Just when you thought you were going to be able to sit back and enjoy this final week before the All Star break, the news of potential Biogenesis suspensions has reappeared like some ill-timed, unsightly cold sore destined to spoil your fun. Rather than being able to relax through the Futures Game, the Home Run Derby and the rest of the midsummer classic festivities, your time will be taken up by a barrage of emails from those contending owners looking to haul in a king’s ransom for the likes of Ryan Braun, Nelson Cruz, Everth Cabrera and anyone else looking at a potential 50-game ban. If you’re in a keeper league and already thinking about next year, this might be a great time to pick up a top player for next year, but should you even be on the cusp of title-contention, you may also want to kick the tires and see if you can afford the sticker price as these suspensions aren’t exactly set in stone.
Supposedly the punishments are to be doled out after the All Star break. But investigators are currently talking to the players, hoping to get some sort of cooperation, so that tells me that while they may have some evidence of misdoings, there might not be enough to impose the desired disciplinary measures. After all, if they had enough to suspend, don’t you think they would have done so by now? With that in mind, you can also assume that no matter what investigators find and use, the MLB Players Association is going to immediately file appeals on behalf of all the players which could conceivably drag things out for months.
Fantasy owners are actually in a tight spot here. If you own Braun and have a chance to win your league, do you play it safe and trade him now on the chance that he’s suspended or do you wait to see if it gets pushed off enough for you to be able to use him over the second half? If you deal him and he doesn’t get the ban, what exactly are you missing? If you don’t deal him and he does get hit with the ban, did you miss your opportunity to get some value and are now short a top player for the rest of the way?
And then if you’re on the other side, is it wise to make a move and trade for him? The MLBPA could push things back which may allow him to maintain his value for this year but end up suspended to open next season. Or he could have no immediate value but be ready to bust out and prove himself from the onset of the 2014 season?
Personally, if I’m a Braun owner and contending for the title, I minimize my risk and trade him. If he’s suspended, then I’m in the clear and still headed for my championship. If he isn’t, well, hopefully I was able to convince someone to deal me a wealth of talent in return. If I don’t own him and I’m not in contention for this year, then I’m dealing for him no matter what. If I’m on the fence between contending and not contending, I’m still trading for him and putting some faith in the MLBPA’s ability to delay the inevitable. If he plays, he could vault me up the standings. If he doesn’t, well, I took a shot and missed. But if it’s a keeper league, I now have him for next year. If it’s a re-draft league, hey, I took a shot. If I am clearly contending for this year though, no, I am not trading for him. I’ll happily keep the risk to a minimum and I’ll seek other ways to improve for the second half.
Clear as mud? Good. Hopefully you’ve got a plan. If you don’t , you’re going to need one so start working it out now.
Now let’s hit the fantasy highlights from Tuesday…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Adrian Beltre, 3B TEX||4-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, BB|
Nothing like a perfect day at the plate to keep your fantasy owners smiling, right? Adrian Beltre reached base all five time he was up on Tuesday and the multi-home run game with killer RBI totals makes it all the sweeter. To top it off, this night just adds to an already ridiculous past week for the Rangers third baseman. Beltre has now hit safely in 11 straight games and is batting .488 (21-for-43) with six home runs and 11 RBI in that span. Top honors for the day, tops for the week and a whole mess of production to pad your stats.
|Alex Rios, OF CHW||6-6, R, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 SB|
|Dayan Viciedo, OF CHW||3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI|
|Kendrys Morales, 1B SEA||3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI|
|Wily Peralta, SP MIL||W, CG, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 6 K|
|Eric Stults, SP SD||W, CG, 1.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 5 K|
While on any other night Alex Rios going 6-for-6 would rate the Beast tag, his on-base work and steals just don’t fill the stat column as well as Beltre’s numbers do. But to have that as part of your fantasy day is still plenty huge. Rios has now hit safely in seven of his last eight games with five stolen bases. Unfortunately, his power production has been weak and he hasn’t hit a home run in over a month.
Dayan Viciedo shows off some nice power here, but his consistency leaves a lot to be desired. The home runs were his first in 12 games and the RBI were his first in his last seven. It’d be nice if he could hit with a little more regularity as the .242 average is a bit of a nightmare without somewhat consistent production attached in some way.
It looks like Kendrys Morales is running a little hot and cold here. He had a two-homer, six RBI game a week ago and then combined that with his next game to go 4-for-8, only to endure a three-game 0-for-12 skid and then turn it back on again with a two-game 5-for-9 run with this two-homer night. There’s plenty to like about his game though as his average and OBP are solid and he’s headed towards another 20-plus home run season.
Normally, when a guy throws a complete game and holds down the opposition the way both Wily Peralta and Eric Stults did Tuesday, they end up with the top honors for the day. However, given the inconsistencies with which both perform, coupled with low ownership percentages on the major sites, these guys are streamers at best right now and there’s a pretty strong chance that neother was active in most leagues. Can’t be a fantasy beast from the waiver wire, now can you?
|Austin Jackson, OF DET||0-4, 2 K|
|Kyle Blanks, OF SD||0-4, 2 K|
|Erick Aybar, SS LAA||0-4, 2 K|
|Hisashi Iwakuma, SP SEA||ND, 18.00 ERA, 2.67 WHIP, 3 K|
|Bud Norris, SP HOU||L, 12.60 ERA, 2.40 WHIP, 5 K|
Really, my only concern in this section is Hisashi Iwakuma. After completely dominating all hitters over the first two and a half months of the season, the 32-year old Japanese right-hander has now given up four or more runs in each of his last five outings and has seen his ERA jump from a 1.79 to a 2.97 in that span. While you may look at his ERA and say, “hey, it’s still under 3.00 and that’s pretty damn good,” yes, it is, but to get his ERA to jump that much in such a short span, you have to be doing pretty poorly – like a 7.62 ERA poorly over those five games. He’s going to get one more start before the break, so there’s a chance he’ll rebound. Although he also might just be dead in the water for the time being and won’t turn things around until the next half begins.
Eric Chavez, 3B ARI – hip (day to day)
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF BOS – wrist (day to day)
Brian Bogusevic, OF CHC – hamstring (day to day)
Wellington Castillo, C CHC – illness (day to day)
Xavier Paul, OF CIN – shoulder (day to day)
Chris Heisey, OF CIN – elbow (day to day)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL – finger (day to day)
Chris Carter, OF HOU – hand (day to day)
Ronny Cedeno, SS HOU – toe (day to day)
Matt Kemp, OF LAD – shoulder (15-day DL)
Norichika Aoki, OF MIL – elbow (day to day)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B MIL – knee (15-day DL)
Matt Harvey, SP NYM – blister (day to day)
Neil Walker, 2B PIT – oblique (15-day DL)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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