Battling through injuriesby Dave Shovein
May 15, 2012
Fantasy baseball drives me. It’s a game I love, respect, and have a tremendous amount of passion for. I strive to one day be named among the elite in the industry, and no contest would bring more honor and prestige than winning the NFBC Main Event.
So naturally, of all the teams that I own, run and manage over the course of the season, the one that takes top billing and importance is my Main Event squad. The calendar hasn’t even flipped to June yet, and I’ve already been dealt an excruciating amount of bad luck.
If the majority of my players were simply under-performing (and quite a few of them are), I could live with my team sitting at the bottom of the standings in Chicago League 1 with a meager 39 league points to my name. At least then, it would be 100 percent on me and my poor decision making. However, the rash of injuries that I’ve had to deal with in the first six weeks of the season has me questioning whether I can even dig out of this gigantic hole.
Losing a first round pick for any length of time can be a devastating blow in any 15-team league with 30-player rosters. So when Jacoby Ellsbury went down just seven games into the season with a separated shoulder, it was a crushing blow. The timetable on his return was initially set at six to eight weeks, meaning that I would likely be without my superstar for two months of the season. Having confidence in my ability to work the wire, and in the rest of my team, I never doubted that I would be able to patch the offense enough to get by until Ellsbury returned.
In the season’s third week, my eighth-round pick and number three starter, Daniel Hudson, complained of shoulder soreness after his third start and headed to the DL. A month later, he still hasn’t returned to action, but is at least targeting a return at the end of May.
After making it through week four unscathed, disaster again struck in week five. The greatest closer in the history of the major leagues, Mariano Rivera, tore the ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. Losing a closer for any length of time can be a major obstacle to overcome, but when that closer was drafted in the seventh round and expected to be elite, he’s irreplaceable.
Then my third baseman, Mat Gamel, bashed his knee into the right field wall chasing down a foul popup. Just as Mo Rivera, Gamel tore the ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. This is starting to get a little ridiculous.
Later in the same week, my middle infielder, Alex Gonzalez, goes down with an injury while sliding into second base during a steal attempt. Diagnosis: torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the entire season. That’s three in one week. Absolutely insane.
At this point, I’m scrambling. I need to replace my top closer, my third baseman, and my middle infielder, while still trying to keep up with the expected production of being without Ellsbury and Hudson for all this time. I could simply slide Ruben Tejada back in at middle infielder with Gonzalez out, but oh wait, Tejada hit the disabled list on Sunday with a right quadriceps injury.
At this point, I’m still in (relatively) good spirits. Every team has to deal with multiple injuries over the course of the season, and as ridiculous as this stretch has been, I’m just getting all of mine out of the way early on. I still believe that I have the talent on my team to compete, and with a couple of solid additions I could still climb the standings and compete for a top-three finish in my league.
Then week seven hit. In a league this deep that starts two catchers, there are generally 30-33 owned throughout the league. An injured player at the scarcest of positions can be nearly impossible to replace. So lucky for me, I’m the proud owner of Chris Iannetta who had to have surgery to repair a broken bone in his right wrist and will miss the next six to eightg weeks. While he wasn’t hitting for a good average, he was providing plenty in the way of power and counting stats. I’d be lucky to find someone getting more than half of his team’s at-bats at the position.
So while I was combing through names on Saturday in search of Iannetta’s replacement, my other catcher, Wilson Ramos, goes down with what looks like a significant knee injury. Diagnosis: my fourth torn right ACL of the season, done for the year. Ramos was a significant contributor to my offense and simply can’t be replaced.
I’m now in search of two catchers to fill the void, and at a minimum stand to lose 10-15 at-bats each week in the process. To make matters worse, I was outbid on Jesus Flores and have to roll with John Jason and Bobby Wilson until I can upgrade both spots.
It’s completely demoralizing to see a team that you put so much time and effort into, and that you care so much about, have to go through a ridiculous bout of injuries such as this. My dreams of winning the Main Event title this season have already been dashed, and it’s only the middle of May. My hope now is that I can continue to try to piece things together and make a run at a top three finish in my league, but even that is starting to look more unlikely with each passing day.
I’m surely no quitter though, and believe enough in my own abilities to think that I can make this work. After all, if I were able to overcome this and win my league it may go down as the greatest comeback in NFBC history. My new season starts today, and rather than having my cavalcade of stars lead me to greatness, my new role players will fill in admirably and pick up the pieces.
Either way, I won’t go down without a fight. Even through the roughest of times, I’ll continue to battle and do everything I can to turn this season around.
Any questions, comments or concerns? I’d love to hear them, leave in the comments below or find me on Twitter @DaveShovein.
Dave Shovein is a graduate student and aspiring fantasy baseball guru. He welcomes all comments and questions at shove1dm AT yahoo DOT com.
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