Friday, August 24, 2012

Fantasy Friday: Injury Edition

   TGIFF! (Thank God it's Fantasy Friday!) If you are like me, it has been a long week full of weird happenings in baseball. The Rays apparently cannot lose, the Nationals have a tough decision to make re: Steven Strasburg, something something Mike Trout something something, etc. We are getting near September call-up time, probably the theme for next week's Fantasy Friday, and the new wildcard playoff format is leading to some exciting playoff races. All in all, baseball is giving us another incredible season. Even with all the excitement, it is easy as a fantasy owner to be frustrated with all the injuries hitting your team. After the jump, I will look at a handful of players who are on the DL and how you should react to that problem.
    Firstly, if you are in a deep keeper-league, then this is probably not a great post for you. After all, what is a few weeks when you are able to hold that player for seasons to come? Generally (note the emphasis) speaking, I don't move injured players on my keeper team unless I see something else wrong with them.
     That being said, and this applies to everyone, get to know your injuries. Some problems are one time events that are easy to recover from, while others cause structural damage and lead to further issues. This is why I do not trust Josh Johnson to stay healthy, but am totally ok with taking a risk on a post-Tommy John pitcher.
     With that out of the way, it is time to get all nerdy up in here, much like the fantasy baseball scene in "Knocked Up", only with less bad plot-lines and much less smoking. I will start with players soon to come off the DL and then players with special cases.

Coming Off DL Soon:
1. Adam Lind, Blue Jays. Sources have him coming back next week, and with Toronto's horrible rash of injuries, his rehab might get pushed up even faster. I highly doubt he will be a huge asset for any team, aside from an incredibly deep AL-only league. He continues to display impatience and leads to a lot of strikeouts (career 19.7% K rate) and while he has ISO power (career 0.197), he simply does not seem to exhibit a consistent ability to hit the ball. Considering since 2011 he has played in a combined 183 games, I would tread carefully. Back injuries can flair up again and again; I highly doubt he has seen his last disabled list.

2. Pete Burjos, Angels. It sounds like a September return for the speedy outfielder. He definitely adds a valuable speed component to fantasy teams, but even when he comes back, don't expect a ton of playing time. Remember: this is the team with Mike Effing Trout, Torii "I'm Old But Still Good" Hunter, and Mark "People Should Talk About Me More" Trumbo. Consistent playing time will be an issue.

3. J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays. Seriously, how 'snake bitten' can the Jays be? He is set to join the club around September 1st due to his broken hand healing a week ahead of schedule. I would count this as a freak injury, would not expect this is inhibit his playing, especially if he can DH some. In 81 games this year he is slashing 0.242/0.279/0.466. Not incredible numbers, but he is good enough that any playoff contention team might want to consider adding him now if you can. He is only owned by ~ 37% of Yahoo! leagues, so chances are you may be able to use him as a utility or second catcher.

Major Owies:
1. Carlos Ruiz, Phillies. He could come back as early as the second week of September, but considering the Phillies lack of playoff chances, it is conceivable that Philly will wait to make sure he is super-healthy before he joins the club. Note: my source in the Phillies Front Office won't comment on that conjecture, so read into that what you will. He is obviously having a great season, so keep tabs on him and perhaps pick him up if an owner was foolish enough to cut him. His injury is plantar faciitis, which for him is alright due to the fact he can't get much slower.

2. Joey Votto, Reds. He is still out with an uncertain timeline for returning. That being said, if he is a free agent in your league, you are in a terrible league. Enough said.

3. Brett Lawrie, Michael Cuddyer, Brett Gardner. All three have strange situations. All three could possibly miss the rest of the season. All three could play in mid-late September. All three are definitely worth keeping tabs on and picking up if available (and in most leagues they are). Lawrie recently had a rehab problem (of the injury kind, not of the substance abuse variety) so keep that in mind.

Overall, the waiver wire is usually littered with players on the disabled list for various reasons. Do research on what the injury is and how soon they could return. Not all injuries are the same; do not be foolish enough to treat them like they are. This is one area where alert owners can find market inefficiencies and get good talent for cheap. As always, let me know if you have any fantasy questions: Twitter (@timnicodemus) or in the comments section.

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