A big name free agent signing has gone down with an injury along with some once proven pitchers battling back from significant injuries. There also seems to be a non-baseball injury taking down a talented outfielder in Seattle. The Braves are hoping one of their best returns to form for an improved line-up. All of these and more discussed on today's injury report.
The Texas Rangers were disappointed when their newly acquired third baseman Adrian Beltre went down with a strained calf. Reports are he could miss anywhere from 10 days up to a month. Either way, Beltre should be ready for opening day but this is not what they were hoping for when he was signed. He was a dangerous signing this off-season and they gave him a 6 year contract worth $96 million. Beltre has only produced two great seasons offensively and to no surprise they were in a contract year. Even with the move to Texas, he will be over-rated in the draft so you are better off letting someone else take him. He has only managed two seasons over 100+ RBI's in his career and for all the hype and success last year he finished with 102 RBI. Beltre has always performed better vs. lefties over his career but the key to his success in his good years has been finding a way to hit righties. I personally find more value in some other 3B like Pedro Alvarez, Mark Reynolds or even Pablo Sandoval, who should bounce back this season.
Franklin Gutierrez has been undergoing a battery of tests to figure out what kind of stomach issues he is having. He only managed 4 HR's and a .230 batting average the second half of last season when the problems had gotten worse. Gutierrez has always shown a great glove but has never had a breakthrough season at the plate. Until last last season, he had shown continual improvement in his power numbers but the positive from last year was his stolen base improvement which increased to 25. If he can get his stomach issues under control and show some continued improvement, he could make for a nice late round sleeper if he can exceed 20 HR's and 30 SB's.
The ongoing hip issues continue for Justin Duchscherer. He is suffering from soreness in his surgically repaired left hip. Duchscherer had two surgeries on his right hip as well so this just seems to be more of the same. When healthy, he has produced promising numbers but his hip problems seem to be chronic and likely to destroy a once promising career. It is early in spring training but if this lingers into Mid-March he seems to be a lost cause. Younger guys like Troy Patton, Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz or Chris Tillman could benefit if Duchscherer is unable to pitch.
It appears that Chipper Jones is already beginning to make plans to DH in spring training games. He has been able to perform most baseball activities so far including some sliding drills Friday. This is an encouraging sign for a guy who still has some bat left if healthy. With the improvement of some his teammates like Martin Prado along with the promising youngsters of both Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman as well as the trade acquistion of Dan Uggla, Jones could be due for a great season assuming he is able to play 140+ games. You can't expect 155+ games from this aging hitter but he can still hit. I like him as a Top 15 overall 3B and a great fantasy sleeper.
It remains to be seen if Brandon Webb will ever make it back to his once dominant form or even at this point pitch competitively. At this point, he is just a week behind the other pitchers after doing extensive long tossing this week. He hopes to throw off the mound soon but it is important to remember he has not pitched in the majors since opening day 2009. Webb was a workhorse for 6 years before he went down with a shoulder injury. Based on his history, he is still worth a late round flyer with some upside assuming he continues to progress this spring. Guys like Michael Kirkman, David Bush or Eric Hurley could battle for the 5th spot in the rotation if Webb is not ready. Kirkman had an excellent season at Triple-A Oklahoma City last season.
Don't forget to check out our 2011 fantasy player rankings to see how all of the off-season changes will impact your fantasy baseball draft this year. Also, before you draft be sure to view and printout our 2011 real time fantasy baseball cheatsheets. Take Fantasy Alarm to your draft this year and relax knowing you have all the information you need to draft a winner in 2011.
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