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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
Roenis Elias has been clutch performer for Mariners
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:37 am ET) Mariners starting pitcher Roenis Elias has been pretty outstanding in place of the injured Hisashi Iwakuma. He has not allowed more than three runs in any of his six starts and has allowed a total of three runs in his last three starts following Monday's 4-1 win at Tampa Bay.

"Any time you lose a guy of Iwakuma's status, that's a big hit," manager Lloyd McClendon said, per MLB.com. "But it was nice to have this young man there waiting in the wings. And he hasn't disappointed."

Catcher Mike Zunino said Elias' best attribute is his ability to work himself out of tight jams.

"I think he clicks it in a little bit," Zunino said. "He focuses a little bit more and keeps the ball down in the zone. The way he's been throwing, he has a lot of trust in his changeup. He used that a couple times with guys on base to get ground balls and get us out of the inning."


Orioles prospect Branden Kline to meet with Dr. Andrews on elbow
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Orioles pitching prospect Branden Kline will meet with Dr. James Andrews to discuss possibilities for his injured elbow, according to MASN Sports.

Kline, a second-round pick in 2012, left his last start in Double-A Bowie when he felt tenderness in his flexor mass tendon. Kline is 3-3 with a 3.66 ERA in eight starts this season for Double-A Bowie. He is 12-13 in his minor league career with a 4.31 ERA.


Royals pitcher Jason Vargas to be activated Tuesday for start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:09 am ET) Royals pitcher Jason Vargas is scheduled to return from the disabled list on Tuesday to start for the injured Danny Duffy, according to the Kansas City Star.

Vargas, who is currently on the 15-day DL with a strained felxor muscle, will have a 75-pitch limit in his start against the Yankees, manager Ned Yost said on Monday.

Vargas has not thrown in a game since May 5 when he suffered the injury and currently holds a 3-1 record with a 5.26 ERA in 25 2/3 innings of work. The Royals are currently the underdogs (+105) against New York.


Angels SP Jered Weaver back on track after fixing delivery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:58 am ET) It wasn't long ago that Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver was dealing with a 0-4 start to the season. His ERA stood at 6.29 through his first six starts and his fastball velocity was sitting around 83 mph.

However, days after falling to 0-4 following a May 3 start against the Giants, Weaver began to iron out some mechanical issues, according to MLB.com. He focused on keeping his head "on the target" and throwing through his across-the-body delivery, rather than "pulling off" and not having a direct line to home plate.

The results have been pretty good since fixing the flaws in his delivery. He threw a complete-game shutout May 8 against the Astros to pick up his first win. He is 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts, lowering his ERA to 4.06.

"My front side was kind of erratic and I wanted to clean that up," Weaver said. "But my front side has been a lot better, which leads to a better arm slot, so everything's coming out of the same slot now. It's a good feeling."


Rays' Cash: Logan Forsythe will start at 1B with James Loney out
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:34 am ET) Utility infielder Logan Forsythe will be the Rays starting first baseman with James Loney sidelined 4-6 weeks with a broken finger, manager Kevin Cash told reporters Monday, per the Tampa Bay Times.

Cash added Rene Rivera and Tim Beckham will fill in at first base as needed.

Forsythe started at first base Monday against the Mariners and hit his fifth home run of the season. He has a .323/.379/.527/.906 slash line in his last 25 games.


Cards' Mozeliak: We will know more about Gonzales' status Tuesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:21 am ET) Cardinals starting pitcher prospect Marco Gonzales will undergo medical tests Tuesday to determine what is the cause of the recurring soreness in and around his left shoulder, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

"We’ll know a lot more on Marco (on Tuesday)," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "At that point we’ll make a decision on what that next step will look like. … Any time you have a pitcher who is feeling discomfort especially in the shoulder or elbow areas it always sends up a flag so hopefully we’ll get good news, but we’ll see."

The highly touted prospect is on the disabled list in the minors for the second time this season with pain in his biceps/shoulder area. He is 0-1 with a 6.35 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Memphis.


Fastball, slider fueling Blue Jays SP Drew Hutchison's turnaround
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:14 am ET) Following Monday's complete-game shutout against the White Sox, Blue Jays right-hander Drew Hutchison has a 2.36 ERA and .220 opponents' batting average in his last four starts. It's been a nice turnaround after he posted an 8.88 ERA and .327 opponents' batting average in his previous five starts.

"It started with my fastball command that night (in Houston on May 14)," Hutchison said, per Sportsnet.ca. "I was able to hit down and away real consistent and then the last three innings that game I found my slider, and I feel like I’ve done a good job of repeating that and making good pitches and executing quality pitches in the zone, not just falling behind and throwing pitches in the zone.

"There’s a difference, and I feel like I’ve done a better job of that lately."


Angels send C.J. Cron to minors; plan to call up Grant Green
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:28 am ET) The Angels optioned designated hitter C.J. Cron to Triple-A on Monday, reports MLB.com. Cron is hitting .204 with one home run in 98 at-bats this season.

"I wasn't playing much," Cron said, per MLB.com. "Obviously when you're not playing, you're doing something wrong, and the opportunity is not there for you to just prove you belong. I knew in the recent stretch there was a chance [of getting optioned].

"When you're getting at-bats every once in a while, it's hard to get your timing right. That's what I'm going down for, to get better timing and to start swinging like I know I can."

The team plans to call up outfielder Grant Green, sources told MLB.com. Green is 2 for 6 in three games for the Angels this season.


Angels OF Collin Cowgill diagnosed with joint sprain
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(1:06 am ET) An MRI revealed Angels outfielder Collin Cowgill sustained a joint sprain in his right hand, reports MLB.com.

Cowgill suffered the injury during batting practice Sunday and he has missed the last two games. He is considered day to day.


Padres OF Will Venable drives in two runs during loss to Angels
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(12:33 am ET) Padres outfielder Will Venable accounted for two RBI in Monday evening's 4-3 loss to the Angels. 

Venable went 1 for 3 from the plate and hit a two-run single in the seventh inning that scored Jedd Gyorko and Yangervis Solarte. Venable also drew a walk during the game. 

For Venable, he now has 10 RBI this season. 

Venable has a batting average of .444 in his past five games. For the season, he holds a slash line of .293/.361/.467.


 
 
 
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