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Preseason Prep - March 29, 2012

Paul Sauberer

News, notes and analysis as the regular season begins in Japan and Spring Training winds down in Florida and Arizona...

Julio Borbon- TEX- Borbon's chances of securing the center field spot, and possbily even a roster spot at all, seemed to take a hit yesterday. Manager Ron Washington was displeased at Borbon's failure te be able to lay down a bunt in the 10th inning. Borbon fouled off two attempts before striking out. Although Gary Gentry has gone just 3-for-25 in the Cactus League and has dealt with some injury issues this spring, he seems to be ahead of Borbon on the Texas depth chart. Josh Hamilton has started gettign some playing time back in center field as well and been happy about it. If the Rangers decide to keep Hamilton in center, Borbon's spot would be very tenutous.

Neal Cotts- TEX- Cotts is giving some competition to Michael Kirkland for the lefthander spot in the Texas bullpen. He threw a scoreless inning yesterday on a AAA game, the first time this spring he has pitched on consecutive days. Cotts hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009 and would be more of a LOOGY, which would make him less versatile than the role the Rangers see Kirkland fitting. Prospect Robbie Ross is also in the mix for that bullpen position, but likely needs more seasoning in the minors before he is ready.

Kendrys Morales- LAA- Morales looks to be at the top of the depth chart at DH for the Angels, since some guy named Pujols is at 1B. Morales is recovered from the ankle injury that cost him a year and a half, slthough he's still not in the shape he'd like to be. Morales weighs in at 240, where his normal playing weight is in the low 230s. The ankle injury hasn't let Morales run like he should so he still has some pounds to work off. He may not be in the regular season starting lineup as the Royals will be sending lefthander Bruce Chen to the mound on Opening Day and Morales may sit then and in the third game when another southpaw will be starting. The current plan is for Morales to play 5 or 6 games in each week.

Bobby Casseveh- LAA- Injuries that will have Casseveh and Michael Kohn on the DL to start the season means that there are 3 spots open in the Angels' bullpen. Right now there are 5 pitchers battling for those spots. Jason Isringhausen will have his last chance today. If he doesn't perform well he will likely retire rather than accept a minor league role. Kevin Jepsen, Trevor Bell, Francisco "I'm not K-Rod" Rodriguez and Rich Thompson are the other candidates. Whoever does emerge victorious from the battle will probably have a short lived victory, as Casseveh is due back when eligible on April 11 and Kohn will probably not be far behind. Even for the competitor who ends up with the last available spot after those two return from injury it doesn't look like there will be a lot of fantasy value there.

Tsuyoshi Wada- BAL- Wada didn't do himself any favors in his first start of the spring on Tuesday. He only made it through 3 of his scehduled 4 IP due to a high pitch count as the Twins got to him for 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. Wada has had elbow problems this spring and that doesn't bode well. He will get two more starts before the season starts but right now looks more likely to start the season in the bullpen than the rotation.

Matt Wieters- BAL- You have to take spring results with a grain of salt, but Wieters has hit 2 homers in the Grapefruit League, equaling his total of his previous 4 camps, and has struck out only 5 times in 40 ABs. If this is an indicator of further advancement Wieters could really be coming into his own this year, building on the impressive advances he made in 2011.

Shaun Marcum- MIL- Although the Brewers say that Marcum is on track to start the fourth game of the regular season, they are taking steps to be able to back date a DL stint for the pitcher, who has had shoulder issues. He will make his nex appearance in minor league camp. The team will then assess him and decide is he will make another start with the minor league squad or pitch in Milwaukee's last Cactus League game. If Marcum doesn't take the field in a major league game, they can start a DL stint retroactive to March 26.

Zack Greinke- MIL- Greinke recorded 8 strikeouts in 7 IP yesterday, allowing 1 run on 5 hits and puttign his Cactus League ERA at 0.93, well below his career spring ERA of 4.65. His prior spring troubles haven't been an indicator of slow starts. He had some troubles getting untracked last season, but his start was delayed until May by injury. Usually Greinke starts hot. If he can do that and also finish like he did in 2011 he will be in the top ranks of fantasy pitchers.

BJ Upton- TB- Upton will definitely not be ready to play when the regular season starts. He will be on the DL due to his lower back injury and not eligible to return until at least April 10th. The odds are that it will be at least a few days after that. The lucky player who gets playing time in his place isn't known yet, but whoever it is supposedly won't be there for a long time, since Upton's injury isn't thought to be very serious.

Mike Carp- SEA- Injury- Carp landed on the DL in the season opening game against the A's in Japan. He sprained his shoulder on a dive in the 4th inning. Carp didn't come out of the game but was diagnosed afterwards. He will be re-evaluated once the team returns to the United States and it's possible that he will be ready by the time the Mariners open their hme schedule on April 13th.

Ichiro Suzuki- SEA- Hot- Ichiro got his season off to a great start in the Opening Series in Japan. He went 4-for-5 against the A's. His career low batting average last season was a result of a singls average 43 points below his career norm. A look at his Fantistics player chart shows just how closely correlated his average and BHIPx are to each other. With more average luck this season, his average shold rebound. His 40 steals from 2011 might tke a hit from his new position in the batting order as the number 3 hitter, but his RBI totals should increase.

Felix Hernandez-SEA- Hot- Hernandez was dominant, even though he ended up with a no decision in the season opener for the Mariners and A's. He pitched 8 innings and allowed 1 run on 5 hits while striking out 6. No pitchers on either team allowed a walk, but Hernandez did hit 2 batters. He did seem to have decent command of the strike zone for the most part, though, as 66 of his 104 pitchers were strikes. That number of pitches seems high for the beginning of the season, particularly in March, but he threw 108 pitches on April 1st last year. Hernandez had a lot of high pitch counts in outings for each of the past two years and doesn't seem to have suffered for it, even though he didn't turn 25 until after the 2011 season started. He might be one of those pitchers like another Hernandez (Livan) for whom pitch counts are irrelevant.

Brandon McCarthy- OAK- Hot- McCarthy began his 2012 season where he left off in 2011. A strong finish last year has turned into a strong start to this year. He went 7 IP in Jpana, allowing 1 run on 6 hits while striking out 3 and walking none. If he can finally avoid the injury bug for an entire season McCarthy can put up some solid numbers. That's a big if, but more likely after having thrown 170.2 IP in 2011 even with missing time to the DL.

Yoenis Cespedes- OAK- Rookie- Cespedes had a successful major league debut, going 1-for-3 with a double in the first game of the season. He also got hit by a pitch. In today's game he slugged his first major league homer in going 1-for-3 again. He struck out 3 times in the two games, so he might need a little selectivity, but he didn't seem overmatched. He did nothing to diminish his perceived fantasy value.

Miguel Cabrera- DET- Cabrera will be back in the Grapefruit League lineup soon, possibly as early as today. He is reportedly not having any ill effects from his broken orbital bone and is on track to be at third base on Opening Day.

Brandon Allen- OAK- FYI- Allen go tthe start at first base in the first game of the season for the A's, but that hasn't settled the question of who will be there long term. Kila Ka'aihue was in the lineup today, as Seattle started a lefty. Daric Barton is still in the mix also, although he is back in Arizona recovering from shoulder surgery. Right now, it looks like Allen is in line to get the bulk of the playing time. If the A's go the platoon route at least until they need to free a roster spot for a 5th starter Allen would face righthanders.

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