Just two weeks into the season, you may have noticed that Albert Pujols hasn't blasted a homer in Angels garb, nor has Reds pitcher Mat Latos done anything to warrant his top-25 preseason standing amongst starting pitchers.
But this is not the time to panic on two stars with established track records...or in Pujols' case, 11 straight years of at least 32 homers, 99 RBI and a .300 batting average. That represents bottom-floor numbers of a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and easily, the greatest hitter of this century.
On the trade market, of course you can still get top-end value for Pujols—that's not for debate. But you grabbed him with the first, second or third pick in drafts for a reason. Pujols is worth one elite pitcher (Cole Hamels or CC Sabathia) and one elite power hitter (Adrian Gonzalez). If there's no market for such a trade at this time, consider that a sign from the fantasy gods to hold tight.
As for Latos, there's no defending his wretched three-start debut with Cincinnati (8.22 ERA and 1.89 WHIP)—accelerated by an eight-run meltdown against the Cardinals on Wednesday night. But it's important to have some perspective on the matter.
At full health, the 24-year-old Latos can carry real-world and fantasy teams for sustained stretches; he's also a solid candidate for 15 wins and 200 strikeouts every season.
In other words, Latos is the kind of embattled asset you should be targeting in exploratory trade talks...not trying to sell off on the low end of the buying bubble.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.
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