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

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

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
Spring Observations: The legend of Marcus Semien grows
by Scott White | Senior Fantasy Writer
(10:24 am ET)

This RBI single for Marcus Semien was just the least of his contributions Tuesday. (USATSI)
This RBI single for Marcus Semien was just the least of his contributions Tuesday. (USATSI)

We're always told spring training doesn't matter, that we shouldn't pay attention to it if know what's best for our Fantasy teams.

Well, I think that's a bunch of baloney.

At the very least, it's a cop-out. Sure, most of it doesn't matter. For established players with no threats to their playing time, injury concerns or known mechanical issues, spring training is just a red herring. But spring training was also our first clue last year that Melky Cabrera was back to form and that Jacob deGrom was more than the scouting reports let on. Rather than pick out a few interesting nuggets and risk them being misconstrued as more than just food for thought, it's easier to have a blanket policy for the whole thing. "Nope, none of it matters. Check back again in late May."

Really? This is the first baseball most of us have seen in months. Asking a true fan to ignore it is cruel and, frankly, unrealistic. "If they're going to do it anyway, they can at least do it under adult supervision." That's what all the "cool" parents said in high school, right?

Bad comparison, but you get what I'm saying. So periodically throughout this spring, I'm going to review game action from the day before, picking out the five items that I believe are of greatest concern to Fantasy owners. And I'll do my best to couch them in a responsible way.

1. Marcus Semien makes his presence known.

Semien didn't hit just one home run in his first look as the Athletics starting shortstop, but two, effectively ending whatever competition existed there before it even began. OK, so maybe he goes hitless the rest of spring training and makes us wonder what the hype was all about, but given that he's a breakout for Al Melchior and a sleeper for me, I'm only emboldened by the performance.

2. Aaron Sanchez gets off on the wrong foot.

Depending in part on his performance this spring, Sanchez could begin the year as either the Blue Jays fifth starter or just a bullpen arm. Or I guess their closer, which would probably the best scenario for his own individual value, but it would be a net loss for Fantasy owners since it would eliminate Brett Cecil as a perfectly capable closer while also eliminating Sanchez as a sleeper starter. Sanchez says he was just working on his curveball, but considering the Blue Jays have already said they'll decide his role by mid-March, he doesn't have that luxury.

3. Jung Ho Kang goes oppo boppo.

Observe.

This from a player who hit .356 with 40 home runs in the Korean Baseball Organization. Of course, no one thinks he'll be that good, but how many middle infielders can hit the ball out in that direction with such ease? And oh yeah, he started at shortstop, which is the position nobody seems to think he'll be able to play in the majors.

4. Devon Travis whiffs in his first chance.

The Blue Jays don't have a starting second baseman. They have Maicer Izturis, who has impersonated one in the past, but if they wanted him starting there, they wouldn't have acquired Travis, a major league-ready second base prospect, from the Tigers this offseason. It's a good sign he got the start Tuesday, but it's not so good that he went 0-for-4. If he wins the job, I'm thinking he's at worst a speedier version of Scooter Gennett.

5. More of the same from Ubaldo Jimenez.

Granted, the Orioles don't have an opening in their starting rotation, but for as much as they're paying him and as good as he was two years ago, Jimenez could probably force his way in with a strong spring. Allowing five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings isn't going to make it happen. When Madison Bumgarner says he was just working on his pitches and didn't care about results, you can take his word for it, but Jimenez has a little more at stake.


David Wright apologizes for scolding prospect in front of media
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:23 am ET)
Mets third baseman David Wright apologized to prospect Noah Syndergaard on Wednesday for scolding him Tuesday "within earshot" of the press, according to the New York Daily News.

However, Wright was not apologetic about about the message he delivered to the highly touted pitching prosect.

"I talked to Noah yesterday, that's the thing I apologized to him for not realizing that obviously I choose to do it, so it's not the media's fault by any means, but I didn't notice the media was within earshot. So that's what I apologized to Noah for," Wright said.

"Now he has to answer questions, I have to answer questions, (Mets manager) Terry (Collins) has to answer questions, that's not the way that I like to handle things. I wasn't aware of my surroundings. As far as the content of it, I think that's something that I think Noah did an excellent job understanding the situation, he was very remorseful of the situation."

On Tuesday, Wright and reliever Bobby Parnell were upset Syndergaard went into the clubhouse to eat lunch while the Mets were in the middle of an intrasquad game. Wright told Syndergaard he needed to be on the bench during the game, but Parnell went one step further by throwing out the plate of food Syndergaard was eating.

Syndergaard, who added staying in the clubhouse was "straight up" ignorance on his part, said Wright has spoken to him twice since the incident.

"He wanted to make sure I knew that Bobby (Parnell) and he were not picking on me," Syndergaard said Wednesday. "He just wanted to make it clear, they care about me, they want me to be a part of the team, they think I can contribute in the future."

David Wright
David Wright has been with the Mets organization since he was a 2001 first-round draft pick. (Getty Images)


Edgar Olmos headed back to Mariners due to shoulder injury
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:54 am ET) The Rangers announced Wednesday the waiver claim for pitcher Edgar Olmos is being reversed due to a shoulder injury, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Olmos, who was claimed off waivers last week, will head back to the Mariners roster.

Rays manager Kevin Cash tabs Alex Cobb as opening day starter
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:41 am ET) Rays manager Kevin Cash announced Wednesday starting pitcher Alex Cobb will start the season opener on April 6 against Baltimore.

"There's a lot of things on your short list of career highlights that you can say you've done," Cobb said, per the Tampa Bay Times. "Obvioiusly, with being in the World Series and winning the World Series being at the top. Being an opening day starter falls somewhat shorter than that, but it's right up on that list."

Cash also announced Cobb will be followed in the rotation by Chris Archer, Drew Smyly and Jake Odorizzi. The team will choose a fifth starter this spring.

"He was extremely excited," Cash said of Cobb. "I kind of expected him to say, 'Yeah, OK, whatever,' but he was pumped. And you look back and you're like, 'Man, he's had some good pitchers here that maybe he's had to wait in turn for (James) Shields and (David) Price and those guys. I think he looks at it as being an honor, because there have been some good ones here in the past that have done it."


Red Sox's Castillo on injury to left side: 'Thankfully it's nothing serious'
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:34 am ET) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo underwent a medical exam Wednesday for an issue on the left side of his body, according to CSNNE.com. 

"Thankfully it's nothing serious," said Castillo, who added he expects to be available for Thursday's spring game against the Twins.


Tigers 3B Nick Castellanos (hand) able to play Wednesday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(9:27 am ET) Tigers third baseman Nick Castellanos made it into the lineup for Wednesday's spring game against the Orioles after leaving Tuesday's game with a left hand contusion, per MLB.com. Castellanos underwent X-rays on Tuesday, which came back negative.

Tigers release Joel Hanrahan, who needs another Tommy John surgery
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:06 am ET) After visiting a specialist on Tuesday, reliever Joel Hanrahan will undergo a second Tommy John surgery, ending his stint with the Tigers. Detroit released him Wednesday, according to the Detroit Free Press. He will have surgery on his right elbow on March 18, per the team's official website.

Hanrahan never pitched in the majors since undergoing Tommy John surgery May of 2013, and signed a minor-league deal with Detroit before he was released. Now he will likely be out of commission until the early portion of the 2016. The 33-year-old registered a career 3.85 ERA over 404 2/3 innings.


Cardinals' Rosenthal considering abandoning the windup
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:01 am ET) Cardinals reliever Trevor Rosenthal is considering ditching the windup this season, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Rosenthal had trouble against the first batter he faced last season, and believes he may be able to get around that by pitching from the stretch. The idea has been discussed, but it's unclear if Rosenthal will follow through with it. 

He did stress that getting ahead of batters is his main goal this season. "Working ahead (in the count). Making quality pitches early in the count. These are the big goals for this year," he said. 

The 24-year-old posted a 3.20 ERA over 70 1/3 innings last season.


Blue Jays' Martin: Pirates 'were going to do everything they could'
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:37 am ET) Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin says the Pirates did everything they could to try and re-sign him, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Martin signed a five-year, $82 million deal with Toronto, but said the Pirates really pushed to keep him around. "They were going to do everything they could," Martin said. "They were pretty vocal about that. But then it comes to a point where, as an organization, if you're thinking business-wise, you can't stack all your chips and then leave yourself vulnerable for later."

Martin also admitted that the opportunity to be a role model in Canada was a big reason he signed in Toronto. "The opportunity to play in Canada, for my family to be able to watch me play, to be a role model for younger Canadians and be that guy, it's a better fit for me overall for that reason," he explained.

In the end, the money and a fifth year led Martin to the Blue Jays. "[The Pirates] were pretty vocal, and I think that they definitely wanted me back. It was just a feeling that Toronto wanted me a little bit more," he said.

The 32-year-old hit .290/.402/.430 over 379 at-bats last season.


Rockies' Wilin Rosario receives positive reviews at first base
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/3/2015) Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario received positive reviews after playing first base on Tuesday, according to MLB.com.

Rosario showed off his athleticism, saving two possible errors during the appearance. The club is trying to work Rosario in at the position after signing Nick Hundley in the offseason. Rosario has been taking extra fielding practice at first during camp. Rosario is expected to see equal time at first and behind the plate this spring.

The 26-year-old hit .267/.305/.435 over 382 at-bats last year.


 
 
 
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