You plan your draft, you contemplate every pick and you put together a team you’re quite pleased with. We all feel that way in the beginning of the season, but then the dreaded DL monster rears its ugly head and strikes your team with a vengeance. You knew it would happen eventually, you just hoped it would be to someone else. There’s no use crying over spilled milk (has anyone actually ever cried over spilled milk); just try to plug the leak the best you can and move on, you’ve got the whole season ahead of you.
Jose Reyes lasted one game. ONE **@#* GAME! Everyone warned you he was an injury risk (I downplayed that early last year-oops), but you thought you’d get more than one game before the hamstring flared up. I recommended Chris Owings a few weeks ago. He’s still available in 63% of CBS, 80% of Yahoo and 68% of Fantrax leagues. If he’s not available, here’s a few players to roll the dice on.
Alex Gonzalez (Tigers): I don’t normally recommend a 37-year-old shortstop, but for a short-term stopgap he might fit the bill. Gonzalez hit .429 this spring with a .467 OBP in 12 games. He’ll be batting at the bottom of the lineup which isn’t good for his at bats, but considering he will be followed by Kinsler, Hunter & Cabrera; there’s run potential here. There is zero speed to be found here, but Gonzalez still has enough power to launch 12-13 home runs (he hit 2 this spring). As long as the bat is hot, why not ride the hot hand. Plug him in and dump him when the average starts going south.
Gonzalez is available in 97% of CBS, 99% of Yahoo and 92% of Fantrax leagues.
Alcides Escobar (Royals): Just like Gonzalez above, Escobar bats at the bottom of the order. Similarly, his at bats will be limited but his run potential is raised with Aoki, Infante & Hosmer batting after him. He’s stolen 57 bases in the past two years and has only been caught 5 times. The runs and stolen bases will help replace a portion of the primary numbers you drafted Reyes for. Escobar’s average has always been the question; he hit well in the minors and looked like he was breaking out in 2012, but the BA has been mediocre for the majority of his major league career. He did hit .346 this spring and while spring numbers mean nothing for long-term predictions, he could carry that average short-term. Shortstop is thin as it is, so just like Gonzalez you might have to ride the hot hand and make the best of a bad situation.
Escobar is available in 70% of CBS, 80% of Yahoo and 55% of Fantrax Leagues
If you’re a Segura owner you may want to keep these names in mind. He injured his shoulder late this spring and if the condition worsens you may find yourself in the same boat as Reyes owners. Start adding shortstops to your watch list now; better safe than sorry.
Wilson Ramos underwent successful surgery to remove a fractured hamate bone from his left hand. The prognosis is 6 weeks but I would expect longer. Kevin pointed out the other day that this type of injury can affect a players swing, but it is also known to sap a players power; that is the main reason any of us drafted Ramos in the first place. If you don’t have the DL/bench room I think it’s safe to drop him for now, Ramos isn’t going to be much use until after the all-star break IMO. Where do you turn to now? Recommended a few weeks ago was Travis d’Arnaud who is still available in 90% of Yahoo leagues but less that 40% of CBS & Fantrax leagues.
Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks): It’s hard to believe that at the end of 2012 Montero was owned in over 94% of leagues, yet this year he was either one of the last catchers selected or is sitting on your waiver wire. I’ve read stories about his potential decline, the wear and tear on his body, etc.., and there could be some legitimacy to all of that. I, on the other had and willing to give Montero a mulligan for last year. In 3 of the previous 4 years he hit .282 or higher, had 15 or more home runs and scored 61 or more runs. In addition his RBI totals for 2011 & 2012 were 86 & 88. He hit .300 this spring, appears to be healthy and already hit his first homer, don’t discount him based upon last year.
Montero is available in 34% of CBS (52% last week) and 44% of Yahoo leagues. Odds are he’s gone (especially in ESPN leagues, owned in 90% of leagues), if so…
A.J. Pierzynski (Red Sox): Each year he ages I discount him and each year he puts up above average numbers for a catcher. Pierzynski has been playing long enough that there is no need to recap what he has done and what he’s capable of. His age and the depth at his position is the only reason he is not owned more at this point. If he’s out there and you need a catcher, you can do much worse than A.J.
Pierzynski is available in 45% of CBS, and 47% of Yahoo & ESPN leagues
Other options would be:
Russell Martin available in 59% of CBS, 82% of Yahoo, 89% of ESPN and 47% of Fantrax leagues (he’ll hurt your BA but has some power)
J.P. Arencibia available in 84% of CBS, 89% of Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 79% of Fantrax leagues. (Worse BA than Martin but more power)
Yasmani Grandal available in 84% of CBS, 98% of Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 75% of Fantrax leagues. (PED scandal behind him but now questions about his upside need to be addressed).
Doug Fister going on the DL for a month stings but is something we can put a band-aid on. Losing Kershaw for a month or longer is something there is no tourniquet for. I can recommend some replacements, but don’t hold any of them to Kershaw’s standard. Odds are some of my earlier recommendations are gone; if Drew Hutchison or Erik Johnson are available, I’d look here first. Jarred Cosart is another recommendation I made last week and he’s available in 75% or more of leagues, don’t turn you nose up at him because he pitches for Houston. After that…..
Jenrry Mejia (Mets): Upside and potential are what you’re getting with Mejia. He was supposed to go back to AAA or work out of the pen, but now that he’s the 5th starter he makes an intriguing option. Mejia has had problems with walks in the majors, but has been good at limiting walks and home runs and holds a 1.22 WHIP over his minor league career. Given his home park and division, plus a better than average strikeout rate, Mejia could make a good play on most weeks (depending on the matchup).
Menji is available in 66% of CBS, 95% of Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 80% of Fantrax leagues.
Robbie Ross (Rangers): Ross was a better than average starter in the minors and showed great improvement last year coming out of the pen for the second year in a row. Injuries have allowed Ross the chance to show what he has as a starter and he could make for a sneaky pick his first time through the league. Other than his low strikeout numbers he pitched well this spring and in his first game against Philly. Boston is up next but if he fares well his next 3 opponents should be the White Sox and two games against Seattle. He’s not a big name, but short-term he might be the firecracker you need.
Ross is available in 81% of CBS, 97% of Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 76% of Fantrax leagues.
Roenis Elias (Mariners): Many of you are scratching your head going “Who?”. The 25-year-old Cuban import hasn’t impressed enough the past two years to make many take notice, but he’s pitched well enough in the minors to show he can handle himself.
Nothing impressive but an acceptable ERA, solid WHIP and strikeout numbers combined with a friendly home park makes Elias a decent gamble for the month. If he pitches well enough there’s a chance he can even stick in the rotation once Iwakuma comes off the disabled list. Once the league gets a look at him he may struggle like all youngsters do, but for now he’s slipping under the radar.
Roenis is available in 86% of CBS, 99% of Yahoo and 91% of Fantrax Leagues.
Shane Victorino has a grade 1 hamstring strain and a timetable for his return won’t be known until some time next week. I’m sure owners have already replaced him with someone off waivers or their bench. If you are looking for something potentially better for your OF than your current backup/replacement, A.J. Pollock (another earlier recommendation) is still available in 80% of CBS, 88% of yahoo and 75% of Fantrax leagues. One surprising name that is under owned and unappreciated is:
Alejandro De Aza (White Sox): I’m assuming people aren’t buying into the numbers he produced last season. How else do you explain a potential 20/20 player being available in 44% of CBS & Yahoo leagues. I’m as skeptical at the next guy, but last year De Aza hit 17 home runs, stole 20 bases and scored 84 runs. The .264 average was a little low, but that is right around if not better than you can expect from someone like Grady Sizemore who people are flocking to despite not being fantasy relevant for five years now. If Alejandro is available in your league, I’m sure you have some dead weight you can cut to roster him. A few other options for the outfield to pick up/watch depending on your league size would be:
Michael Choice (Rangers): Leonys Martin will be given a chance to succeed, but the Rangers have hedged their bets making a Choice decision on their fourth outfielder. A hand injury derailed his 2012 season, and it’s possible that injury was the reason for the decline in power last year. Choice is healthy now and looking for a place to play after the show he put on this spring (.361/.391/.672 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 61 at-bats). In shallow leagues you can probably play the waiting game and keep an eye on things, in deeper leagues he might be someone to stash on the bench as a preemptive strike in case Choo or Rios go down or Martin stumbles.
Choice is currently available in 88% of CBS, 98% of Yahoo, 99% of ESPN and 75% of Fantrax leagues.
Marcell Ozuna (Marlins): Ozuna’s average last year during his debut is right around what you’d expect. He didn’t show much power or speed during his cup of coffee, which is probably why owners have moved on to the next big thing. Ozuna is not going to be that big outfielder you’re looking for, but he can be a Mike Cameron type with some power and speed (if he can cut down on his strikeouts). He won the centerfield job despite a horrid spring and hit a home run his first game. On paper the Marlins don’t look to score many runs, but this team has surprised us in the past with less. He’s worth monitoring in 12 team leagues and a potential pickup in 14 team leagues, but should be owned in anything deeper than that.
Ozuna is currently available in 78% of CBS, 92% of Yahoo, 91% of ESPN and 59% of Fantrax leagues.