MLB In Full Bloom 2/21/2014

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37 – Number of days until Opening Day

Forecasting postseason award winners every year is a difficult task. Attempting to determine who is going to win the Rookie of the Year is even harder. Anyone who thinks they can predict will win the award in either league will certainly have several players to choose from this year. My three favorites in the American League are Masahiro Tanaka, Taijuan Walker, and Jose Abreu. In the National League, I like Billy Hamilton, Travis D'Arnaud and Alexander Guerrero. Next week, I will break down each player, but let's put a wrap on this week!

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Andrelton Simmons and the Braves agreed to a seven-year deal on Thursday. The Braves have locked up the core of their core players that they drafted by wrapping up Freddie Freeman, Julio Teheran, Craig Kimbrel and now Simmons long-term all in just over two weeks. They also extended Jayson Heyward for two-years, but the other four players will be with the Braves as they open their new ballpark in Cobb County in 2017. It certainly makes sense that the Braves want to keep Simmons as he's already one of the top defensive shortstops in the game and is just 24 years old and he hit 17 home runs. 
  • Yasiel Puig was held out of baseball activities Thursday after hitting a ball off his leg on Wednesday. Puig is expected back in workouts again on Friday, so this is not a reason for concern. Puig batted .319 with 19 homers and 11 stolen bases last season for the Dodgers. He should be a fantasy monster in 2014.
  • Chris Capuano and the Red Sox agreed to one-year deal on Thursday. The left-hander will provide the Red Sox depth after Ryan Dempster announced that he will not pitch in 2014. Capuano could certainly compete with Felix Doubrant for the final spot in the Red Sox rotation, but the more realistic outcome will have Capuano in a long relief role.
  • Ryan Braun arrived at spring training Thursday an is still trying to shake the stigma of a 65-game PED suspension that ended his 2013 season. Braun continued to express remorse and a desire to leave the entire episode in the past. Braun will move to right field next season after being the Brewers left fielder since 2008. Braun was routinely selected among the top five picks in 2013 fantasy drafts, he let down his owners and fans. He'll get a fresh start in 2014, at least from a fantasy prospective, but questions linger regarding how much of his top-end production from past seasons were artificially enhanced. Expect Braun to slide a bit in your drafts.
  • Mark Teixeira (wrist) isn't likely to play in Grapefruit League games until March 3, at the earliest. The Yankees' Grapefruit League schedule begins on February 26 so he is about a week to ten days behind as he continues to rehab his right wrist. Teixeira has been hitting off a batting tee and taking batting practice off coaches.
  • Matt Harrison (back) has been throwing for two months in the offseason with no issues with his back. On the first day of full squad workouts, Harrison was a non-participant as he felt stiffness in his back that prevented him from throwing batting practice.
  • Jesus Montero arrived at Mariners camp 40 pounds over the weight to start training camp. Mariners GM, Jack Zduriencik now has "no expectations" for the first baseman. Montero's future was already looking bleak before this spring, as he's struggled since joining the M's. He moved off of catcher and last year got popped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal. He'll begin the season in the minors and obviously has a lot of ground to make up before he becomes relevant again for the M's and fantasy owners. 

MLB In Full Bloom 2/20/2014

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38 – Number of days until Opening Day

The month of February is quickly coming to an end and we're just over a week away until spring training games begin in Florida and Arizona. It is so important to keep a close eye on what players are doing in spring training as you prepare for your draft. For those of you in keeper leagues, I recommend not having your draft before March 15th. It's essential to have at least two weeks of a sample size on players that are on your potential protected list. Turning in a protected list before March 15th could certainly come back to bite you if a player gets injured or traded out of an AL-Only or NL-Only league. In my NL-Only league, protected lists are due March 22nd and the draft is March 29th. There is still uncertainty for GMs, but for the most post the decision making process is much easier. For example, I own Devin Mesoraco and Yasami Grandal. On the surface, Mesoraco is the easier choice to protect as Grandal is working his way back from ACL surgery. But, Grandal appears to be nearing 100% healthy and he has stated that he intends to be behind home plate on Opening Day for the Padres. I think Grandal may have more upside than Mesoraco and it works to my benefit that I get to wait until March 22nd to make my decision.

MLB News & Notes

  • Mike Trout held his first press conference on Wednesday and when asked what he wants to improve on in 2014, he said that he wants to steal more bases. Trout stole 33 bases last year opposed to the 49 stolen bases he stole in his rookie campaign. As fantasy owners with the #1 pick this year try to decide to draft Trout or Miguel Cabrera, the stolen bases that Trout provides is the x-factor for me. And, Cabrera is moving to first base and there are other first baseman that provide strong offensive numbers.
  • Raul Ibanez will be asked to play left field and first base in addition to designated hitter for the Angels this year. Ibanez will primarily be the designated hitter, but he will be able to play first base when Albert Pujols needs an off day and Josh Hamilton needs a day off as well.
  • Homer Bailey and the Reds agreed to a six-year $105 million contract on Thursday. It had been reported the two sides were closing in on a long-term deal and now Bailey will be in Cincinnati for the next six year. After a rocky start to his career with a few injuries, the last two years the 27-year old right hander has been among the best starting pitchers in baseball. He is not top 10, but he has been right up there. He has thrown 200+ innings in each of the last two years and has thrown two no-hitters in his career. It had been reported this offseason several times that he wanted out of Cincinnati, but in the end he made the decision to stay.
  • Mat Latos threw from 45 feet on Wednesday. This comes just five days after having surgery on his left knee and despite that the throwing session lasted just 10 minutes, it is a positive step in the right direction. It was called "minor surgery" to repair a tear in the meniscus of his left knee that was not expected to keep him down long, but Latos has exceeded expectations in the first few days since the operation.
  • Michael Bourn said Wednesday that his surgically-repaired left hamstring is 100 percent. Bourn had surgery on his hamstring in October and it appears that he will have no limitations at the start of spring training. Its likely the Indians will be cautious with Bourn's playing time in spring training games, but all that matters is that he is ready for Opening Day.
  • Cody Asche s the early favorite to be the starting third baseman for the Phillies come Opening Day. The competition for the starting third baseman job seems to be boiling down to Asche and Maikel Franco. Asche is a little more seasoned  and looks to be the front-runner.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez and the Orioles finalized a 4-year $50 million contract on Wednesday after Jimenez passed a physical. After Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin both failed the O's physical, nothing is a done deal until the physical is completed. The Orioles held an introductory press conference this morning in Sarasota. Jimenez had a strong second half of the season last year and he provides much needed depth to a team that has a small window to win.

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