I nearly didn’t write this sleeper. It’s not that I don’t believe in John Means, but I’ve built a brand for over a decade that is “Guy who doesn’t draft Orioles starters.” Branding isn’t cheap, companies spend in the millions to get their name out there, and since I’m a million short of a million, all I had was my reluctance to touch an Orioles’ starter. Like Boog Powell at a buffet of rice cakes, it wasn’t that difficult to abstain. Not to be confused with Boog Powell at a BBQ buffet, which produces ab stains to his shirt. There were moments when Chris Tillman upped the level of difficulty to stay away from Orioles starters, but like Danny Cabrera things could never get that wild for me. Dan Duquette builds only winners, and Buck Showalter leads those winners to the brink of excellence like no other, but I just couldn’t! I even waited until Dylan Bundy was on a new team before fully embracing him. The branding was kept by any means necessary, until Means became necessary, as I told my marketing execs, who are interns from SUNY Albany. That’s the same school Steve Guttenberg went to! So, what can we expect from John Means for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?

Psyche! Before we get into the John Means sleeper, just wanted to announce all my rankings are currently available on Patreon for the price of a Starbucks coffee, if you get one of those extra grande frappuccino jobbers. Don’t wait for the rankings to come out over the next month, and get them all now. So II, the John Means sleeper:

How did I get into trouble and start liking John Means? I sorted by xBA for 4-seamers. Trevor Bauer’s xBA was .149 on his four-seamers, that was the 2nd best for pitchers who had thrown that pitch more than 350 times. You guessed number one, didn’t you? John Means’s xBA on four-seamers was .129. The only other starter who was close, but didn’t throw it as much was Walker Buehler, who also had a xBA of .129. Only other starters under .180 were Frankie Montas and Brandon Woodruff. There were only three other starters under .200 xBA — deGrom, Mahle, Fried. Means was regularly touching 95 MPH with his four-seamer this year. The pitch, ya know, that was clocked at barely 92 MPH last year. You lower your head, and ruefully, “So, that’s how you started liking an Orioles starter.” Yeah, that’s what I’m saying!

If John Means just had a four-seamer to take your breath away, I prolly wouldn’t have bothered ruining a decade of SEO work and branding expertise by my friends in Albany, who were nice enough to invite me there for Vanguard Week. Hows’ever, John Means had the 7th best changeup in 2019. Oh, that pitch was hot garbage in 2020, but he wasn’t good either. Well, for most of the year. His September starts (29 IP) saw a 2.48 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. His season stats were marred by an egregious July/August (north of 7 ERA). So, a guy can’t start off slow after having ten months off, including a three-month shutdown? You sound like someone who hasn’t quarantined enough. So, the change was crizzap, but his curve? .178 xBA and a Whiff% of 27.8%. In his 2019 season when he had a 3.60 ERA, he didn’t even have a working curve.

Yes, there’s issues. He can’t keep the ball in the yard, which won’t be helped by his park or his division, but at least he won’t have to deal with an insanely lopsided schedule in 2021. Last year, he upped (in reverse) his ground balls and lowered his fly balls (literally). If he can keep those gains, velocity increases, and stop handing out more gopher balls than a veterinarian with weird party favors, John Means could be a top 25 starter while costing nowhere near that price. For 2021, I’ll give John Means projections of 10-13/3.78/1.10/167 in 172 IP with a chance for more.

 
  1. Charlie says:
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    Grey,

    Thank you so much for continuing to deliver the best fantasy content across the interwebs! Absolutely love your content and have no problem ponying up every single year. WIth that said, what is the difference between the MLB Roto Deluxe for ~$30 through the Razzball website vs your content on Patreon?

    I know you have three tiers on Patreon (1. Podcasts, 2. Early rankings and buy/sell, 3. both 1 and 2), but is it the Patreon content the same as the Razzball ~$30 subscription content but just gets posted to Patreon earlier, or is there additional fantasy baseball content on Patreon?

    Thanks and keep up the great job!!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Patreon is my rankings, an extra weekly podcast, and Buy/Sell in-season a day early…. It’s baseball content early, essentially…. MLB roto deluxe is the Streamonator, Hittertron, ad-free on site

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        Oh, and thanks Charlie!

      • Charlie says:
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        Grey;

        Thank you so much for the explanation! With Razzball giving us all a leg up on our competition, your patreon page sounds like it will give us two legs up! I will definitely be subscribing, but will likely wait until the season starts and you start producing buy/sell content.

        Lol until then, I’ll have to wait and anxiously count down the days until next week when your rankings are released. Lol I’ve been waking up every day and before I get out of bed I check to see if they’ve been released. 5 more days…lol I can do this…maybe, maybe not.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Thanks!

          Be safe, it’s only 5 more days!

          • Charlie says:
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            Charlie: only 5 more days. I can’t wait!
            My wife: aww you remembered our anniversary. How sweet!
            Charlie: Shit. I mean yeaaaaa…brb I need to go out and run some errands.

          • Charlie says:
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            Thanks!!! Same to you, Cougs and Ted!!

  2. Ante GALIC says:
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    Grey!!!

    Loved the John Means fantasy / sleeper report.

    a. 2020 was a weird season for MLB for most of us. There were some things that were great and we expected them to be great (like FTJ) and then there were things that were just not right or outside of the norm (like Duvall) I think if Duvall gets 162 games he won’t hit 60 HRs, the power potential is there but so is the potential to K or he figured something out? Hard to say.

    b. Love John, keep ’em comin’.

    c. MLB quote of the day for January 12, 2021

    1. Bill Madlock, born January 12, 1951

    ‘There’s no right or wrong way to hit. Every hitter is different and you have to relate… People try to make up new ways to hit. There aren’t really any new ways. The game hasn’t changed in 200 years and it’s not going to for another 200.’

    Bill Madlock in The Las Vegas Sun (Anthony Fenech, Ex-big league batting champ Bill Madlock helps local youth with swings, 05/10/2010)

    2. Bobby Crosby, born January 12, 1980

    ‘All of my strengths are defensively. I’ve always been defensive, that has been my big aspect of the game. My weakness I would say would be being a consistent hitter day in and day out having that good day. I’ll have a hot streak and a cold streak but its just being consistent all throughout is my weakness.’

    Bobby Crosby on MLB.com (Harton, 09/04/2004)

    3. Dontrelle Willis, born January 12, 1982

    ‘Utilizing a wicked slider and explosive fastball, he (Dontrelle Willis) then worked a perfect seventh and recorded the first two outs in the eighth (2003 World Series) before allowing Bernie Williams’ single to left and Hideki Matsui’s single up the middle.’

    The New York Post (Staff Writer, ‘Willis Was Wonderful’, October 19, 2003)

    4. Rudy Arias, died January 12, 2018

    ‘(Al) Lopez called me on the phone and said, ‘Rudy, warm up real hard and when (Ryne) Duren comes to hit, hit him in the head. Metele un pelotazo (hit him with the ball).’ Ay dios mio! (Oh my God) He had twenty pitchers and he used me, the small guy! When Duren comes to hit, I threw at his head and he moved. The next pitch, I knew he was going to move back, so I hit him right in the back. He came at me with the bat. I told Duren I didn’t mean to hit him. (Ted) Kluszewski stood right in front of me and told me not to run (Research Notes: It was actually Earl Torgeson). He was a big guy!”

    Rudy Arias (Nick Diunte Interview, Rudy Arias, member of the 1959 Go-Go White Sox, dies at 86, Source)

    Cheers,
    Ante

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      A. If Duvall hits less than 70 homers in 2021, he has to give back his 16 HRs from 2020…sorry, don’t make the rules

      1. Wonder what Madlock says about the game today

      3. Dontrelle was so much fun, seems like such a natural fit for broadcast

  3. thehombre says:
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    Just imagine how good he will be once the Orioles trade him for pennies on the dollar. ie Bundy, Arrieta, etc

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Haha, can he go where they doctor balls?

  4. Sweatpants Nation says:
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    Hey! I graduated from SUNY-Albany. Thanks for the shout out. Go Great Danes! (Our beloved Scooby-Do mascot)
    Also, will consider Means so thanks for that, too.

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Go Scoobies!

  5. Scott Kimmel says:
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    Good Morning Grey (I typed it correctly this time). I just received another trade offer and would like you r thoughts on it.

    I give up: Yuli Gurriel ($33),( I have Realmuto, Nola, Bellinger, Bohm, Cronenworth, Freeman aand Guerrero that can play first as well) and Frankie Montas ($5).

    I get; Brad Hand ($39), and Kepler ($28). He also has Arozarena, Calhoun, A. Garcia, L. Gurriel, Lopes, Nimmo, Ozuna and Springer.

    Should I ask for someone else other than Kepler?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Don’t love it

      Ask for Randy or Lourdes

      • Scott Kimmel says:
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        l asked him and now waiting for a response back

          • Scott Kimmel says:
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            He said my choices for Montas and Gurriel in exchange would be Hand and one of these OF’s (Kepler, Franmil Reyes. Tim Lopes or Avasil Garcia

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              I’d take Franmil

              • Scott Kimmel says:
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                he doesnt have OF eligibility

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    Those other OFs aren’t good

                  • Scott Kimmel says:
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                    will he be playing OF or just be a DH this season

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Prolly mostly DH

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      Grey,

                      He wants to do Montas and Gurriel for Hand and Reyes

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Sounds fair, I’d want Franmil

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      id want another piece to balance the salary difference. He wont trade a pitcher back. Here is his roster:

                      C Francisco Mejia (TB) $6.00
                      C *Wilson Ramos () $24.00
                      1B/2B/3B Wilmer Flores (SF) $5.00
                      1B Eric Hosmer (SD) $32.00
                      1B/2B/3B/SS Ryan McMahon (COL) $6.00
                      1B/OF *Danny Santana () $6.00
                      1B Christian Walker (ARI) $6.00
                      2B Luis Arraez (MIN) $6.00
                      2B/3B Eduardo Escobar (ARI) $33.00
                      2B/SS Josh Rojas (ARI) $6.00
                      3B Josh Donaldson (MIN) $40.00
                      SS Carlos Correa (HOU) $40.00
                      OF Randy Arozarena (TB) $5.00
                      OF Kole Calhoun (ARI) $6.00
                      OF Avisail Garcia (MIL) $6.00
                      OF Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. (TOR) $17.00
                      OF Max Kepler (MIN) $28.00
                      OF Tim Lopes (SEA) $5.00
                      OF Brandon Nimmo (NYM) $26.00
                      OF *Marcell Ozuna () $41.00
                      OF *George Springer () $39.00
                      UT *Edwin Encarnacion () $6.00
                      UT Franmil Reyes (CLE) $35.00
                      SP Shane Bieber (CLE) $35.00
                      SP/RP Brandon Bielak (HOU) $5.00
                      SP Mike Clevinger (SD) IL (+) $48.00
                      SP *Mike FIers () $6.00
                      SP Jack Flaherty (STL) $43.00
                      SP Tyler Glasnow (TB) $28.00
                      SP Marco Gonzales (SEA) $18.00
                      SP Dallas Keuchel (CWS) $33.00
                      SP Miles Mikolas (STL) $34.00
                      SP David Peterson (NYM) $5.00
                      SP Zach Plesac (CLE) $5.00
                      SP Trent Thornton (TOR) $6.00
                      SP Framber Valdez (HOU) $5.00
                      SP Austin Voth (WAS) $5.00
                      SP Luke Weaver (ARI) $28.00
                      SP Brandon Woodruff (MIL) $6.00
                      RP Jalen Beeks (BOS) $5.00
                      RP Zack Britton (NYY) $35.00
                      RP *Andrew Chafin () $5.00
                      RP Aroldis Chapman (NYY) $44.00
                      RP Emmanuel Clase (CLE) $5.00
                      RP Josh Hader (MIL) $35.00
                      RP *Brad Hand () $39.00
                      RP Hunter Harvey (BAL) $6.00
                      RP *Brad Peacock () $20.00
                      RP *Chaz Roe () $5.00
                      RP *Trevor Rosenthal () $5.00
                      RP Ryan Stanek (HOU) $5.00
                      RP *Kirby Yates () $40.00

                      Who could I ask for?
                      If he says no, how much of the $35 differnce in salary should I ask for? All?

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Wait, Franmil is $35? That’s terrible

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      he is offering $20 back to cover part of the difference in salary

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      But he doesn’t want to do it I thought

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      ok this is the latest offer:

                      I give him: Yuliu Gurriel($35) and Frankie Montas($6)

                      I get: Brad Hand ($39), Franmil Reyes ($35), and $20 of cap room

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Why do you want to do this move? How does it help you?

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      it helps me in my bullpen and could help my outfield

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Sounds fair then if you need that help

                  • Scott Kimmel says:
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                    I trust your judgement over my own

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      it would strengthen my bullpen which will loo like this:

                      RP Nick Anderson (TB) $6.00
                      RP *Alex Colome () $22.00
                      RP Giovanny Gallegos (STL) $6.00
                      RP *Brad Hand () $39.00
                      RP Raisel Iglesias (LAA) $39.00
                      RP Emilio Pagan (SD) $6.00
                      RP Tanner Rainey (WAS) $5.00
                      RP Will Smith (ATL) $17.00

                      Looks Better right?

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Don’t think you need Hand, looks strong without him

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      Hand will get me saves wherever he lands. Not sure about the situation in Washington is.

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Yeah, me either, you still have enough saves

                    • Scott Kimmel says:
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                      so you think I should pass on the deal?

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      I don’t think you need it

  6. Jareth Wilson says:
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    First time long time Grey
    Won my league last year mostly due to your wisdom. Love all of our work. Just signed up for your posts on Patreon and already thankful I did.

    Any input on this would be greatly appreciated….

    12 Teamer H2H Points League
    $1000 draft budget
    Keep whoever you want with progressive cost each year
    20-40-60-80-100-125-150-175-200 etc
    Any player drafted for more than $150 automatically bumps down to the $125 tier for the next year and progresses from there

    Who you keeping?

    Jose Ramirez – $125
    Bryce Harper – $125
    J.D. Martinez – $125
    Manny Machado – $100
    Shohei Ohtani – $80
    Starling Marte – $80
    Xander Bogaerts – $80
    Ketel Marte – $80
    Gavin Lux – $60
    Jonathan Villar – $40
    Lance Lynn – $40
    Max Fried – $40
    James Paxton – $40
    Liam Hendriks – $40
    Luis Roberts – $40
    Trent Grisham – $20
    Julio Rodriguez – $20
    Jose Urquidy – $20
    Alex Verdugo – $20
    Roberto Osuna – $20
    Kyle Lewis – $20
    Dustin May – $20
    Kenta Maeda – $20
    Spencer Howard – $20
    Framber Valdez – $20

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Appreciate it!

      So can keep as many as long as you have money for the draft? Seems like you only have to throw back a handful of guys, am I doing the math right? Some no brainers: Machado, Xander, Verdugo, Lewis, Grisham, Luis Roberts, Marte x 2, Ju-Rod, May, Framber, Spencer, Maeda — is that Ohtani hitter and pitcher?

      • Jareth Wilson says:
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        Yep can keep or draft anyone we want with our $1000. Any leftover draft money serves a free agent dollars. Ohtani as both hitter and pitcher. My league doesn’t seem to value Ohtani properly so I may be able to get him back at an even cheaper price….

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Then I’d try to get Ohtani back cheaper — How much $ do you think you need in the draft?

          • Jareth Wilson says:
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            Hoping to have a couple hundred for doing some value hunting and for free agency/roster churn during the year. Let’s say I want to go in with at least $200 but am not opposed to more. I feel like Ramirez and Harper and decent value at $125 but may need to throw one or both back to have depth $$$

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              I’d throw back JD, for sure…I’d keep Jo-Ram…and maybe throw back Harper…Then I’d try to keep most of the others, how much does that come to moneywise?

              • Jareth Wilson says:
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                Including all you mentioned, as well as Lynn and Hendriks (was planning on both prior to your input but not sure on Hendriks), throwing back Harper, leaves me $295. Seems copacetic?

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Yeah, that seems great to me!

                  • Jareth Wilson says:
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                    Deeply appreciated. Anyone who hasn’t subscribed here or on Patreon NEED to do so!

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Appreciate that!

                  • Jareth Wilson says:
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                    Just got an offer of my Ramirez ($125) for his Ryu ($60). You biting?

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Nah

  7. Malicious Phenoms says:
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    Not sure I told you. Lockdown ended a few days before Christmas. Lockdowe again before New Year, no celebrations, etc. We will stay lockdowed until at least the end of January. I’m not going crazy, I am fine. Help lol

    • everywhereblair

      everywhereblair says:
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      MOCK DRAFT SZN!

      • Grey

        Grey says:
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        MP — We’re drafting for $10 a pop over here rn, but I’m not sure it’s allowed in Europe

        • Malicious Phenoms says:
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          NUX, I think invited me awhile back, but can’t do it over here. Appreciate the offer, thanks!

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Haha, it’s like you’re in the NBA bubble, only less dribbling (hopefully)

      • Malicious Phenoms says:
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        Lol no dribbling, yet, in the bubble.
        Luckily there has been a lot of trade talk and trades in my dynasty. Plus I moved back to the beach and I get out most days and walk and take photos. They’re on my Twitter if you’d like to have a look.

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Are you near where they filmed Broadchurch? That’s beautiful over there

          • Malicious Phenoms says:
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            Im in Kilkee, no nothing of that movie

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              It’s filmed in West Bay, Dorset — Kilkee looks beautiful too tho!

              • Grey

                Grey says:
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                You’re in Ireland, got my countries confused

                • Malicious Phenoms says:
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                  No worries. Thanks on Kilkee, really enjoying it so far can’t wait for spring and summer

                  • Grey

                    Grey says:
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                    Did you just move there?

                    • Malicious Phenoms says:
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                      October

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Nice!

  8. The Great Knoche says:
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    John Means Business!

    He did well for me in a lot of places last year. I don’t see him regressing. Changeup development has been in point. Potential Arrieta if GB% stays where it was last year.

    Heaney or Means in a redraft?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I see what you did there….

      I have Means above him

  9. Malicious Phenoms says:
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    Are you liking Hilliard or Cron for this year?

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      Hilliard at least has a team

      • Malicious Phenoms says:
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        He should play more with Dahl gone. Somebody will sign Cron, no

        • Grey

          Grey says:
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          Yeah, someone should sign Springer, Bauer, Hand, you name it, really…Hilliard’s still in a timeshare

          • Malicious Phenoms says:
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            Who would Hilliard split time with?

            • Malicious Phenoms says:
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              I’m thinking add Cron and Hilliard to my bench and drop Maalex and Jorge Mateo. Thoughts

              • Grey

                Grey says:
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                I could see those moves

            • Grey

              Grey says:
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              You don’t want to know — Ian Desmond and Garrett Hampson

              • Malicious Phenoms says:
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                Desmond has been done for years. If Hillard hits he’ll play.

                • Grey

                  Grey says:
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                  Yeah, hopefully, have heard that before with Rockies

                  • Malicious Phenoms says:
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                    I’ll add Hilliard and Cron, if they do nothing I’ll drop and replace them. No worries

                    • Grey

                      Grey says:
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                      Yup, that works

  10. Smitty says:
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    Why hasn’t MLB clarified weather or not the universal DH will be used in 2021? Could have something to do with why some FA’s (N. Cruz) are waiting, and many clubs too! Getter done for cryin out loud!
    Means looks poised, deserves some consideration. Increased velo a plus

    • Grey

      Grey says:
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      I’d be surprised if there’s not a DH in the NL, but I the deeper we get to spring training, the more unlikely it seems

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