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Fantasy Baseball Today

Weekly FAAB check-in: Hurting for health

By Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer

James Loney isn't really an adequate replacement for Chris Davis, but in some leagues, he's the best you can do. (USATSI)
James Loney isn't really an adequate replacement for Chris Davis, but in some leagues, he's the best you can do. (USATSI)

So I signed into my weekly FAAB league Sunday for another round of weekly FAABing only to find a lineup littered with red crosses.

Yup, it was that kind of week.

Even if you were lucky enough to come out of it unscathed, between the strained oblique for Chris Davis, the strained intercostal for Ryan Braun and the torn thumb ligament for Bryce Harper, someone you love probably felt its effects.

For me, it was Mark Trumbo, whose injury was of course old news, but that wouldn't make his home runs or RBI any easier to replace. Russell Martin's injury seemed like small potatoes in comparison, but swapping him out in a two-catcher league would be easier said than done. Shin-Soo Choo had the look of a player bound for the DL, and even Hanley Ramirez's status for the upcoming week was in question.

However would I stop the bleeding?

It's a funny thing, Rotisserie baseball. Nothing is ever as bad as it appears in the moment. Each week is but a drop in the bucket over the entirety of a six-month schedule. While in Head-to-Head leagues, a loss will linger forever, in Rotisserie, an especially good week can make up for an especially bad one.

So rather than the kind of panic that ravages a championship-caliber bench, sending an underachieving George Springer, a promising Tanner Roark, a hopeful Jim Johnson or a fleet-of-foot Eric Young to the waiver wire, this epidemic called for composure so cool that any so-called need took a back seat come bidding time.

And just what took priority?

Hector Rondon, RP, Cubs: I won with a $4 bid. The closers, of course! In Rondon, I got my favorite (non-Mark Melancon division). Really, compared to Melancon or even Joe Smith, I think Rondon has the best chance of sticking in the role long term. Granted, he hasn't been awarded it yet, but that's part of what made him a priority for me. We've seen it more than once already this league. When a reliever is officially named the closer, he goes for $25-plus dollars -- a quarter of a team's entire budget -- come bidding time. The trick, then, is to find them before they become official. So what makes me think the job is Rondon's? Not only has he been lights-out so far with a 0.73 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 11 appearances, but he also pitched the ninth inning of a four-run win Monday ... with Pedro Strop, who colossally failed in his first shot at closing, pitching the eighth.

Joe Smith, RP, Angels: I bid $4. The winner bid $22. Heh ... suckers. It's not that Smith can't handle the role. There's just a Jim Johnson-like quality to him that makes me think the Angels will always want for more. He's ideal in the right-handed setup role, terrific against same-handed hitters but without blowing them away, so when Frieri gets back to pitching like he did five of the six months last year, blowing everybody away, the Angels will have an easy time going to back to him. Melancon, for what it's worth, wasn't available in this league. If he was, I'm thinking he would have gone for even more. The chance of him overtaking Jason Grilli for good is, in my estimation, about the same as Smith overtaking Frieri (still low, but, you know, worth mentioning).

James Loney, 1B, Rays: I bid $0. The bid didn't go through. Loney was my best hope for replacing Trumbo off the waiver wire, which sort of explains why I didn't care to replace Trumbo off the waiver wire. Oh, I have Mark Teixeira to handle first base and Lucas Duda at corner infield, so it's not like I'm just taking zeroes without him, but Loney, at least for the short term, offers more assurances. The knock on him is the lack of power for a first baseman, which is of course a need with Trumbo down, but even going back to his Dodgers days, Loney has usually been good for a high batting average and decent RBI total -- two areas of need for me. But again, the biggest need is home runs, and Teixeira and Duda have a much better chance of providing those.

Marcus Semien, 2B/3B, White Sox: I won with a $0 bid. If you're wondering how I prioritized Loney but still ended up with Semien, it's because I had only one player I could drop without creating an opening at some other position: Archie Bradley. Yup, I have bigger priorities now than a prospect who may or may not arrive before the All-Star break and may or may not throw strikes when he does. He's off to a shaky start at Triple-A Reno anyway. As for Semien, he replaces Mark Reynolds as my starting third baseman. Yes, Reynolds is a better source of home runs, but he has sat three of the last four games and appears to have slumped his way out of an everyday role. Semien will have his own playing time concerns once Conor Gillaspie is healthy, but he's the better bet in the meantime.

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox: I bid $0. The winner bid $12. I don't blame anyone for bidding big on Viciedo. He's been a 25-homer guy in the majors before, and though I'm skeptical of his batting average given his past issues with plate discipline, I see the potential for improvement at age 25. But with Springer and Young already on my bench, I couldn't make room for another outfielder, not with all my other needs.

Josh Beckett, Jason Vargas and Edinson Volquez: I bid $0. Volquez went for $1. The other bids didn't go through. And another round of bidding ends with my usual list of starting pitchers I'd love to own but don't have the space to add. Beckett is the most exciting to me. It was only 2011 when he went 13-7 with a 2.89 ERA and 1.03 WHIP for the Red Sox. He wasn't healthy in the two years that followed but took a dramatic step to correct that this offseason, having a rib removed to take pressure off a nerve that was causing numbness in his pitching hand. Now, he's throwing hard, getting strikes and keeping runners off base. And he's pitching efficiently. In his eight innings Friday, he threw only 99 pitches. For reals.

So while the waiver wire offered able replacements for Trumbo and Choo in Loney and Viciedo, I didn't like what I'd have to drop to add them. Fortunately, I at least had something on my roster to replace them. Catcher is a different story, but I figured whatever a platoon player like John Jaso or Derek Norris (the best of what's available, sadly) would provide over the next couple weeks Martin would more than make up for in the long run. Surely, someone with a little more roster flexibility than I have would pick him up if I dropped him.

 
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