Injury Watch

Injury Watch: The Returns Of Salvador Perez and Stephen Drew

Today's Injury Watch will focus on a few players with low ceilings, but high floors. These recovering players can definitely help your squad in a few small ways, just don't expect them to go bananas and kickstart your frantasy squad.

Salvador Perez, Royals

Royals fans were awfully happy to see Salvador Perez return from his knee injury earlier than expected this week. Fresh off a nice little six-year contract extension and a promising rookie season, Sal promptly busted his meniscus in his left knee and required surgery and physical therapy to repair the damage. But now, as of June 22, the Royals catcher of the present-and-future is back. Perez has only seen action in three games (as of the writing of this article), but he's already shown promising returns by garnering four hits in 12 PA and belting a homer.

What does Sal Perez mean for your fantasy team? Well, he's worth a provisional add in almost every league -- so long as you know what you're getting. If you're playing traditional 5x5, expect him to help you in batting average...aaaaannd that's about it. In the Royals lineup (where he usually hits either seventh or eighth) he's not going to kick out big R and RBI numbers. And you better believe he's not stealing any bases with the surgically-repaired wheel. Given that Perez hasn't yet grown into any substantive power (3 HR last year in 158 PA), you're basically paying for batting average. But that's ok, because lots of catchers are pretty terrible, and your team's batting average probably isn't as good as you want it to be.

Perez looks best as a backup backstop, seeing use as a hedge against a Mike Napoli or Jesus Montero type of catcher who brings power and RBI, but can hurt your BA. And if you're still running Josh Thole or Ramon Hernandez or someone else who you thought would be good, but really isn't, out there, then pick up Perez on the wire and plug him in. He's unlikely to burn you.

Stephen Drew, Diamondbacks

I'm tempted to use a find-replace function to swap "Stephen Drew" with "The Perennially Disappointing Stephen Drew". Despite being one of my favorite non-Metropolitan players (we share the same alma mater), Drew has consistently burned me when I draft him for a fantasy squad. This year, of course, was no different. I drafted him thinking that he'd be out maybe a month at most to kick off the 2012 season as he recovered from a really, really rough ankle injury in the middle of the 2012 season. Instead, it took him about three months to get ready. Set to make his debut on or around June 27, it's time for him to get back in the game, and to replace the black hole (read: Willie Bloomquist) that the Diamondbacks have at shortstop.

Drew's had one very good season (2010), but hasn't ever consistently delivered on his potential with the bat. Even his best season was more of a great "real life" season than a fantasy season...Drew only managed 15 HR and 10 SB, to go with respectable R and BA totals. At shortstop, these are pretty good numbers, but they probably reflect the high-end of what you should expect from Drew, and that's over a full season! My expectations of Drew are realistic, but a bit on the optimistic side. I have a feeling that Drew will hit for power, and his ballpark in Arizona should help him out there. Eight or ten homers isn't impossible for Drew, and I figure that pretty soon, he'll hit in a spot in the lineup that will give him the ability to steal a few (maybe four or five) bases, and be driven in by AZ's bigger boppers.

All in all, I'm not dropping Jed Lowrie or Derek Jeter for Drew, but he'll land firmly in the tier where players like Yunel Escobar and Ruben Tejada make their time, and he's got more homer potential than most SS options. You may want to be patient with this one, and see how he starts before giving him an add.

Quick Hits: Because the Blue Jays needed more bad luck with their rotation, Henderson Alvarez underwent an MRI in his injured right elbow, and is currently day to day. You can tell things are getting desperate because they went out and signed Jamie Moyer. ... The Phillies are phinally ready to bring Chase Utley back to the majors. Chase says his knees feel better than they have in years, which is great - but I still think you have to be cautious in your expectations for both performance and playing time with him. It may get a little dusty for Philadelphia fans when he finally knocks one out of the park next week, though. ... Frank Francisco is out as closer for the Mets thanks to an oblique strain. Dan's got the in-depth info here, and I wouldn't expect the chicken-caller back until mid-to-late July. ... Matt Joyce is dealing with an oblique strain and was placed on the DL on June 20, but fortunately for the Rays, Luke Scott should be back in action on Wednesday. That should ease a little of the sting, provided Scott hits like he's supposed to. ... Nolan Reimold had season-ending surgery on June 25. In case you were wondering, that sound you heard was a thousand fantasy players who had pinned their sleeper tag on him slapping themselves on their foreheads. ... Yonder Alonso has been out of the lineup since the 23rd for the Padres. I'd give you more info, but no one in their right mind puts a Padre hitter on their fantasy team anyways. (Just kidding! I love you, Chase Headley!) ... The Rockies now aren't expecting Troy Tulowitzki back from his groin injury until August. And if that's not a depressing way to end this Injury Watch, I dunno what is.

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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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Injury Watch: Morrow, Ogando, Roberts

Hey there, folks. I'm Bryan Grosnick, and I'm the newest member of the RotoAuthority writing team. Each week, I'll be exploring some of the most important and interesting injuries in baseball, and how you can adjust your fantasy squad to take advantage, or at least limit the damage. Today, we'll take a look at two young, productive starters who'll miss time due to injury, as well as the return of an old friend at second base.

Brandon Morrow, Blue Jays

I'm a registered sucker for Brandon Morrow. I add him in multiple fantasy leagues every year, and this one finally seemed like the year that the copious strikeouts lead to great wins and ERA numbers in addition to his always strong strikeout rates. Weirdly, this year his gaudy whiff numbers have been down, but those numbers and his WHIP all were looking up from his previous career numbers.

Unfortunately for his owners (like me), Morrow strained an oblique muscle after just nine pitches on Monday, and now looks to hit the DL. Oblique injuries can linger, and while it may not be time to drop Morrow based on this one injury, you may need someone to fill his slot in your rotation while he misses a few weeks to the DL. This is a stash-and-save guy, not a drop.

While Jesse Chavez is likely going to replace Morrow in Toronto's rotation, he's not the first guy I'd go to to fill out my squad. If he's still available in your league (and he's available in about half of ESPN leagues), I'd take a long look at Felix Doubront of the Red Sox. Let's be real for a minute ... if you own Morrow in fantasy, you're probably a sucker for strikeouts. And Doubront right now has the sixth-highest K/9 of qualified starters in the Majors. But if Doubront is owned in your league (or you're biased against Red Sox or AL East pitchers), give Erik Bedard a look. Bedard has a very sharp 8.76 K/9 right now, and as long as he stays healthy, he'll put up solid numbers in Pittsburgh.

Alexi Ogando, Rangers

Just as Alexi regained a spot in the Rangers rotation, the injury bug bites and now he'll miss time due to a right groin strain. Ouch. As of today, he's expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that in your typical shallow 5x5 league, he's safe to drop. By the time he comes back, there may not be a spot for him in the Texas rotation, and setup guys (no matter how good they are), don't fit on every fantasy squad.

While he probably won't be the immediate replacement in Texas's rotation, it may be time to bring in Roy Oswalt, if he's available in your league. Oswalt won't set the world on fire, and he has to deal with some tough park effects in Arlington, but he's still an above-average starter. He won't strike guys out like he did in his heyday, but he's great at limiting walks and almost always posts an ERA under three-and-a-half. The Rangers are an elite team, and they're as good a bet to stack wins as anyone. The only question is when Roy will be ready for the call to the major leagues.

Brian Roberts, Orioles

Welcome (back) to Birdland, Brian. After 13 months off the field, Roberts returned to major-league action on Tuesday. Best of all, he managed a single to lead off the game for the O's, and as of this writing, he's 2-for-3 with a sac fly on the evening. This has got to be music to fans of the Orioles, and for people desperate for a 2B looking for help on the wire.

Here's the bad news, though. Brian Roberts was not been very good in limited action in 2011, and his skills appeared to be on the way down in 2010 as well. In previous years, you bought Brian Roberts hoping for 10 homers, 30+ steals, 90+ runs and an above-average batting average. But given the injury concerns, and it being unrealistic to expect a return to his career numbers at the age of 34, I'd temper my expectations and hope for about a third of those numbers. For the rest of the season, I could see 3 HR, 10 SB, 30 R and an average hovering around .270. That's not bad off the wire, but it's also not worth dropping Dustin Ackley over.

So who would I drop for Roberts? I wouldn't run Jamey Carroll or Jemile Weeks out there over Roberts at this time. Daniel Murphy probably isn't going to out-produce Roberts unless an injury recurs. But your usual top-twelve 2Bs are all safe, as no one should bail on Ben Zobrist or Kelly Johnson for Roberts. But time will tell if the old Brian Roberts is back for the long haul.

Quick Hits: Roger Bernadina left Monday's game with a strained hamstring, and he'll be re-evaluated on Tuesday. But seriously, what are you doing with Roger Bernadina on your fantasy squad? He's walking at a good clip, but people in 5x5 leagues should look for, well, anyone else as a replacement. ... Chase Utley is starting his rehab assignment this week, so look for him to reach the majors around the end of June or early July, barring a setback. Just keep in mind that, like Roberts, he may not be the Chase of old right away. Or, sadly, ever again. ... The Braves skipped Tim Hudson's most recent start due to painful bone spurs in his ankle, but Hudson had a strong bullpen session this week, and looks to make his regularly-scheduled start on Wednesday

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