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“Joe Talkin’ To Me?!” AL West Manifest Destiny: Crowded Texas Basement?…Houston Astros and Texas Rangers Fantasy Preview



The 70-win Astros from 2014 couldn’t do much right, but there were bright spots.  The emergence of Jose Altuve as the games finest leadoff hitter, the thrilling power of Chris Carter, and the emergence of George “Dinger” Springer and Collin McHugh provided enough intrigue to keep baseball fans interested in one of the worst teams in the league.  Having nearly bottomed out, there appears to be nowhere to go except up for the 2015 version of the Astros…

Chris Carter a dead ringer for Pedro Cerrano?

Chris Carter, a dead ringer for Pedro Cerrano?

Projected Lineup

1. Jose Altuve, 2B

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Evan Gattis, DH

4. Chris Carter, 1B

5. George Springer, RF

6 Colby Rasmus, CF

7. Jed Lowrie, SS

8. Jake Marisnick, LF

9. Jason Castro, C

Breakout – Evan Gattis – I feel so unoriginal with this pick, but sometimes it is so obvious it just slaps you right across the face and you just have to pay attention.  We all know the reasons…back to back 20+ HR seasons, full-time DH with catcher eligibility, blah blah blah…I owe you a little more than that non-insightful drivel that you can obtain from any other fantasy website.  Here at those reasons would not be enough to get Gattis here.  I wanna point out that hitting out of the three hole, he will have unmatched power protecting him at the plate in Carter and Springer.  In front of him?  The best leadoff hitter in baseball!  Gattis will be in a better lineup position then he ever was, hitting often 6th in the Atlanta lineup.  Plus, with barely over 700 plate appearances at the big league level, there is lots of room to get closer to the career .306 BA he posted as a minor leaguer.  Playing everyday, I can see him getting in a real groove for stretches in this lineup, in that ballpark, and having a truly monstrous season.

Sleeper – Chris Carter – Cheap power…period.  With the limited power in the Bigs in this post-steroid era, and the high draft picks you need to spend to get it, any proven 30+ homer guy you can get outside of the top 100 should be coveted.

That’s 37…count em!

Infirmary – Evan Gattis, wrist, day-to-day.

Projected Rotation

1. Dallas Keuchel

2. Scott Feldman

3. Collin McHugh

4. Brett Oberholtzer

5. Roberto Hernandez

Value Pick – Collin McHugh – In just 154.2 innings of work in 2014, McHugh amassed 157 Ks and 41 walks while allowing only 117 hits (just 13 HRs).  These totals lead to a 2.73 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP.  Those numbers are marvelous.  With an ADP of 181, he is likely going to be on every one of my teams.

Infirmary – Brett Oberholtzer, back, could miss start of season.


Closer – Luke Gregerson – With four consecutive years of an ERA of 2.75 or better, Gregerson has patiently waited for the chance to close.  Signed in the off-season to do just that, he brings a career 8.8 K/9 to ninth inning duties.  The only thing stopping him from posting monster save totals is the potential lack of chances.

Setup – Pat Neshek – Neshek has battled injuries, but when healthy has posted a career K/9 of 9.1.  He should be a fine source for holds or insurance for the Gregerson owner.

2015 Season Outlook

With Gattis, Carter and Springer, the 2015 Astros will boast one of the most feared middle of the lineups in the AL.  The way these guys strikeout, the offense could hit prolonged slumps.  That kind of streakiness might not allow the Astros to overcome a less than impressive pitching staff (love McHugh).  Mild augmentation of the 70-win 2014 version is on the way. AL West Prediction – 76-86, 4th Place





The 2014 Rangers looked menacing on paper.  They brought in the steady power bat of Prince Fielder and he was expected to absolutely mash in the hitter friendly environment of Globe Life Park.  They also brought in Shin-Soo Choo who was coming off an incredible season in Cincinnati where he scored 107 runs with a .423 OBP.  Yu Darvish was to contend for the Cy Young Award and Jurickson Profar, baseball’s top prospect, was to be the Rookie of The Year.  What happened?  Fielder left his power in Motown before going down for the season after 42 games, Choo disappointed greatly and missed a large chunk of the season, Darvish underperformed for 22 games before being shut down with an injury of his own, and Jurickson Profar never made it out of Spring Training, missing the entire season with a shoulder injury.  The result was a deplorable AL-worst 67 wins.  Will they be cellar dwellers again?

Is Prince “charmed” for a rebound in 2015?


Projected Lineup

1. Leonys Martin, CF

2. Elvis Andrus, SS

3. Prince Fielder, 1B

4. Adrian Beltre, 3B

5. Mitch Moreland, DH

6. Jake Smolinkski/Nate Schierholtz, LF

7. Shin-Soo Choo, RF

8. Robinson Chirinos, C

9. Rougned Odor, 2B

Value Pick – Prince Fielder – Fielder played in at least 157 games for 8 straight seasons before a neck injury allowed him to play in just 42 in 2014.  That is a darn good track record and all the reason you need to assume Fielder will return to full health this season.  Eight straight seasons of at least 25 HRs, seven out of eight seasons with 102 RBIs or more and career slashes of .285/.388/.522 from a 30-year-old.  Sounds like a top-20 pick to me.  You can get Fielder with an ADP of 60 after guys like Billy Hamilton, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and three rounds after Ryan Braun.  Robbery!

Sleeper – Rougned Odor – Odor hit .267 with nine homers as a rookie last season.  At only 21 years old he will have a chance to improve on those numbers as Profar is out for the season once again.  At such a young age and already showing impressive pop in his bat, Odor could hit 15 homers and steal 20 bases.  For a second baseman going outside the top 250, this is the ultimate value.

Infirmary – Jurickson Profar, shoulder, out for the season.

Starting Rotation

1. Derek Holland

2. Yovani Gallardo

3. Ross Detwiler

4. Colby Lewis

5. Nick Martinez

Bust – Entire Rotation – Yu Darvish is out for the season with Tommy John leaving Derek Holland as the default number one.  He has a career 4.23 ERA.  Gallardo, always overrated and overdrafted, brings his 3.69 career ERA to the AL where it is sure to balloon.  It only gets worse from there.  Nick Martinez is a super sleeper only because there are no expectations for anything good from him.  None of these guys should be drafted.  Maybe they can get this guy……

Infirmary – Yu Darvish, elbow, out for the season, Tommy John.


Closer – Neftali Feliz – After dominating in the pen from 2009-2011, the Rangers decided in 2012 that Feliz was a starter.  Starting was a disaster as he only pitched 42 innings and got hurt, practically wiping out all of the 2013 season.  He came back in 2014 in the bullpen and impressed in just 31 innings.  Now healthy, he is ready to be a rock star closer for fantasy teams once again. Feliz is still only 26.

Setup – Shawn Tolleson – 8th inning duties will be turned over to Tolleson after he posted an impressive 2.76 ERA in 71.2 innings in 2014.  A deeper look shows he walked 28 batters and gave up 10 long balls.  Stay away!  If you are the Feliz owner, just hope he does not cost you too many saves.

2015 Season Outlook

The Rangers string of bad luck has carried over into the 2015 season as Darvish and Profar are already out for the season.  Even with bounce backs from Fielder and Choo, this pitching staff is going to be abysmal.  It is hard to win games when you can’t stop the other team from scoring.  It will be a long summer in Arlington.  AL West Prediction – 65-97, 5th Place

He could still pitch on this staff.

He could still pitch on this staff.


How the #@&% can you call Trout a bust?  You are about the dumbest @#$%head on the internet.  Your mom should take away your computer and your TV because you do not deserve to watch baseball.  – calikid45g (assuming from California)

My opinion on Trout was meant be provocative!  All I was trying to get across is that it is not likely Trout will have a value equal to his draft position.  Trout has ranked 2nd and 4th the past two seasons and if you took him number one, he did not live up to the draft spot.  In theory, you want the best overall player with the number one pick.



Remember to send questions to [twitter-follow screen_name=’theCiccone’] or to be featured in future columns. 


(click the BLUE link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Sports Radio Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday March 29th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. We will be taking live callers at 646.915.8596. This week we will be discussing everything fantasy and traditional baseball topics related to the Al Central. Call us, we will drill into your personal situations like no other show.

Our guests this week are Lou Landers and Ron McCleese. Lou and Ron are both writers with MLFS and they are a major part of our organization moving forward. Lou writes a piece published every Wednesday about the AL Central which covers everything fantasy related as well as fundamental baseball related. Ron’s specialties include writing fantasy football articles as well as fantasy baseball articles on occasion.
If you can’t make it to the live airing you can always download the podcast at I-Tunes or Google Play stores. Search for “Sports Palooza Radio Show”. Android owners download “Podcast Republic” and then search on podcast republic for “Sports Palooza Radio Show.”



  1. Joe Iannone

    April 5, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Hey, now I know Fitty Cent’s real name. My life is complete.
    What do you think we’ll get from Martin and Choo?
    I wouldn’t draft Chirinos but he could be a sleeper and I’m going to keep an eye on him.

  2. Pingback: “Joe Talkin’ To Me?!” AL West Fantasy Baseball Manifest Destiny: A New King in Seattle? |

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