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Fantasy Fix: Trade Liriano? No-No Means Maybe

I sat down to start writing this column just hours before attending Tuesday night's White Sox game against the Twins. Here's my original first paragraph:

The first week of May has me looking back at the cruelest month and in particular at those players whose fantasy baseball numbers were most disappointing. Among hitters, the most awful start may be a toss-up between Hanley Ramirez and Carlos Gonzalez. Among pitchers, no two had worse starts to the season, given their pre-season rankings, than Ubaldo Jimenez and Francisco Liriano. Still, out of these four, the only one I would consider parting with is Liriano.

Liriano, of course, no-hit the already lifeless Sox Tuesday night, and while this does not nullify giving up 24 earned runs in his first 23 innings to start the season, and is not nearly as impressive as it would have been to no-hit, say, the Texas Rangers, re-evaluating my position on Liriano is an absolute must.

Liriano has never quite made good on the 12-3 record he posted in a half season of duty back in 2006. He did win 14 games last season, but followed up a bad spring with a worse April, and there had been reports during spring training that the Twins could trade him.

After the no-no, his trade value may increase in the real world, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins pull the trigger, particularly if they end up spending the first half of the season fighting the Sox for cellar rights.

Fantasy-wise, it might be a good time to sell high, too, though I wouldn't expect to get anyone near Liriano's pre-season ranking of 83 in Yahoo!

But, if you hold on to him, consider this: The Sox are bad . . . really bad.

So, what about those other stiffs?

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Florida: A prolonged slump to open the year is actually not out of the ordinary for him, though hitting under .200 to open May might qualify as his worst start ever. Hold onto him and beware of other owners trying to buy low.

Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Colorado: I thought most signs pointed to a near-repeat performance of his near-MVP season last year. It hasn't happened yet, but I still think it will. An opportunity to buy low from an owner who doesn't feel the same.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Colorado: This one is tricky. He was injured last month, and I think it will be a few weeks before we see what he can do. He hasn't won yet, and has given up 16 earned runs in 20 innings, but he also has 20 strikeouts and I like his chances to win often later in the season with strong run support.

Expert Wire
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade doesn't mince words about Liriano: Sell now.

* Bleacher Report has an appreciation for under-appreciated Matt Joyce, OF, Tampa.

* The New York Times's baseball blog is interested in buying low . . . really low. Like Carlos Pena, for example.

* ESPN's Eric Karabell notes that things are suddenly becoming treacherous at the hot corner. Is Ron Cey still available? Aw, Penguin, I miss ya.

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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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