There’s so much going on in baseball right now, and so little going on in my life, that we’re going to skip my usual pithy column opening and jump right into it. Besides, the Transcendental people have sworn me to secrecy. At least you won’t have to bring fresh fruit or half a dozen flowers to levitate through seven days of baseball news in The Week That Was...
- Ryan Zimmerman will miss four-to-six weeks after fracturing his thumb in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game when he was picked off second base by Alex Wood. Zimmerman, who jammed his hand diving back to the bag, began arguing in vain with the umpire. Then he looked down at his hand, and perhaps in that moment, as the grimace spread across his face, he wondered why Fortuna had turned her fickle back on him once again.
He’s tattooed the ball when healthy this year—slashing .355/.388/.613 in 31 at-bats—but had to sit a few games with a debilitating shoulder injury that promises to rob his ability to consistently get the ball across the diamond going forward. Because of that chronic impairment, Zimmerman is likely ticketed for first base duties next season. Because of his most recent injury, Danny Espinosa will take over second with Anthony Rendon sliding to the hot corner. Not for nothing, Espinosa has 20/20 talent. If mixed leaguers want to take a chance over the next month, I say go for it.
- Tampa Bay is playing the semantics game while discussing Matt Moore’s infirm left elbow. After Moore left Monday’s game against the Royals early, the Rays downplayed concern, saying the left-hander was just suffering from soreness. An inconclusive MRI led to a call to Dr. James Andrews’ office to book a second-opinion appointment.
Then came a report that Moore had sustained ulnar collateral ligament damage. If the tear is minor, Moore would ostensibly be able to pitch through it—if he can stomach the pain. A more severe tear would score Dr. Andrews a fat commission check for a Tommy John procedure that could sideline Moore until next summer.
But wait! Those tricky Rays are sticking to their storyline that Moore is merely suffering from an elbow strain. Fantasy owners will have to wait this situation out until Moore completes a side session and is evaluated again. The guess here is that his season is over, though Moore owners should use one of their DL roster slots until that news is official.
The Rays picked Cesar Ramos to take Moore’s rotation spot over the veteran Erik Bedard. Ramos will start on Sunday against the Reds. He needs to be owned in all standard AL-only formats. Bedard, meanwhile, was recalled from the minors over the weekend and will be used in long relief initially. Owners in deeper AL-only leagues that employ six-man bullpens should absolutely grab him. If Ramos struggles or Tampa sustains another injury, Bedard would likely be first in line to enter the rotation.
- Avisail Garcia suffered a torn labrum earlier this week and is out for year, a rough turn of events for the White Sox’s intriguing young outfield and AL-only owners alike. GM Rick Hawn assured the public that the 22-year-old’s injury won’t affect his long-term development, but dynasty owners aren’t so easily consoled. Garcia, who hadn’t yet become a mixed league fixture but definitely possesses that upside, posted an .820 OPS through eight games and was beginning to heat up. He should be ready to roll by spring training next year.
AL-only owners have probably by this point missed out on the chance to sign the White Sox’s in-house replacement, Dayan Viciedo. If so, I don’t advocate trading for him. I don’t love the 25-year-old’s fantasy prospects, but he’ll do if you're desperate. Yes, the Cuban smacked 25 homers a few years back, plays in a one-bedroom apartment sized stadium, and is still young, but he regressed to 14 homers last year and has all sorts of problems with same-sided pitching, which is unfortunate because he bats righty.
While we’re on the subject of the White Sox, I’m kicking myself for backing off in the bidding for Jose Abreu in my Reality Baseball dynasty league’s free agency period this winter. Easy 30-homer power, and a far better defender at first than I thought I was going to see based on scouting reports. Fun player to watch, as is Aaron Rowand clone Adam Eaton, another dynasty league target who is super frisky in OBP leagues right this second. You know who isn’t frisky? In any format? Under any circumstances? Jordan Danks.
Bonus Week That Was factoid: The White Sox became the first MLB team since 1969 to start four Cuban players on April 5 when Abreu, Viciedo, Alexei Ramirez and Adrian Nieto adorned the lineup card. If you knew Joe Azcue, Zolio Versalles, Jose Cardenal and Luis Tiant started for the Indians on April 8, 1969... well, why are you reading my work? Go make something of yourself, bub.
- Relief around the league is performing like FEMA right now.
Jim Johnson got kicked out of the ninth inning 3 1/3 innings into his A’s career despite a one-year, $10 million contract. Sean Doolittle and Luke Gregerson are expected to front a dreaded closer’s committee for the time being, with Ryan Cook ostensibly third in line. I don’t recommend dropping Johnson in fantasy leagues, but do as you see fit. You only get one life to live, and in that life, you’ll only be afforded one 2014 fantasy baseball season. Make that season echo for all of eternity.
Jose Veras doesn’t make eight-figures, but he got a longer leash than Johnson and served 3 2/3 innings as the Cubs’ closer before Rick Renteria tired of watching him miss the plate like he was on a hunger strike and then get hammered when he labored a meatball offering over. Even in Chicago, a 12.27 ERA, 2.46 WHIP and 3/7 K/BB ratio just won’t do at the end of ball games. Pedro Strop or Hector Rondon are the dudes to own.
Houston’s bullpen is a hot mess like always. Anthony Bass earned his second save on Saturday night. This is the true committee, however, so it’s nearly impossible to predict whom Bo Porter will tab on any given night—and even harder to know when Houston is going to manage a victory. Josh Fields, Chad Qualls and Kevin Chapman are additional options. Happy shopping!
Edward Mujica is the temporary Red Sox closer as Koji Uehara works through shoulder issues, while Shawn Kelley is closing for the Yankees until David Robertson returns from his groin injury. Mr. Robertson expects to return on April 22. Uehara might be DL bound. You’ll have to monitor this on your own time.
- Last week in this space, while discussing Ryan Braun’s thumb injury, I urged Braun owners to try to find a trade partner ASAP if they could locate someone willing to pay full price. And then, of course, Braun went out and blasted three homers on Tuesday against the Phillies. So I’m going to back off, right? Apologize and repent? Nope! Picture me like Jim Cramer punching one of those Sell buttons: Sell high. Or understand my bias and defy me. I won't be offended. That isn't what this is about. Again, live out your destiny. You are no robot, Braun lover.
- I couldn’t get enough of the Michael Pineda pine tar story. I don’t have much to add, but I’m pleased MLB didn’t suspend the right-hander. Pineda was one of my favorite SP sleepers coming into the season and I felt fortunate to pluck him at No. 302 overall (24th round) in our Rotoworld baseball staff draft. He’s healthy again and has gone 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 12 strikeouts in 12 innings over two starts.
- Taijuan Walker (shoulder) looks great on his rehab tour and will make at least one more outing at Triple-A Tacoma. It’s looking like he’ll beat teammate Hisashi Iwakuma (finger) back to Seattle. Iwakuma’s ETA is either very late this month, or early May.
- Clayton Kershaw (back) pitched off a mound over the weekend for the first time since he hit the disabled list. There’s still no timetable for his return.
- Jose Reyes has been running the bases and will test his hamstring with a minor league rehab assignment beginning in the coming days.
- Cole Hamels (biceps) will rejoin the Phillies' starting rotation on April 22 against the Dodgers.