Nathan Grimm

Spring Training Daily

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ST Daily: Time's Up On Tulo

Monday, March 5, 2018


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Death, taxes, and Troy Tulowitzki missing time due to injury.

 

There are few things guaranteed in life, but those three top the list. And this year, Tulowitzki is sparing us the suspense.

 

The veteran, oft-injured shortstop is dealing with a chronic bone spur in his right heel and has yet to appear in a Grapefruit League game, being restricted instead to monitored workouts. He's been limited to taking batting practice and fielding ground balls in camp.

 

On Sunday, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said he doesn't expect the 33-year-old to be ready for the start of the season.

 

“I don’t expect he’ll be ready,” Gibbons said. “But he’s moving in the right direction.”

 

The development would be more difficult to swallow, though no more surprising, if Tulo were still a top-tier or even viable fantasy starter at short, but health, age and a move out of Colorado have all caught up to him to move him outside the top 20 in our Rotoworld composite rankings at the position. There are just too many good, young options to waste a spot on Tulowitzki.

 

Of more interest, perhaps, is what his absence means for Yangervis Solarte and/or Aledmys Diaz. Both were acquired over the winter and both can play shortstop to varying degrees. Both have also enjoyed modicums of offensive success in the past, and could be interesting players if given an opportunity. Diaz has three hits in 12 at-bats this spring, while Solarte has a homer but just two hits in 14 at-bats.

 

It's a situation worth watching.

 

Kipnis Is Killin' It

 

It's time to talk about Jason Kipnis.

 

That sentence, as with Tulowitzki, has been a bad omen in recent years, as in, "It's time to talk about Jason Kipnis, who's hurt again." Shoulder and hamstring issues limited Kipnis to 90 games last season and surely contributed to his disappointing .232/.291/.414 line in those 90 games.

 

This time, it's for a better reason. The 30-year-old hit his fifth home run of spring during Sunday's Cactus League contest against the Brewers, making him 8-for-14 to date.

 

"When you are not healthy, you are spending time doing treatment and other things instead of working on your craft and hitting in the cages," he said Sunday. "It is nice to have that freedom and that luxury to be able to go out and train without having to worry about a specific injury. You want to make sure you are flexible and strong. [The season] is a grind, especially more with the spring and the playoffs. It's tough, so your body has to be in good shape."

 

Recency bias being what it is, it's easy to forget that Kipnis was a strong fantasy contributor as recently as 2016, when he hit a career-high 23 homers with 82 RBI, 91 runs scored and 15 steals. Four out of five years from 2012 to 2016 Kipnis scored at least 86 runs.

 

He played some outfield last season but should slide back to his natural second base position this year, with Jose Ramirez moving to third base. Moving back to a position with which he's familiar should also help him at the plate.

 

The five homers don't carry over to the regular season, but the main takeaway is health. Having shown that, he's a steal in drafts this spring.

 

Moss Out, Everybody In

 

Bad news for Brandon Moss is better news for a number of interesting fantasy options in Oakland.

 

The A's designated Moss for assignment Sunday, removing him from the 40-man roster and effectively ending his time with the club. What's more, Moss has said he'll retire if he doesn't find a guaranteed deal on the open market, so this may be the end of the line for the outfielder.

 

That's not something to celebrate, but Moss's presence on the roster served to throw some cold water on the rising fantasy prospects of guys like Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, and even Stephen Piscotty, with the thought that Moss might steal at-bats from the more promising options. With Moss gone, it's one less obstacle for playing time for the trio, who should be the team's primary first baseman, third baseman and right fielder, respectively. (Chapman, a stellar defensive third baseman, was probably never in danger, but it's a small relief, anyway.)

 

The A's are a very interesting team from a fantasy perspective, despite public perception to the contrary. Olson and Chapman possess huge power and displayed it in stints with the club in 2017, and Piscotty is a bounce-back candidate after a rough year in St. Louis last season. On top of those three, Marcus Semien, Dustin Fowler and, on the pitching side, Blake Treinen are all guys worth keeping in mind come draft time.

 

Quick Hits: It was a day of firsts Sunday: studs Jose Altuve and Bryce Harper hit their first homers of the Grapefruit League season, and Eric Hosmer hit his first dinger as a member of the Padres ... Jacob deGrom (back) will throw a simulated game Tuesday. Assuming the sim game goes well, the next step is likely a Grapefruit League appearance ... Mitch Haniger has been cleared by a hand specialist to resume swinging a bat. He's still expected to be out a few more days, but assuming he gets into a Cactus League game before the end of the week, he should still have enough time to prepare for Opening Day ... Jeff Hoffman was scratched from a Cactus League appearance Sunday due to right shoulder soreness. Rockies manager Bud Black called it a "precautionary" move, but a shoulder isn't anything to take lightly for a pitcher. We'll see ... Mallex Smith, making a case for playing time in a wide open Rays outfield, went 3-for-3 with a stolen base, his second of the spring, in Sunday's win over the Yankees. Denard Span, Kevin Kiermaier and Carlos Gomez are penciled in as the starters, but Smith could force his way into the lineup with his play and could run all over the competition given the chance ... Corey Kluber put on a show, striking out five Brewers over three innings of work. He's good ... Fernando Tatis Jr. went 4-for-4 with five RBI Sunday in a win over the White Sox. He also stole his third base of spring. He, too, is good.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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