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Waiver Wire: Rewards other than Tony

Senior Fantasy Writer
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Let's just take a minute to try and unravel "The Great Evan Gattis Conundrum of 2013."

Gattis has a very big bat. And he's proven his worth to the team by producing a 0.89 Catcher ERA, which beats the next-best cERA (2.85, A.J. Pierzynski) by almost two full runs. But there is a problem, and it will rear its ugly head at some point in the next month: Gattis is going to be stuck for playing time.

Owned in 84 percent of leagues, Gattis is a solid play for the next few weeks, especially with Brian McCann, the would-be Braves starting catcher, now experiencing some wrist soreness as he comes back from shoulder surgery. It's probably not serious enough to set back McCann too much, but it does buy Gattis owners some time to squeeze as much value as possible from their unlikely Fantasy contributor.

But what happens when McCann returns? Will they split time? (Maybe.) Will Gattis work his way around the diamond -- he's played first base and the outfield in the minors -- to get his bat in the lineup? (More likely.) Will the Braves deal their long-time catcher as soon as they can -- say, to the Yankees? -- as he's in the last year of his contract and could be lost this winter anyway? (Probably not, but you never know.)

The larger, more immediate problem, though, is how to value Gattis in a possible trade. Do you go the pessimistic path and sell high on Gattis, hoping that your trading partner is a believer who sees him supplanting McCann and playing 140 games? Or are you that optimistic owner looking to buy low, hoping that the Gattis owner sees him having an expiration date? It's a tough call. If somebody offered me Evan Gattis for my Everth Cabrera in a Roto league, I'd have to think. How bad is my second catcher? Who else do I have up the middle? Can I slot Gattis in the outfield if he's going to get regular at-bats? Will he play past Memorial Day??

Because I love power bats and taking gambles on players who can really make a season-long difference, I just might accept that trade and hope for the best (and then go out looking for cheap steals). But at the end of the year, I think there will be a clear winner and loser with the Gattis/Cabrera deal -- we just have no way of telling who it will be right now.

The Big Leaps

Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds (67 percent ownership, up from 14 percent)

Part of the reason the Reds felt so confident going with Aroldis Chapman as their closer instead of fifth starter was the presence of Tony Cingrani, a 23-year-old lefty who has been absolutely dominant in his young career. In 211 2/3 minor league innings, Cingrani has a 1.62 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, with 278 strikeouts. Through three Triple-A starts this season, he's allowed three total hits. In five innings last year with the Reds, Cingrani struck out nine and allowed a run. This isn't a Trevor Bauer-type case, where he's putting up mostly-stellar numbers, but still walks a lot of batters. Cingrani is dominant all around, like a young Mat Latos, but with lower ratios and more strikeouts.

Most Added Players (as of 4/18)
Player Name % change
1. Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds 49
2. Evan Gattis, C, Braves 47
3. Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants 37
4. Andrew Bailey, RP, Red Sox 36
5. Patrick Corbin, SP, D-Backs 29
6. Chris Carter, OF, Astros 26
7. Jake Westbrook, SP, Cardinals 26
8. John Buck, C, Mets 25
9. Jose Quintana, SP, White Sox 24
10. Carlos Villanueva, SP, Cubs 24

And while Johnny Cueto could be back in about two weeks, Cingrani could stick around after his return, instead supplanting Mike Leake, who has two bad starts and one good one in his first three and is coming off a down 2012, in which he had a 4.58 ERA. In fact, Leake's presence in the bullpen could help keep Cingrani's innings down, as he could work in long relief after Cingrani pitches five or six innings (which could then lead to Jonathan Broxton and Chapman for the end game). [Side note: this Chapman-to-the-bullpen "surprise" at the end of spring training is looking more and more like it was Cincinnati's plan all along, with this moment in mind, no?]

I tend to take the side of "let's not get too excited about the rookie coming up," but Cingrani -- like Latos and Stephen Strasburg -- is a rare exception. He's supremely talented and has a clear path to sticking around in the rotation.I'm adding him in every league I can.

Chances he has impact beyond June: 40 percent
Over/under on K/9 (season): 8.5
Over/under on ERA (season): 2.99
Over/under on starts (season): 20

Brandon Crawford, SS, Giants (39 percent, up from seven)

Brandon Crawford entered 2013 with a career .235 average, seven total home runs, and two steals over 631 at-bats. So far this season, he's hitting .304 with two home runs and three doubles. His minor league numbers don't really suggest he can sustain this, as he carried a .266 average in four seasons, only once hitting double-digits in home runs and steals. But, then again, neither did Pete Kozma's, and he's proven to be far better than his minor league numbers suggested. Plus, Crawford is just 26, and has yet to hit his peak.

The main reason for Crawford's jump in popularity -- and this is an educated guess -- is the injury to Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes. In deeper leagues, Crawford would be the first shortstop popping up in free agent searches for average, home runs and Fantasy points. And there's really nothing wrong with adding Crawford while he's hot. But when the cool down occurs, Reyes will likely still be shelved, leaving Crawford owners scrambling for replacements from a relatively thin wire.

So here's someone to consider: Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, who has shortstop eligibility carrying over from last year. Dozier is hitting .333 with a .500 OBP in his last three games (yes, I realize this is a small sample size), and hit leadoff for Minnesota on Tuesday. While his 2012 totals weren't pretty, Dozier has proven to be a solid defender, and had some very nice minor league numbers -- hitting .298 over four seasons and twice going over 15 steals. His .779 minor league OPS bests Crawford's .734, and Dozier was playing in far less hitter-friendly environments.

You want to root for the Olive Garden-loving Crawford (more details on that below), but it might not be a bad idea to have some other options ready, as there's a good chance he won't keep the average and home runs up the rest of the year. Again, it's fine to add Crawford while he's hot, but be prepared for alternate scenarios if/when he drops off.

Over/under on average (season): .255
Over/under on ownership percentage on May 31: 25 percent
Why you really, really want to root for him: The Brandon and Brandon blog. As Brandon Belt would say, "All kinds of awesome."

Unadvised Drop of the Week

Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox (58 percent, down from 68 percent)

Viciedo is not having what we would call a strong start to the season, with a .190 average, two home runs, and 14 strikeouts (with no walks) through 42 at-bats.

But he does have a few things going for him. Last season, Viciedo had a mini-breakout, hitting 25 home runs in 505 at-bats, with a .255 average. This came after two consecutive minor league seasons of 20 home runs in the pitcher-friendly International League.

Viciedo's BABIP last year was a below-average .286. So far this year, it sits at .231. In the minors, Viciedo's BABIP never went below .302. He's also hitting more fly balls this season than last, which works when you're playing in the cozy confines of U.S. Cellular (where Viciedo has hit both of his home runs this year), but not so much in some of the more cavernous road venues. It may also help to point to Viciedo's slow start last year, as he hit just .206 in March and April. He followed that with eight home runs in May, with a .351 average and .995 OPS.

Bench him if you'd like, but dropping Viciedo now may end up with you scrambling to add him again in a few weeks, if not sooner. The 24-year-old will eventually heat up, and a power barrage will come with it.

Over/under on home runs (season): 30
Over/under on batting average (season): .265

The Flavors of Next Week

Nate Schierholtz, OF, Cubs (29 percent ownership)

I'm not sure there are many people out there higher on Nate Schierholtz than me. But I know one of them is Jed Hoyer, GM of the Cubs. When the team signed Schierholtz, he pointed out that the 29-year-old had never really gotten regular playing time and had been stuck playing in San Francisco's cavernous park -- as well as the other large parks in the National League West -- for most of his career. "He's played in the NL West," Hoyer told MLB.com's Carrie Muskat, "and playing 100 games that are tough hitters ballparks."

Not only that, but Schierholtz -- whose career high in home runs is nine -- actually showed some nice power in the minor leagues, with five straight seasons of 14 or more home runs -- from 2004 to 2008 -- while getting 500 at-bats just once in that span. With Schierholtz now playing nearly every day for the Cubs, he not only has a chance to show what he can do with regular playing time, but gets to play half of his games in hitter-friendly Wrigley Field. And his current rate of one home run every 18 at-bats could improve as the weather gets nicer and Schierholtz warms up.

He won't hit .361 on the season, but Schierholtz does have some nice potential for 2013, and will probably continue to see a rise in ownership as more Fantasy players take note of his quietly productive ways in Chicago.

Over/under on at-bats (season): 500
Over/under on home runs (season): 24.5

Edward Mujica, RP, Cardinals (17 percent)

The explanation behind this one is pretty simple: the St. Louis bullpen is a mess right now, and Mujica is probably the steadiest option the team has. He won't dazzle with strikeouts and won't overpower anyone with his 92 mph fastball, but Jim Johnson -- a year older than Mujica -- had 51 saves last year with little more (although his off-speed pitches are better).

Mitchell Boggs keeps blowing saves and Trevor Rosenthal has an electric arm but has been inefficient (and is a future starter). That leaves everyone looking at Mujica, who has a 2.95 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in his last three seasons. He has the makeup where he won't strikeout the side, but he also won't give up two runs on two hits and a walk. And with a volatile back-end of the bullpen this year, Mujica may be the safest bet to go in and close out games.

Over/under on saves (season): 9.5
Chance he gets the next two saves for the Cardinals: 15 percent
Relievers I would drop for Mujica: Kelvin Herrera, Mitchell Boggs, David Robertson

American League-only fun

Jason Giambi, DH, Indians (Zero percent)

This isn't going to be the most ringing of endorsements, but with Michael Bourn on the DL, it seems likely that Drew Stubbs will play center, leaving Jason Giambi to start a decent amount at DH. There are other scenarios that will likely see Giambi on the bench -- Ryan Raburn playing a corner and Michael Brantley going to center, for instance -- but it looks like Giambi could get a decent amount of at-bats while Bourn is out. He recorded his first hit, homer and RBI Wednesday night with a bomb off Alfredo Aceves while starting at DH.

At 42 years old, Giambi is not the same slugger as years past, but he did manage 13 home runs a couple years ago with the Rockies, and ... well ... that's all we can really pin on him, objectively. Subjectively, though, Giambi has nothing to lose, and the team has already kind of tipped their hand at embracing free-swingers when they brought in Mark Reynolds and Stubbs (two players who once led their respective leagues in strikeouts) this offseason. So it's not like Giambi will get punished for taking some big hacks at home runs. This is a move for a very deep league. But if you've been dealing with injury and the top options on your wire include Brayan Pena and the recently-demoted Jose Iglesias (these leagues exist), Giambi may be a decent gamble for some power.

Over/under on home runs (season): Six
Over/under on home runs (next 15 days): Three

National League-only fun

Kevin Gregg, RP, Cubs (One percent)

I've been Carlos Marmol's biggest cheerleader this year, so this Kevin Gregg call comes with a caveat -- you should probably already own Marmol. But if someone else has him, or you just can't stomach the add -- fine. I can't force it on anyone. Owning Carlos Marmol is the Fantasy equivalent of liking liverwurst. I happen to enjoy both, but nobody else I know does.

Gregg is attractive because he averaged 29 saves from 2007 to 2011. With the Cubs bullpen suffering various injuries, implosions, and Marmols, Gregg instantly becomes the steadiest option at the back end. Weird things happen with closer decisions. While Dale Sveum told the Chicago Tribune that Marmol is " working his way back into" the closer's role, he also mentioned the committee approach a few times, and intimated (at least I think he intimated) that Gregg would find his way into the committee mix.

So to review: a bullpen in flux, a closer with 144 career saves (the eighth-most among all active pitchers) joins the staff, and he's only owned in one percent of leagues. Gregg, like Mujica, may not be the prettiest of options, but he's definitely worth a spot on a team desperately in need of saves.

Over/under on saves (season): 13
Asterisk on that over/under: he's going to end up either way above or way below that number
Chances he is the Cubs' closer at the All-Star break: 30 percent

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
Red Sox closer Koji Uehara not utilizing fastball this season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:02 am ET) Red Sox closer Koji Uehara has been throwing an unusual amount of offspeed pitches to start the season. Uehara has thrown fastballs on just 15 percent of his pitches this season, compared to 50 percent over the last three years, according to the Boston Herald.

Manager John Farrell isn't reading too much into it.

"He's going to go with what he feels," Farrell said. "Every 3 mph is about a foot distance in traveling to home plate. So there's a little bit different reaction time. But regardless of velocity there still needs to be the use of (the fastball) just to create separation between his fastball and his split."

Uehara is 1-1 so far this season with a 4.15 ERA and three saves in 4 1/3 innings.


White Sox send reliever Daniel Webb back to Triple-A
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) White Sox reliever Daniel Webb , who was called up Sunday as the 26th man for the team's doubleheader against the Royals, was sent back down to Triple-A Charlotte after the game. 

Webb pitched in 57 games last season for the White Sox but was one of the team's final cuts in spring training. 


Diamondbacks struggling to fill in void at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale knew his team wasn't going to go the entire season without an injury. But the skipper was hoping to avoid the issue he currently has at third base, according to AZCentral.com.

With Jake Lamb on the disabled list with a foot injury, Aaron Hill and Yasmany Tomas have struggled to put it together, combining for a .559 OPS in the last five games.

"Yeah, that's huge," Hale said. "You're going to have injuries all year. There's going to be a multitude of them for every team. If you can't make the adjustment — if guys can't come in and fill the void — then you're going to be in trouble as a club."

Tomas is hitting .286 in 14 at-bats this season while Hill is scuffling along at .156 in 45 at-bats.


Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allows seven runs in rehab start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Phillies pitcher Chad Billingsley allowed seven runs in five innings of work in his third rehab start in Triple-A Lehigh Valley, according to Philly.com.

Billingsley, who is currently on the 15-day DL with an elbow injury, added three strikeouts and two walks in the appearance. He has yet to appear in a major league game since 2013 while dealing with multiple elbow injuries.


Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez still working out of funk
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has yet to put things together at the plate so far this season. Gonzalez is hitting just .197 with two home runs in 66 at-bats and it's wearing on him a bit, according to the Denver Post.

"I'm not in a good place. I'm still hitting (.197)," he said. "But I'm happy that I'm healthy, and that I'm playing, and that we are winning. I think we are having a good month so far as a team."

Manager Walt Weiss thinks he's really close to seeing Gonzalez get all the pieces together and go on a run.

"I saw real good signs from CarGo, hitting the ball hard the opposite way," Weiss said. "It wasn't just the couple of hits he got. It was the way he got them. Those are things that he had been working on. Then, to get results like that, is always encouraging."

Report: Josh Hamilton trade expected to be completed Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) The trade of outfielder Josh Hamilton from the Angels to the Rangers is expected to be completed Monday, with Hamilton then reporting to Texas' spring training site in Arizona to continue his rehab from offseason surgery, per MLB.com. 

The trade was rumored to have been completed Sunday, but complications arose in finalizing the deal. The Rangers are expected to hold a press conference announcing the trade on Monday. Hamilton is expected to play several games in Triple-A before being called up to the Rangers. 


Dodgers' Jimmy Rollins not concerned with early slump at the plate
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins isn't worrying just yet about his struggles at the plate, according to the Orange County Register.

"Well, some people like to panic. That has never been my MO," he said. "I have, what, 50, 60 at-bats, I'm not sure. So if these are my worst 50 at-bats this year – I'm glad they're happening now. (If they are his worst at-bats) it’s going to be a very good year."

Rollins is hitting just .186 in 70 at-bats so far this season. He believes he's still been taking good swings at the plate, just not finding the gaps in the defense.

"It's hard to compute if you just look at numbers," he said. "I'm getting myself in good counts, just not finishing it off. I know it's coming. I'm hitting some off the end, some are getting in just a little bit. But the swing path is right. It's just a click here, a click there.

"The process is good. You have to continue to trust in the process and believe in the process. You get oriented in just results – especially at times like this – then you're trying to make all these technical changes and that's when you go from one to two to 100. So the process is right. Executing it is about fine-tuning."


Angels OF Matt Joyce hopes hit signals end of slump
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Angels outfielder Matt Joyce saw his eight-game hitless streak come to an end Sunday with an eighth-inning single that ended an 0-for-26 skid. The right fielder, who figures to be a fixture in Los Angeles' lineup with the expected departure of Josh Hamilton, said he hopes the small start will lead to bigger things, according to the Los Angeles Times

"Sometimes it's a tough game," Joyce said. "It seems like you try everything, and you put in so much time and effort and work, it gets to be frustrating. It gets to be hard to swallow and accept it, and hard to keep showing up and grinding it out."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia said he will continue to stick with Joyce, who is hitting just .140 on the season. 


Mets starter Jonathon Niese struggles vs. Yankees
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(4/26/2015) Mets starter Jonathon Niese was not sharp Sunday in the finale of the Subway Series against the Yankees, lasting just five innings while allowing six runs and eight hits. Niese was betrayed somewhat by his defense, which committed four errors behind him, leading to two unearned runs. 

Niese was spotted a 2-0 first-inning lead, but he quickly gave it back, allowing a first-inning homer to Alex Rodriguez and then giving up four second-inning runs as the Yankees broke the game open. 

"You can't look into it too deeply," Niese said to MLB.com. "It's a loss. It's a tough loss. Obviously we want to win, but we've just got to get through it, learn from it, move on and play better."

Niese, who threw 86 pitches, saw his ERA rise to 2.74 in absorbing his first loss of the season. 

"I just wish I could have a couple pitches back," Niese said. "But I threw them. The results were what they were. I've just got to move on."

Niese will look to get back on track Saturday against the Nationals.


Nationals considering keeping Yunel Escobar at third base
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4/26/2015) Nationals manager Matt Williams will have a decision to make when his regular third baseman Anthony Rendon comes back from injury. With Rendon on the shelf, Yunel Escobar has shifted to third and Williams is considering leaving him there even after Rendon returns, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The team is unsure yet what will happen when Rendon returns, but one theory has Escobar staying at third and Rendon shifting to second base, according to Heyman.

Escobar is hitting .292 with five RBI in 65 at-bats while slotted at third base.


 
 
 
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