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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

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

Bryant kris CATCHER: Willson Contreras is one of the best in the game, it doesn't really matter who   his backup is.

 INFIELD: Three spots are set with Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Addison Russell.   Second base is in flux with Javier Baez, Ian Happ and Ben Zobrist all in the mix.

 OUTFIELD: Kyle Schwarber, whose best position is designated hitter, is the only one   guaranteed a spot. Jason Heyward is still in tow, and will likely play, but, well, he's good   at fielding. Happ and Zobrist both dabble in the outfield with Albert Almora Jr. deserving   of more time, let's see if he gets it.

BENCH: There's a good chance Zobrist spends more time as a reserve than regular. Tommy La Stella can also play all over the place.

LesterROTATION: Jon Lester and Jose Quintana front the rotation with stalwart Kyle Hendricks doing his thing. Mike Montgomery deserves a spot, leaving one up for grabs. Chances are the club brings someone in to replace jake Arrieta with Eddie Butler and Luke Farrell long-shot in house candidates.

BULLPEN: Wade Davis is a free agent, opening up the closer spot for Carl Edwards Jr., though the club will likely brings someone in from outside the organization. The rest of the 'pen is solid with Pedro Strop, Justin Wilson and Hector Rondon.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: The once plush system is now barren.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: Pitching will be the focus as at least one starter will be signed, as well as possibly a closer.

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mookiebetts CATCHER: Christian Vazquez and Sandy Leon both return, with Blake Swihart in the   mix. The position may not be a strength, but it certainly isn't a weakness.

 INFIELD: The left side is set with Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers. With Dustin   Pedroia out for a significant length of time, a decent second baseman that can   ideally back up elsewhere is needed. There's also a hole at first, hence the Eric   Hosmer rumors.

 OUTFIELD: Barring a trade to clear a spot for J.D. Martinez (Red Sox Nation has   unrealistic hopes), the trio of Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts will continue to dance after every victory. With Chris Young a free agent, a right-handed reserve is likely to be brought in.

 DESIGNATED HITTER: Supposedly, one of the reasons for hiring Alex Cora is to motivate Hanley Ramirez. Good luck with that.

BENCH: Brock Holt ended the season healthy so he'll be back in his Swiss knife role. The rest depends on how the club deals with first and second.

Sale tout dailyROTATION: Chris Sale, Drew Pomeranz and Rick Porcello are locks. After his playoff heroics, David Price enters the season with starting intentions. The fifth spot is up for grabs with Eduardo Rodriguez out for at least six weeks. Steven Wright and Brian Johnson are in-house candidates.

BULLPEN: Despite some playoff issues, the bullpen is fine, with Craig Kimbrel front and center. Tyler Thornburg could be back, though the history of those returning from thoracic outlet syndrome is worrisome. Carson Smith, Joe Kelly and Matt Barnes are all viable in leagues where relievers are useful.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: With Devers promoted, only Michael Chavis is reasonably close to contributing. The problem is Chavis' natural spot is the hot corner and his bat isn't ready to be an MLB first baseman.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: At least one big stick will be signed, likely to play first base. An impact infielder and perhaps pitcher is also a strong possibility.

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Freeman CATCHER: More of a time-share than platoon since they both hit from the right-side,   veterans Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki return.

 INFIELD: Freddie Freeman is one of the best at first base with youngsters Ozzie Albies   and Dansby Swanson slated to be the double-play combo. The hot corner is up for grabs   with Johan Camargo holding the edge over Adonis Garcia and Rio Ruiz.

 OUTFIELD: Here's where it gets interesing as Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte and Nick   Markakis return with phenom Ronald Acuna waiting in the wings. The scuttlebutt is Acuna will be sent to Triple-A for a few weeks, then called up, a la Kris Bryant a couple years ago. The question is where will he play? Inciarte holds the most trade value while Kemp is essentially immovable and Markakis not likely to garner anything significant in return.

BENCH: There's ample infiield depth with Jace Peterson and Danny Santana joining whoever doesn't win the job at third. Matt Adams is also in the mix. The outfield reserves are unclear until the Acuna scenario plays out.

Teheran 2017ROTATION: Veteran R.A. Dickey is gone, leaving the inconsistent Julio Teheran to front a young rotation. Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Lucas Sims and Luiz Gohara currently line up to start the season, but don't count out bringing in another veteran as the promising youngsters can't be counted on for 32 starts each. Matt Wisler and Aaron Blair are in-house options.

BULLPEN: Hopefully, the club hands the ninth inning reins exclusively to Arodys Vizcaino, leaving Jim Johnson to set up. A.J. Minter has a chance to enter the 100-K club.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: The aforementioned Acuna heads the list with a trio of young arms all with a chance to see action next summer. Max Fried debuted in 2017 and has impressed in the Arizona Fall League. Mike Soroko and Kolby Allard could do the same this season.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: It's possible Atlanta brings in a starting pitcher and third baseman, moving Camargo to super-utility, but other than how they clear a spot for Acuna, it looks to be a quiet hot stove for the Braves.

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manny machado full CATCHER: With Welington Castillo declining his option, Baltimore could bring in a stop-   gap until Chance Sisco is ready, or they could hope Caleb Joseph is up for the task. Either   way, another receiver will likely be signed.

 INFIELD: Jonathan Schoop and Manny Machado are among the best at their positions.   Chris Davis is coming off a terrible campaign, but is still the incumbent at first base. The   club declined J.J. Hardy's option, leaving last season's second half sensation, Tim   Beckham, to handle shortstop.

 OUTFIELD: Adam Jones is a given, though he's not as durable as his salad days. Trey Mancini earned full-time run at a corner spot. Mark Trumbo could take the other, though he's better suited for designated hitter. Joey Rickard is a capable reserve. Austin Hays and Anthony Santander are both promising prospects, with Hays more likely to contribute this season. That said, I expect the Orioles to fortify their offense in an effort to slug their way to victory, seeing as their pitching is suspect and there isn't much in the way of available reinforcements.

 DESIGNATED HITTER: Trumbo should again receive the lion-share of DH at bats.

BENCH: Especially with Trumbo able to dabble in the corner, outfield depth is OK. Infield, however, is in need of at least one utility type, though the starters are generally durable and won't need much rest.

Bundy DFS 2017ROTATION: Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are the only sure things to be in the opening-day rotation. Gabriel Ynoa, Miguel Castro, Mike Wright and Alec Asher are all on the O's roster, but none are enticing option so look for Baltimore to bring in several starters, though the inventory of quality arms is thin.

BULLPEN: Zach Britton is the man, for now, there's still a chance he's moved in the off-season. Even if healthy, don't expect Britton to approach the 40 saves he averaged from 2014-2016 as saves track closely with team ERA, which looks to be a problem. The rest of the bullpen is solid with Brad Brach, Mychal Givens and Darren O'Day all being fantasy-worthy.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: There's a chance the club trusts Hays from opening day, spending more on pitching, so he could be a major contributor this season. It's just my sense is they'll look to win games 10-8. Sisco should also see some big-league action, perhaps from opening day. Keep an eye on what the club does with backstops in free agency. On the pitching side, Tanner Scott could get a look with the rest of their starters a few years away.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: As alluded to, I anticipate at least one, probably two big bats coming on board, with whatever pitching they can muster as well.

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paul goldschmidt full

 CATCHER: Probably in the market for a backstop to replace free agent Chris Iannetta.   Jeff Mathis is more of a defensive back-up while Chris Herrmann is coming off a season   where he hit .181, albeit with 10 HR and 5 SB. J.R. Murphy is in the picture, but doesn't   appear to be a regular.

 INFIELD: The corners are set with Paul Goldscmidt and Jake Lamb. Middle is in flux with   Brandon Drury, Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte in the picture. My initial lean   is Drury at second with Marte manning shortstop, but early drafters beware, this is a   situation that will flesh out in the spring.

OUTFIELD: Two of the spots belong to A.J. Pollock and David Peralta, though Peralta often sits versus tough southpaws while Pollock's durability isn't exactly rock-solid. The third spot is open, with J.D. Martinez hitting free agency. Yosmany Tomas is the top in-house option with Socrates Brito healthy.

BENCH: There's plenty of infield depth with Daniel Descalso capable of backing up everywhere. if Tomas doesn't win a job outright, he could spell Peralta on occasion.

robbie ray

ROTATION: The quintet ending 2017 line up to begin 2018, lead by Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, followed by Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley and Patrick Corbin. Shelby Miller is in line for a return from Tommy John surgery sometime in the first half with Anthony Banda and Braden Shipley available if needed.

BULLPEN: Last year's closer Fernando Rodney is a free agent, clearing the way for Archie Bradley to assume the role, that's just speculation on my part. If another closer is brought in, Bradley is well worth drafting in all formats.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH: The cupboard is rather bare, especially at the top with no one knocking on the door to contribute in 2018. While he's not a prospect, someone to keep an eye on is first baseman Christian Walker, who crushed it at Triple-A Reno last season then impressed in a short September stint in the desert to end the season. Unfortunately, the 26-year old slugger is blocked by Goldschmidt.

POSSIBLE ACQUISITIONS: Look for the Snakes to bring in at least one, perhaps two productive sticks, with corner outfield and catcher being the likely destinations. They could also be in the market for bullpen help.

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