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.
• The exact nature of Lance Berkman’s right knee injury wasn’t made clear Sunday, but regardless, he’ll be out of action for at least week eight, as the Cardinals’ first baseman was placed on the DL. Sunday, Berkman said the injury felt similar to the ACL tear he suffered in 2005, so this could be really, really bad. While he’s gone, welcome 23-year-old Matt Adams to the big leagues, as the first baseman put up a .340/.375/.603 line with nine homers in the Pacific Coast League thus far in 2012 and could emerge as a bright young talent this season.
• Joining Berkman on the Redbirds’ DL is outfielders Allen Craig, who suffered a left hamstring strain this week, Jon Jay, who’s dealing with shoulder soreness, and hurler Kyle McClellan, who’s out with an elbow injury.
• As if the Phillies’ 2012 injury woes couldn’t get any worse, Vance Worley is down with bone chips in his right elbow and will be gone for at least the upcoming week. Kyle Kendrick (5.96 ERA, 1.675 WHIP, 5.6 K/9) has assumed his place in the rotation, and while he’s been mostly dreadful to start the year, it’s worth noting he’s dealt with a .341 BABIP and 63.5 percent left-on-base rate, numbers that should improve over time.
• Jose Valverde’s week was torpedoed by a lower back strain, but it’s possible he’ll be available for duty in week eight. If not, Joaquin Benoit (2.70 ERA, 1.620 WHIP, 14 K/9) would be the most logical choice to pick up Tigers save opportunities.
• A shoulder issue landed Brandon McCarthy to the DL, which could open up an opportunity for Brad Peacock, considered the A’s best pitching prospect. On the other hand, Graham Godfrey (5.06 ERA, 1.375 WHIP, 3.9 K/9 in three 2012 major league starts) was pulled early from his Triple-A start on Friday, so it’s very possible the 28-year-old will re-join Oakland’s rotation.
• Although he picked up a win, Stephen Strasburg left after five innings Sunday with right bicep tightness. Strasburg and manager Davey Johnson insisted after the game that the injury isn’t serious, so he should be in line to make his next start.
• A calf injury was supposed to knock Ryan Doumit to the disabled list this week, but a favorable MRI has led the Twins to keep their infielder on the active roster—for now. That’s a shame, since Doumit, 31, was providing fantasy owners with production at the thin catcher position, but he might be something of a risky play in week eight.
• Jeff Niemann was diagnosed with a fractured right fibula last week, which will erase him from the minds of fantasy owners until at least late June, if not later. Alex Cobb, 24, sure looked ready to hold down the rotation spot for the time being after posting seven strong innings Saturday, earning the win against the Braves. As someone who posted better than a strikeout-per-inning rate during the last two seasons at Triple-A, Cobb is definitely an intriguing pick-up in mixed leagues right now.
• When Danny Duffy was pulled from a start earlier this month in the first inning with an elbow strain, fantasy owners feared the worst, and with good reason: the Royals’ impressive lefty will undergo Tommy John surgery to fix a torn ulnar collateral ligament, annihilating his 2012 season.
• When was the last time a Red Sox season started so frustratingly for fans? After all the melodrama, bullpen meltdowns and Bobby Valentine opinions that have marred the team’s first few weeks, the shining light of Will Middlebrooks will be demoted to Triple-A to make room for a returning Kevin Youkilis.
Obviously, it’s good to get the impressive Middlebrooks regular playing time, but this move hurts fantasy owners, since a) Middlebrooks was crushing the ball, and b) Youkilis’ best days clearly are behind him. It goes without saying that owners with the requisite roster space should hold onto Middlebrooks with the expectation that another injury eventually lands Youk on the DL and gives the 23-year-old some more PT and the major league level.
• Last year, Gaby Sanchez made the All-Star team, finishing with a .266/.352/.427 line with 19 home runs and 78 RBIs. For him to make the All-Star team this year, he would have to … Okay, he’s not going to make the team this year, especially after the Marlins sent him down to Triple-A over the weekend. It likely won’t be a long-term move, but it’s symptomatic of a .197/.244/.295 season that has been completely disappointing for fantasy owners thus far.
• Speaking of former stars who will be donning minor league uniforms this week, Adam Lind was demoted by the Blue Jays and placed on waivers. Ouch.
• Chris Parmelee might have some decent potential at the major league level, but his career suffered a setback earlier this week when the Twins optioned the first baseman to Triple-A.
• Sean Marshall has carved out an impressive major league career for himself as one of the National League’s best setup men over the past two seasons, but 2012 was not his time to emerge as a full-time closer, apparently. It might be, however, the year Aroldis Chapman emerged as a full-fledged star, which he’ll now have an opportunity to prove as the Reds’ new closer.
Chapman, of course, throws cheddar of the highest order and has been dominant as Marshall’s caddy to start the year (3-0, no earned runs allowed, 0.656 WHIP, 16 K/9 in 21.1 innings). Consider him a potentially high-end closer and someone who, if he hasn’t been scooped up in your league already, is a high-priority addition in fantasy.
• Those of us who were so certain David Robertson would succeed Mariano Rivera in New York should have guessed that in a season where pretty much everybody’s closer has been replaced, not even the Yankees would be spared from a second shakeup. Robertson, placed on the disabled list with an oblique issue, will have to fight Rafael Soriano for the closer’s job when he returns, as the former Rays fireman has been solid thus far in the role.
• For ballplayers with short fuses (and tremendous star potential), Brett Lawrie’s outrageously lenient four-game suspension for last week’s helmet-throwing incident will hopefully provide a good precedent should anyone threaten the physical safety of umpires down the road. After missing the weekend series against the Mets, Lawrie should be ready to contribute full-time in week eight.