Alright, after weeks of speculation, Ryan Braun has officially been suspended for the season -- should his owners stash him or trash him? And what about the other players with possible Biogenesis connections -- are they worth hanging onto? Our fantasy experts Michael Beller and Eric Mack have answers.
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1. Should owners in keeper leagues stash Braun? Should they consider trading for him?
Mack: Despite his suspension, many fantasy owners and analysts will still consider Ryan Braun a first-round pick next year. That makes him a clear keeper, assuming you don't question whether his production was tied solely to performance-enhancing drugs. One would have to assume the PEDs he took were more for recovery and prevention from injury. When healthy, Braun performs like a first-round draft pick, but his owner cannot bank on him being health 100 percent of the time. It happens to all 30-somethings, which is how old Braun will be next year. Tentatively consider him a late first-round pick in 2014 right now -- because the injury risk is there -- and stash him in all keeper leagues at that value.
Beller: Yeah, I mean, it stinks for Braun's owners that they've lost him for the rest of this year, but don't let that blind you to what he can still do for you in 2014 and beyond. He's still going to be, at worst, just ranked just inside the top 20 next year. Like Mack says, he'll probably be considered a late first rounder. That's the kind of guy you stash in a keeper league, taking the roster hit this year. And yes, I definitely think it's worth kicking the tires on Braun, especially if you're out of it this year and his owner is in the thick of the playoff race. Play up the notion of winning now (something every fantasy owner should embrace) and see if you can't get yourself a 2014 first-round pick at a nice discount.
2. Now that the MLB has shown it is serious about suspensions, what should owners do about the other players with Biogenesis ties, such as Nelson Cruz and Everth Cabrera?
Mack: Await your fate, and unfortunately, the expectation is now a suspension. Many were dead wrong on baseball being unable to levy suspensions for the Biogenesis allegations, yours truly in particular. Depending on the substances, you probably should anticipate that Cruz and Cabrera will draw 50-game suspensions. Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon have already served suspensions -- which seemingly triggered the Biogenesis bust -- so it's unlikely they'll have to serve the 100-game ban that comes with a second offense. Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, looks like he is in danger of missing the rest of this season and perhaps more. Owners might not be able to get anything in return for these guys, but by all means, put them on the trading block.
Beller: I was right there with Mack. I didn't think there was any chance the Biogenesis guys would get suspended, and MLB proved us all wrong, with authority, on Monday. Now that we know Braun's penalty, it's hard to imagine Cruz and Cabrera avoiding the wrath of the MLB drug czars. The problem is, you're probably not going to be able to convince a rival owner to trade you anything of value for either of them. At this point, you'll likely just have to bite the bullet and enjoy the production they provide for as long as they can provide it. As Mack points out, I wouldn't necessarily try to deal Colon, though. There's a good chance the league will decide he has already served his sentence for this offense.
3. Who do you have your eye on with the trade deadline just one week away?
Mack: Fantasy football players.
No, but seriously, the trade deadline has lost some of its luster. Matt Garza was a legitimate trade that altered the fantasy landscape, but those have become fewer and further between in recent years. Alfonso Soriano will be intriguing for AL-only owners, but the only player we can really seeing getting a significant boost will be Yovani Gallardo. If he gets dealt to a contender and gets hot, he can be a big-time fantasy catalyst down the stretch. Barring that, you have to watch the closer movement -- like always. Fantasy value can be created and destroyed at the position quickly every day, though -- it doesn't take a trade (see Jason Grilli -- forearm strain).
Beller: I'm keeping a close eye on Jake Peavy. The White Sox have been terrible this year, and with their aging roster, it will likely take more than a year for them to turn it around. In other words, Peavy probably won't be part of another winner on the South Side of Chicago, and they might as well cash him in for a haul of prospects. It's hard to bet on a pitcher getting more wins with a new team, but it can't hurt for him to get out of Chicago. Two teams rumored to have interest are the Red Sox and Cardinals, and either would be great landing spots for the veteran righty, especially St. Louis. Be alert, NL-only leaguers. Peavy would be worth emptying your FAAB budget.
4. Let's say you have enough roster space to speculate on one closer-in-waiting. Who is it and why?
Mack: Jose Cisnero. The Astros are a floundering franchise, and they should probably capitalize on closer Jose Veras' career year by dealing him for long-term help before the trade deadline. Cisnero isn't a great arm, but he does have a reasonable chance of taking over as a closer in the coming week. That would be your best bet right now. If you're looking longer term, perhaps Bruce Rondon of the Tigers is your man. He isn't pitching consistently enough to serve as a closer for the contending Tigers, but he has the potential to grow into that role before the end of the season if the Tigers don't add a veteran closer via trade.
Beller: For me, it's Pedro Strop. It would be a complete shock if the Cubs didn't trade Kevin Gregg by next week, and manager Dale Sveum said Strop is likely to take over ninth-inning duties if and when Gregg is shipped out of town. Strop has made nine appearances with the Cubs since being part of the trade that sent Scott Feldman to the Orioles, and has yet to allow a run. He has 10 strikeouts against two walks in 7.2 innings in that stretch. If you're looking for a guy who isn't closing now but might be next week, he's your best bet.