SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

July 27, 2013

Fantasy Forecast: How to deal with life after Braun

Fantasy Forecast
Andy Silva

---- — The hammer came down on Ryan Braun this week, with the former NL MVP agreeing to a suspension which will see him miss the remainder of the season. Hopefully you were able to ditch Braun prior to the landmark plea deal he copped with Bud Selig and Co. If not, you’re probably left feeling like you’re holding the bag.

Anyway, if you still own Braun you’re likely looking for some way to replace him. You won’t be able to replace his production completely — after all, it’s not easy to replace Top 10 production. But, nonetheless a move will need to be made. Here are some suggestions.

1. Torii Hunter (80 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)

More than likely, you’re going to have to trade for him. But, if he’s available on the wire jump right up and grab him.

Hunter is hitting .333 with 7 homers, 19 RBI and 21 runs in the last 30 days. He’s hitting in a loaded lineup, with premium run producers behind him — leading to plenty of opportunities for the former Twin and Angel to score.

His speed is not what it once was, but the production has remained fairly consistent across the board as he’s aged.

2. Ichiro Suzuki (55 percent owned)

Ichiro looked to be nearly done when he was traded to the Yankees midway through last season. But, he has rebounded some and still has some value in the right circumstances.

Power has never been his thing, and the batting average has taken a considerable hit from the lofty heights of his prime, but over the last month Ichiro is hitting .295 with 3 home runs, 11 RBI, 4 steals and 14 runs. The Yankees lineup is not what it has been in the past and he doesn’t run quite as much as he used to, but the total package is probably up there with just about anyone available on the wire.

3. Marlon Byrd (50 percent owned)

Another player looked to be done (especially when he was a member of the Red Sox), Byrd has had a resurgence with the Mets.

Byrd’s power stroke has returned to the tune of 6 homers and 22 RBI in the last month, along with an average of .318 and 20 runs scored.

Many have been burned by Byrd in the past, but he may be one of the best power options on the waiver wire.

4. Carlos Quentin (26 percent owned)

His durability is always in question, but as always Quentin can produce in the power categories when healthy.

In the last month, Quentin has bashed 5 homers, drove in 19 runs and is hitting .295. He’s hit at least 16 home runs every season since 2008, even while missing time.

Quentin probably represents your best bet on the wire to replace Braun’s power, but he also represents the greatest injury risk. You just have to weigh risk vs. reward.

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The Cubs traded Matt Garza to the Rangers this week and he promptly defeated the Yankees in his first start back in the junior circuit.

There’s always some concern about a pitcher making the transition from the NL to the AL, but Garza has been dealing of late (six straight victories all with two runs or fewer) and has experience pitching in the AL East. So that should alleviate the league switch a little. In fact, I would look to see if Garza’s owner is willing to make a deal.

I see no reason why Garza would have any major issues, unless he finds himself injured — which, honestly, has happened from time to time.

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Alfonso Soriano is reportedly on his way back to the Bronx.

The former Yankee is close to being dealt back to his original team and that should do nothing to harm his power production. He’s likely never going to hit for average, but even so he’s still managed to drive the ball and produce in the power categories. And if the Yankees use him at DH he could save some wear and tear and focus solely on his production at the plate while still maintaining his outfield eligibility.

If you can get him for a decent price in a trade or if you can find him on the waiver wire, I think he could certainly be worth taking a long look at.

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Andy Silva writes the Fantasy Forecast column for The Salem News. You can reach him at asilva@salemnews.com and can follow Fantasy Forecast on Twitter at twitter.com/sn_fantasysport.