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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
Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland won't play spring games until next week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland will run the bases on Tuesday, and won't seen any spring games until next week, according to the Star-Telegram. Texas is taking a cautious approach with Moreland in camp after he underwent ankle surgery last June.

The 29-year-old Moreland hit .246/.297/.347 over 167 at-bats last year.


Blue Jays' Gibbons yet to settle on closer, could use committee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Tuesday that while Brett Cecil has the ability to close, he might not serve as the team's closer, the National Post reports.

"He could do it. He might not. It might be somebody else," Gibbons said.

The manager also raised the possibility of using multiple closers.

"It could be one of those deals where one night he might be closing, the other night he might have to come in at the end of the seventh or eighth inning," Gibbons said.

Despite the face that Gibbons hasn't deemed Cecil his closer, he did praise his pitching ability Tuesday.

"He’s got some overpowering stuff," Gibbons said. "He’s a lefty and I don’t think there’s a better curveball out there. He can throw it for strikes, he can bring it down low in the zone and bounce it for a strikeout. That’s kind of his go-to pitch. He doesn’t rattle. He’s pretty confident and calm when he’s out there."

Cecil went 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 76:27 K:BB ratio and five saves in 53 1/3 innings in 2014. He owns a 11.1 career K/9 rate in relief.


White Sox's Geovany Soto feeling good at the start of spring games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) White Sox catcher Geovany Soto said he is feeling good after being limited to 78 games the last two seasons due to injuries. He missed time in 2014 because of arthroscopic surgery on his left foot and a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"I love where I'm at," Soto said, per The Chicago Tribune. "My legs feel great. My whole body feels great. I'm just anxious to get started and show these guys what I can do, hopefully stay healthy and break camp."


Dodgers' Mattingly: Hyun-Jin Ryu's (back) next step will be BP
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters that starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu came out of Monday's bullpen session "fine," and that his next step will likely be throwing batting practice, according to SB Nation.

Ryu is dealing with a back injury, but has been throwing the last couple of days without pain. At this point, Ryu remains without a timetable for his first spring game. He went 14-7 in 2014 with a 3.38 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 152 innings pitched last season.


Hinch: Astros 'likely' to use seven-man bullpen in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Astros manager A.J. Hinch indicated that the team is likely to use a seven-man bullpen this season, leaving two spots open for competition this spring, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"Likely," Hinch said of a seven-man bullpen. "There’s always a chance that (changes) depending on how the schedule plays out, and there’s always a debate on how many pitchers to carry during interleague. Now interleague is pretty much year round, so I mean, in a perfect world with our roster, it’s likely to carry a seven-man ‘pen. If we feel like we need an extra pitcher or injury happens, there’s different ways to shape our roster, then we will, but likely 12."

The two open spots will likely be filled by a left-handed pitcher and a long reliever. The competition for the second lefty in the pen likely comes down to Kevin Chapman and nonroster invitees Joe Thatcher and Darin Downs. The long relief role has a broader list of candidates, including Alex White and Asher Wojciechowski, who will prepare both as starters and relievers.

"We’re going to stretch out a lot of our guys," Hinch said. "Some of them are because they’re competing in that fifth starter spot, some of them are bullpen guys. Will Harris is going to throw multiple innings. Obviously (Sam) Deduno has been a starter in the past, he’s in a competition for the fifth man spot. Wojo, White, those guys are going to need to, going to plan for the season on both fronts, whether it’s a starter or reliever. But we’re preaching multiple innings. It’s important if you have a seven-man bullpen that you have a couple of guys that can get four, five, six outs if needed and be a bridge to the rest of the bullpen."


Rangers' Tolleson: 'I'd like to be that bridge' between starters, closers
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson told reporters he would like to become the link between the starting rotation and back-end relievers Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz this season, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I would like to be that bridge," Tolleson said.

Tolleson led the club with 71 2/3 innings of relief last season. He pitched more than one inning 20 times and held left-handed hitters to a .282 on-base percentage.

"He's got the skill set to be one of those that we use in the latter portions of the game," manager Jeff Banister said. "He seems to love the competition."


Nationals faced with tough decision regarding Michael Taylor
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:10 pm ET) The Nationals are faced with a tough decision when it comes to outfield prospect Michael Taylor, who appears to be on the cusp of being ready for a regular role at the major-league level.

A major issue is playing time since the Nationals have a starting outfield of Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Denard Span. Taylor would be a solid fourth outfielder, but having him coming off the bench is not ideal for his development.

“It’s the same age-old decision that must be made regarding guys that are just on the cusp of being big-league ready and everyday players,” manager Matt Williams said, per NatsInsider.com. “And a question of depth on your team, too. … It’s a question of depth on your team, it’s a question of how much playing time they’re really going to get, and are they better served staying in the minor leagues and getting those at-bats until their opportunity arises. But Mike’s close. He’s really close.”


Nationals' Aaron Barrett: 'I'm ready for a full season'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Aaron Barrett worked on strengthening his shoulder and legs in the offseason to improve his longevity throughout the entire season. Barrett admitted he wasn't used to a full major-league schedule, which contributed to him feeling "tired" in the middle of his rookie season.

"I'm ready for a full season," Barrett said. "Last year was a long season for me. It was my first year up. I had a lot of appearances, a lot of warm-ups and stuff like that. I think that is part of the process of coming up and working on that. I did as much training as I possibly could for this year."


Daniel Descalso brings versatility, playoff experience to Rockies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) Rockies infielder Daniel Descalso is ready to fill the role of versatile veteran who can play second base, third base or shortstop as needed, the Denver Post reports.

"I'll be ready for whatever comes my way," Descalso said Monday. "It's been a while since I've played just one position for any length of time, so I've worked hard to reach a comfort level at all three spots. I have an idea of what it takes to stay sharp."

Another factor that piqued the interest of the Rockies this offseason was his postseason experience, as he has played in 44 postseason games and won one championship.

"All of that factored in quite a bit," manager Walt Weiss said. "I think we sometimes underestimate the value of that — guys that have played in big games, pennant races, and have won a World Series. Those types of players are valuable, and that's a big reason why we brought Danny in here."

Descalso has made 110 starts at second base, 91 at third base and 88 at shortstop in his five-year career, seeing at least 100 appearances at all three poitions. He hit .242/.333/.311 in 161 at-bats last year with the Cardinals.


Francona: Jason Kipnis likely to make spring debut this weekend
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:02 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday second baseman Jason Kipnis (hand) will likely make his spring debut this weekend, per MLB.com.

 
 
 
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