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Reality Check: Being proactive about Profar

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's the epitome of a no-brainer move. When the consensus No. 1 overall prospect entering the season is awarded a starting job in the majors, you add him in Fantasy.

And yet owners in 25 percent of leagues have said, "Why bother?"

Why bother when the player he's replacing has as much job security as any second baseman in the game?

Why bother when that player is expected to spend only a couple weeks on the DL with an intercostal strain?

Why bother if Jurickson Profar is sure to return to the minors before he even has a chance to get comfortable?

Why? Because you just never know.

You may think you know. You may even pretend to know, like we "experts" are required to do. He's good. He's bad. I like him. I don't like him. In the black-and-white world of Fantasy prognostication, there is no room for "I don't know."

But you know what? I don't know. And frankly, neither do you.

For all you know, one of Ian Kinsler's injury-prone teammates -- be it Lance Berkman, Nelson Cruz or Adrian Beltre -- will go down in the meantime, granting Profar an extended stay in the majors.

For all you know, Profar will put up Jean Segura numbers right away, forcing the Rangers to find creative ways to keep him around, such as moving Mitch Moreland back to the outfield.

For all you know, Kinsler's intercostal strain -- an injury without a definite timetable -- will continue to nag the veteran second baseman beyond the initial two weeks, allowing even more time for one of those first two scenarios to come true.

For all you know, Profar will perform like a top-five second baseman the rest of the way.

To some people, prognostication is the appeal of Fantasy Baseball. They use it as a vehicle to show what they know, proving to friends and acquaintances that they should be in a front office somewhere instead of unfairly confined to something as bourgeois as accounting or pizza delivery.

At its core, though, Fantasy Baseball is a game of managing variables -- some more predictable than others. The most successful participants separate what they know from what they don't and work within the constructs of each.

So then, you can only benefit from acknowledging your limitations, from recognizing that you can't predict the future and admitting that your guesses, well-reasoned as they may be, are often wrong.

If you came across a variable you didn't know in any other game, would you just guess and hope for the best?

Of course not. You'd cover your dang butt.

In Monopoly, if rolling a three would land you on Boardwalk with three houses, putting you at risk of bankruptcy, would you choose then to build houses on your own properties? Three is an unlikely roll, statistically speaking, but because it's within the realm of possibility, you probably wouldn't.

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Never made it that far in Monopoly? Thought those little green houses were only meant to deter you from walking around the house barefoot a full two weeks after playing?

Maybe poker is more your speed, then. Ever bet before the river in Texas hold 'em? Most of the time, you have to. You don't know what that last card will be, but weighing the probability of what it could be vs. the risk of what you could lose vs. the reward of what you could gain, you act.

The same is true in Fantasy Baseball. Your baseball knowledge may give you some insight into what the ultimate outcome will be, but in the end, it's still a roll of the dice.

Profar is just the latest and most promising in a class of speculative pickups. The ultimate acknowledgement of "you just never know," a speculative pickup often proves to be a waste of a roster spot, but in those rare cases it isn't, the payoff more than makes up for the cost.

Now that he's back in the minors, Tony Cingrani belongs to that class. He doesn't have a clear path to the majors, but either a Mike Leake implosion or an injury to another member of the Reds starting rotation is plausible enough to make him worth rostering in most leagues, especially since we already know he's capable of succeeding at the major-league level.

Of course, not every speculative pickup is worth it to everyone. To me, Wil Myers, who's clearly next in line for a team that can already fit him into the lineup, is much more deserving of a roster spot than Yasiel Puig, whose arrival hinges on both an injury to Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier and the Dodgers' willingness to promote him directly from Double-A. Still, both stashes have some merit.

And really, every stash deserves that level of scrutiny. While a bench serves many purposes in Fantasy, such as providing you with a reserve pool for playing matchups or safeguarding against injuries, its primary function is to help you protect the players you don't want anyone else to have.

Typically, the players most worth protecting are the ones who could make the biggest impact for your Fantasy team. Sometimes they already have regular jobs in the majors, but sometimes they don't. If you're rostering Zack Cozart when the highly comparable Stephen Drew is available on waivers, what exactly are you protecting?

Matt Adams. Drew Smyly. Christian Yelich. Kenley Jansen. Yasmani Grandal. Zack Wheeler. You can justify rostering any of them if the next best use of that roster spot is a replacement-level player.

But right now, Profar is the priority. He's already here, and he clearly has the talent to succeed. Though hardly a finished product at age 20, he has all the tools of a Fantasy standout, right down to the exceptional plate discipline.

And right now, people like me are writing hundreds upon hundreds of words about him all over the Internet, so if you don't act, one of your competitors will. And if the unlikely comes to pass and Profar sticks around long enough to revolutionize the second base position in Fantasy, you'll wonder why you thought Dan Haren, Dan Straily, Dan Uggla or Danny Espinosa was so worth protecting.

With each speculative pickup, you have to weigh the cost, and maybe on the trade market, an established contributor like Matt Carpenter or Josh Rutledge would cause me to back off Profar.

But as a waiver claim, it's no contest. The cost of the worst player on my roster is well within my budget.

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
Royals secure waivers and assign pair to Triple-A
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:20 pm ET) The Royals have secured outright waivers on outfielder Moises Sierra and right-hander Casey Coleman, both of whom have been assigned to Triple-A Omaha. Coleman can reject the assignment and become a free agent.

Yankees 1B Jones trying not to 'drool' over short porch
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(1:09 pm ET) Yankees recently acquired first baseman/designated hitter Garrett Jones anticipates getting plenty of action for his new team.

Jones added in an interview with MLB Network Radio that "you start drooling as a power guy" over the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium, but that he does not want to alter his approach at the plate.

His power numbers have decreased over the last two seasons. Jones slugged 30 home runs in 899 at-bats in 2013 and 2014 combined after mashing 27 in 475 at-bats in 2012.


Twins make it official: Hughes in the fold for three years
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) What was reported is now official - the Twins have announced that they have signed a three-year contract extension with right-hander and 2014 standout Phil Hughes for $42 million.

Hughes thrived away from Yankee Stadium, where he yielded 59 home runs in 2012 and 2013 combined. Pitching in more spacious Target Field, he allowed just 16 dingers last season and finished 16-20 with a 3.52 ERA.

>> Want more Hot Stove? Free agent tracker | Trade tracker


Report: Nationals sign reliever Heath Bell
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(12:08 pm ET) The Nationals have signed former standout closer Heath Bell to a minor league contract, a source has told MLBDailyDish.com.

Bell was released by the Yankees in June, though he did not pitch for them at the major league level. He stumbled along with a 7.27 ERA earlier in the season with Tampa Bay.

>> Want more Hot Stove? Free agent tracker | Trade tracker


Report: Padres planning to keep Wil Myers
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) The Padres have no intention of dealing away recently acquired outfielder Wil Myers, sources within the organization have told the San Diego Union-Tribune, which has conceded that mindset could change.

Reports have Myers being included in trade talks with Philadelphia involving pitcher Cole Hamels.

The Padres are planning to have Myers start the season in center field, flanked by more ballyhooed offseason acquisitions Matt Kemp and Justin Upton.

>> Want more Hot Stove? Free agent tracker | Trade tracker


Yankees brass praises rookie second basemen
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:43 am ET) Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has indicated that rookies Robert Refsnyder and Jose Pirela might have the inside track on the starting second base job in 2015.

Free agents such as Stephen Drew and Asdrubal Cabrera could be more palatable options in teaming up with inexperienced shortstop Didi Gregorius as a double play combination. But Cashman is certainly open to starting the year with Refsnyder or Pirela.

Cashman is high on Refsnyder, who hit .318 with 14 home runs at the Double-A and Triple-A levels last season, though he admits he hasn't seen much of him. "I know that in half a year he had nine errors in Double-A and in the seocnd half, in Triple-A, he had only three," Cashman told NJ.com. "So there's obviously a lot of improvement there. ... Very excited about his bat and his ability to get on base and do some things."

Meanwhile, Joe Girardi has spoken highly of Pirela, who batted .333 in 24 at-bats for the Yankees after his September promotion.

"He made every type of play: a slow roller, a ball to hisright, a ball to his left, a turn-and-throw play and a tag play at second," Girardi said.

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Yankees have inquired about Rockies SS Tulowitzki
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:20 am ET) The Yankees have thrown their hat in the ring in the pursuit of Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman has reported.

Tulowitzki is open to a trade to a contender and the Yankees have a significant need at shortstop. But it remains to be seen how committed Colorado is to dealing him.

>> Want more Hot Stove? Free agent tracker | Trade tracker


Phil Hughes agrees to three-year, $42 million extension with Twins
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:11 am ET) Phil Hughes has agreed to a three-year, $42 million extension with the Twins on Monday, CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman confirms.

Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News first reported the extension.

The extension supersedes the final two years of his contract, essentially giving the right-handed hurler a new five-year extension. He is slated to earn $9.2 million in each of the next two seasons, then make $13.2 million in each of the following three seasons between 2017-19.

Hughes made 32 starts last season and went 16-10 with a 3.52 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP and 186:16 K:BB ratio over 209 2/3 innings.

>> Want more Hot Stove? Free agent tracker | Trade tracker


Report: Padres have discussed Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/21/2014) The Padres have discussed a trade for Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, according to the Daily News

Newly-acquired outfielder Wil Myers would be used as the centerpiece in the deal. By bringing in Myers, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton, San Diego has a glut of talent in the outfield. While it seems strange that the team would turn around and deal Myers, he would be the type of talent the Phillies are said to be seeking for Hamels. Philadelphia reportedly wants two or three "premium" prospects for Hamels. 

The 30-year-old Hamels posted a 2.46 ERA over 204 2/3 innings last season. He's owed $90 million over the next four seasons. 


Scott Boras: Matt Wieters will be ready by opening day
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12/21/2014) Orioles catcher Matt Wieters will be ready by opening day, according to his agent, Scott Boras. 

Wieters underwent Tommy John surgery is June, and is working his way back from the injury. It's unclear if Wieters will be able to catch full-time at the beginning of the year, or if he'll have to be worked in slowly. Manager Buck Showalter recently told reporters he wasn't sure Wieters would be ready by opening day, but he expected him to good shortly after. Wieters hit .308/.339/.500 over 104 at-bats before having surgery. 


 
 
 
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