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Wednesday 21st Feb 2018

I have to say that though my team, currently in fourth place in the American League Tout Wars, is faring well, if we do not win a crown this season, it could well trace back to this past week. 

That is because in the last cycle Justin Verlander completely imploded while David Phelps, whom I impatiently dumped a month ago to much remorse, established himself as a member of Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton's rotation. And, it is a week in which Raul Ibanez, sitting on my bench, went .364-5-11.

So, let's start out with the now 40-year-old Ibanez, who is helping the Mariners push to the next level with a hot bat and his veteran experience. The Mariners moved into second place in the AL West in part fueled by Ibanez's hot stick, putting his season stats to .240-8-21, now over 85 at-bats and 25 games. In a deep format like Tout, Ibanez is a solid pick-up as a fifth outfielder/DH, and is pretty much on pace to duplicate the .240-19-62 totals he contributed to the Yankees last season. 

So, by starting with one of the elders of the game at present, we can move to the next big thing. That would be Jurickson Profar, recalled by the Rangers Sunday to replace the injured Ian Kinsler. At half the age of Ibanez, the Rangers did not yet have room for Profar when camp broke, so to Round Rock he went, where .278-4-19 totals with six swipes and 21 walks to 24 whiffs bode well. Meaning Profar will get some playing time now but still is probably not here to stay, barring a long-term injury or a trade. However, if you are in a keeper format where Profar is available, grab him and don't look back.

Not quite as young--at 23--but likely just as anticipated, New York brought up/back huge (as in 6'8", 255 lbs.) Dellin Betances. Though there has been a buzz about Betances, I think he is one of those Daniel Cabrera Frankensteins that is sympathetic and not so physically hideous if you read Mary Shelley's novel, or, creepy looking Boris Karloff, depending upon his control on any given day. The right-hander does have 644 punchouts over his 585.2 minor league innings, but he also has 321 walks. Betances will likely pitch out of the pen for the Bombers for now, meaning he will probably have negligible value. In a keeper format, he is worth owning as a potential future investment, but he could just as easily turn out to be a Delorean as anything else.

Detroit has Avisail Garcia is back with the Tigers, and overall it is hard to not like him. At 22, with six professional seasons under his belt and .285-39-250 totals assembled, it is hard not to. Add in that Garcia is hitting .432-1-4 at Toledo over a limited sample (his season start stalled due to injury) and hit .319-0-4 over 23 games last season at Comerica, and stayed on for postseason play. The issues facing him are playing time and lots of whiffs (13 in the Bigs) to not so many walks (3, relatively, over 55 at-bats). With Torii Hunter producing, Matt Tuiasosopo impressing, Andy Dirks competing and Austin Jackson healing, something will have to give. For now, as much as I like him, it probably will not go Garcia's way, especially when Jackson comes off the DL.

OK, if you are in a deep league and you need a little pop, consider the amazing Rick Ankiel. So what if Ankiel has never been as good a hitter as we hoped he would be a pitcher. But, for a guy who made the top ten of my very first Top 100 prospects in 1999 after striking out 119 over 81 innings, the guy picked up the bat and hit as many as 25 homers in a season (2008 over 120 games, even). Now with the Mets, Ankiel is more than worthy of a fifth outifielder spot, where he will give you Cody Ransom numbers (130 at-bats, but seven homers, and the counting stats that come with it).

Now with David Price, apparently the elder statesman of the Rays rotation, on the shelf, Jake Odorizzi seems to have the inside track on the rotation gig, but I really like another kid the team has in Alex Torres. A 25-year-old Venezuelan southpaw, Torres was 3-7, 7.30 at Durham last year, but his 2-2, 2.39 over seven starts back with the Bulls this year over 37.2 innings (49 strikeouts, 26 hits, 14 walks) forced the Rays hand and Torres was brought up. Torres was up for eight innings (1-1, 3.38) in 2011 and so far is 1-0, 0.00 over 4.1 innings this time around with three whiffs, two walks and no hits.

Wow, Francisco Rodriguez is back with the Brewers. Believe it or not, K-Rod is only 31 years old, with 294 career saves. It is a long shot, and Rodriguez was 2-7, 4.38 last year with Milwaukee over 71 innings, earning three saves. And, as we have seen with Heath Bell and Jose Valverde, once a closer, never an ex-closer. The Brewers' Jim Henderson is the incumbant, but anything can happen.

Tim Stauffer is back with the Padres, and while I have long liked the right-hander, who sat out parts of the last two seasons with arm troubles (he was 9-12, 3.73 over 185.2 good innings in 2011), I think the biggest issue the now 31-year-old Stauffer will have is the bevy of good young arms infiltrating the San Diego staff. But, there is always the question of how long Jason Marquis can stay effective, and that could portend an opening for Stauffer. He is fine to keep on the taxi squad, but not much else right now.

Ugh. I am trying hard to resist a Sunday night FAAB bid on Danny Valencia. He hit .311 as a rookie, .246 as a sophomore jinxed and nothing over the Mendoza line since. Still, he hit .306-11-35 at Norfolk this year before the Orioles recall (ostenstibly as a utility guy, but mostly at second base) but I think he is one of those players, as Hall and Oates would say, "better left unsaid."


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