Andrew Miller, Luke Hochevar, Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Drew Stubbs – they're not household names yet, but they could wind up being players that many of you will draft for your fantasy team a few years down the road. These players are expected to be among the first few to be selected in Tuesday's MLB amateur draft. While these potential future stars are taking the first steps of their professional careers, let's take a look at the established major leaguers, and what went down on the diamond this past weekend:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- It was the strain heard around the fantasy world. Albert Pujols, the undisputed leader of the roto realm heading into the weekend, strained his oblique muscle on Saturday chasing a foul pop up by Aramis Ramirez. He quickly was placed on the 15-day DL and examined on Monday to try and determine the extent of the injury. Unfortunately, that exam yielded inconclusive results, meaning that the ominous speculation of a six-week recovery time still exists as a possibility. Said Pujols on Monday, "It could be two weeks, it could be three, four, five or six. Whatever weeks it's going to be, I'm going to take my time. It's terrible, but what can I do? I don't want to shoot myself." Jim Edmonds, who was likely headed to the DL had Pujols not been injured, will fill-in at first base, where his abdominal injury has a better chance to hold up than in centerfield.
So, what are Pujols owners to do? Obviously, you can't apples-to-apples replace the best fantasy hitter in the game, but there are some players that are available that can help ease the pain of Pujols' absence a bit. And in fact, you could take an unconventional approach of using two players to replace Pujols, if you have an extra roster spot to work with. I'm talking about the Cleveland first base platoon of Ben Broussard (42-percent owned in Yahoo! leagues) and Eduardo Perez (1-percent owned) – through Sunday, they had combined for a .350 BA, 17 doubles, 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in 56 games. Of course, the move would mean a maintenance hassle of having to sub them in and out of your roster based on whether the next game's pitcher was a righty or a lefty.
A more conventional move would be to pick-up Oakland full-time first baseman Dan Johnson, who struggled mightily for most of the first two months of the season but has hit .368 in the past week with two home runs. He could finally be breaking out of his swoon, and he has 25-30 HR potential and a good eye at the plate. Kendry Morales and Sean Casey are a couple others to highly consider.
- As June rolls in, trade rumors start heating up in anticipation of baseball's trading deadline at the end of July. Among the early names in the middle of this conjecture are Ken Griffey Jr., Alfonso Soriano, Jose Vidro, Jose Guillen, Livan Hernandez, Bob Abreu, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Greg Maddux, Julio Lugo, Aaron Heilman and Dontrelle Willis. The talk of Griffey to the Yankees is especially hot given the potential season-ending wrist injury to Gary Sheffield. The Arizona Diamondbacks are thought to be highly interested in Dontrelle Willis, which can be said about of few others as well. And one of the most prominent rumors is that Maddux could be sent to the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Padres are also thought to be interested in Maddux.
- Notable injury updates: Jim Thome has a strained groin muscle, but he's expected to be back in the White Sox lineup on Tuesday … Carl Crawford has been day-to-day with a strained knee … Rocco Baldelli has about a week left on his 20-day minor league rehab assignment. At Triple-A Durham, he's hit .405 in his first 42 ABs … Mark Prior is set to make his third rehab start on Thursday. He fastball still doesn't hit much higher than 90 mph, but Cubs brass feel that he'll be back in the mid-90s as his arm strengthens. As for his return: "We don't know if it's going to be one, two, three more rehab starts or whatever," manager Dusty Baker said. "Personally, with [Kerry Wood] going only five or six [innings], we'd rather have Prior over-ready than under-ready, if possible." … Derek Jeter added his name to the list of banged-up Yankees when he was hit in the thumb on Sunday. He was not in the lineup on Monday and is considered day-to-day. … A.J. Burnett (elbow) threw a bullpen session on Saturday. "If all goes right and there are no setbacks he should be able to start (for the Jays) June 23 or so," said manager John Gibbons.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Kevin Youkilis, Bos, 1B/3B
Youkilis has hit in 14 of his past 16 games and has batted .299 or better in each month. The OBP machine (.500) has contributed a bit in HRs (7) and SBs (3), while leaving more of a mark with his Runs (42) and batting average (.317). As of Monday, he was still available in more than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues, but certainly some Pujols owners will have use for a guy that has it going like this.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Joel Guzman, LAD, 3B,OF (ETA – Now)
Guzman, one of the Dodgers top hitting prospects, was called up this past week and made his first start on Friday, hitting cleanup and going 1-for-4. He went 3-for-11 with an RBI in each of the weekend games against Philly – He rested Monday. Guzman doesn't have a positional home yet, and he'll likely play at both 3B and OF while with the big club. Guzman has a live bat and excellent power potential, so NL-only owners should take notice.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Jose Castillo, Pit, 2B – Castillo has been on a tear that has included 19 RBIs in his past 10 games – he homered in five straight games during that stretch.
Jered Weaver, LAA, SP – In his first two major league outings, Weaver has fanned 13 and allowed just two runs and seven hits in 13.1 IP. He's won both his starts.
Corey Patterson, Bal, OF – Patterson is on an amazing base stealing tear – he's swiped a base in nine straight games and has 11 SBs without being caught in that span.
Kevin Mench, Tex, OF – Mench has gone 10 games without a HR and 18 sans a RBI.
Yahoo! Experts League Update
My Y! – Funston squad sits in second place, 10 points back of juggernaut RotoWire_Liss. I've been joined in second place by KFFL – Anderson, and the two of us have swapped spots between second and third in the past few days. Among the latest pickups are Moises Alou, Matt Kemp, Placido Polanco, Jonathan Broxton, Dan Johnson and Gary Matthews Jr.