Roster Doctor – 5/20/09

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Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 12
Categories: Traditional 8 x 7 (standard categories plus TB, K, BB, L, CG)
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head (weekly)
Roster:

C: Joe Mauer
1B: Carlos Pena
2B: Rickie Weeks
SS: Marco Scutaro
3B: Kevin Youkilis
OF: Nate McLouth
OF: Carlos Quentin
OF: Nelson Cruz
UT: Elijah Dukes

SP: Josh Beckett
SP: Javier Vazquez
RP: Scott Downs
RP: Brian Fuentes
P: Adam Wainright
P: Max Scherzer
BN: Todd Helton
BN: Rafael Furcal
BN: Mat Gamel
BN: Melky Cabrera
BN: Rickie Nolasco
BN: David Price
DL: J Smoltz
DL: J Bonderman

Randy, the owner of this team, says he is in “dead last by a mile.” He fingers the blame on a rash of injuries and feels a bit confused on what to do about this, having little experience with the injury bug after some successful, healthy seasons.

This year, Mauer was on the shelf for the first month. McLouth missed some games due to strained oblique, something that also haunts Kevin Youkilis. Meanwhile, Quentin is day-to-day with a heel problem, and Dukes has some issues with a strained hamstring Adding insult to injury, now Weeks is out for the season with a wrist injury.

In a weekly H2H scoring league, health may not win a league, but it can often lose one. It’s imperative to have players who will be as close to lineup locks as possible when weekly rosters are set.

All that said, it’s interesting to see this league has eight categories for batters compared to seven for pitchers. In addition, two of the three extra batting categories (total bases and walks) reward more games played while one (strikeouts) tends to penalize batter starts. The same can’t be said on the pitching end, where one of the extra categories (losses) penalizes more starts and the other extra category (complete games) is rare enough that it’ll make no difference in most scoring periods.

It seems as though there is a stronger incentive to making sure that a team’s batters are healthy in this league. On the pitching end, you can have some good closers and a couple of aces and still manage to come away with wins in the ratio categories and saves. (Randy also says his league has a 20 inning per scoring period minimum.)

First thing, first: How to replace Rickie Weeks. We don’t have access to the league’s waiver wire to see who is available, but judging by the size of the league, and the fact there is no middle infield position, we expect there could be some decent replacement options, including Freddy Sanchez, Alberto Callaspo, Ian Stewart, Felipe Lopez, or Akinori Iwamura. The best hope of cloning Weeks may be Stewart. The safest bet for production and playing time is Sanchez.

Fortunately, none of the other injuries his team is experiencing are serious long-term concerns. However, in the future, we wouldn’t hesitate to drop Smoltz or Bonderman if a batter needs to be put on DL and create space for a healthy body. In addition, with categorical incentives as they are, and with a limping squad, it may be wise to explore trading David Price, who currently takes up a roster spot that Randy can ill afford to waste, pardon the pun.

A player like Gamel has potential, and Melky Cabrera has been doing well this season, but both don’t figure to get into the lineup every day. Same actually holds true for Rafael Furcal, who sits once a week as lingering health questions trail him and demand time off.

Randy needs to have healthy batters who will be in the lineup every day. Players like Mauer, Youkilis, and Quentin will protect his batting average, but in a chase towards runs and RBIs, he’ll need to reach maximum games each scoring period.

He’ll dig himself out of the standings basement eventually, and fortunately, in a Head-to-Head league, if you make the playoffs, past injuries mean nothing.

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