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An intervention, fantasy baseball style

We are gathered here today for an intervention.

No, nobody here is on drugs — well, Manny Ramirez may be, but that’s a different story entirely. The issue we’re facing is the general ineptitude of some of the bigger names in fantasy baseball.

We’ve called this intervention because we care about these guys, and we want them to know how their problems have affected our lives and ruined our fantasy teams. But most of all, we want them to get help. We’re offering our support, but ultimately, what happens next is up to them.

So let’s get started:

n Hey Scott Kazmir, what happened to you? You haven’t looked like yourself all year. You’ve always had a problem with high pitch counts and working yourself into jams, but you could always get that big strikeout when you needed to. Not this year though — only 35 Ks in 45 2/3 innings, after averaging more than a strikeout an inning the past three years. Plus, you’ve been walking too many guys (29), and the league’s hitting .316 against you.

The Tampa Bay Rays finally put their foot down after your last awful outing and put you on the disabled list with a conveniently timed “strained quad.” That’s a blessing in disguise because your owners can at least stick you in their DL slot until you figure things out and get your velocity back up. I know you’ll figure this out, but in the meantime we’re just glad this clears the way for top prospect David Price to join the Rays’ rotation and give some lucky fantasy teams a jolt.

n Ricky Nolasco, you’re in even worse shape than Kaz. We had very high hopes for you this year after last season’s breakout performance. And this is how you repay us? A 9.04 ERA? A .344 batting average against? A 1.81 WHIP? Unacceptable.

We expect more from you, Ricky. So do the Florida Marlins. They’ve sent you to Triple-A to work out your issues, which they say aren’t necessarily physical or mechanical, but mental. So please get it together. We’re going to try to keep a spot for you on our bench until you get things straightened out — you’re better than this, and you’re too darn promising to give up on.

n And now we come to you, Chien-Ming Wang. Your life’s been in a downward spiral since that foot injury last year. It was painful watching you get shelled over and over and over this year when the New York Yankees needed you. Aren’t you the same guy who won 19 games in 2006 and 19 more in 2007?

Just a week ago your ERA was 34.50 and you were on the DL with “sore hips.” But you came back Friday and pitched out of the bullpen ­— not all that well, mind you, but you still lowered that ERA to 25.00. That was an important step in helping yourself, but we can’t count on you until we see a few good starts in a row. You’re benched until you get help.

n Pat Burrell, you’re another guy who’s been on the disabled list but who wasn’t playing all that well before you got hurt. Is the sore neck the reason you’ve hit only one home run this year? Or is there a more serious problem Perhaps it’s the fact you’re in a new league and a new home park. You’ve always had a reputation as a streaky hitter, so maybe this has just been one of your bad months. But I’m not sure if there’s hope for you, Pat, or if we have time to wait for you to work out the kinks. I need more power out of a DH/OF, and if you can’t deliver then it might be time for us to part ways.

n And finally, Garrett Atkins: I’m really worried about you. Your .187 average and .276 on-base percentage are tell-tale signs you have a problem. Your measly three homers aren’t enough for a corner infielder, either. You were benched last week by the Colorado Rockies, and if longtime prospect Ian Stewart ever gets his act together you could find yourself losing your third base job permanently. I’m not sure we can stand by and watch that happen.

Jason Bartolone, can be reached at 745-7016.