’s carrying a .226 BA and has been dropped to sixth in the Cubs’ order…

Grab Bag- Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera has been performing capably in the leadoff spot with a .304 BA… Ben Francisco, after posting a .141 June BA, hit .409 over the Indians’ nine game homestand… Tony Gwynn is the Padres’ only true CF and should remain in the leadoff spot for awhile… Pittsburgh’s Virgil Vasquez has turned in a quality start in each of his two starts since being called up from AAA…

Drop Zone- Just because the Yankees are obsessed with force feeding Joba Chamberlain into their starting rotation doesn’t mean you should. He can’t get out of the fifth inning… Josh Fields is out of a job as the White Sox have given Gordon Beckham the 3B spot…

Sick Bay- Kansas City’s Mike Aviles is through for the season after Tommy John surgery…Randy Johnson left his last start with a left shoulder strain…

Farm Fresh- Milwaukee’s Manny Parra, who struggled mightily early in the season, is 1-2 with a 2.92 ERA in four AAA starts since being sent down.

by Moonlight Graham

The Case for Albert Pujols

In New York, Carlos Delgado has become the feel good story of the fantasy baseball season, riding a hot streak through the second half and leading the Mets to the top of the NL east. His 33 HR and 100 RBI are numbers that were not only deemed unreachable at the beginning of the season but seemed just as impossible not two months ago. His resurrection has prompted many conversations about the possibility of the big first baseman taking home MVP honors at the end of the year. While there are some reasons for Delgado to warrant consideration, it is not entirely clear that he is even the Mets’ MVP let alone the league’s. Many will point to Jose Reyes or David Wright as the best the Mets have to offer. Regardless, any conversation regarding the NL MVP should begin and end with Albert Pujols.

The St. Louis first sacker came into the season having already acknowledged that he would have to undergo elbow surgery. Not wanting to miss any time, he vowed to play for as long as he could stand the pain. This revelation caused him to drop out of the first round of many Fantasy drafts. The Moonlight Fantasy preview advised against using a top ten pick on him. Many also wondered why he would postpone surgery during what was to be a down year for the Cards. Albert has made fools of us all.

Heading into this week, Pujols had a .360 BA and an impossible .466 OBP. His 32 HR and 95 RBI are very impressive but not as eye popping as his DiMaggio-like K total of just 48. On top of everything else, despite losing three of their top 5 starters and their closer, the Cardinals have been able to stay in playoff contention throughout the year.

Anything can happen, as evidenced by last year’s travesty that saw Jimmy Rollins get the award over the more deserving Matt Holliday, but if Delgado beats Pujols, the voting system should be changed.

RISING

Adam Dunn has been gotten some starts at 1B for the D’Backs and may qualify there in your fantasy league. He has been hot of late with a terrific OBP. Bronson Arroyo was recently named NL Player of the Week and is a free agent in many leagues.

FALLING

Brandon Webb has failed in three straight attempts to gain his 20th win. The Arizona ace may be feeling the effects of a long season.

GRAB BAG

3B Dallas McPherson was called up to the Marlins after belting 42 HR at AAA Albequerque and could provide a late power boost.

DROP ZONE

Jeff Kent underwent knee arthroscopic knee surgery last week and could return to the Dodgers just before the playoffs; too late to help Fantasy owners.

SICK BAY

Cubs’ starters Rich Harden and Carlos Zambrano have been shut down due to shoulder ailments. Cleveland DH Travis Hafner returns this week, more so the Indians can evaluate his progress than to contribute. His shoulder is still not 100% so, don’t expect any power. Billy Wagner’s season appears over as elbow problems persist.

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