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April 18, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Itís Just a Fantasy

by Joe Sheehan

It hasn't been as bad as recent Aprils, but fantasy baseball players have taken their share of hits this month. Most recently, Bartolo Colon's rib cage tear has landed him on the DL for a couple of weeks. He joins Kevin Brown, Rusty Greer, Damion Easley and Brian Jordan as prominent fantasy contributors who, well, aren't contributing much from the sidelines.

Still, someone has to rack up counting numbers in their absence, and injuries and ineffectiveness can create opportunities for players who were overlooked on cutdown day--or draft day. Here are a handful of those who might be available in your league, and who could help make the loss of your fantasy baseball stud a little easier.

  • Sean DePaula, Indians. DePaula was called up to take Colon's place on the Indians roster. Bobby Witt will move into the rotation, and DePaula will pick up some middle-relief innings. If you watched the 1999 ALCS, you'll remember DePaula as the Indians' only effective reliever. In a perfect world, a good few weeks would enable him to stay in Cleveland, taking the spot Witt or Scott Kamieniecki. DePaula has no shot to get saves, but won't hurt your ratio or ERA.

  • Jeff Manto, Rockies. He's a popular roster-filler pick, mostly because he plays on Planet Coors. He actually deserves a shot on merit: he can hit, the same way he's been able to hit for years. On a team with left-handed hitters on three corners, he could get some spot starts, and with the Rockies' need for pop and their collection of fragile outfielders, he has the upside Terry Shumpert did a year ago.

  • Geoff Blum, Expos. He's not replacing anyone, but call this a hunch play. As much as Felipe Alou likes Orlando Cabrera, Cabrera doesn't have much upside and won't hold his job with his glove if he continues to hit .195. Blum isn't good defensively, but has more power than your average middle infielder and has played well in his limited time in the majors. If he does get a job, there's a lot of roto upside.

  • Steve Cox, Devil Rays. It's not the first time someone at BP has pushed this name, and it probably won't be the last. Tampa has serious balance problems, with most of its power coming from the right side. Cox has made the roster, the first hurdle, and is backing up aging, fragile players at DH and first base. Jose Canseco should start hurting soon, and when he does, Cox will get some of those at-bats. All he needs is a chance, and he'll be 2000's Kevin Millar.

A DiSars update: it looks like Jacque Jones is determined to win his first title. He's up to 49 walkless at-bats, and now no one else in the American League is close (Greg Norton is second with 27). Once Jones walks, I'll take a peek at when the other prominent candidates garnered their first free passes.

In the National League, there's a great three-horse race. The Expos' Orlando Cabrera, the overwhelming readers' favorite, has batted 41 times without trotting to first. Two players with the opposite profile--the Brewers' Geoff Jenkins and the Padres' Ryan Klesko--are neck-and-neck with 48 and 43 ABs respectively.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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