This week in (fantasy) baseball 8/6-8/12

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

• Considering Boston’s fortunes in 2012, it’s probably fitting that one of the team’s few bright spots, Will Middlebrooks, has suffered a fractured wrist and is probably going to miss the rest of the season. The team has called up newly acquired Danny Valencia (.198/.212/.310, two home runs in 132 PAs), who probably will see the lion’s share of playing time at third base in the immediate term, but Pedro Ciriaco, who’s played very well since joining the team in early July, made the start against the Indians on Saturday and probably has more to offer fantasy-wise if he can lock down serious playing time.

• Elbow inflammation pushed CC Sabathia to the disabled list last week, though he’s not expected to miss more than the minimum two weeks. The team picked up Derek Lowe off the scrap heap, though David Phelps (2.42 ERA, 1.135 WHIP, 9.7 K/9 in 52 innings, three starts) is expected to take Sabathia’s spot in the rotation this week, beginning with tonight’s start.

Brett Lawrie had been bothered by an oblique injury for the past week or so, but he’s now officially landed on the DL. Adeiny Hechavarria has picked up the majority of starts at third base over the past week, but he’s been awful in six games entering Sunday’s action, batting just .059/.158/.059 at the big league level.

Paul Konerko is dealing with concussion issues and consequently landed on the seven-day DL, giving Adam Dunn a chance to pick up starts at first base.

• A strained left quad bounced Mike Napoli to the DL, the Rangers announced over the weekend, giving Geovany Soto a chance to remind people that he used to be relevant in fantasy leagues.

Huston Street is headed back to the DL for the second time this season after suffering a left calf strain, the team announced on Saturday. That seems to leave Luke Gregerson (0 saves, 2.56 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, 9.4 K/9) and Dale Thayer (5 saves, 3.60 ERA, 1.150 WHIP, 6.5 K/9) to share the closer’s role.

• This doesn’t sound good: Matt Garza is dealing with an elbow stress reaction and hasn’t pitched since July 21. Garza insists he’ll return this year, but he’s been shut down indefinitely, and considering the Cubs don’t have much left to play for in 2012—and could entertain thoughts of dealing him over the offseason—it’s hard to imagine the team rushing him back in September.

Rookie Brooks Raley was mauled by the Padres in his big league debut on Tuesday, surrendering seven earned runs in four innings, but he was much better on Sunday against the Reds and looks as if he’ll inherit Garza’s spot in the rotation, at least for the time being.

• A separated left shoulder forced Astros outfielder Jordan Schafer to the disabled list last week.

• You can throw away Todd Helton, as the soon-to-be 39-year-old underwent hip surgery and is now done for the season. While we’re on the subject of lost causes, Drew Hutchison underwent Tommy John surgery last week and is similarly done for 2012.

Other bumps and bruises

• I’m a loyal Jason Kipnis fan, as he’ll probably be among my keepers in my primary fantasy league. But the rookie has shown serious signs of wearing down in his first major league season, as he last banged out a home run on June 17, and he’s hit .216/.328/.268 ever since. No one is questioning Kipnis’ talent or ceiling when they reassess his current value in mixed leagues, and now that he’s missed four games with neck soreness, it might be just as well to sit him for week 20.

Kelly Johnson missed Sunday’s action with a groin issue and is considered day-to-day.

Colby Rasmus missed time over the weekend after reaggravating his right groin injury and could miss time early in week 20, if not land on the DL.

Road to recovery

• The highest-scoring shortstop in fantasy at the time of his injury, Ian Desmond took his first swings since landing on the DL on July 22 with a strained oblique. He’ll probably be out until the beginning of next month.

Tommy Hanson was scheduled to make a rehab start on Sunday as he covers from a back injury. Atlanta is considering whether to move to a six-man rotation, which would allow Kris Medlen (2-0, 8.64 K/9, 1.62 ERA over his past three starts) to keep his job as a starter.

Mental Health and the CBA
A particular bit of language in the latest CBA could have negative consequences for some players.

Jose Bautista has been cleared to start swinging a bat, though an MRI still shows some inflammation in his left wrist.

Closer moves

Ryan Cook is out as A’s closer after a particularly bad stretch in which he blew four saves in a two-week span, allowing Grant Balfour, who opened the season as the team’s closer, a chance to reclaim the job. Balfour has been much more effective this season as a setup man than as a ninth-inning stopper, but he picked up a save against the White Sox on Saturday and should be considered the A’s primary candidate to close out wins.

Rotation changes

Roberto Hernandez, the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona, has a fancy work visa, a new name and has completed his rehab outings to put him on course to rejoin the Indians rotation on Wednesday when he gets the start. It’s not yet clear who will get bumped from the rotation when Hernandez returns, though Corey Kluber was torched in his second big league start Sunday and has to be considered the one most likely to lose his job.

Trading block

• No one in fantasy circles really cares about how Cesar Izturis spends his days, but his trade to the Nationals last week is good news for fans of former Angels’ super prospect Jean Segura, who now gets to anchor shortstop in Milwaukee on a full-time basis. Segura, 22, who I wrote about last month, offers immediate help with steals and had a very good contact rate in the minors, though it’s important to remember he made the jump from Double-A right to the majors, which could result in a longer learning curve.

Phenom watch

Manny Machado was promoted from Double-A right to the majors to help the Orioles with their third-base sinkhole. One of the brightest prospects in all of baseball, Machado, 20, is worth a look in any league and probably is already scooped up in the majority of keeper leagues.

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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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