James Lang/US Presswire
"El Caballo," one of the hottest hitters in baseball the past couple months, was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career with a broken pinky finger suffered when he was hit by a pitch in the third inning Saturday. He will have surgery Monday and is out at least six to eight weeks, perhaps ending his season.
Darin Erstad will get a majority of the starts in Lee's absence, with Reggie Abercrombie and perhaps Ty Wigginton seeing time in left field as well. The other fantasy impact is that Michael Bourn's playing time appears safe for the near future.
Replacing Lee is impossible, but fantasy owners should look at players with untapped upside, such as Lastings Milledge (owned in just one-third of ESPN standard leagues), as potential replacements.
The serious injury news doesn't end there, though. For the second season in a row, Orlando Hudson's owners will have to make do without him for the stretch run.
Hudson, who had close to 100 percent ownership in ESPN leagues, suffered a dislocation fracture of his wrist Saturday while trying to catch an errant throw. This after he missed most of September last season because of a torn ligament in his thumb.
While it has yet to determined whether Hudson will require surgery to repair the damage, the prognosis is not good either way.
"If he has the surgery, he's out the rest of the year," said D-backs manager Bob Melvin. "If he doesn't, there's still a chance he could be out for the rest of the year."
Having dealt Emilio Bonifacio to the Nationals in the Jon Rauch deal, Augie Ojeda and Chris Burke are the in-house options to replace Hudson. Ojeda played last year down the stretch, but it's possible the team trades for a second baseman in a waiver-wire deal.
For standard league fantasy owners, there are a few options to replace Hudson. Kelly Johnson sits against some lefties, but he has put up solid numbers and is available in 20 percent of ESPN leagues. His teammate, Yunel Escobar, might also be an option in the 15 percent of leagues in which he is unowned. Those needing steals should check and see if they are in one of the 10 percent of leagues in which Kazuo Matsui is in the free-agent pool.
Other than those options, Jeff Kent is still available in more than half of standard leagues, and a sleeper might be Mark Ellis. The A's second baseman is hitting just .231, but he has traditionally been a good second-half hitter, has posted double-digit totals in home runs and stolen bases this season and is likely available in your league.
Brian McCann, Braves
So much for everyday catchers wearing down in the second half. McCann had a huge game Saturday, with a two-run homer, a two-run single and a stolen base. He now has three homers and 16 RBIs since the All-Star break.
Willy Taveras, Rockies
Never before have we seen such a great base stealer have such an inept season in terms of runs scored. Get this: Taveras, who went hitless for a third straight game Saturday, now has 51 steals and 51 runs this season.
Three Mets appear to be on their way back to the club. Wagner (forearm) played catch Saturday and hopes to return when eligible to return from the DL on August 18. John Maine (rotator cuff) threw 61 pitches in a simulated game and is on track to return to the rotation Wednesday. And Ryan Church (concussion symptoms) took batting practice and will begin a rehab assignment next week. Mark Grudzielanek's ankle injury is worse than initially feared, and he likely will miss the rest of the season because of a torn ligament. Esteban German will continue to get most of the starts in his place. Todd Jones hopes to return to the Tigers on Friday. Although he is not likely to be a part of the saves mix again, you never know with the way that bullpen has been shuffled this season. The Cardinals are officially using Adam Wainwright as their closer when he returns, according to pitching coach Dave Duncan. Alexi Casilla (thumb) could return as early as August 21, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but his torn tendon limits him to hitting from just the right side, which means he could be in a platoon role. Michael Cuddyer suffered a broken foot when he was hit by a line drive in his rehab assignment. He will be examined Monday, but his season is likely over.
"I'm willing to bet that if [Manny Ramirez] does sign a long-term deal with the Yankees this winter, there won't be many tears shed in the offices at Fenway. Players like Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield are exactly what keep teams like the Red Sox, the Mets, the Dodgers and (especially) the Yankees from winning 100 games every year.
-- Rob Neyer Full Story
• The Reds placed Joey Votto on the bereavement list and called up Adam Rosales from Triple-A. Votto is eligible to return Tuesday and must be reinstated to the active roster by Saturday. Rosales is a utility infielder, at best. He was called up only because the Reds are still short position players with Jerry Hairston Jr. sidelined because of a hamstring injury. Javier Valentin should see most of the time at first base until Votto returns.
• For the second time this season, the Padres had to place catcher Josh Bard on the disabled list. Bard has an elbow injury that is not expected to be too serious, and he should return shortly after he's eligible to. Luke Carlin was called up from Triple-A to back up Nick Hundley.
• The Angels placed Reggie Willits on the disabled list because of a concussion and called up infielder Sean Rodriguez from Triple-A for bench depth. Rodriguez can swing the stick and is an underrated prospect, but there is just no room for him to get playing time right now.
• Cubs Triple-A first baseman Micah Hoffpauir homered four times Saturday to tie the Pacific Coast League record. Although he hit .378 in 19 games at the big-league level this season, at age 28 he's not a prospect. He would see more playing time in the majors only if Derrek Lee were to get hurt.
• The Mets will look strongly at prospect Jon Niese if they have a need for additional starting pitching down the stretch. He threw his third straight quality start since being promoted to Triple-A, allowing two runs in six innings and striking out five. The 21-year-old southpaw sinkerballer has a 2.95 ERA in 143 innings this season, all but 19 of them at Double-A, and has allowed just six homers all season. He could be an NL-only sleeper down the stretch if he's given a spot in the Mets' rotation.
• Remember Kendry Morales? The Angels first baseman is raking at Triple-A after being sidelined six weeks because of an oblique injury. The 25-year-old had two hits and his 13th homer in just 271 at-bats this season. He's bating .332 and slugging .520. Perhaps someday the team will give him an extended opportunity to show he can do that at the big league level as well, especially if they don't sign Mark Teixeira after the season.