Love Is A Battlefield

Yeah, I just used a Pat Benetar song for a post title. If that song was playing, I feel like I should be at the Skate Deck, tube socks pulled high, just praying Tracy Piercy would come over and say hi to me. I’ve hit rock bottom. And third basemen are entirely to blame for my condition.

I have third base as kind of my “beat” here at RotoGraphs. I’ve written a lot about third basemen for the last two seasons. I’ve grown quite fond of many of them. And this year, they’re breaking my heart.

When I was first looking at the depth of third base for the upcoming season back in November, things seemed pretty good. If I missed out on one of the big guns, I felt like I’d have a good plan to pluck a solid third baseman out of maybe the 5th or 6th rounds, or perhaps I could sneak one for $19 or $20 bucks. But now? Third base is a disaster.

Sure, we have Miguel Cabrera, Evan Longoria, and Adrian Beltre (who actually has been bothered by a sore calf, which kept him from playing with the Dominican Republic). But David Wright is doing his annual intercostal strain act (he missed 20+ days of camp last year due to a similar injury). He’s recently played in some minor league games, but he’s also already received a cortisone shot for the pain. They won’t pump you full of cortisone all season long (unless you’re Ryan Zimmerman).

Intercostal strains kind of freak me out, because we get imperfect information. A broken bone is a broken bone. A strain has degrees of severity. They can linger. You miss a week to see if it’ll heal up, you play a game, swing hard, and bam – DL. Jon Niese, Drew Smyly, Eric Young, Daniel Murphy, Adam Rosales, Rick Ankiel, Kurt Suzuki, are just some examples of disabled list trips for intercostal strains in the past year.

Speaking of broken bones, we have those too. Hanley Ramirez broke a bone in his finger diving for a ball and he’s out 8 weeks. Chase Headley broke his thumb and he’s out until May. Terrific.

Pablo Sandoval has loose bodies in his elbow to go with a loose body all over. Yeah, reports say that he recently “felt great” when throwing the ball, but when you’ve got bone spurs in your elbow, it seems like it’s just a matter of time until you need it remedied. They don’t go away with rest. The swelling might go away with rest but you earned those bone spurs. They’re yours until you deal with them. Sigh.

Brett Lawrie even has a strain. Something about his ribs put him on the disabled list. There’s not much information out there about his return and the line about “doctors and trainers meeting to work out a timetable for his return” just makes me want to kick a puppy. Or maybe kick David Freese, who got in on the act with a back strain. He’s “hopeful” for the opener. Aramis Ramirez missed two weeks due to a strained knee, and now he’s “hopeful” for the opener. I keep reading a lot of words like “hopeful” or “might be” or “could be” or “ouchy”.

Oh, and of course there’s some guy named Alex Rodriguez who could be finished, but I guess we knew that a long time ago.

So where this puts you is either praying for the top three third basemen or drafting guys like Will Middlebrooks and Mike Moustakas as your regular. That’s not the end of the world, but with all these injuries, we’ve basically taken away an entire tier of talent. Oh, they’ll be back — but I’m starting to feel like as soon as one group is on the mend, there’s just going to be a new crop of strains behind them.

If you haven’t yet drafted, or you have other drafts remaining — just blow up your budget on Cabrera or Longoria. If you’re in a snake draft and you miss Cabrera, think seriously about taking Longoria a round early. Damn the ADP’s.

I feel like we should have scouting reports on the quality of the medical staffs.




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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.

9 Responses to “Love Is A Battlefield”

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  1. tylersnotes says:

    i would take the exact opposite approach here if i haven’t drafted yet– take advantage of the fact that players starting on the DL will have a lower value and pick them up cheap. if i’m in a guy who is taking longoria in late 1st/early 2nd round, you best believe i’m going to pick up the player he passed and just get lawrie or headley at half price and start gyorko, carpenter or seager at 3b until my star comes back.

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    • tynandaly says:

      Yeah, but you also have to consider that some injuries having lasting effects over a big portion of the season. The author is paying a little extra for his healthy guys rather than dealing with possible multiple DL stints, nagging pains, or decreased performance over a few extra weeks or months.

      Of course a guy like Lawrie or Sandoval could heal up perfectly fine and have a top 5 season.

      No strategy is perfect, you just have to play it the right way.

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      • tylersnotes says:

        it’s a risk/reward proposition. i’m comparing adp on espn (http://games.espn.go.com/flb/livedraftresults?position=3B). Some of the iffy guys are still going at value, so maybe i will have to pass on wright in my next draft. but would i rather pay for longoria a round early (making him a late first round/early 2nd rounder) or choose headley over fernando rodney in the 8th round?

        even with injuries, the impact is 1st/2nd tier guys are falling into 2nd/3rd tier. The position is shallow at the very top, sure, but extremely deep in the middle/bottom. and i see it as the position with the highest-upside sleepers (guys like machado, alvarez, frazier, moustakas, carpenter, middlebrooks are all hanging out there in the 15th-20th rounds of most drafts it looks like).

        i also don’t buy that longoria is somehow inherently less risky than a guy like wright or beltre. i see longo as exactly as risky as wright even if one of them is iffy right now and the other isn’t.

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  2. Steve says:

    Is 3B now more shallow than SS? Would you take Longoria before Tulowitzki in a 16 team league?

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  3. Dealer A says:

    How about Martin Prado? Seems like a good value pick.

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  4. Ruki Motomiya says:

    No love for Todd Frazier?

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  5. Jon L. says:

    Cool article. I hadn’t put together until it was spelled out here how the whole 3b population is temporarily decimated.

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  6. Bucfan says:

    This entire problem would be rectified merely by having the fantasy community deem, by proclamation, that Bautista is 3B eligible this season, games started and played be damned.

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