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Di Fino: What's in a name?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Recently on Fantasy Baseball 360, Scott White and I were discussing a Twitter question from a viewer, in which he asked if he should work a trade for "Soriano." I had assumed the Tweeter meant Rafael; Scott read it as Alfonso. It totally changed the dynamic of the question.

This year, it seems, more than any other, there are players with similar names causing head-scratching dilemmas throughout Fantasy Baseball. Which Weeks do you want (Rickie)? Which Montero (Jesus, by a hair)? What's the value of J. Johnson (Jim is somehow safer than Josh right now, but Josh has more upside)? It's awesomely confusing, which makes it all the more necessary to help sort them all out now. We present ...

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The Name Game

Jansen Versus Janssen: Does One 's' Make A Difference?

In short, yes. Kenley Jansen is the closer for the Dodgers; Casey Janssen is the closer for the Blue Jays. Both men got their jobs because the closer in front of them fell apart. But that's pretty much where the comparisons end. Jansen has been the closer-in-waiting since the middle of last season -- he strikes out over a batter per inning (he has a 15.0 K/9 rate in the major leagues) and could hold on to the job for the entire season. Janssen, meanwhile, while striking out almost a batter per inning, is likely only holding the job until Sergio Santos returns from a shoulder injury. While he could be very effective in the role, it will likely be just a temporary (perhaps until mid-June?) promotion. Fun fact!: Kenley Jansen's middle name is Geronimo.

Is A Healthy Bailey Better Than An Injured One?

According to players on CBSSports.com, the answer is a resounding "no." Andrew Bailey, the would-be closer for the Red Sox, whose early-season injury started the dominos dropping on this disaster of a 2012 for Boston, is owned in 50 percent of leagues. Homer Bailey, the former first-round pick of the Reds, currently sports a 4.35 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, with a 1-3 record. He is owned in 24 percent of leagues. Homer has 41 1/3 innings pitched this year; Andrew just had his cast removed last week and was cleared to begin throwing on Wednesday. Homer tends to be tantalizingly maddening for Fantasy players, mixing in promising stretches with injuries and strings of poor performances. Andrew, even though he isn't expected back until after the All-Star Game, is a borderline-elite closer who could solidify the back of Boston's bullpen. What's the saying? A Bailey in the bush is worth twice as much as one in the hand? Fun fact!: Andrew Bailey follows injured Yankees reliever David Robertson on Twitter.

Which Chen Is Right For Me?

There's a chance that both are. Bruce Chen is owned in 15 percent of leagues, despite a 1.15 WHIP so far this season, which follows a 3.77 ERA in 2011. Hurting him a bit is the fact that he hasn't managed a season of 100 strikeouts since 2005, when he threw 133 in 197 1/3 innings -- a rate that isn't exciting by even 2005 standards. Also hurting him? In the years before the 2011 quasi-breakout, he was not very good. Wei-Yin Chen, meanwhile, is eight years younger than Bruce and has a 2.45 ERA and 1.20 WHIP through 44 innings this season. His ratios from Japan's Pacific League are stellar (he posted a 1.54 ERA in 2009), and, while he isn't known for his overpowering strikeout numbers, he does manage a healthy seven or so per nine innings. Wei-Yin's ownership levels have made an impressive leap over the past few weeks, jumping from 22 percent in Week 2 to 54 percent (and counting) for Week 8. Fun fact!: Bruce Chen has nightmares based on the movie Speed .

The Dodgers Have Reached Their Ellis Limit

Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis start at second base and catcher, respectively, for the Dodgers. A.J. has three home runs, Mark has two. A.J. has five doubles, Mark has four. A.J. is currently batting .322, Mark is at .276. But Mark has three steals to A.J.'s zero, and 26 runs to A.J.'s 11 (thanks mostly to about 30 more at-bats this season). A.J. is owned in 42 percent of leagues, while Mark is owned in 31 percent. Both are usable in NL-only leagues, and both are turning it on so far in May: Mark has a .326 average with a .926 OPS. Both of his homers have come in May, and the month is just at its halfway point. A.J. is hitting .371 so far this month, with a 1.133 OPS. He, too, has hit two home runs in May, along with two doubles and a triple. Among catchers with 90 at-bats or more, Ellis is first in OBP, third in batting average, and is in the top 15 of all catchers in doubles and RBI. A.J. is currently a deeper mixed-league add, and Mark is a very deep mixed-league consideration. Fun fact!: A.J. Ellis has Tweeted an It's a Wonderful Life reference.

Escobar and Weeks: Two Surnames, Four Middle Infielders

Just for the sake of clarity, here's a quick guide to sorting out Yunel, Alcides, Rickie, and Jemile:

Rankings By Power: 1. Rickie 2. Yunel 3. Jemile 4. Alcides

Rankings By Speed: 1. Alcides 2. Jemile 3. Rickie 4. Yunel

Overall Rankings: 1. Rickie 2. Jemile 3. Yunel 4. Alcides

Fun fact!: Jemile Weeks was drafted by his brother's team, the Milwaukee Brewers, in 2005, but never signed.

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It's Not Easy Being Greene

Tyler Greene is one of many players in the seemingly-endless stream of 2B-eligible players on the St. Louis Cardinals. He is owned in six percent of leagues. Taylor Green is also 2B-eligible, but is on the Brewers; he is owned in three percent of leagues. Green had spent 2012 playing first and third base for Nashville, Milwaukee's Triple-A affiliate, and has made a small impact for the Brewers in the wake of Mat Gamel's season-ending injury, filling in at first base, and batting .263 with two doubles through 19 at-bats. If Travis Ishikawa falls out of favor, Green -- who hit 24 home runs last year in the minors -- could grab some playing time and be a decent source of deeper mixed-league power. Greene, a first-round pick of the Cardinals, has averaged a little over 100 at-bats in three seasons with St. Louis. He stole 11 bases last year, but has a .221 batting average for his career. He has four seasons of double-digit home runs in the minors, despite spending significant time with the parent club the last two years. Given regular playing time, Greene could prove to be a decent power/speed combo -- a feat that, sadly, seems distant, considering the glut the team has with second base options. Fun fact!: Tyler Greene has an Internet fan club lobbying for his freedom from the bench.

The Strange Case Of Matt Harrison And Tommy Hunter

We're going to flip the theme here -- we looked at players with similar names but different values; but there are two pitchers in baseball who might be the same person, just sporting different names.

Matt Harrison is owned in 73 percent of leagues on CBSSports.com. Tommy Hunter is owned in eight percent of leagues. But a closer look at the two pitchers makes it pretty obvious that there is no real reason for this discrepancy. Observe:

First, the tale of the tape:

Matt Harrison: LHP, 6'4", 240 pounds, 26 years old, Third-round draft pick

Tommy Hunter: RHP, 6'3", 250 pounds, 25 years old, First-round draft pick

Their numbers so far this year:

Hunter: 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He has four quality starts
Harrison: 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. He has four quality starts.

But this isn't about Hunter being a better pitcher so far this year. It's about the two men being strikingly similar to one another -- and, in some cases, like WHIP, with Hunter being clearly better -- in every category outside of ownership. Digging deeper, we find:

Tommy Hunter five-year MLB career: 4.48 ERA, 1.33 WHIP (Hunter)
Matt Harrison five-year MLB career: 4.55 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (Harrison)

Tommy Hunter three-year MLB average: 108 1/3 IP, 4.071 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 59 K
Matt Harrison three-year MLB average: 109 IP, 4.21 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 69 K

Even in the minors, the two were somewhat similar:

Hunter minors: 3.75 ERA, 1.31 WHIP
Harrison minors: 3.45 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Want to go deeper into the stats? Courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Hunter: BB/9 of 2.3
Harrison: BB/9 of 3.2

Hunter: K/9 of 5.0
Harrison: K/9 of 5.4

Hunter's career ERA+: 99
Harrison's career ERA+: 98

Hunter's BABIP in last 365 days: .296
Harrison's BABIP in last 365 days: .300

So there you have it. If you need to throw someone in a trade, and you own Harrison, feel free to dangle him at will, because Hunter -- who looks to be the same, if not better, pitcher -- is almost definitely available on your waiver wire as a replacement.

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
Giants' Tim Lincecum strikes out seven Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:22 am ET) Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum allowed four runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks in five innings while racking up seven strikeouts in Thursday's spring start against the A's.

Lincecum has dealt with neck issues and mediocre performances but has looked much better over the last week, following a one-run outing Saturday by matching his seven strikeouts in his previous four outings. He appears on track to open the season as the team's No. 5 starter.


Rockies' Brandon Barnes displays new swing this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:16 am ET) Rockies outfielder Brandon Barnes brought a brand-new swing to spring training that features a high leg kick as he looks to cut down the strikeouts and "be the best version of me," the Denver Post reports.

"I tried to refine who I am and what type of player I am in the box," Barnes said Thursday. "I'm not a guy who's going to hit 30 home runs. I know that. I'm the big guy who needs to be a pest, drive the ball into gaps, hit doubles, use my speed to my advantage, bunt, all those things."

Barnes lost 10 pounds this offseason as he looked to come to camp more athletic and less stiff in the batter's box.

"We have this tremendous athlete, and you see him in the outfield and it shows up daily," manager Walt Weiss said. "But you saw him in the box last season, and there was some stiffness to his approach. And I'm saying, 'Be that guy in the box.' It made sense to him."

Barnes indicated that he's committed to the new approach that pulls the focus away from home runs.

"I had to go back and do some soul-searching to figure out who I was," Barnes said. "I'm the guy who goes out and plays really hard."


Rangers' Shin-Soo Choo goes hitless in return Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo (triceps) returned to the lineup Thursday, going 0 for 4 while serving as the designated hitter in his team's 6-3 win over the Rockies.

Choo had been sidelined since March 15 due to a triceps injury and was reported to be targeting a return Saturday, but he was able to remain in for the entire game Thursday, picking up four at-bats in his role as DH. He's managed just four hits in 22 at-bats this spring.


Rangers' Fujikawa confident in return from Tommy John surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rangers pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa is scheduled to pitch Friday, and the Rangers will be keeping a close eye on the pitcher to determine if he has fully recovered from Tommy John surgery or if he'll need time in the minors to open the season, MLB.com reports.

Fujikawa hasn't allowed a run in four Cactus League outings but has struggled a bit in two camp games. He remains confident his recovery is on track.

"This is still spring training, not the regular season," Fujikawa said. "It's only going to get better. Coming into spring training, the surgery was out of my mind. As a player, I am really confident. I am not sure what my role will be, but I'll be confident whatever the situation is."

Manager Jeff Banister is looking for the pitcher to build off his spring success.

"The guy is coming off Tommy John," Banister said. "There are good days and bad days. He has logged a couple of good ones. Let's see that continue."


Twins Trevor Plouffe wants to cement his place at third
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe is completely aware of the threat that Miguel Sano brings when it comes to the third base spot. Sano is considered by many to be a can't-miss player. But Plouffe is trying not to let that affect him or his play. 

“You can’t think about anything like that,” Plouffe said. “You can’t worry about what other people are saying about you. I’m more focused on getting this organization out of this rut that we’ve dug ourselves over the last four years.”

After moving around the infield for years, Plouffe seems to have found his place at third. The 28-year-old has a batting average of .245 with 62 home runs, 224 RBI and 398 strikeouts in five seasons.


Rangers' Ross Ohlendorf (groin) leaves Thursday's game
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rangers pitcher Ross Ohlendorf was removed from Thursday's game against the Rockies due to recurring tightness in his right groin, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.

Ohlendorf tossed a scoreless inning and struck out two Thursday in his first appearance since March 15 but continued to battle groin issues. He's competing for a spot in the bullpen.


Yankees 3B Chase Headley wants more action in the field
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Yankees third baseman Chase Headley has played the fourth most innings on the field for the team with 78, but he has only had 13 chances at fielding balls, reports the New York Times. He is hoping that he gets more opportunities going forward.

“It’s crazy,” Headley said. “I’m begging for ground balls.”

Headley came over from the Padres last spring having spent his entire career there. He seemed to suffer the same circumstances there with limited chances to field balls. He spoke to some of his current teammates and his infield coach.

“I’ve talked with Joe Espada,” Headley said of the Yankees’ new infield coach. “And Didi and Stephen — I just want a routine, easy ground ball.”

Headley, who won a National League Gold Glove in 2012, has been using his practice time to stay sharp.

“Sometimes you’ll do a drill where the coach will flip the ball so you’re reading the swing and it’s a little bit more gamelike,” Headley said. “But there’s really no substitute for getting ground balls, and unfortunately that’s out of your control in spring training, so you do the best you can with it. The good thing is I’ve done it for a long time, so I’ll be fine.”


Rangers' Nick Martinez tosses six scoreless innings Thursday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rangers pitcher Nick Martinez allowed just five hits and one walk in six scoreless innings while striking out four in Thursday's spring start against the Rockies.

Martinez is battling for the final spot in the team's rotation and did a good job making his case Thursday, limiting the Rockies to just one extra-base hit. He allowed a run in his spring debut but has delivered 8 2/3 scoreless innings in his last two appearances to lower his spring ERA to 0.84.


Rockies' Christian Friedrich impressing with slider
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Rockies pitcher Christian Friedrich has hit his stride with his slider as he continues to build upon a strong performance from last season after being moved to the bullpen, MLB.com reports.

"I saw a real good slider, the slider we saw last September -- the one that disappears, especially to left-handed hitters," manager Walt Weiss said. "He's in a good place. Maybe the velocity is not quite what it was when we saw him in September. It's ticking up. But the slider is a swing-and-miss pitch."

Friedrich has surrendered just one earned run in six innings while striking out two batters and walking two.

"The hard thing that every pitcher does when they feel they've got the stuff is, they want to show everybody they've got the stuff," Friedrich said. "I've had games where I was teetering on the edge of, 'I feel really good tonight; let's see what comes out,' then there's a lack of execution. As a starter, some days the two-seamer was 87, 88 [mph]. Now it's coming out harder, 90 [or] 91."


Diamondbacks' Peter O'Brien seeing time in outfield
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(3/26/2015) Diamondbacks catcher Peter O'Brien spent his second consecutive day in the outfield during a minor-league game Thursday, and he hasn't been behind the plate since developing throwing problems earlier in March, the Arizona Republic reports.

"I think he's going to play some outfield (once the minor league season starts) and catching isn't out of the question, but we're still talking internally to figure out what's best for him," farm director Mike Bell said.

While the team has been reluctant to publicly acknowledge O'Brien's catching issues, he's unlikely to be the long-term answer behind the plate, as general manager Dave O'Brien reportedly indicated in January. The Diamondbacks figure to roll with Tuffy Gosewisch as the team's primary catcher unless an addition is made.


 
 
 
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