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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

Welcome back to another wild week of Major League/Fantasy Baseball, where if you own stars like Josh Hamilton or Joe Mauer, you are now scratching your head, wondering what to do next.

Well, in this space we can at least offer some alternative names, mostly worth looking at, depending upon your league format.

In fact one player who might be hanging even in a mixed format is the Royals third baseman Wilson Betemit, who is currently sharing third base time with Mike Aviles. Hard as it is to believe, Aviles is actually a year older than Betemit (Mike is 30; Wilson just 29, though it seems like Betemit has been around forever), and the truth is both players are likely place holding until prospect Mike Moustakas is promoted. But, for now, I would bank on Betemit getting the bulk of at-bats, and producing more. Last year the third baseman hit. .297-14-43 over 276 at-bats, logging a .378 OBP (36 walks to 76 strikeouts). This year, in limited (31 at-bats, nine games) Betemit is hitting a lusty .397-1-7, with nine walks to six whiffs. Expect Betemit to get the bulk of plate appearances now as the season moves into full gear, with Aviles playing a utility role. Also expect Moustakas before the season ends.

If you own Evan Longoria, chances are you have been scrounging for a replacement, especially in a deep AL format. Well, journeyman Felipe Lopez would have been a good choice, and still is even when Longoria comes back to claim his spot. Lopez is itinerant, having played for eight teams over the past 11 years, including St. Louis twice. Lopez is a hacker, but he does make good contact, and has a decent eye as his career 439 walks to 885 strikeouts suggest. Lopez has acceptable power with 89 homers, 31 triples, and 217 career doubles, and can play second, third, and short and will likely keep a utility role with the team for the bulk of the season.

Speaking of third base spots, I wish I could recommend new Yankees third sacker Eric Chavez, who might get some work in spelling Alex Rodriguez, who is nursing a bad back. Chavez has started the year well with seven hits over 15 at-bats, and a couple of knocks for the Pinstripes, but Chavez has not turned in a full season over the past five years, and has had such an abundance of neck and shoulder and back injuries that it is hard to endorse him for anything.

Let's turn now both to pitchers, and to the National League, noting the Brewers Chris Narveson, who believe it or not is not the only Narveson to play in the majors (Albert Navreson played between 1912-15). Narveson the younger more than merits a look, for following his solid full season of 2010 (Narveson debuted in 2009, and passed the rookie barometer, going 2-0, 3.87 over four starts and 43 innings), when he went 14-9, 4.99 over 167 innings. Narveson whiffed 137, and allowed 172 hits to just 59 strikeouts, but it was the long ball (21 homers last year) that were his undoing. For now, the left-hander is 1-0, 1.45 over three starts, with 19 whiffs to eight walks and 12 hits over 18.1 innings. The Brewers have some good pitching and it is contagious. Keep an eye on this fellow.

Similarly, I am a big Josh Collmenter fan. The big (6'2", 235 lbs) right hander was selected in the 15th round by the Diamondbacks in 2007 draft, and has subsequently gone 41-27, 3.50 over 92 minor league starts and 515 innings. The 25-year old has 472 strikeouts, to just 451 hits and 172 walks (1.17 ratio), and threw in a great start that I saw at the Arizona Fall League last November. Clearly you want him an NL format, and he is worth a look in a mixed setting as well.

The Mets promoted hurler Dillon Gee, their 21st round selection of the 2007 draft. Gee caused a stir last fall when he had a cup of coffee to the tune of 2-2, 2.18 over five late season starts. In fact it was kind of surprising that Gee did not make the Opening Day roster, but here he is now, with minor league totals of 28-17, 3.78 over 78 starts and 437.2 innings. Gee whiffed 385, walked just 85, and allowed 420 hits (good also for a 1.17 WHIP) and is another interesting play in an NL format. Not quite as strong as Collmenter for a mixed situation.

With Dallas Braden down, look for Oakland's Tyson Ross to get a start should the left-handed Braden miss a start or two. Ross, who was a second round pick of the Athletics in 2008, has a live fastball that clocks around 96 MPH. As a minor leaguer Ross whiffed 159 over 181 innings, with 71 walks and 145 hits allowed. Ross can be dominant and certainly has a future in the very good Athletics rotation. Ross was also thought to have made the Opening Day roster, but he is in Oakland now, and despite career 2-5, 5.40 totals in the majors, is a good choice in an AL only league at this point.

The Cards advanced 25-year old Fernando Salas, from Sonora, Mexico, tossed 30.2 innings last year, going 0-0, 3.69, with 29 strikeouts to 15 walks and 28 hits. He is a hard thrower, with 46 minor league saves to his credit, and with so much trouble emanating for the St. Louis pen, it is not unreasonable for Salas to get a shot at setting up, if not closing on a regular basis.

Finally, with Josh Hamilton's move to the DL, Texas brought back would-be slugger Chris Davis. At .429-4-12 over his first week of the 2011 minor league season, Davis has surely proved he is better than a Triple-A player. But, his awful 2010 in Texas, where Davis went .192-1-4 over 136 at-bats still has to be considered an anomaly. However, David Murphy (.321-1-4 this year) will get the bulk of playing time, and since both Murphy and Davis are left-handed hitters, there is probably not even a platoon situation going on. At this point Davis is really just bench material.


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