Ray's Ramblings - Early Camp Thoughts
Let's take a run around the camps and some early stories. Cespedes, Chapman and Stroman are hurt. The Nationals seem intent to have Eaton bat leadoff with Turner hitting second opening up the question of just how much Turner will/should be running in 2018? Napoli signed with the Indians and LoMo with the Twins. Gausman is adding a new pitch and Martin has a shot to lead off for the Tigers.
Yoenis Cespedes is going to miss time this week with a shoulder issue. The Mets aren’t concerned, Yoenis said his shoulder sometimes acts up when he really starts throwing, but this is example #793 of why you cannot trust the slugger to stay healthy. The last two years he’s averaged 107 games played and four times in six years he’s failed to appear in 136 big-league games. Have at it folks, but build in a missed month into any projection you have for him.
Matt Chapman has been out for few days with a hand issue. He will resume hitting Saturday and should be fine. Chapman hit 14 homers in 290 at-bats last season and has legit 30-homer power. He’s also already one of the better defensive third basemen in the league.
Kevin Gausman is fine after a collision at home plate (he ended up with a black eye and should start Saturday). Gausman started throwing earlier than normal this offseason, but it’s the addition of another offering that really has me interested – a new 2-seam fastball. “I started tinkering with a different sinker grip and it’s been feeling really good. We also have a really good sinker guy right now in Andrew Cashner to kind of talk to and he has his ways that he does it. It’s nice to have a new guy to ask questions to.” If he can harness that sinker he will be a pitcher you will want to have rostered in every league this season.
Greg Holland missed 2016 and returned in 2017 to save 41 games for the Rockies. He’s still without a team and it’s unclear who he will sign with or if he will be given a shot to close with his new team.
Leonys Martin is getting a shot to start for the Tigers against righties, and it sounds like he might even hit leadoff for the rebuilding team. Just 29 years old, Martin appeared in just 49 games last season for the Cubs, that a year after hitting 15 homers with 24 steals in 2016. Moreover, Martin has stolen 24 or more bases in each of his three career seasons with 100-games played. Speed on the cheap, and that makes him a very intriguing addition in AL-only leagues.
Logan Morrison signed with the Twins. That means it might be the end of the line with their connection to Kennys Vargas. The slugging first sacker recently got contact lenses, so maybe a team will show an interest and give him a shot, though there have been plenty of rumors about him plying his wares in Japan.
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The Nationals plan to go with a lineup this season that will look like this: Adam Eaton, Trea Turner, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy and Ryan Zimmerman. That would leave top of the order looking like L-R-L-R-L-R. That would be a mess for other teams trying to attack the Nats late in a game. Eaton is still working his way back from his ACL injury, but the team expects him to be ready for Opening Day. That’s a hell of a top-6 if everyone is healthy, though Murphy is still working his way back from his own knee issue while Zimmerman is constantly hurt. Is this the setup folks want to see? I asked on Twitter, should Turner run wild if he’s hitting 2nd in the lineup? Seems like folks have little concern.
Personally, I think it will become a big issue if Turner is stealing second leading to Harper getting tons of walks. It’s also going to be difficult for Turner to run wild if Eaton is always getting on base ahead of him (Eaton’s three full season he’s posted OBP marks of .362, .361 and .362). This is another reason why I think that folks are being far too bullish with Turner this draft season.
Mike Napoli signed a minor league deal with the Indians. He slugged 29 homers last season but it came with a .193 batting average, and the 36 year old slugger found no takers on the open market. Hard to see him in a significant role in Cleveland, not with Edwin Encarnacion and Yonder Alonso already in the mix, and there would even seem to be a scenario under which he wouldn’t even make the team.
Marcus Stroman is gonna sit for 4-5 days after complaining of a sore shoulder. He isn’t thought to be in danger of starting the season late, and it seems like all the tests run have shown no structural damage.
The Draft Guide continues to grow on a daily basis. The part of the Guide we’re currently bolstering is the award-winning Player Profile section. Here’s a list of the players that have been profiled to this point. Note that players will continue to be added every day up until the start of the regular season (just click on the name of the player to be taken to his P.Profile).
PLAYER PROFILE SERIES
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You can hear Ray, Monday through Friday, on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Ray is on The Fantasy Drive 7-10 PM EST M-F, and he’s also on the Guru Elite Show Thursday from 2-4 PM EST. You can follow Ray on Twitter at @baseballguys.