This week in fantasy baseball

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Barry Bonds is going to get his share of All-Star votes, but he won't get any from me.

The National League ballot has its share of injured superstars – Bonds, Nomar Garciaparra, Lance Berkman, Ken Griffey Jr. – wait, he's not hurt yet.

It also has an abundance of deserving picks, making my job of naming the NL All-Star team for April all the more difficult. But I'm not one to shy away from a tough task, so here we go.

First base. Hmmmmm, OK. Pass.

Let's start with something easier, say second base, where L.A.'s Jeff Kent gets the nod from a deserving group that also includes Washington's Jose Vidro and Philly's Chase Utley. Kent's .330 average and six homers to date make him the logical choice.

San Francisco's Edgardo Alfonso got off to a scorching start, Washington's Vinny Castilla has had his moments and Atlanta's Chipper Jones deserves consideration as well. But there's no better man to man third base than NL newcomer Troy Glaus of Arizona.

Shortstop is no contest, with Colorado's Clint Barmes, the leading hitter in the big leagues at .416. the runaway winner. Same story at catcher, where Florida's Paul Lo Duca is really the only player worth selecting. Those who feel inclined to vote for Mike Piazza here should try to find themselves a 2000 ballot, on which you can vote for Piazza with a clean conscience and also pick favorites of seasons past such as Eric Karros, Ellis Burks and Ray Lankford. Otherwise, forget about it.

As was the case last week with the AL, the outfield is far too tough to pick using conventional methods. There are too many good players and too few spots. So just like last week, we'll go to the highly unscientific 'blind mouse method,' in which I close my eyes and drag the mouse over the ballot to select three players at random. And the winners are … Kenny Lofton, Philadelphia. Ouch. That 2000 ballot would come in handy right about now. Next up … Milton Bradley, L.A. Not bad. Six homers, .323 average and a chip on his shoulder. I like that. There are worse outfielders I could – and already did – pick. And finally … Adam Dunn, Cincinnati. Very respectable; Dunn leads all NL outfielders with eight HRs. With all due respect to Carlos Beltran, Jim Edmonds and the very deserving Cliff Floyd, it seems my highly unorthodox approach has succeeded again.

Which brings us back to the infield and the difficult question – Who's on first? Even after you throw out some of the game's biggest names – Jim Thome, Carlos Delgado, Sean Casey – I doesn't get any easier. Even Milwaukee's Lyle Overbay (.355, five HRs, 16 RBIs), a perfectly legitimate candidate, doesn't get a sniff here with Chicago's Derrek Lee and St. Louis' Albert Pujols in the mix. Pujols (.333, 6 HRs, 20 RBIs) gets a long look but no love, as Lee has better numbers in every offensive category, including a .416 batting average and an NL-best 30 RBIs. Looks like he's our guy.

So there you have it, an official All-Star ballot cast, and no little paper baseballs to pick out of your nachos. And now, to help you pass the two and a half months before the 2005 All-Star game in Detroit, here's a quick look at what's going on in the world of fantasy baseball.

Who's hot

  • Corey Koskie, Blue Jays: Finally adjusting to his new surroundings in Toronto with 14 hits in his last 29 at-bats after batting below .200 for most of April.

  • Derrek Lee, Cubs: The NL's answer to Brian Roberts, Lee is batting .533 with six home runs, 19 RBIs during 13-game hitting streak.

  • Justin Morneau, Twins: Showing no ill effects from first-week beaning with 14 hits, nine RBIs in eight games since returning from DL. Now he just needs to show a bit more plate discipline.

  • Brett Myers, Phillies: Philadelphia's surprise ace has allowed no earned runs in three of his five starts and has 34 Ks in 33 1/3 innings. His 1.35 ERA won't hurt you, either.

  • Craig Counsell, Diamondbacks: Back with the Diamondbacks and running freely with an NL-leading eight steals.

    Who's not

  • Todd Helton, Rockies: Batted .267 in April, ending a streak of 14 consecutive months of batting .300 or better. He'll be over .300 before May is through. Monday's 3-for-4 will help.

  • Jorge Posada, Yankees: Two hits in past 22 at-bats and one home run for the season. If the Yanks really want to shake up their lineup, John Flaherty is … ah, never mind.

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    Eliminating pension taxes [Poll]

    Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Hogan told a retirement community this week that he wants to eliminate state income taxes on pensions, but offered no plan to do it. Is this a realistic idea?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Not sure

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