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Setting the Trends: Don't be a Homer owner?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Let's just get the cute little quote at the top out of the way now.

There's always an element of not remembering the past here in Fantasy, and I'm sure George Santayana had our beloved game-based-on-a-game in mind when he coined the expression. Homer Bailey, for instance, has fooled plenty of Fantasy players into thinking that he's good enough to be owned in 77 percent of leagues. Those who remember Bailey's past roller coaster-type exploits knew enough to shy away -- even in light of a two-start week. Heck, even those who looked at his splits saw his ERA jump from May to June. But owners flocked to him in droves anyway, and now they're locked in for two June starts from the Reds pitcher in Week 10.

Of course, Santayana probably never encountered the idea of "learning a new pitch," or "playing in Japan." Or even thought of some day, many years after his death, when a man like Ray Searage would roam the earth and teach young men how to corral their talent. We know the sketchy histories of Jason Hammel, Ryan Vogelsong, and James McDonald, for instance. And yet, we ignore them, because Hammel has mastered a new pitch, Vogelsong is a different pitcher after his stint in Japan, and Searage has McDonald throwing more first-pitch strikes.

Most Added Players (as of 6/7)
Player % increase
1. Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox 29
2. Dexter Fowler, OF, Rockies 22
3. Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies 20
4. Ernesto Frieri, RP, Angels 17
5. Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners 17
6. Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins 17
7. Quintin Berry, OF, Tigers 17
8. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, D-Backs 16
9. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox 15
10. A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates 15

Then again, going far deeper than Santayana probably ever wanted anyone playing a game to go with his thoughts, if we also consider that other pitchers and players along the way have made adjustments, then we are simply ignoring one set of past circumstances to appreciate a much larger past.

Right?

Bah. Shake your head a few times and unwind your mind. There are far simpler and less philosophical reasons for this week's adds and drops.

On to the Roster Trends!

Most Added Highlights

Homer Bailey, SP, Reds
Jump in ownership: 41 percent (from 36 percent to 77)
Reason for the jump: In the four starts before getting rocked on Tuesday night, Bailey was 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA. He also has two starts this week.
Why you should join the crowd: Hey, maybe Bailey, a 2004 first-round draft pick, has finally figured things out. He's shown flashes of greatness before and has the ability to rack up a decent amount of strikeouts.
Devil's Advocate: Bailey has a career ERA of 4.75, with a 1.43 WHIP. There have been countless instances of Fantasy owners believing he had figured things out before. His 4.10 ERA in May is the second-lowest of any month for him. The lowest is actually September, which may help explain why players keep running back to Bailey: We remember his early performances, and then remember his late-season appearances, which stick in our memories. But the hard truth is that Bailey's ERA jumps to 7.29 in June, 5.98 in July and 4.87 in August.That's a combination that makes his far more unattractive than his 77 percent ownership would suggest.

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. Jerome Williams, SP, Angels 49
2. Matt Adams, 1B, Cardinals 48
3. Brian Fuentes, RP, Athletics 43
4. Anthony Bass, RP/SP, Padres 42
5. Dillon Gee, SP, Mets 37

Justin Smoak, 1B, Mariners
Jump in ownership: 23 percent (from 44 percent to 67)
Reason for the jump: Since May 25, Smoak is batting .368 with five home runs, 14 RBI and a steal.
Why you should join the crowd: Hey, maybe Smoak, a 2008 first-round draft pick, has finally figured things out (sound familiar?). He's as hot as any player in baseball right now and is in the top 25 for home runs.
Devil's Advocate: Even with the hot streak, Smoak is still batting just .240 and with almost 1,000 at-bats under his belt, he has just a .230 career average. He's hit just 38 total home runs. Just to dampen the spirits of Smoak supporters even further, he's been borderline-miserable at home (.188 average, .552 OPS), but excellent on the road (.268 average, 7 HR in 32 games).
Devil's Advocate's Advocate: Smoak was a top-15 prospect before the 2009 season and while he doesn't have the booming minor league power numbers of an Alex Liddi or Matt Adams, he has shown flashes of some pop over four minor league campaigns. There's hope here that this surge might just be Smoak blossoming at age 25.

Holding Out for A Hero
The five most owned minor leaguers
Player Ownership %
1. Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers 69
2. Trevor Bauer, SP, Diamondbacks 64
3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs 46
4. Daniel Bard, RP/SP, Red Sox 34
5. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Marlins 32

Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
Jump in ownership: 17 percent (from 24 percent to 41)
Reason for the jump: Rosario has a .346 average and three home runs over his last nine games.
Why you should join the crowd: Unlike Bailey and Smoak, Rosario doesn't have an extensive major league track record to dampen our optimism. He saw limited time last year after pounding the ball in the minors in 2010 and 2011, with 19 and 21 home runs, respectively. His batting average probably won't get much higher than .250, but for a power-hitting catcher, that's about .030 points higher than what you'd expect anyway. As a bonus, Rosario's power doesn't seem to be solely the product of Coors Field, as his OPS is just slightly higher (.892 vs .832) at home.
Devil's Advocate: Rosario is only 23 years old and just got his 150th major league at-bat. There may be some growing pains along the way and some owners may jump on him too quickly -- passing over better catching options -- just to prove that they got "The Next Big Thing" before their league mates. Expect the power to continue to a degree (I'd guess he ends up with about 18 home runs on the year), but be prepared for the average to take a hit at some point.

Dillon Gee, SP, Mets
Jump in ownership: 16 percent (from 21 percent to 37)
Reason for the jump: The 26 year-old is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in his last four games. He has struck out 28 batters in his last 27 1/3 innings.
Why you should join the crowd: While the jump in Gee's ownership is somewhat inflated by his two-start week, the numbers on his full season so far might have his new owners holding on to him after this mercenary stint. Gee has gone into Colorado and held the Rockies to three runs. He's also allowed the Blue Jays and Cardinals to score five total runs off him as well. As a bonus, Gee is currently sporting an 8.3 K/9 ratio, which is more in line with his minor league rate (7.9) than his 6.4 K/9 with the Mets in 2011. His 65 strikeouts have him 23rd in the majors.
Devil's Advocate: Gee had a decent 3.78 ERA through five minor league seasons and has a career 4.16 ERA in his MLB career. While he did hold some high-powered offenses to just a few runs, his 4.48 ERA this season can't really hide a blowout against the Giants (seven runs in 6 2/3) and the Brewers (seven runs in 5 1/3).

More than 50, less than 50
Players owned in more than 50% of leagues who should be owned in less than 50%
Player % owned
1. Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins 51
2. Joe Saunders, SP, Diamondbacks 52
3. Delmon Young, OF, Tigers 53
4. Tyler Clippard, RP, Nationals 54
5. Russell Martin, C, Yankees 55

Kris Medlen, RP, Braves
Jump in ownership: Four percent (from four percent to eight)
Reason for the jump: Medlen has been sent to the minors to get stretched out as a starter.
Why you should join the crowd: Eight percent is hardly a crowd, which makes the Medlen play even tastier. This is as under-the-radar as they come. Medlen had Tommy John surgery a couple years ago but he has an electric arm (he struck out 10.5 batters per nine innings in the minors) and enough talent to make his ownership double when Fantasy players saw he was going to be converted to a starter. There's little to go on as far as his effectiveness as a member of a rotation -- he only started about 23 percent of his appearances in the minors, with really good numbers in that role -- but grabbing him now, and stashing him (especially in keeper and dynasty leagues), could be a move that pays off handsomely down the road.
Devil's Advocate: Of course, this could all go terribly awry and blow up in our faces, as Medlen's last time pitching as a starter was 2010, when he bounced between the rotation and the bullpen. That year, though, he had a 3.68 ERA and 1.20 WHIP while producing a 6.9 K/9 ratio. It's also the year he hurt his elbow, so take those numbers with an even larger grain of salt. In his first start with Gwinnett -- and this is just being pessimistic here, as it's tough to make a case to not pick up Medlen right now in keeper, single, and deeper league formats -- he gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings pitched.

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
Royals acquire infielder Ryan Jackson from Dodgers
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3:16 pm ET) The Royals have acquired infielder Ryan Jackson from the Dodgers for cash considerations. Jackson was out for most of last season with a wrist injury. 

Jackson hit .278 with 34 RBI at Triple-A Memphis, playing 122 games at shortstop and third base in 2013.


Report: Talks break down between Yanks, Phils about Rollins deal
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:18 pm ET) The Yankees and Phillies reportedly discussed a deal for 35-year-old shortstop Jimmy Rollins before talks broke down, according to ESPN reporter Jayson Stark.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Rollins is "one of the best shortstops in baseball still" but wouldn't confirm Yankees interest in the veteran. Amaro also said Rollins is "somebody we want on our club and would be very hard to replace."

Rollins is due $11 million this season and his contract is up at the end of 2015. Rollins hit .243 with 55 RBI and stole 28 bases in 2014. 


Padres' Blaine Boyer clears waivers, heads for free agency
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:08 pm ET) Padres right-handed pitcher Blaine Boyer cleared waivers Wednesday and will enter free agency, according to U-T San Diego. Boyer was designated for assignment last week.

Boyer appeared in 32 games last season for the Padres and posted a 3.57 ERA. 


Rays designate Sean Rodriguez for assignment
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(2:04 pm ET) The Rays have designated 29-year-old Sean Rodriguez for assignment. 

Rodriguez hit .211 with 12 home runs last season. 


Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa clear waivers, released by Rays
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


Rays sign right-hander Ernesto Frieri to major-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


Yankees' Sabathia confident he can return to being 200-inning pitcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia continues to deliver positive updates coming off July knee surgery.

"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:05 pm ET) The Indians have expressed inerest in DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales

Morales, who split time between the Twins and Mariners last season, hit .218 with 42 RBI.


Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


Red Sox GM: Cespedes 'in our plans for next year'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said in a radio interview Wednesday that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in the team's plans for next year. 

“We acquired him at the deadline in the [Jon] Lester trade because we felt that was the best deal at the time, we still feel that way. He’s in our plans for next year and his versatility and skill in the outfield and gives us the flexibility, could play any of the three positions," Cherington said. "We’ll just see what the rest of the offseason brings. We have a long way to go, and as we get to January, closer to spring training, we’ll know more about who’s here and how it all adds up.”

Cespedes hit .260 with 100 RBI last season between Oakland and Boston. 


 
 
 
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