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2012 Draft Prep: Names to know for Draft Day

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Some of you reading this column may know me from my random role in the novel Fantasyland. Others might know me from my days at ESPN, or The Wall Street Journal.

There's a select group who fondly remember me as "the calm one" from MLB Network's Fantasy 411 earthquake video last season (check it out). Still, plenty may remember me from the short-lived web series, The A--hole Who Listed Off Fancy Places He's Worked In A Fantasy Sports Column.

But if you've ever played against me in a draft or auction, you probably know me as, "that guy who refuses to use a laptop."

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I'm a list guy. I love my research, and I love making lists. Every March, I have a notebook and I'll scribble notes like a madman in it. This year's notebook has everything from "Sean Burroughs/Steve Pearce on MIN" to "OLIVER PEREZ in Seattle." But it's not just non-roster invitee, blast-from-the-past types. Notes like "A-Rod going late" and something as simple as "Hanley" with an up arrow next to him dot the pages as well.

Eventually, I take the crazy scribbles and whittle them down to a smaller list. Maybe 20 or 30 players who I simply really like -- there's no set number or rhyme or reason to it. Last year's list included Jered Weaver, Curtis Granderson, J.J. Hardy and Brandon League. Just to show that the list isn't without its flaws, I should note that it also included Brandon Wood and Julio Borbon. Still, it had more hits than misses, and sticking to my guns eventually led to success in plenty of leagues. Sometimes it's as simple as "I like this dude;" other times, there might be some statistical hiccup that people are overlooking (or, conversely, I'm obsessing over). Regardless, it's part of the reason why I still use paper in my drafts -- I need to be scribbling. And the strategy has worked so far. Plus, scribbling on a laptop just isn't cost-effective.

The beauty of the scribbles, however, is that they can be easily transcribed to share with the masses, including the legions of laptop users. So, as a way to mark my first column here at CBSSports.com, I give you a randomly-selected group of players from my list. They're not quite sleepers and not exactly value deals. Just a bunch of players I'll go the extra mile for to get on my team in 2012 ...

Mark Buehrle, SP, Marlins: A lot of people are pointing to Buehrle's move to the National League -- and, in turn, a friendlier park -- as his strongest asset, but they're overlooking the best part about him: his consistency. For his career, Buehrle has a 3.83 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. He hasn't pitched fewer than 201 innings, or made fewer than 30 starts, since 2000. Let that sink in -- Bill Clinton was still President when Buehrle pitched less than 200 innings in a season. He'll come cheap in auction leagues and go late in drafts and is essentially a guarantee to get those solid numbers over the course of 200-plus innings, creating a rotation anchor that allows owners to take some gambles on other, less-steady players.

Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers: His average dropped 44 points from 2010 to 2011, which got him slapped with the "disappointment" label. But he more than doubled his home run output and will likely reap the benefits of Prince Fielder and Delmon Young being added to an already-potent lineup behind him. My new colleague, Al Melchior, agrees with me on Jackson, though his reasons are a little more abstract.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs: All this debate about whether or not he'll start at first base seems a little disingenuous to me. Rizzo hit a miserable .141 in 128 at-bats last year, but he managed an absurdly-high eight doubles in that span (over a full season with that rate, he'd challenge for the league lead) and his .281 OBP almost doubled his average. The most telling sign that he'll likely get the nod at first? Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who drafted Rizzo as part of the Red Sox front office in 2007, traded for Rizzo under three months into their reign as President and GM, respectively, of the Cubs. Even if he starts in Triple-A, Rizzo will likely be up soon and make an impact in Wrigley's smaller confines.

Ricky Romero, SP, Blue Jays: The former first-round pick finished 2011 with 15 wins, a 1.14 WHIP, and a 2.92 ERA. He's progressively gotten better with every full season. Jered Weaver and Felix Hernandez took a very similar route before their breakout seasons.

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Erik Bedard, SP, Pirates: Bedard quietly threw together a really solid season in 2011 before his trade to Boston. He's good for about a strikeout per inning and his low WHIP is seriously overlooked. Injury history aside, Bedard has two major things going for him: a move to the DH-less National League and the opportunity to work with Ray Searage, who is one of the game's best pitching coaches (Pittsburgh's team ERA dropped from 5.00 in 2010 to 4.04 in 2011 when he took over).

Hanley Ramirez, SS, Marlins: He's going at No. 22 overall in drafts, according to our current Average Draft Position data on CBSSports.com. That's embarrassing. For drafters. I wouldn't hesitate to take him in the top eight. If I'm sitting in the No. 7 spot in my draft, I might even consider taking him there (although it looks like I can get him on the way back). Ozzie Guillen shouting in one ear, the influence of Eduardo Perez in the other, and he was playing hurt in 2011. Plus, he'll be eligible at both shortstop and third base about a week into the season in most leagues. Are we forgetting the arguments we had the last two years about him being the overall No. 1 pick? One bad, injury-affected year, and he's dropped 21 slots?

Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays: The "change of scenery" argument had holes poked in it after a sub-par run in Toronto last year, but Rasmus is more of the player we saw in 2010 than the one we saw in 2011. I like where he's going in drafts, and I wouldn't be afraid to snag him 20 picks earlier.

Mike Leake, SP, Reds: I have him all in CAPS in both my scribbles and my final list. I'll probably triple-highlight him on my draft sheets. I'm a believer. He posted a 1.17 WHIP last year, his second year in the majors. I wouldn't be surprised if the strikeout rate came up a little bit from 2010 and 2011, with the pitch counts not being such a huge problem any longer.

Jason Bay and Adam Loewen, OF, Mets: This may be the last chance many owners give Bay, but with the fences moved in at CitiField, there's at least an argument beyond, "he hit 36 homers three years ago," for liking him. Loewen, meanwhile, is an intriguing play. In really deep leagues, the former pitcher could find some value. It's entirely possible he could play his way into a starting job, beating out Scott Hairston and Lucas Duda. Loewen could be a cheap source of some power, speed, and average.

Josh Fields, 3B, Dodgers: He'll probably start 2012 in the minor leagues, but the former White Sox prospect is worth keeping an eye on, as he has been destroying the ball in spring training for the Dodgers and has just Juan Uribe blocking his path to completing the feel-good story. Even though it's not likely, this has all the makings of one of those situations where Fields grabs the job out of camp and puts together a really solid season out of nowhere.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Struggling Rockies' DJ LeMahieu gets a rest on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:55 pm ET) Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu is getting a rest on Thursday, as he is being held out of the starting lineup against the Diamondbacks. LeMahieu had started 34 of the last 35 games for the Rockies, and he's been struggling lately.

Over his last 10 games, LeMahieu is batting a meager .132 (5 for 38). So he'll get a day off on Thursday, with Daniel Descalso getting the start at second base. 


Rockies recall OF Drew Stubbs from Triple-A on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(6:50 pm ET) The Rockies have recalled outfielder Drew Stubbs from Triple-A on Thursday, and he will be available off the bench for the game against the Diamondbacks.

After struggling for the first 24 games of the season with a .118 batting average, Stubbs was sent down to Alburquerque on May 20. In 38 games at Triple-A, Stubbs was hitting .263 with four doubles, three triples and two home runs. 

To clear room on the roster, infielder/outfielder Rafael Ynoa was optioned to Triple-A. 


Twins: Ervin Santana to start Sunday, Phil Hughes bumped a day
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(6:50 pm ET) Twins manager Paul Molitor confirmed on Thursday that starting pitcher Ervin Santana will return to the mound on Sunday, and Phil Hughes will start on Monday, per MLB.com.

Santana, who is returning from an 80-game suspension for the use of performance enhancing drugs, made his final rehab start in Triple-A on Tuesday.


Rangers SP Derek Holland to throw bullpen session Friday
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:49 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Derek Holland is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Friday, reports the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Holland has not pitched since April because of a shoulder issue. He recently had an MRI on his shoulder, which came back clean. He isn't expected back until August.


Diamondbacks' Archie Bradley to stop throwing, rest hurt shoulder
by Ruben Palacios | Staff Writer
(6:38 pm ET) Diamondbacks starting pitcher Archie Bradley, who is recovering from a shoulder injury, will abstain from throwing for the immediate future to rest that shoulder, per FoxsportsArizona.com.

Bradley received good news on Thursday as an MRI revealed no significant damage in his shoulder. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since early June.


Elbow injury limits Twins OF Shane Robinson
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(6:23 pm ET) Twins outfielder Shane Robinson may be limited to just defense and pinch running as he deals with a left elbow contusion, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Robinson was hit in the elbow by a pitch during Wednesday's game, which caused him to leave the contest. He is considered day to day. He was not in the lineup for Thursday's game at Kansas City.


Pirates SS Jordy Mercer doubles, scores twice on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:58 pm ET) Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer went 2 for 3 with a double and two runs scored in the 8-4 win over the Tigers on Thursday. 

Mercer is on fire at the plate all of a sudden. He is in the midst of an eight-hame hitting streak, during which he is batting .444 (16 for 36) with five doubles. 


Brad Miller out of lineup Thursday after Mariners recall Chris Taylor
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:56 pm ET) Mariners shortstop Brad Miller was held out of the starting lineup Thursday against the Athletics for the first time in 18 games and just the fourth time since May 24. Chris Taylor, who was recalled from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday, replaced Miller in the starting lineup at shortstop.

Since June 1, Miller is batting .256 with one triple, two home runs, three doubles, eight RBI, eight runs, 10 walks, 19 strikeouts and three stolen bases in his last 27 games.


Pirates 2B Neil Walker posts another four-hit game on Thursday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(5:53 pm ET) Pirates second baseman Neil Walker went 4 for 5 with a double and three RBI in the 8-4 win over the Tigers on Thursday. Walker now has back-to-back four-hit games. He is 14-for-26 over his current six-game hitting streak. 

In 10 games since returning from a stomach illness, Walker is hitting .444 with two home runs and seven RBI. 


Padres RP Dale Thayer may make rehab appearance this weekend
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(5:52 pm ET) While Padres pitcher Dale Thayer is eligible to come off the disabled list Thursday, he may need to make a rehab appearance in the minor leagues this weekend, reports MLB.com.

Thayer has been sidelined since June 16 with a strained right shoulder.


 
 
 
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