It’s Tuesday which means it is time for another edition of the Top Ten list. Without further adieu, let’s dive right into the Top Ten fantasy baseball headlines for this last day of May.
10. Better Late Than Never – Ryan Vogelsong of the San Francisco Giants has come full circle in his career to finally fulfill the expectations placed on him almost a decade ago. Vogelsong, initially drafted by the Giants, was the top prospect included in the trade that brought Jason Schmidt to San Francisco from Pittsburgh. The Pirates, who seem to always be in the business of providing other teams with key pieces to their puzzles, were in one of their rebuilding modes and traded away their ace pitcher who was facing free agency. The Bucs acquired Vogelsong with the hopes that he would become the anchor of their rotation for many years. However, Vogelsong sustained an injury and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2002. He would never attain any success with Pittsburgh through the 2006 season. He then kicked around Japan and had minor league stints with the Phillies and Angels until the Giants re-signed him before the 2011 season. After Barry Zito got injured, Vogelsong got the call to replace him and has been tremendous. He is currently 3-1 with a sparkling 1.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts in 40 innings. The Giants will be hard-pressed to take him out of the rotation when Zito returns. He has done enough to warrant a pickup in your league, either NL-only or mixed, but monitor the situation in case he hits a wall or gets bumped when Zito returns.
9. Un-bereavable! – Jose Reyes was placed on the Bereavement List on Monday after the passing of his grandmother. Initial reports were that Reyes might miss the entire week to be with his family. It is now being reported by the Mets that they expect him back by Thursday, which is good news for fantasy owners. The announcement that he was going to be out was made on Monday morning, which may not have been enough notice for owners to replace him in their lineups. At least now it looks like the Mets and fantasy owners will get four games out of Reyes for the week. He has been extremely hot lately, so hopefully this family situation does not throw him off track.
8. Another Soriano Gets Hurt – Last week, the New York Yankees announced that relief pitcher Rafael Soriano would be out another 6-8 weeks with an arm injury that apparently does not require surgery. Now, Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has been placed on the disabled list with an injury to his left leg. The Cubs outfield has already been depleted with Marlon Byrd’s injury stemming from his beaning against the Red Sox. Tyler Colvin has been recalled to replace Soriano on the roster. Colvin played very well in 2010 and should have an opportunity to contribute while Soriano and Byrd are out. Other outfield options such as Reed Johnson and Kosuke Fukudome do not provide much in terms of power or run production. Colvin is the guy to add if you are looking for a temporary fix.
7. Mauer’s Not Moving – Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has said that when Joe Mauer returns from the disabled list, he will go right back behind the plate as the team’s primary catcher. This decision was made for the purposes of 2011, but going forward, it would be foolish for Minnesota not to start planning ahead for Mauer to find another position. His draft value was completely overrated, as with all other catchers, simply because of their tendencies to get hurt and the fact they cannot play everyday. If you own him on your fantasy team, see what you can get for him in a trade. Relying on Mauer for the remainder of the season will only leave you with disappointment and heartache – much like your 8th grade dance.
6. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Zimmerman! – Nationals star third baseman Ryan Zimmerman is set to play in some extended spring training games as he begins his journey back to the big leagues. Zimmerman has missed most of the season and will be a welcome addition to both the Nationals’ lineup and fantasy owners’ rosters. In a year when third base has been as weak a position as there is in fantasy baseball, Zimmerman was arguably the second or third best option. He was drafted quite early in many drafts, so his injury put a lot of owners in a pinch. When healthy, Zimmerman will contribute in all roto categories. His presence in the lineup should also help Jayson Werth who has struggled mightily to carry the Nationals’ offense and justify his ridiculous contract.
5. Saved by the Bell – Padres’ closer Heath Bell had a frustrating start to the season with very few save opportunities through the middle of May. This was because the Padres didn’t have many leads in games, or when they won games it was by a very large margin. Now Bell has picked up three saves in the last four games and appears to be on track, along with the Padres’ propensity for playing in very close games. Bell is playing for a contract this year, and could be a potential trade candidate. He would obviously like to remain a closer, but it is distinctly possible he gets dealt to a team needing 8th inning help. Continue to ride Bell’s wave as he accumulates saves, but I would recommend you explore trade options for him in case he is traded out of his closer’s role.
4. Ike…Yikes – Mets’ first baseman Ike Davis has been on the disabled list for several weeks with a bone bruise and calf strain as a result of a collision with David Wright in Colorado. Initially the Mets thought Davis would be back relatively quickly, but a recent MRI has shown that the bone bruise has not healed as quickly or as well as they would have liked. The Mets anticipate Davis being in a walking boot for another three weeks, which means he will not be doing any rehab or baseball activities until the end of June at the earliest. This is not good news for the Mets or fantasy owners who have come to rely on Davis as a viable option at first base in both NL-only and mixed leagues. His replacement, Daniel Murphy, is too inconsistent to consider as a worthwhile replacement on your fantasy team.
3. Mo’ Injuries, Mo’ Problems for Morneau – Twins first baseman Justin Morneau said that he has been playing with a pinched nerve in his left shoulder and neck that will likely linger for the rest of the season. He clearly hasn’t been the same since he suffered a concussion in July 2010, and most people attributed his struggles and lack of power to the effects of his head injury. However, this revelation of a pinched nerve could easily be the reason why Morneau looks like a shell of his former self. Either way, this does not bode well for fantasy owners who were relying on power production from him. I would recommend exploring trade options for an upgrade at first base because it is questionable what kind of production you can expect from Morneau for the rest of the year. With the Twins so far out of playoff contention, Ron Gardenhire is smart enough not to unnecessarily expose Morneau to any additional risks or injuries.
2. Nothing Worse Than an Injured Johnson – Marlins’ ace pitcher Josh Johnson is eligible to come off the disabled list on June 1, but manager Fredi Gonzalez does not believe that is likely. Johnson is still not 100% but is scheduled to throw a bullpen session later this week. He will need sevetal bullpen sessions and possibly some minor league rehab starts before he comes back. The Marlins don’t need another starter until June 7, but it is not likely that Johnson can be relied on for his return on that day. Fantasy owners should keep him stashed on the DL and try and ride this out until he comes back. He has a history of injuries so this is not all that surprising. But if he misses any extended period of time beyond June 7, it may be wise to start exploring some trade opportunities for a starting pitcher.
1. Bruce is The Boss – Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds is the hottest player in baseball right now. Manager Dusty Baker moved him into the cleanup spot for today’s game against the Brewers. Bruce was named National League player of the week after batting .354 with four home runs and 13 RBI over a seven game stretch from May 23-29. During the entire month of May, Bruce is batting .346 with 12 homers and 32 RBI. I was very high on him coming into the season as I thought he would put it all together after a few years of learning how to hit big league pitching. Bruce has tremendous power and could be a 40-homerun guy. He hits in a loaded lineup and in a great hitter’s park. While he will not likely maintain this torrid pace for the entire season, he is arguably one of the top fantasy players in the entire league and someone that you should target in trade discussions. Lock him up in all keeper leagues.