Friday, April 11, 2008

My new Rule #1: Stay away from high-injury-risk players!

As if things couldn't get any worse in my Fantasy Bloggers League, Rafael Soriano is now on the DL with elbow tendinitis, leaving me with only one closer. You know what, though? I won't blame bad luck for this latest catastrophe. I'll be a stand-up guy and take full responsibility. Just like everyone else, I knew of Soriano's injury-filled history coming into the season. All those previous arm problems, the Tommy John surgery -- they practically scream "DRAFT AT YOUR OWN RISK!"

But I became enamored of Rafael's What Ifs. What if all those nagging injuries were once and for all behind him? What if he could finally get a full six months to work his filthy stuff on helpless National League hitters? The Braves signed him to a two-year contract before the season started, convincing me that this could be the year. I was in love of the idea of getting him on the cheap once all the premium closers were gone. What if this year he's the most lights-out closer in baseball? And I got him in the 11th round!

No more will I fall prey to this line of thinking. Less than two weeks into the season, and Soriano's on the DL. Are we really surprised? Same with Rich Harden, who just went on the DL with a strained shoulder muscle. After his stellar game in Japan, a fellow money-league manager was remarking on how awesome of a steal Harden was going to end up being this year ... if he could stay healthy. But OF COURSE he couldn't stay healthy. Harden NEVER stays healthy. Nine times out of ten, these guys with the invisible "huge-injury-risk" flags over their heads never do. We fantasy managers dream about drafting the 10th guy, the exception to the rule -- the high-risk player who WILL find a way to stay healthy for once in his life and put up great numbers. We piss away draft pick after draft pick, season after season, trying to get that guy ... and instead wind up with another busted player on the DL.

So, from now on, my new Rule #1 is: Don't draft high-injury-risk players. It doesn't matter how healthy their coaches say they are coming into camp. It doesn't matter how big a draft-day steal they'd make if they could magically stay healthy for a full season. There are plenty of sleepers to get good value from on draft day -- young, up-and-coming stars posed for a breakout year who don't have a history littered with surgeries and visits to the doctor. Go after those guys. Don't go after the oft-injured hurler with the wicked stuff who might -- just might -- finally stay healthy this year. It's just not worth it.

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