These days it doesn't seem like anyone can stay healthy for an extended period of time. Big bats and big stars like Cubs OF Alfonso Soriano and Cardinals 1B Albert Pujols went down with serious injuries in the past few days alone and fantasy GM's everywhere are screaming in frustration.
Look, things like this happen all the time and actually brings more credibility to the authenticity of fantasy baseball. Real life general managers have to compensate for the loss of injured or under performing players in the same manner that you and I do. We scan the waiver wires in desperation trying to find that diamond in the rough or if your expectations are tempered, a gamer that can give you solid production until your superstar comes off the DL.
So in that regard, here are a couple of position players and pitchers that could help you out in a pinch and are probably available on the waiver wire. Happy hunting.
Maicer Izturis - Los Angeles Angels
Pos: SS, 3B, 2B
Avg. 266, 3 HR, 25 RBI, 29 R, 8 SB
Owned in 52% of ESPN leagues
The beauty of a guy like Izturis is that he plays multiple infield positions, giving you a gap filler for the days your studs aren't playing. He's on a 11-game hitting streak, and even though he wasn't a starter at the beginning of the season, skipper Mike Scioscia always seems to find a way to get him into the lineup. Izturis numbers aren't exactly jaw-dropping, but just like Scioscia, you need a grinder to get you through an entire season and Izturis is that kind of guy.
Alexei Ramirez - Chicago White Sox
Avg. .293, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB
Owned in 43.1% of ESPN leagues
You might think I'm a homer for putting one Cubs player and now a Sox player in this post, but I feel it's completely valid. Typically first place teams have players that are performing better than most, and therefore, deserve fantasy consideration by you.
The 'Cuban Missile', as manager Ozzie Guillen calls him, has been turning heads all over this city and it's time he did the same nationally. I'd like to offer some insight into the mechanics of his swing, but let's just call it what it is: Ramirez can just flat out hit. And surprisingly, he can hit for power despite the fact he probably doesn't break 100 pounds when he steps onto the scale. The Oz loves him, and so should you.
Micah Hoffpauir - Chicago Cubs
Avg. .421, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB
Monitor this situation closely as Hoffpauir seems to be the leading candidate to replace Soriano in the Cubs lineup despite the fact rookie Eric Patterson is getting the start in left today. He's only made 19 plate appearances, but he looked comfortable facing big league pitching and finds himself in a great situation. There's not going to be much pressure on him to produce due to the potent offense on the North Side which is a huge advantage. Plus, the Cubs have proven over time that playing without Soriano isn't really as bad as you would suspect. In fact, some were suggesting they play better without him. If you're desperate for an outfielder and willing to take a gamble, snag Hoffpauir before that die hard Cubs fan in your league has a chance.
Jonathan Sanchez - San Francisco Giants
3.70 ERA, 5-0, 75 K, 1.38 WHIP, 75.1 IP
Owned in 65% of ESPN leagues
The big lefty has harnessed his early control problems and has bounced back to become a standout on a poor Giants pitching staff. Over his last five starts, Sanchez has given up a total of eight earned runs in 33 innings of work while sporting a minuscule 2.18 ERA. Giants manager Bruce Bochy likes what he has seen so far, according to the San Francisco Chronicle:
"I think more than anything it's his focus," manager Bruce Bochy said after Sanchez pitched seven shutout innings Saturday. "He's maintaining it no matter what happens with men on base. He's not losing it. He's not getting distracted. That was his biggest problem early. As a starter, you need that the whole game. Something has clicked the last few times out."
This guy would be a nice addition to anyone's staff, especially if it's your fifth or sixth pitcher.
Garrett Olson - Baltimore Orioles
3.86 ERA, 5-2, 32 K, 1.42 WHIP, 44.1 IP
Owned in 6.7% of ESPN leagues
Olson had a tough outing last night, giving up five runs in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox. But throw out that start and one a month ago against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium and he's been pretty solid. Not to sound redundant, but the fantasy world echoes the real world and starting pitching is a tough commodity to come by. He's a rookie that's been pretty decent for a team playing well above expectations. If you're desperate, you could do worse.
Heath Bell - San Diego Padres
2.15 ERA, 12 Holds, 28 K, 1.04 WHIP, 37.2 IP
Owned in 35.4% of ESPN leagues
With a rocky start to the year, Bell has settled down and become a solid member of the Padres bullpen. Two days ago Bell struggled against the Dodgers, but until that point he had his number called in four games last week and did not allow a hit. Relief pitchers are always a risky proposition and that's why they have become such a rare and valued commodity when a team can land one.