Injuries, injuries and more injuries dominated last week.
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Ok, now back to business . . . .
Mariano Rivera: I still cannot get the horrifying image of Mariano Rivera crumpling on the warning track out of my head. He has been superhuman since he and I both had full heads of hair (aka a long time ago). Seriously, if there is one guy you never expected to suffer a season ending injury, it was Mo. Since this is a fantasy baseball column, the question is what now? First, Mariano has made it clear he is coming back. So, if you are in a keeper league, you cannot bet against the best there has ever been. He is in great shape, does not have an arm issue and will work his tail off to be ready for spring training. For this year, it really is not clear who gets the gig between David Robertson and Rafael Soriano, but my money is on Robertson. Final note: based on nothing but my own gut feeling, I predict there will be another significant effect of the Mariano injury. Phil Hughes, who has been bad as a starter again this year, will find himself in the 7th inning with the Yankees either going out to get Roy Oswalt or some other proven starter or, maybe even promoting Betances or Banuelos. So, if you own Phil Hughes, now is the time to sell.
Huston Street: Staying with closer injuries, according to reports Huston Street is suffering from either a right shoulder or lat strain. Street missing time is hardly a surprise as he has averaged only 55 innings and 57 games over the last three years. So, what now? It looks like Andrew Cashner will get the first crack at saves with Luke Gregerson lurking. While both are worth rostering, neither is worth a huge bet. Street will return and take the job back, Cashner has never closed, and Gregerson has not returned to his 2010 form -- he is walking 4.5 per nine innings and that just won't get it done as a closer.
Heath Bell: From injured closers to one who may well be hiding one. Heath Bell blew yet another save last night against his former club, the Padres. The Marlins have invested a ton in Bell, but there is only so much rope he can be given. The problem is, who replaces Bell? Answer: unclear. Steve Cishek has been great (4-0 already), but he pitched 3 innings last night -- hardly the way one uses a closer. Eduardo Mujica has not been himself this year and while Ryan Webb has been good this year (5/1 K/BB ratio), he has a three year average 1.400 WHIP and that does not get it done. Bottom line: All three of the Marlin closer runner-ups are worth a speculative bid but none are worth the home run bid.
Pablo Sandoval: The man with baseball’s best nickname, Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” is out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his left hand. This is bad for so many reasons. First, the Giants weren’t piling up the runs even with the Panda. Thus, I would downgrade all the Giant hitters a tad over the next two months. Second, hitters often take a lot of time to get their power stroke back after a hand or wrist injury. Do not count on big power numbers for the Panda any time before the All-Star Break at the earliest. As to who will play 3b in SF, the answer seems to be Conor Gillaspie. The 24 year old was hitting a robust .362 in AAA, but that was in the PCL where everyone hits . . . a lot. He does not have much power or speed but will get at bats with an average that won't hurt. Price accordingly.
Cory Luebke: According to reports and rumors Cory Luebke may need Tommy John surgery. Not good at all. If you own Luebke all you can do is hold and hope. If you own Anthony Bass, this is good news (though you never root for injuries) as Bass now runs no risk of being sent down and should be a solid back end of the rotation guy in Petco. If you are thinking of picking up Jeff Suppan, well, you are not thinking.
Chris Sale: The White Sox threw a huge wrench into many roto teams this week anointing Chris Sale as their closer for the rest of the year. Wow. First, I would not rush out to trade for Sale as the reason for his role change is a sore elbow. Risk, risk and more risk here. Moreover, when pitchers are shifted around mid-season, bad results often follow (see Bard, Daniel, etc.). If you own Matt Thornton or Addison Reed, do not jettison yet. If you own Hector Santiago and broke the bank on him, are you really surprised he lost the closer role? Really? In each of his last seven relief appearance, Santiago has given up at least one hit. No clean innings at all -- bad things were bound to happen.
Johnny Peralta: Johnny Peralta finally woke up, smacking a walk-off two-run dinger to beat the pale hose Friday night. Even with the big night, Peralta sits at a pedestrian .253 with just nine RBI. My view -- this is a buy low opportunity. The Tigers will wake up and Peralta along with them. Where can you get an MI who has 20+ HR power and will hit for a solid average. Buy now while you still can.
Cody Ransom: From buy now to waive bye-bye while you still can. Cody Ransom went 2-3 with 3 RBI last night. Yes, he is hitting .345 with three homers and 10 RBI. Yes, Ryan Roberts is overrated and has had all of 4 good months in the big leagues. Yes, you should be proud of yourself that you picked up Ransom and logged some good stats. Now face reality and sell high while you still can. Ransom is 36 and has hit under .230 in four of the last 5 years of big league play. You get the point.
Tim Hudson: Tim Hudson got roughed up in Coors. The Brave hurler gave up six earned runs in six innings Friday. Hudson will be fine. He is a good pitcher working in a division with weak bats (Mets, Marlins, Phillies, Nats). However, the bad results at Coors highlight an important roto strategy. Unless you are talking about a top ace, pitchers should be benched when pitching in bad parks or against great offensive teams (if your league rules allow it).
Delmon Young: Leaving aside his disgraceful behavior, further comment on which would take over the whole column, it is worth noting that Delmon Young is returning to the Tigers lineup this weekend. Young has been terrible so far but is 26, has a load of talent, hit a ton in Detroit after the trade last summer and will rise along with Cabrera, Fielder and crew. Fantasy is not reality. Young’s atrocious real life behavior does not change the fact that he presents a huge buy low opportunity.
And last and but not least, Schultz says: “No matter the sample size, if you divide the number of rotisserie baseball players that have won championships by the total number of rotisserie players period, you will always end up with a fraction less than one. Besides the statistical certainty of that mathematical equation, an English major's explanation would be that there are more people that enjoy playing rotisserie baseball than those who are its master. The reason why roto-baseball isn't played in a vacuum is the sheer joy of being better at it (or trying to be better at it) than your friends, who are usually the other people in the league. You win by being better than them - - - you can also win if they are worse than you or simply have bad luck. We don't talk much about schadenfreude in rotisserie sports. You know what this is, don't you? Deriving joy from the misfortune of others. It's that little swirl of excitement you get when you hear that Evan Longoria limped off the field, Cory Luebke is feeling elbow pain or Pablo Sandoval needs X-rays on his hand and realize that they are not on your team. There are many words to describe the thoughts of those who own any of those players. However, the large majority of them are not printable in this family column.
Arguably, the biggest name in last week's schadenfreude sweepstakes was Mariano Rivera. Despite what he says about coming back, the prospects of a 43-year-old pitcher coming back from an ACL reconstruction are miniscule. While it might be hasty to start writing eulogies for Rivera's estimable career just yet, it might not be a bad idea to start putting together a solid first draft. From a roto-standpoint, if you owned Rivera, this is a crushing blow as he is the most dependable player at any position. (Albert Pujols owners are nodding grimly at this realization). If you didn't own him, you have to be happy about the advantage you just gained in saves. It will be curious to see where Joe Girardi goes from here: David Robertson looked fantastic last night but the Yankees likely didn't spend an exorbitant sum on Rafael Soriano to leave him in the set-up role.
From a real life perspective, all non-Yankee fans intellectually recognize the significance of what appears to be the end of the Hall of Fame career of one of the nicest men ever to play the game of baseball. I don't think there is a single person who appreciates the game of baseball that doesn't feel a twinge of sadness and melancholy over this ignominious turn of events. However, these magnanimous feelings don't apply to any Yankee fan that has ever done the "Mariano dance" - the little twitches of cocky, self-satisfied glee when taunting others over Mariano's greatness flecked with inappropriate spasms of delight whenever they hear "Enter Sandman." To that segment of Yankee fans (of which the overlord of this column does not belong), please know that the rest of us are relishing your anguish and cackling with delight that the Yankees' "bridge to Rivera" is now Sarah Palin's Bridge to Nowhere.”
Response: Well, at least it is nice to be recognized for not doing something wrong. Yes, in a baseball sense, I worship Rivera. But, it is not blind faith that has Schultzie and I disagreeing over Rivera’s 2013 return. The rest of what Schultz notes is very interesting and likely not something many of you will admit.