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Roto Riteup: March 12, 2013

As much as I’m sure we’re all enjoying the WBC, I humbly suggest that you go and purchase the newest StarCraft II expansion, Heart of the Swarm. Given that I am 100% South Korean, it is my duty to inform you that the game is now live here in North America.

Today’s menu will consist of:
1. The Yankees love lots of candles on a birthday cake for their first basemen
2. Jon Niese looking and feeling good
3. Jeff Samardzija pitching and hitting well

The Yankees First Base Situation
With the news of their normal starting first baseman Mark Teixeira set to miss eight to ten weeks, the New York Yankees have reached out to several, shall we say not very young” first basemen. Among those reportedly contacted were Derrek Lee, Scott Rolen, and Chipper Jones. Although it appears that Jones isn’t especially interested and Lee hasn’t played since 2011, Rolen has some use for the Yankees. Playing first rather than third should be less of a physical stress on the oft-injured Rolen and may offer him a chance to play every day — at least until Tex is healthy enough to come back. Even then Rolen may find himself taking turns at both first and third base, as current third basemen (who is actually regular third basemen Alex Rodriguez‘s replacement) Kevin Youkilis has an injury history of his own as well. Already this spring Youk has battled against an oblique strain. Rolen could be very useful to the Yankees on a one year deal. If a deal happens, Rolen is worth a pick up and stash in very deep mixed leagues and 12 or 14-team AL only formats.

Niese Is Looking Good Thus Far
Spring training stats don’t matter. That being said, these are stats that may not be predictive, nonetheless caught my eye. Jon Niese has made two starts this spring, totaling 7 2/3 innings and has yet to surrender a run. He is coming off of a very successful 2012 season that saw him post 2.4 WAR with 155 strikeouts in 190 innings. ZiPS believes his ERA will balloon a bit after last year’s 3.40 ERA, but the projection system does see him posting 150 strikeouts again and a reasonable 3.91 ERA. Niese makes for an ideal SP3 or SP4 in most fantasy leagues. He posted the best BABIP of his life last year but also the worst home run rate. Assuming both of those regress, Niese is still a very good home starter and solid starter in favorable road match ups.

Jeff Samardzija Has a Big Arm and a Big Bat
Pitcher home runs are just adorable. It is the one good thing about pitchers hitting in the National League. Yesterday afternoon Samardzija hurled 4 2/3 innings, gave up a pair of home runs but managed to hit a home run of his own as well. If ever a home run didn’t matter, it would be this one: A pitcher home run in the fifth inning in the middle of spring training. That being said, Samardzija is one of my personal favorites as a sleeper pick this season. His SwStr% last season was an incredible 12.1% and his strikeout rate was an equally impressive 24.9%. His home park won’t do much for him — nor will his defense do much for him — but he’ll be able to generate good rate statistics and tons of strikeouts. I’ve grabbed him in as my leagues as possible.