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Hit Parade for Week 14

Senior Fantasy Writer
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All stats are updated through Wednesday, June 26.

Catcher

Wilson Ramos, who has been sidelined since May 15 with a hamstring injury, has been catching bullpen sessions and is aiming to return July 4. You'd have to be in a desperate situation to start him in a week he'll play no more than four games -- and likely fewer than that with Kurt Suzuki around -- but considering the power potential he showed as a rookie in 2011, before his injury troubles began, he'll be a nice find in Fantasy if he eventually displaces the light-hitting Suzuki.

Worth a second look: Jason Castro, Astros
At a position hurting for depth, Castro has emerged as a reliable option, batting .314 with seven homers and a .970 OPS over his last 32 games. He has let up a bit over his last seven, batting .259 (7 for 27) with just two extra-base hits, which might cause some Fantasy owners to shy away from him, but chances are he'll come roaring back this week with six righties -- including hittable types like Roberto Hernandez, Chris Archer, Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm -- on tap. Castro is batting .289 against righties compared to .204 against lefties this year.
Approach with caution: Yasmani Grandal, Padres
After missing the first 50 games because of a PED suspension, Grandal might be close to regaining the trust of Fantasy owners with his .375 (6 for 16) batting average and four doubles over his last five games. But his timing isn't the greatest. He's in line to face Jose Fernandez, John Lackey, Jon Lester, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg this week. If you've been making due without him all this time, might as well stay away just a little longer.

No-brainers: Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Carlos Santana, Matt Wieters, Wilin Rosario, Mike Napoli
Advisable starts: Jason Castro, Jonathan Lucroy, Salvador Perez, Brian McCann, A.J. Pierzynski, Russell Martin
Shaky starts: J.P. Arencibia, Ryan Doumit (ankle), Miguel Montero, Yasmani Grandal, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Zunino, Carlos Ruiz
Strictly AL/NL-only: John Jaso (hand), John Buck, Welington Castillo, Chris Iannetta, A.J. Ellis, Tyler Flowers, Derek Norris, Wilson Ramos (hamstring), Yan Gomes, Devin Mesoraco, Kurt Suzuki
Don't bother: Jose Lobaton, Ryan Hanigan, Rob Brantly, Chris Stewart, Geovany Soto, Hank Conger, Nick Hundley, Evan Gattis (oblique), Erik Kratz (knee), Alex Avila (forearm), Francisco Cervelli (hand), Travis d'Arnaud, Jesus Montero

First base

The few players who qualify only at DH now appear alongside the first basemen so that their owners might have some context for how to approach them this week. If you see an asterisk (*) next to a player's name, it means he's DH-only and not a legitimate first baseman.
Best Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Reds SF4, SEA3
2. Yankees @MIN4, BAL3
3. Rays @HOU4, CHW3
4. Diamondbacks @NYM4, COL3
5. Nationals MIL4, SD3

Just when the Mets had finally resigned to making Lucas Duda their everyday first baseman, the 27-year-old slugger landed on the DL with an intercostal strain, leaving them with a gaping hole at the most demanding offensive position. The simple solution would be to bring back Ike Davis, who seems to have rediscovered his stroke during his two weeks at Triple-A Las Vegas, but with a bunch of left-handers on tap in the days ahead, the Mets will make due with Josh Satin for now. Davis could return to the lineup Wednesday, when the Mets begin a string of games against right-handed pitchers, but with so much ambiguity surrounding him, you should probably avoid him for now.
Worth a second look: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
If you missed out on LaRoche's hot streak in mid-to-late May, fear not. History suggests he has plenty more in store. He's showing early signs of another, batting .440 (11 for 25) with a homer over his last seven games, and his matchups against Wily Peralta, Johnny Hellweg, Donovan Hand and Jason Marquis this week only help his cause. You want to catch him at the beginning of those streaks, not the end, so this week isn't a bad time to get him in your lineup.
Approach with caution: Brandon Belt, Giants
Turns out those nine straight starts for Brandon Belt earlier this month were just a tease. Brett Pill may not be around to spell him against lefties anymore, but catcher Buster Posey is back to stealing starts at first base, like he did much of last year. Of the Giants' seven games this week, you should expect Belt to start only five or so, and he'll have a hard time getting the most out of his at-bats against Homer Bailey, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Clayton Kershaw.

No-brainers: Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Davis, Prince Fielder, Allen Craig, Albert Pujols, Buster Posey, David Ortiz*, Anthony Rizzo, Adrian Gonzalez
Advisable starts: Freddie Freeman, Mark Trumbo, Joe Mauer, Matt Carpenter, Billy Butler, Carlos Santana, Adam Lind, Michael Cuddyer, Adam LaRoche, Adam Dunn, Eric Hosmer, Mike Napoli, Daniel Nava
Shaky starts: James Loney, Kyle Blanks, Mitch Moreland, Ryan Howard, Todd Frazier, Brandon Belt, Kendrys Morales, Nick Swisher, Justin Morneau, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Moss, Victor Martinez*, Michael Young, Daniel Murphy
Strictly AL/NL-only: Lance Berkman, Chris Carter, Lyle Overbay, Travis Hafner*, Logan Morrison, Paul Konerko (back), Carlos Pena, Chris Johnson, Todd Helton, Justin Smoak, Matt Adams, Juan Francisco, Garrett Jones, Tyler Colvin
Don't bother: Gaby Sanchez, Yan Gomes, Mike Carp, Chris Parmelee, John Mayberry, Jeff Keppinger, Jordan Pacheco, Nate Freiman, Michael Morse (quadriceps), Mark Teixeira (wrist), Kevin Youkilis (back), Yonder Alonso (hand), Lucas Duda (side), Corey Hart (knee), Ike Davis, Mike Olt, Jonathan Singleton

Second base

After taking the long road back from yet another injury, Brian Roberts is set to return to the Orioles lineup over the weekend. His surgically repaired right hamstring has held up over a minor-league rehab stint, and in theory, he should get back to being the Orioles' everyday second baseman. Then again, he's been trying to do that for the better part of four seasons now. With his patient approach, plus speed and doubles pop, Roberts still has something to offer Fantasy owners at age 35. But you'll want to give him more than a week to prove his health before trusting in him in mixed leagues.
Worth a second look: Rickie Weeks, Brewers
But at least you can trust in Weeks again, right? The chronic underachiever performed so well under the threat of losing his job to Scooter Gennett that the Brewers decided they no longer needed Gennett, optioning him to the minors Thursday. With some decent matchups in a seven-game week, Weeks should be able to prolong the hot streak that has him hitting .467 (14 for 30) with four home runs over his last nine games.
Approach with caution: Josh Rutledge, Rockies
Rutledge has been playing mostly every day since returning from the minors June 15, but he's showing why the Rockies sent him there in the first place, batting .129 (4 for 31) in his last nine games. And his matchups against the top of the Dodgers and Diamondbacks rotations this week likely won't change his course. His power-speed potential is still intriguing, especially since he qualifies at the two weakest positions in Fantasy, but you can avoid Rutledge for now.

No-brainers: Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis, Brandon Phillips, Ben Zobrist, Jose Altuve, Matt Carpenter
Advisable starts: Chase Utley, Howard Kendrick, Anthony Rendon, Nick Franklin, Aaron Hill, Rickie Weeks, Martin Prado
Shaky starts: Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, Jed Lowrie, Marco Scutaro, Jurickson Profar, Jedd Gyorko (groin), Brian Roberts (hamstring), Dan Uggla, Josh Rutledge, Kelly Johnson, Omar Infante
Strictly AL/NL-only: Dustin Ackley, Logan Forsythe, Gordon Beckham, Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Emilio Bonifacio, Derek Dietrich, Brian Dozier, DJ LeMahieu, Jordy Mercer, Mike Aviles
Don't bother: David Adams, Willie Bloomquist (hand), Ryan Flaherty, Daniel Descalso, Elliot Johnson, Jordany Valdespin, Omar Quintanilla, Jeff Keppinger, Chris Getz, Eric Sogard, Maicer Izturis, Jemile Weeks, Danny Espinosa, Kolten Wong

Third base

Turns out those 2 1/2 weeks he missed with a back issue weren't the cure for Will Middlebrooks' struggles. After he went 4 for 29 in his first seven games off the DL, the Red Sox decided he was better suited for the minors and will go with the slick-fielding -- and at least so far, hot-hitting -- Jose Iglesias at third base. Iglesias has shown he's capable of making good, solid contact, but he has little power or speed and obviously won't maintain a .419 batting average. Better leave him for AL-only leagues.
Worth a second look: Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Though the home runs are obviously lacking, Rendon has only gotten better and better since rejoining the Nationals' lineup June 5. He has multiple hits in five of his last six games, making him 29 for 74 (.392) with nine doubles in 18 games during that stretch. Certainly in Head-to-Head points leagues, that's enough to earn him a starting nod at either second or third base, especially in a week he's facing the Brewers and Padres pitching staffs.
Approach with caution: Jedd Gyorko, Padres
Gyorko was all set to return to the lineup this weekend after missing three weeks with a strained groin, but he tweaked the injury at the start of his rehab assignment Wednesday. The Padres don't consider it a major setback, but even if he returns at Miami as planned, you have to be wary of him tweaking it again. Given his upcoming matchups against the best the Red Sox and Nationals have to offer, perhaps you should give him a week to prove his health before activating him in Fantasy.

No-brainers: Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Evan Longoria, David Wright, Adrian Beltre, Ryan Zimmerman, Hanley Ramirez, Manny Machado, Matt Carpenter, Josh Donaldson
Advisable starts: Kyle Seager, Anthony Rendon, Chase Headley, Pedro Alvarez, Pablo Sandoval, Martin Prado
Shaky starts: Aramis Ramirez, David Freese, Todd Frazier, Nolan Arenado, Mark Reynolds, Jedd Gyorko (groin), Michael Young
Strictly AL/NL-only: Mike Moustakas, Matt Dominguez, Chris Johnson, Trevor Plouffe, Alberto Callaspo, Jose Iglesias, Juan Francisco, Lonnie Chisenhall, Luis Valbuena, Eric Chavez (oblique), Jayson Nix, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Aviles
Don't bother: David Adams, Daniel Descalso, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jeff Keppinger, Placido Polanco, Jordan Pacheco, Maicer Izturis, Kevin Youkilis (back), Brett Lawrie (ankle), Alex Rodriguez (hip), Wilson Betemit (knee), Will Middlebrooks, Nick Castellanos

Shortstop

Worst Five Hitting Schedules
Team Schedule
1. Angels STL3, BOS3
2. Padres @MIA1, @MIN3, BAL3
3. Athletics CHC3, @KC3
4. Rockies LAD3, @ARI3
5. Giants @CIN4, LAD3
A couple of high-profile shortstops recently came back from lengthy DL stints. The enormity of Jose Reyes' return goes without saying. He has the potential to be the top shortstop in Fantasy from this point forward and is back to being a must-start even before he gets his legs under him. You might be able to take a more cautious approach with Asdrubal Cabrera, who's a step down from Reyes in terms of potential impact and may have rushed back from his injury, but shortstop being as weak as it is, he's likely your best option in most formats.
Worth a second look: Zack Cozart, Reds
Cozart's year-to-date numbers are still pretty miserable, but he's had some productive weeks lately, scoring 17-plus Head-to-Head points in three of his previous four. When he's going right, he has more pop than the average shortstop, and his matchups this week against Michael Kickham, Barry Zito, Aaron Harang, Jeremy Bonderman and Joe Saunders -- all at home -- are likely to get him right. You shouldn't start him over a high-profile shortstop, obviously, but he's among the better fringy options.
Approach with caution: Erick Aybar, Angels
Aybar, who typically sees a spike in production about midseason, has hit safely in 11 of his last 13 games, batting .365 (19 for 52) with two homers and three steals during that stretch. Time to get him active in mixed leagues? Well, maybe not this week. The Angels have arguably the toughest matchups in baseball, facing Lance Lynn, Shelby Miller, Adam Wainwright, Ryan Dempster, Allen Webster and John Lackey in their six games.

No-brainers: Jean Segura, Hanley Ramirez, Ben Zobrist, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes
Advisable starts: J.J. Hardy, Elvis Andrus, Nick Franklin, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jimmy Rollins, Jhonny Peralta, Starlin Castro, Zack Cozart
Shaky starts: Jed Lowrie, Alcides Escobar, Marco Scutaro, Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar, Andrelton Simmons, Josh Rutledge, Didi Gregorius, Brandon Crawford
Strictly AL/NL-only: Derek Dietrich, Brian Dozier, Jordy Mercer, Pete Kozma, Jayson Nix, Pedro Ciriaco, Mike Aviles
Don't bother: Willie Bloomquist (hand), Elliot Johnson, Daniel Descalso, Pedro Florimon, Adeiny Hechavarria, Omar Quintanilla, Marwin Gonzalez, Eric Sogard, Maicer Izturis, Troy Tulowitzki (ribs), Everth Cabrera (hamstring), Ruben Tejada (quadriceps), Eduardo Nunez (rib), Derek Jeter (ankle), Danny Espinosa, Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton

Outfield

A trio of potentially Fantasy-relevant players have recently come into regular playing time in the outfield. Dustin Ackley and Eric Young are too low-end to add in standard mixed leagues just yet, but both could eventually matter if they meet the full extent of their potential. Right now, though, the priority off the waiver wire is Leonys Martin, who was confined to a platoon role earlier this year but is getting an opportunity to play every day with Craig Gentry sidelined by a broken hand. And so far, he's meeting the five-category potential everyone attributed to him, batting .421 (16 for 38) with two homers and five steals during an 11-game hitting streak.
Worth a second look: Shane Victorino, Red Sox and Ichiro Suzuki, Yankees
Victorino has been in and out of the lineup with various injuries since late May but finally seems to have settled back into an everyday role, having started nine of the team's last 10 games, including both halves of a doubleheader June 18. And with a .394 (13 for 33) batting average, five extra-base hits and three steals during that stretch, he's showing signs of regaining his former high-end standing in Fantasy. Time to put your faith in him again. Putting your faith in Suzuki might be a bit more of a challenge considering he's quite obviously on the decline at age 39, but much like last year, when he hit .305 with 20 steals over his final 95 games, he seems to have found another gear in late June, batting .373 (19 for 51) with three homers and seven steals over his last 13 games. Even if you don't expect it to last, you might as well take advantage of it this week, when he faces off against the ever-hittable Twins and Orioles rotations.
Approach with caution: Nate McLouth, Orioles and Zoilo Almonte, Yankees
McLouth has gotten more opportunities against left-handed pitchers recently, but because he still sits against them more often than not, you have to be wary of using him with four on tap for the Orioles in a six-game week. He hasn't been especially productive of late anyway, batting .219 (14 for 64) with just three stolen bases over his last 17 games. Almonte is the Yankees' latest attempt to get some kind of production out of left field, and his 7-for-12 start earned him plenty of attention right out of the gate. But Yasiel Puig he's not. As a third- or fourth-tier prospect putting up only so-so numbers at Triple-A at the time of his promotion, he's a long shot to make a significant contribution in Fantasy, regardless of the Yankees' matchups. Already he's showing signs of slowing down, going 0 for 7 over his last two games.

No-brainers: Mike Trout, Chris Davis, Carlos Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Andrew McCutchen, Jay Bruce, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo, Adam Jones, Allen Craig, Yasiel Puig, Hunter Pence, Matt Holliday, Giancarlo Stanton, Carlos Beltran, Nick Markakis, Nelson Cruz, Domonic Brown, Alex Rios, Justin Upton
Advisable starts: Ben Zobrist, Matt Carpenter, Desmond Jennings, Mark Trumbo, Alex Gordon, Bryce Harper (knee), Brett Gardner (illness), Austin Jackson, Michael Cuddyer, Starling Marte, Carlos Gomez (shoulder), Matt Kemp, Gerardo Parra, Yoenis Cespedes, Jason Heyward, Coco Crisp, Shane Victorino, Michael Bourn, Wil Myers, Josh Hamilton, Norichika Aoki, Daniel Nava, Jayson Werth
Shaky starts: Leonys Martin, Ben Revere, Kyle Blanks, Martin Prado, Alejandro De Aza, Ichiro Suzuki, Nate McLouth, Nick Swisher, Matt Joyce, Melky Cabrera, Josh Willingham, Michael Brantley, Torii Hunter, Brandon Moss, Alfonso Soriano, Colby Rasmus, Ryan Doumit (ankle), Nate Schierholtz, Dexter Fowler (wrist), B.J. Upton, Josh Reddick, Raul Ibanez, Eric Young, Denard Span, Drew Stubbs
Strictly AL/NL-only: Zoilo Almonte, Carlos Quentin, Kelly Johnson, David Murphy, Chris Carter, Marcell Ozuna, Oswaldo Arcia, Andre Ethier, Logan Morrison, Dayan Viciedo, Peter Bourjos (thumb), Marlon Byrd, Lorenzo Cain, Juan Pierre, Gregor Blanco, Jon Jay, Justin Ruggiano, Jason Kubel, Will Venable, Michael Saunders, Seth Smith, J.D. Martinez, Garrett Jones, Cody Ross, A.J. Pollock, Jarrod Dyson, Tyler Colvin, Chris Denorfia, Andy Dirks, Emilio Bonifacio, Rajai Davis, J.B. Shuck, Chris Young, Travis Snider
Don't bother: Delmon Young, Ryan Flaherty, John Mayberry, Justin Maxwell (concussion), Vernon Wells, Mike Carp, Jordany Valdespin, Chris Parmelee, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Braun (thumb), Carl Crawford (hamstring), Michael Morse (quadriceps), Curtis Granderson (hand), Evan Gattis (oblique), Angel Pagan (hamstring), Corey Hart (knee), Adam Eaton (elbow), Lucas Duda (side), Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring), David DeJesus (shoulder), Aaron Hicks (hamstring), Ryan Ludwick (shoulder), Cameron Maybin (knee), Darin Mastroianni (ankle), Nolan Reimold (hamstring), Oscar Taveras, Christian Yelich, George Springer, Jackie Bradley, Avisail Garcia, Anthony Gose

The Hit Parade is your guide to setting your lineup for the upcoming scoring period. Looking at matchups for the week ahead and considering other factors such as streaks, injuries and lineup changes, we sort all Fantasy-relevant hitters at each position into five categories: "no-brainers," "advisable starts," "shaky starts," "strictly AL/NL-only" and "don't bother."

These designations rate each player's Fantasy value for the current week only and have no bearing on his value for the season as a whole. Injuries are shown in parentheses.

Any players not appearing on these lists are presumed to be below "don't bother" status and are obvious sits in Fantasy.

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
Cubs agree to sign Anthony Carter
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:26 pm ET) The Cubs have signed reliever Anthony Carter to a minor-league deal, according to MLBTradeRumors.com.

Carter spent last season in Japan, pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He posted a 3.97 ERA over 45 1/3 innings. 


Padres to sign Josh Johnson
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:48 pm ET) The Padres are set to sign pitcher Josh Johnson to a one-year deal, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Yahoo initially reported the two sides were on the verge of a deal.

Johnson will make a base salary under $2 million, but can earn as much as $8 million due to incentives. Given his recent injury issues, it's assumed those incentives will revolve around both his numbers and his ability to remain healthy. Johnson signed with San Diego last season, but was unable to pitch after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The team declined his option during the offseason, but showed interest in re-signing Johnson to a lesser deal.

Johnson posted a 6.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings with Toronto in 2013. 


A's C Stephen Vogt expects to be ready for opening day
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:18 pm ET) Athletics catcher Stephen Vogt believes he'll be ready for opening day, according to MLB.com.

Vogt had foot surgery in October, but had his walking boot removed Thursday. Vogt admitted that he may not be 100 percent by spring training, but said he expects to be ready for opening day. After playing multiple positions due to the injury last season, Vogt said he's eager to get behind the plate again. 

The 30-year-old Vogt hit .279/.321/.431 over 269 at-bats last year. 


Josh Johnson on the verge of signing with Padres
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:03 pm ET) The Padres are on the verge of a one-year deal with pitcher Josh Johnson, confirms CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. The deal was first reported by Yahoo!

The two sides are still figuring out the details of the contract, but it's assumed it will include incentives based on games started. Johnson signed with the club last offseason, but did not pitch after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April. The Padres declined an option on Johnson following the season, but expressed a desire to bring him back at a cheaper price. 


Report: Cubs still looking at Ross
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:59 pm ET) The Cubs are still looking at catcher David Ross as a backup, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The team has been linked to Ross a number of times this offseason, but that interest was expected to wane following the trade for Miguel Montero. Despite the fact that the organization already has Welington Castillo as a backup, the interest in Ross is still there. Ross is said to have a close relationship with pitcher Jon Lester, and that could play a role in his decision.

Ross hit .184 over 152 at-bats last year.


Royals not counting on Kris Medlen until the second half
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:14 pm ET) The Royals do not expect pitcher Kris Medlen to return until the second half of the season.

General manager Dayton Moore told reporters he expects Medlen to be a factor down the stretch. Medlen is coming off Tommy John surgery, and the team will give him time to recover. Medlen had the surgery last March. Typically, it takes about a year for pitchers to recover, but the Royals aren't banking on Medlen being healthy right away.

Prior to having the surgery, Medlen posted a 3.11 ERA over 197 innings in 2013. 


Royals designate Johnny Giavotella for assignment Thursday
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:22 pm ET) Royals infielder Johnny Giavotella was designated for assignment Thursday. Giavotella appeared in just 12 games for Kansas City in 2014 and has a .238/.277/.334/.612 slash line over four MLB seasons (125 games).

Veteran outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on Orioles radar
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(4:07 pm ET) The Orioles are showing some interest in signing 41-year-old outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman.

The Orioles are looking for an outfielder after losing Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis in free agency. Ichiro is 156 hits shy of 3,000 career hits and looking to extend his MLB career.


Germano, Lowe, Rivero sign minor-league deals with Mariners
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:41 pm ET) The Mariners announced Monday they signed pitcher Justin Germano, pitcher Mark Lowe and infielder Carlos Rivero to minor-league deals, which included invites to spring training.

Dodgers acquire Matt Long from Angels, then deal him to Brewers
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(3:38 pm ET) The Dodgers announced Thursday they acquired minor-league infielder/outfielder Matt Long from the Angels to complete the Dec. 9 trade for catcher Drew Butera.

However, Long wasn't with Los Angeles for long, as they traded him and pitcher Jarret Martin to the Brewers for minor-league catcher Shawn Zarraga.


 
 
 
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