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Friday 24th Mar 2017

OK, that may be a bit of over-celebration. In fact, it is downright odd coming during a week – the first all season long – in which I did not bid on any free agents in National League Tout Wars.

No, I am not giving up. Just the opposite.

Still, when one is down to his last $7 FAAB as I am, you need more luck than limited money can buy.

Having four players coming off the disabled list at the same time is the answer for me. It qualifies as a real blessing. That is especially so for a team that is in ninth place, 30 points out of the lead.

When three of the returnees are double-digit cost players, totaling $42 of investment, it is even better.

Washington’s Ian Desmond, an $18 player on draft day, has returned to my shortstop position, and not a minute too soon. My $7 acquisition of Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez a few weeks back turned to dust since the arrival of Tyler Greene from St. Louis. Even before then, Gonzalez’ sub-Mendoza line batting average was a major drain.

Yasmani Grandal was a pre-emptive pick up on my part, a $10 addition at a time when San Diego’s catcher made a brief MLB debut in early June, only to almost immediately return to the minors. His return lasted just 26 games before an oblique injury put the former Cincinnati Reds prospect on the disabled list.

Now that Grandal is back in action, I thought having the option to bench the consistently-underperforming John Buck of the Marlins would be addition by subtraction. However, Buck has recently found his stroke, with his season average having now passed Gonzalez.

St. Louis left-hander Jaime Garcia, a $14 acquisition on draft day, had been out for six weeks with a shoulder problem that was addressed via rest. Not exactly an encouraging approach. Still, the 26-year-old’s return last Sunday was superb – no earned runs, 10 strikeouts and just five baserunners over eight innings.

Unfortunately, I did not have Garcia activated last week, but when the Cardinals-Pirates game went extra innings, the man he replaced in St. Louis’ rotation, Joe Kelly, went 5 2/3 one-run innings in relief. Kelly was on my active roster.

My fourth returnee, Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin, was not activated by the Rockies until Tuesday. That night, the 24-year-old allowed just one run on four hits over six innings against the Mets.

Since trading away three solid hitters for pitching, my offense has dropped faster than my pitching has improved. Obviously, that wasn’t the plan.

Since joining the Angels, my acquisition Zach Greinke has just one win in five starts, an ERA of 6.19 and a WHIP over 1.5. Even all-world closer Craig Kimbrel, who I thought would be an excellent addition, has only one save in August; and none since he joined my roster three weeks ago. On a contending club, three weeks without a save opportunity is amazing.

Then again, at least Greinke has a chance to recover. The man I dealt away for him, Melky Cabrera, is done for the year and has some major problems to resolve. Oft-injured Lance Berkman also came my way in that deal and will be back September 1, albeit in a reserve role. Allen Craig has taken Big Puma’s job away and isn't going to give it back. In fact, this may be Berkman's swan song as I am hearing rumors he is considering retirement.

I will need all these guys hitting on all cylinders and even more to close the huge gap that remains in the standings, but there is still time. Here’s hoping that if you are looking up on the leaders in your league, as well, that your plans will come to pass.

Remember to keep your eye out for those returning players to help give you that final-month boost.

 

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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