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Setting the Trends: Some relief in sight!

Senior Fantasy Writer
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As far as baseball mysteries go, one of the biggest was solved this week, when Robin Ventura enlightened the masses and revealed Hector Santiago as his closer. It was one of the biggest questions entering the season, and no less than four names were thrown in the mix as potential closer candidates. But it looks like two of the pitchers who were, at certain points, favorites to win the role -- Matt Thornton and Jesse Crain -- were more valuable to Ventura in middle relief. So Santiago wins the role, and everyone runs out to get him.

Most Added Players (as of 4/10)
Player % change
1. Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox 49
2. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays 38
3. Alfredo Aceves, RP, Red Sox 37
4. Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals 30
5. Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals 28
6. Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners 25
7. Jeff Samardzija, RP, Cubs 24
8. Jake Arrieta, SP, Orioles 22
9. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 22
10. Zack Cozart, SS, Reds 18

Or, at least, most people did. Santiago is still only owned in 52 percent of leagues, and I think this may be a result of people not realizing that Ventura named him the closer. It's almost a "fool me twice..." situation, with Fantasy owners having been burned in the last week by Mark Melancon and Joel Peralta red herrings. Santiago, however, will close until he implodes, so he's a safe -- and, apparently, still shrewd -- option for a waiver wire add.

Now, on to the rest of the Roster Trends ...

Most Added Players

Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox
Jump in ownership: 48 percent (from four percent to 52)
Reason for the jump: Named closer for the White Sox
Why you should join the crowd: If he's still a free agent in your league, you should run and grab him. Santiago has been named the closer, so there's no chance for a Melancon-type backfire, where everyone ran out and grabbed the wrong Red Sox closer based on the most logical guesswork.
Devil's Advocate: Fine, Santiago is the closer, but is he any good at it? If he turns out to be terrible at the job, he may do more harm than good for your team.

Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays
Jump in ownership: 37 percent (from six percent to 43)
Reason for the jump: He's gotten both of Tampa Bay's saves this season
Why you should join the crowd: Joel Peralta, the heretofore favorite for the closer's role in Kyle Farnsworth's absence, is manager Joe Maddon's favorite 8th-inning toy, and Rodney has a history of being an effective (with flashes of some wildness) closer. Mix it all together -- a skilled pitcher who has excelled in the role before, taking over for a pitcher with recurring elbow soreness -- and it's a recipe for a sly waiver wire pickup.
Devil's Advocate: Farnsworth is only supposed to be out for 4-6 weeks at this point. When he returns, Rodney could lose that role and be just another middle reliever. On top of that, Joe Maddon is known for his quirky strategies and could swap Rodney out for Peralta based on the situation. Keep in mind that Rodney's saves have both been of the one-out variety.

Rafael Furcal, SS, Cardinals
Jump in ownership: 29 percent (from 33 percent to 62)
Reason for the jump: Furcal is batting .435 with two steals and three runs scored, through Monday
Why you should join the crowd: There may be life left in those legs! Manager Mike Matheny has Furcal taking more pitches and trying to get the ball on the ground more often. He stole 22 bases in just 97 games in 2010 and sports a .283 career average. He could be a cheap source of speed at a relatively shallow position and he does have a little bit of power, although it could be mitigated by the ground-pound strategy.
Devil's Advocate: The last time he played in 162 games was ... never. In the last three years, Furcal has averaged 111 games played with just 14 steals. He's also 34 years old and hit just .231 last year.

Chone Figgins, 3B, Mariners
Jump in ownership: 25 percent (from 16 percent to 41)
Reason for the jump: Figgins is batting .381 with a steal and four RBI so far his season
Why you should join the crowd: He's already played four games in the outfield; one more gives him the dual eligibility in most leagues. In points leagues, his triple and double are already paying off for owners. Before 2011's disaster, Figgins had seven straight seasons of 30-plus steals, five of which he stole 40 or more.
Devil's Advocate: He's 34 and showed his age last year, when he hit .188 in 81 games. Seattle's offense isn't going to drive him in as much as they should and once Mike Carp returns, he may get squeezed for playing time if Kyle Seager (whose ownership has jumped from seven to 21 percent) remains hot.

Most Dropped

Mark Melancon, RP, Red Sox
Drop in ownership: 18 percent (from 44 percent to 26)
Reason for the drop: Melancon is 0-2 with a 36.00 ERA in one inning pitched so far this season.
Why you should join the crowd: Melancon seems like the living embodiment of a DirecTV commercial, where one bad bit of news begets another. He went from "likely closer" to "Boston anti-hero" at an incredibly accelerated rate.
Devil's Advocate: Even though Alfredo Aceves got the save Monday night, he's still far from a reliable closer; Melancon is a very good pitcher and could hit a groove in middle relief, while Aceves still falters. With the Red Sox reassuring everyone that Daniel Bard will remain a starter, Melancon is -- by process of elimination -- the next in line to be closer if Aceves falters.

Ben Revere, OF, Twins
Drop in ownership: Five percent (from 32 percent to 27)
Reason for the drop: Revere has had just six at-bats so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Revere looks to be caught in the middle of the Minnesota outfield mess. With Josh Willingham starting in left field and Denard Span in center, Revere is staring down a possibly season-long rotation that features Trevor Plouffe, Chris Parmelee, and Ryan Doumit. Without much playing time, his Fantasy value plummets.
Devil's Advocate: Revere hit .267 last season -- with 34 stolen bases -- in 450 at-bats. Plouffe and Doumit can play at a bunch of other positions defensively, so if Revere can get hot, he may eventually hammer out more starts for himself and push the other two to time-shares elsewhere.

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Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies
Drop in ownership: Four percent (72 percent to 68)
Reason for the drop: Fowler is off to a horrific start, with one hit in 11 at-bats
Why you should join the crowd: You shouldn't. But if you need a reason to do it, consider that Tyler Colvin, a former top prospect with the Cubs, played center field in place of Fowler on Sunday. Combine that with the way the Rockies demoted and called up Fowler in the past, and there's an argument. It's a bit of a stretch, and I don't necessarily believe in it -- Colvin is more of a corner outfielder/first baseman -- but it's the most likely scenario in which Fowler would lose playing time.
Devil's Advocate: It's the first week of the season and Fowler is probably just off to a cold start. While his ownership is a bit high for a career .260 batter with a ceiling of about 20 steals, dropping him now puts his owners squarely in the "panic" category.

Players with deep league appeal

Both Lucas Harrell and Tommy Hunter have nudged their "owned" levels up to nine percent with some stellar debut performances. Harrell, who is eligible as a reliever in most leagues, struck out four in seven innings against the Rockies, while Hunter struck out three in seven innings against Minnesota. The two pitchers are strikingly similar -- both have low strikeout rates, both are in their mid-20s (Harrell is 26; Hunter is 25), and both switched organizations last July. Hunter has tended to be more of a flyball pitcher in the majors, while Harrell relies on more grounders. For now, they're both deep options, but mixed leaguers would be smart to throw them on the Scout Teams, as a couple more solid starts could signal good things to come with their new organizations.

Most Traded

Just like last week, the "most traded" list is riddled with prospects and youngsters, who are likely being dealt in keeper leagues as teams try to address holes and lack of depth in 2012. A veteran popping up in the top 10, however, is Toronto's Adam Lind, who is batting .188 so far this season, with just one run batted in. Lind has averaged 28 home runs over the last three seasons, but has a career average of just .266. His 2009 season, in which he hit .305 with 35 home runs, remains his ceiling, but it seems to be a more unobtainable one as we get farther away from it. His strikeouts don't help points leagues, but his power potential makes him a relatively cheap, buy-low trade target, or a crafty throw-in as part of a larger deal.

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 send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Blue Jays agree to a deal with Johan Santana
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) The Blue Jays have agreed to sign pitcher Johan Santana, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

Santana, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2012 due to various arm injuries, is attempting to make a come back this season. He pitched in the Venezuelan Winter League, but was shut down after having some shoulder discomfort. Santana resumed throwing in late February. 

The 34-year-old posted a 4.85 ERA in 117 innings back in 2012. 


Reds' Jon Moscot standing out early in camp
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(6:02 pm ET) Reds pitching prospect Jon Moscot stood out during the team's live batting practice Wednesday, drawing praise from manager Bryan Price, MLB.com reports.

"He throws efficiently," Price said. "He throws plenty hard enough. He's an 89-92 [mph], maybe a touch better at times. It's command. It's bottom-of-the-zone command, side to side. A very, very good slider. His changeup has made great strides over the last season. As I tell the starters, if you're going to start, you need that offspeed pitch, some kind of change-of-pace pitch, but primarily a changeup, if you're going to be really good."

Moscot wasn't aware that the Reds manager, who caught three or four minutes of his session while roving around, was watching the prospect.

"They're all walking around. We've got three fields going on," Moscot said. "Everyone is trying to make an impression, so I just know that any moment, you can turn a head. Keep your head down and work hard."

Moscot spent most of his 2014 season with Double-A Pensacola, going 7-10 with a 3.13 ERA and 111:43 K:BB ratio in 149 1/3 innings over 25 starts.


Rangers' Michael Kirkman progressing after having soreness
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:00 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Michael Kirkman has made progress after experiencing shoulder soreness early in camp, according to MLB.com.

Kirkman was able to play cath for the second straight day on Thursday. He'll attempt to take part in long toss on Friday. The 28-year-old posted a 1.59 ERA in 12 games last year. 


Rangers' Tanner Scheppers impressing early
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:53 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Tanner Scheppers has impressed during camp, according to MLB.com.

Scheppers missed a large portion of last season due to an elbow issue. He was able to throw batting practice on Thursday, and drew rave reviews from pitching coach Mike Maddux. "He's coming out free and easy with a loose arm," Maddux said. "He's got a little attitude, but he always does."

Scheppers said he was just glad to be back on the mound. "I'm seriously just happy to be out there," Scheppers said. "It has been seven months since I've faced hitters. I'm just happy to be playing baseball and feeling great."

The 28-year-old posted a 9.00 ERA over 23 innings last season. 


Mariners' Felix Hernandez: I'll be ready for game action soon
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(5:51 pm ET) Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who shed six-to-seven pounds in the offseason, told reporters he's off to a strong start this spring following a 30-pitch bullpen session, according to the Tacoma News Tribune on Thursday.

"Pretty good," Hernandez said. "I'm telling you, that was pretty good."

Hernandez also hinted that he's practically ready for game action.

"I don't need to throw a lot of bullpens," Hernandez said. "Two or three, a live BP and I'll be ready for a game."


Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo won't push himself early
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:46 pm ET) Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo isn't going to go all out yet, according to MLB.com.

Choo had season-ending elbow surgery last August, but feels pretty good in camp. He's been able to participate in every drill with outfielders thus far, but added that he's not going to push himself too hard. "It's a long Spring Training," Choo said. "There are going to be some days when I'm sore, but no issues. I'm not worried about it."

Choo, 32, hit .242/.340/.374 over 445 at-bats last year. 


Mariners' Morrison spends offseason working on improving durability
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:43 pm ET) Mariners first baseman Logan Morrison has struggled to stay healthy through his first five years in the majors. In order to improve his durability, Morrison said he hired a new trainer in the offseason, per The News Tribune.

“I think I’m a little more educated about my body,” he said. “He’s given me a program to do -- whether it’s a warm-up every day or a three-day-a-week workout program. Hopefully, that will keep me healthy.”

Morrison is confident he will be a valuable part of the lineup, as long as he can stay healthy.

“Just put me in the lineup every day,” he vowed, “and I’ll produce. It’s up to me to stay in the lineup, but if I’m in the lineup every day, I know I’m going to hit, and I know I’m going to hit well and be a force in the lineup.”

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is optimistic Morrison can reach his full potential.

“LoMo is relatively young as far as active years under his belt,” McClendon said. “He’s still maturing from that standpoint. He’s still learning. I think his ceiling is very high.

“I think, all in all, he’s got a chance to be  a guy who can hit 25 home runs for us and drive in 100. He’s a good hitter. He hits left-handers and right-handers. He takes his walks."


Rangers to be cautious with Mitch Moreland
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:40 pm ET) The Rangers will be cautious with Mitch Moreland this spring, according to MLB.com.

Moreland had ankle surgery last June, and the team is going to bring him along slowly early in camp. Moreland will be held back from running for a bit, and will be limited in how many grounders he takes at first. Moreland said he feels good, but acknowledges that the team wants to be extra careful. 

"I feel good, but the training staff has talked with me and got me on a good solid routine to make sure I come out of camp feeling good and feeling healthy," Moreland said. "So we're playing it over-cautiously so I'll be ready to roll by Day 1."

Moreland is also expected to play the outfield this season, but the team is going to wait until later in camp to get him out there.

The 29-year-old Moreland hit .246/.297/.347 over 167 at-bats last year. 


Royals' Infante having no health issues at start of spring training
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:32 pm ET) Royals second baseman Omar Infante dealt with some injury issues in 2014, including soreness in his elbow, back and shoulder. However, after two days of throwing and hitting at camp, Infante is feeling fine, per MLB.com.

"Everything's good," Infante said on Thursday. "I'm trying to take it a little slow, but right now it all feels fine.

"The shoulder is fine now. I don't really feel anything with [the elbow] either, maybe just a little bit. Not worried."


Report: Angels' Hamilton won't receive a ruling on Thursday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:29 pm ET) Major League Baseball will not announce a possible suspension for Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton on Thursday, according to FoxSports.com.


Hamilton met with the league for a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday. CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman reported that Hamilton relapsed a few months ago, and told MLB about his relapse. It's not clear how Hamilton will be treated given his history with drugs and alcohol. Hamilton is technically a first-time offender since his past suspensions happened when he was a minor-leaguer, but it appears it will be up to commissioner Rob Manfred will make the decision about a possible Hamilton suspension.

The 33-year-old Hamilton was already sidelined after having offseason surgery. He hit .263/.331/.414 over 338 at-bats last year.  


 
 
 
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