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Injury Watch: The Great Canadian Power Outage

This week's Injury Watch is destined to focus on MVP-caliber players who will be missing time due to serious injury. Both players have strong ties to the Great White North, and both players will have their teams scrambling to find replacements. On the fantasy side, these are the type of players that you simply can't replace, but I'll do my best to find you someone who can fit the bill until they return.

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

I'm not a Jays fan, but this is a particularly disappointing injury. Due to Bautista's circuitous route to superstardom, I'm especially disappointed by the prospect of the ML's pre-eminent home run hitter missing time in the prime of his resurrected career. Joey Bats injured his left wrist while swinging during Monday's game against the Yankees. Bautista has been diagnosed with what's called "inflammation" by his team, and has already been placed on the 15-day DL. X-rays and and MRI confirmed that there's no fracture in the wrist, but Jose felt a "popping" sensation while swinging, and the exact nature of the injury is still unknown at this time.

Losing Bautista can cripple a fantasy team that depends on the powerful hitter, much the same way that it will be a serious blow to Toronto. Worst of all, some wrist injuries zap a player's power even after they return to the lineup, which means that Bautista could be feeling the effects of this unfortunate accident all the way through to the end of 2012.

As always, we can look to the built-in injury replacement, which is Blue Jays callup Anthony Gose. Gose is a high-profile, high-ranking prospect, but he's not exactly the power hitter Joey Bats is. Truthfully, I harbor little to no hope that Gose will be a good fantasy fit for 2012. Unless you are truly desperate for steals, give Gose a miss and look for an option that might give you more production across multiple categories. But keep an eye on Gose for 2013 and beyond, he's got tools like a Home Depot.

Instead, go with someone that the 2010 version of myself would have avoided like the plague: Brennan Boesch. Boesch can be had in 78% of ESPN leagues, and is in the process of regressing his season line to something more like what should be expected of a player like him, rather than the unmitigated disaster that was the first half of his season. Boesch has some pop, and living in Detroit's lineup means that there's a reasonable chance for him to stack up context-based stats like runs and RBIs when the offense is rolling. He won't replace Bautista's production -- if you want that you'd better go trade for Ryan Braun or something -- but he could be a nice fit until Joey Bats returns from his injury. (Note: if you play in an OBP league, forget everything I just wrote, skip Boesch, and go with someone like Daniel Nava instead.)

Joey Votto, Reds

I'd argue that no player is more integral to the success or failure of his team at this very moment than Joey Votto (though Andrew McCutchen probably has a case as well). The Reds are a solid squad, but Votto has been the second-best pure hitter in baseball in 2012 (again, McCutchen!) with a remarkable 183 wRC+ and a triple slash line of .342/.465(!)/.604. To put that in perspective two things: (1) that wRC+ number means that Votto is 83% better than league average at hitting, which is INSANE and (2) that triple slash looks a lot like Barry Bonds's career slash line. Joey be hittin'. Joey Votto makes Mike Trout look like Robert Fish. Joey makes House Party look like House Party 2.

So yeah, the fact that Votto has a torn meniscus in his right knee, and should miss about a month of time as a result of Tuesday's surgery, means that the Reds are losing one of the most fearsome hitters in all of baseball, and their lineup will suffer for it. A meniscus tear isn't the big deal that an ACL tear is, but it could cause him to lose a little power once he's able to come back, if the slugger isn't healed up 100%. Travis Hafner recently had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and missed a little over a month, but Lance Berkman looks to miss 8-10 weeks with his knee injury. Personally, I'd look at a little over a month for Votto as a reasonable time to miss, given how little we know about the injury or if Votto will need a long rehab assignment.

If you own Votto in a fantasy league, at least there is one silver lining for you: first base is a pretty stacked position. My favorite add right now is Adam Lind, who is owned in about a quarter of ESPN leagues. Lind is in the midst of a sizzling hot streak, posting a wOBA of .438 in July to go with a .341 batting average to go with three HR and 11 RBI. Get in while the getting is good on Lind, because his performance is likely to regress back to his career numbers. I've thought that Adam Lind couldn't be as bad as he has been in 2011 and at the beginning of this season, and he's probably not, but keep your expectations low, and don't be afraid to swap him out for another 1B once his roller coaster of a season goes for another dip.

Quick Hits: BONUS CANADIAN! Jason Bay is finally off the 7-day concussion DL, and should see regular playing time in left field for the Mets. The bad news? A healthy Jason Bay isn't very good anymore. Avoid him. ... David Ortiz looks to miss at least a week of time with a strain in his right heel. He'll wear a walking boot, and should be another blow to an injury-prone Red Sox squad. ... The White Sox will lose Gavin Floyd to the DL with right elbow tendinitis. While there's not any indication that Floyd has any sort of structural damage, elbow issues cause many fans and fantasy owners to catch their breath. ... Matt Capps hit the DL with a shoulder issue, which is probably a good thing for Twins fans and fantasy mavens looking for confirmation about his role change. Glen Perkins and Jared Burton might still share closing duties, but I expect Perkins to get more looks.  ... Scary news about Mets starter Dillon Gee: the doctors treating his right arm injury couldn't even find a pulse in the arm the day after his final pre-ASG start. ... Sergio Santos is out for the year, making me feel extra-stupid about drafting him in every fantasy league I was in this season.


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