You, “So, Grey, I appreciate a well-coiffed mustache as much as the next straight man, but are you trying to tell me Luis Valbuena isn’t a virtual lock at 3rd base?” Crazy shizz, right? The Cubs made the right move and went with Mike Olt to at least platoon at 3rd base. Here’s what I kinda said in the past, “Don’t you love when New Yorkers say the expression, “I got your _____ right here!” Coming out of the right taxi driver’s mouth, it’s like a cello being played by Yo-Yo Ma. Sometimes it can get confusing when you are actually trying to tell someone you’ve located something. Like, “I got your cellphone right here!” Probably sounds like you’re being an a-hole. Well, in that vein, take a a scruffy taxi driver’s voice, throw it through two packs a cigarettes a day for 20 years and give me a little, ‘I got your loyalty to Luis Valbuena right here!'” And that’s me kinda quoting me! I wrote that nonsense in 2012 when he was on the Rangers and behind Michael Young. That’s how long this whole Mike Olt saga has been going on. I received straight C’s in math, but I’m gonna try to count Olt’s post-hype hypeness. Okay, ready? Good. He’s a post-post-post-post-post-post-POST-post-hype prospect. Whew. I hope I didn’t put the italics ‘post’ where the capped ‘post’ was supposed to go. Olt was supposed to break out two years ago. Supposed to be a Chris Davis clone. Last year, Olt was in a backwards spiral of epic proportions. He hit .168 in 152 plate appearances at the Cubs Triple-A affiliate, but he had something wrong with his eyes. His eyes are fixed and he has other strengths. Strength being one of them. He can hit the ball a country mile (which is further than a city mile due to a lack of public transportation). He also has a decent enough glove. It’s a Rawlings. It’s a tanned leather. He will platoon in the early going, but, at this point, there is absolutely no reason to hold him back if he can hit. He won’t put up a great average, but there is a chance here for 30 homers if he can get the at-bats. 30-homer 3rd basemen don’t fall off the wagon every day, unless it’s an overcrowded wagon specifically labeled, “30-Homer 3rd Basemen.” Oh, and I’ve moved him up in my top 400. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in Spring Training for fantasy baseball:

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First off, I would like to say Eric Sogard should be the Face of the MLB; that vote was rigged in David Wright’s favor.  Baseball needs more nerdy-looking, glasses-touting, Bernie-leanin’, jive-walking players.  But without further ado, here is the AL West Spring Training Showdown. (You can check out the AL Central Spring Training Preview here and NL East Spring Training Preview here.)

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Taijuan Walker was shut down for a week due to a bursa in his right shoulder. Isn’t a bursa a type of Ethiopian bread? Sounds more like Somalians are holding my beautiful, upside starting pitcher captive. Only Captain Phillips can get me out of this mess…by being taken captive for two hours of a two hour and twenty minute movie and then being saved by characters we don’t even empathize with. Snooze. True story, schmue story, give Phillips a hidden machine gun in his rectum and let him shoot his way out by farting! This is starting to sound bad for Walker. I haven’t moved him in my top 80 starters for 2014 fantasy baseball yet, and, since I only have him down for 170 IP in my projections, I’m not changing anything, but I’d definitely be careful about pairing Walker with lots of other risk. As of right now, Walker will not be ready to start the year in the rotation. Anyway, here’s what else I’ve seen in Spring Training for fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Two weeks ago we looked at the speedsters from 2013 and there were more than a few names on the list that were available on the waiver wire at some point. For deeper leagues and daily fantasy players that need to maximize each and every matchup, even the smallest advantages can mean the difference between a win and a loss. That’s why we focused a lot on matchups this past year, and we’ll do it again in 2014. Even the best base stealers get caught once in a while, so it’s good to know as much as we can about who might be doing the catching before deploying our fantasy lineups. There’s a lot that goes into a stolen base, of course, and the battery of pitcher and catcher is a large piece of the puzzle. Pitchers who are good at holding baserunners can be avoided while pitchers who have a tendency to cough up a lot of steals can be exploited. Here’s how some starters fared in 2013 and over the last three years against the stolen base.

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At the time of this writing, there’s a tentative trade in place, one that would send Matt Garza to the Texas Rangers in exchange for a few prospects, including the heavy hitting 1B/3B, Mike Olt. Olt has long been a trade candidate — he’s an MLB-ready third baseman, but he’s thoroughly blocked by Adrian Beltre — and I’m surprised he wasn’t moved last season when his value was higher. Still, he’s a good fit for the Cubs and he’s been hitting quite well over the past month at Triple-A. The deal seems to make sense for both clubs, but this sort of tentative trade is never a sure-thing, as Cubs fans can attest. There’s a decent chance that this one will be off the table by the time this post runs. And if that’s the case, then Garza is scheduled for two starts next week. He’s listed below along with all the others going twice.

As always, probable pitchers are subject to change. For a look at all fantasy baseball streamers, click that link.

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Looking back on the unofficial first half of the fantasy baseball season can be a lot of fun, unless of course you are in dead last, in which case it’s about as much fun as watching your auntie’s cat play with its new Cat’s Meow toy while you eat stale Circus Peanuts. In any event, the gods of SAGNOF have not been as kind to us thus far in 2013, and it shows in the numbers. The total number of steals in the league, 1524, is the lowest it’s been since 2006. In addition, there are only 21 players with 15 or more steals at this point in the season. That’s also the lowest it’s been since 2006. It feels even lower given that just last year there were 28 players with 15+ steals at the break and 30 the year before that. This all means that players who steal 30 bags or more are a little harder to come by, and it’s no sure thing that each fantasy team will have one or two guys that can carry them in steals like in years past. It also means that having a guy like Ben Revere break his foot and lose his season is a much bigger blow to our fantasy squads (mine included) than it used to be. So what do we do if we lost a guy like Revere or missed out on a Jacoby Ellsbury or Everth Cabrera type? If you read my column regularly, you know I’m a big fan of playing the match-ups when it comes to steals, and seizing the opportunity to eke them out whenever possible against teams that are weak against the run. After all, just because steals are down in general, it doesn’t change the fact that they still make up 20% of our offensive points in most leagues.

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The night was humid in San Diego. Some fans in the front row brought their own Chardonnay, a mix of floral and fruity notes, which could’ve also described the crowd’s apparel. Tommy Bahama as far as the eye could see. One Padre fan stood up, three glasses of wine in, screaming to let Templeton play. Most of the fans that night were there for a picnic that was billed as ‘the best picnic mom’s ever packed.’ One thing these picnickers never expected was to become a part of history. Whispers amongst the Padre fans began in the 1st inning. “It was going to be a long night.” Not because of Tim Lincecum, who began his quest to throw the 700th-something no-hitter in the last ten years. Tonight would drag for these Padre fans because the picnic brie was forgotten at home. Tonight these Padre fans groaned in the first inning because when Lincecum took the mound they thought the game was being preempted for a k.d. lang concert. So, Lincecum wasn’t economical in his 148-pitch no-hitter, walking 4 guys and K’ing 13. He’s the first pitcher to throw more pitches in a no-hitter than he weighs. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, Lincecum doesn’t look bad in his peripherals this year. His K-rate and walk rate are pretty close to the numbers he put up when he had a 2.74 ERA in 2011. He didn’t make the top 100 for the 2nd half that is coming tomorrow, but I considered it for a long time (about 25 seconds). The unknown right now is whether or not the 148 pitches is going to tire his arm. Obviously, he’ll have the All-Star break to rest and I wouldn’t be against giving Lincecum a chance on my fantasy team. Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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Ike Davis could return next weekend. In other words, he’s moved one step closer to the plate in Metco. It only took him three months. He reminds me of myself in Little League. I was a solid .300, top of the order-type. People would marvel at how I would never strikeout. More Placido Polanco than Joey Votto, if those guys weren’t in Little League themselves at the time. Then I got beaned and I lost my nerve. Started standing five feet off the plate, not even able to reach the inside corner, and would bail out of the batter’s box as the pitcher wound up. That led me on a journey of self-discovery through girls, drugs, the falling baseball card market, fro-yo and hip-hop. So, I’m glad to see Ike has figured things out and won’t be joining the already overcrowded fantasy baseball blog market. Since there’s no mention of Ike being a scared little girl (with respect to our four girl readers), I have no idea why he didn’t just move closer to the plate three months ago. But he has now. There’s a chance he’s just as bad on recall, but I’d absolutely take a flyer on Davis if I had room in any league. A .255 hitter that could hit 20 homers (which he did last year in the 2nd half) in 3 months doesn’t grow on trees (except in remote parts of Indonesia). Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The afternoon started with Matt Harvey. He pitched a stellar 7 innings with 13 Ks, but Terry Collins sent him out there in the 8th after throwing 110 pitches, which lead to two singles and a walk, three runners that the bullpen let in. After the game, Collins said, “I felt bad for Duda (who blew a chance for a Harvey no-hitter by not covering first base on Heyward’s infield single). I couldn’t let Duda make the only Metsake of the game. I was going to keep pitching Harvey until he screwed up. He’d have started the nightcap, if necessary.” Fortch, it wasn’t necessary, as the nightcap brought on Zack Wheeler‘s debut with a line of 6 IP, 0 ER, 9 baserunners (5 BBs), 7 Ks. To summarize, it was shaky as all get-out at first. He looked like he couldn’t hit the broadside of Precious. Then he either calmed, or realized something — if he could locate, no one could hit him. He can easily be as good as Harvey, but I’m guessing it won’t be until next year. Last night was the best you could’ve hoped for. To summarize that summary, he was shaky, then solid. To summarize the summary’s summary, Zack good. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

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Domonic Brown went 3-for-4, 2 RBIs and yet another homer, his 17th. Can we just bask in the Brown glow? Or Basque, if you’re Spanish. A run like this only happens once in a blue moon. Or Blue Moon, if you like orange wedges with your beer. Brown is in the zone, then the zone called and said Brown doesn’t need to pay his room service bill. It’s on the house! (The zone just doesn’t do that sorta thing usually.) Everyone wants a piece of Brown. The League of Extraordinary Italian-Americans called and claimed True Romance was right and Domonic is Italian. The Mexican American hip hop duo, A Lighter Shade of Brown, is going to a tanning salon in anticipation of changing their name. Charlie Manuel said he’s known all along what Brown was capable of, but no one understands a word he says. From my mouth to your deity of choice, please let him stay hot until October. That is all I ask. That and to win the lottery. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:

Please, blog, may I have some more?