“Love on the rocks ain’t no surprise
Pour me a drink,
And I’ll tell you some lies
Got nothing to lose,
So you just sing the blues, all the time”
It’s not a surprise that Troy Tulowitzki will miss the remainder of the season due to a hip injury. Part of the reason that he is so frustrating to own is that you have to factor in for lost time during the season. 2014 is no different. Tulo has played more than 150 games twice in the last eight years. His per year average is a paltry 117 games. However, when he is on the field, he is unquestionably the best player at his position in baseball. That is what draws fantasy owners into chasing the unicorn when his value is depressed. It’s a trap.
His uber-talented teammate is cut from the same cloth. Unfortunately, that cloth is made from frilly lace. A myriad of injuries have hampered Carlos Gonzalez this season. He’s been bothered by thumb and knee injuries all year. News broke tonight that he will go under the knife and have surgery on his patellar tendon, which will likely also end his season. If CarGo does in fact miss the remainder of the season, his average gamers played per season will be 111. In spite of the time missed, this will be the first year that he will not go 20/20. This is why fantasy owners were willing to take him on average with the fifth pick in live drafts entering this year. If he is on the field, he produces. If…
“You need what you need
You can say what you want
Not much you can do
When the feeling is gone
May be blue skies above,
But it’s cool
When your love’s on the rocks”
So, as a fantasy owner it’s time to move on. It is time to look to your league’s waiver wire and see what can be found. With the final six weeks approaching, the free agent pool can be thin so I tried to find three replacements for each by position. If possible, I would stash Michael Cuddyer, available in 69% of ESPN leagues and 62% of CBS leagues. What do you have to lose, he can hit for power if healthy and on his rehab assignment has hit .464 over 10 games. If he is not there, here are some more options and a new chance to find production, if not love.
1. Jordy Mercer (Pirates): 39.5% ESPN, 44% CBS, 20% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 45 R, 7 HR, 41 RBI, 2 SB, 264/313/384
Last 30 Days:25 G, 11 R, HR, 13 RBI, SB, 315/392/472
ZiPS (R): 36 G, 2 HR, 13 RBI, SB, 257307/385
While Mercer is not a sexy name to add, he has been productive. In fact if you go to Fangraphs and look up shortstops over the last 30 days, his name will be on top at the position. While ZiPS is not painting a great picture over the remainder of the season, he has not produced at this level before so it will predict a regression. He has been killing left handed pitching and if he can keep the OBP where it is, he may be able to continue the production for the rest of the year. Of the options available, he may be the best.
2. Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox): 48.8% ESPN, 71% CBS, 52% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 46 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 2 SB, 233/307/385
Last 30 Days: 22 G, 7 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 226/239/357
ZiPS (R): 38 G, 17 R, 4 HR, 15 RBI, SB, 254/318/400
After a great start to the season playing shortstop, the Red Sox signed Stephen Drew and put “X” back at third base. Immediately after the trade, Bogaerts was quoted talking about how much more comfortable he is at shortstop. If you do not think being comfortable is important to a young player, here are his slash lines at both positions:
Bogaerts at 3B – 180 AB: 182/217/300
Bogaerts at SS – 276 AB: 269/349/384
Guess where Xander will be the rest of the year? Shortstop. This creates a great buy low opportunity in keeper leagues and makes him an intriguing add to replace the loss of a Tulowitzki. He may even eclipse the power numbers that ZiPS puts forth.
3. Josh Rutledge (Rockies): 8.6% ESPN, 26% CBS, 11% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 25 R, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 258/310/403
ZiPS (R): 32 G, 14 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, 268/315/414
It feels like every time that the fantasy community gives up on Rutledge, he finds his way back into playing time. He is a speculative add but there is a risk to batting average when he is on the road and is running out of chances to maintain relevance. If he cannot attain the ZiPS projection, it is time to give up.
4. Chris Taylor (Mariners): 0.7% ESPN, 9% CBS, 3% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 7 R, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 367/407/469
Steamer (R): 26 G, 11 R, HR, 10 RBI, 3 SB, 266/326/372
I know I said three, but here is a bonus play. In deeper leagues I think Taylor deserves a look and his Steamer projection seems to agree. In fact, I have an idea of what Rutledge can do, so why not take a chance on a younger player in a better situation and something to play for. Seattle is a sneaky play moving forward.
1. Norichika Aoki (Royals): 45.8% ESPN, 42% CBS, 40% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 50 R, HR, 26 RBI, 13 SB, 273/343/341
Last 30 Days: 23 G, 14 R, HR, 12 RBI, 6 SB, 316/393/405
ZiPS (R): 37 G, 19 R, HR, 10 RBI, 5 SB, 277/338/356
While Aoki does not have the “wow” factor that fantasy owners want, he bats leadoff, is hot and will not hurt a team’s batting average. That is not exciting, but runs and stolen bases will be there along with some occasional power. The Royals have the best remaining schedule for hitters so why not have a leadoff hitter that will help in the coming days?
2. David Peralta (Diamondbacks): 19.6 ESPN, 38% CBS, 13% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 29 R, 5 HR, 29 RBI, 4 SB, 299/332/464
Last 30 Days: 23 G, 11 R, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 2 SB, 267/313/478
ZiPS (R): 32 G, 15 R, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, 283/321/434
Unlike Aoki, Peralta has been hitting third for the Diamondbacks and his season and story have been successful thus far. Veteran scout Bernie Pleskoff loves him and I will jump on board. His stat line is the most like Carlos Gonzalez as he not only provides some pop, but can steal a base as well. In fact I could see a combo of 5 homers and steals each until the end of 2014.
3. Chris Coghlan (Cubs): 22.9% ESPN, 24% CBS, 30% Yahoo!
2014 Stats: 34 R, 6 HR, 23 RBI, 5 SB, 286/360/475
Last 30 Days: 24 G, 10 R, HR, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 318/383/494
ZiPS (R): 27 G, 11 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB, 258/329/399
How soon we forget, Chris Coghlan won the Rookie of the Year in 2009 and after an injury riddled career has resurfaced with the Cubs and is their primary leadoff hitter. He has provided a little pop and some steals which is what CarGo owners are looking to find. Only caveat here is that the Cubs are a boom or bust offense so this could make his production a bit streaky.
“First they say they want you
How they really need you
Suddenly you find you’re out there
Walking in a storm
And when they know they have you
Then they really have you
Nothing you can do or say
You got to leave, just get away
We all know the song
Love on the rocks
Ain’t no big surprise
Just pour me a drink
And I’ll tell you my lies
Yesterday ‘s gone
Now all I want is a smile…”
I cannot say it better than Neil Diamond. When you love the Rockies, it can create love on the rocks as a fantasy owner. But they keep drawing us in…
Statistical credits: ESPN.com, Yahoo.com, Baseball-Reference.com, CBS.com, MiLB.com, Fangraphs.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/6XUsM7
Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!
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