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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

On Monday, the Braves--a team who could surely use some hitting--bagged their investment in Drew Stubbs, and designated him, essentially making the former up-and-comer a free agent. Stubbs signed with the Rangers five days later but the moves reminded me once again about what a tough game--and business--baseball is.

For some reason, I always associated the seemingly talented Stubbs with another talent from the same basic generation in Colby Rasmus. Stubbs, 31, was a first-round pick of the Reds in 2006 (#8 overall) while Rasmus, 29, was a first-rounder taken by the Cardinals in 2006 (#28 overall). Perhaps because both had relative breakout seasons in 2010 is why I linked the pair, for that year Rasmus went .276-23-66-12 while Stubbs was .255-22-77-30.

Now both toil for the Texas teams, and though Rasmus was off to a hot start, his streaky stick has slowed, making him almost as vulnerable on the struggling Astros as is Stubbs, now a minor leaguer with the Rangers. Meaning it is just as tough for the Rangers and Reds and Cards and Astros to get it right as it is for us as fantasy GM's.

It is a tough game, but a little planning can often help, and one player who is interesting to plan around right now would be Evan Gattis. A DH only last year, Gattis hit ,246-27-88 with 20 doubles, but as we well know, he missed the last of spring and early weeks of the season due to hernia surgery. 

Gattis has been back for 20 games, hitting a rugged .207-1-7, but, in a move that could prove beyond interesting this past week, the Astros sent their investment to Corpus Christi partially to get into a groove, but mostly so the DH could work on his catching skills. Gattis caught 135 games for the Braves from 2013-14, prior to his swap to Houston, and now the plan is for Gattis to back up Jason Castro. That means if you have Gattis filling your DH slot, you will suddenly have a lot of flexibility, and perhaps three catchers with which to contend. That means a possible trade for what you need, so monitor Gattis' progress, and who in your league needs a catcher, with whom you can deal, and project some possibilities to strengthen your roster.

Looking at one other backstop, the Rockies' Dustin Garneau was a 19th round selection of the Coloradans in 2009, and over parts of eight minor league seasons has a line of .248-64-296 after 529 games. Garneau played a limited role of 22 games (.157-2-8) last year but has returned with a .333-0-2 mark over his first week of play since returning to Coors. Catchers come into their own later than other position players as a rule, and Garneau might make an interesting cheap FAAB pick in a deep NL format.

Turning to a couple of more hot new arms, I have to say I hate to endorse another Rockie, Jon Gray, Colorado's #1 selection in 2013, mostly because of his home park. Gray has pretty good minor league totals of 20-12, 3.76, with 285 whiffs over 284.6 frames, but until last week, his life at Coors was beyond miserable. However, over two starts last week, Gray is 0-1, with 16 strikeouts over 13 innings to go with a 1.38 ERA and 0.651 WHIP. Both starts were outside hitting friendly Coors, but those are some deadly numbers, making Gray a streaming possibility, as well as a potential DFS gamble when he throws in a pitcher's park. 

Another intriguing arm, that which belongs to John Lamb, might also be coming into its own. A fifth-rounder of the Royals in 2008, Lamb was part of the Johnny Cueto spoils the Reds culled last year at the deadline. The southpaw struggled over 10 starts after the trade, notching a 1-5, 5.80 mark over 49.6 innings, albeit with 58 strikeouts. Lamb started this season in the Minors but made his debut last week, holding the Giants to six hits and a run. Before nabbing the pitcher, do check out his injury status, for Lamb was lifted in the fifth inning of his start against the Brewers on Mother's Day. Otherwise, in most formats, Lamb is worthy of a roster spot depending upon your league format.

Boston is close to inserting Eduardo Rodriguez back into the rotation. Rodriguez, who went 10-6, 3.85 last year over 121 frames at Fenway, has been sidelined by a knee injury incurred over the spring. The lefty tossed 93 pitches for Pawtucket last week and might make one more start there before returning to Boston, although management could decide the hurler is ready now. Either way, if available, keep an eye on the Red Sox pitcher.

With Mike Moustakas injured, the Royals advanced Cheslor Cuthbert, a 23-year-old Nicaraguan signed in 2009. Cuthbert came up last year under similar circumstances but was overmatched, posting a .217-1-8 line over 19 games. This year, however, he has posted a .333-7-28 mark at Omaha with 12 walks to 14 strikeouts, Cuthbert could be ready for the Majors. Certainly, stash him in your AL-only league and do watch his progress in every other format.

Finally, the Dodgers seem as deep in outfielders as they do pitchers, but just as the team's hurlers get hurt, so do the flychasers seem brittle. Enter Trayce Thompson, acquired as part of the three-way White Sox-Reds-Dodgers deal of last season, who hit .260-13-39 over 106 games at Charlotte last year before the swap. Thompson has been with the big club all year, hitting .268-2-9 over 56 at-bats although with just three walks to 19 strikeouts. Meaning it is hard to endorse Thompson, but if your league is deep, sometimes the hand of an owner is forced.

Make sure you comment below as moved, and remember, you can indeed find me @lawrmichaels.

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