Danny Valencia had himself a nice little weekend.  On Friday, he hit two homers, then yesterday he became only the third player to ever have a three-homer game (3-for-5, 5 RBIs) against the Rays (last one was Carlos Delgado in 2003), and only the 2nd player that also stood for the pregame National Anthem.   Valencia grew up Jewish, and, according to Wikipedia, “(Valencia’s) two key hitting coaches growing up were Bob Molinaro, a family friend who is a former major leaguer, and his mother Mindy.”  I didn’t have a Jewish mother, but have plenty of experience being half-Jewish, so I can imagine the guilt trips he got, “Why don’t you marry a nice Jewish girl and stop swinging at balls in the dirt?”  “You never call your mother, and you’re opening up too soon.”  “You can go take batting practice after you give your mother a kiss.”  Wikipedia doesn’t mention it, but one less guilt-inducing hitting coach he had was Jose Bautista.  Valencia learned how to hit for more power from Joey Bats.  Since Bautista imparted wisdom on Valencia, he’s hit 30 homers in the last 580 ABs.  So, can Valencia keep it going?  It appears so.  Now finish your latkes and keep your hands back!  Anyway, here’s what else I saw this weekend in fantasy baseball:

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The Rockies made official what seemed inevitable for the last week, Trevor Story will be the starting shortstop in Colorado.  As a visiting dignitary gets a key to the city, Story earned the shortstop job and was handed one of Tulo’s old hamstrings.  “May your hamstrings stay forever young.”  That’s Rod Stewart doing the honors.  No idea why Colorado hired Rod Stewart to handle that ceremony.  I upped Story in my top 20 shortstops, and cranked up his projections.  His Ks have been a problem in the past, but it’s Coors, so how bad could it be?  “Should I answer?”  No, Josh Rutledge, it’s a rhetorical question.  I’m fascinated to see what the Rockies are going to do with Jose Reyes.  He’s owed a lot of money to become a straight bench player.  Maybe the Rockies will just cut him.  Maybe MLB will suspend Reyes for the season.  Maybe the Rockies will hire Mo’nique to throw Reyes threw a glass door.   Maybe if I had dollars instead of maybes I’d be rich.  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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It’s been a long offseason, but now that we’re less than a week away from the start of the 2016 MLB regular season, it’s time to dust off the trash/treasure column and take a look at a few of the players who have made fantasy owners take notice in recent weeks. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this series, the concept is pretty straightforward: identify a few of the players who have experienced the largest change in ownership percentage over the previous week and determine which of these players are deserving of their sudden gains or declines respectively. The players who I believe carry limited value moving forward will be deemed TRASH while the potential waiver wire gems will have the coveted TREASURE label bestowed upon them. Dig it? Cool. Now let’s take a look at some of the buzzy Spring Training names as Opening Day approaches…

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After Jada Pinkett Smith started the #closerssowhite controversy, boycotting SAGNOF until there were more black closers, because her husband, Will Smith, wasn’t immediately anointed closer of the Brewers, the entire MLB began a well-needed discussion about race.  Our Commissioner Manfred said, “I thought about this for a brief second, then I realized the entire league is Dominican.  I mean, before I was chosen as commissioner I had to vacation in Punta Cana for a long weekend just to ‘feel the vibe’ as Selig said.”  Jada Pinkett Smith said she will not sleep until her husband gets saves or Torii Hunter comes out of retirement and is made closer of one of those real white teams, “Maybe Minnesota.”  Closers So White lives on.  Will Smith’s closer season, however, looks about as promising as an After Earth sequel.  On Saturday, it was reported he tore his LCL.  He tore his 150?  That’s like when Pablo Sandoval’s dyslexic cousin saw Pablo tore his 501’s.  My money’s on Jeremy Jeffress getting the most saves in Milwaukee this year.  My money also has Alfred E. Neuman on it.  Jeffress is the top guy from the Brewers pen in my top 500 with Corey Knebel up next.  The fantasy baseball war room has been updated, as well.  (By the way, some rejected titles for this post were Collateral Ligaments of the World Ain’t Nothing But Trouble and Will Smith Gettin’ Limpy With It.)  Anyway, here’s what else I saw in spring training for fantasy baseball:

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My initial thought regarding the NL Central was that it was the best division in all of baseball. The St. Louis Cardinals won 100 games last year, while the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs won 98 and 97 games respectively. To put that into perspective, since 1969, there have only been 47 teams to reach the 100 win mark. The division almost had three in the same season! Wilt would chuckle, but wouldn’t be impressed. Anyways, most of the great philosophical enlightenments come from cartoons. This one being particularly relevant. Put another way, the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds are the cellar dwellers, both failing to win 70 wins last year. I guess the division is a microcosm of mankind. You got the “haves” and the “have-nots.” With two punching bags in the division, which elevates the win totals of the other teams, the NL Central cannot be considered the best division in baseball. That distinction probably goes to the AL East, but we are not here to talk about that. We are here to discuss the position battles in the NL Central. So without further adieu Pepe Le Pew….

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No, you haven’t stumbled onto a WebMd bait page.  Well… this is an advisory blog, none the same, but we won’t scare you into believing that you have clinical depression with every symptom.  I mean, I’ve seen some other fantasy sites that attempt to advise on bullpen strategy.  It’s easy to throw stuff up about closers and bullpens and say this guy will fail because of this and that.  Heck, I like watching Jeopardy and guessing at the stuff I don’t know about either.  Add in the fact that I remember my first beer…  So this is one of the last pieces of the fantasy bullpen puzzle before we get down to brass tacks.  The NSVH question…  I always get it from the fantasy inspectors of the net of how and what to do about it.  Do I stick with what I know, or do I go complete rover and draft whatever, whenever?  That’s why I am here, hopefully to quell all ills in the race for bullpen dominance.  The NSVH leagues are tricky and can be described as: people don’t know until they have to know.  I know that really isn’t a draft strategy that I am going to “learn” you with this post, since I am better than that and take pride in leading my disciples into reliever bliss.  So go get a comfy seat upon the porcelain throne of fantasy knowledge and let me guide you, for I am the fantasy bullpen shepherd.

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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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Sneaky free K’s are all the rage for a streaming option when a starter just won’t do.  The numbers they put up are more of a collection-basis rather than a hunt, play and punt.  Relievers, not just closers, are the container that transports the glue.  Can you imagine glue not coming in a container and just being had at the local sundry store by the handful?  Messy proposition my friends.  Non-closers are what every complete fantasy team need.  They are like the egg in a good recipe – you can often substitute one reliever for another.  That’s what makes them so handy… they don’t usually carry a huge draft day burden.  They are basically free waiver-wire adds.  For those in holds leagues, that doesn’t always ring true, and when I start getting into the preseason hold rankings, some of the names will be similar.  That’s because the names you want just don’t give you holds, they give you multiple stats.  They are the five-tool performers in the industry of relief pitchers.  So here is a little preseason primer for guys who don’t really adorn too much draft day attention, but should be snagged in situations that require their services when you are short on K potential and maximizing the K/9 of your fantasy roster…

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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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Here I thought the Brew Crew were a dying entity this year with all this talk of punting and trading all their mid-level talent.  For soothe, they have had an impressive last 30 days in the Holds department.  It isn’t just one guy garnering them either…  It is a multi-syllabic hold dragon with three heads.  Each head is completely different and has a really cool story.  The first is the Fresh Prince of Holds, Will Smith. He has basically been what we all thought Jonathan Broxton would be this year, but probably with more success. Over the last 30 days he has 5 holds, 2 Wins, and a K/9 rate over pushing 14.  That is sassy with a Jor and extra emphasis on the dache.  The next is Michael Blazek, who in some weird way is basically Jeremy Jeffress‘s boy by name only.  I will call them Smoke, and yes please.   Common sense is there for anyone who knows dudes history.  He is my honorary hero and on the Smokey hall of fame wall with Lincecum, Chris Perez, and Dock Ellis.  So to their stats before I teeter out from pure excitement…  Blazek and Jeremy have both garnered 4 holds over the last 30 and form a power/finesse RH combo in front or beside Smith, and in front of K-Rod.  With all the trade talk surrounding basically everyone in baseball, it seems if K-Rod gets bounced out I have them Smith and Jeffress in a tie, then Blazek for saves, with Broxton on ready for that veteran preference.   So let’s see what other  bags of factoidal goodness I can come up with and of course the Holds chart for some good toilet reading…

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