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Reality Check: A new uncertainty

Senior Fantasy Writer
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And so it begins.

The Biogenesis investigation, which the Miami Times first brought to light in late January, is no longer a specter hanging over Fantasy owners, but a full-on plague promising to bring down anyone who dared toy with it.

The first to fall, the biggest of all: Ryan J. Braun. With MVP-caliber production every year since breaking into the big leagues, he was each of his Fantasy owners' ace in the hole -- fresh off the DL, back in the lineup, ready to put a disappointing first half behind him. Yes, his suspension comes just when his owners were beginning to trust him again, just when the world had them believing a lengthy appeals process would precede any possible suspension, just when they thought trading him might not be in their best interests.

Talk about a punch in the gut.

And with that, every other player connected to the Biogenesis investigation is flagged: a group that includes Everth Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon and Jhonny Peralta, among others. It doesn't even matter if they're guilty or not. They're on the list, and now that everyone knows what happens to those on the list, they're imminently worthless. You'd have better luck selling wine by the sieve.

Go ahead. Try trading one of them. I can guarantee what the response will be.

"Oh, no. That deadweight could be done tomorrow. Just look at Ryan Braun."

Yes, look at him.

Look at how he made what seemed like the height of paranoia an instant reality.

Look at how he reduced his value to zero at the drop of a hat.

Look at how he made even the sure things in Fantasy suspect.

Then, look down, because that's where you're headed in the standings.

If you're a Braun owner, this little retrospective is nothing more than salt in the wound. He had value. It's gone now, your ace in the hole reduced to something slightly less than Skip Schumaker. But that's not the most depressing part: If you're a non-Braun owner, you can't even use his sudden suspension as a cautionary tale.

What are your options, really? Unloading Cabrera, Cruz, Colon or Peralta before they get suspended? That's probably a lost cause. They're already suspended in the minds of so many that you wouldn't get 50 cents on the dollar anymore. You might not even get a dime.

Dumping them just to spare yourself the heartache? Well, that's premature. Just because Braun chose to forego the appeals process and serve his suspension now doesn't mean they all will. Cabrera could still end up being the waiver claim who leads you to the championship when all's said and done.

Ideally, you could go all used-car salesman and use that very argument as a last-ditch attempt to finagle a deal, but if you actually pull it off -- and without a veto, I might add -- your talents are going to waste, my friend. Let's you and I revive the Pet Rock.

More realistically, you're at a standstill with these four. The safe approach is to consider whatever they give you as a bonus and to position yourself to survive without them. Practically speaking, the Cabrera owner might put in a claim for an up-and-comer like Brad Miller, or the Cruz owner might swing a deal for a power hitter like Adam Dunn. The options are endless, of course. Better to act now, before your league's trade deadline, than to roll the dice and leave yourself with nowhere to turn.

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Because if the Braun revelation showed us anything, it's that the reckoning could come any day now.

As for Braun, he at least has the benefit of a known timetable now. Yeah, he'll miss the rest of this season, but he'll enter next year fresh, without any known threats to his playing time, and will presumably go off the board in the early rounds because of it. Sure, you'll find some who question if he's really the same player now that he's off "the juice," but to me, he already proved it with his near-MVP performance last year, when the league office was dying to catch him in the act after he got off on a technicality that offseason. If he managed to skate through then, I don't know if we can trust that anyone is clean.

And I'm not sure I'd want to play Fantasy Baseball in that scenario. I understand exceptions will always pop up, but I have to believe that's all they are. The game should be about making predictions and maneuvering pieces, not sniffing out cheaters and sorting out half-truths. Injuries are one thing. Regression is one thing. But this?

This introduces an element of uncertainty to a game that has more than enough already.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite .

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Player News
Orioles, Ryan Flaherty avoid arbitration
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(9:42 pm ET) The Orioles have avoided arbitration with infielder Ryan Flaherty, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. 

Flaherty will make $1.075 million next season. He can make an additional $25,000 if he receives 400 plate appearances. The 28-year-old Flaherty hit .221/.288/.356 over 281 at-bats last year.


Angels' Josh Hamilton setting lofty goals for 2015
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(8:30 pm ET) Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton is ready to set some lofty goals for 2015, according to MLB.com.

Hamilton said he's aiming to hit .300, with 30 home runs and 100 RBI this year. After struggling through injuries in 2014, Hamilton said his offseason has been mostly normal. The 33-year-old hit .263/.331/.414 over 338 at-bats last year. 


Angels' Jered Weaver bulked up during offseason
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:57 pm ET) Angels pitcher Jered Weaver decided to bulk up during the offseason, according to MLB.com.

Weaver went from 199 pounds to 224 pounds during the offseason. He said the goal was to get bigger and stronger so that he can pitch deeper into games next year. The 32-year-old Weaver posted a 3.59 ERA over 213 1/3 innings. 


Brewers have discussed Francisco Rodriguez
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(7:15 pm ET) The Brewers have discussed reliever Francisco Rodriguez, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

The news shouldn't come as a major surprise. Rodriguez has been linked to the club since the team traded Yovani Gallardo, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. Brewers owner Mark Attanasio basically confirmed the news, saying agent Scott Boras contacted the team following the Gallardo trade in order to try and convince them to sign some of his players. Attanasio didn't rule out the move, and said general manager Doug Melvin is considering everything. "Frankie [Rodriguez] had an 89 percent save percentage and the guy has never been on the disabled list," he said. "We know he likes Milwaukee."

Rodriguez posted a 3.04 ERA over 68 innings last year. 


Twins' Mike Pelfrey feels 'normal' heading into camp
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:59 pm ET) Twins pitcher Mike Pelfrey feels "normal" heading into camp, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The 31-year-old Pelfrey was knocked around in five starts before undergoing elbow surgery last season. He's been able to rehab during the offseason, and should be 100 percent heading into spring training. Pelfrey said he started throwing Dec. 1, and admitted he feels "normal" now. 

Pelfrey posted a 7.99 ERA over five starts last season.


Mariners sign Endy Chavez to minor-league deal
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:06 pm ET) The Mariners have signed outfielder Endy Chavez to a minor-league deal, according to the Tacoma News Tribune

The 36-year-old has been linked to the club recently, and finally decided to return. He spent the first month of last season in the minors, but joined Seattle in late May. Chavez hit .276/.317/.371  over 232 at-bats. The deal includes an invite to spring training. 


Brewers' Scooter Gennett prepping for full-time role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:52 pm ET) Brewers infielder Scooter Gennett is prepping for a full-time role in 2015, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Gennett had a bit of a breakout season in 2014, but platooned with Rickie Weeks. With Weeks now a free-agent, Gennett is looking at a full-time role. "When it comes to playing every day and facing lefties, I’m looking forward to that," he said. "It has been a while. I can finally get back to my game."

Gennett admitted that he doesn't think it will be that hard to adjust to seeing left-handers while at the plate. "For me, it doesn’t matter what side it is coming from if I’m getting consistent at-bats," he said. 

The 24-year-old Gennett hit .289/.320/.434 over 440 at-bats last year.


Twins' Alex Meyer willing to pitch out of the bullpen
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:44 pm ET) Twins reliever Alex Meyer is willing to pitch out of the bullpen, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press

The 25-year-old Meyer is considered one of the team's better prospects, and started 27 games last season at Triple-A. Meyer posted a 3.52 ERA over 130 1/3 innings. While Meyer could compete for a rotation spot during spring training, he said he would be open to pitching out of the bullpen if that will put him in the majors faster. "Whatever it takes to help the Minnesota Twins," Meyer said. "If it’s me being a left-on-left guy, I really don’t care."

As long as he stays healthy, Meyer is expected to make his major-league debut at some point in 2015.


Brewers GM not looking to add another starting pitcher
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(5:09 pm ET) Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said Sunday the team is not looking to add another starting pitcher to replace Yovani Gallardo.

"I don't think we have room for a notable starting pitcher," Melvin said. "We'd like to add a pitcher that could be a spot starter."

Milwaukee currently has Jimmy Nelson as their fifth starter, who went 2-9 in 2014 with a 4.93 ERA and 57 strikeouts for the club.


David Murphy's role unclear for Indians heading into season
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(4:53 pm ET) Indians outfielder David Murphy is heading into his second season with the club and is trying to figure out what his role will be with the team.

Murphy said Sunday he got the chance to speak with general manager Chris Antonetti when the team traded for Brandon Moss in December.

"Communication is huge just in general in this game," Murphy said. "It's nice to go into the season knowing how he feels, and I'm sure he's speaking for the front office and the coaching staff. Just having an idea of how they feel about it, and giving me a chance to voice my opinion in how I feel about it, the lines of communication are open. I definitely think that's a good thing. It's kind of hard to know at this point how things are going to fall into place."

Murphy, who hit .262 with eight home runs and 58 RBI in 2014, knows being traded is one option to find playing time.

"I think everybody can logically see that there's only so many spots out there for so many players," Murphy said. "I'm prepared to lose playing time, but not to the point where I'm going to get 150 at-bats. If that's the case, and that's the best-case scenario for them and for me, I'm open to [a trade]. But I feel like this team has a great chance to win, and for that reason, I would love to be here."

Indians manager Terry Francona said recently Murphy will be the right fielder in Cleveland to open the year.

"Well, it's hard to say right now, because we don't know how healthy Swish or Moss are," Francona said. "So right now, Murph's our right fielder. I don't know if that's going to change in the next month or not."


 
 
 
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