The Associated Press reports the Toronto Blue Jays have placed outfielder Vernon Wells (wrist) on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left wrist. Wells is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Wells has been putting up some good numbers after a slow start to the season. He is hitting .281 with five home runs, 24 RBIs and one stolen base. The injury occurred when he dove for a fly ball and bent his left wrist awkwardly after the catch. Wells had been healthy over the past few seasons, playing at least 149 games each of the last three seasons and in five of the last six seasons. For the time being, outfielder Alex Rios is expected to move from right field in order to man center field.
Wells had a down year last season, hitting a disappointing .245 with 16 home runs, 80 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. He finished the season on the 60-day disabled list because of a shoulder injury. All of his offensive stats dropped from his great 2006 season in which he hit .303 with 32 home runs, 106 RBIs and 17 stolen bases.
Fantasy owners should place Wells on their disabled list if they have to room to do so. He is still a valuable member of a fantasy team and should be back for the second half of the season; he could see some action before the All-Star break depending on how his wrist heals.
This bodes well for outfielder Matt Stairs' fantasy stock. He has seen time in the outfield and at designated hitter this season, hitting .275 with four home runs and nine RBIs. The 40-year-old has spent most of the season hitting in the heart of the order, with 32 at-bats at the cleanup slot and 30 at-bats in the fifth slot. He hit .289 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs in 2007.
Toronto could also call up outfielder Adam Lind, one of the team's top hitting prospects. Lind came up to the big club earlier this season but was sent back to Triple-A Syracuse after a 1-for-19 stint. His latest trip to the minors was expected to be a slower process to help him regain his swing, but the team could sacrifice this plan because of the gaping hole in the outfield. However, he is 1-for-8 in his first two games back at Syracuse, and his four strikeouts in that span indicate the same problems he had in the majors.
The team signed outfielder Brad Wilkerson this week, and he also could see an increase in playing time. The Seattle Mariners released Wilkerson May 9 after the outfielder hit just .237 with zero home runs and five RBIs. Last season, he batted .234 with 20 home runs and 62 RBIs.
If owners are looking for a replacement for Wells, Stairs is the safer bet because of his start this season and his solid production last season. Wilkerson has put up some decent power numbers over the past few seasons, but his batting average and strikeout totals over the same span have not been good. Follow Lind in the news, but you might want to pick him up in deep leagues because of his upside. If you lose out on Stairs and Lind, consider Wilkerson a low-level depth option in AL-only formats.
About Tim Piotrowski
Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.
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