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We at Razzball realize that exporting our views across the country has damaging consequences on the blogosphere. To help make amends, we are reaching out to leading team blogs and featuring their locally blogged answers to pressing 2010 fantasy baseball questions regarding their team. We feel this approach will be fresher, more sustainable, and require less energy consumption (for us anyway). The 2010 Astros Fantasy Baseball Preview comes courtesy of Crawfish Boxes.

1) Brandon Lyon, Matt Lindstrom or Door Number 3?  Who’s going to be the closer for the majority of 2010 and what kind of numbers do you see them putting up?

Despite the gaudy contract he just signed (3 yr/$15 million) I don’t think that Brandon Lyon will end up closing that many games for the Astros. He is, as much as I and fellow Astro fans may want to deny, a slightly above average relief pitcher. He if plenty good enough to be a solid set up man, but ill suited in my estimation to be our regular closer.

Matt Lindstrom entered 2009 as the gas tossing Marlin closer. After injuring himself at the World Baseball Classic, Lindstrom never achieved the sort of success in South Florida that the Fish would have liked. A year later, Lindstrom isn’t penciled in as the Astros’ closer, but he is in the running. A 100 mph fastball and a decent slider are what Lindstrom offers.

Bottom line though, Lindstrom has never finished a ML season as a closer, and Lyon has had mixed results in the role. Doors 3 (Alberto Arias), 4 (Jeff Fulchino), or 5 (Samuel Gervacio) may have to be opened by season’s end. This might not be a bad thing, however, as all five have their strong points and offer the Astros an enviable amount of depth at the back end of the bullpen.

2) In the last two weeks of 2009, J.R. Towles hit 2 homers and batted over .400.  Before that, he was a Morganna-sized bust.  Can he finally breakout in 2010?

Wow! A Morganna reference! I’m 24, so you’re lucky I caught the reference. Anyways, J.R. Towles has amassed a grand total of 234 major league at bats in his entire career. So, it’s pretty unfair to call him a bust. That being said, J.R. is an athletic catcher who is very capable of being a 10 HR/10 SB guy if given the necessary at bats. He’s shown the willingness to walk in the minors, and hopefully that skill translates if given the opportunity in Houston. Sadly (for Towles), scouts believe 2008 first round draft pick Jason Castro is almost ready for full time action, so Towles may have to show his stuff early in 2010 for either a back up slot with the Astros once Castro is called up or possibly for a job with another club.

3) Hunter Pence turns 27 this year and looks on the verge of a breakout that even Ed Wade can’t stop.  What kind of year can he put up?  35 homers, 15 steals?  30/10?  Hopefully something better than Pedro Feliz?

I’m going to hold off on the 35 HR prediction, but 25 HR, 15 steals and a better BB:K ratio than in 2009 could certainly be in order. Couple his offense with his stellar defense in right field, and Pence is a slightly below All Star level talent who the Astros are happy to have in the lineup.

4) Last year, Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman seemed to begin their descent over the hill.  Can they slam on the brakes and be top tier hitters again in 2010?

While both players are in their mid-30s, and both hit for a good bit of power, their games are fairly distinct from one another. Lance is a more patient hitter who is more helpful than a bag of sand on defense. Carlos is an unmotivated, high contact, low K, professional hitter in the Matt Stairs mold. Lance should be able to be a productive hitter for as long as he wants to play (and if you read between the lines with Lance, that may not be past his current contract). Carlos’ skills don’t translate well into old age, so Astros fans should hope Lee is able to hold on for as long as possible…at least until an AL club in need of a DH gets greedy and takes on his contract.

5) Tommy Manzella sounds like he should be in culinary school and Jeff Keppinger is the answer to the question, “Who is Brett Myers giving a wedgie to?”  So what becomes of shortstop?  Can Manzella offer anything besides a delicious Chicken Parm?

Chef Manzella is set to prepare a feast for the city of Houston this summer:

As an appetizer, Manzella will offer up quick hands and feet paired with an accurate throwing arm.

For the main course, Chef has been working hard on honing his batting stroke and toughening up for the long haul of a 162 game season.

And for dessert (everybody’s favorite), Tommy accents a slightly older vintage of player at third base (Pedro Feliz), giving the Astros the sort of defense that will save runs left and right.

All for an affordable price of….league minimum.

Jeff Keppinger was a pleasant surprise in 2009, and should get plenty of at bats in 2010 at 2B, SS and 3B. If not striking out was a game….he..um…would be good at it.

From Around The Web

  1. Panti Jose says:
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    Picks 6 and 8 in different 15 team 5×5 roto standard. who do you like in those spots? i’m thinking tex, kemp and howard in no particular order, but don’t really love any of the picks. who would you build around?

  2. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Panti Jose: Those picks make sense. I wouldn’t veer far from my top 20 just because it’s a bit deeper than a 12 team league.

  3. Panti Jose says:
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    thanks grey. looks like there could be some intriguing minor league catchers making splashes this year, huh?

  4. Pirate Jesus says:
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    As an Astros fan, I hope its sooner than later that the AL teams come calling for Lee… Uncle Drayton must’ve been on the juice when he penned that deal. Keep an eye on our draft this year though, I think we have 3 of the first 36 picks. Should be interesting.

    One question: Which side of Markakis + Felix for Adam Jones + Kinsler do you like? 5×5 12-team 9 player keeper with MI/CI/3OF/1Util.

  5. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Panti Jose: Who, Towles? Yeah, but he was supposed to bust onto the scene two years ago. So far he’s only got the bust part right, so we’ll see.

    @Pirate Jesus: That’s very even trade, I’d go with the Kinsler side by a hair.

  6. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: @Panti Jose: Honestly, few will make huge impacts. Buster Posey (SF) and Carlos Santana/Lou Marson (CLE) have the largest impact possibility. This doesn’t mean I am targeting them. Towles could surprise and be a post-hype sleeper. The top catchers are all reaching the majors, but aren’t ready for everyday service. Think Matt Weiters and how long he took to get to the majors when everyone was hyping him. When he finally reached the majors and was starting consistently, how did you feel if you held onto him all season? Keep perspective and all should be well.

  7. mikey boy324 says:
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    grey off topic do you have your predictions for nl and al cy young?

  8. Real Tom says:
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    Grey! Chen Ming Wang just signed with Washington. That REALLY changes things.

    Now, when he’s pitching, nobody will know.

  9. Wyatt says:
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    Grey: 8th pick in 12 team 5×5 draft, take Tex/Fielder first and 2nd round? Or grab Longoria and one of the premiere first baseman?

  10. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Real Tom: That’ll put fans in the seats.

    @Wyatt: First baseman/Longoria

  11. Brett says:
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    Grey:

    Longoria vs Wright?

  12. Mikey boy324 says:
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    Nl I like nolasco and Santana I feel like Santana is due for a big season I live in ny and so far a lot of good things have been said about hiM
    early on if he has no set backs in spring training I could see him being a steal as his current adp as for nalasco I just hope the word doesn’t get out on him too much cuz his Adp is a steal also and in the al I like garza or fher…

  13. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Brett: Longoria

  14. brett says:
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    Brett, spell your name with a lower case b. It’s way cooler.

  15. Stephen says:
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    @brett: @Brett: I am going to be so confused now.

  16. Brett says:
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    Grey, No lol, anyways i have a tough for you, I’m taking braun 1st round 5th pick, then its coming back around and i’m thinking either Youk or Zimmerman, your thoughts?

  17. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Brett: Zimmerman

  18. Brett says:
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    @Grey: K k sorry i have one more for you. I’ve read most of your articles this year and i think im understanding this correctly, you don’t like to draft any pitchers until the 6th round right?

  19. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Brett: You don’t have to if there’s no value there. I’d a Johan-type in the 6th.

  20. Brett says:
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    @Grey: Thanks a lot man, you have the best site for fantasy baseball on the web, actually responding to our questions, and keeping things fun, have a good one.

  21. brad says:
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    this mock didn’t really go the way i expected, but what do you think? pick 11 (of 12).

    c Ruiz 22
    1b Teixeira 2
    2b Phillips 3
    3b Longoria 1
    ss E Cabrera 21
    of BJ Upton 4
    of Granderson 5
    of Bay 6 (damn autopick kicked in would’ve gone with adam jones)
    util C Pena 8
    util Bruce 11

    sp hamels 7, weaver 9, garza 10, oswalt 13, sanchez 14, liriano 19, chamberlain 23

    rp soriano 12, aardsma, 15, dotel 16, hoffman 17, gonzalez 18, jenks 20

  22. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Brett: No problem.

    @brad: I think Bay was a better pick there. I don’t think this team is bad. You’ll probably be hurting on average, but whatever. Actually, you’ll definitely be hurting on average, but if you have to hurt somewhere that’s not a bad place for it to happen. Starters and relievers look fine.

  23. Stephen says:
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    @Brett: He’s a robot.

    @Grey: If your site gets really large, do you see yourself responding as promptly?

  24. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Stephen: I should let this question hang in the wind… (Insert appropriate emoticon)

  25. Stephen says:
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    @Grey: Fair enough.

  26. Wyatt says:
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    Grey:

    First 5 picks in a 12 team mock, i had 5th pick:

    Braun
    Zimmerman
    Reyes
    Roberts
    Morneau

    Thoughts?

    In the 6th i want to grab a pitcher, out of these 3 who would you choose:

    Lester
    Johnsons
    Jimenez

  27. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Wyatt: Looks fine for now. Roberts and Reyes is plenty of steals, don’t go crazy anywhere else. Lester

  28. this is from the 10 hole out of 12 – I will later on post my best draft – THE PERFECT STORM DRAFT

    1. Mark Teixeira (NYY – 1B)
    2. Ian Kinsler (Tex – 2B) speed
    3. Ryan Zimmerman (Was – 3B)
    4. Curtis Granderson (NYY – OF) speed
    5. Adam Lind (Tor – OF)
    6. Josh Johnson (Fla – SP)
    7. Ricky Nolasco (Fla – SP)
    8. Cole Hamels (Phi – SP)
    9. Julio Borbón (Tex – OF) stolen bases
    10. Jake Peavy (CWS – SP)
    11. Carlos Mármol (ChC – RP) saves
    12. Carlos Quentin (CWS – OF) uptilty spot – cheap enough for me
    13. Francisco Cordero (Cin – RP) -saves
    14. Billy Wagner (Atl – RP) saves – bench
    15. Carlos Beltrán (NYM – OF) ultilty spot – did he ever come cheap
    16. Jorge De La Rosa (Col – SP) bench
    17. Octavio Dotel (Pit – RP) -saves
    18. Jhonny Peralta (Cle – 3B,SS)
    19. Clay Buchholz (Bos – SP) bench
    20. Chris Iannetta (Col – C)
    21. Phil Hughes (NYY – SP,RP) bench
    22. Joba Chamberlain (NYY – SP) bench
    23. Bobby Jenks (CWS – RP) – bench- saves

  29. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @mrbaseball: Not crazy about Beltran this year (or at least right now), but, wow, 15th is hard to turn down. That’s a solid looking team. If you didn’t take Peralta, I’d say you were a little light on power, but you did take him so there’s that. But he’s definitely no guarantee.

  30. Steve says:
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    @Grey: Little bit of Rudy love in the previous post for Peavy and Bedard – is this something you gus have discussed?

  31. Steve says:
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    @Steve: … you GUYS…

  32. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Steve: Nah, he’s going off script. I’m not the boss of him as BRAN shows.

  33. Tony says:
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    did i read Jair Jurjjens is having TJ surgery on espn?

  34. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Tony: I heard he was going for an MRI. Didn’t hear about surgery yet. Obvious blow to his season.

  35. Gavin says:
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    Grey:

    Two questions

    1: Chris Davis this year, Fantasy sleeper or fantasy bust?

    2: Can you take Zimmerman in the 2nd and not feel like you reached?

  36. 1. Mark Teixeira (NYY – 1B) 30+
    2. Ian Kinsler (Tex – 2B) speed 30+
    3. Ryan Zimmerman (Was – 3B) 30+
    4. Curtis Granderson (NYY – OF) speed 30+
    5. Adam Lind (Tor – OF) 30+
    6. Josh Johnson (Fla – SP)
    Carlos Quentin – 30+

    core of the power – wow still not enoght – thats cool then how much power would one want to get

    Julio Borbón (Tex – OF) stolen bases – I could have traded in steals – they been drafting him like he is a superstar so I took a shot here

  37. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @mrbaseball: I missed Lind. You’re right, you’re fine there.

  38. Mr Grey I know you been asked this question a million times so it will be easy for you to answer – what spot in the draft do you like from 1 through 12

  39. in a 12 man draft- it seems for the most part that Josh Johnson is avalible for round 6 – he is good enough to be the number 1 starter on a fantasy team

  40. Buck says:
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    Grey: Thoughts on Homer Bailey?

  41. Tony says:
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    FULL YAHOO mock i just took fielder and tulo on the turn because i was bored… .coulda took fielder and miggy…. ? Or one of those two BIG 1B bats and wright was there….. from the 12th pick, WILDNESS.

  42. Wyatt says:
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    Grey: Just finished a yahoo fantasy Mock draft 12 team 5×5. I think its a pretty solid team, just wanted to get your thoughts on it?

    1. Ryan Braun (Mil – OF)
    2. Ryan Zimmerman (Was – 3B)
    3. José Reyes (NYM – SS)
    4. Brian Roberts (Bal – 2B)
    5. Justin Morneau (Min – 1B)
    6. Josh Johnson (Fla – SP)
    7. Jon Lester (Bos – SP)
    8. Hunter Pence (Hou – OF)
    9. Matt Wieters (Bal – C)
    10. Carlos González (Col – OF)
    11. Brian Wilson (SF – RP)
    12. Brett Anderson (Oak – SP)
    13. Trevor Hoffman (Mil – RP)
    14. Carlos Quentin (CWS – OF)
    15. Roy Oswalt (Hou – SP)
    16. Jonathan Sánchez (SF – SP)
    17. Vladimir Guerrero (Tex – Util)
    18. Frank Francisco (Tex – RP)
    19. Alex Gordon (KC – 3B)
    20. Clay Buchholz (Bos – SP)
    21. Garrett Jones (Pit – 1B,OF)
    22. Chris Davis (Tex – 1B,3B)
    23. Tim Hudson (Atl – SP)

  43. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Wyatt: Real solid team. Trying the Gordon flier, huh? He’s gotta be good one of these years, or not. Really like the Hudson pick there to balance the upside fliers you took earlier.

  44. Eddy says:
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    Reyes who would you prefer in the 4th round presuming theyre there,

    Jose Reyes or Brandon Phillips?

  45. Wyatt says:
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    Grey:

    Yeah i figured he still has a lot of upside and in round 19, whats the risk? Lol, and thanks.

  46. Steve says:
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    @Eddy: Greyes?

  47. Tony says:
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    @ grey….. do you do alot of mocks? have you done one at YAHOO?

  48. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Eddy: Reyes

    @Tony: Nah, haven’t been to Yahoo yet. I have a real auction draft tomorrow night.

  49. royce! says:
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    @Grey: For real? Why 12 and not 1? Actually, I think I have an idea of why- at 12 you can get 2 top 20s, at 1 you can’t. So your eggs are all in Pujols’ basket.

  50. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @royce!: You got the reason.

  51. royce! says:
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    @Grey: I also got a great image of Pujols carrying a basket of eggs!

  52. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @royce!: Putting all your eggs in a Pujols actually gave me a different image.

  53. royce! says:
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    @Grey: Mmm….an incomparable omlette.

    Okay! Who wants to change the subject?

  54. Harley says:
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    How about in a 15 team league – what draft spot do you like the best? In the NFBC you can set your preferences for a draft slot, and I like to spend some time using ADP figuring out my favorite spots. I am debating between:

    -3/4 (Arod, Sizemore/Upton/Votto, Agonz)
    -9/10 (Miggy/Longoria/Howard, Rollins/Reyes, Zimmerman/Morneau)
    -14 (Wright, Kinsler, Morneau/Granderson)

    My reasoning right now is that I definitely want top players at at least 2 of the following 3 positions: 1b, ss and 3b.

  55. @Grey: ha…too good. Finding out you’re 24 now makes me feel like I haven’t accomplished anything with my life…at 24…good or bad?

  56. VanHammersly says:
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    Much like Wyatt above, I tried out Yahoo’s mock draft tonight for the first time, drafted the following team, and am looking for a comment or two. Kind of odd their standard league now has 2 Utility spots. I had the 10th pick in a 12-team mock.

    My biggest concern is SPs. Based on Grey’s projections, I like the staff; however, there are some question marks too. Kind of wished I’d grabbed a more stable arm (Hudson, for ex.) over E. Santana at the end.

    C: Wieters (9)
    1B: Morneau (4)
    2B: Stewart (10)
    SS: Reyes (3)
    3B: Longoria (2)
    OF: Kemp (1)
    OF: Lind (5)
    OF: Hamilton (8)
    UT: Robot Jones (13)
    UT: C. Davis (16)

    SP: J. Johnson (6)
    SP: Hamels (7)
    RP: K-Rod (12)
    RP: R. Franklin (15)
    P: Oswalt (11)
    P: Price (14)
    P: Francisco (17)
    P: Cueto (18)
    BN: M. Gonzalez (19)
    BN: E. Santana (20)
    BN: Dotel (21)
    BN: Lyon (22)
    BN: Lidge (23)

  57. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Harley: You’re not going to win on the first picks. I’d be fine with any of those first couple of picks, it’s really how you draft the rest of the team. Howard, Rollins, Zimmerman is sweet… A-Rod, Sizemore and A-Gonz isn’t bad either.

  58. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @VanHammersly: You have stable arms in Oswalt, Hamels and Johnson. Hopefully two of those three are fine. Don’t mind your flier arms later either. The staff looks pretty solid. Love that Reyes is in the third round. But other then him and Kemp you might be low on speed. It’s tough without the MI spot to sneak more speed in and you went pretty power heavy on the 2 UT spots.

  59. VanHammersly says:
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    @Grey: Thanks Grey. Yeah, I agree speed is lacking on that mock team after Reyes and Kemp.

    Here’s more of a general question: if you’re in the last 4-5 rounds of your draft and you’re in good shape with everything except SB, would you grab a 4th Closer (a Lidge/Qualls/Lyon-type) or nice Middle Reliever (Rodney) or a StealsAGNOF bench guy that could subbed in and out of your lineup? I tend to follow your set it and forget offensive strategy and only put Pitchers in my bench slots, but do you ever draft 1 or 2 offensive bench players?

  60. Martin says:
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    According to ESPN, Gordan Beckham will gain 2nd base eligibility during the season. Where does that put him with the other 2nd baseman?

  61. Harley says:
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    @Grey: I understand I won’t win a draft with the first few picks, but I can certainly lose it. I just did a 15 team mock, 10th pick:
    -Longoria
    -Reyes
    -Granderson
    -Manny
    -C. Lee
    -Butler
    -Gallardo
    -Nolasco
    -Bruce
    -Billingsley
    -C. Davis
    -Brett Anderson

    Early thoughts?

  62. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @VanHammersly: I’d grab a closer.

    @Martin: Just above Stewart.

    @Harley: That’s the whole team? Looks good so far. Manny’s not a huge favorite of mine and Carlos Lee seems like he’s the same player, but I can understand trying to balance Reyes and Grandy.

  63. Stephen says:
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    @the fake tom: That was the age of the interviewed blogger not Grey’s age.

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