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Clearing Out The Notebook

by Matthew Pouliot
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This marathon spring has finally come to an end. Here are all my last-minute thoughts in advance of this weekend’s drafts and Opening Day.


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American League Notes


Baltimore: Zach Britton is still working out some kinks after missing the first half of the spring with an oblique strain, and a slow start is a possibility as he works to get his delivery back. I doubt it will turn into any sort of issue for the long haul. … I don’t blame the Orioles for not making room for Pedro Alvarez, who simply isn’t a very good fit on a team with Chris Davis, Mark Trumbo, Seth Smith and Hyun Soo Kim. I blame the rest of the AL for not signing him to serve as a left-handed DH. That’s what comes of 90 percent of relievers being one-inning guys and half the league carrying 13 pitchers. Alvarez could help several teams, but it’s tough to carry a platoon DH. Heck, the Twins couldn’t even carry a full-time DH. … The Orioles did open up a spot for Trey Mancini, who has the big advantage of being right-handed. They’ll presumably go with platoons at both outfield corners for now, with Mancini starting over Smith against lefties in right. Either Joey Rickard or Craig Gentry will start over Kim in left versus lefties.


Boston: It’s hard to say at this point whether Boston’s decision to place Drew Pomeranz on the DL was made more out of genuine concern or if it was just roster maneuvering; if it’s the latter, the Red Sox still have to make it look like it’s the former. Pomeranz was scheduled to make his season debut on April 9, and he can still come off the DL to pitch that day. I’m concerned, but I really don’t know what to think. I wouldn’t want him active in mixed leagues early on. … Already squeezed out of the top half of the order by Andrew Benintendi’s emergence, Xander Bogaerts actually found himself hitting sixth Thursday, with Pablo Sandoval occupying the fifth spot. I expect that Bogaerts will be plenty valuable in the end, but I think he’s being overdrafted at the loaded shortstop position. … Sandoval might prove useful in mixed leagues early on, especially if he’s batting fifth. I’m not moving him into my top 300, partly because he’s such an injury risk, but his swing is in great form and losing some bulk doesn’t appear to have hurt him in the power department.


Chicago: The White Sox aren’t in this for 70 wins. No, it’s full-on tank mode, as they made clear when they sent a capable veteran stopgap, Peter Bourjos, to the Rays this week. They’ll go with Jacob May in center, even though he hit just .266/.309/.352 in Triple-A last year. He figures to be one of the league’s worst regulars. At DH, they could platoon Cody Asche and an out-of-options Matt Davidson. Davidson almost surely would clear waivers, but it’s not like he’s blocking anyone else worthy of playing time. May and Asche both rate as $1 players in AL-only leagues, and I’m not optimistic Davidson will even be worth that much. Tyler Saladino is more interesting at second base. Saladino also should probably lead off, but May is another option there. … They’re all opening up in Triple-A, but I get the idea that Reynaldo Lopez made a stronger impression than Carson Fulmer or especially Lucas Giolito this spring. He’s my preferred choice to be the first starter called up by the White Sox.


Cleveland: The Indians will need to replace Jason Kipnis (shoulder) and Lonnie Chisenhall (shoulder) at the start of the season, but, in a minor surprise, they won’t need a sub for Michael Brantley, who will be on the Opening Day roster as he makes his way back from a pair of shoulder surgeries. Yandy Diaz was picked to fill in for Kipnis, which means Jose Ramirez will shift from third to second. Diaz hit .318/.408/.446 between Double- and Triple-A last year. He doesn’t have the power one would like from a guy who works best at third or an outfield corner, but the on-base skills are for real and he should prove to be a solid role player. He’ll have some value in AL-only leagues for the first month. Chisenhall should only miss a week, and Austin Jackson and Abraham Almonte will likely fill in for him versus righties. … I’m still probably not going to be as high on Brantley as most. It’s great that he’s able to play right now, but there’s no guarantee his shoulder will hold up and I don’t think his old power is coming back right away. … Carlos Carrasco is going to be on a strict pitch count in his first start back after his elbow scare. I’d bench him in mixed leagues in week one.

Detroit: J.D Martinez’s foot injury means that the Tigers’ center-field competition will stretch on into the regular season. They’re likely to give JaCoby Jones the bulk of the playing time in center, with Tyler Collins and Mikie Mahtook platooning in right. Andrew Romine could also squeeze into the mix a couple of times per week. I don’t think anyone there will prove to be a quality regular this year. Collins has the best bat, but he lacks the kind of range one wants in center. Jones is still awfully raw for a 24-year-old; he hit .243/.309/.356 while striking out 30 percent of the time in Triple-A last year. He has tools, but I doubt they’ll translate. The Tigers need to do better. … I’m not sold on Matt Boyd, even though the 23/1 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings this spring is awfully tasty. He can be just fine as a fifth starter for Detroit, but he’ll likely continue to give up too many homers to be of use in mixed leagues.


Houston: It was a very quiet spring for the Astros, with the only minor hitch being Collin McHugh’s extended dead-arm period that will cost him his first one or two starts of the regular season. Joe Musgrove will fill in, and he makes for a solid mixed-league play in week one when he faces the Mariners at home. I’m down on McHugh anyway, and I don’t think he’ll have any mixed-league value this year. Musgrove is more interesting to me. … The Astros have to be pleased about the play of youngsters A.J. Reed (.275, 4 HR, 10/9 K/BB), Colin Moran (.389/.439/.611) and especially Derek Fisher (.300/.431/.525, 11-for-11 SB) this spring. None ever had a shot at cracking a healthy Astros roster, but they’ll be available to fill in if needed and, Reed and Fisher particularly, could prove as very valuable trade bait if the Astros try to land a top starter in July. … Also encouraging was that closer Ken Giles started off much stronger than he did the previous two springs. It doesn’t appear that another April swoon is on the way for him.


Kansas City: Raul Mondesi over Whit Merrifield at second base struck me as the wrong call for the Royals. Mondesi’s breakthrough spring -- he hit .367 with three homers -- came with a 13/1 K/BB ratio in 49 at-bats. He had a 48/6 K/BB ratio in 135 at-bats as a major leaguer last year (plus he came in at 19/2 in 56 at-bats after moving up to Triple-A). The potential is there for him to have a nice career as a starting middle infielder, but it involves him developing a better approach at the plate. While he’s worthy of consideration as a source of cheap speed in AL-only leagues, he’s strictly an end-game pick. My projection calls for a .233 average and an OBP in the .270s, and if that happens, he should find himself back in Triple-A at some point. … The Royals’ decision to move Alex Gordon into the leadoff spot was a good one, and it elevated him to fringe mixed-league status in my rankings. It won’t help him, though, that the Royals figure to have big OBP issues in the eighth and ninth spots in the order. … Paulo Orlando will fill in while Jorge Soler misses the first week or two with an oblique issue.


Los Angeles: Ricky Nolasco as the Angels’ Opening Day starter definitely wasn’t the best PR move for the team, but he’s been throwing well and looks like an adequate mid-rotation guy. Of course, they’ll need Garrett Richards and Matt Shoemaker to be more than adequate mid-rotation guys if they hope to contend. Even though Richards is throwing with less effort this spring after avoiding Tommy John surgery, his velocity is all of the way there. I wouldn’t count on him holding up, but he should have mixed-league value for however long he lasts. Shoemaker is one of my favorite SP value picks. … One of the odder playing-time storylines of the spring was that the right-handed C.J. Cron was supposed to wind up on the bad half of a platoon with lefty Luis Valbuena at first base, even though he was the Angels’ second-best hitter against righties last year (.827 OPS in 314 AB) and third-best in 2015 (.774 OPS in 251 AB). In fact, he did significantly worse against lefties both years. I don’t believe those reverse splits were any sort of permanent, but a platoon still made little sense. With Valbuena set to miss April due to a hamstring strain, Cron will have a month to prove he should remain a full-time guy. I think he does that and remains useful in mixed leagues all year long. … Ben Revere had 540 points of OPS on Cameron Maybin this spring (1.149 to .608), but manager Mike Scioscia said Maybin’s starting job in left is safe. That’s the right way to play it for now, but if Revere stays hot into the regular season, a platoon could materialize. Revere’s wheels would likely lead to a little mixed-league value if he does get to start against righties.


Minnesota: Perhaps the most baffling move of the spring was the Twins’ decision to snub ByungHo Park after he hit .353 with six homers this spring. I had just moved Park into my top 300 for the first time the day before the news. They didn’t even do it in favor of Kennys Vargas, which would have been defensible under other circumstances. Instead, they’re going without a legitimate DH so that they can carry 13 pitchers. Robbie Grossman is the nominal DH for now, but that doesn’t make him more than a $1 pick in AL-only leagues. I still hope that Park proves to be the solution; I think he’ll prove plenty solid now that he’s over the wrist problems that plagued him in 2016. Ideally, he’ll be back in a couple of weeks. … I’d rather Jose Berrios were allowed to sink or swim, but at least it’s Adalberto Mejia, not Tyler Duffey, opening the season as the Twins’ fifth starter. I believe he’ll give up too many homers to be of any real use in AL-only leagues, but there’s a chance he’ll prove me wrong. At least he has an excellent outfield defense behind him.


New York: After casting doubt on the matters, the Yankees went with talent in picking Aaron Judge for right field and Luis Severino for the fourth spot in their rotation. I don’t completely trust either, but the Yankees need to figure out what they have in the pair. It definitely wouldn’t have made any sense to send Judge back to Triple-A when he’s already played 154 games there. Severino has had his chances, of course, but he just turned 23 and his peripherals were a lot better than his 5.83 ERA last year. Neither player makes the cut for me as a late-round option in mixed leagues, but they are worth watching. … Unclear is whether Jordan Montgomery or Chad Green will take the ball as the fifth starter when one is needed on April 16, but I think Montgomery is the favorite at this point. His upside is limited, especially in Yankee Stadium, but he can be an end-game pick in AL-only leagues. … Jacoby Ellsbury is probably going to start off hitting fifth, which sent him tumbling several spots in my rankings. Greg Bird moved up some, as he’s set to bat third.


Oakland: Manager Bob Melvin has backed off proclaiming Ryan Madson his closer, saying that the A’s could instead open with a committee. The top three closing options in the A’s pen, Madson (6.75), Sean Doolittle (8.44) and Santiago Casilla (16.20), all had rough springs in the ERA department. Ryan Dull was just fine, coming in at 2.84, but the A’s would likely prefer not to turn him into a closer and send his future arbitration salaries through the roof. I still think Madson is the favorite for saves here early on.


Seattle: Drew Smyly threw really well in the WBC. A little too well, it seems. He will miss the first two months with a flexor strain, putting Ariel Miranda back into the Mariners’ rotation. Dillon Overton had a superior spring and might get a look if Miranda struggles his first couple of times out. … I never expected the Mariners to give Dan Vogelbach the starting job that they kept indicating was his to lose. What surprised me was that they declined to bring in another left-handed option, even with cheap ones available this winter (Ryan Howard is still out there!). Danny Valencia has the job all to himself right now, which could give him some mixed-league value in time. A minor league deal for Justin Morneau would make a lot of sense here. … Some have suggested Mike Zunino will take a bigger step forward this year. I’ve been skeptical -- he’s my No. 14 catcher -- but it was impressive that he had an 8/8 K/BB ratio this spring, giving him a .500 OBP to go along with his .308 average in 36 plate appearance.


Tampa Bay: The Rays have yet to announce their rotation, but no one stepped up to overtake Blake Snell or Matt Andriese this spring, even though both Snell (5.87 ERA, 17/11 K/BB in 23 IP) and Andriese (6.75 ERA, 10/6 K/BB ratio in 10 2/3 IP) left the door open. Erasmo Ramirez deserves one of those spots, but he’s been talked about more as a trade candidate than a rotation candidate in recent weeks. Ramirez would be a mixed-league sleeper should the Rays give him the opportunity. I’ve soured on Snell some, at least for the short term. … Mallex Smith hit just .158/.233/.184 in 38 at-bats, but he’s probably going to start in place of the injured Colby Rasmus (hip) initially. Rasmus could be back within a couple of weeks, possibly leading to a Triple-A demotion for Smith. … Tim Beckham is likely to start at shortstop for a month or so as Matt Duffy continues his rehab from ankle surgery.


Texas: Delino DeShields Jr., something of a forgotten man last year, is set for another shot as the Rangers’ leadoff hitter after hitting .317/.446/.350 with 12 steals in 12 tries this spring. DeShields strikes out a whole lot for someone with such modest power, but he has managed a decent .324 OBP in 607 major league at-bats and he’s a force once he’s on the basepaths. He’s hardly an ideal starting left fielder for a contender, but he’ll have some mixed-league value if he leads off every day. … It’s not even worth mentioning the names in the mix to become the Rangers’ fifth starter when one is needed April 15. Hurry back, Tyson Ross. … Adrian Beltre’s status for Opening Day remains in question due to a calf injury.


Toronto: The Jays were hoping spring performance would clear up their situations at first base and in left field, but Ezequiel Carrera turned in the only decent showing of the options while Steve Pearce, Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton Jr. all struggled. That Pearce was coming off forearm surgery and only returned to the outfield last weekend further complicated things. The Jays were hoping to play Pearce in left and Smoak at first, even though Pearce is a subpar outfielder and Smoak is a subpar… well, baseball player. Carrera would at least give the Jays plus defense in left. Pearce is really only an asset as a first baseman against left-handers; he might not hurt a team playing elsewhere or starting against righties, but he’s just a place-holder in those roles. I imagine Pearce will be an everyday guy initially, likely moving between the two positions. That’d leave Carrera and Smoak to split time against righties, with Upton playing only against lefties. I don’t see much fantasy value to be had here. … Projected as a DL candidate for most of the spring, Devon Travis (knee) showed enough in his four games (7-for-13, 3 2B, 1 3B) to open up on the active roster. He’ll probably be in the leadoff spot on Opening Day, and while he’ll remain an injury risk, he should be a top-10 second baseman when healthy.


National League Notes


Arizona: Though there’s a new GM and manager in town this year, Diamondbacks camp ended without any real surprises. The question of whether Ketel Marte would secure a job was answered negatively, leaving Chris Owings and Brandon Drury to play pretty regularly. That was the way I was projecting it all along. The discouraging reports about Zack Greinke’s velocity overshadowed the very positive ones about how hard Patrick Corbin and Shelby Miller were throwing. I’m still not very optimistic about Miller reemerging as a mixed-league starter, but Corbin is a sleeper there and a nice late-ish option in NL-only leagues.


Atlanta: Most teams coming off seasons as bad as Atlanta’s 2016 tend to have a bunch of questions the next spring. The Braves, though, entered camp completely set with their rotation and lineup. It would be nice if they addressed the bench, which is currently comprised of Jace Peterson, Chase d’Arnaud, Emilio Bonifacio and backup catcher Kurt Suzuki. Suzuki aside, that seems like a pretty huge weakness. … I’m not the biggest Mike Foltynewicz fan, but he ramped up the usage of his changeup towards the end of last year and it seems like he’s continued to make progress with the pitch this spring. Now that his command is better, the change had been his biggest weakness. I gave him a bump from 98th to 87th in my SP rankings last week.


Chicago: The Cubs didn’t think Brett Anderson would fit in the pen, so he was awarded the fifth spot in the rotation over Mike Montgomery for now. With such a strong defense behind him, he could work as a spot starter in mixed leagues. Still, Montgomery remains the more interesting of the two. It probably won’t be long before his opportunity comes, and he’s well worth having stashed away in mixed leagues. … Albert Almora did everything he could to separate himself from Jon Jay this spring, hitting .333/.338/.667 in 63 at-bats. Jay came in at .250/.316/.346. The Cubs could platoon the two if they need to, but it’d be much better for everyone if Almora hits enough to justify regular playing time. He’s clearly superior defensively, and his range is going to be needed with Kyle Schwarber playing left most of the time. Since Almora is probably going to hit ninth behind the pitcher, his fantasy upside is quite limited. … Jason Heyward’s reworked swing only resulted in a .167/.262/.333 line in 54 at-bats. The Cubs can and will be patient there, but if he doesn’t hit, they can always start playing Ben Zobrist in right and upgrade the infield defense with Javier Baez at second.


Cincinnati: Amir Garrett pitched well enough to win a rotation spot this spring with his 14/6 K/BB ratio, 25 hits and two homers allowed in 21 1/3 innings. Cody Reed apparently threw his away with a 20/9 K/BB ratio, 21 hits and two homers allowed in 20 1/3 innings. I have low expectations for both Garrett and Rookie Davis; Garrett is a pretty solid long-term prospect, but I think he’s due some more minor league time before he establishes himself as a capable starter. Davis is more likely to wind up in the pen for the long haul. Reed is expected to be on the team initially, but he’ll probably be bumped when Bronson Arroyo is added as the fifth starter. … Raisel Iglesias is set for opening day after hurting his elbow and hips in a shower fall. The Reds aren’t committing to a closer, but Michael Lorenzen and Drew Storen both had awful springs and shouldn’t be trusted with leads right now. Tony Cingrani, who walked seven in eight innings, wasn’t much better. I’d say that makes Iglesias the clear favorite for saves early on. … I don’t think the Scooter Gennett addition means much for Jose Peraza. It’s possible Gennett gets the first crack at second base if a Zack Cozart trade or an outfield injury results in a position change for Peraza, but one would think the Reds would still want to take a long look at Dilson Herrera if he shows he’s healthy. The ideal for the Reds is to get a quality prospect or two back for Cozart and go with Peraza at short and Herrera at second in the second half of the season.


Colorado: An increasingly popular sleeper pick entering the spring, the Rockies lost an underrated starter to cancer and three regulars to injury during a disastrous camp. The good news is that Ian Desmond (hand), David Dahl (rib) and Tom Murphy (arm) could all be back before the end of April or at least within the first half of May. Mark Reynolds, Gerardo Parra and Tony Wolters are expected to play fairly regularly until then. Parra could have some mixed-league value during the Rockies’ home series, although Coors doesn’t usually start playing like Coors until the weather warms some. … It looks like the Rockies will round out their rotation with 23-year-old Kyle Freeland and 22-year-old Antonio Senzatela after Chad Bettis’s cancer returned and Jeff Hoffman disappointed this spring. Both are intriguing talents, but there shouldn’t be any real fantasy value to be had there. … The Rockies haven’t announced their closer, but Greg Holland appears set to claim the job after demonstrating that he could work on back-to-back days. Adam Ottavino could still get some early season saves while the Rockies are managing Holland’s workload.


Los Angeles: The reemergence of Hyun-Jin Ryu and the disappearance of Scott Kazmir’s fastball canceled each other out, so the battle for the fifth spot in the Dodgers rotation wound up exactly as seemed likely at the beginning of the spring; Brandon McCarthy got the nod, with Alex Wood working out of the pen and Julio Urias biding his time in the minors. That’s too bad for Wood, who is a legitimate mid-rotation guy while healthy, but I think McCarthy has even more upside and, unlike Wood, he’s not well equipped to pitch in relief. There will be plenty more uncertainty going forward, especially if Kazmir gets his fastball back. I love McCarthy as a late-round pick in mixed leagues, but his margin for error is awfully slim. As for Ryu, his stuff looks a like it did in 2014. I don’t know how long that’ll last -- I highly doubt he’ll make 30 starts -- but he’s a mixed-league option right now. … The Dodgers were probably going to demote Andrew Toles to Triple-A if Andre Ethier had remained healthy this spring, but Toles will get a chance to play left field against right-handers while Ethier sits out at least the first two or three weeks due to a herniated disk in his back. If Toles hits, he should have a chance of retaining the job once Ethier returns.


Miami: No one seems all that impressed with Dee Gordon this spring. He’ll probably get his 50 or so steals anyway, but I doubt he’ll be a great leadoff hitter for the Marlins in the process. Of course, those 50 steals will give him plenty of fantasy value regardless. … Martin Prado could make it back from his hamstring injury in 10-14 days. Derek Dietrich will start at third base for now. … A.J. Ramos has had a shaky spring, with two homers and four walks allowed in 5 2/3 innings. It wouldn’t bother me much under normal circumstances, but the Marlins have strong fallbacks in Brad Ziegler and the supremely talented Kyle Barraclough. Ramos should survive, but there will be a short leash if his struggles linger into April.


Milwaukee: It looked like the Brewers would open the season with Keon Broxton leading off and Jonathan Villar batting second, but now they’ve given Eric Thames a few starts in the two hole behind Villar. Thames hasn’t hit for as much power as expected this spring, but he does have 10 walks and a .387 OBP. The Brewers have a lot of interchangeable parts, so it’s probably best not to worry too much about how it all lines up on Opening Day. Still, it would dim Broxton’s outlook some if he’s batting sixth initially. … The encouraging thing about Craig Counsell’s lineups is that he hasn’t tried to shoehorn Orlando Arcia into the two hole. That’s certainly the long-term ideal for Arcia, but he’s the Brewers’ seventh- or eighth-best hitter right now. Without the No. 2 spot to prop him up, Arcia shouldn’t be of any use in mixed leagues early on. … Putting Matt Garza (groin) on the DL gave Chase Anderson the rotation spot he deserved based on his strong finish last year. I’m not high on any Brewers starters, though.


New York: Zack Wheeler is getting the nod over Seth Lugo to serve as the replacement for Steven Matz, who figures to miss at least the first six weeks with his elbow issue. I’m not expecting much from Wheeler, who ended the spring with a 7/7 K/BB ratio and four homers allowed in 12 1/3 innings. His fastball seems back after two years off, but the command is lacking. …Things are looking up for Matt Harvey after he showed his best velocity of the spring in his fifth and final start. A poor April had seemed to be in the offing, but that might not be the case now. … Jeurys Familia’s domestic-violence suspension turned out to be just 15 games in length. Addison Reed will spend the first 2 1/2 weeks as a closer. … Michael Conforto made the Mets, but only because of Juan Lagares’s latest injury (this one being an oblique strain). Even if Conforto outplays Jay Bruce, as he should, it probably won’t count for much when Lagares returns.


Philadelphia: I wonder if the Phillies regret signing Michael Saunders after seeing what Aaron Altherr did this spring. Altherr, who projected as the regular right fielder before Saunders was signed, hit .303/.395/.591 with four homers and a pair of steals in 66 at-bats. He’s also a better defender than Saunders in right field. There should still be playing time for him; he can start over Saunders versus lefties and also see spot duty over Howie Kendrick. Most likely, both Saunders and Kendrick will have injury issues before all is said and done, and they’ll also be trade bait if they perform well. Altherr won’t have much fantasy value initially, but he could be a mixed-league option later in the year. … It’s a little discouraging that Aaron Nola had an 8.38 ERA this spring, but his velocity has been even a little better than last year and he’s struck out 23 in 19 1/3 innings. I’m still betting on him. … Tommy Joseph outhit Maikel Franco last year. He outhit Franco this spring. Still, he’s going to be the No. 6 hitter on Opening Day, while Franco claims the cleanup spot. It’s a big part of why I don’t consider Joseph more of a value option in mixed leagues.


Pittsburgh: The most exciting decision still to come is whether Tyler Glasnow will be the Pirates’ fifth starter. The top prospect had a 5.65 ERA this spring, but that came with 23 strikeouts in 14 1/3 innings. With Drew Hutchison and Steven Brault sent down, the job will go to Glasnow or Trevor Williams. I thought the Pirates tipped their hands there when they let Jared Hughes go, opening up a spot in the bullpen for Williams. They don’t have to go that route, but it provides room for both. Assuming that Glasnow is starting, he’ll be worth the grab in mixed leagues. Poor control will limit him to five or six innings an outing, but he’s a huge talent with the potential to get better in a hurry. Williams should be picked up in NL-only leagues if he gets the job instead. … Josh Bell had a brutal spring and the Pirates could preserve some roster flexibility be sending him down, but nothing coming out of Pittsburgh suggests it’s going to happen. If they do demote Bell, they could open up some at-bats for Adam Frazier, who looked very legitimate in hitting .379/.455/.603 with three homers and a 5/7 K/BB ratio in 58 at-bats this spring. I think they might be better off playing Frazier over Josh Harrison at second against right-handers anyway.


St. Louis: We know Mike Matheny isn’t Randal Grichuk’s biggest fan, but I don’t think much will come of this experiment of using Matt Adams in left field. Adams had a great spring, but Grichuk projects as the better player offensively while also running circles around Adams defensively. Grichuk is 25 with a 112 OPS+ in 879 major league at-bats. Adams is 28 with a 109 OPS+ in 1,381 at-bats (and a 95 OPS+ in 472 at-bats this last two years). Adams should be a little better against right-handers, but not by nearly enough to make up for the difference in gloves. … I question whether he’s going to last 180 innings, but I’m higher on Michael Wacha than I was a few weeks ago. … I would think this Kolten Wong controversy would have been averted had the Cardinals just made it clear months ago that he was going to sit against lefties. Instead, they indicated that he’d be an everyday guy, which was foolish with both Jedd Gyorko and Jhonny Peralta on the roster and ready to start against lefties. Greg Garcia is worthy of at-bats, too. I’d like to see what Wong could do with a fresh start elsewhere, but he’s a weak bet in St. Louis as a bottom-of-the-order hitter who platoons.


San Diego: With Alex Dickerson (back) down for a few weeks, the Padres will go with Manuel Margot in center and Travis Jankowski in left. Going into the spring, I thought they’d probably send Margot down for a month or two, and they still might when Dickerson gets back. Margot should be the Padres’ best outfielder come 2018, but I’m skeptical that he’ll offer much fantasy value this year. … Jabari Blash, who hit seven homers this spring, will likely play over Jankowski against lefties and get occasional starts against righties when Margot sits. I doubt his all-or-nothing approach will play as well in games that matter. … The Padres decided to switch things up in the infield, moving Yangervis Solarte to second base. The big motivation there was Ryan Schimpf’s glove playing better at the hot corner. Schimpf and Cory Spangenberg are battling for time at third, and they can’t split at-bats very well since both are lefties. Schimpf deserves the job initially after his outstanding 89-game run as a rookie; his .869 OPS was far better than Wil Myers’ .797 mark last year.


San Francisco: It was a pretty bleak spring for Hunter Pence, who hit just .167 and failed to homer in 54 at-bats in Arizona. While health has been a big issue for him the last two years, his production held rather steady, with OPS+s of 119 in 52 games in 2015 and 115 in 106 games last year. I already believed more decline was going to set in this year, and March did nothing to change my mind. … The Giants are probably going to platoon Jarrett Parker and Chris Marrero in left field. That’d leave Marrero starting strictly against left-handers initially, but if he proves he can handle himself defensively (he’s much more of a first baseman than an outfielder), a larger role is possible. His bat is more intriguing than Parker’s. … There hasn’t been an announcement yet, but Matt Cain is probably going to be the fifth starter, even though he sported a 7.82 ERA this spring. A 19/5 K/BB ratio and three homers allowed in 25 1/3 innings aren’t too bad, but he surrendered a whopping 37 hits. Ty Blach would be a more intriguing pick for fantasy purposes.


Washington: I like Blake Treinen just fine as a fantasy closer, but the Nationals made the wrong choice in taking their best option to come in with men on base and sticking him in a situation in which he’ll hardly ever inherit runners. Shawn Kelley is the guy who should be starting the ninth inning with leads. The Nats were better off with Treinen entering games in the seventh with two on and one out (and then maybe even staying in and pitching the eighth). Anyway, Treinen is my No. 20 RP now, and I’d have him even higher except there’s still that strong possibility that the team will trade for an established closer at some point. … Nothing has happened this spring to change Dusty Baker’s mind about hitting Adam Eaton low in the order. I doubt this is what upper management had in mind when it traded three quality arms for Eaton over the winter. He’s probably not going to be much of an asset in mixed leagues early on, but I imagine he will hit his way up the order at some point. … Anthony Rendon is currently iffy for Opening Day because of a calf injury. 

Matthew Pouliot

Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of NBC Sports Edge and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @matthewpouliot.