Saturday, June 15, 2013

IN EXILE: Replacing Troy Tulowitzki

Felipe M

Once again, superstar shortstop, Troy Tulowitzki is out for an extended period of time with an injury (rib, 4-6 weeks).  Unlike our review of available left fielders to replace Ryan Braun, the depth of available shortstops is extremely thin.  However, there are always gems to be found in free agency and with luck and good scouting, you may be able to hold weather this storm and find a respectable replacement.  

(All stats are as of Thursday, June 13, 2013):

SHORTSTOPS' Performance in Last 21 Days
Player
Owned
ABs
HR
BB
K
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Zack Cosart
49%
75
1
3
19
0
0.293
0.329
0.427
Derek Dietrich
15%
74
5
4
16
0
0.203
0.263
0.446
Stephen Drew
39%
70
2
8
24
1
0.229
0.304
0.400
Yunel Escobar
43%
67
1
7
7
0
0.328
0.387
0.418
Nick Franklin
61%
50
2
8
10
2
0.300
0.397
0.520
Didi Gregorius
55%
71
1
7
16
0
0.254
0.342
0.352
Jayson Nix
8%
60
0
4
16
7
0.300
0.344
0.350
Omar Quintanilla
5%
48
2
3
11
0
0.271
0.314
0.479
Josh Rutledge
50%
*
*
*
*
*
*
*
*

Right off the bat, Josh Rutledge's ownership rate has gone up as it will be very likely that he will be called up to replace the ailing Tulowitzki.  He is currently in the middle of a hot streak in Triple-A.  Many experts believe that Rutledge can streamline that success to the Big Leagues.  Not a fan of Rutledge, but before he was demoted, he did display an improving BB:K and despite his impatient approach and woeful on-base%, he still has good contact skills  to rack up the counting stats (5 homeruns, 5 stolen bases).  So if you believe that Rutledge is the hot bat your team is looking for in these dire times, by all means, have at him before it's too late.

The player that you should probably grab without hesitation is Nick Franklin.  After disappointing in Triple-A last season, Franklin has shown, once again, his knack to bounce back.  Surprisingly, his skills have streamlined better than expected in the Majors.  The pop is on full display, his line drive power (5 doubles) is apparent, his base stealing ability is latent, and his plate discipline is amazing, even for a rookie.  You see why Franklin has been a top prospect in the Seattle Mariners' organization now?  

Another rookie making waves is Didi Gregorius.  He's shown a decent approach, some pop, good contact and on-base skills.  He may not be as explosive as Rutledge and Franklin (on potential alone), but despite being a rookie, he might be a steady choice of a replacement.

Zack Cosart is having a heck of a week, especially after padding his stats against the Chicago Cubs.  What Cosart lacks in plate discipline, contact and on-base skills, he more than makes up for it in pop (on pace to hit 14 homeruns this season).  Cosart is one of those "get him while he's hot; cut him when he's not" type of player.

Most likely, the player that might be the "safest" add is Yunel Escobar.  After being exiled from Toronto and struggling with a year-to-date batting average of .244, Escobar has been heating up in the last 3 weeks as the 2009 version has been evident in that time span.  I'd be reluctant with Escobar because the Tampa Rays have plenty of depth to replace him and if he begins to struggle, they won't hesitate to replace him.  But if Escobar continues to display the plate discipline, gets on base, can show more pop in his bat, and make great contact with the ball, he might be the darkhorse in terms of long-term solution out of this bunch.

Stephen Drew is once again relevant in fantasy circles as his decent pop makes him an intriguing choice if you're looking for some power out of the position.  However, Drew has a history of injuries and the approach makes him a "peak and valley" player.  Too inconsistent for my taste.  

Speaking of pop, Derek Dietrich (who kind of looks like actor Diedrich Bader), has been making headlines with 5 of his 6 homeruns coming in the last 3 weeks.  Unfortunately, Dietrich is sort of a free-swinger and offers very little of everything else.

Jayson Nix is getting regular time with the New York Yankees, as they await the return of Derek Jeter.  Nix has a bad approach at the plate and subpar contact skills.  In the last 3 weeks, however, he's been finding ways to get on base.  When he's aboard, he's been able to rack up 7 of his 9 stolen bases in that span.  So if you're looking to pad your stolen base department, Nix is probably your temporary solution.

Finally, Omar Quintanilla has been getting plenty of playing time with the other New York team--the Mets.  Outside of having adequate ability to put the ball in play, Quintanilla offers very little of anything else as a fantasy player.  The high slugging percentage is a product of the 2 homeruns he's hit all season.  He's on pace to hit 5 for the rest of the year.  Best to avoid.  

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