Grapefruit and Cactus News Could Swing Your Season

by Eddie Mayrose

For many serious Fantasy owners, their pre-season prep work involves in-depth analysis of statistics, mock drafts and statistical projections.  Comprehensive stuff, and a great foundation for a successful Fantasy season.  Their work continues during training camps, as they track injuries and position battles that affect playing time.

In today’s world of instant information, delivered to smart phones and tablets, it’s extremely difficult for even the most casual Fantasy players to miss that Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria have been lost for the season. Or that Ryan Howard is two months away from playing and David Wright has been dealing with a rib injury. What used to be a significant edge for the hard working owner has been eliminated, mandating that more digging is needed in order to have a leg up heading into the draft. The question is, where to dig?

You might want to point your shovel toward the AL and NL notes published daily by USA Today.  With just a little practice, you’ll learn to read between the lines; unearthing valuable tidbits of information that will allow you to identify potential sleepers and busts not known to the more casual Fantasy player.  You may have to connect a few dots, but you’ll reap the benefits later on.  Here are a few players we’ve come across just this week.

Matt Cain- Always overshadowed by Tim Lincecum, Cain has become one of the NL’s steadiest hurlers.  He and the Giants have suspended talks for a contract extension, putting Cain into Moonlight’s favorite category- “Last year of his contract”.

Aroldis Chapman- Moving from the Cincy bullpen to the rotation may be difficult. But the hard throwing Cuban import has always been a starter and has shown great command in Florida, something that plagued his tenure as a reliever.

Edwin Encarnacion- If you’re in an AL only draft, Encarnacion’s value gets a bit of a bump should he gain OF eligiblity, something with which the Jays’ are currently tinkering.  The Jays don’t want to lose Edwin, their starting DH, during interleague play.

Felix Hernandez- The Mariners head to Japan to open their season this week vs. the A’s, before returning home for more exhibition games preceding their “U.S.” opener.  That means two starts for Hernandez in what will be an extended first week in most Head to Head formats.

Brian Matusz- The Oriole lefty is enjoying a strong spring, with 13 K’s in 10 IP. While it’s not unusual for young players to shine in Florida, Matusz’s number take on greater meaning because he reported to camp in great shape; a stark contrast from last season.  His spring success could be the indicator that he is ready to live up to the Birds’ lofty expectations.

Justin Morneau- The Twins’ superstar has lost most of the past two seasons to a concussion. Manager Ron Gardenhire is thrilled that he’s finally healthy and expects the former MVP to return to his lofty status.  Now, before you dismiss that assessment as typical, spring manager-speak, remember that Gardenhire has been the voice of caution through Morneau’s troubles;refusing to rush his 1B back into the lineup.

Salvador Perez- The news this week that Perez will be lost to knee surgery no doubt caused him to be lowered or removed from many draft boards. However, the Royals catching prospect is just 21, and is expected back by the All Star break.  If you’re in a keeper league, he could be a huge bargain.

Giancarlo Stanton- After being hit on the wrist with a pitch, Stanton, (the very definition of a player to be named later) has missed a ton of time.  However, before you start to worry, be aware that Stanton played just 6 ganes last spring, yet managed to post some pretty impressive numbers.

Neil Walker- The Pirates second sacker is a solid, second-tier performer at the position with decent upside.  If Bucs’ skipper folows through on his idea to insert Walker into the cleanup slot, Walker, currently a late mid-rounder in most mixed leagues, becomes an unexpected power source.

Delmon Young- The Tigers have assembled a lineup that will hit like a beer league softball team.  Young may be the biggest beneficiary, as he’ll hit fifth in this powerful order, behind Miggy and Prince and ahead of Alex Avila.  Don’t forget that Young is just two years removed from a 100 RBI season and is, still, just 26 years old.

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