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Fantasy Fix: Break Up Sam Fuld!

If going horizontal to make amazing catches somehow could be translated into a fantasy stat, Sam Fuld would be the top-ranked player in fantasy baseball.

Of course, Cubs fans have known this for years, witnessing his defensive heroics as a September call-up and late-inning defensive replacement for Alfonso Soriano.

During those brief glimpses, though, Fuld never showed much more on offense except tenacity - not a bad thing, but the Cubs were looking for fireworks.

That's why they packaged him up and shipped him to Tampa Bay as part of the Matt Garza trade.

But, wouldn't you know it, it turns out that Fuld can hit, too, if given enough chance.

Now starting in the Rays outfield, Fuld has been one of the biggest fantasy surprises of the three-week old baseball season, hitting a league-leading .396 with 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 6 doubles and 7 SBs.

On Monday night this week, he almost single-handedly dismantled the White Sox in Tampa with a 4-for-4 night that included a couple more of his trademark highlight-reel catches.

It was already his second four-hit game this year, and Sox radio play-by-play man Ed Farmer didn't miss the chance to tweak the Cubs for letting Fuld escape, saying something to the effect of, "How has this guy stayed a secret for so long?"

It seems Fuld is still something of a fantasy baseball secret, too, as he was still available in 43% of Yahoo! leagues through Tuesday.

There are probably a lot of people who don't believe he can keep up anything near his present pace at the plate.

That may be true, though if he continues to start and settles in with a respectable .275 - .285 batting average, he could easily approach the value of Juan Pierre, OF, White Sox, or Michael Bourn, OF, Houston, two guys who get pretty regular fantasy play on speed alone.

Fuld may not steal 50 or more bases, as Pierre and Bourn are likely to do, but 30-40 SBs is definitely possible, making him a nice bench guy to slot in a couple days a week.

Regardless, why not pick him up now and ride his hot streak for as long as it lasts?

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade examines another surprising early season star - Jed Lowrie.

* Fake Teams celebrates the return of Grady Sizemore, once a top-10 fantasy player derailed by injury. Can he fight his way back up the charts?

* Bleacher Report wonders if Pedro Alvarez is already a bust. Yes, he is, and I wouldn't blame you if you drop him, but keep an eye on him for a mid-season or second-half surge.

* ESPN sizes up whether to drop Phil Hughes, the dead-armed Yankees pitcher who had such a great season last year, and was a premium pick in many drafts this year. Is there any more horrible-sounding diagnosis for a pitcher than "dead arm?" It basically sounds like the next step is amputation. "Undead arm" would be a lot more fun, like something out of The Walking Dead.

* Finally, Bleacher Report has the story of Mike Leake, the Reds pitcher who was charged with shoplifting. Leake was pretty good last year, and was probably a late-round pick in some fantasy leagues, so stay tuned for status updates - he could be suspended. In any case, if the charges stick for the second-year player with a $425,000 annual salary, you may want to drop him on principle anyway.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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