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Mike's Mailbag

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Another week of action prompts another round of questions in the mailbag. This week, fantasy owners are venting about slumping sluggers and veteran hurlers, feeling frustration with the playing time of a slugging second baseman, and debating the merits of young shortstops and long-time power players.

Let's get inside the mailbag for this week.

The players I have in question are Shawn Green, who is in a slump right now, Cliff Floyd, David Dellucci, Tino Martinez and David Wells. These players are not playing up to par for the past couple of weeks and I am falling in the standings … What should I do with them? – Joel in Pittsburgh, PA

Joel –
Of the group, the two players that I think will have staying power over the duration of the season are the Davids: Dellucci and Wells. Dellucci plays in that potent Rangers lineup, and though he'll need the occasional day off due to a bum wrist, he's consistently on base and providing run-scoring opportunities. He's also shown that he can mash a bit, as well. With the rest of the Rangers' bats starting to really take off, I think he'll have another statistics surge. As for Wells, he'll be backed by the potent Red Sox lineup and put together a solid start in his last outing. Like always, he'll return low strikeout totals, but his WHIP, ERA and Win totals should get in shape soon.

Shawn Green has failed to generate much spark in Arizona. He's just not driving the ball as he did a couple years ago. And, Cliff Floyd and Tino Martinez haven't contributed much to fantasy owners after torrid starts. I'd be searching the waiver wire to replace these three with other hitters on a roll. Damon Hollins, Rafael Palmeiro and the surging Craig Monroe make for better plays right now.

What's your opinion of Chase Utley's part-time status? I simply cannot use a part-time or platoon player. Am I making a mistake by going with Mark Grudzielanek over Utley at second base? – Kennedy in Fort Worth, TX

I think the days of Utley being used as part of a platoon are ending as we speak. He'll still take the occasional day off against lefties, but it's hard to keep this sweet-swinging hitter out of the lineup. Utley continues to produce in the clutch and has been one of the big bright spots amid question marks and disappointments in Philadelphia. I think we're just starting to see the type of numbers this guy can put up.

Utley hits for average and ranks fourth among second basemen with nine homers, despite losing playing time to Placido Polanco. He also swipes a few bags to boot. In this case, you can play the matchup game and watch for when the Phils face a lefty, which will put Utley on the pine and relegate him to pinch-hitting duties. Or, you can take Grudzielanek and dangle his high average and run scoring totals as part of the St. Louis offense on the trade market. Utley is a contributor to all five basic scoring categories and will be a fixture in the Phillies lineup. I'd ride the power production he provides and bank on Jim Thome and company to pick up the pace.

I have Clint Barmes and Marcus Giles as my middles infielders. I just picked up Bobby Crosby off waivers and was wondering who is going to have a better second half, Barmes or Crosby? I need starting pitching or even a closer and am looking to deal one of these players. What should I expect in return? – Sean in Jacksonville, FL

Sean –
I look for a solid second half from Crosby in terms of power production, but I am a bit worried about the A's lineup outside of Eric Chavez (who is starting to pick up his production). As such, I think Crosby can pick up the power production as he did in 04, but I fear that he'll need to extend his strike zone to make something happen, thereby keeping his batting average low. The A's rank near the bottom of the league in runs scored (only Cleveland has scored fewer in the AL), and barring a quick maturation process by this young lineup, that doesn't seem to be changing dramatically any time soon.

As for Barmes, I don't believe anyone expected him to keep up his torrid start. He's still seeing the ball pretty well and does have 56 games left to hit at Coors Field. Over the long haul, Barmes abilities across the board and the Colorado effect give him a slight edge over Crosby.

However, if you need to make a deal for pitching help, you'll find it much easier to deal Barmes for a quality starter. That's at least until Crosby gets some games under his belt and the injury concerns fade away at least somewhat. Straight up deals for Barmes this week have yielded B.J. Ryan, Eddie Guardado, Oliver Perez and Derek Lowe.

Who do you think is getting the better end of this deal: Mike Sweeney for Larry Walker? I understand Sweeney is playing for the "high-powered offense" that is the Kansas City Royals, but he could be traded to a team like Anaheim, Baltimore, or Texas? Do you think I should hold on to him, or trade him for Walker? – Kyle in Duluth, GA

Kyle –
Well, first, we're talking about a couple of players who are known to spend some time on the shelf. Both of these guys have been sidelined with back problems in the past, one of those injuries that seems to linger from year to year. So, I would approach both of them with some caution and make sure you've got an able-bodied replacement at the ready.

In choosing between them, I'd pick Sweeney, even if he doesn't manage to find his way out of Kansas City. He's got seven years on Walker in terms of age and looks to have put some of those injury concerns in the rear-view mirror, at least for the short term. Walker is now plagued by some ankle issues and has struggled to find his stroke in 05. He'll score more runs than Sweeney as part of the Cardinals conga line down the base paths, but I see him losing out to the Royals first baseman in every other category. Sweeney continues to prove time and again that he can hit for average and drive in runs, even when it appears that nobody is on base in KC. And if he gets traded to one of the teams mentioned above, those RBI and prime hitting situations multiply in a hurry.

Enjoy the weekend, folks. I'll be back on Tuesday with a review of my trip to Philadelphia. Until then, I'll be anxiously awaiting Jim Thome depositing a long ball in my section of the right-center field bleachers.