Major League Baseball Bumps and Bruises: Backups Now on the Spot

Fantasy Knuckleheads@_knuckleheadsCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Pitcher Brandon Webb #17 of the Arizona Diamondbacks throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers on September 2, 2008 at Dodger Stadiium in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 7-2.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The list below goes over some of the key injuries that could impact your draft on Draft day.

Best of luck this year in your drafts.

Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks: Shoulder injury, out until at least late April

Brandon Webb is coming off of major shoulder surgery and while rehab appears to be going well, he’ll be lucky to be back by the end of April. 

Once he does return the possibility of re—injury or setback is a distinct possibility. He is a huge injury risk in 2010 and someone you may be better off avoiding.

Webb’s injury will likely give Billy Buckner, Kevin Mulvey or Rodrigo Lopez a chance to start games until he returns. None are a desirable option, even in NL—only leagues.

Ted Lilly, Chicago Cubs: Shoulder and knee injuries, out until at least midApril

Lilly seems to be ahead of schedule in his return from shoulder and knee injuries.  It was originally thought that he wouldn’t be back until May, but he is now targeting mid—April for a return to the mound. 

Late April may be more realistic and Lilly is always an injury risk, but he is an undervalued and underappreciated commodity when healthy.

Until Lilly comes back, Sean Marshall or Jeff Samardzija is likely to get starts. Both are talented, but have had limited success in previous opportunities to start. However, both may be a nice cheap flier in NL—only leagues, especially if Lilly’s injuries linger.

Huston Street, Colorado Rockies: Shoulder injury, out until at least midApril

The Rockies announced on Wednesday that closer Huston Street has experienced tightness in his shoulder and likely will begin the season on the DL. The Rox are calling for a mid—April comeback, but this injury reeks of something much more significant.

Don’t be surprised of Street misses significant time, and if the dreaded term “surgery” gets thrown around.

Following the announcement of Street’s shoulder tightness, the Rockies chose Franklin Morales to replace him as the team’s closer. With all of the question marks surrounding Street, Morales instantly becomes a huge sleeper candidate.  He makes an excellent low risk/high reward pick in NL—only leagues.

Russell Martin, Los Angeles Dodgers: Hip and groan injuries, out until midApril

Martin is coming off of two consecutive down seasons and will start this season on the shelf. A pulled groin should keep him out until mid—April and while the pull could linger, it is likely an injury he will be able to overcome and move on from by May at the latest.

Martin should count his lucky stars that the Dodgers don’t have a strong option to fill his shoes, because a hot start from his replacement could spell a lot of time on the bench for Martin when he does return. However, likely starter A.J. Ellis and veteran Brad Ausmus are more of a threat to your team’s fantasy success than they are to Martin’s job.

Joe Nathan, Minnesota Twins: Elbow injury, Likely out for the season

Perhaps the biggest injury news of the preseason is the unfortunate report that the Twins will be without closer Joe Nathan for most or all of the season. Perhaps he returns late in the season, but don’t count on it. 

Unless you can get him at a discount for next season, you shouldn’t bother with him in 2010.

Both Matt Guerrier and Jon Rauch are likely to see save opportunities this season. As of now, neither has emerged as a favorite to start the season in the closer’s role.

This is a situation to keep an eye on.  Whoever wins the job is well worth a roster spot in all leagues. In addition, whoever doesn’t win the job is worth a roster spot in AL—only leagues in case the other falters.

Jose Reyes, New York Mets: Thyroid injury, out until at least early April

This situation is simply a mess.  The condition Reyes is suffering from is not particularly serious, but it’s nearly impossible to put a timetable on his return.  He needs to rest until his thyroid levels return to normal and can return to baseball activities once they do.

The problem is that there is no way of knowing how long it will take for the levels to stabilize. He could be back sooner than later and become a huge steal if you can get him at a discount due to the questions surrounding him. On the other hand, he could be out a long time and become a huge bust.

The Mets will use Alex Cora as Reyes’s replacement for the short—term. They will also carry 20—year old prospect Ruben Tejada. If the thyroid problem lingers, expect the Mets to acquire a more able replacement. 

Cora is not really worth a roster spot in NL—only leagues and Tejada is not ready to contribute yet, but is a fantastic long—term keeper.

Carlos Beltran, New York Mets: Knee injury, out until at least early May

Beltran is recovering nicely from January arthroscopic knee surgery and there is no doubt that the guy can still swing the bat. However, do you really want to bet on this guy staying healthy even after he returns?  He is becoming a walking infirmary as he enters his mid—thirties and it seems clear that his body is breaking down.

Angel Pagan is set to take over while Beltran is out. He is worth a spot in NL—only leagues and could pay off nicely if Beltran struggles to get back on the field. However, Pagan’s playing time won’t go unchallenged with Gary Matthews Jr., who is having an excellent spring, on the roster.

Brad Lidge, Philadelphia Phillies: Knee and elbow injuries, out until at least early April

Last year he was downright awful and this year he’s battling nagging injuries. Lidge really is holding onto the closer’s role by a thread. Lidge announced recently that he’d like to return for the April 12th—15th series against the Nationals.  Even if he doesn’t return that early, the Phillies will give him the chance to reestablish himself as the team’s closer.  The question is will he be able to?

Lidge’s injury and poor performance last season make Ryan Madson an excellent sleeper candidate in NL—only leagues. Madson will likely pick up early season saves and could be the closer for the best team in the NL if Lidge crumbles after he returns. 

Danys Baez is also a sleeper for saves.

Freddy Sanchez, San Francisco Giants: Knee and shoulder injuries, out until at least mid-April

Late January arthroscopic shoulder surgery leaves Sanchez likely on the shelf until mid-April.  Sanchez will likely by back by late April at the latest, and the Giants will almost certainly reinsert him into the line-up when he returns.

While he is out, the Giants will allow utility man Juan Uribe to play everyday.  While Uribe is probably the better hitter, Sanchez is a certainty to reclaim the job when he returns.

However, if Uribe comes out hot, the Giants will have to find a way to get him into their weak line-up, and since Uribe can play a lot of positions inserting him into the line-up won’t be difficult.  He is an excellent NL-only sleeper.

Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers: Ankle injury, out until at least late March

Kinsler suffered a high ankle sprain during pregame drills last week.  Before you get too worried, this isn’t fantasy football. High ankle sprains are not nearly as significant in baseball as they are in football. 

That being said, Kinsler could miss the first few games on the season.  While that may be concerning, the injury is not something that should effect him long term.

If Kinsler does miss a few games, Esteban German is likely to pick up a few starts.  Kinsler’s injury is not serious, and German is not worth a roster spot in any leagues.