Keep an eye on Vernon Wells

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Since this is the first day of our new fantasy sports blog, we need to get something out of the way: Jay Bruce. Now that we’ve mentioned him, this is all starting to feel official.

If you aren’t one of the lucky few that owns the Reds’ young slugger on your fantasy baseball team, you may want to take a look at acquiring Vernon Wells, who recently came off the disabled list for the Blue Jays. Wells is probably owned in most leagues, but could be a good trade target if you need help in center field.

Let’s make one thing clear: this isn’t the same Vernon Wells we saw last year. You know, the guy that looked like the position player counterpart of Barry Zito, after flaming out in the first season of a new seven-year, $126 million contract. With all the hate he received last year, you may have thought fantasy owners were talking about David Wells, not Vernon. But this wasn’t an obvious case of too many helpings of cheesecake: Wells seems to become a significantly worse player overnight for no apparent reason.

A stellar 2006 season made Wells arguably fantasy baseball’s premier center fielder. That year, he smacked 32 homers, stole a career-high 17 bases, and drove in 106 runs, all while hitting above .300. That type of production made Wells a second round pick in most drafts.

Then his OPS dropped nearly .200 points the next season, to a Corey Patterson like .706. He may have been fantasy baseball’s biggest bust.

Maybe it was the pressure of playing with such a big contract. Whatever the problem was, it seemed to disappear before Wells got hurt on May 9. On June 7, Wells came off the DL with a bang: in his first two games back, he went 5-for-7 with two runs, two RBI, and a homer.

Wells went hitless last night against the Mariners, but has some favorable series approaching with the Blue Jays drawing the NL Central in interleague play. Besides the Cubbies, no team in that division should scare anyone.

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For the love of God, someone tell me what to do with Joba Chamberlain.

Ricky responds: It's tough when starters are on tight pitch counts: they won't rack up as many strikeouts and won't get the win unless the team is able to hold onto an early lead. I'd say stick with him for now. In most leagues, Joba should be able to go as a starter and reliever. Put him in the reliever spot when he starts. It's a easy way to possibly grab some cheap points.

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