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Kicking Rocks: Displaced Vets

It’s a pretty exciting time for both baseball fans and fantasy players right now, isn’t it? Rosters don’t expand until September and yet we’re still seeing a slew of prospects getting called up and being handed regular playing time. The baseball fan in me loves seeing the next generation of superstars ushering in a new era while the fantasy player in me gets a nice inundation of fresh blood into the player pool, ready to be scooped up from the waiver wire and put to work as I push my way towards another fantasy championship. It’s win win, right?


Not everyone is totally jazzed up about some hot-shot rookie getting called up and handed an immediate starting role. Much like the debate in this country about immigrants coming in and taking jobs away from struggling, unemployed Americans, there are several in the baseball world that have a dissenting opinion here. Those veteran players who end up riding the pine as well as their fantasy owners are not a happy group of campers.

When Anthony Rizzo was summoned from Iowa to play first base for the Cubs, both Bryan LaHair and his owners were reassured that there would be no loss of playing time. He would move to right field, get his usual number of at-bats, and there was even the bonus of additional position eligibility. Forget about the fact that he was already sitting against most lefties and the handwriting was on the wall; his job was still supposedly safe.

But with the Cubs out of the playoff race, they decided to go and summon Brett Jackson, a highly touted outfielder in their system who, despite batting just .256 for the year in Triple-A was now being given a substantial opportunity to prove his worth on the major league level. But at whose expense? Yup. That’s right. We’re sorry Mr. LaHair, but we have no available table for you at this time. With Rizzo locking down first base, Jackson taking over center field and both David DeJesus and Joe Mather looking like better defensive options, LaHair’s time as a starter has come to a close and those fantasy owners that were still relying on him are now left to scour the waiver wire in search of a new hitter.

And it’s not just happening on teams that are already looking towards 2013. As the Orioles sit atop the wild card standings, they finally told a struggling Mark Reynolds, and those fantasy owners in deeper leagues still forced to use him, that his time was up when they promoted Manny Machado from Double-A on Thursday morning. They even switched the kid’s position in order to boot Reynolds from the starting lineup. It might not be happening all at once, but with the depth the Orioles have now in left field, first base and at DH, Machado occupying third now is pushing Reynolds further and further out the door.

Now obviously fantasy owners should be prepared for this type of thing. It’s something that happens virtually every year. But when you’re playing in deeper leagues and the player pool is scant with talent, these situations can be tough to avoid. It’s great to see new, young talent shine on the big stage, but when they’re stealing the spotlight from one of your guys, it becomes real difficult to appreciate.