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Reality Check: Too many moves to make (or mention)

Senior Fantasy Writer
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You follow all that? This past weekend, I mean?

I'm not referring to Bartolo Colon's complete game shutout Friday or Francisco Liriano's 11-strikeout effort Saturday. What happened on the field wasn't nearly as interesting to Fantasy owners as what happened off it.

To recap, Yasiel Puig, who has kept us all salivating since hitting .517 in 58 at-bats this spring, is up and ready to claim the Dodgers' starting center field job. Tyler Skaggs, who struck out nine over six shutout innings in a spot start May 27, will inherit the injured Brandon McCarthy's rotation spot Tuesday. Anthony Rendon, making the transition from third to second base in the minors, is now at Triple-A and likely only days away from unseating a battered and beaten Danny Espinosa. And apparently, Zack Wheeler, considered the best prospect of the four coming into the season, needs just a couple more starts at Triple-A before breaking into the big leagues.

And, oh yeah, two new closers have entered the fray in Rex Brothers and Luke Gregerson.

Gentlemen, start your bidding.

That's how it went in most of my leagues, anyway, with all sensibilities and thoughts of fiscal restraint drowned in a sea of FAAB dollars.

For good reason?

Well, it's not like these six will be the last to emerge off the waiver wire this season. We still have yet to hear so much as a peep from prospects like Billy Hamilton, Christian Yelich and the biggest of all of them, Wil Myers, and of course, the ever-shifting closer landscape will ever shift, introducing new sources of saves just about every week.

But this wave being the first wave, its effects will last the longest. Those who ride it will have a leg up on those who catch the next one, especially since the debris this time around might actually stick.

Yes, a weekend like this one is exactly what you save all those FAAB dollars for -- and I say that as someone who never cared to save in the first place, having spent more than half my budget in most of my leagues even before this weekend. Now, I'm down to $33 in one, and my only regret is not spending more.

Some of you are right there with me, whether your league uses FAAB bidding or simple add-drops to distribute free agent talent. But judging by the ownership percentages of some of these players, entire leagues somehow missed the boat.

Most Added Players (as of 6/4)
Player Name % change
1. Yasiel Puig, OF, Dodgers 40
2. Michael Wacha, SP, Cardinals 38
3. Tyler Chatwood, SP, Rockies 37
4. Matt Joyce, OF, Rays 30
5. Eric Stults, SP, Dodgers 26
6. Tyler Skaggs, SP, D-Backs 24
7. Jason Castro, C, Astros 22
8. Bartolo Colon, SP, Athletics 20
9. Luke Gregerson, RP, Padres 20
10. Nick Franklin, SS, Mariners 11

To bring them up to speed -- and perhaps reassure those still wondering if they made the right moves -- I've decided to relate my experience with the waiver wire this weekend right here, right now.

With so many competing variables, it's only appropriate in this case. Why assess player value with no thought to context or strategy?

Plus, I need something to show for my weekend. As many times as I fidgeted with the names and numbers, let me tell you, it was an experience.

My biggest regret

I didn't get Puig -- not in one single league. I made what I thought were aggressive bids ($10 in one league, $8 in another -- both with a $100 budget), only to see him go for a dollar or two more. What a lousy time to get cheap. What a complete lack of awareness on my part. All that anticipation, all that longing, all that hype, and I thought I could get him with one-tenth of my budget? I mean, Bo Jackson? You might as well have compared him to Chuck Norris.

So yeah, Puig is the first priority of this bunch simply because he's the most in demand. What's funny is he might be the least likely to stick around for the long haul. He'll have to wow the Dodgers for it to happen. Otherwise, they'll just stick with Andre Ethier in right field after Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp return, hoping to redeem something from his exorbitant contract.

But of course, given what little we've seen from Puig as a professional, he's fully capable of wowing -- a potential five-category stud from the get-go. For him, the ubiquitous just-in-case approach applies. If he sticks, he's a game-changer, and it's not as far-fetched for him as for someone like Jurickson Profar.

The closer conundrum

Like many of you, I play in a league where saves are in such high demand that anyone who emerges as a viable source of them goes for $20-plus in weekly FAAB bidding. It's absurd.

Being in first place but second-to-last in saves, I decided to use Puig's arrival to win some saves on the cheap, bidding more on Brothers and Gregerson than on Puig himself.

I bid more on Brothers than Gregerson, and he's the one I got. Kind of outsmarted myself there. I assumed everyone else would also bid more on Brothers since he has the electric arsenal and superior pedigree, but I actually trust Gregerson to last longer in the role. Rafael Betancourt has already managed to pitch through his groin injury, so I expect a minimal DL stay for him. Huston Street, on the other hand, might need to rest his strained calf for a month, as slow as they are to heal.

What's worse is the expectation of getting both prevented me from bidding the extra $4 that would have landed me Puig. Priorities, sir, priorities.

I should stress that Brothers and Gregerson deserve high bids only in leagues where saves are scarce. If in yours, other fill-in closers like Francisco Rodriguez or Vinnie Pestano -- or even full-timers like Bobby Parnell or Ernesto Frieri -- are still available, don't bother.

My greatest triumph

Rendon is mine. I don't even need to provide context there. By some miracle of miracles, I got him in every league where he was available.

And apparently, I still could. He's owned in only 25 percent of leagues.

My colleague Nando Di Fino put it best: With all the hoopla over Puig, Rendon could potentially slip through the cracks just because he's not here yet.

But if the reports -- and I would classify them as reports, not just rumors -- of him unseating Danny Espinosa in matter of days are true, he's potentially the more impactful pickup than Puig. He'll soon be eligible at one of the weakest positions in Fantasy, and though he struggled in sporadic duty during his first stint in the majors, he has an impact bat.

The sixth overall pick in the 2011 draft is showing just how refined his talents are after having missed most of the last two seasons -- including his last year of college -- with injuries, destroying the upper levels of the minors with a .320 batting average and 1.064 OPS, not to mention more walks than strikeouts.

Rendon may not be as high-priority as Puig, but anyone who needs middle-infield help should nab him before it's too late.

Those other guys

I have to admit I didn't make the same push for Wheeler or Skaggs that I did for Puig and Rendon in my leagues. Where they're still available, so are half a billion other pitchers I'd like to have on my roster.

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Colon is great example. His shutout Friday opened my eyes to just how effective he's been this season, but I still can't get him higher than 89th in my starting pitcher rankings. The position is just too deep.

That's not to say I wouldn't take Wheeler or Skaggs over Colon, but I'm not usually choosing between them and Colon. I'm choosing between them and A.J. Griffin or Travis Wood or John Lackey.

Any way you look at it, it's not an easy call, but with Wheeler not even here yet and Skaggs likely to forfeit his spot to Daniel Hudson (if not McCarthy) a couple weeks from now, I wouldn't consider either a must-have.

The forgotten man

Frankly, I'd prefer Kevin Gausman to both, and he's still available in one-third of our leagues. I didn't even think to check for him in my leagues with everything else going on, but with an impressive start Sunday (against the Tigers, no less), he's locked into the Orioles rotation for the time being. And his upside is about on par with Wheeler's and Skaggs'.

But again, starting pitcher is a deep position where, more likely than not, you'll have to pass on some of the options you like. For a better idea of how all the pieces fit together and whether or not you can make room for Gausman, Wheeler or Skaggs, check out my updated rankings.

But what about ...?

As I mentioned earlier, some of this weekend's biggest performers had to go by the wayside with everything else happening on the waiver wire. Jonathan Lucroy, with his eight hits and three homers during a weekend series at Philadelphia, has re-entered the mixed-league discussion at catcher, and the surprising James Loney, with his two-homer game Friday, doesn't seem to be going away.

Am I saying you should ignore them? Of course not. But I see them more as needs-based options. Players like Puig and Rendon (and let's add Profar to the mix now that he looks like he'll be staying longer) should appeal to everybody because of their upside. They have the potential to unseat whoever you currently start at their positions.

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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