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"Reverse psychology is an awesome tool, I don't know if you guys know about it, but basically you can make someone think the opposite of what you believe, and that tricks them into doing something stupid. Works like a charm."-- Michael Scott, The Office
Following the seventh and final season of Steve Carell's contract with NBC's hit comedy The Office, the actor plans to leave the show. With him goes Michael Scott, one of the best network sitcom characters since Seinfeld went off the air. Many Office fans are scared that the show will fall apart without Scott. Sure, there are a few other funny characters, but Scott is the heart-of-the-order comedy slugger who produces one or two great moments every show.
This brings me back to Scott's reverse psychology quote. When Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard (as opposed to Ryan Howard on The Office) sprained his ankle, I received a trade request from Howard's owner in one of my leagues with the following note attached:
"Howard's probably going to play through this injury, I just wanted to trade him to mix up my team a little. You need some power. Let's make this happen."
Uh oh, this guy's trying to use Scott's version of reverse psychology on me. Of course I knew that there was a 99 percent chance Howard would land on the Disabled List and immediately rejected the trade.
But this desperate trade attempt did raise a good question. How should a fantasy general manager replace a star like Howard, or Kevin Youkilis for that matter, when we're in the final two months of the Fantasy season? It's kind of like what The Office producers face when losing Carell. Do they just mix up the current cast, and hope that someone steps forward and takes the lead? Do they try and bring in an established comedian? Or do they just take a shot on someone new?
Luckily for Howard owners, it looks like he'll be back just after his DL period, so the replacement is only temporary. Youkilis will not be so lucky, and who knows which elite fantasy player will go down in the near future. Injuries happen all the time.
In my opinion, too many fantasy GM's make the mistake of trying to find an identical replacement for an injured player. Youkilis goes down, they grab the power-hitting third baseman off the waiver wire. Meanwhile passing on a guy like Pittsburgh's Neil Walker, who only has five homers but is hitting .313 with 18 runs batted in over the last month.
It's seems like simple advice, but instead of trying to match your injured guy stat-for-stat, why not take the time to evaluate your team and see if there are any other areas where you need help. Then make your fantasy free agent moves or trade plans accordingly.
For the sake of my Thursday nights (I know, I know, I'm a loser), I hope The Office doesn't try to find a Carell clone. Find someone who brings something new to the show.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies
As mentioned above, Howard sprained his left ankle on Sunday. The bad news is that the Phils placed him on the DL. The good news is that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says the injury is not a high ankle sprain, which could have benched Howard for three weeks or longer. Howard should be back close to August 16. The Phillies acquired Mike Sweeney from the Mariners to serve as their primary first baseman while Howard rests. Sweeney missed most of June and all of July due to injury, but in May he hit .310/.349/.665. He's certainly worth a look in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed leagues.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B/3B, Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox announced that Youkilis will undergo season-ending surgery on Friday to repair the torn adductor muscle in his right thumb. The DL-move came on the eve of Jacoby Ellsbury's return from his rib injury and kept the Red Sox in the race with Philadelphia for Most Injury-Plagued Team of 2010. Youkilis admitted that his thumb has been bothering him for a while, and now the injury will end his season. According to a report in the Boston Herald, the muscle is past the point where rest can heal it, and surgery is the best option at this point. Mike Lowell rejoined the Sox on Tuesday after dealing with a hip injury. He homered in his first game back, but was having a poor season prior to that point. Besides Lowell and Walker, a name that Youkilis owners might want to consider is the Royals' Alex Gordon. He's owned in fewer than 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Since rejoining the club on July 23, he's barely hitting over .200, but he's reached base in 10 of 12 games and was having an excellent run in Triple-A.
Carlos Santana, C, Cleveland Indians
There was nothing funny about the home plate collision that sent Santana to the DL with a sprained lateral collateral ligament in his left knee. It seems miraculous that the injury is only a sprain, but that appeared to be the extent of it initially. Unfortunate the Tribe announced on Thursday that Santana will indeed undergo season-ending surgery.
After the Santana collision, two more catchers hit the DL, John Buck with a bad cut on his right hand, and Russell Martin with a torn labrum in his hip. Be careful when you open your fantasy leagues' free agent catcher list, because you might get hit with tumbleweed. It's barren. The Padres' Yorvit Torrealba has bumped his average up to .326 on the season and is available in about 85 percent of leagues. The Blue Jays called up catcher J.P. Arencibia from Triple-A Las Vegas. Arencibia had 31 homers with Las Vegas to this point, and the top prospect is going to fly off the free agent market.
Meanwhile, Martin's torn labrum could end his season. At the very least he won't be back until September.
Stars weren't the only players to go down last week, let's look at some of the other guys.
St. Louis third baseman David Freese is out for the season after aggravating his ankle injury in a minor league rehab game. He'll require season ending surgery to repair tendon damage. ... Cleveland DH Travis Hafner joined Santana on the DL with shoulder stiffness. His shoulder is a chronic problem that has bothered him for a while. ... Cincinnati slugger Joey Votto returned Wednesday after missing two games with a wrist injury. He appears to be okay, but the wrist is not 100 percent and Votto owners will want to monitor his health status daily. ... Votto's teammate, pitcher Mike Leake, drilled Pittsburgh centerfielder Andrew McCutchen in the neck with a fastball on Tuesday. McCutchen didn't show any signs of a concussion and was able to play on Wednesday. ... Mark Reynolds also tried to return a day after being hit high with a fastball. He wasn't as lucky as McCutchen. The Diamondbacks third baseman had to leave the game after experiencing dizziness. He'll likely miss a few games. ... Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal got a scare earlier this week when he experienced some soreness in his surgically-repaired lower back. An MRI on Tuesday came back negative, and he felt much better on Wednesday. He should be back by the team's road trip to Philly next week. ... The Dodgers got some bad news on Manny Ramirez's strained calf. Team trainers evaluated the outfielder's calf on Tuesday and determined he would need at least another week before he was ready to begin a rehab assignment. ... Twins first baseman Justin Morneau continues to make progress. Still dealing with concussion injuries, it looks like he could rejoin the team when they return home next Friday against Oakland. ... Nationals manager Jim Riggleman says Stephen Strasburg will come off the DL and start next Tuesday against Florida. ... Another player set to return next week is Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler. He is set to undergo an MRI next week, and if all goes well, he'll return Thursday.
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