Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: A Look Around the League

by Howard Bender on April 25, 2013

heyward1It’s time again to go through the league and highlight some things that are going on in Major League Baseball that are expected to have a significant impact on the fantasy baseball world. Between the rash of injuries, the hot and cold starts to the season and other positional shake-ups, there’s plenty to consider when you’re making moves on the waiver wire and talking trade with your fellow owners. In similar fashion to last week, we’ll take a tour around the league and hit on as many of the important, “need to know” facts and scenarios that should be prominent in your mind when evaluating your team and making decisions.

American League

AL East

Boston Red Sox

Your window of opportunity to trade Andrew Bailey and receive some value in return is rapidly closing. Joel Hanrahan is getting ready to start his Triple-A rehab assignment and will be back in the closer’s role as soon as he’s ready. While Bailey has pitched well and has four saves over his last five appearances, the Sox are going to hand the job back over the Hanrahan. Still, you might be able to find someone in your league who still believes in Bailey, so it can’t hurt to fish around.

Toronto Blue Jays

Check out the piece I just did over at FanGraphs regarding Rajai Davis and Adam Lind. They’ll be platooning at the DH spot again and if you’ve got the room on your bench and play in a league with daily roster moves then you can use them together in a platoon and get a solid power/speed combo which is likely better than anything you’ll find on your waiver wire at this point in time.

AL Central

Detroit Tigers

This is probably the biggest news right now as the Tigers are bringing back Papa Grande. That’s right…after cutting ties with Jose Valverde in the offseason, the Tigers bullpen has been a mess, forcing them to come crawling back. Rookie Bruce Rondon was having control issues, Phil Coke couldn’t get anybody out in the ninth and manager Jim Leyland kept going on and on about how he wants/needs Joaquin Benoit in the eight inning but if he had to let him close he would. So they signed Valverde to a minor league deal and after three appearances at Single-A, the Tigers are more than ready to welcome him home. He’ll be in uniform and closing by the end of this week and if he’s available in your league, you should pick him up ASAP.

Chicago White Sox

With Gordon Beckham recovering from surgery to remove the broken hamate bone, the Sox have been using Jeff Keppinger at second and Conor Gillaspie over at the hot corner. While Gillaspie has been a solid plug and play guy, batting .326 with his first home run yesterday, Keppinger has done a complete 180 from what he usually does. All of a sudden he’s striking out a bunch and posting poor contact rates. Check out this piece a colleague of mine did on him and you’ll understand why he should be avoided.

Cleveland Indians

Please, for the love of….well, anything…recognize that Scott Kazmir’s awful debut was more truth and reality than it was fluke and aberration. If someone is trying to sell you on him, put your fantasy wallet back in your pocket. You want no part of him. Jason Kipnis, on the other hand, looks like a great buy-low candidate right now.

Kansas City Royals

Buy: Mike Moustakas

Sell: Eric Hosmer

Stash: Danny Duffy

AL West

Seattle Mariners

Manager Eric Wedge called Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino into his office and informed them that their roles, from this point forth, have been swapped. Andino is the new starting shortstop and Ryan is the new utility man. Neither have any massive fantasy value, but Andino, with a full-time job could be a decent guy for batting average and runs scored if they hit him high enough in the order.

Also, Jesus Montero has been bumped down into a platoon with Kelly Shoppach recently, so if you were using him as your primary backstop, a change is in order. There could be a lot more with this as the Mariners aren’t really in dire need of his success. Obviously they’d love to see him succeed, but if they can platoon him with Shoppach for the time being and then get Mike Zunino up from Triple-A, Montero could end up expendable. As an owner, myself, I wouldn’t mind a change of scenery for him anyway.

Houston Astros

This is specifically for deeper leagues, but with J.D. Martinez and Justin Maxwell hitting the DL this week, Rick Ankiel gets a slight bump in value, at least on a short-term basis. They’ll also be using Fernando Martinez and Brandon Barnes, but I’d rather use Ankiel over either of them. Meanwhile, the demotion of Brett Wallace puts Carlos Pena at first full-time and while his batting average may suck, he can certainly hit the long ball.

National League

NL East

Atlanta Braves

With Freddie Freeman returning from the DL, Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco are headed back to their platoon at third base. Johnson, in particular, has been playing extremely well and has seen his ownership percentages rise dramatically over the past week, but it’s all for naught as there simply isn’t room for both guys to start.

A brutal loss for fantasy owners as Jason Heyward underwent an emergency appendectomy the other day and is on the shelf now for at least a few weeks. Hard to say exactly how long he’ll be out, but even if he comes back quickly, he won’t be effective early on as swinging a bat is likely to be quite cumbersome for a guy who just went under the knife. A platoon of Jordan Schafer and Reed Johnson will be used, but if you just lost Heyward, neither guy…..or even both guys, for that matter….is going to help you. Look elsewhere for some outfield help.

Philadelphia Phillies

If you are looking for catcher help, like so many Montero owners are, then check to see if Carlos Ruiz is still available on your waiver wire. He is set to come back from his suspension on April 28 and he will assume full-time duties behind the plate and likely hit in the middle of the order. I don’t see him hitting as well as he did last year, but he should be a solid option.

Washington Nationals

Yet another DL stint for Ryan Zimmerman here and it’s driving fantasy owners absolutely nuts. At least it’s not his shoulder again, but he’s going to need to take his time healing so we don’t have to deal with hamstring issues all season long. Rookie Anthony Rendon has been called up to take his place and while the hype is big on him, I don’t know if i would trust such a greenhorn with my starting third base job. Find me a veteran like Greg Dobbs or someone…

NL Central

Chicago Cubs

First there was Carlos Marmol. Then there was Kyuji Fujikawa. Then there was Shawn Camp and James Russell. None of them were able to nail down the closer’s job. Enter veteran Kevin Gregg who closed out his first game for the Cubs on Tuesday. Remember Gregg? Used to close for the Orioles before Jim Johnson? Notched 23 saves for the Cubs back in ’09? We’ll have to see if manager Dale Sveum continues to use him, but right now, he’s probably been the most effective guy in the pen to date. I still expect Fujikawa to get another crack at it when he comes off the DL, but Gregg could really be an interesting dark horse candidate here.

Cincinnati Reds

The moment Devin Mesoraco owners have all been waiting for has finally arrived. With Ryan Hanigan hitting the DL, Mesoraco gets to handle primary backstop responsibilities and should finally start seeing enough consistent at-bats to really get himself going. I’d pick him up and take him for a test drive just to see. If you’re in a two-catcher league, surely you can afford to swap out your secondary guy just for a look see.

NL West

Los Angeles Dodgers

The pitching staff is taking quite the beating here. First there was Zack Greinke and the broken collarbone, then his replacement Chris Capuano got hurt, Clayton Kershaw hasn’t looked like himself at all this season and now Chad Billingsley is heading for Tommy John surgery. You’re not winning nothin’ with Josh Beckett as your most successful starter…

That’s about it for today. Be sure to check out my other stuff around the web and if you’re on Facebook, be sure to stop by and ‘like’ the page.



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