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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

Here we are, Memorial Day 2014, and as I conjure, this would be the 18th time I have concocted a piece for this space. If you have been along for the ride all these years, I humbly thank you. So, as usual, I wish a safe and happy holiday to you and yours.

OK, enough for pleasantries. In a week that followed the migration of Kyle Blanks from the National League to the American, we now have Nick Hundley, similarly leaving Southern California, though this time for the other coast and the Orioles. Like Blanks joining Oakland, Hundley could indeed be a nice fit for the Orioles, splitting time with Matt Wieters back-up Steve Clevenger.

Since Wieters could indeed be down, at least from playing behind the dish, for quite a spell, Hundley (.271-1-3 over 39 games, but with just a .271 OBP) could get a boost from the move and new home. In an AL-only setup, he is worth a few bucks as a FAAB selection, but I don't have the same feel for upside as I did Blanks last week.

While we are at it, after what, six months of speculation, Stephen Drew finally has returned to Boston, where he hit a decent .253-13-67 last year over 124 games, to go with a .333 OBP (54 walks, 124 whiffs). Drew is one of those classic players and roto hopefuls, full of talent and speculation after being a first-round pick in 2004 who has had a reasonable career (is he better than Neil Walker?) and yet one that fell below anticipation (is he worse than Neil Walker?). Drew might get some playing time when he works his way back from his minor league assignment, but even with Will Middlebrooks out, I would think more playing time will go to Brock Holt as long as the Sox struggle below the .500 mark.

The bulk of interesting moves this week seemed to all fall to the American League, where another disappointing star of the future, Mike Moustakas finally ran out of time in Kansas City. So, the Royals called up Jimmy Paredes to fill the slot (as well as back up second base and the outfield). Danny Valencia is down for a bit with a sprained hand, but I would expect him to hang onto the hot corner when healthy. Paredes could be a little help in a deep format if you need speed, and he was hitting .327-3-17 at Omaha when summoned, but with just five walks to 28 whiffs this year (119:481 in the Minors), I see no role better than a bench spot ever.

That said, players like Paredes often do have a run a la Eduardo Escobar, who with 164 minor league walks to 507 whiffs, has a similar profile to Paredes (they differ in age by 41 days, even). Well, Escobar has been red-hot, hitting .337-1-7 and who seems to be starting at short on a daily basis in Minnesota these days. As noted many times: ride the hot hand, and Escobar has one, and is likely available in a lot of mixed formats. Just don't try to predict a streak, and certainly don't be afraid to cut loose when--and if--his bat chills down a mite.

One encouraging thing in San Diego-land was the good performance by Tim Stauffer, who had a nice showing Friday night during his first start (five IP, two hits, one walk, five whiffs) since 2012 (five innings, seven hits, four runs, three walks, five whiffs). That start was it for Stauffer, who looked like a good young arm, then fell to arm surgery, and might be returning to form. Stauffer has a 2-0, 1.90 mark right now, with 23 whiffs, a 1.225 WHIP and just one dinger allowed. In a way, his path is not unlike that of Dustin McGowan, but at this point I kind of like Stauffer to pick it up from here on out. He is a good gamble. while McGowan no longer is.

Seattle recalled the somewhat lost Nick Franklin, probably because Brad Miller's bat (.156-3-11) was so weak. Unfortunately, Franklin, hitting .154-0-1, is not much better, though in 30 fewer games. Ultimately, I like Miller and his .925 minor league OPS (.334-27-128) to Franklin (.293-53-193 with an .839 OPS), however.

Now is the time to grab Trevor Bauer 9-1, 2.25 over a pair of starts (13 K over 12 innings, but 11 hits and two homers suggest he is around the plate). Bauer was 4-1, 2.15 at Columbus this year with 44 strikeouts over 46 frames and a 1.087 WHIP. At least if he is there to grab, but this is Bauer's third go at the Majors, and I find this sort of a make or break number for most young players in that he has figured it out now (which is good) or not (ask Mike Moustakas, after his third year). So, if you are going to gamble, now is the time.

Darin Ruf is also back in Phillie-land, also for the third time, coming off hitting .261-1-4 over 12 minor league games. Much like Moustakas, much of our anticipation of Ruf was based upon a monster minor league season (.317-38-104 at Reading in 2012), but the big question is where will he play? Since third base is what the Phils need help at right now, I would pass.

I am not sure how St. Louis keeps coming up with these guys, but with Kevin Siegrist injured, take a peek at Sam Freeman, who struggled out of the pen in 2012 (0-2, 5.40 over 20 innings), did much better last year (1-0, 2.19 over 12.3 innings) and is now back. A lefty, Freeman does have 275 whiffs in the Minors over 288.3 innings, along with a 1.255 WHIP. If you need to fill a middle spot, a guy like Freeman on a team like the Cards can be a help.

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