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Setting the Trends: Houston, we have options

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Astros, Astros everywhere!

Houston seems to be the hot-spot for Fantasy treasure hunting this week, as owners have flocked to the Astros' outfield to shore up their teams, welcoming Jordan Schafer and J.D. Martinez to a combined 70 percent higher ownership level.

Most Added Players (as of 4/17)
Player % change
1. Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros 41
2. Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals 32
3. Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants 31
4. J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros 29
5. Barry Zito, SP, Giants 29
6. Danny Duffy, SP, Royals 28
7. Kyle Drabek, SP, Blue Jays 28
8. Omar Infante, 2B, Marlins 27
9. Adam LaRoche, 1B, Nationals 25
10. Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays 25

If you missed the Martinez train, it might already be too late to jump on board -- he's now owned in 91 percent of leagues. But Schafer, who offers a little more speed than his fellow outfield counterpart, is still available in just under half. And this is the beauty of Roster Trends: using data from other leagues to try and beat people in your own league. It's the circle of life, just like in The Lion King. But with far less subliminally sexual messaging.

On to the highlights!

Most Added Players (complete list)

Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros
Jump in ownership: 41 percent (from 13 percent to 54)
Reason for the jump: Possibly fulfilling his potential
Why you should join the crowd: Schafer had bushels of promise while coming up in the Atlanta farm system but fizzled in his time with the big club, partially thanks to hand and finger injuries, and partially just to what seemed to be unrealized potential. He was shipped to Houston as part of the Michael Bourn deal and is now playing every day in the Astros outfield. He already has five steals on the season.
Devil's advocate: Schafer's career minor league batting totals aren't that impressive -- he has a .260 average over 500-plus games. And while he's often regarded as a speedster, his ceiling is more along the lines of 35 stolen bases, as opposed to 55.

Lance Lynn, RP, Cardinals
Jump in ownership: 32 percent (from 37 percent to 69)
Reason for the jump: He's 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and 0.75 WHIP so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Lynn, 24, a former first-round draft pick for St. Louis, has progressed nicely through the minors. He debuted with the Cardinals in 2011, posting a 3.12 ERA in 34 2/3 innings as mainly a reliever. He doesn't strike out a batter per inning, but he's close. Adding to his value is the fact that Chris Carpenter's return is still pretty unclear, meaning even if Lynn is the odd man out when Carpenter comes back, that day may still be a while away.
Devil's advocate: Lynn had a 1.33 WHIP in the minors and while that's not bad, it's not exactly a sign pointing to him as a future superstar. He's also going to be in a bit of a crunch when Chris Carpenter returns, sitting behind Jaime Garcia and Jake Westbrook in the rotation.

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Bryan LaHair, OF, Cubs 49
2. Denard Span, OF, Twins 40
3. Brad Lidge, RP, Nationals 36
4. Eric Thames, OF, Blue Jays 35
5. David Murphy, OF, Rangers 29

J.D. Martinez, OF, Astros
Jump in ownership: 29 percent (from 62 percent to 91)
Reason for the jump: Martinez is batting .333 with three home runs and 10 RBI so far this season
Why you should join the crowd: Martinez had a somewhat inauspicious debut, replacing Hunter Pence for the Astros in 2011, hitting six home runs in 208 at-bats, while batting .274. But he carried a .342 batting average in 1,118 minor league at-bats with a .958 OPS.
Devil's advocate: I'm not really sure there is a rock solid one. Granted, 91 percent ownership is pretty high for a player with just under 250 career at-bats, but as long as a team isn't angling to have Martinez as a Ryan Braun-type contributor and is more realistic about a ceiling of 25 home runs and a .300-.320 average, he's a smart add.

Santiago Casilla/Sergio Romo, RPs, Giants
Jump in ownership: Casilla: 31 percent (from one percent to 32); Romo: 22 percent (from 17 percent to 39)
Reason for the jump: Giants closer Brian Wilson is likely out for the year with an elbow injury
How you should join the crowd: Carefully. It isn't clear whether Romo or Casilla will be the closer in Wilson's absence just yet. And even if Romo gets the first save, there's a chance Casilla gets the second, and they rotate in a maddening dance to irrelevancy for both. However, in a worst-case scenario, picking one of these two up still gives you a capable, high-strikeout, low-ERA and WHIP middle reliever. Personally, I lean Romo and think that he'll get the most opportunities. But there's enough support for Casilla to at least consider the less-enjoyable possibilities.
Devil's advocate: Not many owners can afford to pick up both Romo and Casilla -- which would be the preferred route as the situation plays itself out -- so on top of the fear of choosing the wrong one, there is the chance that they have a committee, which essentially makes both pitchers "the wrong one." If it's a casual pickup, fine. But consider the downside carefully before using top waiver priority on a pitcher who may essentially turn out to be a 12-save maximum middle reliever.

One, but far from done
Players owned in 1% of leagues who will likely see an ownership increase in the near future
Player
1. Nick Johnson, 1B, Orioles
2. Darnell McDonald, OF, Red Sox
3. Brandon Inge, 3B, Tigers
4. Xavier Nady, OF, Nationals
5. Adam Wilk, RP, Tigers

Random Roster Trend trivia

1. Johnny Damon is currently owned in 13 percent of leagues.
2. 19 year-old Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar (15 percent), currently playing in Double-A, is owned in more leagues than Juan Pierre (12 percent).
3. The injured Victor Martinez (who still may miss the entire season), despite news of a possibly quicker recovery, has been rostered in 30 percent of leagues. Marlins starter John Buck is owned in 29 percent.
4.Brett Lawrie, Rickie Weeks, Brian McCann, and Brandon Phillips are still not rostered in one percent of CBSSports.com leagues.
5. Yonder Alonso is currently the most-traded player and the 23rd most-dropped.
6. After Romo, Casillla, and Javier Lopez, the next Giants reliever owned is not Jeremy Affeldt; in fact, he's not even on the team. Heath Hembree, a hard-throwing closer for the Fresno Grizzlies, is now owned in four percent of leagues. He struck out 78 batters in 53 1/3 innings pitched last year in two levels of the minors.
7. The most activated player in Fantasy Baseball? Josh Willingham, who went from being active in 42 percent of leagues to 84 percent of leagues. The most deactivated player in Fantasy Baseball (who isn't injured)? Drew Stubbs, who went from being active in 69 percent of leagues to being active in 39.

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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- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Cubs taking wait-and-see approach on Welington Castillo's future
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:49 pm ET) Although Cubs catcher Welington Castillo is on the trade block and could be dealt before opening day, manager Joe Maddon told reporters that he's going to let the Castillo rumors play out before he decides whether he'll break camp with three catchers, per Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

"Let's just play it (out)," Maddon said. "Let's get him ready. He's really good. I really mean it. I like Castillo a lot. He's really opened up also in talking to guys and among the group, which is really nice to hear. There's a lot of good stuff going on there."


David Wright apologizes for scolding prospect in front of media
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:46 pm ET) Mets third baseman David Wright apologized to prospect Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday for scolding him Tuesday "within earshot" of the press, according to the New York Daily News.

However, Wright was not apologetic about the message he delivered to the highly touted pitching prosect.

"I talked to Noah yesterday, that's the thing I apologized to him for not realizing that obviously I choose to do it, so it's not the media's fault by any means, but I didn't notice the media was within earshot. So that's what I apologized to Noah for," Wright said.

"Now he has to answer questions, I have to answer questions, (Mets manager) Terry (Collins) has to answer questions, that's not the way that I like to handle things. I wasn't aware of my surroundings. As far as the content of it, I think that's something that I think Noah did an excellent job understanding the situation, he was very remorseful of the situation."

On Tuesday, Wright and reliever Bobby Parnell were upset Syndergaard went into the clubhouse to eat lunch while the Mets were in the middle of an intrasquad game. Wright told Syndergaard he needed to be on the bench during the game, but Parnell went one step further by throwing out the plate of food Syndergaard was eating.

Syndergaard, who added staying in the clubhouse was "straight up" ignorance on his part, said Wright has spoken to him twice since the incident.

"He wanted to make sure I knew that Bobby (Parnell) and he were not picking on me," Syndergaard said Wednesday. "He just wanted to make it clear, they care about me, they want me to be a part of the team, they think I can contribute in the future."

McClendon on Mariners' Marte: 'He's a very talented individual'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:43 pm ET) While Chris Taylor and Brad Miller will be competing for the starting shortstop job this spring for the Mariners, manager Lloyd McClendon said prospect Ketel Marte will also see time at shortstop this spring, per MLB.com.

“He’s a very talented individual,” McClendon said. “He’s come quite a long way in a short period of time and I can see why. He’s got a lot of talent and is pretty poised for a kid who is 20 years old.”

Marte hit .304 with a .335 on-base percentage, .411 slugging percentage and .746 OPS in 128 games between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014. He also had four home runs, six triples, 32 doubles, 55 RBI, 79 runs and 29 stolen bases.


Mets' Jonathon Niese impressed by velocity after first intrasquad outing
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:40 pm ET) Mets manager Terry Collins told reporters he's impressed with Jonathon Niese's effort and health in Tuesday's intrasquad scrimmage, per the New York Post.

"His arm angle is much better, more velocity with his arm speed," Collins said. "He spent all winter making sure he was healthy because he doesn't want to go through those shoulder issues, and it has really paid off."

He tossed two shutout innings in his first outing of the spring. Niese, who had two MRI exams on his left arm in spring training last year, was impressed with his velocity this time around.

"My intrasquad last year, I don't think I threw over 80 mph," Niese said. "My shoulder and elbow felt great and my body feels good."


Tigers OF Steven Moya (back) cleared to play Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:33 pm ET) Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said outfielder Steven Moya will be available off the bench for Wednesday's spring game against the Orioles after sitting out Tuesday due to back spasms.

Mets 1B Lucas Duda scheduled to swing a bat on Wednesday
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:30 pm ET) Mets first baseman Lucas Duda is scheduled to swing a bat on Wednesday for the first time in roughly three weeks, according to ESPN. Duda hasn't been able to pick up a bat since suffering an oblique injury in mid-February and receiving a cortisone shot last month.

Duda registered a .830 OPS with a career-best 30 home runs and 92 RBI in 153 games in 2014.


Giants' Crawford won't play in field until next week due to sore shoulder
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:25 pm ET) Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford will DH during Wednesday's spring game against the Athletics because of a sore right shoulder. He is not expected to play in the field until next week.

Crawford said this injury is not serious and he had a similar issue last year. He plans to start throwing again Friday.

Manager Bruce Bochy has talked about giving Crawford more time off in 2015, per SFGate.com.

"He mentioned it last year, especially in the second half," Crawford said. "He said he played me a lot in the first half and in the second half he was going to try to find more days for me to get off. He said we're also trying to get to the playoffs and win the division."


Red Sox's Castillo out at least a week with a strained oblique
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:14 pm ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo is expected to miss at least a week with a strained left oblique, manager John Farrell said Wednesday.

This is an unfortunate setback for Castillo, who is competing for the starting job in center field. Jackie Bradley and Mookie Betts will likely see most of the reps in center field with Castillo sidelined.

Castillo told CSNNE.com on Wednesday morning that his injury wasn't serious and he was expecting to be available for Thursday's spring game against Minnesota.


Orioles' Janish still aiming to make spring debut March 20-21
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) Orioles shortstop Paul Janish fielded grounders for 20-25 minutes Tuesday and still intends to throw for the first time this weekend since undergoing elbow surgery in February, per MASNsports.com.

Janish is still aiming to play in a spring game either March 20 or March 21.

"It went really well," Janish said. "I was moving around and relubricating everything, so to speak. It's not just the ground balls, it's the legs and getting everything going, getting the body moving in those ways again. It went as well as it could, to be honest.

"Now it's getting on a consistent schedule of doing that stuff so I can get back into baseball shape and hopefully this weekend I'll have the opportunity to start throwing.

"As far as hitting, that's not as big of a deal. I can actually swing right now, hit off a tee and stuff. But in terms of getting in BP groups and start hitting live, that's probably going to be accordance with throwing, so I'd imagine this weekend."


Orioles' Matusz on injured shoulder: 'It's almost 100 percent'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:58 am ET) Orioles reliever Brian Matusz received a cortisone injection into his right shoulder Monday to alleviate the discomfort caused by a strained AC joint, according to MASNsports.com. Matusz said he sustained the injury about six weeks ago while working out.

"It's something that hasn't affected anything on the baseball field, but in the weight room it's definitely limited things, so we decided to just go in there since it was the right shoulder and put a cortisone (injection) in there," Matusz said. "It's starting to feel better, almost 100 percent."

Matusz threw a bullpen session Tuesday and is scheduled to pitch in a game against the Blue Jays on Thursday.

"It was only done for the purposes of being able to get back in the weight room to continue my normal workout routines," he said.


 
 
 
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