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Stock Watch: Injury Replacement Gold Mine

The stats are still meaningless at this point, but if your rosters look anything like mine do, you know you've got changes that have to be made. Between slumps, injuries, and brawls, it seems like fantasy cornerstones are dropping like flies. The only good news to be found is that for every player who goes down another must invariably rise in his place--giving us the opportunity to shake our own rosters up.

Too bad fantasy managers can't kick-start a player's performance by threatening the minor leagues....

Trade

Roy Halladay, SP, PHI
For me, it's still too early to give up on a slumping vet that you used a high draft pick on. Is Roy Halladay tanking my team in the MLBTR league? Oh yeah. (He's in good company there, though.) Am I going to ship him off for peanuts? Nope. I'm not incredibly optimistic, and neither are some scouts, but I just can't cut that investment yet. In fact, I recommend buying low on him. A frustrated owner might be willing to give you a good deal, especially if his or her team happened to starting Jose Reyes, Ryan Ludwick, Zack Greinke, or anyone else afflicted by injuries. Just, you know...don't pay a lot.

Todd Frazier, 3B/1B, CIN
You know what's great to do? Trade for a breakout player on a down week. He rocked the fantasy world in week one, clubbing three homers, but he hasn't done much of anything in Week 2. Maybe his owner was high on him to start with, in which case you'll have to pry Frazier out of his manager's cold, dead fingers, but maybe he was a late-round flyer. In the latter case, you might be able to get someone thinking they're selling high right as Frazier's value takes a downturn. Let 'em think that, because Frazier is still a great candidate for a strong year.

Josh Reddick, OF, OAK
I'll freely admit that Reddick might well be a half-year-wonder type of player. After all, his production tailed off significantly in the second half of 2012, and he's off to a pretty anemic start this year (despite three steals). Despite all that, he's worth taking a buy-low chance: he's 26 years old, was enough of a prospect to be traded for a "proven closer," and he's already got a 30-homer season under his belt. I think he was underrated going into the season, and two bad weeks isn't enough to convince me he can't be an impact outfielder.

Jose Bautista, OF, TOR
Bautista isn't off to a good start, but one side effect of Reyes's injury might be that Bautista plays some third base. That would be a neat little boon to his fantasy value, and he could be a smart target if you're weak at 3B or CI. Of course, a quality player having a bad start is always an interesting target regardless.... 

Pick Up

Chris  Capuano, SP, LAD
I wrote an entire bit about why Ted Lilly should be picked up, as it seemed he would be getting Zack Greinke's rotation slot. Nope. It's going to the much more sensible (and healthy) option. Capuano has been a pretty good pitcher since his unlikely return to baseball, and he's got immediate fantasy value. Pick him up. I did on multiple teams before writing this.

Aaron Harang, SP, SEA
There isn't a lot to say here, except that Harang isn't a terrible pitcher, and Seattle is still a great place to pitch until proven otherwise. He's a two-start type of guy, mostly meant for deeper leagues, but he could help out in ERA and WHIP if used properly. 

Chris Young, OF, OAK
With Cespedes on the DL and Coco Crisp feeling a minor injury, Young figures to get some real playing time. His average is under the Mendoza Line (surprise), but he's smacked a couple home runs. If he manages to get hot, he could be a useful contributor--especially if you drafted one of this year's many injured or suspended outfielders. 

Daniel Nava, OF, BOS
With David Ortiz still shelved, Jackie Bradley, Jr.'s hype wearing off, and Jonny Gomes's part-time nature, Nava has been getting more and more playing time in the Boston outfield. Only owned in 7% of Yahoo! leagues and 15% of ESPN leagues, Nava has a batting average north of .400 and three homers on the year. He's long been considered a person of some potential, so he seems more than worth a flier. 

Sell

Coco Crisp, OF, OAK
I don't mean sell him right this minute, since he's got a minor injury that's got red DTD warning flags next to his name. Never offer someone with such markers next to their name, as no one will give you a decent deal. Still, Crisp is off to a torrid start this season, with some seriously uncharacteristic power. If you can make the case that Crisp is the new power/speed guy, a la Carlos Gomez, go for it. If you hang on to him, don't expect a week of power hitting to indicate anything about the rest of his season.

You might be wondering what I have to say about Evan Gattis and his eye-popping start to the year. The answer is, nothing. If your catcher just got injured--or you're running a marginal replacement for Brian McCann--pick Gattis up (if you still can). Otherwise, you're perfectly safe ignoring him, as no amount of April greatness will be able to outweigh McCann's years of high-level production in the eyes of Atlanta decision makers. Plus, Gattis wouldn't be the first catcher to hit like an All-Star for a couple weeks before fading back into obscurity. 

In these early weeks it remains important to balance changing players and strategies as performance and injuries dictate with sticking to your plan. A couple weeks aren't enough to upset months of research and planning. Unless you drafted Reyes and Greinke....


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