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Thursday 18th Jan 2018

Assorted Rants, Rumblings and Ruminations from the Mind of a “So-Called” Expert

altuve CATCHER: Veterans Brian McCann and Evan Gattis return.

 INFIELD: Carlos Correa and Jose altuve encompass one of the best keystone combos I   can remember, and I've been remembering baseball since about 1971. Alex Bregman and   Yuli Gurriel aren't so bad at the corners, either.

 OUTFIELD: George Springer patrols center field with Josh Reddick manning right,   though he may sit against some tough southpaws. Marwin Gonzalez ended the season as   the left fielder. Jake Marisnick and Derek Fisher return as depth, with top prospect Kyle   Tucker waiting in the wings.

DESIGNATED HITTER: Houston is one of the few teams without any lineup holes, in fact they have quality depth which they run through DH. Gattis often picks up at bats there. Depending on how the defending champs handle the outfield, Gonzalez could pick up more time at DH to keep his stick in the lineup.

BENCH: With Gonzalez and Bregman able to move around, the Astros don't need much by way of infield reserves, with A.J. Reed, Tyler White and Jon Singleton vying for the scraps at first and DH.

dallas keuchelROTATION: Justin Verlander wasn't just a rental, he's signed through at least 2020. Dallas Keuchel joins him as co-ace, with Charlie Morton and a healthy Lance McCullers locks. The fifth spot could go to Brad Peacock with Mike Fiers and Collin McHugh in the mix.

BULLPEN: Count me with the crowd not giving up on Ken Giles, though it remains to be seen if he's trusted again with the game on the line. Chris Devenski is back in his multi-inning role with Will Harris and Tony Sipp doing their thing. Joe Musgrove excelled in the 'pen, though he could be a swingman if injuries kick in.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: Kyle Tucker was alluded to earlier. Houston could use Gonzalez at first and DH, clearing left, but Tucker will likely begin the season on the farm. Some optimistic early drafters are wasting, at least in my opinion, a pick on pitcher Forrest Whitley. That said, Whitley is on the fast track and should be owned in keeper and dynasty formats.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: Houston has no glaring deficincies. They may bring someone in, but it won't be a fantasy-relevant player.

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nick castellanos CATCHER: James McCann returns as the regular with last season's surprise John Hicks   returning as backup.

 INFIELD: Balky back permitting, Miguel Cabrera mans first with Ian Kinsler, Jose Iglesias   and Jeimer Candelario comprising the rest of the infield. 

 OUTFIELD: With Candelario taking over at the hot corner, Nicholas Castellanos will now   chase flies in right field. The rest is a work in progress, with Mikie Mahtook a good bet to   see considerable playing time since the Tigers aren't yet ready to compete. JaCoby Jones   is still in the mix but has yet to establish he can play regularly. Not having the pitching to compete, don't expect an impact bat to be brought in, though a veteran signing or two wouldn't be out of the question.

DESIGNATED HITTER: In September, Victor Martinez had surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat and is supposed to be ready for spring training.

BENCH: Dixon Machado is the reserve infielder. Outfield is in flux, with reserves depending on how the club treats free agency. From a fantasy perspective, there's nothing to see here.

michael fulmer fullROTATION: Blech, which is the proper industry term. Michael Fulmer has front of the rotation potential, but is still raw and needs to display durability. Matthew Boyd, Jordan Zimmermann, Buck Farmer and Daniel Norris round out the staff. There's talk Zimmermann could be dealt.

BULLPEN: Shane Greene exhibited the ability to close, though the opportunities could be sparse. Though, Joe Jimenez looms as the closer of the future. The rest isn't worth considering.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: The Tigers replenished their system, though there aren't many close to contributing. Someone to monitor is slugger Christin Stewart, whose power should play, the question is whether he'll hit enough otherwise to warrant a spot, since his glove isn't special.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: The Tigers are likely to bring in a few major league bats, I just don't see them as being fantasy-worthy, except for deep leagues. They also could be in the market for a veteran arm to fill the Anibal Sanchez role.

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jose ramirez full CATCHER: It says something about Yan Gomes that the Tribe asked Francisco Mejia to   play third base in the Arizona Fall League. Roberto Perez returns as the backup.

 INFIELD: There's a gaping hole at first base with Carlos Santana a free agent. Jason   Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez comprise one of the best infields in the   league. Yandy Diaz and Giovanny Urshela are reserves, with Ramirez helping out with his   versatility.

 OUTFIELD: If healthy, Michael Brantley spearheads an all lefty-swinging group, joined by Bradley Zimmer and Lonnie Chisenhall. This makes right-handed Brandon Guyer a strong reserve. Abraham Almonte and Tyler Naquin both have starting experience.

DESIGNATED HITTER: After a slow start, Edwin Encarnacion got it in gear. Look for him to be hitting from the get-go.

BENCH: Depth isn't an issue with Diaz, Urshela, Almonte and Naquin..

corey kluber fullROTATION: A strength of the squad, Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Danny Salazar Salazar and Mike Tomlin are all under contract and expected to be back. The wild-card is Mike Clevinger who deserves to start, with Salazar and Tomlin the most likely to be moved to the bullpen. Ryan Merritt looms as well.

BULLPEN: Cody Allen and Andrew Miller make a great one-two punch. However, Brian Shaw is gone and he was a vital cog. Look for Nick Goody to step into that role and be a nice cheap set up arm for deeper formats.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: Mejia held his own in the AFL, opening the possibility Kipnis moves to the outfield and Ramirez to second. Though, most feel Mejia is still earmarked for receiver down the line. Bobby Bradley is interesting at first base. How the club replaces Santana could be a tell when they feel Bradley will be ready.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: As alluded to, first base is the biggest need. Everything else will be minor.

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charlie blackmon full CATCHER: While the club could return to Tony Wolters as the lead receiver and hope Tom   Murphy can handle backup duties, there's rumors they want to bring free agent   Jonathan Lucroy back.

 INFIELD: Second, third and short are settled with DJ LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and   Trevor Story. Some drafting with overblown expectations expect Brendan Rodgers to   debut, but I'm not buying it. Ian Desmond was originally signed to play first, there's a   good chance he'll land there in 2018.

 OUTFIELD: Charlie Blackmon is obviously a lock. A healthy David Dahl would snag a corner spot, leaving Gerardo Parra, Raimel Tapia or Desmond to replace the departed Carlos Gonzalez.

BENCH: Alexi Amarista saw some starting time last season and returns to back up the middle positions. Ryan McMahon has a chance to win the job at first base outright, but chances are he'll back up the corners. Parra is best served as a 4th outfielder, he'll probably fall back into that role with Tapia also seeing some reserve time.

jon gray fullROTATION: With a bevy of starters, the Rox are a prime candidate to join the clubs limiting the number of innings per start so each hurler only goes through the order twice. Jon Gray, German Marquez, Tyler Anderson, Kyle Freeland, Chad Bettis, Antonio Senzatela and Jeff Hoffman are all options to start.

BULLPEN: As of this writing, Greg Holland has yet to accept his qualifying offer, with the expectation he declines it. He may opt to stay with Colorado, but he's looking for a mult-year contract. Adam Ottavino has had some success closing, but Colorado seems to prefer him in a set-up role. Chris Rusin has made the transition to the bullpen nicely.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: While Rodgers isn't likely to play in the major this season, at some point, the Rockies will have to make a decision as the young shortstop is one of the best prospects in the game. Other than McMahon, no one is really close.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: Expect one bat to be brought in, either to play first base or corner outfield, with Desmond swinging to the other spot. if Dahl isn't healthy, a second bat could be signed. Something will be done in the bullpen, either a closer or a few set-up arms with Ottavino reclaiming his old job.

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joey votto full CATCHER: I don't trust Devin Mesoraco to stay healthy (nice call, Lord Obvious) so I like   Tucker Barnhart has a cheap end-game backstop.

 INFIELD: The corners are set with Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez. Jose Peraza should   start at shortstop with Scooter Gennett at second. The wild card is Nick Senzel, who is on   the fast track, along with Dilson Herrera. One way to clear a spot for Senzel is dealing   Gennett, moving Suarez back to shortstop and Peraza to second. This likely won't   happen right away, but the buzz is Senzel will make his debut in 2018.

 OUTFIELD: There's rumblings the Reds could move Billy Hamilton, but that's just speculation so figure Hamilton to patrol center with Adam Duvall his left flank. Right field is the question with Jesse Winker an intriguing option to win the job from the outset, leaving Scott Schebler on the outside looking in. This isn't definite, but paying full price for Schebler in early drafts is risky.

BENCH: Herrera is a good bet to be the utility infielder. Look for a fifth outfielder to be brought in, perhaps someone better if Schebler is moved.

luis castilloROTATION: Rookie sensation Luis Castillo will have a spot. Past that, there's a bunch of arms, but not many assured to be healthy. Despite registering horrible numbers for the last three seasons, Home Bailey is likely slated to start. Tyler Mahle and Robert Stephenson showed some promise down the stretch with Brandon Finnegan and Anthony DeSclafani returning from injury. Cody Reed, Amir Garrett and Sal Romano all have some prospect pedigree with a chance to figure it out.

BULLPEN: Raisel Iglesias demonstrated he can be a big league closer and could be moved. Michael Lorenzen was pretty good in setup. Like the starters, there's a lot of arms, just nothing to be excited about from a fantasy sense.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: Senzel has already been mentioned and looks to be a can't-miss prospect at the hot corner. Winker and Mahle make debuts last season and could contribute this season.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: There's a chance the club opts to bring in a veteran starter despite having a bunch in-house. They could also bring in some bullpen help, especially if Iglesias is moved.

Do you want to win your league?

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Please direct all inquiries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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