Fantasy Baseball Diamond Mining: Chris Carpenter, Neftali Feliz, Yoenis Cespedes
Ready to update your fantasy baseball cheat sheets? Before Diamond Market can sell the players in your rotisserie league's free-agent pool, Fantasy Baseball Diamond Mining polishes them for fantasy baseball drafts. It's time to dig for fantasy baseball sleepers and toss the busts.
This much is certain: Chris Carpenter won't pitch in the St. Louis Cardinals' season opener. The right-hander went to St. Louis for tests because on Monday he didn't respond as hoped to a live BP session he threw on Sunday.
The bulging disc he was diagnosed with at the beginning of the month didn't sound serious but did require patience and a touch of trepidation, from both the club and fantasy baseball players.
News reports note that Carp didn't finish the 2004 and 2008 seasons because of nerve-related issues and dealt with them in 2010, but the statement could be misleading for those who read into it.
In 2004, he made 28 starts and in 2010, 35, both campaigns in which he dealt with a variety of other nagging ailments, some of which were related to nerve complications. He made only four appearances (three starts) in 2008, but that had much more to do with the Tommy John surgery he underwent in July 2007. The club didn't expect him back until after the All-Star break, anyway.
At the tail end of that 2008 season, Carpenter ended up back on the DL because of a strain in his shoulder, and that's when he began experiencing nerve irritation and residual weakness near his shoulder. He consulted a neurosurgeon and eventually decided against surgery. Please note: There was little basis to the assertion that his condition was career-threatening, which in hindsight is overtly obvious, but there was some risk. That offseason, he did have a procedure to transpose the ulnar nerve in his TJS-repaired elbow - not an uncommon procedure, but one that raises wariness.
As roto owners probably are, John Mozeliak is worried. But he's likely not to the extent that they are, about Carp, "... in the sense that he's had this in the past as he has been able to pitch eventually. ... anything surgical or we know that if we have to take that next step, he's done for the year. None of that is on the table."
The organization is still optimistic that it will have Carpenter at its disposal in 2012 but is anxious as it waits to learn more about the pitcher's latest run-in with this type of condition. Fantasy owners are going to be scared off, as a reflex. While the situation is serious, there remains a good possibility that the 2005 Cy Young Award winner will pitch (probably pretty well). Opportunistic owners should be willing to test what the market's new price point on Carp will be.
The Texas Rangers received a scare - perhaps just more of a startle - when Neftali Feliz left his Tuesday spring start with stiffness in his shoulder. It's too soon to consider the severity of this malady serious. As ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durett recounts, this was strictly a precautionary move.
As that story and others have recalled, Feliz dealt with something similar last spring, although it may have been worse then. He ended up on the disabled list from late April through early May because of inflammation in his rotator cuff.
This incident doesn't reek of a long-term concern and shouldn't affect his 2012 value much. For those drafting soon, the news may cause his stock to dip a bit, however. That wouldn't be a bad development. No one said there wasn't risk involved with Feliz in 2012 to begin with.
A couple of days ago, the Oakland Athletics named Yoenis Cespedes their opening day center fielder. On the basis of what, exactly, is unclear, at least from an uninformed outsider's perspective, but undoubtedly his raw ability has impressed observers and the club's brass.
Cespedes' projection will probably receive a slight bump in PT, which, in deep leagues, is really the most important asset for a player anyway. But this announcement was a good possibility already, and it doesn't alter the likelihood that he will struggle, at least at times, with breaking balls and control of the strike zone, among other things.
It does suggest that Oakland is all-in on the Cuban export, raising some question about their decision-making process given that they have so little contextual, evidentiary support. This spring, Cespedes is 5-for-25 with seven strikeouts and three walks after collecting two hits on Tuesday. Reportedly, he's also made some spectacular plays in the field.
The 26-year-old outfielder comes with a lot of risk, especially because little seems to quell the relative hype surrounding him. He's worth pursuit, undoubtedly, at least with a moderate investment in AL leagues, because he could be the most talented Cuban to hit MLB and a quality power source right away. It just seems much too unnecessary to consider him in the first two-thirds of a deep mixed-league draft.
About Nicholas Minnix
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570. Follow @NicholasMinnix
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