D.J. Short

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Danny Boy

Thursday, May 17, 2012




NL ONLY

Jesus Flores C, Nationals (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.1 percent)

The Nationals were struck by the injury bug yet again on Saturday night as Wilson Ramos tore the ACL in his right knee while chasing after a passed ball. He'll undergo surgery in two or three weeks and is expected to miss the rest of the season. This opens the door for Flores to get regular playing time behind the plate. Of course, it wasn't too long ago that Flores was considered the Nats' catcher of the future, but a lengthy absence following shoulder surgery changed all that. The 27-year-old only has 145 plate appearances in the majors since 2009 and his plate discipline still leaves something to be desired, but there's enough pop in his bat to make him interesting.  

Charlie Culberson 2B, Giants (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

Desperate for some offense from a second base spot which ranks last in the majors with a .449 OPS, the Giants called up Culberson from Triple-A Fresno over the weekend. The 23-year-old is coming off a disappointing year with Double-A Richmond, but he was hitting .284 with five homers, 24 RBI and an .816 OPS over his first 36 games at the Triple-A level. Those numbers come with the obvious Pacific Coast League caveat, of course. I'm not convinced Culberson will be successful in his first taste of the big leagues, as he is better against southpaws than righties and his plate discipline leaves a lot to be desired, but with Emmanuel Burriss and Brandon Crawford struggling and Pablo Sandoval sidelined following hamate bone surgery, the opportunity should be there.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. OF, Dodgers (Yahoo: 1 percent owned, ESPN: 0.1 percent)

The Dodgers had no other choice but to place Matt Kemp on the disabled list earlier this week, which means Gwynn should get plenty of playing time in center field over the next two weeks. The 29-year-old owns a .248/.320/.325 batting line in the big leagues, so there's not a lot to get excited about, but he has a 9.3 percent career walk rate and stole 22 bases in 28 attempts last year. He's a logical pickup in NL-only leagues, but he could have some fleeting relevancy in deeper mixed leagues, as well.

Nate McLouth OF, Pirates (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0.1 percent)

Alex Presley earned a chance at the starting left field job after batting .298 with four homers, 20 RBI, nine stolen bases and an .804 OPS in 52 games last year, but the Pirates demoted him to Triple-A Indianapolis on Wednesday after he batted just .220 with two homer and a 30/4 K/BB ratio over his first 34 games this season. We'll likely see a platoon of McLouth and Yamaico Navarro in the short-term, possibly with Garrett Jones mixed in. McLouth is hitting .207 with a .635 OPS dating back to the start of 2010, so he doesn't inspire much confidence, but I like him better than Navarro since he hits left-handed and should be on the strong side of a timeshare. Sometimes playing time is king.

AL ONLY

Alex Cobb SP, Rays (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0 percent)

The Rays suddenly have an opening in their starting rotation now that Jeff Niemann is expected to miss the next four to six weeks with a fractured right fibula. Wade Davis is expected to stay in the bullpen, which leaves Cobb and Chris Archer as the most likely alternatives for the rotation. I'd give a slight edge to Cobb here because he had a 3.42 ERA in nine starts with the big club last year, but whoever is promoted is worth an automatic add in AL-only leagues.

Hank Conger C, Angels (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0.1 percent)

The Angels acquired Chris Iannetta from the Rockies over the winter to serve as their starting catcher, but he's expected to be sidelined through at least late June after undergoing right wrist surgery last week. While the underwhelming duo of Bobby Wilson and John Hester will fill in for now, Conger could be fully recovered from a sprained elbow within in the next couple of weeks. Angels manager Mike Scioscia has a history of frustrating fantasy owners, particularly with his choices behind the dish, but Conger is far and away the best in-house alternative to Iannetta. Stash him away in case he gets a chance to prove it.

Xavier Avery OF, Orioles (Yahoo: 0 percent owned, ESPN: 0.4 percent)

Looking for a spark in their outfield with both Nolan Reimold and Endy Chavez on the disabled list, the Orioles called up Avery from Triple-A Norfolk over the weekend. The 22-year-old is 5-for-18 (.278) to begin his major league career and has hit leadoff in three out of four games. Avery still strikes out too much to hit for a high batting average, but he was making strides with his patience early this season and has stolen 125 bases over 483 games in the minor leagues. That kind of speed just can't sit on the wire in AL-only leagues.

Manny Ramirez UTIL, Athletics (Yahoo: 2 percent owned, ESPN: 0.9 percent)

That's right, it's almost Manny-time. The enigmatic slugger will report to Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday as he serves the tail end of his 50-game PED suspension and is on track to make his A's debut on May 30 against the Twins. And on his 40th birthday, no less. My expectations are pretty modest, as he is coming off a year layoff and had a .721 OPS in 31 games after the All-Star break in 2010, but he's a must-own in AL-only formats with the prospect of at least part-time at-bats at DH.



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D.J. Short is a Rotoworld baseball editor and contributes to NBCSports.com's Hardball Talk blog. You can also find him on Twitter.
Email :D.J. Short



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