AP Photo/John Froschauer
For much of Monday baseball fans wondered how the Rays -- that's the AL East-leading Rays to you and me -- would be able to cope without left fielder Carl Crawford, placed on the DL Sunday with a right hand injury.
Later on Monday the Evan Longoria, the All-Star rookie third baseman who leads the team with 22 home runs and 71 RBIs, and who paces the team in OPS by a sizable margin. Losing the rookie would appear to hurt a bit more than losing the veteran, for the Rays and for fantasy owners, but before you really panic, note that Longoria's injury doesn't appear to be a season-ending affliction like Crawford's might be.
Longoria suffered a non-displaced right wrist fracture last Thursday when hit by a J.J. Putz pitch, and hadn't played since, missing the rest of the weekend series with the Mariners. Despite starting the season in the minors -- OK, it was only a week -- Longoria has been the Rays' top offensive player this season, and also leads all AL third basemen in fielding percentage. Rookie of the year? This guy should get some MVP votes, too.
Crawford is on pace for arguably the worst full season of his career from a fantasy aspect, and while he might or might not play again this regular season, the fact is fantasy owners can find replacements for him. Finding guys like Longoria for the long-term would be quite a bit more difficult, though this doesn't appear to be as serious an injury as what Crawford suffered.
According to the Rays, Longoria does not need surgery and he might miss only the minimum 15 days before playing again. Note that the DL stint was backdated to Friday, so it's possible those in weekly fantasy formats will need to sit Longoria only one more week, that of August 18, as he could return soon after. Outfielder Justin Ruggiano was recalled from Triple-A Durham, his fourth stint with the club this season. Ruggiano played in just 15 games in his first three tours with Tampa Bay, so don't bet on him playing much this time around, either. I mean, did ya hear the news? Rocco Baldelli is back!
Then comes the question of whether Longoria's power will be sapped, as we've seen so many times with hand injuries (see Derrek Lee, Hideki Matsui, Chase Utley, etc.). Let's just say if I owned Longoria, I'd be activating for my fantasy team the day he returns. He's a special player, and arguably a top-25 option in 2009.
In the meantime, the Rays seem confident that Willy Aybar can effectively replace Longoria at third base, though fantasy owners should be looking elsewhere. Among the third basemen sitting in free agency in at least half of ESPN's standard leagues are Melvin Mora and Kevin Kouzmanoff, each boasting 17 home runs on the season, as well as Ryan Zimmerman, Ian Stewart and Ty Wigginton. For two weeks, that's not such a big deal, is it?
Hey, it could have been worse, much worse. Ask Carlos Lee owners.
Dave Bush, Brewers
Buoyed by the vote of confidence for his rotation spot, Bush permitted only one run for the second straight game, and each time that run came in the first inning, with only goose eggs thereafter.
Justin Verlander, Tigers
Just when it looked like the Tigers ace had figured things out, the right-hander has allowed five or more runs in four consecutive outings, losing them all and seeing his ERA rise from 3.95 to 4.77.
Adam Dunn should make his Diamondbacks debut Tuesday. For more on this trade and what it means for fantasy, check out Jason Grey's spin from Monday. No matter how you spin it, Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield isn't happy. He and manager Jim Leyland are at odds over Sheffield's recent complaining about his role. Fantasy owners aren't pleased with Sheffield's .219 batting average and lack of power. If you're still waiting on Sheffield to produce, you really should have moved on about two months ago. Chris Carpenter, who left his Sunday night start a bit early with triceps soreness, will be checked in St. Louis on Tuesday to get more information on the source of his pain. Carpenter remains on schedule to start Friday, but at this point the situation is problematic. Carlos Lee underwent successful finger surgery Monday, as six fractures were repaired, not three as originally believed. Lee should have no complications for next season, but this one is over, so drop the slugger and look elsewhere for production. Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to begin a throwing program Wednesday, a good sign as he aims to return quickly from a sore shoulder. Texas save leader C.J. Wilson has opted for season-ending elbow surgery to deal with bone spurs. This is not Tommy John surgery, but Wilson doesn't make for a good keeper in 2009, as there's little indication he'll continue to close long-term. Really, the same goes for new closer Eddie Guardado. Jeff Russell, where are you? The Dodgers expect to activate Nomar Garciaparra from the DL Tuesday, and insert him into the lineup at shortstop. Angel Berroa owners -- if there are any -- can't be pleased. Garciaparra missed two weeks with a strained MCL. He can hit for average, until the next injury befalls him.
"I understand the Diamondbacks were looking to add a left-handed bat, but really, they just needed to add a bat, period, and they did it in a way that will address one of the weakest spots in their lineup by acquiring Adam Dunn from the Reds. The pickup was a no-brainer, and unless one of the players to be named later turns out to be right-handed pitcher Jarrod Parker, the price doesn't appear to be too high for a seven-week rental.
In the short term, Dunn fills the right field hole vacated by [Justin] Upton, who has been out for a month with an oblique injury. When Upton returns, however, the D-backs will have to choose between sitting Upton or Chad Tracy. Upton has been an offensive zero since mid-May, but is going to be one of the top hitters in the game in a few years and needs to get his at bats in at the big league level. Tracy has outhit Upton this year, but is 28 and has no upside and a below-average bat for first base. Sitting Tracy would allow Arizona to return Conor Jackson to first base, creating a better defensive alignment.
-- Keith Law Full Story
• The Blue Jays activated outfielder Shannon Stewart from the 15-day DL, then released him, though fantasy owners had lost interest in Stewart months ago. He last played more than two months ago, and had one home run and three stolen bases all season. While Stewart wasn't having a great season, don't be shocked if he ends up on a contender like the Mets, and then he could become relevant. In other Blue Jays news, Kevin Mench took the roster spot of Scott Rolen, a day after he was sent to Triple-A Syracuse when Vernon Wells came back.
• The Blue Jays have also recalled Jesse Litsch from Syracuse. Litsch, demoted after he started falling apart in June and July, seems to have regained his command and will go back into the rotation in place of Scott Richmond, who will go to the bullpen to replace John Parrish, demoted to make room for Litsch.
• The league-leading Angels don't seem to need much help, but if they need to tap into Triple-A Salt Lake they have good options in Kendry Morales and Brandon Wood. Bees First baseman Morales -- hitting over .450 in his last 10 games -- knocked in three more runs Monday, giving him 10 RBIs in his past six games. Wood, playing shortstop, hit home run No. 28 and has an OPS of .965, while dropping his strikeout rate down to one whiff per game, quite the improvement. Don't forget about Wood in 2009.
• While Ian Stewart appears to have cemented the third base job in Colorado for as long as Todd Helton is out-- and Helton might not return this season -- first baseman Joe Koshansky continues to rake for Triple-A Colorado Springs. He hit a grand slam Monday off demoted Padres reliever Joe Thatcher, and walked twice. Koshansky has 25 home runs and 99 RBIs in 102 games for the Sky Sox, and should at least get a September call up and longer look.
• Tigers minor leaguer Virgil Vazquez spun a four-hit shutout against Norfolk, outdueling wild Orioles farmhand Radhames Liz. Vazquez isn't having the best season in the minors, as he raised his record to 8-12 and lowered his ERA to 4.79, but note that he and Armando Galarraga were considered similar pitching prospects in the spring. Vazquez could get an opportunity with the Tigers soon.