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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 .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

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Player News
Twins' Kris Johnson heading to Japan next season
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:29 pm ET) The Twins have sold pitcher Kris Johnson to the Hiroshima Carp, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press

The club received "mid six figures" in the deal. Johnson received just 13 1/3 innings last season, posting a 4.73 ERA. 


Phillies sign John Hester to a minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:24 pm ET) The Phillies have signed catcher John Hester to a minor-league deal.

Hester will receive an invite to spring training, where he'll attempt to make the 25-man roster. He spent most of last season in Triple-A. 


Report: Indians likely to exercise option on Mike Aviles
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:30 pm ET) The Indians are expected to exercise their $3.5 million option on versatile veteran Mike Aviles, according to the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

Aviles played outfield and all infield positions aside from first base last season in earning 344 at-bats. He finished the year with a stat line of .247/.273/.343 and tied a career-best with 14 stolen bases.

He was part of a lopsided deal before the 2013 season for Esmil Rogers in which the Indians also received emerging standout catcher Yan Gomes.


Bochy: Illness kept Tim Lincecum out of pregame ceremony
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(5:15 pm ET) Giants reliever Tim Lincecum declined to elaborate about his absence from pregame introductions Tuesday night, claiming he was in a back room and that he preferred not to run out in the middle of the ceremony.

Bruce Bochy, however, came up with another explanation. He said Lincecum was busy throwing up. "That's the honest truth," Bochy told the San Jose Mercury News. Lincecum, who told trainer Dave Groeschner that he was feeling ill, made it out to the bullpen after the first inning.

"He said he was good to go," Bochy said. "Timmy was available."


Pirates giving prospect Josh Bell shot at first base in AFL
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:43 pm ET) The Pirates are determined to find out if premier prospect Josh Bell can fill their longstanding hole at first base. That's why he's playing that position in the Arizona Fall League.

Bell split the first 10 games at designated hitter and first base, where he has already committed four fielding errors. His unfamiliarity with the position has proven problematic.

"Getting to feel overall comfortable has been the biggest challenge," Bell told MLB.com. "I'm sure that will come with reps. When I get more playing time, I'll be able to just run with it, react. It's definitely something different. You're a lot more active. It keeps you more in the game, always on your toes."

Bell is coming off another strong year offensively, batting .325 with nine home runs, 60 RBI and nine stolen bases at the Class A Advanced and Double-A levels combined.


C Jackson Williams hooks up with Angels
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:27 pm ET) The Angels have signed catcher and former top prospect Jackson Williams. The 28-year-old Williams finally reached the majors in late August and earned 13 at-bats with Colorado before undergoing right knee surgery.

Williams was a first-round pick of San Francisco in 2007.


Dodgers still waiting for SP Dan Haren to act on option
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:17 pm ET) The Dodgers have confirmed that veteran right-hander Dan Haren has yet to exercise his $10 million option for 2015.

Haren certainly had other concerns Wednesday, when he underwent arthrocopic surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.

The 34 year old, who did not pitch in the playoffs, finished strong in the regular season. He yielded just 10 earned runs in his last 43 innings and concluded the year at 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA and just 36 walks in 186 innings.


Twins allow reliever Jared Burton to leave for free agency
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:08 pm ET) The Twins have declined their option on veteran right-hander reliever Jared Burton, making him a free agent.

The 33-year-old Burton, who finished the year as the closer after Glen Perkins was shut down, compiled an ERA of 4.36, his worst since 2009. His control has weakened in each of his last three seasons and his strikeouts were well down in 2014.


Orioles facing dilemma in regard to future of 1B Chris Davis
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:00 pm ET) The Orioles have a difficult decision to make regarding Jekyll-Hyde first baseman Chris Davis, who followed a stunningly productive 2013 with a stunningly horrible 2014.

Davis batted .196 with 26 home runs and 72 RBI before losing the last 17 games to suspension for PED use. The team might not want to risk taking him to arbitration, however, CSNBaltimore.com has speculated. Davis earned $10.35 million this season, a raise of more than $7 million from the previous year.

Further speculation is that the Orioles will not cut his salary 20 percent because they believe $8.65 million is too rich for their blood considering his monumental struggles this year. In addition, that move would likely prompt Davis to seek arbitration.


Tigers OF Torii Hunter believes he proved his worth in 2014
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:34 pm ET) Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter appears to be leaning toward a return in 2015. That will allow to play into his 40s - he turns 40 in July.

Hunter maintained his consistency and productivity in 2014 by batting .286 with 17 home runs and 83 RBI while batting mostly second in the lineup. But his team was knocked out without winning a game in the postseason.

"Playing for a contender is very important to me," he told MLive.com. "But taking a lesser role will be hard for me when my core numbers are pretty good, not just for a guy that's 39 years old but also for a 22-year-old player. The last three or four months of the season, I played pretty good defense as well.

"I know that we all get older, but until I give you signs that I can't help a team, don't count me out just yet. I've been one of the most consistent hitters in baseball. Everybody knows what they are going to get."


 
 
 
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