Not bad last week. Need some more wins. This week's Fantasy Baseball primer comes from Mr. Karl de Vries at the Hardball Times. The title says "4/7 - 4/13" but that is an error since he talks about the recent injuries to Wilson Ramos and Matt Kemp and the inevitable suckitude of Yoenis.
Don't hurt yourselves running to add Fuentes.
It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We'll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I've missed anything important, please don't hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
• Here’s hoping Wilson Ramos’ 2013 season turns out better than his 2012; from the kidnapping incident over the offseason to the torn ACL he suffered in his right knee, it’s been a season to forget for the Nationals’ catcher. Fantasy-wise, Saturday’s bad news was definitely disappointing, since Ramos offered double-digit home runs at a thin position, and could have helped the team offset the injuries dealt to Michael Morse and Jayson Werth. Now, he’s essentially useless for the rest of the season, as one imagines the Nationals won’t rush him back as he recovers from surgery, leaving a spot open for Jesus Flores to grab regular playing time.
• After being bothered by a left hamstring issue all week, Matt Kemp was pulled from Sunday’s game in what the team described as an “irritated left hamstring,” which doesn’t sound all that bad. Then again, hamstring injuries have a tendency to linger, and if the team was a bit too aggressive in making sure their star center fielder played all last week, one would think the team would be a bit more cautious in week seven. We’ll learn more about the injury’s seriousness in the next couple of days, but owners with deep benches might consider benching the MVP candidate this week.
• The laws of baseball physics demanded Yoenis Cespedes would come back down to earth after his scorching start to the year, but it’s been an especially sluggish May for the outfielder, who’s hitting .227 with no home runs or stolen bases so far this month. Now the 26-year-old has landed on the disabled list with a strained left hand, prompting the team to call up prospect Michael Taylor from Triple-A.
• Desmond Jennings’ sprained left knee, which ruined his productivity in week six, doesn’t seem to be getting all that much better as the Rays still mull the possibility of placing him on the disabled list. Consider him a risky start for the upcoming scoring period.
• Already frustrating fantasy owners with a .158 average and a league-leading 41 strikeouts, Rickie Weeks didn’t play this past weekend as he was dealing with a bruised left wrist suffered after he was hit by a pitch on Saturday. An X-ray showed no fracture, which is good, but he’s been so abysmal so far this year that owners might as well find a replacement this week anyway, given the chance he’ll be bothered by the injury over the next few days.
• Danny Duffy was pulled shortly after the beginning of Sunday’s start against the White Sox with what manager Ned Yost described as left elbow tightness, which is similar to what he went through last month, but the southpaw is scheduled to undergo a MRI later today. Duffy and his mid-90s heat has some significant upside in fantasy, but be leery of starting him this week until more information about the extent of the injury becomes known.
• Keep an eye on Dan Haren, who’s been dealing with a stiff lower back that was blamed for his rough start last week in which he failed to get out of the fourth inning.
• Mark Reynolds insists his oblique strain isn’t serious, but the Orioles went ahead and placed him on the 15-day DL anyway, calling up Bill Hall in his place.
• A sore left shoulder has landed Scott Rolen back on the DL. This was the same shoulder for which he underwent surgery last year.
• The Kenley Jansen era has officially begun in Los Angeles, as Don Mattingly bumped up the fireballer to replace Javy Guerra in the Dodgers' ninth inning. Jansen, 24, offers enormous strikeout potential and is playing for one of the best teams in the National League, which qualifies him as a potential No. 1 closer and someone to get active in all leagues.
• Remember how Chris Sale was being moved from the rotation to the bullpen to save White Sox games (and his elbow)? Well that plan has been called off, apparently, as the team has decided to keep him in the rotation after all. Although he got smacked around on Saturday, a MRI showed no damage in his left elbow, so hopefully it won’t take too long for him to regain the form that made him one of the best young pitchers to emerge thus far in 2012. The team’s decision, of course, once again leaves open Chicago’s ninth innings, though I suspect the days of Addison Reed (13 games, .800 WHIP, 12.6 K/9, no earned runs allowed) assuming the throne of closer are not too far away.
• It didn’t take much of a clairvoyant leap to assume Grant Balfour’s job was in jeopardy after his rough start to 2012, and lo and behold, he’s now been demoted to middle-relief duty as Brian Fuentes returns to the league of closers. With Fuentes, you know what you’re getting: a guy with more than 200 career saves and a career 9.4 K/9, but also a reputation for combustibility. If you need saves, he’s the guy in Oakland to target, but definitely a No. 2 closer and a guy who by no means has the job locked down long-term.
• So much for the closer career of Steve Cishek, who once again will take a back seat to Heath Bell in the Marlins’ bullpen. Still, Bell wasn’t all that good on Sunday, nearly earning the loss before the Marlins rallied to win the game, so it’s by no means clear whether he’s put the awful start to his 2012 behind him.
Karl de Vries is a New Jersey-based writer and journalist who prefers following fantasy baseball to watching his hapless Mets embarrass themselves on TV every night. He can be reached at karl[dot]rotodiamond[at]gmail.com or followed on Twitter at @Karl_de_Vries.