This week in (fantasy) baseball 7/30-8/5

It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We’ll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I’ve missed anything important, please don’t hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.

Fantasy infirmary

Tommy Hanson landed on the DL last week with a strained lower back injury, though the acquisition of Paul Maholm has filled his rotation spot for the time being. The injury doesn’t sound all that serious, and Kris Medlen could stand to lose his spot in the rotation when the right-hander returns.

• After missing roughly two months earlier this year, Emilio Bonifacio reinjured his left thumb last week, an injury that manager Ozzie Guillen initially feared would cost him the rest of the season. Fortunately, X-rays turned out negative, so although the injury doesn’t look to be season-threatening, it could be enough to cost him a few weeks.

• There aren’t too many players who enjoy breakout seasons at the age of 33, but it’s been a magical campaign for Carlos Ruiz, who’s burst out to become one of the most productive catchers in fantasy this year. But plantar fascitis in his left foot could cost him up to the next six weeks, which looks like it will force the Phillies to use a combination of Erik Kratz and Brian Schneider going forward.

• One of the principal reasons for the A’s mid-summer surge, A.J. Griffin has matured from being a solid prospect to a solid major league starter. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old has hit the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. Brandon McCarthy, himself recovering from a shoulder injury, looks like he could come back before Griffin’s spot in the rotation comes up.

• It’s been a tough year for Lance Berkman after returning to the fantasy fore in 2011. But he’s been bothered by his right knee all season, and after getting hit by a pitch last month, he’s been suffering with inflammation, which has now sent him to the DL. Although he intends to return this season, Berkman was already losing playing time to Allen Craig, who now should be counted upon to play every day for at least the next few weeks.

Michael Cuddyer’s oblique injury has sent him to the disabled list and could cost him up to the next month. Todd Helton will pick up more playing time at first base, while a platoon of Tyler Colvin and Eric Young Jr. will pick up the slack in right field.

• It wasn’t all that long ago when John Danks was a viable fantasy starter. But for the time being, such thoughts are distant memories, as the 27-year-old southpaw will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. He’s been out since May, anyway, so chances are you weren’t making too many firm plans to use him in fantasy.

• Speaking of once-relevant fantasy players, Neftali Feliz is headed for Tommy John surgery, eliminating him from fantasy owners’ minds for the rest of 2012.

Other bumps and bruises

Brandon Phillips continues to be bothered by a left calf strain, which held him out of the lineup for the better part of week 18. Manager Dusty Baker isn’t sure when he’ll return, so Phillips is probably a safe sit this upcoming week.

Francisco Liriano left his start early on Sunday after suffering a right quad contusion.

Colby Rasmus (groin) and Brett Lawrie (rib) were beaten up last week, though they’re expected to be in the lineup Tuesday against the Rays.

Josh Beckett is expected to start Wednesday against the Rangers after being pulled early from his start last week with back spasms.

Road to recovery

Jaime Garcia looked good on Saturday with 4 ⅓ strong innings in his second rehab start from a shoulder strain. He’s expected to pitch again on Thursday, and if that goes well, he could next join the Cardinals’ rotation.

Brett Anderson is making his way back from Tommy John surgery and could be a few starts away from rejoining the team later this month.

Rotation changes

Carlos Zambrano’s return to fantasy relevance earlier this year was fun while it lasted, but now it looks like the party’s over as the volatile right-hander was demoted to the bullpen early last week. Wade LeBlanc (1-1, 1.35 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 5.9 K/9 in 20 innings, one start) will take over his rotation spot.

May I Have Your Autograph, Please?
The payoff of being polite.

Josh Tomlin was brought in to replace Derek Lowe in the Indians’ rotation, but now he’s been bounced to the bullpen, giving Corey Kluber (11-7, 3.59 ERA, 1.356 WHIP, 9.2 K/9 in 21 Triple-A starts) a chance to make a big league splash. His first major league start last week didn’t go so well when he allowed six earned runs against the Royals to pick up a loss.

• The Blue Jays’ rotation has been crushed by injuries this season, but apparently the team wasn’t desperate enough to keep Brett Cecil in the rotation, demoting him last week. J.A. Happ (7-9, 4.85 ERA, 1.446 WHIP, 8.5 K/9 in 111.1 innings between the Astros and the Blue Jays) will take his spot in the rotation.

Trading block

Ryan Dempster finally agreed to be traded by the Cubs, shipped over to Texas in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers. Although he was roughed up by the Angels in his first start, Dempster’s fantasy value figures to rise now that he’s on a contender. His arrival corresponds with the Rangers’ decision to bump Roy Oswalt to the bullpen in place of Scott Feldman.

• In case you were still wondering, the Phillies will not be repeating as NL East champions this year, now that they’ve gone into full fire-sale mode. Leading things off last week was the trade of Shane Victorino to the Dodgers, sending the outfielder to LA for reliever Josh Lindblom and a prospect. His arrival allowed the team to cut Bobby Abreu.

• No sooner had Victorino been swapped than the Phillies sent Hunter Pence to San Francisco for Nate Schierholtz, prospect Tommy Joseph and another minor-leaguer. It’s hard to see how Pence’s fantasy value will not be hurt from the change from Citizens Bank Park to AT&T Park, especially since Ryan Howard and Chase Utley had returned from the DL.

• Lastly, the Phillies also dealt Joe Blanton to the Dodgers for a player to be named later, boosting the 31-year-old’s value as he pitches in a division with better pitchers’ parks and weaker lineups.

• The Pirates boosted their outfield last week by acquiring Travis Snider for reliever Brad Lincoln. Snider, 24, had played well since being called up by Toronto last month, though we’ll see how much playing time he grabs as the Pirates also traded for Gaby Sanchez, whom the team can play at first base to spot Garrett Jones.

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Karl, a journalist living in Washington, D.C., learned about life's disappointments by following the Mets beginning at a young age. His work has appeared in numerous publications, and he has contributed to the 2014 and 2015 editions of The Hardball Times Annual. Follow/harass him on Twitter @Karl_de_Vries.

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