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Setting the Trends: Don't get too comfortable

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Many moons ago, there existed a cartoon about a somewhat-brutish, blue-suited crimefighter called, The Tick. It was one of those brilliant cult shows that never caught a lot of mainstream love, for many silly reasons. But, in 1995, an episode had The Tick caught in the grips (cushions?) of The World's Most Comfortable Chair. Seventeen years later, I will soil its beautiful memory by using it to offer Fantasy advice.

Everyone can get a little too comfortable with players -- letting the wrong one go at the absolute worst time is a mistake that can haunt a Fantasy player forever. But holding on to someone for too long can also damage the team, by not making a move once you've squeezed optimum value from your roster spot. Take, for instance, Bryan LaHair. Gambling on him early paid off -- you got your value returned by the end of May. But it soon became apparent that Dale Sveum wasn't going to play him every day. And, when Anthony Rizzo was called up, LaHair was sent to the outfield, a move that saw his stats take a marked decline:

LaHair as a 1B: 181 AB, .287 average, .899 OPS, 11 HR, 1 SB
LaHair as an OF: 90 AB, .222 average, .615 OPS, 2 HR, 1 SB

LaHair is still sporting a .266 average with 14 home runs and two steals -- numbers that have more than earned the $1 placed on him in auction leagues. But owners who have him stashed away on the bench may have waited too long to deal him. In other words, they got comfortable with LaHair, which isn't a terrible thing -- although the signs of a downturn were there, plenty of owners (myself included) still had hope that he'd homer his way into more playing time. But he didn't. LaHair owners, in retrospect, should have ripped ourselves out of The World's Most Comfortable Chair, getting value when we had the chance.

For those of you ready to make like The Tick, and rip yourself away from the comfort of some of your more familiar players, we present...Roster Trends!

Most Added Players (as of 8/7)
Player % increase
1. Dan Straily, SP, OAK 38
2. Ryan Ludwick, OF, CIN 29
3. Ross Detwiler, SP, WAS 27
4. Josh Rutledge, SS, COL 23
5. Mike Olt, 3B, TEX 22
6. Chris Johnson, 3B, ARI 20
7. Michael McKenry, C, PIT 20
8. Patrick Corbin, SP, ARI 20
9. Greg Holland, RP, KC 20
10. Blake Beavan, SP, SEA 18

Most Added Highlights

Ross Detwiler , SP, WAS
Jump in Ownership: 27 percent (from 37 percent to 64 percent)
Reason for the jump: Since his return to the rotation, Detwiler has a 2.55 ERA in eight games started.
Why you should join the crowd: When Detwiler was yanked from the rotation in late May, he had given up a total of 16 earned runs in four previous games. But his ERA was just 3.88 at the time. In a six-game stint as a member of the bullpen, Detwiler sparkled, sporting a 1.35 ERA in 13 1/3 innings. At no point this season has his ERA crept over 3.88. While he won't get a lot of strikeouts for a team, Detwiler's been a steady presence for the Nationals, and the former first-round pick could be a great source of low ERA and WHIP for Fantasy owners looking to impriove in those areas as the season winds down.
Devil's Advocate: There's always the chance that Detwiler finally figured things out this year, building on a promising 3.00 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 66 innings last season, but his previous years -- and even minor league numbers -- left a lot to be desired. Before this season, Detwiler had a 4.07 career ERA in the majors, and his career minor league WHIP was 1.50.
Still...: Detwiler got that career ERA down to 3.65 after his breakout 2012, meaning he didn't have the largest of sample sizes to turn around prior to this season.

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. Starling Marte, OF, PIT 48
2. Greg Holland, RP, KC 47
3. Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN 40
4. Tyler Colvin, 1B, COL 31
5. Kris Medlen, RP, ATL 30

Greg Holland , RP, KC
Jump in Ownership: 20 percent (from 26 percent to 46 percent)
Reason for the jump: Holland is the new closer for the Kansas City Royals.
Why you should join the crowd: Holland has been a force out of the Royals' bullpen this year, with a 3.22 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings. Since being named the new closer, Holland has pitched five scoreless innings, holding opposing batters to a .176 batting average, and getting two saves and a win.
Devil's Advocate: For as good as Holland has been lately, he did have a pretty rocky start to the season, having an ERA over 4.00 up until the end of June. His 1.50 WHIP is also high for a closer, and his 25 walks aren't pretty: they are just two fewer than Kyle Lohse (in 148 1/3 IP), and as many as Jordan Zimmermann (139 1/3 IP) and Bartolo Colon (138 2/3 IP). If he gets into some trouble, Aaron Crow could be a real alternative down the line.

Itchy trigger fingers
The most-dropped injured players who may still return
Player Change in ownership percentage
1. Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI -23
2. Emilio Bonifacio, SS, MIA -19
3. A.J. Griffin, SP, OAK -17
4. Lance Berkman, OF, STL -16
5. Yasmani Grandal, C, SD -7

Ryan Doumit , C, MIN
Jump in Ownership: Seven percent (from 69 percent to 76 percent)
Reason for the jump: Doumit has a .295 average, with 12 home runs in 322 at-bats.
Why you should join the crowd: Doumit has catcher eligibility, but has appeared at the position in just 40 games this season, racking up 35 games at DH, 12 in the outfield, and one at first base. In August, Doumit is batting .417, with two home runs, five doubles, and six RBI. He has played two of those games at DH, two in left field, and two at catcher, showing a flexibility that keeps his bat in the lineup on a regular basis. This makes him more valuable at the catcher position, where most players require occasional days off. Since the All-Star Break, Doumit ranks second among all catchers in at-bats (behind only teammate Joe Mauer), third in runs scored, first in doubles, and third in home runs.
Devil's Advocate: Doumit didn't exactly come out swinging, hitting just .250 in April and .262 in May. And, for the year, he doesn't rank in the top 10 among catchers for home runs, runs scored, steals, or walks. In points leagues, Doumit ranks 10th among catchers, and his 199.5 total points have him ranked 51st among outfielders, behind Angel Pagan, Carlos Lee, and Cody Ross.

Farm club freewheeling
The most-traded minor leaguers
Player Number of trades over the last week
1. Trevor Bauer, SP, ARI 301
2. Wil Myers, OF, KC 169
3. Lucas Duda, OF, NYM 152
4. Jacob Turner, SP, MIA 148
5. Shelby Miller, SP, STL 141

Luis Mendoza , RP, KC
Jump in Ownership: 4 percent (from 6 percent to 10 percent)
Reason for the jump: Five of Mendoza's last seven starts have been Quality Starts, and he is in the middle of a two-start week.
Why you should join the crowd: Despite a 4.36 overall ERA, Mendoza has decent numbers lately -- a 3.61 ERA in his past seven starts and a 1.20 WHIP. Additionally, Mendoza has that sexy relief pitcher eligibility, meaning points-leaguers could slot the starter in one of their RP slots, and enjoy the spoils. It's a brand of tomfoolery that I don't agree with, but it's well within the rules, and does offer a path to value for Mendoza.
Devil's Advocate: Mendoza has a 4.36 ERA and 1.44 WHIP on the season. And, over a six-year career, he has a 5.80 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. He's been good recently, but he can't be relied on for strikeouts, and is always capable of walking four batters in any given start.

Jean Segura , SS, MIL
Jump in Ownership: 7 percent (from 8 percent to 15 percent)
Reason for the jump: Segura, the main return in the trade for Zack Greinke, was called up to the Brewers this week, and will likely start the rest of the season.
Why you should join the crowd: Despite being hitless in 10 at-bats so far this year, Segura has a solid bat (.313 minor league average), and a string of high-steal seasons, with 37 so far this year, 18 in 52 games last year, and 50 in 2010. He also has decent power for a shortstop; nothing earth-shaking, but he did hit 10 home runs in 2010, and could have hit 10 again in 2011 if he didn't miss three months with a hamstring injury. In deeper leagues, where teams may be desperate for a shortstop, Segura could return a few steals and decent average.
Devil's Advocate: Don't go overboard in trying to get Segura, as he is probably not worth a roster spot in even 14-team mixed leagues. He will eventually be a good player, but will likely have a some growing pains as this season finishes up. There's always a chance he can hit for some average and steal some bases, but there are safer options that already exist on most waiver wires.

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
Nationals sign Tony Gwynn Jr. to a minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:57 pm ET) The Nationals have signed outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. to a minor-league deal, the team announced. 

Gwynn will be invited to major-league camp with the deal. The 32-year-old hit .152 over 105 at-bats with the Phillies last season. 


Nationals' Matt Purke hoping to get on a mound soon
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:31 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Matt Purke is hoping to throw off a mound in a few weeks, according to MLB.com.

Purke had Tommy John surgery last May, and has struggled with injuries since being selected in the third round of the 2011 draft. Purke was actually released by the club during the offseason, but came back on a minor-league deal. 

Purke said he was frustrated by the injuries, but understands he has to take it all in stride. "It's just something you have to take in stride, keep moving forward," he explained. "I'm ready to keep progressing the best I can and really get myself out there and pitch and perform. When my number is called, I'll be able to help when I can."

Purke is currently in the middle of a throwing program. He's been able to long toss, and hopes to throw off a mound in a few weeks. The team is still unsure when Purke will be ready for game action.


Twins' Danny Santana learning to play multiple positions
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:16 pm ET) Danny Santana came to the Twins in 2007 playing primarily shortstop. Now, Santana is playing in the outfield and learning how to transition to a new position on the field.

"I didn't know how to play the outfield and I needed a lot of work," he said to MLB.com. "It wasn't hard, because I have the ability to play many positions. But the hard part was being in center field and throwing to the bases. At shortstop, you throw from different angles. In the outfield, you need to be on top to throw."

Santana hit .319 with 40 RBI and 70 runs scored in 405 plate appearances in 2014.

"There's a lot of people here who believed in Danny Santana's future for a long time. We were able to get a glimpse of that last year," manager Paul Molitor said. "I have a lot of confidence in that kid. He's going about his business very professionally. He's really a good listener and applier. Some guys listen well and have trouble taking it out there. He's pretty good at taking information and putting it into play."


Padres' Cameron Maybin to hit leadoff in first spring game
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:07 pm ET) Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin will hit leadoff in the team's first spring game, according to MLB.com.

Manager Bud Black basically confirmed the news, though he wouldn't make it official as he prefers to let the player know before the media. Maybin is the forgotten man in the team's outfield heading into camp. While he's proven he can play center field, the club is expected to go with Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton when the regular season starts. 

Maybin, 27, hit .235/.290/.331 over 251 at-bats last season. 


Giants experimenting with Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:43 pm ET) The Giants are experimenting with using outfielder Norichika Aoki in the leadoff spot, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Aoki will hit leadoff on Tuesday with Angel Pagan sidelined. While Pagan is expected to claim the role once the regular season begins, manager Bruce Bochy said he would consider using Aoki in the leadoff role occasionally. When that happens, Pagan would hit in the third spot in the order. 

Aoki, 33, hit .285/.349/.360 over 491 at-bats last year. 


Twins' Glen Perkins feeling healthy heading into games
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:34 pm ET) Twins reliever Glen Perkins is feeling healthy heading into spring games, according to the Pioneer Press.

Perkins was shut down at the end of last season due to forearm and elbow issues. He hasn't experienced any of those issues this spring. "Really the barometer on how my arm feels is the bite on my slider," Perkins said. "If my slider is loopy, then my arm is probably tired, especially my forearm."

Perkins added that he threw a few sliders during a recent bullpen session, and was happy with how they looked. "I told them it was coming and they swung and missed at a few," he said. "It's got good movement right now. That means obviously I'm fresh, but also I'm strong and healthy."

Perkins is expected to pitch during an exhibition game on Wednesday. He posted a 3.65 ERA over 61 2/3 innings last season. 


Red Sox OFs Betts, Castillo to share time in CF this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:30 pm ET) Red Sox manager John Farrell said Sunday that outfielders Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will get equal playing time in center field this spring, MLB.com reports.

"Like we said at the outset of camp, we'll take all of camp to determine that," said Farrell. "They're going to get equal playing time. But I think it's important they both get comfortable with the combination of the guys on the flank because of communication, the responsibilities for balls in the gap, fly ball communication and those priorities."

While Betts had ample time to make an impression on the team during his rookie season, the Red Sox are still getting to know Castillo and his capabilities.

"With Rusney, I think it's a matter of frequent at-bats, more games played," Farrell said. "Particularly after our season concluded, he went to the [Arizona] Fall League and Puerto Rico, and through repetition, I think he's just gotten better timing and consistent routes in the outfield and he's looked very good here in camp so far."

Castillo went 12 for 36 in his short time with the Red Sox last season.


Report: Red Sox, Phillies haven't made progress on Hamels' deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:16 pm ET) The Red Sox and Phillies have not made progress on a deal for pitcher Cole Hamels, according to the Boston Herald. 

The Red Sox have been mentioned as a contender for Hamels in the past, but the club is hesitant to give up their top prospects for the pitcher. Though Phillies' special assistant to the general manager Charley Kerfeld was spotted at Red Sox facilities on Monday, two sources told the Herald that no progress has been made on a deal. 

The Phillies are said to covet either Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, but Boston has refused to include either player in a deal.

Hamels, 31, posted a 2.46 ERA over 204 2/3 innings last year.


Cardinals' Carpenter seeks to balance aggressiveness, patience
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:04 pm ET) Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter hopes to combine the aggressiveness he displayed in 2013 with the patience he showed in 2014, MLB.com reports.

"I've had both extremes of it," Carpenter said. "I've had it where I've led the leagues in walks [2014], and I've had where I've led the league in hits [2013]. I'm trying to search for that perfect balance where you're aggressive, but you're still patient.

"In the postseason, I felt that I was more aggressive than I had been at any point in my career, but at the same time, I wasn't flailing at balls. I didn't lose anything. Now, it's finding the perfect balance to where I'm swinging the bat, I'm being aggressive, I'm trying to do damage, but at the same time, I'm a guy who can walk a lot, get on base and set the tone as a leadoff hitter. I think that's part of growing up as a baseball player. You learn and you adapt and you continue to try to figure out who you are as a hitter."

Carpenter homered four times during last year's postseason after hitting just eight home runs during the regular season, with his first two postseason blasts coming on the first pitch of his at-bats. He's looking to capture that approach more often this season.

"I think he's a smart enough guy to do it because he knows what he does really well," hitting coach John Mabry said. "That's what you take pride in -- those guys who put in all the work to get to where they are and then say, 'I'm not happy.' They want to put in the extra work to get to that next step, the next level."

Carpenter is looking to build off a 2014 season in which he hit .272/.375/.375 with eight home runs and 59 RBI in 595 at-bats.


Mariners' Dustin Ackley to get a lot of playing time this spring
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:01 pm ET) Mariners outfielder Dustin Ackley will get a ton of playing time this spring, according to MLB.com.

Manager Lloyd McClendon said he wants Ackley to get off to a strong start, and will give the outfielder a lot of at-bats in March. Ackley seemed happy with the arrangement. "I think that's good," Ackley said. "The more at-bats you get, the better your timing gets and the more comfortable you feel. I think everybody wants to get at-bats and get ready."

Ackley had a tough first half of the season in 2014, but seemed to come on strong late. He stressed that being strong mentally should help in 2015. "I just need to stay consistent and don't start pressing if I don't get a hit for a couple games or don't do this or that," he said. "It's not being result-oriented and just going out there and playing and trusting in my swing and my mental standpoint."

The 27-year-old hit .245/.293/.398 over 502 at-bats last year. He's expected to open the season in a platoon role with Rickie Weeks. 


 
 
 
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