Deep leaguers are nearing a point in the season where waiver wire pickings aren’t going to be easy to find.  But it’s barely Week 3!  Tell that to someone who gives a damn!  All intense rage aside, despite the season’s relative infancy, if you’re in a league of 14 or more teams, adding players who can contribute will become more difficult by the week.  This isn’t a 10 team league where No. 3 starters are sitting on the wire.  This column is designed to help you dig deeper (and deeper).  Read carefully, and maybe one of these players will be your lucky star.

Last week’s post discussed middle infielders, and today I’ll be passing out advice on some outfielders who can assist you in your travails.  As always, I will be using ESPN’s ownership percentages and only selecting players who are available in less than 10 percent of leagues.

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The first week of baseball.  The sights.  The smells.  The bacon-wrapped corn dogs stuffed with jalapeno cheddar tots.  What a week it was indeed.

A long winter has passed and many things changed.  Most notably, was Ricky Vaughn, who shed his trademark leather jacket and punk rock hairdo for a suit, tie and styling mousse.  Jack Taylor’s knees were weaker than ever, and Pedro Cerrano ditched the rum-loving Jobu for Buddhism. Even Willie Mays Hayes elected to have cosmetic surgery.

Some things need to be replaced.  The classic film Major League was not one of them.  Yet they made a sequel.  Not the worst baseball movie to grace the big screen, but we could’ve done without it.  Unlike the original Wesley Snipes character, in fantasy baseball, finding replacements is part of the game.  It’s how leagues are won.  You can’t just sit back and watch as players are picked up off the wire while you “wait to see how the guys you drafted do”.  That’s one of the most common phrases I hear early on.  Yes, it’s early, so you’re not kicking any studs to the curb, but if the “sleeper” you drafted in the 29th round has begun the season 1-for-16, and there’s a player on the wire who is playing well, go grab him!  Hanging on to an older vet with the delusion that he’ll somehow hit like he’s not 36 years old (Chase Utley, 100 percent owned on ESPN), will keep you from realizing your championship dreams.

This is the “Deep Impact” column, where I’ll only be featuring players under 10 percent owned in ESPN leagues.  During Opening Week I’ve been asked more questions about middle infielders than any other position, so I figured this would be an opportune time to reveal some of my top adds heading into the weekend:

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By now, most of you have drafted your fantasy baseball teams, and while there may be a few stragglers, the majority of you will be turning to Razzball for in-season info, not draft info.  You can no longer wait till the wee rounds of your home league to grab that super sleeper you have been pining for since the Winter Meetings.  Adding clutch players will either have to be done via trade or the waiver wire.  In my weekly “Deep Impact” series, I’ll be focusing on the players that you can acquire from the latter from of those transactional options — the waiver wire pick up.

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter, the protagonist, Hester Prynne, is forced to wear a red “A” on her dress as punishment for committing adultery.  Like Ms. Prynne way back in the 1600s, you too will be heavily penalized if you choose to cheat on your fantasy team by drafting Cincinnati Reds’ outfielder Billy Hamilton — a man with a different red letter on his uniform.

Hawthorne’s critically acclaimed tale concerned itself with many moral indecencies.  At the center of it all was the notion that adultery was a sin, and anyone who perpetrated this lascivious act would pay the consequences.  Attempting to gain an early edge in the stolen base category is one of the most heinous fantasy crimes an owner can carry out (cue the Law & Order: SVU opening).

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It was just a couple of months ago that I discussed Cincinnati Reds’ first baseman Joey Votto, and what his fantasy value would be the rest of the season. At the time, he was on the DL nursing a quad injury, and had yet to resume on-field activities.  I basically approached the situation this way: if you own him, trade him; if someone else in your league was growing tired of the situation, he may not be a bad guy to target in a buy-low scenario. Flash forward to Monday, and we are presented with a nearly identical question: what do we do with Joey Votto?  And putting him in cement shoes and dropping him in the Ohio River is not an acceptable answer.

Votto is likey headed to the DL for the second time this season — and for the same injury.  Folks, that is not a good sign.

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July 4th is right around the corner, and I know you got tons of big (that’s me finger quoting) plans for the weekend.  So I’ll cut right to the chase and break down some of the injuries affecting fantasy baseball at the moment. Just remember, when you’re two cases of beer in and your starting shortstop breaks his finger sliding headfirst into second base, don’t, I repeat, don’t take out your frustrations by launching fireworks at your computer.

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Injuries?  You want injuries?  Well, good sir (ma’am, Donkey from Shrek, Borg or whatever), you’ve come to the right place. 2014 is no stranger to the maimed, sick and downtrodden.  If the 2014 baseball season were a movie, it would be a combination of Outbreak, Hostel, Saving Private Ryan and The Fan (man, that sh*t was terrible). The All-Star break is just a few weeks away, so here are some players hitting the DL or coming off of it that you need to be keeping an eye on…

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The Colorado Rockies have not had an easy go of it this season.  After beginning the year in tremendous fashion, injuries have contributed to a pretty steady drop in the standings.  Once 22-14, the Rockies have fallen one game below .500, to 34-35. Pitching is always to blame when it comes to the blemishes of the Blake Street Bombers, and this year has been no exception, with the team placing last in the majors with a 4.61 ERA.  However, mounting injuries have put an even bigger dent into the psyche of the good spirited people of Denver. First, Nolan Arenado hit the DL.  Then it was Michael Cuddyer (twice) and Carlos Gonzalez.  Pitcher Jordan Lyles, who had been their best starter to date, broke his non-pitching hand on a freak play.  Wilin Rosario even had a stint on the sidelines with a stomach bug.  Presumably, he’s been using that as his excuse for his poor hitting all season long.  The only player who hasn’t been hurt is human house-of-straw, Justin Morneau.  Go figure.

Good news for the Rockies, and for fantasy owners, is that Arenado (finger) could be back by the All-Star break, or perhaps even sooner if he can progress quickly through rehab games. While any possible cancer scare is nothing to dismiss, the fact that CarGo’s injury was “only” a benign foreign mass — and not a torn ligament — was the best possible news his owners could hear.  His original five-week timetable would have him back around the All-Star break.

Now all the Rockies need to do is get superz-sized sheets of bubble wrap for Troy Tulowitzki.

Here are some other injury notes that caught my eye this week…

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Gerrit Cole, one of the better young pitchers in the game, landed on the DL Sunday with “right shoulder fatigue”.  What does this mean for the Pirates?  Well, they have been playing much, much better of late, and this is gonna put a wrench in their chances of making a run at first place in the division.  Yes, they are still eight games back, but with Gregory Polanco likely getting called up this week, if they had a push in them, now was the time they were going to have to make it.  Instead, 2013 All-Star Jeff Locke, who was so bad post-break that he finished the year in the minors, will fill the void left by Cole and his 6-3 record.

Fantasy baseball owners are also going to be affected by this.  The Pirates hope Cole will only miss one start, but this sounds like it could develop into a multi-week recovery.  Concern arose when Cole, who normally throws in the 95-98 MPH range, was showing decreased velocity in the mid- to-late innings of games.  Assuming the Bucs fall further out of contention, the team will be in no rush to bring back their 23-year-old stud.  For what it’s worth, the Reds’ Tony Cingrani landed on the DL in May for the same reason (left shoulder fatigue) and missed just the minimum time, but he hasn’t been good at all in the weeks since.  For now, fantasy owners will just have to stash Cole on their DL and hope for a speedy recovery.

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Hate on me all you want, but I’ve been a full-fledged, die-hard New York Yankees fan since birth. [Jay’s Note: Could be worse… you could have been a Red Sox fan…] I may have been born and raised in the land of palm trees, bikinis and coked-out debutantes (Los Angeles), but my father, a Brooklynite, instilled in me his love for the men in pinstripes.

Being a Yankees fan has many ups, but when it has its downs, it makes you wanna bury your head in the sand.  Most of these “downs” are related to the front office spending a gazillion bricks of gold bullion on aging vets (that is the form of currency Hiroki Kuroda used during his formidable years in the 1920s).  No matter how many supplements and PEDs and anti-aging hormones these players use, they’ll eventually wither away and get hurt in the process. If only the Yankees had a pill that gave their players Benjamin Button disease.  I can picture CC Sabathia as a fat three-year-old baby, probably licking the fluid coming out of his knees.  How adorable, he got it all over his face!  How many jars of Gerber’s mashed zucchini can you buy for $142 million?

Mark Teixeira had to leave Saturday’s game with renewed wrist “inflammation”.  This is not something to be taken lightly.  He had offseason surgery on the same wrist and had to miss three games earlier this week before returning Friday.  The fact that could only make it through one-and-a-half games before getting hurt again says this problem is not going away.  Wrist injuries can completely sap your power (see, Encarnacion, Edwin in April).  He’s scheduled to see a specialist on Tuesday to determine the severity of the injury. Don’t hold your breath.

After a promising start to the season in which he compiled a 2-2 record with a 1.83 ERA and 1.02 WHIP, Michael Pineda has been nothing but a pain in the backside for fantasy owners — literally.  He’s been dealing with back issues, similar to the one Clayton Kershaw had in spring training, and he had been on track to return within the next few weeks.  But that is no more.  After a setback in his rehab this weekend, Pineda will be shutdown indefinitely.  It’s time for fantasy owners to cut bait, as it’s possible we won’t see him in the Bronx till August.

There may be some good news on the injury front in New York, however.  Carlos Beltran‘s attempt to avoid surgery to his elbow seems to be going well.  He’s been slowly swinging a bat — progressing from dry swings, to swinging from both sides of the plate, and he took batting practice on the field before Friday’s game.  According to Beltran himself, he walked away from that session happier than a big city business man taking his lunch break at a Korean massage parlor.  Evidently that was enough proof of good health for the Yankees to send him out on an extended spring training stint in Tampa.  He is shooting for a June 10 return when the Yanks visit Seattle to take on the Mariners.

Now on to the rest of the league…

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