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Cleveland Indians Bullpen: Depth Chart Discussion

The Indians had a miserable finish to the season last year, though their bullpen wasn’t part of the problem. The team’s relief unit pitched to a 3.68 ERA (3.75 FIP) in the second half while working more innings (273.2) than any other non-Rockies team in baseball. GM Chris Antonetti remade his bullpen a bit this offseason, using some spare bullpen arms to finish the Trevor Bauer three-team trade and another to land Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes. Long-time Tribe reliever Rafael Perez was cut loose following shoulder surgery.

New manager Terry Francona has one of baseball’s best closer-setup man combinations in baseball at his disposal, or at least he did until injury struck last week.

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Chicago Cubs Bullpen: Depth Chart Discussion

The Cubs are in the middle of a major rebuild, and that includes the bullpen. The club doesn’t have an obvious long-term closer or any other relievers that make you think they’ll be part of the next great Cubs team without a big step forward. That doesn’t make it a bad bullpen unit though, nor does it mean they lack fantasy-relevant arms. In fact, Chicago has several interesting relievers (and potential starters who may wind up relievers) worth having on your roster. The new front office regime stockpiled some nice arms this past offseason.

Carlos Marmol

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Replacing Curtis Granderson

Yankees fans and fantasy owners cringed when the diagnosis was released — J.A. Happ‘s errant fastball broke Curtis Granderson‘s right forearm during his first at-bat of Spring Training on Sunday. The good news is e suffered the injury very early in camp, so the ten-week recovery puts him on track to return in early-May rather than sometime later in the summer.

The Yankees can’t really afford to lose Granderson’s bat after letting Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eric Chavez, and others walk as free agents this winter, but fantasy owners are losing out on a 40-homer (pace) outfielder as well. Granderson hit at least seven homers in three of the last four Aprils, and while that doesn’t mean he would have automatically done it again in 2013, it is a reminder of what he’s capable of providing early in the season.

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Replacing Corey Hart Mat Gamel

The Brewers are looking for a new first baseman for the second time in about two months due to injury. News of Corey Hart‘s knee surgery broke in mid-January, pushing perpetual prospect Mat Gamel into the first base spot on a full-time basis, at least until yesterday. The Brewers announced on Monday that the 27-year-old Gamel re-tore his right ACL during a workout over the weekend, the same knee ligament that snapped and ended his 2012 season in early-May.

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ZiPS Breakout: Anthony Rizzo

Although he wasn’t called up until late-June, Anthony Rizzo‘s debut with the Cubs last season couldn’t have gone much better. He hit .285/.342/.463 (116 wRC+) overall and was even better against righties: .318/.383/.508 (141 wRC+). His 15 homers were split evenly between home (seven) and away (eight), so it’s not like his power was solely a product of Wrigley’s friendly confines. Left-handers gave Rizzo some serious trouble (.208/.243/.356, 56 wRC+), but given the team’s situation, it’s safe to say he will get more than 107 plate appearances to prove he needs a platoon partner.

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Oakland’s First Base Situation Following Chris Carter Trade

Last night the Athletics and Astros agreed to a five-player trade that, in fantasy essence, swapped Jed Lowrie for Chris Carter. Mike Podhorzer already looked at what the move to Houston means for Carter earlier this morning, but the trade also impacts the first base situation in Oakland. Based on their success last year, it seemed likely that manager Bob Melvin would again platoon Carter (a right-handed bat) with Brandon Moss (a left-handed bat). Now he’s left without an obvious right-handed first base bat.

I wrote about Moss last week, explaining why I’m pretty skeptical about him heading into 2013. It’s not that he’s a bad player or anything, just that I don’t expect him to perform anywhere near the 40+ homer, 162 wRC+ pace he played at in the second half. He is a nice fantasy bench piece given his 1B and OF eligibility, but not someone I would stick in my lineup everyday because he himself was not going to play everyday for the Athletics. The trade could change that.

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Brandon Moss: 2012 Breakout Player To Avoid

The Athletics surprised everyone by winning 94 games — ZiPS said they were more likely to lose 94 games — last season, their best record since the days of Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito. When a team exceeds expectations by that much, it’s usually because they received some very big (and very surprising) contributions from unexpected sources. Their rookie-laden rotation was dynamite, Sean Doolittle went from first baseman to elite setup man in barely a year, and journeyman Brandon Moss whacked 21 homers with a 162 wRC+ in 296 plate appearances.

Moss, 29, put together a .286/.371/.582 (142 wRC+) with 15 homers in 224 plate appearances for Triple-A Sacramento before being called up to the big league team in early-June. He hit seven homers in his first 13 games — he had just 12 hits in those 13 games — and 11 homers in his first 27 games with the Athletics. Moss cooled off just a bit in August (129 wRC+) before going on a late-season tear (202 wRC+ in September and October) to help push Oakland past the Rangers on the final day of the season. The end result was a .291/.358/.596 batting line in those 296 trips to the plate.

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Which Ichiro Will Show Up In 2013?

For the better part of a decade, Ichiro Suzuki was one of the top outfielders in fantasy baseball despite his lack of power thanks to elite batting average and stolen base numbers. His days as an elite player seemed to come to an end two seasons ago, when he hit a meager .272 while also managing 40 steals. Last season he hit just .261 with 15 steals in 95 games with the Mariners before what was previously thought to be unthinkable happened — Ichiro was traded.

After the move to the Yankees, the now 39-year-old Ichiro hit a robust .322 with 14 steals in just 67 games. His five homers with New York — all at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium — matched his total in 2011 and were one more than his half-season in Seattle in 2012. Whether it be small sample size or the rejuvenating atmosphere of a pennant race, Ichiro started hitting like guy he was 2001-2010 as soon as he put on the pinstripes. Unfortunately that only created more uncertainty about him as a fantasy option for 2013.

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Revisiting My Preseason 10 Bold Predictions

Prior to the season my esteemed colleagues and I put together a list of ten bold predictions, some of which actually came true. Here is a recap of Brandon Warne’s predictions and Howard Bender’s predictions, and now let’s look at mine

1. A-Rod will hit 30 HR
Alex Rodriguez is sitting on 18 homers with three (maybe four if the Yankees have to play a Game 163 tie-breaker) games to play, so this one won’t happen. He did miss roughly six weeks with a broken bone in his left hand suffered on a Felix Hernandez hit-by-pitch, but even before the injury he had hit just 15 homers in 97 team games (25 HR per 162 games). A-Rod’s days of 30+ homers are over, as are his days of 600+ plate appearances it seems. This prediction was a bust.

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Gordon Beckham & Ben Revere: Waiver Wire

It’s the final full week of the regular season, which means it’s championship week for a whole lotta fantasy leagues out there. Here are two positions players — one infielder, one outfielder — who could help put you over the top…

Gordon Beckham | 2B | White Sox | Owned: 12% Yahoo!

Beckham, 26, has been a colossal disappointment since the ChiSox selected him with the eighth overall pick in 2008, producing just an 84 wRC+ in over 2,000 career plate appearances. I suppose the good news is that time is on his side though, since he (theoretically) has yet to reach his peak years.

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