Thor Nystrom

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Memorial Day for a Prince

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Happy Memorial Day, faithful reader.  I hope you’re outside right now, awkwardly conversing with that one family member you haven’t seen in years and have nothing in common with, all while pretending that you aren’t sweating bullets trying to figure out what, exactly, you’re supposed to do now that Prince Fielder has gone to Fantasy Heaven. Memorial Day is one of the days I’ve associated with baseball ever since I was a kid.  While my family would be lugging around the cooler and arguing over which lake we should visit, I would be screening all that out—I never was much help when it came to unloading of the car—to listen to whatever game was being broadcast on ESPN Radio (usually the Yankees).  For a kid, the day was magic.  It always felt like the Official Start of Summer. School out for the year, a lake on the horizon and a ballgame playing in the car.  It was like I was living in an idealized 1950’s childhood, except I had a Game Boy, and Nirvana was tearing up the charts rather than Elvis. Memorial Day still brings out those feelings of childish nostalgia, but now your dedicated correspondent has a cell phone that can show baseball games (my child-self would probably freak out to see that), graduated from root beer to the real thing (I once accidentally drank beer as a kid and thought it tasted horrible, thus proving that the tastes of children are limited at best) and is occasionally even allowed to handle the grill (since the dawn of time, the kitchen has not been a good environment for your WTW correspondent and I’m still incredibly liable to ruin food).  I’ll attempt not to accidentally burn down WTW headquarters while flipping burgers and listening to Yankees-Cardinals on Monday, but no promises. It’s an iffy proposition. I’m not the best guy to be put in charge of things of higher temperatures and baseball on the radio has a special hypnotic quality that could lead to disaster.  Stay safe, readers.


Speaking of fire, my condolences to anybody whose lineup just got burned to the ground because they happened to own Prince Fielder.  I’m one of them, unfortunately. Fielder is set to have “cervical fusion surgery” to repair a herniated disc in his neck.  This is a case where even the surgery name sounds scary and potentially career-threatening. If Prince wants to accentuate the positive, he should look no further than Peyton Manning, who underwent multiple neck surgeries and bounced back to throw a billion touchdowns.  For fantasy owners, that’s little consolation.  Fielder is expected to miss the rest of the regular season.  It’s not like Fielder was ripping it up prior to this devastating injury (.247/.360/.360), but it’s a bat that you can’t really replace. Actually, one note of consolation:  At least you aren’t the Rangers, who are on the hook for Fielder’s massive contract through 2020.


If you’re wondering whose bat will be put in the now-gaping hole left in Fielder’s wake, a nation must turn its lonely eyes to Mitch Moreland, however much a nation does not want to do that. He’s been getting consistent ABs for Texas and has actually hit about on-par (.275/.325/.413) with Fielder this season—granted, we’re talking about a Fielder who has been sapped of much of his power by a debilitating neck injury, but still. He’s almost certainly available in your league right now if you’re desperate for a replacement. Just scouring through my ten team AL-only league, I’m seeing the likes of Chris Colabello, C.J. Cron, and Mike Carp available. It’s just not good.


  • To cheerier news for this holiday weekend, Stephen Drew signed a one-year (or what remains of 2014, anyway) $10 million deal with Boston this week, ending a months-long game of chicken with the team.  Drew’s agent, Scott Boras, was seeking a multi-year deal in free agency, having turned down the $14 million qualifying offer that Boston initially made. No such multi-year deal materialized. Drew’s going to spend the next week to two weeks in the minors to get back up to speed. After that, he’ll be starting in Boston at SS with Xander Bogaerts shifting to third.  While Drew’s more like the potato chips on this weekend’s picnic table, rather than the hamburger or hot dog, he’s still a legitimate bat at a thin position. Should be owned in AL-only leagues and at least considered in mixed leagues, depending on how deep your league is.  Now if we could just get somebody talking to Boras about Kendrys Morales. I’ll be the millionth columnist to point out that the Rangers desperately need a first baseman! Obviously, if you’re a Fielder owner in need of immediate help, Morales does nothing for you (even if he were to sign tomorrow, he would probably need the same kind of minor league assignment Stephen Drew is currently on), but keep him in mind for the future. Unfortunately, “a bunch of columnists speculating” doesn’t equate to actual news, but my guess is that Morales is going to sign soon enough, whether it’s with Texas or somebody else.  After June 5th’s draft, he’ll no longer cost teams a draft pick


  • With Corey Hart on the DL with a hamstring issue, the Mariners have called up Nick Franklin.  Franklin should have every chance to play while Hart is out—hopefully he makes the most of that. Robinson Cano will keep the everyday second-base duties, but should Franklin impress, he’ll have a chance to stick on the roster. Franklin was crushing the ball at AAA Tacoma (.376/.481/.633). It might feel like Nick Franklin has been in your life for years (no?  That’s just me?), but he’s still just 23, and there’s fantasy upside should Franklin put everything together. Hart’s most likely going to be out until late June, so we’re talking about a solid chunk of playing time available for Franklin to make his mark.


Speed Round! 


  • Here’s a case of patience paying off.  It’s probably a bit late to tell you to jump on Corey Kluber, but he STILL isn’t owned in 100% of all leagues, and if he happens to be floating around in yours, jump like you’re leaping off the back of the boat to do that awkward cannonball that Mom always told you was fine while in reality she was dreading the prospect of you leaping into water so soon after eating. Kluber blanked the Orioles on Saturday, striking out nine in seven innings. That makes six of his last seven starts with at least eight Ks. 


  • Atlanta’s Chris Johnson was pulled from Friday’s game for throwing a tantrum after a strikeout in the second inning.  Johnson, who just recently signed a three-year extension, is currently scuffling along at .265 with just one homer and nine RBI this season.  I would be yelling at me, too, if I was Chris Johnson


  • Carlos Gonzalez left Wednesday’s game with inflammation in his left index finger. He hasn’t come back since, and if he’s out much longer is probably going to hit the DL.


  • Barring a setback, Jason Kipnis is set to rejoin the Indians for their series against Chicago next week.


  • White Sox closer Matt Lindstrom is expected to miss three months following surgery to repair his left ankle.  Chicago’s closing job has been a bit of a bear trap this season, with both Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom on the shelf, now. I would say “Good luck, Ronald Belisario,” but Belisario is doing his best to play himself out of the job less than a week into it.  Having been gifted with the first three post-Lindstrom save opportunities, Belisario has given up runs in each one, culminating in a disastrous Saturday performance in which he failed to hold a three-run lead against the Yankees. It wouldn’t shock me if manager Robin Ventura turned this black hole of a position into the fantasy owner’s worst friend:  A committee.  Potential candidates for the ninth include the likes of Scott Downs, Daniel Webb and Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka.  My money’s on Webb, but it’s a very very small amount of money.   


  • Fresh off the DL, Ryan Braun left Thursday’s game with a tight oblique, but was back in the lineup on Saturday. Cross yer fingers that this doesn’t turn into a season long game of “Oh, I’m injured, oh wait, no I’m not, wait, tricked you, yes I am.” Braun has history on his side, at least, having missed only 38 games in his career to the DL.


  • In Disappointing Demotion of the Week news, Mike Moustakas was sent down on Thursday.  He batted a paltry .152/.223/.320 prior to the demotion. Your humble columnist is a big fan of banking on potential in all areas of life, but sometimes, the skies darken and you must scurry for shelter under the Awning of Crushed Hopes.  He’s only 25, but it’s a major setback for one of those guys who we’ve all been waiting to burst out into the sun.


  • We’ll wrap this up with another sad (albeit strange) thing that happened to the Rangers: Jurickson Profar reinjured his shoulder while rolling over in his sleep. Sometimes the jokes write themselves. Profar probably isn’t coming back until at least after the All Star Break, if he comes back at all, and while the Rangers are optimistic that he’s not going to need surgery, it’s going to be a long haul. Feel free to drop him if you’re running out of DL spots.


In a final note, I would be remiss if I did not wish a happy 73rd birthday to Bob Dylan.  Here at WTW headquarters, the likes of Kendrick and Kanye are usually bumping on the speakers, but Dylan is my Minnesota homeboy and I would probably be deported from the state if I did not mention him in The Week That Was.  Enjoy the long weekend, reader. Try not to burn down the joint.                   

Thor Nystrom is a Rotoworld contributor on the MLB and NFL Draft sections. Follow him on Twitter @thorku.
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