Fantasy Baseball Thoughts: Ryan Howard To Miss 2012?, Chris Carpenter, CC Sabathia, and Matt Kemp

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 07: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies stumbles as he runs out of the box on his ground out for the final out of the game as they lost 1-0 against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Divisional Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 7, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

I still can't believe the Phillies lost to the Cardinals on Friday night. I would have written a post-game article after the game, but I could barely keep my eyes open during the game. How times have changed. As I told another fantasy owner via text, I can't get by on six hours sleep anymore.

Anyway, the Phillies did lose to the Cardinals on Friday night behind a gem from Chris Carpenter. The Cardinals first inning run held up and Carpenter completely shut down the Phillies offense on 3 hits. Robert's pre-game article discussing Carpenter was well-timed and on the mark. Carpenter could be undervalued in 2012 fantasy drafts.

The Phillies were the overwhelming favorite to make it to the World Series this year with the three aces Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the way. On paper, they were the best team in baseball, but it wasn't to be, as their lineup had difficulty scoring runs all season, and again in the playoffs. The Cardinals win caps an historical run to even make the playoffs. 

More fantasy baseball thoughts after the jump:

The Phillies loss on Friday night was difficult to swallow for Phillies fans as they were expected another trip to the World Seires, but the loss was made worse with the injury to Ryan Howard on the last out of the game. Howard may have torn his achilles tendon getting out of the batter's box on the ground ball he hit to second base.

After the game, MLB.com's Todd Zolecki tweeted the following regarding Howard's injury:

 

ToddZolecki Todd Zolecki 

Ryan Howard said the training staff thinks he tore his Achilles. He'll know more after a MRI. Not good.

Howard is slated to get an MRI on Saturday, so we will learn more about the extent of the injury and if surgery is required. If surgery is required, he could miss the start of the 2012 season. Here is Howard talking about the injury after the game, from MLB.com:

"I was trying to run and I just felt this pop, and the whole thing went numb like it was on fire," Howard said. "I tried to keep going and went down. It literally felt like I was on a flat tire. I tried to get up, [but I] just couldn't go."

Should Howard miss the start of the 2012 season, I see John Mayberry manning first base for the Phillies in his absence and Domonic Brown playing left field. I wrote about Howard in the review of my preseason first base rankings:

 

5. Ryan Howard, PHI-Howard put up excellent power stats this season, but I was expecting a 40+ HR season from him this season. His triple slash line dropped to .253-.346-.488 with 33 HRs, 116 RBI and 81 runs scored. Ponder this ISO/SLG/HR trend when considering drafting Howard in 2012:

2006- .346/.659/58

2007- .316/.584/47

2008- .292/.543/48

2009- .292/.571/45

2010- .229/.505/31

2011- .235/.488/33

Some said, back in the preseason, that his drop in power in 2010 was a result of him being injured in August 2010, so what happened in 2011?

 

It appears the drop in power trend will continue in 2012, especially with the news of this injury. Recovery from a torn achilles can be a slow process, so it will be interesting to see how much time Howard will miss in 2012. Brian Floyd from Baseball Nation had this to say about Howard's injury:

Howard later told reporters he thinks he tore his Achilles, which would be the worst possible outcome for both him and the team. If it is, in fact, torn, Howard could miss the entire 2012 season while recovering and rehabbing from the injury. But again, the diagnosis has to be confirmed on Saturday.

Fantasy owners in keeper leagues take note. If he misses the entire 2012 season, he will come cheap at your auction draft in 2012 and is a perfect candidate for a team that wants to utilize the rebuild strategy.

Yankees ace CC Sabathia has an opt out clause in his contract that allows him to become a free agent this offseason. Many expect him to opt out and who can blame him? The Yankees cannot afford to lose Sabathia and with the Red Sox rotation with plenty of question marks, there could be a bidding war between the two teams for Sabathia's services. Yankees GM Brian Cashman is smart enough to know that he will need to overpay Sabathia to prevent him from becoming a free agent, so I expect him to make him a sizable offer in the very near future.

Speaking of Sabathia's opt out clause, I have to think other free agents will demand an opt out clause in their contract negotiations in the future. I could see guys like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Matt Kemp requesting such a clause in their contract negotiations this offseason.

Speaking of Matt Kemp, his agent recently stated that he does not want to talk about a contract extension once the season starts. I assume that means the regular season. ESPN's Jim Bowden interviewed Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on Friday, and here is what old Ned had to say about the Kemp contract:

Matt Kemp is a priority, and I plan on getting with his agent, Dave Stewart, and will work diligently in trying to work out a long-term deal with Matt. There is some urgency because he'll be a free agent at the end of the 2012 season if they don't sign him long term now. Clayton Kershaw's situation is not as urgent because he's only first-time arbitration eligible and won't be a free agent until after the 2014 season. That doesn't mean we won't have conversations and listen, and if we can make a deal that makes sense, we will be open to it -- but not with the same urgency as Kemp. 

Colletti has to sign Kemp to a long term extension this offseason or risk another drop in attendance in 2012. I can see Kemp getting a Tulo-like contract from the Dodgers this ofseason, somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 years, $160 million.

Here is Colletti's response to Jim Bowden's question about whether the Dodgers will be interested in signing either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder this offseason:

 

5. Is it realistic to think the Dodgers could be players for Albert Pujols and/or Prince Fielder?

As you know Jim, I can't speak about specific names of players who are not yet free agents because of tampering rules. However, we have a need in the middle of our lineup, and if we could do the right deal with a player in terms of duration and money, we would be willing to do it. We have flexibility if we keep catcher, second base, shortstop and left field as non-arbitration eligible players like we have now, then it is definitely possible that we could afford to spend the money on a significant middle-of-the-order bat.

It appears the Dodgers will go with a platoon of Tim Federowicz and A.J. Ellis at catcher, Dee Gordon at shortstop and one of Jerry Sands or Juan Rivera (assuming they resign him) in left field. Second base is a question mark where they could look to the trade market to fill that need. I am not sure either player would want to play in Los Angeles long term, but getting Kemp signed quickly could enhance their chances of signing a big bat like Fielder or Pujols.

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