StrategyMay 13, 2011

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Roto Medic: Full Nelson

By Kim Bhasin

It’s official: Kendrys Morales’ injury is way, way worse than Bill Gramatica’s was.   The devastating news this week that Morales won’t be making it onto the field this season was a punch in the gut for his unfortunate drafters. Everyone loses.  His owners, the Angels, and most of all Morales, who must be devastated to lose such a massive amount of time just because he landed awkwardly jumping on home plate.  At least his last memory of swinging a bat in a live major league game is of him crushing a game-winning grand slam.  Maybe he’ll watch the tape a couple times to cheer himself up, but he better make sure to pause and rewind it before he rounds third.

The Mets continue to uphold their tradition of chronically injury riddled seasons, with Chris Young’s season scrapped and Ike Davis tripping over David Wright, straining his calf.  Meanwhile, Philly fans can breathe a little easier now that Chase Utley is back in the minors playing regularly, indicating that his return to the Phillies is imminent.  He has to be activated by May 30.

The league’s closer cohort is still hurting.  Five of the relievers that were their teams’ designated stoppers on Opening Day (or earlier in Spring Training) are still on the DL: Brad Lidge, David Aardsma, Brandon Lyon, Andrew Bailey, and Jonathan Broxton.  It has been a hectic year for the 9th inning stalwarts, but that also means there’s plenty of opportunities out there for save chasers.

Time to get to business.  We’re just going to talk about one this week, but let’s make the most of it.

Nelson Cruz – (15 day DL – strained right quad)

No, it’s not his left hamstring this time.  But for those of you that owned him in the past, any tweaked leg muscle shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Cruz initially injured his quad while playing the outfield early this month.  Well, it’s still sore.  Sore enough to warrant the Rangers to send him for an MRI.  It’s another stroke of bad luck for a Rangers outfield that already saw their MVP Josh Hamilton go down for a month with a broken arm on a messy head-first slide into home.

Cruz’s DL status is retroactive back to May 4, so he’ll be eligible to come back next week.  No word as to the status of his gimpy leg, so we’re not sure what his timetable is.  Twenty-seven-year old infrequent call-up Chris Gentry has taken his slot on the roster, but he has no real value to us.

Fortunately for the Rangers, both Cruz and Hamilton are likely to be back within two weeks, which would bring them back up to full strength.

If Matt Joyce (43% owned) has already been nabbed in your league, here are some other options to help fill the void left by Cruz:

  • Andres Torres (28% owned) – He was almost universally dropped when he went down early with an Achilles injury, and though he’s being snatched up by many, there’s still time to grab him. Torres will certainly be in the field every day, and while he doesn’t have spectacular upside, he can be a reliable fill-in OF.
  • Julio Borbon (8% owned) – Borbon is raking as much as a guy like him can possibly rake (which admittedly isn’t much).  Riding a 10-game hitting streak, he’s been moved to the leadoff spot.  You’ll get runs, average, and steals out of him until he cools off, and with both Cruz and Hamilton out he’ll continue to play full-time.  Drive him until he runs out of gas.
  • Josh Willingham (16% owned) – Undoubtedly the most consistent source of (albeit mediocre) power you can find this deep on the wire. Despite a weak first half of May (6-for-33, .182) he’s bashed two homers and seven RBIs in those nine games.  He’s the most likely to replace a decent chunk of those power numbers you’re missing with Cruz gone.

Other mixed league options: Garrett Jones (21% owned), Michael Brantley (12% owned), Ben Francisco (15% owned), Peter Bourjos (28% owned).

Deep league potshot: Chris Denorfia (1% owned).

Kim writes for Business Insider's sports page and runs a sports business blog at while attending NYU as a graduate student in Business and Economic Reporting. Catch up with him at the Cafe as Kim Bhasin, and follow him on Twitter (@KimBhasin).
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