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Wednesday 21st Feb 2018

This week poses an interesting one for free agent selections in that we are just a week from September call-ups, meaning a week from now we will be anticipating the arrival of Francisco Lindor and maybe Maikel Franco along with a cluster of other odds and sods from the Minors.

As for this week, there is a prospect by the name of Rymer Liriano, now playing for the Padres, whom I should have covered last week.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic at 17, and now 23, Liriano fared pretty well at Double-A, hitting .264-14-53 with 17 swipes at San Antonio (where he played in 2012, but missed 2013 due to Tommy John surgery) this year before moving to Triple-A El Paso.

Over 16 games there, he hit .452 with 13 RBI and 11 doubles over 16 games, and that was enough to push the outfielder (and former pitcher) to Petco.

He is hitting .219-1-4 in the bigs, but he should be a starter next season as the Padres try in earnest to rebuild.

Looking locally, Oakland's Sean Doolittle had trouble putting away the Angels on Friday night, and after throwing 25 or so pitches--mostly fastballs--I wondered how inevitable it was that the hard throwing lefty might injure his wing.

Apparently not long, as the Athletics have set him down, which likely means Luke Gregerson will get the chance to close.

With three saves, a 2.17 ERA and a WHIP of 0.983 over 58 innings, and the right hander has served in this role before, so, he becomes the go-to guy.

That means the return of Dan Otero, who has been extremely effective as a set-up man with a 9-1, 1.96 mark for Oakland over the past two years and 110 frames. Otero was sent down so the Athletics could keep an extra stick in the Majors over the next week, but perhaps the acquisition of Yunel Escobar to spell the team in the injury absence of Jed Lowrie and Nick Punto will move Andy Parrino back to the Minors and open a slot for Otero to return.

Either way, both Escobar and Gregerson make good plays for the next week.

Across the Bay, it looks like the Giants second base situation might well be stabilizing with Joe Panik stepping it up and acting like he feels comfy in a Major League uniform, having hit .458-1-5 this past week, .421 over the past month, and now boasts a season line of .307-1-13 over 41 games and 137 at-bats. He makes a nice bet.

On the other hand, there is now talk that Tim Lincecum, who is 1-2, 7.94 with a 2.294 WHIP this past month, might be out of the Giants rotation for a spell, and that suggests Yusmeiro Petit might step into the fifth starting spot.

Maybe a move to the pen--Lincecum was more than effective there to end 2012, and the thought of him as a closer might not be a bad idea at all--would be good for Tim, who is now 10-9, 4.64 with a 1.411 WHIP over 143 innings, with 130 strikeouts for 2014: a far cry from the double Cy Young winner's peak years.

Petit always pitched well in the Minors, putting up Justin Duchscherer type control numbers, and using his control and ability to change speeds to his advantage, but I would not feel comfortable with Petit in my rotation at this point, no matter what. He does have some strong starts in his resume, but I see Petit getting knocked around more often than not come the final month.

Do I think Gordon Beckham will become the guy we had hoped for when he came up with the Sox now that he is on a new team?

Nope. Pass.

But, I do like Drew Stubbs, who had a hot week, going .429-2-6 over the past seven days, bringing his season numbers up to a more than respectable .297-13-38 with 15 swipes this season over 331 at-bats. Stubbs still strikes out more than I wish with just 21 walks to 104 whiffs, but I like him a lot in a deep league.

Finally, on the pitching side, I have been waiting all season for Alex Cobb to start pitching the way I knew he could, and over the past month, he has done just that, moving his season mark to 9-6, 3.01 with a 1.149 WHIP.

Over the past 30 days, Cobb has been 2-0, 1.04 over 26 innings with a 1.115 WHIP with 24 punchouts. A fine pickup if Cobb is still out there in your mixed format, and for sure in daily and monthly contests, a good play as well.

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