By Lawrence Barreca. Eight weeks have gone by, oh so fast, and so far this seems to be upside-down. Who would have thought that the Mariners, Yankees, and Tigers would be at the bottom of each of their divisions? How about the way the Orioles, Rays, White Sox, Astros, Marlins, Rangers, and Cardinals are playing? Let's see which players we should pick up for our fantasy team going into Week 9:
• Christian Guzman (SS) (WSH) - Guzman has been one of the only offensive sparks next to Ryan Zimmerman in the Nationals' batting order. Christian is currently hitting .311, with four homers, 19 RBI, three stolen bases, and 33 runs scored. Not bad for a shortstop who is hardly recognized in the highlight reels. Guzman is batting in the No. 2 slot for the Nationals, meaning that usually Felipe Lopez hits in front of him. This gives him plenty of RBI chances. If you need a shortstop, Guzman is your guy. Pick him up and start him immediately if needed.
• Maicer Izturis (SS-2B) (LAA) - Izturis is currently hitting .216, with 11 RBI, six stolen bases, and 18 runs scored. So why pick him up? Erick Aybar just recently landed on the 15-day DL with a dislocated right pinky. Because of this, Izturis is expected to get the bulk of the playing time at shortstop for the next few weeks. With that, expect his batting average and stolen bases to increase as he gets more at-bats.
• Brian Schneider (C) (NYM) - Schneider has now played 27 games at catcher for the struggling Mets, and he is proving to be a reliable starter. Brian is currently hitting .295, with two homers, 14 RBI, and nine runs scored. Schneider should be able to increase those numbers as the season wears on. It looks like he will be the starting catcher for a while too, because I don't think that Ramon Castro is taking his spot any time soon.
• Michael Aubrey (1B) (CLE) - Aubrey, a former first-round pick, has finally reached the majors and has already hit his first home run after only two games in the "Bigs". Aubrey has tons of power potential, and the only reason that he wasn't in the majors sooner is that injuries held him back for a little while. Over the next coming weeks, don't be surprised if Michael steals some at-bats from the struggling Travis Hafner or Ryan Garko. In the end, wait to see how he does over the course of the week and pick him up if he continues to hit for power.
• Brian Giles (SD) - Giles is on a team that cannot seem to score runs; however, he is carrying his load. Brian is currently hitting .306, with three home runs, 19 RBI, a stolen base, and 19 runs scored. Giles is a player that should be picked up immediately, and started in all Fantasy formats. As long as Giles keeps swinging the bat well, there is no need for him to be sitting on waivers or on your bench. He could be a steal by year's end.
• Ryan Freel (CIN) - Freel is currently the starting center fielder for the Reds, and he is doing nothing to show that he should lose the job. Freel is hitting .317, with nine RBI, five stolen bases, and 14 runs scored. The only real argument against Ryan is the power numbers. They just don't seem to be there...yet. Once Freel starts to hit home runs, he will make a valuable fantasy starter in any format. For now, pick him up or watch him this week. He hits for a good average and can steal a bag; all there is left now is to see a couple of homers.
• Jayson Werth (PHI) - We all remember Werth for nearly hitting for the homerun cycle against the Jays a few nights ago. A Grand Slam, a three-run homer, and a solo homer all contributed to his current .270 average, with nine homers, 26 RBI, and 21 runs scored. Did I mention that he could also steal a base? Seven bases so far to be exact. Werth has proven to be such a good player, that even Shane Victorino is having trouble finding some starting for the Phillies. Werth definitely deserves a spot on your fantasy squad. Pick him up as soon as possible.
• Kevin Gregg (FLA) - After Wednesday night's win against the D-Backs, Gregg now has nine saves this season (along with a 2.31 ERA, and 17 strikeouts). That number seems to be growing by the day. The young Marlins seem to be surprising everyone with their outstanding offense led by Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, and Hanley Ramirez. This young squad is scoring tons of runs and the starting pitching is holding down opponents just enough to give Gregg a fair amount of save opportunities.
• Darrell Rasner (NYY) - Rasner helped the Yankees beat the Orioles 8-0 Wednesday night, as he threw a five-hit game and struck out six batters through seven innings of work. That win puts Rasner at 3-0 for the season and lowered his ERA to 1.89. Rasner has been a surprise in the Yankees starting five, and it's a good idea to pick him up for your fantasy team. He should make a quality starter for your fantasy rotation the rest of the way.
• Bartolo Colon (BOS) - I didn't think that he still had it in him, but he proved me wrong as he got his first win of the season against the Royals. In the game, he struck out four and walked two through five innings of work. The former Cy Young award winner might still have some juice left; however, he did face the struggling Royals' offense. I would give him one more start to see how well he does.
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