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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
Brewers' Khris Davis to work on being a patient hitter in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Brewers outfielder Khris Davis realizes he didn't show patience at the plate last year in his first full major-league season, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

"I built a reputation in the organization of being a patient hitter," Davis said. "I felt like I wasn't a patient hitter at all last year. I was a little eager, wanting to please too much, too early. I found out I'm human."

Davis drew just 32 walks in 549 plate appearances while posting a .299 OBP in 2014, a number far away from his career .392 OBP in the minors.

"He was different last year," manager Ron Roenicke said. "Everybody goes through different phases. Guys change. (His walk total) was too low. He's a guy I think should be fairly patient. He sees pitches well. When he starts getting anxious, he becomes more aggressive and chases more. He realizes it, which is the first step. If you don't realize it and don't listen to other people when they tell you that, then you have issues. You have to have good self-awareness to be a good player. Sometimes these players don't have good self-awareness. But if they had better self-awareness they'd be a better player."

Davis is determined to fulfill the potential that caused the organization to move Ryan Braun to right field before the 2014 season and plug Davis into the regular left-field role.

"I can't thank them enough for having patience with me," Davis said. "I'm going to work it out. When you get here, you want to stay. That's the toughest part at first. I don't think this league has seen the best of me yet. I'm ready to pull that out and prove it day by day. I learned so many lessons there are too many to name."

Davis hit .244/.299/.457 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI in 501 at-bats.


Indians' Francona keeping a close eye on Giovanny Urshela
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Indians manager Terry Francona has been keeping a close eye on third-base prospect Giovanny Urshela, who was only recently cleared for a full range of activities after tweaking his knee during winter ball, MLB.com reports.

"He has a tremendous reputation of being a really good defender," Francona said. "I think I've been more wanting to watch his gait, just to make sure he's not favoring that leg. He promised us that, if he was, he'd let us know, but I also know he's a young kid in his first major-league camp."

Urshela suffered the injury on Nov. 15 and has rehabbed the injured knee at the team's spring-training facility in Goodyear, Ariz.

"He's worked really hard to get himself to where he can go through a normal spring," said Indians' director of player development Carter Hawkins. "We're very excited about the spot he's in right now, given the possible outcomes of the injury."

Urshela saw his first action at the Triple-A level in 2014, hitting .276/.331/.473 with 13 home runs and 65 RBI in 395 at-bats with Columbus.


Reds' Brennan Boesch to see time at first base this spring
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Reds manager Bryan Price indicated Friday that outfielder Brennan Boesch would see time at all three outfield spots as well as at first base as he competes for a roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

"We already know he's a terrific player," Price said of Boesch, who has never played first base professionally. "He kind of got banged up and lost his way a little bit, but I think he feels -- and we feel -- that he's back on top of his game, and maybe his best days are ahead of him."

Boesch said he doesn't see the battle for a reserve outfield role as a "competition."

"I only care about the competition against the pitcher, and that's really as basic as I keep it," Boesch said. "You aren't competing against other players. We're all on the same side here. We're all wearing Red jerseys. Let the chips fall where they may."

Boesch struggled in limited time with the Angels in 2014 but hit .332/.381/.636 with 25 home runs, 85 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 374 at-bats with Triple-A Salt Lake.


Dodgers' Mattingly: Turner has 'put a lot of time in and it shows'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Dodgers infielder Justin Turner earned a nonroster invitation to the team's camp last year and ended up leading the team in batting average, and he's been working on his body like a fiend over the winter, MLB.com reports.

"Going into last year, we felt if he played every day, he'd get in trouble, and we found that out, but this year maybe he can handle more," manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "He's really been diligent about his work, been at Dodger Stadium almost daily. He's put a lot of time in and it shows."

Turner credited strength-and-conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel for his workout success.

"Brandon did everything. He's been a one-man wrecking crew," said Turner. "He and his family deserve the credit. I've been able to establish a routine and train consistently. Before I signed a year ago, I was on my own, going to 24 Hour Fitness, had to coordinate everything myself."

Turner added that he lost 18 pounds this winter through a healthier diet. Mattingly said that he intends to use the infielder at the corner-infield positions and also potentially up the middle.


Nationals' Matt Skole: 'I'm eating healthy and working hard'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Nationals first baseman Matt Skole missed most of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and struggled at the plate in 2014 but showed up to camp in better shape and will look to rebound in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"This offseason, I had a little more time to work on my body," Skole said. "I really got after it in the weight room. I ate right. I ate healthy. I think that was probably the biggest difference for me. I'm about the same weight as I was. I just leaned out a little bit. I'm eating healthy and working hard."

Skole worked with hitting coordinator Troy Gingrich for a month after the season and learned to keep his hands up in order to hit the ball consistently after having his hands too low during his down 2014 season.

"After taking a year off, it was more difficult than I thought it would be," the left-handed-swinging Skole said. "But coming back, I turned some corners, made some strides as far as getting to know myself as a player and know the things I need to fix. I think everything I did last year was a stepping stone for this year."

Skole hit .241/.352/.399 with 14 home runs and 68 RBI in 461 at-bats with Double-A Harrisburg last season.


Report: Dodgers sign center fielder Travis Witherspoon
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) The Dodgers signed center fielder Travis Witherspoon to their organization, according to a report from Baseball America

Witherspoon has previously been in the Angels and Mariners organizations. In six years of minor-league ball, Witherspoon has posted a career batting average of .252 with 68 home runs. He hit a minor-league single-season best 15 home runs in 2014 with the Mariners' Single-A affiliate High Desert Mavericks. 


Phillies' Buchanan 'working on being a complete pitcher'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Phillies pitcher David Buchanan is "working on being a complete pitcher," manager Ryan Sandberg said, per the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The team's coaches spoke with Buchanan in the fall about command and pitch sequencing, executing bunts and thwarting would-be base-stealers, and Sandberg noted while examining the players that arrived early that the pitcher had taken the advice to heart.

"My biggest goal [this spring] is to show our front office and our coaches that I can throw the ball over the plate," Buchanan said. "That's one thing I had success with last year. I wasn't walking guys. I was throwing strikes, and that's what I'm known for. That's why I succeeded in the minor leagues; I was throwing strikes. So that's what I want to do this spring training, is continue to do that, pound the zone, force early contact and keep the ball on the ground."

Buchanan is scheduled to pitch the team's Grapefruit League opener Tuesday against the Yankees.


Giants' Bochy: Hunter Strickland 'needs to get a little smarter'
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Giants pitcher Hunter Strickland is ready to learn from his mistakes from the tail end of his 2014 season.

Starting strong once he was called up from Double-A Richmond, Strickland gave up six home runs in the postseason. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the remedy to put Strickland back on track is simple. 

"He needs to get a little smarter," Bochy said, per MLB.com.  

Strickland will be competing for a spot in the bullpen during spring training. His fastball is a strength, though it's a matter of his command improving on the mound. 

"The failures are what make guys better, I feel like," Strickland said. "I feel like they made me better. Just being in tune with yourself and knowing who you are and what you've got to do. In this game, you're not going to make it too far if you don't have confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, who else is going to believe in you?"


Mets' Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker competing for roster spot
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Mets left-handed hitters Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Matt den Dekker will be battling for one roster spot this spring, MLB.com reports.

While Nieuwenhuis is out of options, manager Terry Collins indicated that den Dekker has responded to the team's request that he reduce his strikeouts when sent to Triple-A last season.

"We'll just see how it translates this spring into what kind of an offensive player he can be," Collins said of den Dekker. "We know he's got the defensive skills."

Collins said that whichever outfielder shows the most promise will make the initial 25-man roster.

"He plays the game right. He's fearless," Collins said of Nieuwenhuis. "But right now, we've got to get some offense from one of those two guys. Which one of those two guys is going to be able to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter? The best closers in our division are all right-handed, so the left-handed hitter off that bench is going to be a big piece."


Stephen Strasburg wants to stay with Nationals
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(2/27/2015) Though Stephen Strasburg's agent Scott Boras denied a report that he wanted to be traded in January, the right-handed pitcher said himself that he wants to remain with the Nationals and has no issues with the organization. 

"I haven't said anything like that," Strasburg said in an interview with MLB.com. "I don't feel like that. You have to accept it because that's how the system works. It's like they pick up on any little thing and they twist it. Some people want to turn it to see how many clicks they can get on the webpage."

Strasburg is set to be the ace of a deep rotation that looks to be on of the best in baseball this coming season. With the Nationals winning their second divisional title in the past three seasons, Strasburg said he's happy with the organization. 

"It's the team that drafted me. I love the players here, I love D.C. Winning cures everything, that's for sure," Strasburg said. "I'm excited to be part of the resurgence so far. It's great to see the type of players we bring in here every year. The expectations keep going up and up. Hopefully, we can do big things this year."


 
 
 
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