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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
Lineup slide sparks slump-busting game for David DeJesus
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:51 am ET) Rays outfielder David DeJesus responded well Tuesday to a drop to the seventh spot in the batting order.

The move was made to snap him out of a hitless streak that had reached 24 at-bats. Considered him snapped. He had three hits and three RBI in the defeat of Baltimore to raise his batting average to .174.


Adam Wainwright expects to make next start
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said starting pitcher Adam Wainwright passed strength and mobility tests after leaving Tuesday's start against the Mets with a hyperextended right knee, per FOX Sports Midwest.

"He may be sore for a day or two but we'll find out more (Wednesday)," Matheny said.

Wainwright said he expects to make his next scheduled start Sunday against the Pirates.

"At first you get a little scared, but as I started walking off the field I knew I hadn't done anything wrong," Wainwright told reporters. "All is good."


Jose Bautista not getting many pitches to hit
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) Given how pitchers are pitching around Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, it's amazing he has six home runs and 13 RBI 20 games into the season.

Bautista leads the major leagues in percentage of balls thrown to him at 47 percent, Sportsnet has reported. The early-season slump by cleanup hitter Edwin Encarnacion has contributed to a willingness to pitch around him. Bautista already has 25 walks, which puts him on pace for 200 for the season.

"His discipline has been off the charts because even the strikes he's taken have been marginal pitches, pitchers' pitches," said hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. "He's got to stay right there, take his walks and trust the guys behind him because if he starts expanding just to put balls in play, then he's going to struggle."

Bautista owns a .262/.467/.569 stat line.


Mike Olt to see more playing time at third base
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:24 am ET) Cubs manager Rick Renteria said Tuesday it's time to start playing Mike Olt at third base more often, per The Chicago Sun-Times.

"We’ve talked about gradually getting him into that role," Renteria said. "Do I plan on playing him [Wednesday]? Yes.

"Everything’s very calculated. So I’m going to throw him out there and let him run with it a little bit. We’re still measuring everything; we’re still trying to be kind of guarded, but he’ll be in there (Wednesday) again."

Olt is welcoming the opportunity for more playing time at third base.

"That’d be great," Olt said of getting regular playing time. "I definitely did a lot of work to get myself ready. I definitely feel I’m ready for the task and can build off the last couple games and go from there."


Will Middlebrooks could be back with Sox this weekend
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:15 am ET) Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks could return from his rehab assignment as early as this weekend against Toronto, per the Boston Herald.

Middlebrooks, who has been dealing with a calf injury, will play for Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday. A determination will then be made as to when he is ready to come back.


Jacoby Ellsbury calls calf wrap 'maintenance'
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:10 am ET) Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had his calf wrapped Tuesday night, which brought to mind his absence for two weeks from spring training with a tight right calf.

Ellsbury, however, told the Newark Star-Ledger that the calf wrap merely served as "maintenance."


David Hale will start Saturday against Reds
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:59 am ET) The Braves announced starting pitcher David Hale will get another start Saturday against the Reds, according to MLB.com. Mike Minor (shoulder) was expected to start Saturday, but the Braves decided he will make one more rehab start before rejoining the rotation.

Marlins recall reliever Carter Capps
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:23 am ET) The Marlins recalled reliever Carter Capps prior to their Wednesday afternoon game at Atlanta. Capps posted a 1.64 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in seven appearances for Triple-A New Orleans, while striking out 17 batters in 11 innings.

Mike Olt hits fourth homer Tuesday
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:19 am ET) Cubs third baseman Mike Olt continued his all-or-nothing season Tuesday, clubbing his fourth home run of the season in a 9-2 win over the Diamondbacks.

Olt went 1 for 4 in the game and struck out twice, giving him eight strikeouts in the last four games. Still, he clubbed a three-run shot in the fifth inning to provide what would ultimately be the winning margin in the game.

Olt is hitting just .195, but is providing the kind of power that became his calling card in the minors. Of his eight hits in 16 games, four are home runs and five are for extra bases. He has a .195/.250/.512 line in 41 at-bats. 


Chase Headley hits second home run in big spot
by Chris Towers | CBSSports.com
(2:12 am ET) Padres third baseman Chase Headley is showing some signs of life, as he ended a power drought and brought his batting average to the Mendoza line in a 2-1 win over the Brewers Tuesday.

Headley slugged his first home run in nine games Tuesday, and it couldn't have come at a more perfect time. He went deep in the 12th inning to provide the winning run in the game, and finished 2 for 4 overall with a  walk and strikeout added.

Headley is hitting just .200 through 18 games with two home runs and seven RBI, but has hit safely in four of five games to raise his average 40 points. 


 
 
 
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