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Injury Watch: The Beach, The Bay, And Boston

Summer is dead ahead, and today's Injury Watch column takes a look at two players with water-related surnames. I swear, it isn't intentional; sometimes things just work out that way. Today we'll take a look at an injury slowing a young career, another potentially ending a veteran's career, and we'll close things out with a look at the most screwed up outfield situation since, well, the Athletics in Spring Training. Let's get to it!

Brandon Beachy, Braves
Last year, Brandon Beachy astounded scouts and fantasy mavens alike by emerging as a No. 2 or 3 starter during his rookie season. This year, Beachy's K/9 numbers have dipped, but he was still pitching well until a ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear derailed his season. Beachy will see Dr. James Andrews today, but Tommy John surgery is the very likely endgame here. His season is probably done, and if it's the zipper, then he's going to miss a chunk of 2013 as well.

Beachy will probably be immediately replaced in the Atlanta rotation by Jair Jurrjens. My favorite joke about Jurrjens is that he's so good about racking up Js (in his name), that he totally forgets about the Ks. Do you know who you DON'T want on your fantasy team this year?

Jair Jurrjens.

Jurrjens was terrible in four starts at the beginning of this season, then fared little better upon a demotion to Triple-A. The Braves were crazy not to deal him when he had value, and now they're paying the price. I guess what I'm trying to say here is don't add Jair Jurrjens. Don't do it.

But you've gotta replace Beachy with someone, probably. Since Beachy hasn't been a strikeout ninja this season (only 7.56 K/9), you're probably looking to replace his sparkling ERA and WHIP while hoping for a modest number of wins. How about looking at Jarrod Parker of the Oakland Athletics? Parker is posting a great 2.82 ERA so far this season, and is probably available in your league considering he's at 20.1% ownership in ESPN leagues. The thing is, like Beachy, Parker's 5x5 stats don't tell the whole story. A SIERA of 4.61 and xFIP of 4.50 indicate that he's more league-average than world-beater. But pitching in Oakland can lead to some nice matchups, so he's worth a look.

Jason Bay, Mets
On June 15, Jason Bay, fresh off the disabled list, suffered an extremely disheartening injury during a game. Bay, who has struggled in terms of both performance and injury since joining the Mets, suffered another concussion during a collision with an outfield wall, and is still experiencing concussive symptoms. While everyone hopes for the best, this is the sort of lingering injury that could affect Bay on and off the field for an indefinite period of time. I wouldn't expect much, if anything, in terms of Major League performance from Bay in 2012.

If Jason Bay is on your fantasy baseball team, we can assume one of three situations. The first is that you're in an extremely deep league, like an ottoneu or Scoresheet league. The second is that you're playing NL-only. And the third is that you, like Jason Bay, have suffered severe head trauma recently. In any of the first two cases, you may be looking for a replacement. May I suggest another New York outfielder in Kirk Nieuwenhuis?

Now that Bay won't be stealing any of Kirk's playing time, fantasy owners can pencil him in as an unfettered OF in any deep format. So far, Captain Kirk has managed six homers and four steals, but his batting average and runs scored are where he can really help a fantasy squad. Currently, he's hitting a cool .290 and has already scored almost 40 runs a season, despite being owned in less than a quarter of ESPN leagues. While you shouldn't expect Nieuwenhuis to be a world-beater, in his 245 plate appearances this season, he's been about 15% better than league average as a hitter, and that will play in both fantasy and real life.

The Red Sox Outfield
As anyone who vaguely follows the Sox knows, the Red Sox outfield has been a disaster of massive proportions in 2012. Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford got little and no time in the lineup, respectively, so far this season due to injury. Cody Ross has been injured. Marlon Byrd was acquired, then released after being really bad at baseball. Darnell McDonald has been slightly more effective as an emergency pitcher than he has been as a fill-in outfielder. And on June 17, two (TWO!) more Red Sox outfielders left the game with injuries. Ryan Sweeney was placed on the DL with a fractured big toe and Scott Podsednik (who really shouldn't be on an ML roster anyways) joined him on Tuesday with a groin strain.

So...who's left? Well, at least on Tuesday Cody Ross made his return from the 15-day DL...and promptly homered. That's gotta be a sight for sore eyes for both Sox fans and fantasy owners. Ross makes a serviceable fifth OF in most fantasy leagues due to his power, as long as he's got an everyday job. Until Crawford and Ellsbury come back, you can bet that he will.

Also, former Top 100 prospect Ryan Kalish has finally returned to the majors after missing time with neck and shoulder surgery last year. Though Kalish hasn't done much in his two games for Boston so far, he's put up promising numbers in the minors showing gap power and the ability to rack up 20-40 steals over a full season. Kalish is all potential at this point, but expect him to get every opportunity to stick in the Sox outfield. He could be a decent OF option in AL-only and deep or keeper leagues.

Finally, as much as he's a great story, don't invest heavily in Daniel Nava. Nava has posted a phenomenal average and OBP in his time in Boston, and his Triple-A stats suggest he's a decent enough player. But with players like Ross, Kalish, and Sweeney (when he returns) in the outfield, it's hard to imagine that the Sox will try to find a place for Nava. And eventually, Crawford and Ellsbury will return, and it's hard to imagine Nava as the last man standing. But if you've already got him, keep running him out there until that hot bat cools off.

Quick Hits: Ryan Dempster is hitting the DL with a right latissimus dorsi strain, and he may not be back until early July. DO NOT DROP HIM. He's been good enough to stash on your DL unless you're crazily desperate. ... Yoenis Cespedes still is out of the lineup with a nagging hamstring injury, missing the whole last week with this ailment. If you play in a weekly league, I'd sit Yoenis until he's played a few full games in the field, but I'd expect him back this weekend.  ... The Rays will be without Evan Longoria for a bit longer(ia) as the All-Star 3B was pulled from a rehab game yesterday. There's no timetable for his return from a hamstring tear, but the good news is that Longo says that this is not a "re-injury." ... Freddy Galvis will have plenty of time to recover from his back fracture while serving a 50-game suspension for using a banned substance.


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