This week in (fantasy) baseball 4/9-4/15by Karl de Vries
April 16, 2012
It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We'll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I've missed anything important, please don't hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
News from the fantasy infirmary
• Raise your hand if you thought Brian Wilson was going to stay healthy through the entire season. Yeah, I didn’t think so, either. But that doesn’t make this weekend’s news any less depressing, as the All-Star closer is likely headed for the second Tommy John surgery of his career. That zaps any fantasy value he has in 2012, of course, and makes him suspect in 2013 as far as keeper value goes. (On the other hand, if he’s being cut in all leagues, it might be worth keeping an eye on his progress over the next few months, as he might be a cheap pickup to carry over into next season.)
As of Sunday, there’s not a clear frontrunner to replace Wilson, as manager Bruce Bochy has suggested a closer-by-committee in the early going. I’m a big Sergio Romo fan, but he experienced some mild elbow issues of his own over the spring, so there’s a chance he won’t be pushed into the role. Lefties Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt are available, but neither player has the kind of super strikeout ability that makes for an ideal closing candidate, and in a perfect world, they’d be saved for late-inning situations, anyway.
It woud be best to wait a day or so to see which way the wind is blowing in San Fransisco before pouncing on a replacement. But before you pick up anyone as the heir to Wilson, make sure you take a look at Santiago Casilla, 31, who posted a 1.74 ERA, 1.123 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 with six saves last year. With a good supporting cast—and an offense that will keep Giants’ games close, even in wins—anyone who replaces Wilson at the back of the bullpen could make a strong fantasy impact as the season unfolds.
• Conventional wisdom figured Jacoby Ellsbury’s numbers would take a dive after his astounding 2011 campaign. We just didn’t think his 2012 would get off to such a horrible start. Now that he’s dislocated his shoulder, Ellsbury, 28, will lose up to the next two months as he rehabs, making him a fantasy forgotten man until mid-June. How healthy will he be when he returns? That’s anyone’s guess, though it’s important to remember the injury is to his right shoulder, his lead arm when swinging.
The Sox called up Che-Hsuan Lin, 23, to replace Ellsbury, and he figures to get some playing time even if he’s not a prime-time prospect. Cody Ross’ fortunes definitely improve with Ellsbury gone, though he’s just a low-end outfielder in deeper leagues. Sox fans hope Carl Crawford’s rehab continues to make progress (he’ll be playing in Florida this week), but he won’t be back until at least next month.
• Here’s something fantasy owners don’t want to hear about one of their top outfielders: Michael Morse will be placed in “total shutdown mode” for the next six weeks as he recovers from a strained right lat muscle. I’m no doctor, but I’m going to assume that is not good news, especially since six weeks just signals the next time they take a look at him, not a projection of when he’ll return. Consider his entire first half to be at risk until things improve.
• Morse wasn’t the only National to receive some not-so-good news last week either. Drew Storen had surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow, which will deprive fantasy owners of his services until the All-Star break or so. Even worse, Davey Johnson has yet to confirm whether Henry Rodriguez or Brad Lidge will assume full-time closer duties, so we’re going to have to keep a lookout for any late-inning trends coming out of DC over the next couple of weeks.
• Lance Berkman, who was shelved last week with a calf injury, looks ready to return Tuesday, so it looks as though he’ll be a safe start this week.
• Although he seemed certain to go on the DL with a fractured pinky, David Wright appears to be doing just fine, as he cranked out a home run on the first pitch he saw from Vance Worley Saturday. If you have Wright, it wouldn’t hurt to be cautious and make sure his finger fully heals, but like Berkman, he also seems like a safe start this week.
Performance of the week
Matt Cain probably deserved to win in Week One, but he broke down late to allow five earned runs in a loss to the Diamondbacks. There were no such hangups Friday against the Pirates when the right-hander threw a one-hit shutout, striking out 11. For a guy who’s my favorite to be the NL Cy Young winner in 2012 (full disclosure: I have him in my H2H league), this start reminds fantasy owners he’s a high-end starter in every meaning of the word.
AL player of the week
Here’s the thing about C.J. Wilson joining the Angels over the offseason: he was already battle-tested in the American League, and by going to Anaheim, he was staying in the familiar AL West, now joining a squad that plays in a better pitcher’s park with some serious offensive thunder backing him up. Wilson already is making it clear that he’s capable of continuing his All-Star form, too, as he notched two wins this week and looks ready to make a run at 18 to 20 wins this year.
NL player of the week
Whether you believe Matt Kemp will make good on his vow to become the first 50-50 player in major league history, there’s no question the center fielder is doing all he can to validate his words. This week, Kemp continued his white-hot start to the season, slamming four home runs with eight RBIs. (Apologies to Chris Young, who also had a monster week in fantasy, adding two steals to his three home runs.)
Karl de Vries is a New Jersey-based writer and journalist who prefers following fantasy baseball to watching his hapless Mets embarrass themselves on TV every night. He can be reached at karl[dot]rotodiamond[at]gmail.com or followed on Twitter at @Karl_de_Vries.
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