- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Sometimes in baseball it's all about the asterisk, and I don't mean in regards to Roger Maris and Barry Bonds. As baseball begins its second half, I see many players with that annoying little symbol next to their names in fantasy leagues, which means those fellows aren't helping your teams because they're on the disabled list. Of course, it doesn't tell the tale of their actual value. Here are the players in the top 250 on the ESPN Player Rater currently on the disabled list and my thoughts on them the rest of the season.
By the way, the impetus for this idea came from how I discussed New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez on the Fantasy Focus show Wednesday. I said be very careful in acquiring him, because the right knee surgery he underwent Monday could very well keep him out of the lineup until September. That's a problem, even for the No. 4 third baseman on our Player Rater and No. 52 overall. I say sell him now in roto leagues, but if you can qualify for the head-to-head playoffs without him, don't. A-Rod for four weeks is still better than none, but it's far from 10 weeks, which is what is left. By the way, he was officially placed on the disabled list Thursday afternoon.
6. Jose Reyes, SS, New York Mets: As my midseason ranking of Reyes showed (he was 20th), I'm confident he returns to the lineup soon and, hamstring healed, he keeps playing well. I'd trade for him, even expecting him to hit "only" .300 the rest of the way.
50. Shane Victorino, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: A torn ligament in his right thumb pushed the productive Victorino to the shelf, but the Phillies expect him back next week. Victorino is hitting 44 points higher than his 2010 mark, and I think there's some regression coming, but he can still run and pop the occasional home run. This is strong No. 2/3 fantasy outfielder.
86. Jon Lester, SP, Boston Red Sox: It's not a structural problem in the throwing shoulder, just a strained muscle, and the team thinks rest will solve things. Lester has nearly the same ERA and WHIP as last season, and I see no reason for panic here. Look for Lester on the mound in two weeks.
128. J.J. Putz, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: This obviously isn't his first rodeo on the DL circuit, and elbow issues scare me. The Diamondbacks fancy themselves as contenders -- they are right -- so I presume if Putz can throw, he'll be back soon. There's no closer battle here with David Hernandez, either. I say Putz is back this month, but it's not all fun the rest of the way.
151. Josh Johnson, SP, Florida Marlins: His midseason rankings showed the differences in opinion. His numbers are tremendous, and there is no structural damage in his right shoulder, but the Marlins aren't the Boston Red Sox in the standings. I doubt we see this right-hander in the next month. He's made nine starts; let's give him ... nine more. Trading for JJ is a tad dangerous.
154. Ryan Madson, RP, Philadelphia Phillies: The Phillies could afford to play it really safe with his hand problem, but the team's middle relief is no sure thing. Madson returns to the closer role this weekend and keeps the job.
156. Erik Bedard, SP, Seattle Mariners: Bedard is hardly the most durable fellow, but I liked that the Mariners disabled the left-hander for a few weeks, whether he had a bum knee or not. Bedard returns next week and keeps pitching like a champ: He has a 1.81 ERA since the start of May. Perhaps his reputation preceded him, but Bedard remains available in nearly half of ESPN's standard leagues!
205. Martin Prado, 2B/3B/OF, Atlanta Braves: He was hitting .277 with enough power to matter when he hurt his right calf and got a staph infection. Expect him to play third base Friday night and raise that batting average. This is a really underrated player.
206. Jose Tabata, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates: Underrated on draft day, Tabata hit three home runs and stole nine bases in April (with a .242 batting average), and it's been all downhill since. He should return from his quad injury soon, but I'm not looking at him as a top-150 player anymore.
211. Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves: His only real fantasy contribution was in RBIs, and I could see him getting back on track in about a month, but I won't be waiting around for it.
247. Jason Bourgeois, OF, Houston Astros: Still hitting a lofty .353 and with 17 stolen bases in a mere 45 games, fantasy owners have been salivating over this guy for a while. Plus, he could end up with second-base eligibility if his quad injury ever heals. The fact is, however, that Bourgeois isn't this good. He's 29, not a prospect. He's been around. If you have him stashed away and can find another owner that thinks he'll keep this up, move him.
248. Shin-Soo Choo, OF, Cleveland Indians: Wow, who though this top-30 player would end up at the edge of the top 250 on our Player Rater? Choo's busted thumb required surgery and the early line is he won't return until at least August.
Briefly, from outside the top 250: I didn't rank Justin Morneau. I think he could play again in mid-August, but it's not like he was hitting before. Move on (for this season). His teammate Jason Kubel is a far better investment, if his foot is healed. ... Outfielder Denard Span is about a week or so away from returning, but it's crowded in the outfield, and Ben Revere deserves to play. ... I have little reason to believe Florida Marlins outfielder Chris Coghlan will hit enough to warrant our attention. ... I have little reason to believe Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts will return this season from his concussion. ... Move on from New York Mets first baseman Ike Davis. I think he avoids microfracture knee surgery, but why would the team push him? ... By the way, with top-20 players David Wright and Carl Crawford, I'm buying. Absolutely buying. ... And if you're in a keeper league and you see San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey sitting on free agency, well, you know what to do.