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Getting a 'handle' on the future

Senior Fantasy Writer
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One of the perks of being a Senior Fantasy Writer here at CBSSports.com is access to the CBS Wormhole.

It's the reason, I've come to learn, that we're based in Fort Lauderdale: proximity to the Wormhole. And the beach. In the interest of sharing, I copied and pasted the Twitter conversations I had with Wormhole-aided alternate future versions of myself from Thursday night. Hopefully, this glimpse into the future can help readers with your own burning Fantasy questions.

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@nandocbs: Hey buddy, what's happening there this fine September afternoon?
@futurenandocbs: Bryan LaHair's 30th home run this season makes it an even 15-15 split bw 1st base and OF.
@nandocbs: What? What's that mean?
@futurenandocbs: LaHair was pushed to the outfield when Anthony Rizzo came up in June to play first base. He had hit 15 home runs and was batting .281 at that point.
@futurenandocbs: ... we called him "Fantasy's most pleasant surprise" and worried that it was too good to be true.
@nandocbs: Really? My only reservation with him today is that his minor league power might have been inflated by playing in the PCL.
@futurenandocbs: We were fooled before.
@nandocbs: Yeah we were. Sean Rodriguez, Jeff Mathis, Brandon Wood. It was mainly Angels prospects, now that I think about it.
@futurenandocbs: Arencibia got it done, though. He hit 23 homers last year after flexing power in Vegas for two minor league seasons. That wasn't all PCL inflation.
@nandocbs: Yeah, that's true. How's he doing, by the way?
@futurenandocbs: Solid. The average is .251, which is about 30 points higher than last year, and he has 21 homers.
@nandocbs: Huzzah for him!
@futurenandocbs: Indeed. Anything else you'd like to know before this portal closes?
@nandocbs: Yeah. How's Lorenzo Cain doing?
@futurenandocbs: Ah man. He's been up and down. 12 home runs, but a .272 average. He's got 19 steals. He hasn't been bad, but… I think 2013 might be the year he breaks out. People may have jumped on him too soon.
@nandocbs: So it's kind of like Curtis Granderson's first full year? Or maybe Dustin Pedroia?
@futurenandocbs: Exactly. They can't all be Longoria from the get-go.
@nandocbs: How about Tim Lincecum? How's he doing?
@futurenandocbs: Why? Did something happen?
@nandocbs: He got blown out his first two starts!
@futurenandocbs: Holy crap, I totally forgot about that. Yeah, he's great. 2.72 ERA, Strikeout per inning. His hair goes down to the middle of his back now.
@nandodifino: Did Jason Bay ever make a comeback?
@bobmosesian: Hey @nandocbs @futurenandocbs Gamel or Shelley Duncan? 12 team H2H, really weird scoring.
@nandocbs: @futurenandocbs @bobmosesian Dude, later!
@nandocbs: @futurenandocbs @bobmosesian But I still say Shelly Duncan, even with the Johnny Damon signing.
@futurenandocbs: Oh man. That Damon thing ended up being a mess.
@nandocbs: What??
@nandocbs: Yo.
@nandocbs: You there?
@multiversenandocbs: Oh hey.
@nandocbs: What happened?
@multiversenandocbs: I'm assuming some rules of the universe prevented future you from revealing what happened with Johnny Damon to present-day you.
@nandocbs: I don't understand this at all.
@multiversenandocbs: Neither do I. But I can tell you what happens in the many Johnny Damon scenarios that play out across several universes, which exist simultaneously, but on different planes of
@multiversenandocbs: ... existence.
@nandocbs: Yes, please! I have no idea how this one's going to play out.
@multiversenandocbs: Well, in one universe, Damon plays left and just takes time away from Shelley Duncan, who is relegated to occasional starts and platoons, despite him starting the season with a .294 average and .900-plus OPS.
@multiversenandocbs: In another, Damon actually plays first base. Casey Kotchman's value drops. Shelley Duncan clubs 40 home runs on the season, and Grady Sizemore doesn't return until late July.
@multiversenandocbs: In a third universe, Damon suffers a hamstring injury while playing for the Columbus Clippers. He decides to hold off until 2013 to attempt another comeback.
@multiversenandocbs: In a fourth, Duncan hits a ton of home runs while Damon plays into shape in the minors, forcing Cleveland to keep Duncan in the lineup, moving him between the outfield, first base, and DH when Damon joins the team.
@multiversenandocbs: In yet another universe, Damon is beaned in a minor league game by a similarly-misguided comebacking Andy Pettitte. The pitch itself doesn't do damage, but Damon charges the mound and accidentally kills Pettitte. He's jailed for 16 months.
@multiversenandocbs: In a fifth universe, Damon plays left while Duncan takes over for an injured Travis Hafner at DH. When Hafner comes back, Damon moves to RF to take over for an injured Brantley, with Duncan in left.
@nandocbs: Wait. I'm already exhausted.
@multiversenandocbs: Imagine trying to keep all these scenarios straight. Is there one you liked best?
@nandocbs: Not especially. I like Duncan not having Damon messing with is playing time. Or his head. I had him pegged as a Carlos Quentin/Mike Morse just-needs-the-playing-time breakout.
@multiversenandocbs: There actually is one universe where Shelley Duncan literally becomes Carlos Quentin. But you ... don't want to hear about that one.
@nandocbs: Does this same thing play out with every player? Like Daniel Bard?
@multiversenandocbs: Actually, he's a starter all year long in every universe I've seen.
@nandocbs: Really?
@multiversenandocbs: Yeah, even the weird ones where the Rapture has already happened.
@nandocbs: Is he any good?
@multiversenandocbs: Bard? 3.53 ERA, lots of strikeouts, 14 wins. Every universe. I'm not sure why everyone is questioning Boston's decision here. It's pretty hard to find a starter of his caliber.
@nandocbs: Speaking of that, is he better than Chris Sale?
@nandocbs: Hello?
@nandocbs: Dude?!!
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Hey man. You must've done something with that Sale/Bard question.
@nandocbs: Who are you?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: I'm you. Or am I?
@nandocbs: Do you know anything about Sale and Bard?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Yeah, they could both have really good years. But who knows how they'll adjust to starting roles, what that might do to their arms, if they'll run out of steam later.
@nandocbs: So I shouldn't start either of them?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: You know, they could both be great. I can see both sides here.
@nandocbs: Great. How about Luke Hochevar?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Ah, that guy. He was a first round draft pick two times! He has some talent. 3.52 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in the second half last year. He held batters to a .222 average.
@nandocbs: Maybe I'll grab him.
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Yeah, but who knows if he can put it together this year. The man has a career 5.26 ERA in 592 innings pitched.
@nandocbs: Is there anything you're sure about?
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Aroldis Chapman is nasty. He has value no matter where you put him. He has as many strikeouts as Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum (10), he's tied for the MLB lead in wins (2). And he's pitched just five innings.
@nandocbs: I've got him in pretty much every one of my leagues.
@vaguelyguessingnandocbs: Yeah. He might start later this year if Bray or Masset are ready. I could totally see him closing, too, though.
@nandocbs: I hate you.
@alittletoointensenandocbs: I hate him too.
@nandocbs: Who are you?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: Does it matter? How about you get off Twitter and go pick up Adam Dunn right now? I'll wait.
@nandocbs: Why?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: How many 40-plus homer seasons did he have in a row before last year? You know how hard it is to go from playing in the field to just DH?
@nandocbs: Hard?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: You just sit there and get cold on the bench while everyone else runs around and stays active and engaged. It's weird. It takes time to adjust. Maybe not a whole season, but ...
@alittletoointensenandocbs: ...now he's got that season and experience under his belt. He knows how to approach it in 2012.
@nandocbs: Alright. I'll see if he's a free agent. Anyone else?
@alittletoointensenandocbs: IMMEDIATELY pick up Erik Bedard. He gets a low WHIP and lots of strikeouts. And I'm shouting WHIP, not just capitalizing it.
@nandocbs: But he gets hurt a lot ...
@alittletoointensenandocbs: So what?!! Is he hurt now? No. Will he be hurt in the next two months while he pitches brilliantly in the National League with a pitching coach who brought the Pirates' ERA down a run from 2010 to 2011? No. You want to keep arguing, or just want to pick him up?
@nandocbs: Okay. I'll see what I can do.
@alittletoointensenandocbs: Yeah you will.
@nandocbs: Anyone else want to offer some advice before I sign off?
@obsessedwithtommyhunternandocbs: I know he was mentioned in Tuesday's column, but Tommy Hunter could be a strong starter this year with Baltimore. Sub-4.00 ERA over the last three years. Great control!
@conspiracytheoristnandocbs: Don't trust Jorge Sedano.
@bandwagonjumpingbuthopingyouwontnoticenandocbs: I'm pretty sure I told you to look out for Josh Willingham a couple weeks ago, right? Remember I told you he had some power potential?
@angrycommenternandocbs: Everything you do sucks. I can do this for cheaper than you. Prince Fielder will hit 17 homers this year.
@thinksheknowsasecretbutreallydoesntnandocbs: Josh Donaldson has catcher eligibility but is starting at third for the A's. Could be a sly add.
@insultsreadersintelligencenandocbs: Mixed leaguers might want to consider this Toronto youngster named Brett Lawrie as a buy-low target. He reminds me of Ryan Braun!
@intentionallythrowingoffcompetitorsnandocbs: I think Alex Presley can hit 30 homers this year.
@bethisfriendhecouldmentionhiminacolumnnandocbs: Good luck getting married this weekend, Mike Cummings!
@moreinterestedinfantasyfootballnandocbs: Fantasy baseball requires way too much effort dude.
@rewardspeopleforreadingthisfarnandocbs: Drew Smyly threw 90 pitches in four innings. He's got two starts next week, and I bet he pitches a lot more efficiently. He's definitely worth AL-only consideration. Watch him in mixed leagues. Only owned in 14 percent of leagues.
@lovespredictingclosersnandocbs: Kevin Gregg and Jon Rauch always seem to find their way into saves every year. It's just something to consider if you're fruitlessly speculating on closers in deeper leagues.
@futurenandocbs: I totally forgot to tell you. Buddy Roemer wins the presidential election.
@nandocbs: OK, enough! I'm signing off for the night. But Bryan LaHair... Nice.

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
Astros' Luis Cruz hoping to throw on Tuesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:09 pm ET) Astros pitcher Luis Cruz is hoping to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle

Cruz jammed his fingers while fielding a ground ball on Friday, but wasn't expected to miss much time. 


Astros' Brad Peacock to throw live batting practice in 8-10 days
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:04 pm ET) Astros pitcher Brad Peacock is hoping to throw live batting practice in 8-10 days, according to the Houston Chronicle. 

Peacock had offseason hip surgery, but has been able to take part in bullpen sessions. He's still a bit behind the other pitchers in camp, but the team is aiming for mid-March for his first batting practice. Manager A.J. Hinch said Peacock will need to throw a few of those before he's ready for game action.

The 27-year-old Peacock posted a 4.72 ERA over 131 2/3 innings last season. 


Astros' Hinch expecting Roberto Hernandez to report this week
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(5:52 pm ET) Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday he is expecting starting pitcher Roberto Hernandez to report for camp this week, per MLB.com. He has been away from camp while trying to obtain a work visa.

"I'm expecting him to get here this week," Hinch said. "Games start. He has a locker. He's assured me he's throwing bullpen and he's ready to go.

"No visa problems, it's just taking a long time. He's going to have no problem getting a visa. We signed him late and he has a lengthy process to go through. We're hopeful. We can't wait to see him."


Braves pitcher Tyrell Jenkins turning heads in the front office
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:50 pm ET) Braves pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins is showing flashes of what he can be for the team in spring training. Manager Fredi Gonzalez made a point to see Jenkins throw against hitters for the first time Monday, according to MLB.com.

"He's been everything he's been advertised as being," Gonzalez said. "He's a tremendous young man. He's been really impressive with his work ethic and the whole deal."

Jenkins was traded from the Cardinals as a part of the deal that sent Jason Heyward to St. Louis. 

"I'm not trying to do too much, just trying to fit in with the guys and not stand out in a negative way," Jenkins said. "I want to stand out on the field with my play and in the locker room with my work ethic and character. I'm glad to be here. Wherever I go or whatever happens, I'm just eager to see what happens this year."


D-Backs' David Peralta looks to make a bigger impact in 2015
(5:45 pm ET) After a solid rookie year in 2014, Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta is working to make an even bigger impact this season.

When the 2014 season ended, he returned to his home in Venezuela to play more baseball.
He spent his time there trying to improve his hitting against left-handed pitchers. He batted only .197 against lefties as a rookie.

"I know I had a good season, but I need to get better and I wanted to work to get better," Peralta said of his decision to play winter ball, per MLB.com. "I like to get better and learn something every day. So I went there to learn something, to get better and to get more at-bats. This year, my goal is to be an everyday player, and I feel like I'm ready to go now."

Peralta will battle Endier Inciarte for playing time in left field this spring.

"He is a big part of our plans," general manager Dave Stewart said of Peralta. "Those are the kind of guys that you have to like, guys that want to keep getting better. He didn't rest on the fact that he had a good season at the big league level, and says he wants to go back and keep working on his skills and get better."


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(5:45 pm ET) Royals prospect Hunter Dozier had a 2014 season to forget. Kansas City's top pick in the 2013 MLB Draft hit .209/.303/.312 in 64 games at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

"I think it would have happened anywhere, whether I was at high-A ball or Double-A," he said to MLB.com. "For some reason, I just started overthinking everything. I started looking for changeups when I shouldn't have. I should have just stayed with my normal routine."

It was the first significant time in his career that Dozier experienced struggles at the plate.

"It's good that I went through it," Dozier said. "Now I know how to snap out of one of those slumps. I know that I shouldn't change anything like my approach -- just stay with it, stay with the routine."


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(5:43 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Jimmy Nelson will likely miss one spring start, according to MLB.com.

Nelson came into camp dealing with a hamstring injury, but was able to throw a bullpen session on Sunday. He reported no issues on Monday, and is close to getting back on a normal schedule. Despite that, he's likely to miss out on one start this spring. Manager Ron Roenicke doesn't think it's a big deal. "You could say he's behind, but do they really need all those games?" Roenicke said. "I don't know."

The 25-year-old Nelson is expected to compete for a spot in the team's rotation this spring. He posted a 4.93 ERA over 69 1/3 innings last year. 


Brewers' Mike Fiers gets the nod on Wednesday
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(5:37 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Mike Fiers will start the team's exhibition game on Wednesday, according to MLB.com.

The club will take on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Fiers will start, while Corey Knebel and Taylor Williams will come on in relief. The Brewers will start Cactus League play on Thursday, but manager Ron Roenicke has yet to announce his pitchers for that game. 

Fiers, 29, is coming off a breakout season in which he posted a 2.13 ERA over 71 2/3 innings. 


Francona: Zach Walters to work at 1B, SS before playing in outfield
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(5:34 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said Zach Walters will work at first base and shortstop early in spring training before eventually playing in the outfield, per Cleveland.com.

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Yankees' catcher Luis Torrens dealing with shoulder injury
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(5:31 pm ET) Yankees catcher Luis Torrens is dealing with a shoulder injury, according to the Journal News

Assistant general manager Billy Eppler confirmed the news, though said the team was still gathering information on the injury. The club will evaluate the issue, and should have a better idea of how much time Torrens will miss on Tuesday. The 18-year-old was ranked the team's 19th best prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2013 season. 


 
 
 
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