Fantasy baseball Weekly Planner: Sorting out the Biogenesis mess
Biogenesis and potential suspensions were back in the headlines this week, causing some panic for those who owned players reportedly linked to the busted South Florida anti-aging clinic this week. It is not time to overreact in yearly leagues, though.
The Players Union and the players' attorneys are going to dig in for a fight, and it's expected that most of the prominent players linked to Anthony Bosch will appeal any suspension that is delivered within the next few weeks or months. We might not hear anything else on this topic until late in the season, if not the offseason. Appeals would go to arbitration, and the Players Union is certain to defend the players' rights strongly here, because of the nature of the allegations and the actual proof that exists.
Let's break down the top alleged players who could face suspension once the dust does finally settle:
• OF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers -- He has already won one appeal, so the reports he might face a 100-game suspension are a bit overblown. If not for a thumb issue that has hampered him lately and forced him out of Sunday's game, you should capitalize on an overreacting fantasy owner and consider trading for him.
• OF Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers -- You might think the news would burden Cruz's mind, leading to a slump by the streaky slugger; but he homered Sunday, his second since the report of Bosch's cooperation with baseball surfaced. This is a contract year for Cruz, so he'll likely remain focused as long as he stays active.
• SP Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals -- This week's reports have Gonzalez having only acquired legal substances, so you should feel fairly confident this lefty won't be affected in fantasy. He has also improved of late after a slow start -- curse you, WBC? -- so keep riding him in all fantasy leagues, especially daily formats when the matchup is favorable.
• SS Jhonny Peralta, Detroit Tigers -- He is hitting .338 and has been a multi-hit machine of late. He won't continue at this pace, but he is absolutely worthy to start in mixed leagues while hitting well, particularly while in the lineup behind Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and a recently resurgent Victor Martinez.
• 3B Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees -- The Yankees coming out and admitting A-Rod will never produce to the level of his contract was an ominous start to last Tuesday's breaking news. It was already readily apparent to fantasy owners. This news won't delay A-Rod's rehabilitation from January hip surgery, so continue to consider him a viable stash on the disabled list.
• SS Everth Cabrera, San Diego Padres -- He leads the majors with 29 stolen bases -- on pace for 74 -- making him a very valuable member of rotisserie teams. You wouldn't miss him much in mixed points-based leagues. However, he is the least likely of these players who can afford an expensive team to defend him, so owners might be a bit more worried here.
• OF Melky Cabrera, Toronto Blue Jays -- He has already served a 50-game suspension, perhaps one that ultimately opened the Biogenesis can of worms, and he hasn't been anywhere near the performer he was since the ban. This might be enough for you to consider cutting him in mixed leagues. His numbers might not get much better, and he could face a 100-game suspension if baseball can prove his involvement with Biogenesis is a separate offense.
• SP Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics -- His age makes him a part-time fantasy option anyway, so any suspension wouldn't be a game-changer for your fantasy team. He is hot right now, so there is no reason to cut or bench him. If he does get hit with a second-offense suspension, you won't be hurt too much. You were already playing with the house's money.
• C Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres -- He is just 6-for-36 coming off his already-served suspension, so he is hardly going to be missed in mixed leagues. His talent makes him a must-own in most formats, though. Like Melky Cabrera and Colon, Grandal would face a 100-game ban if baseball could prove this was a separate offense from the first.
• C Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners -- We might as well chalk this season up as a bust for the once-promising fantasy backstop. He was demoted to the minors, moved to first base full-time and then needed knee surgery that will knock him out a couple of months. His future with the Mariners is now in doubt, and he is no longer worth owning in any fantasy format now that he's on the Triple-A DL.
• C Francisco Cervelli, New York Yankees -- He was a fringe mixed-league fantasy option when healthy, and his fractured hand will keep him out until the end of June. He was off to a good start, but he is not a significant loss to fantasy owners, if suspended.
OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers -- His legend continues to grow, making him the most-added and most-talked about player in fantasy for good reason. He's an example of why you need to own all top prospects that get called up to the major leagues, just in case something like this phenomenon happens. Puig is already a must-start outfielder, even if he cools off after his hot start, and his numbers from spring training and Double-A suggest that will probably take a while. The Dodgers are going to have to find a starting spot for him once Matt Kemp (hamstring), Carl Crawford (hamstring) and Andre Ethier are all healthy, but owners should rest assured that Puig won't be in danger of going back to the minors now.
SP Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays -- He has allowed as many runs in his past two starts (15) as he allowed in his first 11 starts of the season combined. Young pitching can struggle in spurts, but you still should feel confident he can kick this funk. He is too good to cut and he might be too good to sit for his next outing versus Kansas City. The advice here is to keep him active for that home start this week.
SP Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds -- He is fully expected to get the call to the Reds' rotation to make the Tuesday start, which makes him a two-start pitcher this week. He hasn't struggled yet in the majors or Triple-A, so consider him a solid option to use in all leagues at the Cubs and versus the Brewers. Those are favorable matchups, too. Cingrani was sent to the minors at no fault of his own when Johnny Cueto (lat) came off the DL, but even when Cueto is done with his second DL stint, Cingrani is a candidate to stick around in the Reds' rotation.
RP Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies -- With Rafael Betancourt (groin) on the 15-day DL until at least late June, one of the better young relief prospects will get a chance to audition at closer for the next few weeks. It gives Brothers mixed-league fantasy value and makes him a must-start in NL-only formats. Betancourt's age (38) might even give Brothers a chance to go from the Rockies' closer of the future to Colorado's closer for the rest of the season.
1. OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers -- No one could have expected this success right away. No one should expect him to go to the minors even when Matt Kemp (hamstring) is ready later in June.
2. SP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates -- The No. 1 overall pick of 2011 is ready to make his major-league debut. He is not quite a top-shelf talent like some pitching prospects because of a mediocre strikeout-to-walk rate, so expect him to have some struggles early on.
3. 2B/3B Anthony Rendon, Washington Nationals -- His move to second base is certainly intriguing. If he can produce and be defensively worthy of starts at second, he might take the job from Danny Espinosa (wrist) long term.
4. SP Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds -- Johnny Cueto's return to the DL gives Cingrani a well-deserved return to the Reds rotation. If he pitches well, it will be hard to send him back down once Cueto is ready. The Reds will have to find a spot for him.
5. SP Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics -- Owners are scared off by the Biogenesis report this week with this veteran. Five consecutive quality starts and four consecutive victories will do that for you. Two home starts this coming week certainly help, too. Ride him, even with that tough first matchup against the Yankees.
1. SP Marco Estrada, Milwaukee Brewers -- The hamstring injury sending him to the DL is a blessing for those owners who bought him because of his solid WHIP last year. He's not fantasy-worthy. Cut him.
2. SP Jerome Williams, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- He lost his rotation spot and all immediate fantasy value. He can get some starts later this season for the Angels, but he should be readily available off the waiver wire.
3. SP Zach McAllister, Cleveland Indians -- He hit the DL with a middle finger sprain, but his decent numbers this season keeps him among the pitchers worth a DL spot in deeper leagues.
4. OF Vernon Wells, New York Yankees -- As surprising as his early-season start was, we had to expect this monumental cold streak. He can still salvage some mixed-league value this season, but you cannot start him until he gets hot again.
5. SP Brandon McCarthy, Arizona Diamondbacks -- His recent seizure was related to his fractured skill from last September, but he said it won't affect his recovery from shoulder inflammation. He is not on anti-seizure medicine and can resume throwing this week.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. SS Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers -- It looks like another trip to the DL is possible after missing the last four games. You are going to want him to prove he's healthy for a week's worth of games before you use him in fantasy at this point.
2. RP Chris Perez, Cleveland Indians -- The drug charge doesn't figure to affect his late June return to the closer's role. Vinnie Pestano owners take note.
3. OF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers -- You should be more worried about his current thumb issue he is playing with right now than any pending suspension. It will take months for this process to sort itself out. It might affect him more in drafts next year, keeping him out of the first round.
4. SP Zack Wheeler, New York Mets -- Another subpar Triple-A start delayed his potential call-up another week. It now looks like a doubleheader mid-June against the Braves is the most likely debut date. Pick him up now before that, though.
5. OF Domonic Brown, Philadelphia Phillies -- Despite the fact Puig has stolen the fantasy headline, Brown just isn't cooling off. This breakthrough is legit. Don't dare sell him unless you're getting a first-round talent in return.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies -- His last outing (11 strikeouts) is an example of why you cannot sell low on him right now. Take advantage of impatient owners still. BUY
2. OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He had a setback with his hamstring and won't be ready to return Friday as hoped. The rest should help his surgically repaired shoulder, at least. HOLD
3. SP Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants -- He improved in his past outing. It might be enough to get a decent bat for him for the second half. SELL
4. SP Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals -- The Biogenesis news might have gotten him dealt this week, but he reportedly only bought legal stuff, so he should avoid any suspension. You should feel confident going and getting him. BUY
5. OF Josh Hamilton, L.A. Angels of Anaheim -- The move to the No. 2 spot in the order is very intriguing, especially with Albert Pujols homering Sunday. If Pujols gets hot, it should mean a lot of hittable pitchers for a player that can get hotter than anyone. BUY
With seven players on the DL currently (Stephen Strasburg, Carl Crawford, Brett Anderson, Kyuji Fujikawa, Justin Smoak, Francisco Cervelli and Wilson Ramos), I have no reserves. I also had to start Triple-A outfield Wil Myers in my active lineup last week. It is time to take some fliers on the best of the waiver wire:
• OF Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres
• SP Gerrit Cole, Pittsburgh Pirates
• DH Travis Hafner, New York Yankees
If you play in those daily fantasy leagues, here are the players by position that yours truly will be going with for Monday's games. If you want to challenge me, hit me up on Twitter: @EricMackFantasy:
SP -- Yovani Gallardo
SP -- Julio Teheran
C -- Brian McCann
1B -- Prince Fielder
2B -- Jedd Gyorko
3B -- Adrian Beltre
SS -- Yunel Escobar
OF -- Nelson Cruz
OF -- Michael Morse
OF -- Jason Heyward
DH -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia