by Simon Jones
Have we ever known a season like it for injuries? For the first month or so it seemed like half the closers in the league went down, and never was the “Never pay for saves” motto truer. We’ve seen elite options such as Mariano Rivera, Brian Wilson and Drew Storen went down as well as lower closers like Huston Street, Sergio Santos and Kyle Farnsworth. As the season progressed, holes on rosters became bigger and bigger as injury news got worse and worse. Some news wasn’t so unexpected – Chase Utley, Carl Crawford, Chris Carpenter etc, but as May came to a close the names got bigger and bigger – Matt Kemp, Troy Tulowitzki, Roy Halladay, Jacoby Ellsbury, Evan Longoria, Jered Weaver. Those aren’t players you can easily replace, no matter how shallow your league might be. Hell, the situation has got so bad now that even the understudies are getting hurt and the replacement closers are hitting the DL too.
Regular readers of the column will know that change is good in fantasy baseball, and that changes like these bring trading opportunities in abundance. Either you are trying to fill roster holes or you are trying to exploit the desperation of other managers.
One key aspect is to make sure you understand the valuation of injured players, both in terms of your own roster and also their value on the trade value.
Obviously there is a big difference between the values in single-season leagues and keeper leagues. Someone like Michael Pineda has no value at all in single-season leagues, but depending on your rules he will be a viable keeper for 2013 and beyond.
Valuing an injured player in single-season leagues can be much trickier than it appears on the surface. Much depends on the depth of your league, your roster makeup and whether you are playing Roto or H2H.
The first thing to consider is the way your roster is structured, how many DL and bench spots you have and how easily you can handle stashing a number of injured players. Whether you play in a daily or weekly league will also impact whether holding players who can’t contribute to your stats will seriously hurt your chances while those guys are injured. The more injured guys you have, the more desperate you will be to move them on, especially if they start hurting you on a daily basis.
If you lose a player for a number of weeks, it’s important to contrast that loss to the level of replacement player off the FA list. Losing Halladay for 8 weeks will cost you a lot more if you are looking to replace him in a deep league with J.A. Happ, than in a shallower league with someone like Hiroki Kuroda. If you have a viable replacement on your bench then so much the better, but the cost will always be more in a deeper league.
Similarly, your strategies in H2H might be different to Roto. In my one H2H league I own Halladay. Following this weekend’s games, I should be sitting with a 7-1 record and my sights are firmly set on the playoffs. Assuming there are no further setbacks, I’m hoping that Halladay will be back to his old self in August and particularly September, so his value takes less of a hit than if I was struggling to reach the playoffs. Where I own him in Roto, the hit to his value is more, as those June/July starts are worth as much as any stats in September.
So take this opportunity to make some more moves, whether it is trying to cover up the problems caused by your own injuries or taking advantage of other people’s misfortunes.
The Trade Counsel is a weekly trade column – please leave feedback or any trade questions below.