Roto Riteup: March 17, 2016

Hey there.

So, I kind of feel like this is my first day, or if not my first official day, the day you show up to get your course calendar and wander around campus aimlessly, hoping you don’t trip on a raised piece of sidewalk or get your headphone cord caught on a bike’s handlebars or anything. I’m not new here, but I was absent last season, and this is my first foray into the Roto Riteup. I’m excited to be joining Zach Sanders and Justin Mason, two people far better suited for it, in this role.

But mostly, I’ve gained a great sense of inflated importance, like a returning Y2J here to save you all from the shoehorned pop-culture references of my predecessor. And yes, these are big shoes I’ll aim to fill. Well, probably not. The outgoing David Wiers – on to big, big things – strikes me as a small-footed sort. What he lacks in foot size, he made up for in heart, humor, and intelligence, and while I can’t promise to match him on any of those measures, I can at least promise I have similarly easy to make fun of taste in music.

Nice fellow that he is, Wiers sent the following as a sort of transitional message to his faithful readership:

Legend says White House Press Secretaries pass down a flak jacket from one to the next. Within the fabled jacket is quips, advice and jokes from prior Press Secretaries. Unfortunately for the Roto Riteup, no such tradition exists, just a brutal trial-by-fire from the comment section that I never truly pass, but merely endured until the readers got used to me. Don’t worry, both Justin and Blake are more than capable, especially compared to myself and that grump Sanders.

He did not, however, tell me how to turn off getting emails for every single comment on an article. Anyway, please be gentle, and let’s get on with it.

On today’s agenda:
1. Love the Drake or Hate the Drake?
2. No suspension for Yasiel Puig
3. Bronson Arroyo tears labrum
4. Ruben Tejada released
5. Blue Jays’ fifth-starter race heating up

Love the Drake or Hate the Drake?
This doesn’t have much to do with fantasy baseball, but apparently the reason you can scratch Adam LaRoche from the deep recesses of your AL-only first-base draft rankings is that he’s retiring, in part because president Ken Williams told him he couldn’t bring his 14-year-old son Drake around the clubhouse as much this year. The reaction has been a little mixed, with Adam Eaton coming out in support of the LaRoche family on behalf of players, former MLBer Vernon Wells suggesting teams adopt specific rules to avoid these conflicts, and Pablo Ozuna dropping one of the best insults imaginable to get a laugh from a bad situation.

For readers, there are two important things to note here:

1) I was off keyboard a good chunk of the day and originally thought the tweets I was seeing had to do with clubhouse music selection hierarchy. To let you get to know me a little better, I would be playing Carly Rae Jepsen’s excellent 2015 album E-MO-TION during lifting sessions.

2) LaRoche doesn’t plan to return to baseball. He hit 12 home runs in 484 plate appearances last season, and while he slugged 26 the year prior, the 36-year-old probably wasn’t returning to fantasy relevance at any point (his ADP ranked 33rd among first basemen). The LaRoche side of that doesn’t move the needle much, but the news opens up a full slate of games for someone else at DH for the White Sox. Avisail Garcia, Jerry Sands, Dioner Navarro, J.B. Shuck, and Tyler Saladino could all see small bumps in playing time if Robin Ventura opts to spread the touches around, and it could mean final roster decisions focus on offense (say, Matt Davidson) a little more than defense (say, Carlos Sanchez).

The White Sox could probably also use a bat now, so look for them to be active on the waiver wire over the next few weeks.

No suspension for Yasiel Puig & a Julio Urias note
Slugging outfielder Yasiel Puig will avoid punishment from the league under it’s domestic violence policy, the league announced Wednesday. Under the same policy, Aroldis Chapman received a 30-game suspension, and Jose Reyes‘ ruling remains pending. It can be difficult to add a fantasy spin to news of this nature, because it’s tough to put personal feelings aside and/or navigate the information gap, so just allow me this: The news means drafters don’t have to worry about any playing time lost to anything but injury for Puig, who is the 23rd outfielder off draft boards.

In other Dodgers news, the team has allowed Adrian Gonzalez to attend 2017 WBC qualifiers this week for Mexico while barring Julio Urias from doing so. Urias is trying to fight his way onto the Dodgers’ roster following an early groin injury, and the 19-year-old has allowed four runs through three spring innings. It seems unlikely he cracks the Opening Day 25, even with the Dodgers losing pitchers left and right, but he could see a spot start or two in 2016.

Bronson Arroyo tears labrum
If you’re in a league that drafts 200 starting pitchers, you can safely scratch Bronso Arroyo off your cheat sheet. He has an 80-percent tear of his right labrum, according to Peter Gammons, effectively ending his attempt to make an MLB comeback. Arroyo was last seen in 2014 with the Diamondbacks, posting a 4.08 ERA over 86 innings. He’s the owner of a 4.19 ERA and a 145-131 record in 405 career appearances, 369 of them starts.

I accidentally subscribed to a random person’s YouTube channel while trying to find this for you. Pour one out for Saturn Nuts.

Ruben Tejada released
The Mets released Ruben Tejada on Wednesday, paying him $500,000 of the $3-million salary they agreed on to avoid arbitration to go play elsewhere for 2016. It made sense for the Mets, who brought in Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker to join Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell on the infield, and frees Tejada to land somewhere else late in spring.

With New York and somewhere in the 150-200 range for plate appearances, Tejada wouldn’t have had any fantasy utility. He almost certainly won’t elsewhere, even if he landed in the heart of the 1927 Yankees lineup, but any shortstop with regular playing time is worth making note of for NL-only formats. I mean, I guess. It’s Ruben Tejada.

Blue Jays’ fifth-starter race heating up
Drew Hutchison allowed two runs over 4.2 innings on Wednesday, lowering his spring ERA below 4.00 and keeping the battle for the Toronto Blue Jays’ fifth rotation spot interesting.

Hutchison’s a known commodity, one who hasn’t exactly impressed or inspired confidence as anything more than Arroyo’s heir apparent (shout out to Drew Fairservice for that comp). Jesse Chavez was believed to have the inside track initially, but it may make more sense to have him available as a swingman out of the bullpen, and he’s been somewhat middling through 10 spring innings, striking out just five batters. He’s out of options, so he’s definitely cracking the roster. Gavin Floyd has looked solid, surrendering a .172 batting average and striking out nine in eight innings. He’d essentially be found money, but betting on anything from a guy who’s pitched 92 major-league innings over the last three seasons is risky.

The best choice, in my mind, remains Aaron Sanchez, who’s too young to transition to the bullpen for good and too good not to have on the roster for a win-now team. In nine spring innings, he’s struck out 10 to just one walk and given up only two runs. If he can keep the ball down and in the zone to limit walks, he has better stuff than his previous strikeout rates indicate and he does a great job keeping the ball on the ground, a nice mix of skills. Sure, he’d be a great third righty in the bullpen and has some platoon-split issues, but if the 23-year-old makes that switch for a third consecutive season, you’re probably never getting 200 innings out of him.

None of these names are being drafted as a top-100 starter, so if you really like one, the cost is minimal.

Blake Murphy is a freelance sportswriter based out of Toronto. Formerly of the Score, he's the managing editor at Raptors Republic and frequently pops up at Sportsnet, Vice, and around here. Follow him on Twitter @BlakeMurphyODC.

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Odd that the Saturn reference is primarily size-based and has nothing to do with rings. I would have gone with Jupiter Nuts unless of course one other teammate had discernably larger nuts, in which case “Saturn Nuts” is quite apt.

Emcee Peepants
Emcee Peepants

It’s probably because Schilling is aware that Jupiter’s rocky core has ~10 earth masses where Saturn’s rocky core has ~15-30 earth masses.