MLB In Full Bloom 2/26/2014

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33 – Number of days until Opening Day

19,953 - Number of signatures on the petition to make Opening Day a National Holiday

A common mistake on draft day is when GMs reach to get a top-tier closer. Unless you can draft Craig Kimbrel or Aroldis Chapman, wait on drafting your closers until later in the draft. Another strategy to try is searching for setup men that are usually "closers-in-waiting" since they usually appear in the 8th inning, sometimes getting a few 9th inning save opportunities when a closer has pitched multiple days in a row. The 2014 season will feature new closers on many teams, but their setup men may have more experience with the 9th inning. They may not break camp with the closing job, but a fine line exists between them watching the 9th inning and trying to get the 27th out.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

MLB In Full Bloom 2/25/2014

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34 – Number of days until Opening Day

Each year, I find starting pitching to be the most challenging aspect of building my fantasy teams. Sure, I could spend an early pick on Clayton Kershaw or another Top 5 starter on the market, but then my offense takes a hit. I usually wind up spending at least my first four or five picks on hitting before I look to my starting rotation. So, what you need to do is try and identify some potentially undervalued starters. Of course, that is not easy, but the depth of starting pitchers is deeper than you think in your league.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Angels and Mike Trout are discussing a seven-year deal that would be in the range of $150-$160 million. The guesstimate breakdown of the deal is $1 million in his pre-arbitration year, $12M, $15M, $20M, $32M, $34M, $36M. This is similar to the Yahoo report on Monday that said the two sides were discussing a six-year deal. Look for a deal to get done before Opening Day.
  • Masahiro Tanaka put on show when he took the mound in a simulated game on Monday in front of more than 75 interested onlookers, fans and media from two countries, Tanaka threw 35 pitches to three infielders. All three hitters were impressed with Tanaka's splitter, which some baseball scouts have said is the best in the game.
  • Matt Harrison (back) is expected to resume throwing this week after an additional MRI on his back showed no issues. Assistant general manager Thad Levine said that the report was about as good as the team could have gotten. Harrison was scratched from two throwing sessions last week after experiencing stiffness in his neck and back. The plan is for Harrison to resume cardio and conditioning on Wednesday and play catch on Thursday.
  • Ervin Santana remains a free agent and is still looking for a four-year deal. It appears the Rockies have checked in on the right-hander. Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin is experiencing shoulder discomfort and headed for tests, so the Colorado front office is scrambling for backup options. Santana has struggled to attract legitimate offers this winter because his free agency is tied to draft pick compensation.
  • Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs continue to struggle to find common ground on a long-term contract and according to multiple sources on Monday, Samardzija could be traded before Opening Day. Samardzija will be arbitration-eligible for the final time next winter and, if no headway is made with a long-term contract, is a good bet to be dealt in July if not before the opener.
  • Mike Minor (shoulder) has battled some shoulder soreness this spring and is behind the Braves' other starters. Minor underwent a painful-sounding procedure on his urethra December 31 and was unable to throw in January, so he was a bit off schedule when he arrived at Braves camp. The Braves medical staff is optimistic that Minor won't have to miss a regular season start.
  • Ozzie Smith and Budweiser have teamed up to try and make Major League Baseball's Opening Day an official holiday. They are trying to get 100,000 signatures to take to President Obama. Opening Day always brings anticipation and excitement for the year. Twenty-Two million people already take the day off so why not make it an official holiday. To get involved, you can go to www.Budweiser.com/opening-day to sign the petition and on March 6th, Ozzie will take it to Washington.

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