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Friday 15th Dec 2017

It is pretty obvious to me that the ups-and-downs of the baseball season is pretty well modified by the craziness of the transaction list, and the relative gambles and desperation therein.

This cycle, the high end of the spectrum features the newest, hottest Cuban import in Yasiel Puig. I am not sure where you may have been hiding to not know about the new Dodger right fielder, but on the outside chance that Puig is available in your league, grab him, and don't let go.

"Why," you may ask? 

OK, I will give you a few reasons that despite the initial premise that Puig's promotion would only be till Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford returned from the DL.

To start, the guy seems to be able to hit. Period. Over his 63 games in the Minors, there is the .328-13-52 line he produced along with 27 walks to 44 strikeouts, and a 1.016 OPS. Oh yes, and 21 steals. Over his six Major League games, he is .435-4-10, an arguably small sample. The Dodgers are 4-3 since his promotion, and a mere 7.5 games behind the division-leading Diamondbacks (the Athletics were 13 games behind the Rangers last year going into July, as a means of comparison), not to mention Puig can also play defense.

So, he has somewhat energized his team, and certainly the Los Angeles fans, at least in the short term. Finally, for the most part, Cuban-born players seem to be the most Major League ready after signing. That is, using Dayan Viciedo, Alexi Ramirez, Yoenis Cespedes, and Leonys Martin as recent examples.

All this means I would try to obtain Puig at least for a boost this season, without too much concern that he will get sent back down, at least in the near future. Of course this means a gamble. But, it is the kind of good and fun, and a little edgy gamble that pays off big time when it works.

If you cannot land Puig, a less marquee--at least this week--alternative is the Nationals' #1 pick in 2011 (#6 overall), Anthony Rendon, was also promoted with Danny Espinosa now injured. The 23-year-old out of Rice has posted a .269-12-36 line in the Minors over 76 games this season, and has also displayed fine plate discipline, with 55 walks to 57 strikeouts (.939 OPS). Because the Nationals are in general not having the problems the Dodgers are, there is a greater chance that Rendon would go back to Syracuse (he had only been there for three games), but for now--qualifying at second and third in some leagues--Rendon is a pretty good pickup.

Maybe, with Rickie Weeks still struggling, the Brewers will consider advancing second sacker Scooter Gennett. A high school draftee in 2009, Gennett actually has a .300-24-163 line over 435 games. Gennet also has 44 steals in the Minors, although he is prone to the strikeout (100 walks to 263 whiffs). Still, with Weeks playing so poorly, if Gennett can show a spark, that could mean changes. He is worth a buck or two of FAAB, should you have a hole.

Two pitchers started back from the dead this week in Daniel Hudson and Dustin McGowan, both of whom have had arm surgery. In fact McGowan, who a few years back was the next big thing for Toronto, has only pitched in five games since 2008. At least until Sunday, when he did a bit of everything, getting one out, striking out one, walking one, and hitting one hitter. I can see him having some jitters. Not a bad crap shoot in an AL-only.

However, poor Hudson, off Tommy John surgery, re-injured his wing, and that is probably it for him this year it seems, with looming talk of a second surgery.

The Angels, struggling as much as their cross-town Los Angeles NL counterparts, purchased the contract of Brad Hawpe, and though the Halos seemingly have a lot of sticks, Hawpe could get some platoon time a la Seth Smith, or Jonny Gomes, and give some nice production. Again, we are talking AL-only here, but again, for a buck, a couple of homers means pushing profit. (And, note, that Hawpe is the 26th man right now on the Angels rosters, so his time could be fleeting.)

In the National League, an interesting counterpart to Hawpe could be the Padres' Kyle Blanks, who is now hitting .300-6-21 over 38 games (due to injuries, Blanks has never topped 55 games or 190 plate appearances in a season as of yet). With 11 walks to 25 strikeouts (.383 OBP), Blanks may finally be healthy enough to realize all that potential. BTW, with Yonder Alonso injured, Blanks, who has logged ten games so far at first this year, becomes and extra-important cog in the Padres universe.



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