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Sunday 17th Dec 2017

It is hard for me to believe, but today begins the 20th anniversary of the Hotpage. What a ride it has been, and it has been wonderful to share it with all of you as Fantasy Sports have now become so mainstream!

So, as the exciting Cubs take on the Cardinals, in the wake of the Padres and Braves major swap, let's take a look at a few of the implications of that big trade.

Of course, Craig Kimbrel becomes the closer in San Diego, but what about Kevin Quackenbush, whom many of us projected as a save recipient? Well, at least I thought Quackenbush could surpass Joaquin Benoit. Quackenbush is still a great WHIP/ERA stabilizer, and will get some whiffs, but his stock drops in all formats save when Holds are a stat. I do think Quackenbush figures to be a closer somewhere before long, but "future" is the key word.

On the Braves side, I confess to having been a Carlos Quentin fan for a number of years, although after his bad and injury-plagued 2014 (.177-4-18 over 50 games), I stayed away. Quentin, however, can hit when he is healthy (that is obviously the issue) but he could get a new lease on everything in Atlanta, where he should have a starting gig. It has been reported that the Braves will demote the 32-year-old, but Quentin's skill set is so much better than anything the Braves are throwing in the outfield (including Cameron Maybin, who was traded with Quentin, and top pitching prospect Matt Wisler) at this point, I think it is a mistake to designate Carlos. We shall see.

I have been hyping the Jays' Marco Estrada as a perfect reserve/ninth pitcher in most deep leagues. Estrada is sixth on the starter depth chart, but Drew Hutchison, Daniel Norris and Aaron Sanchez are still somewhat untested over a prolonged period, while Estrada, who is 31, has a 1.181 WHIP and 508 strikeouts over 541 Major League innings. The issue is the 85 homers Estrada has allowed, but if he can channel some of the great 2013 (7-6, 3.87 over 21 starts), he could be a valuable asset.

If you are looking for a utility player, I want to repeat that the Giants' Matt Duffy could wind up with some serious playing time, and related numbers. The 24-year-old, who was an 18th round selection in 2012, has a .302-13-135 line over 248 games and parts of three seasons, and hit a respectable .267-0-8 last year over 34 late season games. Duffy, who plays second, third, short, and has worked some in the outfield, hit .361 this spring with three dingers to earn an Opening Day slot, with a good eye (.387 minor league OBP with 120 walks to 145 whiffs) and could be a nice play in a deep league.

I want to trust Baltimore #5 starter Ubaldo Jimenez over Kevin Gausman, but I don't. Jimenez was a huge disappointment at 6-9, 4.81 last year, though he did whiff 116 over 125.3 frames. The issue was the 77 walks he also allowed. But, I think holding back Gausman (7-7, 3.57 with 88 whiffs over 112.3 innings) is an error. It was Gausman who helped pick up the slack behind the struggles of Jimemez, after all. Handcuffing the pair in a deep league is a great idea, by the way, but Gausman is the long-term play, for sure.

The Braves have installed former #1 pick of the Padres (in 2011) Jace Peterson as their everyday second sacker. Much like Duffy, Peterson has good zone judgement with 217 walks to 233 strikeouts (.381 OBP) to go with a .287-14-187 line with 148 steals over 389 games, and hit .306-2-39 over 68 Triple-A games when not yo-yo-ing to Petco, where he did struggle (.113-0-0 with a pair of swipes), but with lesser expectations on a rebuilding Braves team, Peterson could do just fine. Peterson was part of the Justin Upton swap, by the way.

Continuing with a couple of more middle infielders, the Reds' Kris Negron is of a similar ilk, albeit a bit older than Duffy or Peterson. Negron hit .271-6-17 with five swipes last year during limited time (49 games) and could prove to be a nice middle infield gamble in a deep league. Negron is a Northern California product (Cosumnes River College, near Sacramento) and was drafted by the Red Sox in 2006 in the seventh round.

Don't look now, but Dan Uggla has made the Nationals roster. Now, I am not so much endorsing the second sacker with the biggest swing this side of the "Pit and the Pendulum," but Uggla hit .261 this spring with a pair of dingers to earn his slot. I wouldn't gamble much on Uggla, but I would keep my eye on him, especially in a deep format. He can hit the big fly, and if Uggla can harness that swing with a little control, he could be as good as...Mark Reynolds?

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