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Who replaces injured Drew, Gomez?

7/21/2011

Wow, Wednesday night was hardly a good one for the No. 2 hitters in the Milwaukee Brewers-Arizona Diamondbacks game, as outfielder Carlos Gomez (broken clavicle) and shortstop Stephen Drew (fractured ankle) both left with significant injuries. While Gomez is barely owned in ESPN standard (10-team) leagues despite his 15 stolen bases -- the guy is just not a good hitter, and he was a reserve for the Brewers -- Drew's absence will certainly have a bigger impact in the fantasy (and real) world. Journeyman Willie Bloomquist likely will replace Drew, and while he can steal a base, he's not Drew's equal as a hitter.

Then again, Drew wasn't exactly helping fantasy owners as much as they might think. I'd never call an injury a good thing, but Drew's owners might not have noticed what was going on, either. There are 11 shortstops owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues, and three others owned in 96.7 percent or more of them. Drew isn't one of them. In fact, his below-average play over the past 30 days had made him fantasy's most-dropped shortstop. Over his past 80 at-bats, Drew is hitting .175 with one home run, no stolen bases and only five runs scored. I ranked Drew comfortably in my shortstop top 10 prior to the season, but the way he was hitting ... I can't really disagree that J.J. Hardy, Yunel Escobar and even -- yikes! -- Emilio Bonifacio, with his 14 stolen bases over a month's time, have become more valuable. So should Bloomquist.

While career achievements, upside potential and, frankly, sheer talent all play a role in how we analyze and rank players, and touting Bloomquist over Drew seems irresponsible, the fact is that Drew has done very little since getting off to a strong start in April. His season started late due to an abdominal strain, but 22 RBIs in a 21-game stretch quickly got Drew to 100 percent owned. Since May 1, Drew has hit .226 with three home runs and three stolen bases. That's more than 10 weeks! From 2008-10, Drew hit .277 with an average of 16 home runs, 64 RBIs and eight stolen bases, making him a top-10 shortstop, but he still left fantasy owners wanting more. Frankly, he could have been featured in the "future stars, current disappointments" blog entry on Tuesday. We always overdraft Drew expecting that career year!

Now you need to drop the guy in all formats. His fractured ankle likely will require season-ending surgery, and he was hurting fantasy teams anyway. His name was getting him overrated in drafts and trades. I almost dealt for him in one of my leagues, but to be honest, I hadn't realized the degree to which he had been struggling, and I'm glad I held back. Drew is the No. 18 shortstop on the Player Rater for the season, but we always tell you to check the trends, because he was 60th over the past 30 days. I doubt he'll be judged in 2012 preseason rankings as a top-10 shortstop, either.

Move on to Bloomquist, who because of his base-stealing prowess should become ownable in deep leagues. No, he's not a better overall player, but with his speed, he should be more valuable in fantasy. (Yes, there's a difference.) Fast Willie has no power -- 15 home runs and a .337 slugging percentage in 10 seasons! -- but he hit .306 with seven stolen bases in April. Bloomquist swiped six of those bases by April 10, the team's eighth game. He was leading off Wednesday and playing left field, but now expect him to lead off regularly at shortstop. Let's put it this way: If Bonifacio has become ownable thanks to his steals and runs scored, so can Bloomquist. Quite an odd world we live in.

As for the Brewers, Nyjer Morgan is the No. 47 outfielder on the Player Rater over the past 30 days, though I wouldn't call him ownable in standard leagues. He's hitting .333, though we wish him luck sustaining that with five walks and 39 strikeouts on the season (his .406 BABIP is about the biggest red flag ever). And the six stolen bases over 61 games don't excite. He's simply not a good fantasy option.

Ultimately, I don't see the Brewers or Diamondbacks making the playoffs, and the Gomez/Drew injuries will play a larger role for them than for fantasy owners. These guys weren't hitting. However, check the defensive side, and it's far different. Gomez is an elite center fielder, superior to Morgan. Bloomquist is not a good shortstop, either. This news doesn't make me suddenly drop a ground ball pitcher such as Arizona's Josh Collmenter, but it sure doesn't figure to help.