The Injured Return: Risk/Reward
by Eddie Mayrose

Stand outside the draft room of any Fantasy Baseball League and you’ll run into him when it’s all over.  He’s in every league; we all know him.  He’s the guy who selects an All Star team from two years prior but, because of injuries, starts every scouting report with, “If he stays healthy…”

Truth be told, there is room for but one or two comebacks on any successful Fantasy baseball team.  More than that and you’re pushing the odds that are stacked against you.  And, like your buddy who’ll spend the winter telling anyone who’ll listen that, “If my guys hadn’t gotten hurt…” you’ll be at the bottom of your standings.

Here at FantasySportsDirt.com, there’s an opinion on a few guys at each position that are trying to return to form.  Some, we’d stay away from at all costs while others, we’d roll the dice on.  Keeping in mind that, no matter how much we like any of them, there’s no way in the world we’d take more than two.

Catcher-   Stay away from Jesus Flores in Washington.  The Nationals had high hopes for him just two years ago but chronic shoulder problems do not sit well behind the plate.  The same cannot be said for Ryan Doumit in Pittsburgh as his injuries have forced the Pirates to send him to the outfield.  We love catcher-eligibles playing other positions.

First Base- It’ll be tough to pass on an all time favorite, Justin Morneau.  But, pass we must as the Twins’ first baseman has still not resumed baseball activities.  Concussions can be dicey and this one’s not worth the gamble.  We’re less worried by broken bones, however, so Kendry Morales will be on the radar.  Don’t forget that he was having a great start to 2010 before that fateful walk-off.

Second Base- Dustin Pedroia is another star with a broken bone but a full complement of healthy ligaments and tendons.  Slot the former MVP accordingly.  Brian Roberts is another story.  All we have to say; what we’ve always said, is that “back” is a four letter word.

Shortstop- New Mets’ GM Sandy Alderson may have ignited a terrific season from Jose Reyes when he declined to negotiate a long term contract before the season.  Reyes, who came back from a thyroid problem, will now have to sing for his supper.  Take him and enjoy the discount.  Down the turnpike, Jimmy Rollins is an gaing injury risk, who, even when healthy, has seen his fantasy totals plummet, especially OBP.

Third Base- We’ve reached the point where we have to categorize certain injuries as “steroid induced”. Such is the case with Alex Rodriguez, whose joints seem to be a problem.  However, he’s a virtual lock for 30 HR and 100 RBI, just forget the steals.  Aside from all of his other ailments, Chipper Jones, at 38, will now attempt to return from ACL surgery.  He may be a first ballot Hall of Famer, but if he was a horse, they’d shoot him.

Outfield- Over the course of the last few years, micro-fracture surgery has become a somewhat insurmountable procedure.  Carlos Beltran proved our theory last year and, even though he’s in the last year of his contract, a FantasySportsView.com favorite, we have to say no.  Same goes for Grady Sizemore, as we focus more on his lackluster ’09 and the weak Cleveland lineup than his return to form with a broken wrist.  Keeping our focus in New York, Jason Bay should be available in the late rounds of any draft.  He’s returning from a concussion but is said to be OK and will likely make an adjustment to the expanse of CitiField .  In Boston, Jacoby Ellsbury finally got the proper amount of time to rest his ribcage, the only way that was ever going to heal.  He missed virtually all of 2010 because he wasn’t patient with his rehab but should score 120 runs at the top of Boston’s new lineup.

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