|ESPN.com: Eric Karabell||[Print without images]|
On Thursday morning, a trusted ESPN colleague outside of the fantasy department emailed me about young St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Adams, asking whether he was worth owning moving forward. My answer was simple: If Adams played regularly, he’d be attractive for all formats, but as of Thursday morning, he wasn’t playing regularly. Of course, that should have been a harbinger right there, and knowing timing is everything (sorry, pal!), on Thursday night everything potentially changed. Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday pulled up lame running to first base in the fourth inning with right hamstring tightness, which could be the break Adams and his eager owners needed.
As of now, it’s still a bit speculative that Holliday will miss major time, but it’s not a bad idea to stash Adams -- even in shallow leagues, frankly -- just in case. The Cardinals don’t seem to have any concerns about using Allen Craig in left field, and Adams is capable enough at first base. And he can rake. Like 30 home runs in 500 at-bats rake. Expert predictor Bill James, in his preseason handbook, gave Holliday, Craig and Adams all 27 home runs for 2013. It’s also true that outfielder Oscar Taveras, the organization’s top prospect, has a massive future as a slugger as well and fantasy owners are eager for his arrival, but he’s still recovering from a high-ankle sprain and hasn’t played for Triple-A Memphis in a few weeks. I doubt he gets the call to the majors any time soon. After all, he’s only 21.
As for Holliday, obviously monitor his status later Friday. Perhaps the injury isn’t as bad as it appeared and he plays this weekend. Now 33, Holliday has seemed to battle various injuries since the start of 2011, although he never stops hitting. We’re a bit past the point of it being a wise time to invest in him in keeper leagues. I downgraded Holliday in drafts for this season, concerned about health but also the absence of stolen bases (remember he swiped 28 bases in 2008, but only six combined from 2011-12). I wouldn’t go dumping Holliday even if he does need to miss a few weeks, though. He’s still a top-20 outfielder, one who has cut down on the strikeouts and might enjoy some BABIP normalization soon, and he still provides power and enough batting average.
Box-score bits (NL): Holliday wasn’t the only top-20 fantasy outfielder from draft day to leave his Thursday game prematurely with a hamstring pull. Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward says he’ll avoid the disabled list, but I’d get him out of Friday lineups in daily formats. Heyward has been a popular topic from my recent chat and in Twitter commentary; my point was he’s shown only modest signs of improvement lately, and if he isn’t running, then he’s not the player we drafted. How about some good news? The Colorado Rockies welcomed back center fielder Dexter Fowler and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki from the DL on Thursday, and each played in the loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Each is owned in all leagues and obviously should be. Meanwhile, if you’re waiting for the demoted Tyler Colvin to emerge, good luck with that. Dodgers lefty Chris Capuano is a maddening pitcher. He was underrated entering the season but is so inconsistent he could be a 15-game winner or lose his rotation spot at any point. On Thursday, he threw a gem. Of course he did.
Box-score bits (AL): New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter made his season debut Thursday, hitting a single in four at-bats as the designated hitter, then leaving early with right quad tightness. An MRI is pending. I wrote about Jeter on Thursday, and as long as he’s playing, he’s worth owning, even in standard formats. I don’t feel that way yet about Baltimore Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, but I was happy for him when he homered Thursday. It’s early, but Roberts is hitting only .239 in 46 at-bats, he’s attempted one stolen base and he’s not durable. I’d avoid. I’d also avoid Detroit Tigers right-hander Anibal Sanchez, if possible. I know he was great the first two months, but he has a shoulder injury. And on Thursday it looked like it, as Chicago White Sox rookie catcher Josh Phegley launched a grand slam and Sanchez allowed seven hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. I’m not buying low. Fantasy owners in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere seemed a bit too excited about Seattle Mariners right-hander Erasmo Ramirez. Yes, he was solid in 59 innings for the big club in 2012 and thriving at Triple-A Tacoma this year, but he’s no Hisashi Iwakuma. Ramirez allowed seven runs in 4 2/3 innings Thursday in his season debut.