Ask Rotoman: Time Wieters for No Man

Dear Rotoman:

I have Matt Wieters on my team.  Do you think I should pick up a catcher to replace him or wait to see if he will eventually get better. Replacement Options would be John Jaso, Kurt Suzuki, AJ Pierzynski, Wellington Castillo, or Russell Martin.

“Caught Looking”

Dear Caught:

Wieters went on the DL on May 11th and is eligible to return on May 26th, but so far his elbow still hurts and he hasn’t been able to throw, so don’t expect him to return when eligible.


Reports are that he’s feeling better, but until he proves himself able to throw at full effort without re-injuring himself it’s hard to say with any certainty when he’s going to get back. Right now he’s no strongman.

The range of possibilities extends from a healthy return in early July as a catcher, to an earlier unhealthy return limited to DH duties sometime in mid June, or season-ending Tommy John surgery, probably after it’s decided that he’s not getting better from rest. The value of the DH stint is reduced because surgery will remain an option, should the Orioles fall out of the race.

Since you asked the question, I’m assuming you play in a league that has no DL or reserve slots. I can understand not having reserve lists, keep those healthy players available to all teams, but I think it’s just cruel to force teams to make decisions like this. The uncertainty punishes teams that suffer more injuries than other teams, and most injuries just aren’t predictable.

So be it. Let’s say Wieters comes back July 1 and is healthy. You’ll get $9 of expected production out of him the rest of the way, in half a season, assuming he performs as expected.

You’ll get a little more than two-thirds of a season from the other guys. Here’s what they cost in the preseason and what they’ve earned so far, as well as an evaluation of their value going forward:

John Jaso: ($8, $4) He is the most like of these guys to have a breakout season, beating expectations by a lot. He’s already ahead. Plus he’s earning his breakout without a ridiculously high batting average. Expect $6 more from him, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he put up $8 more.

Kurt Suzuki: ($2, $5) He’s hitting better than .300, but has always looked like a .240 hitter, now playing in a park notorious for stifling homers. He’s not going to be a $15 hitter this year. Expect perhaps another $3, or less.

AJ Pierzynski: ($12, $3) He’s a little bit behind expectations but has such a long and robust history it’s easy to expect him to catch up. He could earn another $9.

Wellington Castillo: ($9, $3) He’s right on pace to earn to expectations, which is another $6. Why not?

Russell Martin: ($10, $2) He missed time on the DL, which puts him on pace to have earned $4 thus far, and thus $8 more the rest of the way if he stayed on that pace. Expect a little less than that, but it’s in the ballpark.

So, your best bets are Pierzynski and Jaso, with Martin a bit behind. None should be expected to earn more in the next four months than Wieters will if he plays three healthy months. If you were sure Wieters were going to come back, you would hold onto him. Or so the evidence would suggest. But the difference isn’t great, and the odds that Wieters won’t return are more than zero.

How much more? If you think they’re 1 in 5 chance, Wieters rates as $7 the rest of the way. If it’s a 50/50 chance, Wieters becomes a $4 player. The real odds are probably somewhere between those two, but you can’t ignore the possibility that he’ll opt for surgery, making him a $0 player. The only scenario in which Wieters beats Jaso or Pierzynski is if he gets healthy and plays the rest of the season as you hope he would. Those odds favor replacing him.

If it were my choice, I would switch to Jaso as soon as possible, but I wouldn’t blame you at all if you switched to Pierzynski instead. He’s probably the safer choice of the two. Either way, make the move, and remember you can always angle to recapture Wieters via FAAB if he does come back.

That wouldn’t be a bad move at all.