I have to admit, I was watching the red hot Athletics (anyone paying attention when I suggested the team would be playing Earl Weaver baseball Tout Wars Weekend?) when Zack Greinke and Carlos Quentin mixed it up on Thursday night.
While Greinke is on my XFL team, a squad that is two-thirds of the way towards rebuilding, I have Quentin on my NL LABR squad. In fact, I really targeted the Padres' outfielder in every league possible, as if he stays healthy, Quentin is more than a productive hitter with an excellent ratio of extra-base hits to base hits in general.
I do try to draft guys who have a better chance of avoiding injury on one hand, but on the other, gamble on players like Quentin, or Mike Morse for under market value and hope they produce beyond expectations, something Morse had done until he broke his pinky finger, also on Thursday.
In fact, despite my drafting pretty solid and understated teams across the board, this week has been brutal, losing Morse, Greinke, Erick Aybar, Matt Harrison, Scott Sizemore, and Marco Scutaro, from somewhere between the vague "day-to-day" (Scutaro and Aybar) to the rest of the season (Sizemore).
I do feel a little indignant about those who suggest Greinke was head hunting, for while it is true that he has hit Quentin three times including Thursday, all three were with the same tailing fastball on the left arm or shoulder. And, like it or not, Quentin is the new Ron Hunt. For the unitiated, Hunt led the Majors in HBP for years during the mid-60's, a prize Quentin owns these days.
I suspect Quentin's anger at Grienke stems a lot more from getting plunked two nights earlier, and then sitting out Wednesday as his banged up wrist healed, for at the time of the infraction the score was tied and it is hardly prudent for a pitcher to simply give away a base runner to "announce his presence with authority" in the Nuke Laloosh sense.
Clearly there were some other words spoken if you watch the replay of the brawl, but more so it was just another example of too much testosterone in too small a geographic area.
The deal is that getting hit and more importantly, injuries, are simply part of the game. The question is what do we do about them?
Well, one of the things that was really re-confirmed for me this past draft season was not to panic. I cannot really explain it, and I suspect some of my attitude has to do with my most recent illness and brush with death last December. Somehow, whatever calm I carried translated into pretty solid rosters, where I can suck it up with the injuries to Aybar and Harrison (who is on the same XFL squad as Greinke) and Morse and Scutaro.
For if you play fantasy baseball, the chance that any of your guys will get hurt simply exists every day, all season long.
What I can say if you own Greinke or Aramis Ramirez or now Gordon Beckham, is just take a deep breath. If you are in a shallow league, there will be a replacement in the free agent pool, and while you might not be happy with the thought of Mark Ellis or Ty Wigginton replacing your injured guys, they are everyday players, and they are just fine.
If you are in a deeper format--NL or AL-only, or a mixed league with 17 or more teams, then you have to know that every team will have a hole or two and lack starters. Ideally, your injured player is simply one of those situations, so again, do your best out of the free agent pool for now.
But, avoid blockbuster trades and dumping players who are underproducing after less than two weeks of games.
For it is a long haul. And Ramirez and Greinke and Beckham will be back. More importantly, players will emerge from the Minors and free agent pool who can pick up the slack.
The bottom line is our fantasy teams are not that different than the major league teams, and essentially if your roto squad has Greinke, then you will have to follow the same path as the Dodgers.
That is take a deep breath, fill the spot the best you can, and figure the rest of your team will kick it up a notch till everyone is back in place. But more importantly, remember that part of your skill as a manager is reflected in how you handle the challenges--like injuries and slumps--your fantasy team hands over.