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Setting the Trends: Should you bother with Nava?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Daniel Nava has a pretty awesome story.

Shunned by high school, college, and professional teams, he has had to prove himself constantly at every level. He entered high school under 100 pounds. He was forced to a junior college when he couldn't get a college scholarship. He played in the Independent Leagues when MLB clubs passed. And he learned to bide his time in the minors until it was time for his call-up.

In his first go-round, in 2010, Nava smacked a grand slam on the first pitch he saw. This time, he's hitting above .500, and has already shown an impressive amount of patience at the plate.

Nava may not last forever with the Red Sox -- they already have an overflow of outfielders, especially if you subscribe to the Will Middlebrooks-to-the-outfield theories -- but he is definitely hot right now, and there is something to be said for the mindset of a perennially pushed-aside underdog who left a ticket for for ESPN's Erin Andrews every night in Pawtucket.

On to the Roster Trends!

Most added highlights

Andy Dirks, OF, Tigers
Jump in ownership: 35 percent (from four percent to 39)
Reason for the jump: Dirks is batting .361 with three home runs and 14 runs scored in 72 at-bats.
Why you should join the crowd: Dirks has taken advantage of some dysfunction in Detroit's lineup and managed to not only find playing time, but to perform admirably in that time. He has two home runs and five multi-hit games in his last nine. He's not going to hit for a lot of power -- his ceiling is likely 15-20 home runs, but he did carry a .292 batting average in the minors and has 219 major league at-bats under his belt from a 2011 stint with the Tigers.
Devil's Advocate: If and when Dirks cools off (don't think it will happen? Remember J.D. Martinez three weeks ago?), he'll be cast into Jim Leyland's toy box of rotating outfielders, which, so far this season, has included Ryan Raburn, Delmon Young, Brennan Boesch, Don Kelly, Clete Thomas, and Austin Jackson.

Most Added Players (as of 5/16)
Player % increase
1. Josh Reddick, OF, Athletics 39
2. Andy Dirks, OF, Tigers 36
3. Christian Friedrich, SP, Rockies 34
4. Brian Fuentes, RP, Athletics 32
5. Allen Craig, 1B, Cardinals 29
6. Dale Thayer, RP, Padres 23
7. Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays 22
8. Rafael Soriano, RP, Yankees 21
9. Raul Ibanez, OF, Yankees 21
10. A.J. Ellis, C, Dodgers 20

Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays
Jump in ownership: 33 percent (from one percent to 34)
Reason for the jump: He is the newest closer for the Blue Jays. Huzzah!
Why you should join the crowd: Janssen is in line for saves. That's essentially the long and short of it. If he excels, he will help you in that category. If he fails miserably, it will probably occur over 14 or 15 innings, which is, essentially, the same thing as two bad starts from a starter.
Devil's Advocate: This is all likely a short-term game. Sergio Santos is expected to return at some point and re-claim the closer's role. So even if Janssen, who has 11 career saves and a 3.83 ERA, turns out to be a great closer, it may turn out to be an ephemeral turn as closer for him.

Christian Friedrich, SP, Rockies
Jump in ownership: 28 percent (from four percent to 32)
Reason for the jump: Friedrich has 17 strikeouts in two starts for the Rockies so far this year.
Why you should join the crowd: Friedrich, a first-round pick in 2008, averaged almost a strikeout per inning over five seasons in the minor leagues. The Denver Post's Troy Renck called Friedrich's 10- strikeout performance against the Giants on Monday, "arguably the most impressive performance by a Rockie this season," adding that he was, "efficient, effective, and dominant." Parades will be thrown in his honor; Friedrich Day will be celebrated every July 8 in Denver. He is the future.
Devil's Advocate: ... but then you look at his minor league numbers. While Friedrich had impressive strikeout totals, he managed to compile a 5.05 ERA in 2010 at Double-A Tulsa and a 5.00 ERA the following season with the same team. His WHIPs didn't look much better: 1.55 in 2010 and 1.49 in 2011. Although his ERA did go down by 0.05, it's not exactly what one would term, "growth." But Friedrich was limited in 2010 with a sore elbow and was out of shape in 2011. He drastically changed his offseason routine before the 2012 season, including workouts with Cliff Lee in Arkansas. The numbers looked totally different for his short pre-promotion stint this year. Still, in total, Friedrich's minor league ERA was a robust 4.04 and his two starts for the Rockies have come away from Coors Field.

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. Wei-Yin Chen, SP, Orioles 43
2. Geovany Soto, C, Cubs 41
3. Brian Fuentes, RP, Athletics 38
4. Travis Hafner, DH, Indians 31
5. Eric Thames, OF, Blue Jays 25

Dale Thayer, RP, Padres
Jump in ownership: 25 percent (from three percent to 28)
Reason for the jump: Replacing an injured Huston Street, Thayer has saved three games for the Pads.
Why you should join the crowd: Argue all you want that Andrew Cashner and his triple-digit fastball should be closing games, but Thayer is the pitcher who has actually gotten the opportunities. And saving games is nothing new to him; over 10 minor league seasons, Thayer saved 173 games. He has a minor league career ERA of 2.45 and averaged about a strikeout per inning. Interestingly, the only minor league season in which Thayer has pitched and not gotten a save was this year -- in 8 1/3 innings pitched, Thayer had yet to save a game for Tucson. He's a great story of resiliency in the minors -- at 31, Thayer had pitched a total of 26 major league innings and had been a member of the Padres, Rays, and Mets organizations. He has the distinct honor of being a "player to be named later" in a trade (for Russell Branyan, in 2006).
Devil's Advocate: Thayer has shown he can be an effective reliever in the minors and has proven, so far, that he can handle MLB hitters, as well. But Street's injury isn't as serious as it could have been (although the team hasn't set a timetable for a return, his injury is centered in his lat, not his shoulder, making it less of a long-term worry), so Thayer will likely be out of a job when Street returns in a month or so.
Still ...: It's a month of saves from a position that made Heath Bell -- a former middling Mets reliever, just like Thayer -- a three-time, 40-save closer. So he will get chances as long as Street is out.

Raul Ibanez, OF, Yankees
Jump in ownership: 22 percent (from 28 percent to 50)
Reason for the jump: Ibanez has seven home runs on the season, with four coming in the last week.
Why you should join the crowd: Thanks to Brett Gardner's injury and the demotion of Eduardo Nunez, Ibanez has gone from a DH-who-plays-most-of-the-time to a valuable piece of New York's OF-DH rotation. He began May with a .241 average and raised it to .261 by Tuesday. Ibanez has a career batting average of .280 and has hit 20 or more home runs seven times in his career. Although it's a small sample size (74 at-bats), Ibanez's 1.009 career OPS at the new Yankee Stadium is the highest for him at any MLB park. Furthermore, Ibanez has over 800 career at-bats as a designated hitter, meaning he didn't need time to adjust to the sometimes off-setting rhythm of the position. As a DH this year, Ibanez has a 1.068 OPS in 29 at-bats.
Devil's Advocate: Ibanez, who turns 40 in June, hasn't hit over.275 since 2008. And last year with the Phillies, Ibanez managed just a .245 average in 535 at-bats. When Gardner comes back, he may fall back into a platoon split with Andruw Jones.

We are the 1 percent!
Players owned in 1% of leagues who might make an impact in 2012
Player
1. Brandon Guyer, OF, Rays
2. Everth Cabrera, SS, Padres
3. Hideki Matsui, DH, Rays
4. Brandon Lyon, RP, Astros
5. Tony Gwynn, OF, Dodgers

Brandon Inge, 3B, Athletics
Jump in ownership: 17 percent (from three percent to 20)
Reason for the jump: Despite a groin injury that has kept him out of the lineup since Sunday, Inge has torn up pitching since joining the A's, hitting four home runs and driving in 17 runs in just 44 at-bats.
Why you should join the crowd: Inge excels -- to a degree -- when getting full-time at-bats. In the five seasons where he had 500 at-bats or more, Inge has averaged 19.4 home runs.
Devil's Advocate: Inge also carries a .234 career batting average, and hasn't hit over .250 since 2006. He does have the ability to steal some bases, but he hasn't broken double-digits once in his career.

Daniel Nava, OF, Red Sox
Jump in ownership: Five percent (from zero percent to five)
Reason for the jump: Nava is batting .583 with six RBI, six runs, four doubles, a homer, six walks, and a steal in just 12 at-bats.
Why you should join the crowd: This joke will eventually get old, but in 12 at-bats, Nava has as many home runs as Albert Pujols has managed in 142. His OPS, as of Tuesday, sat at 1.917. Nava also has a career .307 batting average in the minor leagues and has four seasons of double-digit home runs across five campaigns. He has started all five games since being called up, and is batting sixth in the Boston lineup. And his defense is sound: He gunned down Jack Hannahan at home plate Friday night and has earned faint praise from Bobby Valentine for his defense in left, which is a challenge thanks to the Green Monster. And Valentine is not afraid to start the Daniel Navas of the world, having given extended at-bats to Benny Agbayani and Timo Perez while managing the Mets. If you want even more reasons to love him, read this interview from 2009 -- Nava has been repeatedly dismissed and ignored by all kinds of teams at every level, but he has a really smart approach to hitting; or, perhaps more appropriately, walking.
Devil's Advocate: The Red Sox simply have too many outfielders. On top of that, Nava's best minor league season might have been 2011, when he had 10 home runs and 10 steals, while hitting .268 (although his OBP was .372). So his value -- if he manages to keep playing -- may be limited to deeper points leagues.
Daniel Nava's Advocate: Just keep doubting him. You'll see.

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
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara not utilizing fastball this season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been throwing an unusual amount of offspeed pitches to start the season. Uehara has thrown fastballs on just 15 percent of his pitches this season, compared to 50 percent over the last three years, according to the Boston Herald.

Manager John Farrell isn't reading too much into it.

"He's going to go with what he feels," Farrell said. "Every 3 mph is about a foot distance in traveling to home plate. So there's a little bit different reaction time. But regardless of velocity there still needs to be the use of (the fastball) just to create separation between his fastball and his split."

Uehara is 1-1 so far this season with a 4.15 ERA and three saves in 4 1/3 innings.


White Sox send reliever Daniel Webb back to Triple-A
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) White Sox reliever Daniel Webb , who was called up Sunday as the 26th man for the team's doubleheader against the Royals, was sent back down to Triple-A Charlotte after the game. 

Webb pitched in 57 games last season for the White Sox but was one of the team's final cuts in spring training. 


Diamondbacks struggling to fill in void at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale knew his team wasn't going to go the entire season without an injury. But the skipper was hoping to avoid the issue he currently has at third base, according to AZCentral.com.

With Jake Lamb on the disabled list with a foot injury, Aaron Hill and Yasmany Tomas have struggled to put it together, combining for a .559 OPS in the last five games.

"Yeah, that's huge," Hale said. "You're going to have injuries all year. There's going to be a multitude of them for every team. If you can't make the adjustment — if guys can't come in and fill the void — then you're going to be in trouble as a club."

Tomas is hitting .286 in 14 at-bats this season while Hill is scuffling along at .156 in 45 at-bats.


Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allows seven runs in rehab start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allowed seven runs in five innings of work in his third rehab start in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to Philly.com.

Billingsley, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an elbow injury, added three strikeouts and two walks in the appearance. He has yet to appear in a major league game since 2013 while dealing with multiple elbow injuries.


Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez still working out of funk
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has yet to put things together at the plate so far this season. Gonzalez is hitting just .197 with two home runs in 66 at-bats and it's wearing on him a bit, according to the Denver Post.

"I'm not in a good place. I'm still hitting (.197)," he said. "But I'm happy that I'm healthy, and that I'm playing, and that we are winning. I think we are having a good month so far as a team."

Manager Walt Weiss thinks he's really close to seeing Gonzalez get all the pieces together and go on a run.

"I saw real good signs from CarGo, hitting the ball hard the opposite way," Weiss said. "It wasn't just the couple of hits he got. It was the way he got them. Those are things that he had been working on. Then, to get results like that, is always encouraging."

Report: Josh Hamilton trade expected to be completed Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) The trade of outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels to the Rangers is expected to be completed Monday, with Hamilton then reporting to Texas' spring training site in Arizona to continue his rehab from offseason surgery, per MLB.com. 

The trade was rumored to have been completed Sunday, but complications arose in finalizing the deal. The Rangers are expected to hold a press conference announcing the trade on Monday. Hamilton is expected to play several games in Triple-A before being called up to the Rangers. 


Dodgers' Jimmy Rollins not concerned with early slump at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins isn't worrying just yet about his struggles at the plate, according to the Orange County Register.

"Well, some people like to panic. That has never been my MO," he said. "I have, what, 50, 60 at-bats, I'm not sure. So if these are my worst 50 at-bats this year – I'm glad they're happening now. (If they are his worst at-bats) it’s going to be a very good year."

Rollins is hitting just .186 in 70 at-bats so far this season. He believes he's still been taking good swings at the plate, just not finding the gaps in the defense.

"It's hard to compute if you just look at numbers," he said. "I'm getting myself in good counts, just not finishing it off. I know it's coming. I'm hitting some off the end, some are getting in just a little bit. But the swing path is right. It's just a click here, a click there.

"The process is good. You have to continue to trust in the process and believe in the process. You get oriented in just results – especially at times like this – then you're trying to make all these technical changes and that's when you go from one to two to 100. So the process is right. Executing it is about fine-tuning."


Angels OF Matt Joyce hopes hit signals end of slump
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Angels outfielder Matt Joyce saw his eight-game hitless streak come to an end Sunday with an eighth-inning single that ended an 0-for-26 skid. The right fielder, who figures to be a fixture in Los Angeles' lineup with the expected departure of Josh Hamilton, said he hopes the small start will lead to bigger things, according to the Los Angeles Times

"Sometimes it's a tough game," Joyce said. "It seems like you try everything, and you put in so much time and effort and work, it gets to be frustrating. It gets to be hard to swallow and accept it, and hard to keep showing up and grinding it out."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he will continue to stick with Joyce, who is hitting just .140 on the season. 


Mets starter Jonathon Niese struggles vs. Yankees
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Mets starter Jonathon Niese was not sharp Sunday in the finale of the Subway Series against the Yankees, lasting just five innings while allowing six runs and eight hits. Niese was betrayed somewhat by his defense, which committed four errors behind him, leading to two unearned runs. 

Niese was spotted a 2-0 first-inning lead, but he quickly gave it back, allowing a first-inning homer to Alex Rodriguez and then giving up four second-inning runs as the Yankees broke the game open. 

"You can't look into it too deeply," Niese said to MLB.com. "It's a loss. It's a tough loss. Obviously we want to win, but we've just got to get through it, learn from it, move on and play better."

Niese, who threw 86 pitches, saw his ERA rise to 2.74 in absorbing his first loss of the season. 

"I just wish I could have a couple pitches back," Niese said. "But I threw them. The results were what they were. I've just got to move on."

Niese will look to get back on track Saturday against the Nationals.


Nationals considering keeping Yunel Escobar at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Nationals manager Matt Williams will have a decision to make when his regular third baseman Anthony Rendon comes back from injury. With Rendon on the shelf, Yunel Escobar has shifted to third and Williams is considering leaving him there even after Rendon returns, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The team is unsure yet what will happen when Rendon returns, but one theory has Escobar staying at third and Rendon shifting to second base, according to Heyman.

Escobar is hitting .292 with five RBI in 65 at-bats while slotted at third base.


 
 
 
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