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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

Another week pushing towards the summer, and two more advances--in fact a pair of signings--graced the American League this week.

The Twins, who waited till the early June date so, as with the other MLB teams, they would not forfeit a pick by acquiring Kendrys Morales did just that, pretty much surprising all of us. But, the Twins, who are two games below .500 and just five games back, are to be commended for taking a shot in what has become so much of a fun free-for-all thanks to the expanded wild card format baseball has embraced.

Morales will join the Twins and will probably own the DH slot from now on out (provided he does not break a limb stomping onto home plate). The owner of a 162-game mean of .280-27-90 over his seven years, Morales is a pretty good gamble if you want or need some hitting.

But, it is odd that vet Jason Kubel wound up on the short end of that stick. I have to think someone needing some left-handed pop will take a chance on the streaky hitter, so I would not dump Kubel and would bid on him as FAAB going to an NL-only format.

By the way, weird to see Jason Lane up and back down, and now Scott Sizemore go down. For it was Sizemore's injury a few years back that opened the door for Josh Donaldson to play third in Oakland. Odd how that works: the Zen of baseball in action.

Similarly, the Astros inked Jon Singleton to a new long-term deal and handed him the keys to first base. Singleton, who knocked his second homer--a slam--Sunday along with George Springer suggests the Astros are seriously starting the upside of their rebuild, which will be a lot of fun to watch.

I would have grabbed either in any league, were they available. However, let's talk about Nick Castellanos, whom I have in a couple of leagues, and whom I benched in one. The Detroit third sacker hit just .233-3-14 for April this year, and .233-1-6 for May, but seems to have made an adjustment, hitting .611-1-1 over five games and 18 at-bats in June. Granted, this is a small sample, but he has only whiffed once and walked once over that span (four walks to 17 whiffs in April, seven walks to 26 in May), and that is very encouraging. I would keep a serious eye on him. And, due to that poor start, in a shallow mixed NFBC format, he might well be a free agent.

This is the time of year when if my pitching is doing well, I try to mitigate any potential damage by streaming middle relievers and checking starts and match-ups just to see. Ubaldo Jimenez, on my otherwise very strong AL Tout staff, is the case in point. I had thought after four starts that Jimenez had worked into a sort of decent fifth starter groove, but he is still way too erratic to trust. So, there are a few middle guys I would like to have, starting with the Orioles, and Darren O'Day.

O'Day, a sneaky side-armer, has long been a fave of mine with a career 22-9, 2.79 mark, with a great 1.047 WHIP and 301 strikeouts over 333.6 frames. This year, he is 2-0, 1.01 over 26.6 innings, with a pair of saves and a 1.050 WHIP. Very consistent, unlikely to hurt himself, and easy to replace.

Another pretty good option is Jason Frasor, now with the Tigers, who is 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA over 21 frames this year, with 22 whiffs (though a somewhat alarming 10 walks) and a 1.143 WHIP. The beauty of streaming these guys is that there are always a few out there, so they can be interchangeable and cheap. Plus, one bad inning, which is the worst they will do, should not hurt nearly as much as one Ubaldo Jimenez start these days.

Speaking of Ubaldo, Kevin Gausman had an excellent start against Oakland and Sonny Gray Saturday, hurling seven innings and holding a potent Athletics team to just a run and four hits plus a walk. The former #1 pick of the Orioles in 2012 earned his first win and he is certainly worth a grab.

While we are at it in Baltimore, keep an eye peeled for Dylan Bundy, who is set to start a minor league game and is throwing around 94 MPH. He could join the rotation after the break if the Orioles rotation--of whom Wei-Yin Chen has the lowest ERA at 4.11--does not settle down with some kind of clear ace.

Let's finish with one more #1, looking at Cam Bedrosian, the top pick of the Angels in 2010, and son of Cy Young winning reliever Steve Bedrosian. Bedrock the younger is indeed following in the footsteps of his esteemed reliever pop, and though he got knocked around his first couple of games in the Majors, he was 1-0, 1.12 with eight saves over 24 innings at two minor league levels this year. He has 45 strikeouts to eight walks and just six hits allowed (0.583 WHIP) and he could very well pick up some save chances if Ernesto Frieri stumbles again. I have to think he is their closer of the future, and the future could well be very soon.

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