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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
Red Sox's Henry Owens impresses during camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:19 am ET) Red Sox pitcher Henry Owens impressed during batting practice recently, according to the Boston Herald

Owens hadn't faced big league hitters since last spring training, and had something to prove. While Owens didn't have great fastball command during the session, his changeup was spot on. 

"Great deception, hard to pick up," catcher Ryan Hanigan said. "He got me on the changeup today because you can’t see the spin. It looks just like his fastball. That’s a huge advantage."

Pitching coach Juan Nieves agreed, but said he wasn't sure whether Owens was ready for the majors just yet. "Is anybody ready to come to the big leagues?" Nieves said. "I don’t know. We don’t know until they get there and experience the competition."

The 22-year-old Owens enters the year as the team's second-best prospect according to Baseball America. He posted a 2.94 ERA over two minor-league levels last year. 


Brewers GM confident Jean Segura will bounce back
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Brewers general manager Doug Melvin expressed confidence Saturday that shortstop Jean Segura will bounce back after a subpar 2014 season, the Journal Sentinel reports.

"I'm pretty confident he's going to bounce back," Melvin said. "He had a very good September. He had a lot of stuff going on last year. But everybody says he's a much happier person and everything. He's a good, athletic player that we need."

After delivering a .294 average, smacking 12 home runs and stealing 44 bases in 2013, Segura hit just .246/.289/.326 with five home runs, 31 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 513 at-bats in 2014.


Brewers' Dontrelle Willis making a good impression in camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Brewers pitcher Dontrelle Willis has made a favorable impression during camp, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

In particular, Willis has impressed manager Ron Roenicke. "He's got a great attitude," Roenicke said. "The things he said are exactly what you want a player to say. He gets it." Willis has also made a strong impression on his new teammates.

Willis, 33, has not pitched in the majors since 2011. He's attempting to make a come back with the Brewers this spring. 


Blue Jays' Michael Saunders: 'No pain' day after surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders said Saturday that he's feeling no pain one day after undergoing knee surgery, the Toronto Sun reports.

"I feel great," Saunders said. "I couldn’t believe it when I woke up this morning and I was walking around just fine. I walked out of surgery just fine. I actually started doing some exercises today and just got checked out by the doctor and he was pleasantly surprised with what he saw. There’s not as much swelling as he originally thought. Everything is checking out so far and everything is good news. No pain. It feels like I banged my knee on a pole and it’s a tiny bit swollen."

Saunders suffered a torn meniscus while tracking a foul ball Wednesday, tripping over a sprinkler head and hearing a popping sound. After initially being told he could need to have the meniscus repaired, a procedure that carries a recovery time of three-to-five months, Saunders had the torn portion of the meniscus removed, which places him on track to return to action within six weeks. While the outfielder is excited to be back on the field in a much shorter time, he indicated he'll be cautious with his rehab.

"I’m going to miss some spring training but it could be a lot worse," Saunders said. "My ligaments are intact. For me this is the best-case scenario. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m ready to go. I’d love to say that I’ll be ready opening day. That’s my goal. But we’re targeting more mid-April, on the safe side. At the end of the day I have to listen to my knee. It’s a long season. I’m going to get this right the first time and not rush back."


Athletics' Doolittle hoping to throw in a week or two
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle is hoping to be cleared to throw in a week or two, according to the San Francisco Chronicle

Doolittle was able to participate in strength tests on Saturday, and the results were positive. He has not been cleared to throw just yet, but is hoping that will come shortly. Doolittle has been sidelined by a shoulder injury during the start of camp. 

The 28-year-old posted a 2.73 ERA over 62 2/3 innings last year. 


Rays release OF Josh Sale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) The Rays have released outfielder Josh Sale, Baseball America reports.

Sale was suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs in 2013 as well as for conduct detrimental to the team that same season. He received a 50-game suspension last August for a second positive test for a drug of abuse. Before his most recent suspension, he hit .238/.313/.344 with four home runs and 46 RBI in 323 at-bats with high Class A Charlotte.


Yankees' Cashman downplays Bailey's chances of making team
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Yankees general manager Brian Cashman downplayed reliever Andrew Bailey's chances of making the 25-man roster, according to the Journal News.

Bailey, 30, is attempting to come back from a shoulder injury. He has not pitched in the majors since 2013 due to the issue. While Bailey has been able to participate in bullpen sessions this spring, Cashman took a more realistic view of the situation. "It’s one of those things where, non-roster situation, it’s a flyer, and the odds are against it," Cashman said. "And it didn’t work out for us last year. But because of who he is, his makeup, his work ethic, all those things, it made it easier to say, 'All right, let's keep trying,'" he added. 

Cashman stressed that while things look good now, the team wants to see how Bailey will respond in game situations. Bailey, meanwhile, has been optimistic during camp, saying he feels like he's finally over his injury.

Bailey posted a 3.77 ERA over 28 2/3 innings back in 2013. 


Hinch: Astros' Torreyes has 'earned every chance to get a look'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Astros infielder Ronald Torreyes checks in at about 5-foot-6 and 130 pounds, but his success at avoiding strikeouts has manager A.J. Hinch ready to give him a chance at showing what he can do this spring, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"You like to see these guys play," manager A.J. Hinch said. "He can look to our starting lineup at the top or hitting first or second and he’ll see a guy who is pretty successful who is not the biggest guy in the world. I see a unique size for this level, but the way he’s hit and the way he’s performed he’s earned every chance to get a look."

Torreyes was added to the team's 40-man roster in November after hitting .298/.345/.376 with two home runs, 46 RBI and 12 stolen bases in 460 at-bats with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2014.

"He doesn’t look like a ballplayer because he’s little like me, but he’s a young bull," Astros second baseman Jose Altuve said. "He hits a lot and plays good defense. Last year they put him on the 40-man roster because he has a good chance to help us. There aren’t many players like him so skinny and little in the big leagues, so when you see him for the first time you say, 'You know he has to be good to be here.' Then when you see him hit you realize the organization has a good reason to give him this opportunity."

Torreyes will look for an opportunity to latch on as a utility player this spring. He's capable of seeing work at second base, shortstop and third base as well as in left field and center field.


Yoga has Twins' Trevor May 'much fresher than ever before'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Twins starting pitcher Trevor May has looked to improve flexibility coming into his competition for a rotation spot this spring by turning to yoga to help repeat his delivery, the Star Tribune reports.

"I’ve been doing yoga for 30 or 40 minutes every morning, and I’m much fresher than ever before," May said. "Every scouting report I’ve ever seen on myself says, 'Has trouble repeating his delivery.' Well, yoga is literally repeating moves, keeping your body under your control. I do the warrior pose, which is [the same as] striding and throwing a baseball. It has to help."

May initially struggled in his major-league debut last season, but he hopes the perseverance he showed and his improvements near the end of the season help set him apart in the battle for a rotation spot this spring.

"Obviously I don’t know exactly what the people who are making decisions are thinking, but showing I can be successful after having my face beat up for two months, showing I can work through it, it’s a trait you have to have," May said. "I take pride in the fact that I didn’t give up. I didn’t let it get me down."


Twins 1B Joe Mauer happy with 'normal' offseason
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/28/2015) Twins first baseman Joe Mauer was happy to have a "normal" offseason after dealing with concussion-like symptoms the previous year, MLB.com reports.

"I had a very productive offseason," Mauer said Saturday. "The last couple years I had a lot of things to deal with, especially last year with the concussion. I didn't really get a good base heading into the year. I feel great this year and I hope it stays that way."

Mauer believes that his vigorous stretching exercises this offseason will help keep him healthy in 2015.

"You have to pay attention to your body. I'm getting older," Mauer said. "I'm finding out what works and doesn't work. Trying to make adjustments."

Manager Paul Molitor indicated that he's noticed a difference in Mauer this spring.

"I think it means a lot for him," Molitor said. "I think coming back last year after what had happened the previous season, you always have those questions. He's got friends that have gone through it with Corey Koskie and Justin [Morneau]. We all know how validated our concern is over concussion issues. I'm sure there was a little hesitancy there. Like I said when I had a chance to visit with him this winter, he's excited to be back and not have to be concerned about those type of things."

Mauer endured a down offensive performance last season, hitting .277/.361/.371 with just four home runs in 455 at-bats.


 
 
 
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