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Treating Fantasy like the game it is

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Welcome back, everyone, to your favorite game show: Unnecessary Game Show Themed Column! Today, we have our 12-time defending champion, Sheila, facing you, the Reader. It's very meta, which adds to the fun. Sheila, it says here you own a bakery in Schenectady, New York.

"That's right, Jack. And muffin's going to hold me back from winning this show!" [crowd groans]

Sheila, your puns are insufferable. But let's move on. As you know, this show takes pretty much every game you've ever known, steals their formats, and mashes it all together into one fun time. Today's topic: Fantasy Baseball. Sheila, you look surprised.

"I...er...don't know much about that topic."

Such is life. Onwards and upwards! Let's get to the game!

"I'll take 'Who Am I' for 200 points."

I am a rookie pitcher who played in Japan for five seasons before joining an American League team. I currently have a 3-0 record with a 2.68 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 28 strikeouts in 37 innings. Who am I?

"I know this! Yu Darvish!"

Sorry, Sheila, that is wrong. Reader?

Wei-Yin Chen?

That's correct! Chen spent five years in Japan's Pacific League, never having an ERA above 3.00. And 100 bonus points to Reader if you can guess his ERA in 2009.

1.54?

Correct again! Impressive in any league! For an additional 500 points, Reader, can you tell me how many leagues Chen is owned in?

34 percent?

Right again! This is exciting. Chen's ERA is slightly higher than Darvish's 2.54, but his WHIP is markedly lower than Darvish's 1.46. Darvish almost doubles up Chen's strikeout total and has more wins, but Chen has flown under the radar, making him a far better Fantasy option than some players owned in more leagues: Francisco Liriano (40 percent), Bronson Arroyo (41), Phil Hughes (41), Clay Buchholz (65) ...

"Wait ... so why are people ignoring him?"

Sheila, I just ask the questions, I don't answer them. But hey, you're up again. Roll those huge styrofoam dice in front of you in a comically inept manner ... and oh! Three and five make eight!

Here's a list of players owned in eight percent of leagues. Tell me which one doesn't belong: Archie Bradley, Matt Adams, Mike Montgomery, Jason Bartlett, Travis Snider.

"Mike Montgomery -- his name is the only one whose first and last names begin with the same letter?"

Judges? Oh, sorry, Sheila. Good guess, but not the answer we were looking for. Reader?

Jason Bartlett is the only player in that group currently in the major leagues.

Correct again! Bartlett's star hasn't shone very brightly in a while, but he has averaged 21 steals over the last three years with a .272 average. This year, however, he has taken a step back, hitting just .135 with no steals. He has been playing rather sporadically, and, with Everth Cabrera hitting .328 and leading the PCL in steals with 14, it could be time for a desperate owner in a deeper league to maybe stash Cabrera on the chance that Bartlett doesn't see the end of May.

"What's an Everth?"

Susan, I can't help you there. But it's your turn to play PLINKO!

"I get to guess prices of household products and then drop discs down a board to win money?"

No. You get to rank these pitchers for the rest of the season: Paulino, Lincecum, Isringhausen, Niese, Kuroda, Ogando.

"Pass."

Reader?

Lincecum, Niese, Kuroda, Paulino, Ogando, Isringhausen

Right you are, Reader. You're giving Lincecum the benefit of the doubt, even in light of whispers about his health and decreased velocity. You're then recognizing Niese's 1.22 WHIP and the fact that he really had just one bad start, against Houston on May 1. Kuroda should eventually return to something close to the pitcher he was in Los Angeles -- in his last three starts, he's quietly begun that turnaround, giving up just five total runs. Paulino can get your team a ton of strikeouts, but he's got an erratic ERA and WHIP history. Ogando has been pitching brilliantly in relief for the Rangers, and there's always a chance he could contribute with an occasional save or possible start at any point. And Isringhausen, although he hasn't gotten into the mix just yet, is always capable of closing a game here or there.

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"Can we maybe mix in some 19th Century Art?"

I'm sorry, Sheila. Not today. But you do get to guess owned and start percentages of some players in our leagues. Ready?

"Maybe...?"

Great. Let's start with Juan Pierre. .340 average, five steals, 12 runs scored in 88 at-bats. Over or under 20 percent?

"Over!"

Oooooh, I'm sorry, Sheila. He's only owned in 17 percent of leagues. And started in just 10. Let's try again. Michael Pineda. No stats. Out for the season with a shoulder injury. Over or under ownership in 30 percent of leagues?

"...under?"

I'm sorry, Sheila, this just isn't your lucky day. Pineda is owned in 34 percent of leagues. The judges tell me they're assuming most of these are keeper leagues.

"What's a keeper league?"

I'm sorry, Sheila, I'm not allowed to tell you that. But let's try to make it a little easier for you. Who is owned in more leagues? Danny Duffy or Andy Pettitte?

"You want me to say the guy with the same letters for first and last name again, so I'm going to say Pettitte."

I'm sorry, Sheil--oh wait. You said Pettitte. You're right. The man who hasn't pitched yet this season for the Yankees -- but will have by this weekend -- is owned in 45 percent of leagues. Duffy, meanwhile, a fellow lefty, is owned in 34 percent of leagues. But while Pettitte and Duffy could conceivably end up with a similar ERA (the judges are saying we have to give the nod to Pettitte for WHIP), Duffy is good for a strikeout per inning, while Pettitte likely won't end up anywhere near that.

I agree.

Reader, I almost forgot about you! It's your turn to select a category.

I like 'Who Am I'...maybe for 600?

I am ranked 12th in the majors with seven steals, even though I've only had 50 at-bats.

Tony Campana?

You are correct, Reader. Campana has more steals than Maicer Izturis, Hanley Ramirez, Elvis Andrus or Alejandro De Aza. For 1000 bonus points, can you name the player tied for 12th with Campana, who has had just 31 at-bats?

Brent Lillibridge?

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Correct again! Although he had six steals in April and hasn't stolen a base since May 4, the White Sox outfielder has as many steals as Campana. Sheila, what percentage of leagues is he owned in, for 2500 points?

"Two?"

Is that a guess?

"I meant to say 'who?'"

Brent Lillibridge.

"...Two?"

You're actually correct, Sheila. Huzzah to you. Let's move to the speed round. Rickie and Jemile Weeks or Rafael and Alfonso Soriano. Which two have more combined ownership percentage?

Rickie and Jemile

You are correct again. Alfonso (48 percent) and Rafael (47) lose to Rickie (96) and Jemile (76). Although those numbers may change if Jemile continues to slump and Rafael works his way into some saves in the Yankees bullpen. Next question: Roy Halladay or Matt Holliday: who has more Fantasy points so far this season?

Halladay?

Yes. But it's closer than you might think. Halladay has 122 points, Holliday has 95 in standard scoring. Bonus question, Reader: Who has more points, Halladay or James Shields?

Shields?

Correct. By one point.

"You guys are nerds."

Thank you, Sheila. You have lost.

"Cupcakes."

Reader, for our final round, you'll be asked a series of questions. For each one you get right, I give you 500 points. Ready?

Yes.

I am fifth in the majors in doubles. Also, I am not Mike Moustakas.

Yonder Alonso

Correct. Alonso has 11 doubles and is hitting .292 for the Padres. He is owned in 44 percent of leagues.

In four minor league seasons, I hit .324 with two-double-digit home run campaigns and three seasons of 24 or more steals. I am currently hitting .333 with two home runs and five steals.

Jose Altuve ?

Yes. Altuve had an ADP of 286. Can you name the players taken at 268, 278, and 281?

Scott Baker, Ben Revere, and Jonathan Sanchez.

Correct. You're on an amazing run here, Reader. Are you ready for one last question? For 10,000 points?

Yes I am!

How many strikeouts did Matt Moore have in 497 minor league innings pitched, and how many innings will he be limited to this season?

700 strikeouts, giving him a K/9 rate of 12.67. And the second part is a trick question. Moore is not on an innings limit.

Right and right! Amazing work here. You're our big winner! And I have to ask -- how did you know all these answers?

I looked them all up as you asked them. I'm the Reader, dude.

Oh ... well that doesn't seem fair. But rules are rules. You win a collection of Fantasy Baseball 360 cups. In blue and red! Congratulations!

Thank you so much.

Anytime, Reader! See you all next time! [blows a kiss to the crowd as Reader excitedly plays with his new set of cups]

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
Mets' Jacob deGrom working on perfecting his curveball
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:42 am ET) Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom is working on perfecting his curveball this spring, according to the New York Post

"This spring is so different," deGrom said. "I can really come in here and work on things. Last year when I was over on the big league side, I didn’t throw my curveball one time because I was trying to make the team and prove I could get outs in spring training."

After experiencing some success in the majors, deGrom said he is more willing to work on stuff this time around. While he actually started using his curve more late last season, it seems like deGrom is going to work on perfecting the pitch during camp. 

"It’s a great pitch whether it be strike one or a strikeout pitch," deGrom said. "Talking to Gee, Wheeler and all those guys and see how they throw theirs and taking little bits of information from them and trying it in bullpens. Sometimes I throw it at 78 (mph) and that’s a big difference from the slider. It gets the hitter off balance."

deGrom, 26, posted a 2.69 ERA over 140 1/3 innings last season.


Rockies' Charlie Blackmon hoping for more consistency
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:15 am ET) Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon is hoping for more consistency in 2015, according to the Denver Post

Blackmon had a breakout season in 2014, but admits it's hard to be on every single game. "Last year, I swung the bat really well at certain times," he said. "But you go through a lot of ups and downs over 162 games, and that was a learning experience. I think that's going to help me this year."

Blackmon said his strong start made him a target for other teams, and that may have contributed to a slight slump during the season. Blackmon added that he's hoping to hit the ball to all fields this season.

Manager Walt Weiss is hoping Blackmon can deliver more of the same. "I don't know if he necessarily has to have an encore. I'm thinking more of the same," Weiss said. "I think Charlie would say that he wants to be more consistent."

The 28-year-old Blackmon hit .288/.335/.440 over 593 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Gibson feels 'a little more comfortable' with curveball
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:29 am ET) Twins pitcher Kyle Gibson surrendered one run on two hits and one walk in two innings while striking out two in his spring debut Thursday, using the outing to work on his curveball, the Associated Press reports.

"I felt really good," Gibson said. "I'm working on some stuff, and some stuff worked out that I was working on. I threw more curveballs than normal. That's what spring training's for. It's just fun to be able to work on a particular pitch. I feel a little more comfortable."

Gibson, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2011, completed his first full major-league deal in 2014, going 13-12 with a 4.47 ERA and 107:57 K:BB ratio in 179 1/3 innings.


Blue Jays' Barton hoping his glove wins him a spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:28 am ET) Blue Jays first baseman Daric Barton is hoping his glove can win him a spot on the 25-man roster, according to the Toronto Sun.

Barton isn't much of a power hitter, but gets strong marks for his defense at first. Manager John Gibbons is well aware of Barton's skills. "One thing that put Daric on the map was that he was such a disciplined hitter and a great defender," Gibbons said. He added that the first baseman is involved in a large chunk of plays, so defense at the position is probably more important than people realize.

With that said, Barton may need a trade to make the opening day roster. As currently constructed, the Blue Jays may carry three catchers. If the team retains Dioner Navarro, Barton could find himself in the minors.

The 29-year-old Barton hit .158 over 57 at-bats last year.


Pirates' Pedro Alvarez feeling comfortable at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:21 am ET) Pirates infielder Pedro Alvarez is feeling comfortable at first base, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

After playing third the past couple of seasons, Alvarez will transition to first base full-time in 2015. The 28-year-old is still getting used to the position, but he seems comfortable with the change.

"It’s just a matter of getting used to seeing the field from that point of view, get the reps in so that the responsibilities that come with playing the position become second nature," he said. "That’s just with time and repetitions."

Alvarez hit .231/.312/.405 over 398 at-bats last season. 


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman gets strong marks at first
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:17 am ET) Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman received strong reviews after playing his first game at first base this spring, according to MLB.com.

"He is still in the stages of having to think about it out there, because it's not natural yet," manager Matt Williams said. "He looked fine. He has fantastic hands." Zimmerman was tested during the start, and had to make two scoops in order to prevent possible throwing errors. 

He's been taking extra practice at the position this spring, and was fairly happy with how his first game turned out. "You can do so many drills, exercises and things like that until you have to go out there and play," Zimmerman said. "So it's nice to have a few chances. The more I play over there, the more comfortable I will get. I feel fine."

Zimmerman, 30, hit .280/.342/.449 over 214 at-bats last year. 


Orioles' Brian Matusz tosses scoreless inning in return
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:09 am ET) Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz tossed a scoreless inning in his return to the mound.

Matusz came into camp dealing with a shoulder issue, but said he was pretty close to 100 percent. He allowed one hit during his one inning of work, and struck out one batter. Matusz is expected to open the season in the team's bullpen. 

The 28-year-old posted a 3.48 ERA over 51 2/3 innings last year.


Red Sox's Rusney Castillo wouldn't alter plan if sent down
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:06 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo won't be upset if he winds up being sent down to the minors, according to the WEEI.

That's not a likely outcome, but with his recent oblique injury, there's a chance Castillo could fall behind the other outfielders on the roster. "To me it wouldn’t be anything that would alter my plan, or my attitude, or my perspective," he said. "If that’s what it’s got to be, that’s what it’s got to be. I’m just worrying playing and continuing to get reps and reps wherever they may come."

Castillo did note that he's feeling a lot better, and is expected to return in about a week. Castillo hit .333 over 36 at-bats in the majors last year. 


Red Sox's Jackie Bradley Jr. showing off new swing
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is showing off his new swing this spring, according to the Boston Herald

Bradley started working out at the team's facility in November, and started hitting in January. He worked with assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez for a good portion of the offseason. "Jackie was dedicated," Rodriguez said. "He listened, too. He was open to what we talked about."

Manager John Farrell has noticed the change in Bradley's approach. "In BP, to me, it seems like there’s more of a willingness to stay in the middle of the field and not look to lift a ball too much," Farrell said. "I think it’s more of his natural swing, which he was drafted with."

Bradley said his swing has been a "work in progress." While it doesn't appear Bradley has a starting role, his defense should make him a useful major-league asset.

The 24-year-old hit .198/.265/.266 over 384 at-bats last year. 

 


Molitor: Eduardo Escobar 'will be' important part of Twins in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/5/2015) Twins manager Paul Molitor marked infielder Eduardo Escobar as "an important part" of the team in 2014 and believes he will be the same this season, the Star Tribune reports.

"He was an important part of our team last year," Molitor said. "He will be this year, too."

Escobar delivered the best performance of his career in 2014, hitting .275/.315/.406 with six home runs and 37 RBI in 433 at-bats. However, he arrived at camp to learn he was in a competition for the shortstop role with last year's center fielder, Danny Santana. Breaking the news to Escobar was a delicate conversation for the manager.

"Obviously," Molitor said. "You’ve got a guy who came in and played every day for you last year, and then you’re thinking about doing something different. I’ve tried to explain it to him the best I could. His answers, at least for now, are, 'No problem. I understand.'"


 
 
 
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