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Catcher tiers for Draft Day 2013

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Remember when the catcher position consisted of Victor Martinez (whose eligibility at the position is up for debate entering 2013), Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and everybody else? It wasn't so long ago, really.

The Tiers Approach to Draft Day
Tiering is a method of doctoring positional rankings so that players of similar value are bundled into groups. A new group begins whenever the next player down in the rankings has a vastly different projected outcome from the player preceding him. Reducing a position to five or six tiers instead of 30 or more individuals gives you a blueprint to follow as your league's draft unfolds. Naturally, the position to target is the one whose active tier is closest to completion. -- Scott White

Tiers: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP

But when you compare the position now to the position then, it seems like ancient history.

For us longtime Fantasy owners, catcher is as deep as ever, and it was made only deeper last year with the emergence of Wilin Rosario, Salvador Perez and Jonathan Lucroy.

Of course, a deeper position has its drawbacks. The key to gaining an advantage at any position is to recognize when the biggest drop-off in talent occurs and to wait until just before that point to strike.

But the more bountiful the tiers, the more they tend to bleed together ...

The Elite: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana

The Near Elite: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario

The Next Best Things: Brian McCann, Salvador Perez, Jonathan Lucroy, Mike Napoli, Jesus Montero

The Fallback Options: A.J. Pierzynski, Ryan Doumit, Carlos Ruiz, Alex Avila, Travis d'Arnaud, Yasmani Grandal

The Last Resorts: John Jaso, J.P. Arencibia, Russell Martin, Mike Zunino, Wilson Ramos, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, A.J. Ellis

The Leftovers: Chris Iannetta, Kurt Suzuki, Welington Castillo, Tyler Flowers, Erik Kratz, Rob Brantly

The potential for overlap begins with the first tier, which Posey could have conceivably filled all by himself. Then again, most positions have a clear top player. If each occupied his own tier, you'd have no idea which position to target first because each active tier would be on the verge of completion. When establishing your tiers, you don't want every jump in talent reflected, only the most significant. Creating a bunch of one-player tiers doesn't do anybody any good.

Sometimes, it's justified, like in the case of Miguel Cabrera at third base, but in this case, Mauer's and Santana's most-likely scenarios are close enough to Posey's that settling for one wouldn't be a huge downgrade at the position. Shoot, Mauer finished only 27 points behind Posey in Head-to-Head leagues last year, and that wasn't even the best he can do (as we saw in 2009).

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The blending of the tiers is even more evident among The Near Elite, with Rosario the main point of contention. Part of me says he has to be in the same tier as Perez and Lucroy, seeing as their narratives are so similar to this point, but putting Lucroy in the same tier as Molina certainly doesn't feel right. Ultimately, I decided Rosario's power potential, which is shaping up to be tops at the position, is enough to set him apart from the other two in Rotisserie leagues, though the effect his poor plate discipline figures to have on his Head-to-Head numbers might just convince me to drop him to The Next Best Things in those formats, leaving a second tier of Molina, Miguel Montero and Wieters.

So far in my early drafting, I've found that Lucroy is typically the last of The Next Best Things to go off the board, most often to me. I think he's half a step better than Napoli and Jesus Montero -- or at least safer than those two -- but if tiering them all together prevents me from reaching for the Brewers catcher, so be it. It's not like having to settle for Napoli or Montero would be some great tragedy.

Among The Fallback Options, you'll find your overachievers (Pierzynski), your underachievers (Avila) and the players who, for one reason or another, won't be available at the start of the season (Ruiz, d'Arnaud, Grandal). Yeah, you'll want to make contingency plans for that last group, but they're all worth stashing, at least to start out. If everything breaks their way, they'll perform at the level of The Next Best Things.

Many of The Last Resorts are legitimate candidates to be drafted in standard mixed leagues, and naturally, players like Jaso, Arencibia, Zunino and Ramos could end up paying big dividends. But unlike in past years, when waiting to gamble on a high-upside catcher in the late rounds was an advisable move, doing so now with all the high-end options available at the position puts you in an early hole.

In order for it to work out, you'll really need for your guy to pan out.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Report: Dodgers trade Drew Butera to Angels
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:16 pm ET) The Dodgers have reportedly traded backup catcher Drew Butera to the Angels for a player to be named later or cash considerations, according to ESPN.com.

Butera was designated for assignment earlier in the week to make room on the 40-man roster. He hit .188 with three home runs and 14 RBI in 170 plate appearances in 2014.


Phillies pitcher Mario Hollands to have arm examined this week
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(8:03 pm ET) Phillies pitcher Mario Hollands is still dealing with an arm issue and it remains uncertain as to what is causing the issue, reports DelawareOnline.com.

Hollands will undergo an ultrasound on his common flexor tendon this week after his first MRI was unclear, according to the report. Hollands has an 11.81 ERA this spring with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched.

"Having to see everyone get ready for opening day is tough," Hollands said. "It hurts. But maybe I'll be up there for opening day so at least I can put on the uniform for the day."


Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse struggles in spring finale
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(7:58 pm ET) Brewers pitcher Kyle Lohse surrendered seven runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in his final start of spring training. Lohse felt it was more of a way to open his eyes to adjustments before the season starts, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

"That's not exactly what I wanted, but it's not a bad thing to kind of have a little bit of a wakeup call," said Lohse. "There wasn't a whole lot of good coming out of that. I definitely put myself in some tough situations out there. Made a couple of good pitches, a lot of bad ones."

Lohse, who will be Milwaukee's Opening Day starter, finishes the spring with a 4.74 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched.

"He made some mistakes," said manager Ron Roenicke. "Tight strike zone, he made some mistakes and they didn't miss much.

"I like what he's been doing. Today, I don't know how explain it. Sometimes your command just isn't there and sometimes you're facing a pretty good team. He knows what he needs to do. We feel good with him opening up."


Indians line up rotation, Zach McAllister to pitch home opener
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:38 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona has set the rotation for the first week of the season, with Zach McAllister slated to serve as the No. 4 starter and pitch the team's home opener next Friday against the Tigers, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Corey Kluber draws the Opening Day assignment Monday against the Astros after winning the AL Cy Young award in 2014. He'll be followed by Carlos Carrasco Tuesday and Trevor Bauer Wednesday. McAllister will then face the Tigers Friday, with T.J. House taking the mound Saturday and Kluber pitching Sunday.


Brewers' Hector Gomez set to open season with team
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:31 pm ET) Brewers infielder Hector Gomez appears to be on track to break camp with the major-league team after a slew of roster moves Tuesday, and he credits pre-spring training work at a facility in the Dominican Republic operated by Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano for his spring success, MLB.com reports.

"[Cano] has a big complex, more than 25 players there every day," Gomez said Wednesday. "I said, 'Robby, I want to work.' He helped me. We would be on the field in the morning, then go to the gym, then back on the field in the afternoon. I was ready for this moment. I'm ready for Opening Day. I've watched on TV, and I want to be there. I want to feel that. I'm close."

Gomez has hit .240/.255/.320 in 50 at-bats this spring.


Red Sox C Christian Vazquez to undergo Tommy John surgery
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:23 pm ET) The Red Sox announced Wednesday that catcher Christian Vazquez will undergo Tommy John surgery on his injured elbow Thursday, the Providence Journal reports.

Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation on Vazquez, who is without a timetable for return but will likely miss the entire 2015 season. He was placed on the 60-day disabled list Monday.


Indians' Corey Kluber allows three runs in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:21 pm ET) Indians pitcher Corey Kluber surrendered three earned runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking none in his team's 5-2 loss to the Giants.

Kluber was able to hold the Giants scoreless through three innings before he allowed one run in the fourth and two in the fifth. He closes the spring with a 3.86 ERA and 25:5 K:BB ratio in 23 1/3 innings. Kluber will square off with the Astros Monday on Opening Day.

"It's exciting for me personally that next time out there will be when it counts," Kluber said. "I'm happy with where I'm at both physically and mentally. I'm ready to go. I'm looking forward to it."


Giants' Bumgarner tosses four one-run innings in spring finale
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:17 pm ET) Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner allowed just one earned run on five hits in four innings while striking out four and walking none in his team's 5-2 win over the Indians Wednesday.

Bumgarner has given up plenty of runs this spring but closes the Cactus League season on a fine note. He posted a 4.91 ERA and 18:1 K:BB ratio in 18 1/3 innings this spring. Bumgarner's next start will come on Opening Day against the Diamondbacks Monday.


D-Backs' Archie Bradley throws six scoreless innings in win
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(7:15 pm ET) Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley threw six scoreless innings during Wednesday afternoon's 3-0 win over the Reds. 

Bradley struck out two batters and gave up three walks. He surrendered only one hit. Bradley faced 21 batters and threw 69 pitches. This game dropped Bradley's spring training ERA to 1.61. 

Though the Diamondbacks have already announced their starting rotation, manager Chip Hale said this most recent outing — combined with the rest of his spring performance — may cause the club to reconsider its thinking

"We've named our five, but he's pushed the envelope all the way down to the last possible chance he had," Hale said, via the Arizona Republic. "He's looked great. We'll have to sit down and evaluate everything."


Giants 2B Joe Panik (ankle) returns Wednesday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(7:15 pm ET) Giants second baseman Joe Panik returned to the lineup Wednesday, going 1 for 4 and scoring a run in his team's 5-2 win over the Indians.

Panik was scratched from Tuesday's game due to a minor ankle issue but was able to get back into the action just one day later. He has hit .222/.279/.444 with three home runs in 63 spring at-bats.


 
 
 
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