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Reality Check: Prioritizing those DL spots

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

For five days, you caught a glimpse of what could have been, your patience and foresight rewarded with enough production to shake up the standings.

Hanley Ramirez was back, and he was proving well worth the wait.

"Ha-ha!" you laughed, more in triumph than amusement. "This is what I was waiting for! This is what I knew would happen! My genius knows no bounds!"

Yes, for five glorious days, you were like a super villain whose super plan had gone all too right. But as you basked in your radiance, forces of nature were at work --forces small and secretive enough to conceal your impending downfall.

Ramirez was healthy for a full five days, and then with one tug of the hamstring, he wasn't.

Which will bring us back to doh!

On the one hand, you can't be too disappointed. Ramirez had beaten his initial timetable by about a month, so if this new injury costs him that much time, you're right back where you started. On the other hand, you've operated under the new timetable for weeks now. You've already had other villainous thoughts and enacted other villainous schemes, such as gobbling up Brandon Beachy to fill your now-vacant DL slot.

Oh yes, wicked indeed.

Or maybe you hadn't engineered something so devious since Draft Day, when you selected Curtis Granderson and Corey Hart late, anticipating their eventual returns.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but that was before Jered Weaver broke his elbow, Zack Greinke broke his collarbone, Jose Reyes sprained his ankle and Michael Bourn cut his finger.

Playing the victim now, are we?

Maybe that maniacal laughter that accompanied Ramirez's performance wasn't in response to how good you had it, but how bad you needed it. Though stashing two or three injured players in the hope of a big payout later is typically a sinister strategy, any more than that can become burdensome. You need to have something in the way of depth.

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Naturally, if you find yourself with four or five high-end DL players, which is increasingly likely with Ramirez, Roy Halladay and Andrew Bailey joining the ranks, you could try trading one of them, but you'd have to expect lowball offers in return, especially if your wicked ways are known throughout the land.

In the absence of legitimate offers, painful as it may be, prioritization is your only recourse. To that end, I've created a rank list. Of all the players on the DL, these are the 25 most worth owning in Fantasy. Ideally, they should all be owned, but at least now picking and choosing isn't so evil.

That's your thing, after all.

1. Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins

Injury: Strained hamstring
Projected Return: Late May

Stanton was the highest drafted of all of these players and deserves more time to find himself, especially since the rest of the Marlins lineup has only recently come around. A couple weeks' wait is nothing for a player who could potentially be your team's best.

2. Jered Weaver, SP, Angels

Injury: Broken elbow
Projected Return: Late May

Weaver broke his non-throwing elbow, so it's not like he'll need to learn to pitch all over again. Now that the fracture has had time to heal, he should get back to being the Angels' ace within a few weeks.

3. Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers

Injury: Broken collarbone
Projected Return: Early June

I'll stick with the initial estimate of eight weeks to differentiate between him and Weaver, but with some reports suggesting he could actually return in late May, I'm looking to buy low on Greinke wherever I can.

4. Michael Bourn, OF, Indians

Injury: Lacerated finger
Projected Return: This weekend

Bourn's return is imminent. Considering he's had the stitches out for close to a week now, he should probably already be back. He may not be as high-end as some of the players that follow, but with him so close to being useful again, you'd be crazy to part with him now.

5. Hanley Ramirez, 3B/SS, Dodgers

Injury: Strained hamstring
Projected Return: Late May

The severity of Ramirez's hamstring injury is less than clear. Ramirez thinks it's no big deal, which would suggest a two-week timetable. Manager Don Mattingly thinks it is, which would suggest more like a four-week timetable. I'll split the difference and say three weeks, but he's worth the wait either way.

6. Jason Heyward, OF, Braves

Injury: Appendectomy
Projected Return: Late May

That late-May timetable is perhaps overly cautious considering Heyward has already begun hitting. Of course, maybe the extra time will help him get his swing right. His early struggles are the only reason he's not higher.

7. Johnny Cueto, SP, Reds

Injury: Sore oblique
Projected Return: Mid-May

A sore oblique doesn't sound as bad as a strained oblique, but nobody's forcing the Reds to use precise terminology. The injury is a fresh one -- he originally went on the DL with a lat issue -- which makes Cueto's timetable less than certain. I predict he'll be back before Weaver and Greinke, though.

8. Josh Johnson, SP, Blue Jays

Injury: Triceps inflammation
Projected Return: Late May

Johnson's sudden trip to the DL last week wasn't because his triceps inflammation got worse, but because the Blue Jays opted for a more cautious approach. He isn't as reliable as a Weaver or Greinke, but he has that kind of potential.

9. Curtis Granderson, OF, Yankees

Injury: Broken forearm
Projected Return: Mid-May

Granderson, who broke his forearm early in spring training, needs about 50 at-bats before returning and has already begun getting them at extended spring training. His expected return is fairly projectable at this point. Unfortunately, his expected production is not.

10. Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays

Injury: Sprained ankle
Projected Return: Early July

Still in a walking boot, Reyes likely has months to go. A post-All-Star break return is more than feasible. Of course, even if you have to play short-handed for that length of time, his production at a weak position is worth it.

11. Aaron Hill, 2B, Diamondbacks

Injury: Broken hand
Projected Return: Late May

After breaking his hand in mid-April, Hill is already halfway home. Even if you don't totally buy into his 2012 numbers, you should be willing to wait and see by this point.

12. Corey Hart, 1B/OF, Brewers

Injury: Torn meniscus in knee
Projected Return: May 30

Most Fantasy owners drafted Hart anticipating a late-April return, but if nothing else, the Brewers' abundance of caution makes his projected return abundantly clear. When healthy, he's as steady as power hitters come.

13. Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics

Injury: Sprained ankle
Projected Return: Mid-May

Anderson was able to pitch 5 1/3 innings of relief on his bum ankle back on April 29, so I suspect his DL stint will be relatively short. He may not be an ace when healthy, but he's too good to stick on waviers.

14. Adam Eaton, OF, Diamondbacks

Injury: Sprained elbow
Projected Return: Late May

When a UCL sprain becomes a UCL tear, Tommy John surgery is usually the only recourse, so Eaton is on dangerous ground. He's already begun hitting and throwing, though, so I'd like to see my favorite preseason sleeper through to the end.

15. Matt Garza, SP, Cubs

Injury: Strained lat
Projected Return: Mid-May

For as close as Garza is to returning, he should be owned in more than 67 percent of leagues. His WHIP and strikeout rate were ace-caliber at the time of his injury last year, and he may need only one more rehab start.

16. Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees

Injury: Torn tendon sheath in wrist
Projected Return: Late May

Teixeira's place on this list might be low for some people's liking, but his injury has the makings of an eternal headache. Not only could it still cause season-ending surgery, but a lengthy -- perhaps even on-the-job -- rehab stint seems likely. Some years he needs 150 at-bats to find his timing.

17. Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies

Injury: Shoulder inflammation
Projected Return: Early June

We don't know how serious Halladay's injury is yet, but as long as it's something that will heal on its own, which is a logical assumption at this point, he's well worth stashing. Remember: He had seemingly turned the corner with three straight great starts before his shoulder started acting up.

18. Coco Crisp, OF, Athletics

Injury: Strained hamstring
Projected Return: Mid-May

Crisp was the top hitter in Fantasy at the time of his injury, but injuries are kind of the norm for him. Plus, he was clearly performing over his head power-wise. Even with the short timetable, he doesn't deserve the leeway of the legitimate high-end types.

19. Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves

Injury: Tommy John surgery
Projected Return: Mid-June

Beachy's long road back from Tommy John surgery is nearing its end, and in case you've forgotten, he was emerging as an ace at this time last year. He probably has six or seven rehab starts ahead of him, but boy, you'd like to stash him if you could.

20. Andrew Bailey, RP, Red Sox

Injury: Sore biceps
Projected Return: Late May

Bailey was looking like a top-10 closer during his time filling in for Joel Hanrahan, but now that Hanrahan is filling in for him, the Red Sox could easily go back to their original plan of Bailey in the setup role.

21. Ryan Madson, RP, Angels

Injury: Tommy John surgery
Projected Return: Late June

Late June might be a generous timetable considering CBSSports.com Senior Baseball Columnist Scott Miller recently said on Fantasy Baseball Today that he didn't expect Madson back before the All-Star break, but the right-hander threw a successful bullpen session Saturday. He's the definitive closer when he returns.

22. Michael Pineda, SP, Yankees

Injury: Torn rotator cuff
Projected Return: Late June

This timetable is a wild guess considering not every pitcher makes any sort of comeback from a torn rotator cuff, but reports of Pineda throwing in the mid-90s in extended spring training have me cautiously optimistic.

23. Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Yankees

Injury: Sore back
Projected Return: Mid-May

Relatively speaking, Youkilis' injury is no big deal, but relatively speaking, neither is he. At this stage of his career, he's a serviceable corner infielder in mixed leagues but one you shouldn't be afraid of losing to someone else if you cut him.

24. Colby Lewis, SP, Rangers

Injury: Torn flexor tendon in elbow
Projected Return: Late May

Lewis doesn't have ace potential, and his procedure doesn't assure him a full recovery. Still, if he's close to what he was when he returns in a few weeks, he'll be an asset in wins, WHIP and strikeouts.

25. Derek Jeter, SS, Yankees

Injury: Broken ankle
Projected Return: Late July

The Yankees have all but eliminated the possibility of Jeter returning in the first half. In fact, he might not even return this season. Still, if you have a DL spot to play with, you might as well take a stab at him.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch admits to pressing too hard last spring
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:41 am ET) Rangers pitcher Nick Tepesch is still pushing to earn a spot on the team's starting rotation this spring, but he knows he pushed a bit too hard last year, reports the Dallas Morning News.

"I was just trying to do a little too much," said Tepesch, who threw a scoreless inning on 14 pitches in Sunday's intrasquad game. "I was trying to make perfect pitches and staying who I am. Getting sent down allowed me to look at what made me successful and try to own those types of things. It was beneficial. I also now know that I can only control what I do. If I stay focused on that, pressure takes care of itself."


Tigers' Blaine Hardy hoping to reign in his accuracy in 2015
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Tigers pitcher Blaine Hardy is using this spring training to work on his control. Hardy struggled in 2014 with his control, walking 20 batters in 39 innings pitched.

"Last year I walked more people than I would've liked," he said to MLB.com. "That's definitely a learning point, learning the strike zone. It's a little bit different, a little bit smaller, but more consistent. With that being said, I felt like I had a good year, and hopefully I'll be able to come in and do the same thing with less walks."

Manager Brad Ausmus didn't think Hardy's season was as bad as people believe it was.

"I thought he did a good job for us, quite frankly," Ausmus said. "It kind of irks me a little bit when people want to split players' seasons up: Player X had a good year, but he really struggled in the second half. He still had a good year.

"Guys are going to struggle at some point in the season. It's probably more likely they struggle in the second half as they tire, but you can't discount what they did in the first half. Those games are just as important to win."


Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin faces hitters for first time Saturday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Rockies pitcher Jhoulys Chacin is feeling good about his health so far in camp. Good enough, in fact, that the 27-year-old faced hitters Saturday for the first time this spring.

Sunday, Chacin said he was without pain.

"Today I feel normal -- not like before," Chacin said. "I threw everything and felt good. I need to get into games to really feel back to normal, like it did two years ago [14-10 with a 3.47 ERA in 31 starts]. I know I've got a long way to go. I don't know what my velocity was, but it'll come up a little."

Chacin injured his rotator cuff in the middle of last season, forcing him out of action for nearly half the season.


Indians P Gavin Floyd comes out of live BP session pain free
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Following his first live batting practice of spring training, Indians pitcher Gavin Floyd came away without any pain the elbow he broke last season.

With the Braves in 2014, Floyd fractured his elbow in a game against the Nationals on June 19. The injury required surgery, which ended his season. Sunday morning's batting practice marked the first time he'd thrown to a batter since that game. 

"It's just another step," Floyd said via MLB.com. "It's the first time I had a significant bullpen, cooled down for a little bit and then got back out there. I felt really good. I've just got to continue to make progress and build up strength. Usually, that's just by doing it over and over again, and using spring to do that."


White Sox's Gordon Beckham working at multiple infield positions
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Gordon Beckham's main goal this spring training is to win the White Sox's starting second baseman position. 

But for now, the White Sox are planning to use him at multiple positions in the infield during Cactus League play, according to MLB.com. This is somewhat new for Beckham, as he played second base during his first five-plus Major League seasons with the White Sox. 

Though Beckham is looking to earn the starting job at second base, he seems to be enjoying playing multiple spots so far. 

"I'm actually kind of enjoying running around," Beckham said. "I like popping around the infield. I know the coaches and the people making the decisions know I can play second base and know I can play it well. There has been an emphasis on them just telling me to get some work in other places."

Beckham actually played shortstop in college at the University of Georgia and played that position, as well as third base, after the White Sox traded him to the Angels. He was brought back to Chicago on a one-year deal. 

Beckham hit a single-season worse .226 for both the Angels and White Sox a season ago. 


Giants' Tim Lincecum to 'piggyback' starter this week
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Giants manager Bruce Bochy said pitcher Tim Lincecum will see a relief appearance early this week, according to MLB.com

Lincecum is generating rave reviews for his performance early on in spring training. However, he won't be getting a start this week. Bochy said Lincecum will "piggyback" either Madison Bumgarner (Tuesday), Jake Peavy (Wednesday), Ryan Vogelsong (Thursday) or Yusmeiro Petit (Friday) this week. 

This means Lincecum will come in and get a starter's workload in relief. 


Giants' Jake Peavy to start Wednesday for Giants
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Following Madison Bumgarner's exhibition start on Tuesday, the Giants will go with Jake Peavy to start Wednesday's Cactus League game against the Athletics, manager Bruce Bochy announced via MLB.com

Ryan Vogelsong will pitch Thursday against the Cubs and Yusmeiro Petit will go Friday against the Rangers. 


White Sox's Gordon Beckham working at multiple infield positions
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Gordon Beckham's main goal this spring training is to win the White Sox's  starting second baseman position. 

But for now, the White Sox are planning to use him at multiple positions in the infield during Cactus League play, according to MLB.com. This is somewhat new for Beckham, as he played second base during his first five-plus Major League seasons with the White Sox. 

Though Beckham is looking to earn the starting job at second base, he seems to be enjoying playing multiple spots so far. 

"I'm actually kind of enjoying running around," Beckham said. "I like popping around the infield. I know the coaches and the people making the decisions know I can play second base and know I can play it well. There has been an emphasis on them just telling me to get some work in other places."

Beckham actually played shortstop in college at the University of Georgia and played that position, as well as third base, after the White Sox traded him to the Angels. He was brought back to Chicago on a one-year deal. 

Beckham hit a single-season worse .226 for both the Angels and White Sox a season ago. 


Phillies pitcher Paul Clemens fighting for spot in bullpen
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Phillies pitcher Paul Clemens has been told he has a great arm. But Clemens, who posted a 5.51 ERA in 48 appearances with the Astros over the last two years, knows it'll take more than that.

"Some pitching coaches tell me how incredible my arm is and that I could play for a long time, so I think I've been showing some guys what I bring to the table," Clemens said. "I had a couple really good conversations with front office and some guys around here, so it's definitely motivating."

He wants to be able to pick out his spots better during spring training, knowing he has to impress as a non-roster invitee.

"Sometimes I think I get too overzealous with my fastball and I just pound it and pound it and pound it. So picking my spots more, being smarter. You can't really challenge guys at this level. Once in a while you've got to pick your spots, but you can't challenge too many guys, even the guys you don't really know their names as much. You've still got to pitch."


Athletics to ease Coco Crisp into action this spring
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/1/2015) Athletics manager Bob Melvin wants to take things slow with veteran outfielder Coco Crisp this spring, reports MLB.com.

"I'll probably hold him out the first few because I'm going to cut down on his workload," Melvin said Sunday.

Crisp, who is dealing with a case of pinkeye, was held out of an intrasquad scrimmage, even though he was able to take part in batting practice.


 
 
 
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