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Fantasy Fix: The Starlin Castro Watch

Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro made his major league debut last week in stellar fashion, with a home run, a triple and a half dozen RBIs. And we thought we were kidding last week when we said the Starlin Castro Watch had begun.

After his debut, it was less than an hour before I saw Castro picked up off the waiver wire in one of my leagues. Is that jumping the gun just a bit? Yes, though it also might offer a glimpse at just how bad things are, fantasy-wise, at shortstop this year.

No. 1 shortstop Hanley Ramirez has just started to pick up the pace, but he's been streaky this year. Top SS picks like Jimmy Rollins, Troy Tulowitzki, Yunel Escobar and Rafael Furcal have been injured. Miguel Tejada is well past his prime. The top SS performer thus far, Alex Gonzalez (no, not the former Cub), was not even ranked in the top 1,000 players overall in pre-season.

So, it may not be just hopeful Cub fans who made Castro a popular pick-up last weekend. Still, there are a few more realistic options if you need a SS:

Stephen Drew, Arizona: Third among shortstops in doubles with 10, and hitting .305.

Marco Scutaro, Toronto: Near the league leaders in hits with 37 and has more walks, 17, than any other SS except Elvis Andrus. Only 66%-owned in Yahoo!

Juan Uribe, San Francisco: Don't laugh, Sox fans. He's third in RBIs among shortstops with 20. Only 29%-owned in Yahoo!

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It's Week 6 in the fantasy baseball world. Where's Cal Ripken, Jr. when you need him?

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Fantasy Find of the Week: Dallas Braden, SP, Oakland.

Throwing a perfect game should get you more than this honor, but I was surprised to find Braden claimed in only 60% of Yahoo! leagues even two days after his gem. A nice 4-2 record playing for a winning team whose home park is a low-ERA cavern makes him a nice pick-up.

Fantasy Stud of the Week: Vladimir Guerrero, UTIL, Texas.

The "UTIL" tag is limiting (though he may be "OF" in some league formats), but the old bad-ball hitter is young again, having knocked 4 HRs and 13 RBIs last week to go with a .381 average.

Fantasy Dud of the Week: Albert Pujols, 1B, St. Louis.

The top-ranked fantasy player when the season began has lagged for the first six weeks of the season, and couldn't muster more than a .227 average with 0 HRs and 1 RBI last week. Maybe he is thinking about that big contract Ryan Howard got.

Fantasy Match-up of the Week: Johnny Damon, OF, Detroit.

I like Damon in consecutive stretches against the Yankees and Red Sox, two of his former teams with whom he won World Series titles. Damon's 36, but having another good year hitting around .300 and scoring a lot of runs.

Expert Wire
* SB Nation lists a plethora of under-achievers who are expected to come back strong as the season progresses. Check out which Cubs and White Sox players are leading off.

* USA Today's Fantasy Windup has its sights set on up-and-comers, including Castro, Travis Snider and Ian Kennedy.

* MLB Skinny sees OF Austin Jackson as a sell-high candidate, and has an update on the long-injured Carlos Beltran.

* Bleacher Report has the scoop on a bunch of unheralded players. Who's Brennan Boesch?

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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 SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like it's about.

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