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Down on the Farm: Where there's a Wil

Senior Fantasy Writer
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It's May 30. Do you know where your can't-miss preseason prospect stash is?

He should have made it home by now. He was due here half past May. But as we approach June o'clock, Wil Myers remains stranded at Triple-A, without so much as a phone call from the parent club.

It's like it doesn't even care.

But of course, it does care. The Rays gave up James Shields, arguably the most influential player in franchise history, for Myers, recognizing that their lineup lacked the thump to compete in the beastly AL East. We already know Myers brings the thump. His 37 home runs between Double- and Triple-A last year ranked second among minor-leaguers, making him one of the more surprising players passed over for a promotion even then.

So ... what the heck?

In the absence of concrete estimates or thoughts of any kind from the Rays, we're left to our own devices, which consist mostly of historical precedent and good old fashioned guesswork.

"But isn't that how we got into this mess in the first place?" Yes, it is. But if you're one of the owners in 72 percent of leagues who've stashed Myers since Day 1, isn't that better than another column about how the latest starting pitcher call-up -- Michael Wacha, let's say -- is worth an add "just in case?" That's what I thought.

In these days of self-proclaimed baseball intellectuals and their ever-so-stimulating discussion boards, anytime a prospect takes longer than expected to reach the majors, the conversation turns to everyone's favorite collective bargaining clause -- and possibly the only one known by name.

Most Owned Minor Leaguers (5/30)
Player % owned
1. Wil Myers, OF, Rays 72
2. Zack Wheeler, SP, Mets 63
3. Tony Cingrani, SP, Reds 53
4. Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies 50
5. Oscar Taveras, OF, Cardinals 46
6. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 41
7. Jesus Montero, C, Mariners 36
8. Billy Hamilton, SS, Reds 35
9. Dustin Ackley, 2B, Mariners 34
10. Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins 32

Oh, Super Two! Super Two! Whoop-de-woo! It's Super Two!

Congratulations. You've mastered the vocabulary portion of Down on the Farm. Assume the desk at the head of the class and accept this gold star.

For as many times as that rule is cited, you'd think more people would understand how it works. Basically, the 22 percent of players called up this year who have accumulated the most service time by the end of 2015 get an extra year of arbitration. We won't know the magic date until three years from now. June 15 is a reasonable estimate, but frankly, teams might not be "safe" until July.

So, wait. You're saying we still have a month to go? Oh, for crying --

No, I'm just presenting one possibility. It's guesswork, remember? What makes my guesswork more authoritative than yours? Nothing, really. Guess you might as well stop reading.

Still with me? Of course you are. The thirst for a Myers timetable on a Web bereft of it is unquenchable. I can write anything here, and you'll just keep reading. That lion has a crooked eye. My hair grows all wavy-like. The moon is made of margarine.

Another possibility for Myers' delayed arrival: The Rays are more than satisfied with what they already have. It's a touching story made at least somewhat plausible by unexpected contributions from Kelly Johnson and James Loney. But in the long run, their lineup still has more holes than their Shields-less (and right now, David Price-less) rotation can overcome.

Not only is Loney (and to a certain extent, Johnson) sure to regress, but Luke Scott won't continue to reach base at a .380 clip. Plus, the Rays have enough versatility in their lineup that Myers could, in an indirect way, take over at shortstop, with Ben Zobrist moving over from second base to man that position and Johnson moving in from the outfield to man second base.

Want to know my theory for why Myers is still awaiting the call? He hasn't forced the issue. From the beginning of the season, the Rays determined not to start the arbitration clock or rearrange their starting lineup until he proved good and ready. Safe to say a .244 batting average with a strikeout every third at-bat over his first 41 games at Durham didn't do that.

Which brings me to why I've chosen now to write this column.

In case you haven't noticed, Myers has been looking unmistakably Myers-like over his last six games (check out this recent blast), hitting five homers and three doubles. He has also cut down on his strikeouts, with just five in his last nine games. Is it enough to win over the Rays once and for all? My guess, while I'm at it, is no. But another two weeks of this changes everything.

And even if you assume the Rays bow to Super Two, July 1 is only a couple weeks after that. In 2-4 weeks, Wayward Willy has every reason to come home.

So there you have it: a working timetable. In the absence of an official one, it'll have to do. About the only thing I can see preventing it is a sudden reversion to his early-season struggles, but if you had faith enough to roster Myers in the first place, trusting he'd make an impact as soon as he reached the big leagues, you should have faith in him capitalizing on this opportunity. And if that's the case, now would be the worst time to drop him for Alfonso Soriano, Lucas Duda, Leonys Martin or whatever else the waiver wire turns up (for the record, I rank Myers 50th among outfielders going forward).

You've already stuck it out this long. For the player once hyped as this year's Mike Trout, or at least Bryce Harper (looking more like Anthony Rizzo now), you might as well see it through to the end.

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
Jose Molina, Cole Figueroa clear waivers, released by Rays
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:55 pm ET) Catcher Jose Molina and infielder Cole Figueroa cleared waivers and were released by the Rays Wednesday. 

Both Molina and Figueroa were designated for assignment Thursday. Molina, 39, hit .178 over 225 at-bats last year, while Figueroa hit .233 in 43 at-bats. 


Rays sign right-hander Ernesto Frieri to major-league contract
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:33 pm ET) The Rays have announced signing of right-hand pitcher Ernesto Frieri to a one-year contract. Frieri will make a base salary of $800,000, going up to $3.15 million with incentives, according to the Tampa Tribune.

Frieri, who had a career-high 37 saves in 2013, had 11 last season with a 7.34 ERA.


Yankees' Sabathia confident he can return to being 200-inning pitcher
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia continues to deliver positive updates coming off July knee surgery.

"The knee, I have no complaints," Sabathia told YES Network. "I’m able to do all of my workouts. … I’m changing a few things. Not as much pounding and running. I’m in the pool a lot, on different machines to get cardio, (on the) bike. Just adding a few different things to get some cardio in."

Despite coming off surgery and being limited to eight starts (46 innings) in 2014, Sabathia feels he can get back to being a 30-start, 200-inning pitcher in 2015.

"Yeah, for sure," he said. "I feel like I can. If you asked me that a couple of months ago, I would have said, ‘I don’t know,’ but the way I’m feeling now and being able to work out, definitely."


Report: Indians expressing interest in Kendrys Morales
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(12:05 pm ET) The Indians have expressed inerest in DH/first baseman Kendrys Morales

Morales, who split time between the Twins and Mariners last season, hit .218 with 42 RBI.


Brewers' Ryan Braun 'cautiously optimistic' coming off thumb surgery
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(11:54 am ET) Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is optimistic coming off October thumb surgery. Braun underwent a cryotherapy procedure in Los Angeles on Oct. 2, in which a needle was inserted at the base of his right thumb to essentially freeze a nerve.

"It definitely worked," Braun said Wednesday, per MLB.com. "It makes a huge difference."

Braun swung a bat 10 days after the procedure and was happy the pain in his thumb was gone.

"Right now, I don’t feel any [discomfort], and I haven’t been able to say that for two years," he said. "I think I’ve told you guys, it [bothered him] shaking hands, writing -- you know, just everyday activities. Now I don’t feel it at all, so I’m excited."

While Braun is definitely optimistic, he is also a bit cautious because he isn't in the grind of playing baseball every day. He has received full clearance, however, for all offseason activities.

"I’m encouraged by how it feels, but at the same time, I think I have to be cautiously optimistic [until] I get into spring training and see how it responds," Braun said. "But it hasn’t felt this good in a really long time."


Red Sox GM: Cespedes 'in our plans for next year'
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(11:13 am ET) Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said in a radio interview Wednesday that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is in the team's plans for next year. 

“We acquired him at the deadline in the [Jon] Lester trade because we felt that was the best deal at the time, we still feel that way. He’s in our plans for next year and his versatility and skill in the outfield and gives us the flexibility, could play any of the three positions," Cherington said. "We’ll just see what the rest of the offseason brings. We have a long way to go, and as we get to January, closer to spring training, we’ll know more about who’s here and how it all adds up.”

Cespedes hit .260 with 100 RBI last season between Oakland and Boston. 


Mets SP Matt Harvey eager for the start of spring training
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:59 am ET) Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey, who missed the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, said "spring training can't come quick enough" during a radio interview Tuesday with WFAN.

"My whole goal is to be able to face hitters in February as soon as I get down to Florida," Harvey said, per NJ.com. "I haven't faced any hitters. I haven't done any batting practice."

Harvey, who was an All-Star in 2013, is 12-10 with a 2.39 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 36 career starts. He is also striking out 9.9 batters per nine innings.


Report: Mets could wait to see if Red Sox put Bogaerts on trading block
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts could be a new name that pops up on the Mets' radar as they search for a new starting shortstop.

While it appears Bogaerts will remain with Boston with newly signed Hanley Ramirez moving to left field, a Mets source told the New York Post the team will be watching the Red Sox's situation.

"It’s not like we’re knocking down their door to see if [Bogaerts] is available," the source said. "But we’ll wait and see how things shake out."


Yankees planning to offer three years for Headley
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:29 am ET) The Yankees are planning to offer third baseman Chase Headley a three-year contract, but he is likely to look for a bigger offer, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Among those teams, the Giants and Blue Jays appear to be the most likely candidates for Headley.

Headley hit .249 with 13 home runs and 49 RBI between San Diego and New York last season. 


Report: Marlins showing interest in Evan Gattis, Chris Davis
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(10:13 am ET) The Marlins have expressed interest in acquiring Braves catcher Evan Gattis and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, according to the Miami Herald.

Gattis has been mentioned in trade rumors this offseason. It has also been spectulated he could move from catcher to left field.

Gattis, 28, hit .263 with 22 homers and 52 RBI last season while Davis, 28, hit .196 with 26 homers and 72 RBI. Davis was also third in the MVP race in 2013, hitting .286, 53 homers, 138 RBI.


 
 
 
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