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Friday, June 10, 2011
Baseball Challenge: Week 11 preview

By Mike Sheets
Special to ESPN.com

We're entering Week 11, which means there are only four weeks remaining in the first segment. If you're stuck at the bottom of the standings, or are even waffling somewhere in the middle, then it might take a minor miracle for you to make up enough ground to have a serious chance at competing for the top spot.

For those of you poised to make a run at the title, however, it's no time to take your foot off the gas. By all means, if what you've been doing is working, keep doing it. However, don't be afraid to mix things up if you need one final push over the next few weeks, even if it means severing ties with some of the bargain players you've had locked in since early in the season.

Remember, after Week 14, all player salaries will reset. So if you've been holding onto a player or two solely because you have them at a good price, it may be time to reevaluate. At this point, you need to focus on putting together the most productive lineup you can every week. That's all that matters. This is no time to play favorites or stick with a struggling player just because you're proud of yourself for grabbing him on the cheap back in April.

With that, here's a look at our Week 11 lineup. ...

Week 11 Lineup for June 13 through June 19 C: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox (@TB-3, MIL-3), 4.0 market price: Salty is hitting just .236 on the season, but he's batting .353 so far in June with half of his hits going for extra bases. He's currently day-to-day with a stomach illness, though he should be ready to go by Monday.

1B:Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (@WAS-3, KC-3), 5.9 market price: Six other first basemen are more expensive than Pujols because of his slow start, but, as cliché as it may be, he's heating up with the weather. He's been the top BBC first baseman over the past two weeks and is hitting .344 with five home runs and nine RBIs in eight June games.

2B: Kelly Johnson, Arizona Diamondbacks (@FLA-1, SF-3, CWS-3), 5.5 market price: Over the last 30 days, no second baseman has out-performed Johnson. In that timeframe, he has accumulated 120 points (no other second-sacker topped 100). Not only that, but he's been the top second baseman over the last seven and 15-day periods, as well.

3B: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays (@DET-1, BOS-3, @FLA-3), 5.2 market price: Longoria doesn't have an extra-base hit in June, but he's hitting .364 over the last week and has 12 career home runs against the Red Sox (his second-highest total against any team). Best of all, he's still a relative bargain given his 5.2 market price.

SS: J.J. Hardy, Baltimore Orioles (@TOR-3, @WAS-3), 4.1 market price: Hardy hasn't made much of a fantasy impact this season, but he's been swinging a hot bat of late. He's been a top-three BBC shortstop over the past week, and he has three homers in his past seven games after hitting only two in his first 26 games this season.

LF: Mike Morse, Washington Nationals (STL-3, BAL-3), 4.0 market price: After a slow start, Morse just continues to hit. He's been the top left fielder over the last two weeks, hitting .357 with four dingers and 15 RBIs.

CF: Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians (@NYY-1, @DET-3, PIT-3), 3.8 market price: I'm mainly going with Sizemore because I need the cap space. He hasn't been setting the world on fire of late, batting just .227 over the past week, but he has hit safely in seven of his past eight games. Hopefully his home run on Wednesday was a sign of things to come.

RF: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers (@NYY-3, @ATL-3), 5.3 market price: No right fielder, even the hot-hitting Jay Bruce, who is significantly more expensive, has out-produced Cruz over the last two weeks. In eight June games, Cruz is batting .333 with five home runs and 10 RBIs.

DH: Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers (TB-1, CLE-3, @COL-3), 5.6 market price: We just don't have enough in the budget for David Ortiz, who has racked up 71 points over the past two weeks (no other DH has racked up more than 48), but V-Mart is a good consolation. He's been a top-five DH over the past month and is hitting .333 so far in June.

Pitching Staff: St. Louis Cardinals (@WAS-3, @KC-3), 6.4 market price: Things are setting up nicely for the Cardinals staff this week. The team has the most wins in baseball with 38, and the Nationals and Royals are two of the weakest teams in their respective leagues. It's hard to find a more favorable schedule in Week 11.

Total Salary: $49.8 million, $0.2 remaining

Scouting Schedules

Note: A ballpark that ranked top-10 in terms of home runs last year is considered hitter-friendly, while the bottom-10 parks are pitcher-friendly. In order to be listed below, a team must have two series at hitter-friendly venues, or two at pitcher-friendly parks.

Hitter-friendly schedules: New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs.

Pitcher-friendly schedules: Seattle Mariners, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Minnesota Twins, Kansas City Royals.

Seven-Day Workweeks: Florida Marlins (8 games), Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, Milwaukee Brewers, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, New York Mets, Houston Astros.