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Can you imagine if the Miami Marlins had signed superstar Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes in the offseason instead of the Oakland A's? For a long stretch, the Marlins were presumed to be the frontrunners in the race for Cespedes, and it seemed like a perfect match: A new ballpark, a new Latino manager with a World Series win on his resume, and a community full of passionate Cuban fans.
I'm not sure how it all went down for Cespedes over the winter, but right now, I bet he's pretty happy he shocked the baseball world by signing with the bottom-feeder by the bay instead of taking his talents to South Beach. Mission to avoid a circus accomplished.
Cespedes was also "very close" to being a Cub. Our loss.
While Oakland's cavernous ballpark seems like a bad place for a slugger, especially one adjusting to MLB pitching, Cespedes jumped on doubters last weekend with a pair of long home runs in his new home. That gives him three on the year already, including one in the A's opening series in Japan against the Mariners. His only other hit in 16 at-bats is a double.
I'm in two fantasy baseball leagues where I made Cespedes my last-round draft pick. In another league, he was drafted just ahead of my last pick. A lot of observers have questioned whether Cespedes would transition smoothly, so he was left out of many drafts; his fantasy team ownership in Yahoo! leagues hit 85% only over the weekend after his third dinger.
The jury is obviously still out on Cespedes. If he has a great April, teams will certainly start pitching him differently. However, he's already proven he's got major league clout when he does make contact, and playing a little out of the spotlight could help him avoid some of the butterflies that seemed to affect another high-priced import, Texas starter Yu Darvish, earlier this week.
For now, I'm starting Cespedes but will probably have him on a short leash. Even if he's not among the HR leaders at the end of this first month, I'm still looking for him to be a decent source of OPS.
* Yahoo! Closing Thoughts posts on Hector Santiago winning the competition to be the White Sox closer. The sound you hear is all the fantasy owners who drafted Matt Thornton kicking him to the curb.
* Fake Teams thinks Darvish would make a good fantasy trade acquisition. I agree. His first inning meltdown on Monday was cringe-worthy, and current owners may look to deal him cheap. I don't think he's a great ERA candidate, but he can get wins playing for the Rangers.
* Bleacher Report actually has a whole list of guys who have started poorly but deserve a roster spot. Joe Mauer, anyone?
* SI.com is still talking about Bryan LaHair as a fantasy sleeper. LaHair got his first HR on Monday and is 4-for-9 so far, but found himself on the bench in favor of utility man Jeff Baker on Tuesday against lefty Chris Narveson, so it's not clear that Cubs manager Dale Sveum is committed to playing him every day.
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Posted on Feb 20, 2018