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Fantasy Baseball: Waiver Wire –Play Through the Pain

How to stay on top when injuries wreak havoc


Sometimes in fantasy baseball a weird phenomenon occurs every so often that brings us closer to the reality of the game we love so dearly. No matter how many numbers we crunch, projections we listen to or how many games we watch, there’s always that one common denominator that detaches us from our fantasy baseball team: injuries. Think about it. If you knew for certain Kevin Youkilis (BOS-1B,3B) would play his last games of the 2010 season by August, would you have drafted him or even acquired him through trade? Of course not.

Injuries cripple major league teams just as injuries of a high draft pick could ruin your run at a fantasy baseball championship. So the question here is what are the owners of Ryan Howard (PHI-1B), Justin Morneau (MIN-1B), Carlos Santana (CLE-C), Jake Peavy (CHW-SP) and possibly every starting position from the Boston Red Sox this season to do when the anchor to their team is rotting on the DL?

Firstly, the distraught owner must come to grips with the injury and collect your thoughts long enough to offer Ryan


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Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard grimaces after spraining his ankle when he slid into second base during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010, in Washington. (AP Photo/Drew Angerer)

Howard for Carlos Silva and a washing machine. Yes, injuries occur and usually every fantasy manager has their fair share of injuries to deal with each season (Ahem, 2009 Mets). The best way to address your injury problem is to gauge how long your star will be out for and determine based on the length and severity of the injury, to decide which player on the wire is best to pick up since you’ve freed up a roster spot by utilizing a DL spot, depending on your league settings of course.

We’ll go around the horn and look at suitable replacements for your injury riddle superstars. Have no fear fantasy owners, pick your head up and keep playing through the pain.

Percentage of players available taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues

FIRST BASE/THIRD BASE

1B/3B-Notable Injuries: Ryan Howard (sprained left ankle; eligible to return from DL on Aug. 17th), Kevin Youkilis (muscle tear, right thumb; out for the season), Justin Morneau (concussion; no timetable set for return), Pablo Sandoval (will the real Kung Fu Panda please stand up?; no timetable set), Aramis Ramirez (sore thumb; in lineup, production bottoming at career lows)

Gaby Sanchez (FLA-1B): 33 percent owned- With all the world salivating to catch a glimpse of Washington flamethrower Stephen Strasburg or Atlanta’s Jason Heyward, it’s been Florida’s own Gaby Sanchez that’s most worthy of the NL Rookie of the Year award among one of the deepest draft classes in years. 2010 brought us Strasburg, Heyward, San Francisco’s Buster Posey, Sanchez’s teammate and super prospect, Florida Marlins Mike Stanton along with the rise of the consensus number one prospect according to Baseball America, Domonic Brown of the Philadelphia Phillies. Gaby Sanchez has flown severely under the radar and it reflects in his fantasy ownership, just at a meager 33 percent despite ranking 2nd in batting average (.294), 3rd in home runs (12), 2nd in runs batted in (52) and 3rd in on base percentage (.355) among major league rookies. If you’re in need of a solid 1B option to pass time over until your superstar returns, look no further than the widely available Gaby Sanchez.

Chris Johnson (HOU-3B): 30 percent owned- The Astros ushered a new era by trading faces of the franchise Roy Oswalt to the Phillies and Lance Berkman to the Yankees at the trading deadline. As the Astros look the rebuild a franchise that hasn’t reached the playoffs since their World Series appearance in 2005, third baseman Chris Johnson has provided hope by swinging an atomic hot bat, swinging his way into the hearts of fantasy owners in need of a corner infielder. Since the all-star break, Johnson has hit the cover off the ball, lacing 28 hits in 65 ABs (.431 AVG) while knocking in 20 runs with five long balls. He’s one of the hottest bats in baseball and one of the hardest positions to fill if you have an elite player there, is the 3B position. Lock up Johnson and ride his hot streak until your fallen hero rises from the DL ashes.

SECOND BASE/SHORTSTOP

2B/SS-Notable Injuries:  Chase Utley (right thumb surgery; expected to return around Aug. 26th), Ian Kinsler (left groin strain; eligible to return from the DL on Aug. 12th), Dustin Pedroia (broken left foot; expected to return early August), Martin Prado (fractured right pinky; placed on 15-day DL retroactive to July 31st).

Houston Astros' Jeff Keppinger (8) is safe at third base for a triple as Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee reaches for the tag in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, Aug. 1, 2010, in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

Jeff Keppinger (HOU-2B,3B,SS): 31 percent owned- One of the lone veterans on a rebuilding Astros club has been providing useful peripherals with the luxury of multi-position eligibility. If the ability to plug the veteran in any middle or corner infield spot isn’t enough, take a look at Keppinger’s numbers in the month of July: 30/85 (.353 AVG), 4 HR, 11 RBI, .433 OBP. Keppinger is one of the many super-utility men on the wire that could hold down the middle infield for Chase Utley or Ian Kinsler owners praying for speedy recoveries.

Omar Infante (ATL-2B,3B,SS,OF): 17 percent owned- The All-Star utility man has jumped five percent in ownership since the last time he appeared, much to do directly with Martin Prado missing time with a fractured right pinky. Although Prado is expected to return by the end of August, manager Bobby Cox has chosen Infante to replace Prado in the meantime and the production resulting from the playing time has been Martin Prado-esque. In his last eight games, Infante has compiled multi-hit games in seven of the eight games, while avoiding a strikeout in his last 36 ABs. If you’re looking for an infielder that gets on base, hits for average and scores runs at a shallower price, please embrace Martin Prado Jr. until the real Prado returns to the Braves lineup.

CATCHER

Notable Injuries: Russell Martin (labral tear in right hip; likely out for the season), Carlos Santana (left knee surgery; out for the season), John Buck (right thumb laceration; 15-day DL as of August 5th)

J.P. Arencibia (TOR-C): 5 percent owned- The Jays promoted highly touted catching prospect after All-Star catcher John Buck suffered a cut on his right thumb from an A-Rod foul tip. Arencibia tore AAA pitching apart, slugging 31 homers and driving in 79 runs and the former 1st rounder from Tennessee will make his major league debut while Buck recovers from his thumb injury. It will be interesting to see if Arcencibia’s power will translate on the big league level and owners looking to catch lightning and thunder in a bottle, take a chance on J.P.’s power.

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