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Reality Check: A new uncertainty

Senior Fantasy Writer
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And so it begins.

The Biogenesis investigation, which the Miami Times first brought to light in late January, is no longer a specter hanging over Fantasy owners, but a full-on plague promising to bring down anyone who dared toy with it.

The first to fall, the biggest of all: Ryan J. Braun. With MVP-caliber production every year since breaking into the big leagues, he was each of his Fantasy owners' ace in the hole -- fresh off the DL, back in the lineup, ready to put a disappointing first half behind him. Yes, his suspension comes just when his owners were beginning to trust him again, just when the world had them believing a lengthy appeals process would precede any possible suspension, just when they thought trading him might not be in their best interests.

Talk about a punch in the gut.

And with that, every other player connected to the Biogenesis investigation is flagged: a group that includes Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon and Jhonny Peralta, among others. It doesn't even matter if they're guilty or not. They're on the list, and now that everyone knows what happens to those on the list, they're imminently worthless. You'd have better luck selling wine by the sieve.

Go ahead. Try trading one of them. I can guarantee what the response will be.

"Oh, no. That deadweight could be done tomorrow. Just look at Ryan Braun."

Yes, look at him.

Look at how he made what seemed like the height of paranoia an instant reality.

Look at how he reduced his value to zero at the drop of a hat.

Look at how he made even the sure things in Fantasy suspect.

Then, look down, because that's where you're headed in the standings.

If you're a Braun owner, this little retrospective is nothing more than salt in the wound. He had value. It's gone now, your ace in the hole reduced to something slightly less than Skip Schumaker. But that's not the most depressing part: If you're a non-Braun owner, you can't even use his sudden suspension as a cautionary tale.

What are your options, really? Unloading Cabrera, Cruz, Colon or Peralta before they get suspended? That's probably a lost cause. They're already suspended in the minds of so many that you wouldn't get 50 cents on the dollar anymore. You might not even get a dime.

Dumping them just to spare yourself the heartache? Well, that's premature. Just because Braun chose to forego the appeals process and serve his suspension now doesn't mean they all will. Cabrera could still end up being the waiver claim who leads you to the championship when all's said and done.

Ideally, you could go all used-car salesman and use that very argument as a last-ditch attempt to finagle a deal, but if you actually pull it off -- and without a veto, I might add -- your talents are going to waste, my friend. Let's you and I revive the Pet Rock.

More realistically, you're at a standstill with these four. The safe approach is to consider whatever they give you as a bonus and to position yourself to survive without them. Practically speaking, the Cabrera owner might put in a claim for an up-and-comer like Brad Miller, or the Cruz owner might swing a deal for a power hitter like Adam Dunn. The options are endless, of course. Better to act now, before your league's trade deadline, than to roll the dice and leave yourself with nowhere to turn.

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Because if the Braun revelation showed us anything, it's that the reckoning could come any day now.

As for Braun, he at least has the benefit of a known timetable now. Yeah, he'll miss the rest of this season, but he'll enter next year fresh, without any known threats to his playing time, and will presumably go off the board in the early rounds because of it. Sure, you'll find some who question if he's really the same player now that he's off "the juice," but to me, he already proved it with his near-MVP performance last year, when the league office was dying to catch him in the act after he got off on a technicality that offseason. If he managed to skate through then, I don't know if we can trust that anyone is clean.

And I'm not sure I'd want to play Fantasy Baseball in that scenario. I understand exceptions will always pop up, but I have to believe that's all they are. The game should be about making predictions and maneuvering pieces, not sniffing out cheaters and sorting out half-truths. Injuries are one thing. Regression is one thing. But this?

This introduces an element of uncertainty to a game that has more than enough already.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Report: Rafael Furcal to miss winter league with torn hamstring
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Free-agent infielder Rafael Furcal will miss the winter league playoffs after suffering a torn hamstring, according to ESPN Deportes. 

The 37-year-old Furcal struggled with injuries last year, playing in just nine games. He hit .171 over 35 at-bats with Miami. Furcal went on the disabled list two separate times with hamstring issues last season.


Report: Wandy Rodriguez close to signing with the Phillies
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez is traveling to Philadelphia in order to take a physical, according to Phillies Spanish play-by-play man, Angel Castillo. 

If that physical goes well, Rodriguez is expected to sign with the club. The 35-year-old had knee surgery in June, but decided to pitch in winter ball in order to show major-league teams he had something left in the tank. Rodriguez posted a 6.75 ERA over 26 2/3 innings with the Pirates before he was shut down for the season. 


Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda to return to Japan
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda will return to pitch in Japan next season, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. A Hiroshima newspaper was the first to have the report.

The 39-year-old Kuroda spent seven seasons in the United States. He posted a career 3.45 ERA over 1319 innings. After spending the first four seasons of his career with the Dodgers, Kuroda joined the Yankees. He remained with the organization for three seasons, but made sure his contract went year-to-year so that he could return to Japan when ready. Kuroda plans to continue his baseball career in Japan, and will pitch for the Hiroshima Carp next year. 


Report: Giants my look at Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Giants may look into acquiring Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, according to Gammons Daily. 

Gammons notes that several general managers believe the club will deal prospects to acquire the 33-year-old Zobrist. San Francisco is currently slated to start Joe Panik at second, but Zobrist can play multiple positions. It's unclear where the Giants would elect to use Zobrist the most. He hit .272/.354/.395 in 570 at-bats last season. Zobrist is entering the final year of his contract, and is due $7.5 million next season.


Report: Yankees have yet to be informed of Hiroki Kuroda's plans
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Yankees have yet to be informed of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda's plans for next year, according to the New York Times.

A Hiroshima newspaper reported Kuroda will return to Japan next season, ending a seven-year run in the United States. The 39-year-old posted a 3.71 ERA over 199 innings with New York last season. Kuroda had signed one-year deals the past couple of offseasons so that he could return to Japan when ready.


1B Clint Robinson hooks up with Nationals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Nationals have signed first baseman Clint Robinson to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Robinson had been in the Dodgers organization. He compiled a strong .312/.401/.535 slash line at the Triple-A level a year ago.


Report: RHP Hiroki Kuroda heading back to Japan
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is heading back to Japan, thereby ending his career with the Yankees, per various reports.

Kuroda, who will be 40 years old in February, pitched seven seasons in the major leagues, including the last three in the Big Apple. He finished 2014 with an 11-9 record and 3.71 ERA.


Astros LHP Downs, IF Petit heading to Fresno
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) The Astros have outrighted left-hander Darin Downs to Triple-A Fresno after having cleared waivers. 

The team has also announced that infielder Gregorio Petit has accepted an assignment to Fresno. He and Downs are set to join the squad in spring training.


Nationals taking chance on 2B Dan Uggla
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Second baseman Dan Uggla, who has spent most of his recent years creating a breeze at the plate, has signed a minor league deal with the Nationals with a spring training invite.

Uggla received a career-low 141 at-bats last season with Atlanta and San Francisco. He compiled a disturbing slash line of .149/.229/.213 with 46 strikeouts. His batting average has fallen in each of the last four years.


Diamondbacks bring in LHP Dan Runzler
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12/26/2014) Left-hander Dan Runzler did not stick around in Japan for long. He spent the last two months of the 2014 season there, but is back in the states after signing a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks.

Runzler compiled a 3.30 ERA and fanned 53 in 46 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level for San Francisco last season before bolting to Japan.


 
 
 
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