It happens to someone every year on fantasy baseball draft day.
Player X starts to fall below his average draft position. He keeps sliding down the round and into your lap. You shake your head in disbelief. Player X fell this far? I’m about to select the steal of the draft! You already hear league mates moan with disgust as you snipe away such a good draft day value.
Except, your selection is met with laughs and jeers. Turns out that Player X just happened to blow out his knee earlier in the day during an exhibition game.
Don’t be that owner. Make sure you check player updates before the draft starts, including the following:
Chase Utley, PHI. There is little doubt that when healthy, Utley is an elite second base option. The problem is that he’s been healthy less and less and currently is looking unlikely to play for the early part of the season.
MRIs on his ailing knee show tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia. Cortisone shots haven’t helped, and while we’re far off from any last-resort situations, surgery can’t be officially ruled out at this point yet.
Of course, the smart move is to have him miss time if it means he’ll come back stronger and more ready to contribute. Utley’s draft stock is taking a serious hit, and you should definitely tread carefully.
Zack Greinke, MIL. A “value” pitcher in a recent post of mine, Greinke is now facing a DL stint after news broke that he fractured a rib playing a pickup basketball game during the offseason.
Now, reports suggest he’ll likely miss his first three starts of the season. In the scope of a 162-game season, three starts are but a drop in the bucket. However, there are no guarantees that he’ll definitely be ready when expected.
Depending on how far he starts to drop on draft day, he could be a high-risk, high-reward option.
Ian Stewart, COL. A potential value third baseman for the 2011 season, Stewart suffered an MCL sprain in late February and still is sidelined with the injury.
Rockies manager Jim Tracy on Thursday night hinted toward the possibility that Stewart could start the season on the DL.
Fortunately, the MLB season is a long one and Stewart should be back at some point, one would think, within the month of April if he misses time at all. This sort of news helps lower the draft stock of Stewart even lower than it already is, making him an even more interesting, later-round value selection.
Domonic Brown, PHI. The highly touted prospect was on the fast track to a starting major league gig and possible fantasy sleeper-dom until a broken Hamate bone in his right hand sent him to the surgeon.
He’s expected to miss four to six weeks, meaning we won’t be seeing him before the end of April at the earliest.
Again, however, the MLB season is a long one and his injury will help lower his draft stock. Just don’t draft him expecting him to play right off the bat.
Neftali Feliz, TEX. Many are expecting Feliz to pick up right where he left off last season as a decent fantasy closer. Except Feliz’s role with the team has yet to be officially settled.
In fact, Rangers GM Jon Daniels suggested that the Rangers would be better off both short- and long-term if Feliz was in the rotation.
He could be a sneaky-good value for a starting pitcher, but as a closer, you should start considering other options.
One potential plus is that he’ll likely have eligibility as both a starter and relief pitcher if he does enter the rotation, making him a little more valuable in leagues with tight roster restrictions
Jon Garland, LAD. Not that he was high on many fantasy rankings anyway, but Garland will be spending some time on the DL to start the season. In fact, Garland has not missed a start in nine years.
A strained oblique muscle will sideline him for four to six weeks, according to reports Thursday.
Jake Peavy, CWS. After surgery nearly eight months ago to reattach a torn lat muscle, we all figured Peavy would be a long shot to start the season off the DL. However, he has been defying the odds with a near-miraculous comeback so far.
He has hit 91 miles per hour on the radar gun recently and has allowed just one run in five and two-thirds innings of spring ball. This doesn’t mean you should draft Peavy at a premium, but if he falls far enough he could have interesting value come draft day.
Javier Vazquez, FLA. One of my value starting pitchers considering his track record in the NL vs. his time underachieving on the Yankees roster, Vazquez has a chance to restart his career in Florida this year.
So far this spring, Vazquez has worked diligently on his dwindling velocity, changing form to use more of his lower body in the delivery process, which he did when pitching so well in Atlanta.
The early results are promising. He’s been pitching in the low-90s compared to the mid- to high-80s from his 2010 season with the Yankees. Time will tell if Vazquez can provide enough consistency to be a fantasy weapon again, but considering how far he falls in most drafts, he’s worth a late-round pick.
My newest article discusses more sleepers and how home run efficiency can help us determine who will break out, who will back slide and who will continue to produce solid numbers.