News: Brandon Webb goes on the 15-day DL
Views:Ken Rosenthal has reported that insurance company concerns over Webb's elbow has caused extension talks to fall apart. He also paid a visit to the famous (or, as far as fantasy owners are concerned, infamous) Dr. James Andrews last December. Webb has made only one other DL trip in his career, back in 2003. And since 2005, no pitcher has thrown more innings (944, including postseason).
Verdict: Be afraid. Be very afraid. A major shoulder injury is pretty much the most devastating ailment a pitcher can have. Arizona has no other choice but to play it safe with their ace. Even if he returns next week, this will linger throughout 2009. If Webb returns, find a dimwitted owner in your league and offer a package that brings back approximately pre-injury value. If that doesn't work, it's time to visit you're a house of worship of your choice.
News: Jason Motte blows first save chance
Views: After being virtually unhittable during his September stint last season, Motte was lights out this spring, posting an absurd 18-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It was enough to earn him the closer's role heading into the season, but the converted catcher got knocked around in his first save opportunity. The Pirates got him last Monday for four runs and four hits. When the Cards needed to close out the Pirates on Thursday afternoon, Tony LaRussa went with southpaw Dennys Reyes against the lefty-heavy part of Pittsburgh's lineup.
Verdict: Don't panic. It's too early for anyone -- LaRussa or fantasy owners -- to give up on Motte. But certainly, anyone who thought they were going to plug in Motte and cruise to 35 saves was sadly mistaken. He's still the most likely leader, both in the short- and long-term, for this closer-by-committee. But Motte's leash just got much shorter. As for Reyes, he's an option in deeper leagues if you're looking for a cheap 7-10 saves. But he's hardly an option as a full-time closer. Motte owners with available bench spots should be looking at Ryan Franklin instead of Reyes.
News: A-Rod aiming for late April return
Views: It looks like he'll be ready for some live action on Monday. Barring setbacks, he could be in the Yankees' lineup by the end of the month.
Verdict: Great news for anyone tired of only having Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter to heckle. Oh, and great news for fantasy owners, too. He missed three weeks with a leg injury last season, and still had enough time to collect 35 homers, 103 RBIs, 104 runs, and 18 steals. Maybe the hip injury limits him to 10-15 steals, and it's unfortunate that he didn't have a spring training to work out some of the kinks. Still, those 2008 numbers are a good projection for A-Rod. If there's any chance you can pry him away from a disappointed owner (in a league with a very early draft), your window is closing.
News: Florida's Emilio Bonifacio is (literally) off to a blazing start
Views: The 23-year-old switch-hitting utilityman won an everyday gig at third base over Gaby Sanchez this spring (had Sanchez made the lineup at first, Jorge Cantu would have slid over to third) and took over the leadoff spot, thanks to his speed. Three games into the season, he's batting .571 with a home run, four RBIs and four steals. Bonifacio likely qualifies at second base in most leagues, with third base eligibility coming soon. There's no doubting his speed, though his home run -- the first of his big league career -- was an inside-the-parker. During his six seasons in the minors he hit more than two homers in a season only once, and that was the seven he knocked out while playing arena baseball in ultra-homer-friendly Lancaster, Calif. three seasons ago.
Verdict: It's likely too late to pick him up in your league. And, obviously, if you have him Bonifacio is the highest of sell-high candidates. There's really nothing in his track record to suggest he's more than a .275 hitter (and even that might be generous) with great speed. But that speed means he's far from worthless, even after he comes back to Earth. Considering how aggressive Fredi Gonzalez has been on the basepaths. Bonifacio could be a poor man's Chone Figgins. And if Sanchez (a marginal prospect to begin with) doesn't step up in New Orleans, he could keep that starting job for 162 games.
News: Chris Carpenter goes lights-out in first start
Views: Granted, it was only the Pirates. But Carpenter's strong spring carried over to his first start. Seven innings of one-hit ball including seven strikeouts, two walks and one unearned run. Carpenter threw 92 pitches without incident.
Verdict: He remains a huge injury risk, but it looks like he'll be one of fantasy baseball's 10 best starters as long as he's healthy. If you landed him on draft day, congratulations. It looks like you got a steal.