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Welcome to the 2016 Razzball Team Previews! You’ll find everything you need to know about each team to get yourself ready for the upcoming fantasy baseball season. And I mean everything, folks. We’ve got line-ups, charts, Slurpees, lube, a guide for beginner electricians, and even a cactus! Well, that’s a lie. That’s what Jay had last year sitting in front of him. This year? Um…a little less lube? Take that as you will. But hey, we’ve got teams to preview and questions to ask, so let’s hop to it. We a very special guest for this post…Brad Rowland, to provide his take on what the team has in store this season. Now enough rambling, let’s see what 2016 holds for the Atlanta Braves!

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With every first list or preseason edition of anything, there comes question marks. Lots of ifs and buts, with no real sound determination until we actual see the product. I am pretty sure Jane Austen’s first attempt at Pride and Prejudice was an abomination because who knew if Elizabeth Bennett was up to the task of being wifey material? It turns out that I can win a bet and correlate anything into the bullpen situations of the current MLB teams. Until injuries, demotion or a better option arises, we have to go by two main instincts: former ability and common sense. So the list is based off of the news to date that we have gotten on all the potential closers to date and for gigg’s I have ranked them accordingly. I have been doing bullpens for a long time and have been wrong on a few occasions, but I am not the manager or GM for the team pulling the strings, I am merely a fantasy writer. So here is the Spring training edition of the Closer rankings, their set-up men, and the cuffs we covet for fantasy in 2016.

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Late season injuries and minor league call-ups are one thing.   Just not doing your job is an utter disgrace.  Bruce Rondon was sent home, literally, because of lack of effort.  Holy stereotypes.  Because getting out of bed, traveling first class and then having to pitch one whole inning a game in the oft-chance that your team may be winning.  Yeah, that sounds impossible to me to keep up with.  For now the Tigers will roll with a combination of Neftali Feliz and Alex Wilson.  So anyone looking for 3-4 saves til the end of the year can be rewarded with the plight of Rondon and his poor work effort.  I wouldn’t expect a treasure trove of riches, the Tigers rank in the bottom five in saves, save opps., bullpen ERA, blown saves, and believe it or not, balks by the bullpen.   I know that last stat is bupkiss, but when is the last time you ever read a balk stat in a reliever post?  It just happened for the first time in history and I am officially placing a copyright on it. So this is the final rankings for the year for closers I will do an end of the year wrap up next week with lots of zany stuff.

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Troy Tulowitzki left Saturday’s game after colliding with Pillar.  That was the same way Julius Caesar hurt himself, forcing him out of baseball and into ruling.  Crazy what the stadiums were made of that the Romans used to play in.  Alas, as Caesar said, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Those roads over there took seven months!  Freakin’ teamsters.”  The MRI on Tulo’s ribs and back came back negative, though it was as in:  Doctor, “Can you move?”  Tulo, “Negative, Doc.”  Because what the MRI originally failed to mention was his cracked shoulder blade.   He won’t be shaving with that shoulder blade anytime soon!  Or possibly playing baseball for two to three weeks, according to the Blue Jays.  Ryan Goins is Goins to fill-in, and that’s the Blue Jays’ shortstop comings and Goins!  Stay tuned for more fantasy news and reborts coming up after the break.  Offscreen voice, “It’s reports, not reborts, you jackass.”  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The Mariner bullpen has basically been that round-up ride at your local carnival.  It doesn’t look that bad until it totally messes with your vertigo and you end up spewing up kettle corn and other assorted goods for two hours there after.  Last year, the Mariners bullpen had a 2.60 ERA, good for tops in the MLB.  They also saved 51 games to only 11 blown saves.  They were all comfy and coozy like footed pajamas last year, and basically everyone could rely on the decent value of return from drafting Fernando Rodney.  Then the year changes to five and the ship went askew.  Their bullpen ERA is over 4.30 and are on pace to accumulate 45 saves, and, to date, have already blown 18 saves (behind only three other teams for worst).  So let’s just run down the year so far: Rodney was the closer, then he wasn’t the closer, Carson Smith took over, and now it seems as though they are reverting back to 2012 in hopes that Tom Wilhelmsen can right the ship of battered and injured bullpen dreams.  Stick around for some tid-bits and bullpen ranks…

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This is a true story. Pamela Anderson has an identical twin sister, and when Pam went to Hollywood to seek fame and fortune, her twin, Peggy, stayed behind in Minnesota. That part everyone knows. The part less people know is Peggy followed nearly all of Pam’s career moves, but in Minnesota. Peggy starred in a Minnesota-based TV show, Lakewatch, she took off her clothes for the Minnesota rag, The Viking, and she filmed a sex tape with Chris Mars. Sadly, the people of Minnesota canceled Lakewatch to show more Paul Molitor car commercials. The people of Minnysota asked Peggy to “Please put on a sweater” in The Viking, and Chris Mars was hung like a California Raisin. Peggy, like so many things Minnesota gets its hard Norwegian hands on, disappeared from people’s consciousness. Now replace Peggy with Aaron Hicks, replace Pamela Anderson with A.J. Pollock and imagine they’re related. When Hicks first came up, people thought he was going to be better than Pollock. No, not dumb people. In Double-A, Hicks had 12 homers, 32 steals and a .285 average. Then strikeouts enveloped his game in the majors and he hit .192 with a 27% K-rate in 2013, and hit .215 with a 25% K-rate in 2014, but this year, .277 and a 17% K-rate! That’s a huge improvement. That’s what she said! What? Oh, and he’s only 25 years old. Right now, he has 6 homers and 9 steals, so the power/speed combo hasn’t disappeared like Peggy Anderson, but the K-rate has. I’d own Hicks in all leagues, and am starting to prep myself for him to be a sleeper for 2016. As long as David Wasslewoff, Peggy’s old co-star, doesn’t try to coerce him into revamping the Lakewatch series. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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Papelbon, your new Nationals closer

Maybe the worst thing to happen on the trade deadline was something that didn’t happen.  Carter Capps to the Yankees would have been stupendous.  I wanted to see the media and baseball people lose their mind over Capps’ delivery and I think that’s exactly what would have happened had he ended up there.  But the thing that really has fantasy baseball managers in a tizzy is Jonathan Papelbon to the Washington Nationals.  As their closer.  (Yeah this old news, Grey and Smokey already beat me to Paplebon/Nationals puns.  Whatever.)  Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Joakim Soria and Jim Johnson are out of their closing job but jobs were created in the form of Ken Giles, Edward Mujica, Alex Wilson, and Arodys Vizcaino.  Now some of us might still be scrambling for players that can get some saves.  Well the Rockies have a closer spot up for grabs.  It sure took long enough, but this is something I’ve been saying would happen since Axford took that role.  Justin Miller, Rafael Betancourt, and Tommy Kahnle are the candidates to close there and that’s the order I would own them in.

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Corey Seager should’ve been called up already. Brucely, we’re up against it with the Dodgers. We have the aging vet, Jimmy Rollins, who looks like toast if you were to take doodie and pat it into the shape of toast and, uh, toast it. We have Justin Turner, who is having a career year but isn’t really this good and getting more slap hits than another Turner. We have Dumb Mattingly, who has Joe Torre on speed dial because he thinks Torre is still the manager of the team and Dumb is just acting as interim. We have the playoffs in their grasp. We have a team where money is no object, so if they call up Seager and bench Rollins and his contract, whatevs. We have a city that is obsessed with youth, says Debra Winger. This sounds as convoluted as True Detective. Now that I write it out, I’m surprised Seager didn’t get called up in April. I’ve refrained from tooting the Seager horn to avoid looking like a Bozo when he wasn’t called up, but I’m starting to think it could be soon, or at least within the next month. Why do we care, young prematurely balding men? Cause he looks like a young Tulo. Maybe he doesn’t steal 20 bases in a year, but he could hit 30 HRs with 10 steals and a .300 average. No, not this year, but at some point those numbers seem doable. And I’d like to do ’em! In redraft leagues, I’d now start stashing Seager, and, in keepers and dynasty leagues, he’s likely already gone, but if he’s not, oh, heck’s yeah. Anyway, here’s some more players to Buy or Sell this week in fantasy baseball:

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You know they say, every Blue Jay fan has his Price, and every dog has his day and what does the cat say? Me-ouch. Is that a well-known idiom? Sounds like something Pol Pot would’ve said. “You look like a clown because you’ve applied too much Khmer rouge. Now what does the cat say? ‘Me-ouch!'” That was Pol Pot at his most disarmingly charming. You ever look at pictures of dictators and think to yourself, “He looks like a total tool. What kind of a-holes followed this guy?” Any hoo! David Price was acquired by the Blue Jays for Daniel Norris (who I’ll get to in a moment). The Blue Jays GM, Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t believe he gutted the farm system to deliver Price and/or Tulo. No more than, say, a Greek farmer needs to gut a lamb to make shawarma. As they say on the lamb farm, sacrifices need to be made. I don’t think this changes a thing about Price’s value. Comerica was actually more offense-friendly this year, and the Blue Jays will provide more run support, but Price is essentially the same pitcher whether he’s in Toronto, New York or Boston, in Philly, Miami or Houston; in Detroit or– Is this a Kid Rock song I’m singing? Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Some of the trade rumors I’ve seen are just plain funny.  Craig Kimbrel to the Yankees?  Wait, what!?  Really?  I’m not denying it as a possibility but I am thinking it might be a little overboard to acquire a premier closer when you probably only need a solid bullpen guy because you already have TWO premier closers.  The list of closers and strong middle relievers available is so long this year.  One thing’s for sure, there are going to be some strong bullpens vying for postseason play.  Here’s the lowdown on closers and some other relievers who could be dealt in the upcoming weeks, starting with some of the players most likely to be traded and ending in with those much less likely to be.

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