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Reality Check: Reacting or overreacting?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You gave Justin Maxwell a look Monday morning, didn't you? Yeah, he won't be the only waiver fodder to get your attention this week.

Jhoulys Chacin with his strong 6 2/3 innings. Jackie Bradley with his three walks. Yonder Alonso with his home run. Collin Cowgill with his grand slam. They all had memorable Mondays.

And that only covers half a day's worth of action.

So many players, so few roster spots. In mixed leagues, that's the frustrating part about this time of year, and it's so frustrating that some people choose not to bother with the early-season headliners at all.

"A couple games can't replace months of research and evaluation," they say.

And it's true. They can't.

But what that line of thinking fails to account for is perception. Most longtime Fantasy owners think they have a good grasp of each player's potential. They think it's why they constructed their rosters the way they did.

But it's not. You know it's not. You may not have thought it through all the way, but you know perception drives the entire drafting process.

Let's say you really like Domonic Brown this year, as I do. Let's say you think he's going to outperform Jay Bruce this year. It's not the craziest prediction. If Brown meets the full extent of his potential, it's perfectly feasible, even. But you knew better than to draft him ahead of Bruce. Even knowing how you feel about Brown, you either opted to draft Bruce in the fourth or fifth round, like everybody else, or passed on him completely, hoping to get Brown 10 rounds later. In both scenarios, you drafted according to perceived value rather than potential value.

Most Viewed Players (as of 4/2)
Player Name Own %
1. Jose Fernandez, SP, Marlins 51
2. Collin Cowgill, OF, Mets 17
3. Brandon Maurer, SP, Mariners 35
4. Jackie Bradley, OF, Red Sox 58
5. Phil Coke, RP, Tigers 22
6. Kyuji Fujikawa, RP, Cubs 42
7. Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies 18
8. Gerardo Parra, OF, D-Backs 11
9. Ryan Ludwick, OF, Reds 50
10. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP, Dodgers 82

Maybe you don't like Brown this year. Maybe Anthony Rizzo is your guy. The illustration still works. Even believing Rizzo is going to hit .290 with 35 homers, you didn't take him over Billy Butler.

You know what kept you from doing that? Perception. At those critical moments in the draft, you ignored your personal assessment of a player for the sake of having it all.

What's more, you probably would have derided anyone who didn't. The practice of drafting according to the majority opinion rather than your own in an effort to maximize the talent on your roster is a strategy that normally goes unspoken because everybody knows to do it.

So why after the draft is there a complete surrender to potential value, ignoring the perceived value that halfway constructed your roster? Based on your own drafting habits, you could argue the latter is at least as important as the former. How you feel about a player matters only as much as how others feel about that player.

And to the nameless, faceless masses, nothing says more about a player than what he just did.

Don't believe me? Well, just look at the "most viewed" list on the CBSSports.com roster trends. The players at the top are the ones who -- like Maxwell, Chacin, Bradley, Alonso and Cowgill -- just did something. People are looking at them. They're looking and thinking.

And some of them are striking, whether because they're just the impatient sort or because they already know what I'm about to advise:

Don't be shy on the waiver wire this time of year.

I didn't say go crazy. You don't want to be afraid to make a move, but if you turn over half your roster before we reach the end of the first week, you might as well quit playing now. Most players were drafted where they were for a reason, and you can rest assured I'm sticking with Brown even if he starts 0 for 18.

But if you allow yourself some flexibility with the back of your bench -- those players who nearly went undrafted in your league, who everyone else passed on 20 times over -- what do you stand to lose?

Maybe you really like Lucas Duda or Carlos Quentin, and that's fine. But if they don't deliver right out of the gate, what do you owe them? And what do you suspect others will do with them if you make them available? They already passed on them the first 20 times.

If the purpose of a roster spot is to protect the players you don't want going to someone else, shouldn't you protect the ones attracting the most attention?

Now, I'm not saying every Casey Kotchman or Philip Humber who has a good day deserves a roster spot. Those players have already proven their mediocrity. But among the players with genuine upside, isn't it possible you targeted the wrong ones on Draft Day?

You don't always see it coming, you know. If you did, you would have beaten everyone to R.A. Dickey, Chris Sale, Edwin Encarnacion and Allen Craig last year, which would have won you your league and given you so much self-assurance that you wouldn't trouble yourself with the inane ramblings of a peasant like me.

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Winning changes a man, man.

If you have the spot to play with, take the chance. It's like getting a lottery ticket with one of the numbers already filled in. Sure, it probably won't do anything for you, but with that little bit of a head start, how can you turn it down?

And here's the glue that holds it all together: It might be your only chance at it. So many other people are watching and thinking that any of those early-season headliners could be just one good at-bat away from going to someone else. And if that player turns out to be the one that rises from obscurity to claim someone else the championship, you'll be upset, to say the least.

So of those players mentioned -- Maxwell, Chacin, Bradley, Alonso and Cowgill -- which would I be willing to pick up solely because of that one game? None, probably. I might pick up Alonso, but because I liked him as a sleeper even before that game. I might pick up Bradley, but because I recognize his upside as a top prospect. In other words, one game shouldn't be the reason you pick up a player, but it could be the impetus to do so. When the spotlight is on him, it's now or never.

Now, if Maxwell, Chacin and Cowgill keep it going for a week or two, I'll obviously have to take notice, particularly if Duda and Quentin are off to slow starts, but for now, I'm content letting them go to someone else. I'm just not convinced the upside is there.

Kind of pulled back the reins there, didn't I? Again, the point wasn't to have you rip apart your roster on opening day, but to remind you that tuning out anything and everything going on this week is potentially as destructive. Even if I'm not acting yet, rest assured I'm watching. And I'm thinking. And when that right guy does that one thing that I know the masses won't be able to overlook, I'm pouncing.

Because in one of my leagues last year, I did get Dickey, Sale, Encarnacion and Craig, and safe to say the rest of the league paid the price.

I owe that championship not to brains, mathematical formulas or even my so-called drafting prowess, which stuck me with players like Daniel Hudson and Ricky Romero. No, what won me the league was a willingness to gamble on what no one else would.

Call it luck, if you will, but the only thing more reckless than relying on luck is not giving it a chance. If you knew now how little you know about the season ahead, you wouldn't turn down that lottery ticket so quickly.

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
David Buchanan will compete for one of two spots in Phillies' rotation
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(1:08 pm ET) Phillies starting pitcher David Buchanan said refininig his curveball has been a point of emphasis this offseason, as he prepares to compete for a spot in the rotation this spring, per The Philadelphia Inquirer.

“I had success with (my curveball) in certain games,” he said. “It started coming along there toward the end. But it’s definitely something that has a lot of work still to go. It’s definitely something I’m working on. It’s getting better, which is all I can ask for.”

There is two spots currently open in the rotation behind Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Aaron Harang. Buchanan, Jerome Williams and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez are considered the leading candidates for the openings in the rotation. 

“There’s going to be some competition,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week. “I think that’s the only way that you can get better is by creating competition. I can’t sit here and tell you today that David Buchanan’s going to be one of our guys in the rotation, but he absolutely is going to get an opportunity to pitch in spring training and be ready and compete for one of those spots.”


Santana fine after throwing bullpen session; winter-league status is TBD
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:55 am ET) Free agent starting pitcher Johan Santana threw a bullpen session Sunday and is said to be feeling fine, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. It is now up to his Venezuelan winter league team to decide if he will pitch for them in the finals.

Santana has been dealing with some shoulder discomfort, which has put his status for the remainder of the winter-league season in doubt. Santana is hoping to latch on with another major-league team after suffering a torn Achilles in June.

The Yankees, Padres and Blue Jays are among the teams showing interest in signing the former two-time AL Cy Young award winner.


Mariners planning on batting Smith, Ruggiano in second spot in lineup
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:31 am ET) Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he is tentatively planning to bat the right-field tandem of Seth Smith and Justin Ruggiano second in the lineup, per The New Tribune.

The Mariners ranked last in the majors last season in on-base percentage (.260) from their No. 2 hitters. No other team was lower than .279.

Smith had a .367 OBP last season for San Diego, while Ruggiano had a .337 OBP in 81 games for the Cubs.


Rays' Jake McGee plays catch for first time since elbow surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:25 am ET) The Rays announced Monday reliever Jake McGee played catch for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery in December. McGee is still expected to miss the start of the season.

Cardinals' Carpenter hoping to build off postseason power surge
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:17 am ET) Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter hit just eight home runs with a .375 slugging percentage during the 2014 regular season, but had a much better power swing in the postseason, belting four home runs and slugging .722 in nine games.

“I took a more of an aggressive approach in the postseason,” Carpenter said, per STLBaseballWeekly.com. “Part of that was from the experience that I had gathered the year before. After a long season, going into the playoffs I felt like I wasn’t as prepared as I felt like I could’ve been. It kind of snowballed and my approach and the way I took the regular season at-bat in the postseason it wasn’t playing out well.”

Carpenter said his postseason success could have a positive impact on his power numbers in 2015.

"Certainly, I’m always going to be a guy who’s patient at the plate, but that was a good learning experience for me -- being aggressive," he said. "I don’t remember the exact numbers but out of the four home runs I hit, I think three of them were on the first pitch. That’s something typically I don’t do a lot of, and it was a good learning experience.”


Tigers' Dombrowski expecting 'real big season' for Justin Verlander
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:48 am ET) Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander said last week this is the best he's felt physically approaching the start of spring training in at least three years.

Apparently, the optimism doesn't end with Verlander. Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski indicated the Tigers are expecting big things from Verlander in 2015 after he posted a 4.54 ERA in 2014, failing to make the All-Star team for the first time in six seasons.

"Justin Verlander is as prime a pitcher as there is in the game of baseball," Dombrowski said, per the Detroit Free Press. "Last year, he was not the traditional Justin. But when you look at what he came back from with the surgery, I think he's going to go out and have a real big season for us."


Sleep apnea almost caused Red Sox's Mike Napoli to retire
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) Dealing with sleep apnea almost caused Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli to retire prematurely from baseball, reports the Boston Globe.

"I couldn't do it anymore, feeling the way I was feeling," Napoli said. "I was like, 'I need to have the surgery or I'm not going play anymore.' That's how bad it was."

During the offseason, Napoli underwent facial reconstruction surgery to correct the condition, which was preventing him from getting a proper night of rest.

"It was a brutal process," Napoli said. "It was probably one of the worse things I've ever done."

With the surgery a success and Napoli recovered from losing weight due to a six-week liquid diet, Napoli is now sleeping better than he ever has.

Before the surgery, Napoli turned to medication, mouthpieces and a CPAP mask, but said those problems are now behind him.

"I wake up now and I'm ready to start my day," he said. "It's great."


Angels' Jered Weaver bulks up in effort to pitch deeper into games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:36 am ET) Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver has bulked up to 224 pounds, which is six pounds heavier than he has ever been, in an effort to pitch deeper into games in 2015, per the Los Angeles Times. Weaver dropped to as low as 199 pounds during the 2014 season.

“Numbers-wise, it was all right,” Weaver said of his 2014 season (18-9, 3.59 ERA). “But from a personal standpoint, me being ultra-competitive, I want to get deeper in games.

“The bullpen helped me a lot last year. I just want to gain some strength. I went on a different weight-lifting program last year, and it’s been paying off. I’m going to stick with it.”

The average velocity of Weaver’s fastball dipped to a career-low 86.3 mph last season. However, he said the added weight gain is more for endurance than velocity on his fastball. He averaged just over six innings per start last season and has just one complete game over the last two seasons after throwing seven complete games in 2011-12.

“I don’t care about velocity -- I just want to be stronger for the whole nine innings,” Weaver said. “If velocity comes along, so be it. I think I’ve shown I can pitch from 83 to 93 mph.”


Mariners' Austin Jackson looking to bounce back in 2015
by Sean d'Oliveira | CBSSports.com
(10:08 am ET) After being acquired by the Mariners at the trade deadline last season, outfielder Austin Jackson struggled to produce for the Mariners. In 54 games, Jackson hit .229 and Jackson said the trade affected his playing ability, reports The News Tribune.

"Not making excuses, but I think getting traded and trying to get used to the travel and the sleep - those things affect your play on the field," Jackson said.

By starting the season in Seattle, Jackson said he hopes to avoid the distractions from last season and he's looking to return to his old form.

"Hopefully, getting started here and staying here, those distractions won't be there," Jackson said.


White Sox OF Avisail Garcia dropped weight during offseason
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) White Sox outfielder Avisail Garcia dropped roughly 15 pounds during the offseason, according to MLB.com.

"I've been eating healthy, working real hard at the gym, Garcia said. "I have to be ready for spring training. I can't go there and be fat." With the weight loss, Garcia is hoping to keep his power potential. "I don't want to lose speed, I don't want to lose power," Garcia said. "I want to be in the middle. I know I can do a little bit of everything, so that's why I've been working really hard on speed, power, hitting and defense, so I can help my team win."

Garcia hit .244/.305/.413 over 172 at-bats last year.


 
 
 
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