Michael Morse has crammed a lot of movement into his decade of major league baseball. He's been an infielder (even a middle infielder), an outfielder, a DH. He's been a National and an Oriole and a Mariner, twice. He's been a PED-suspended player. He's been in and out of fantasy relevance, too.
Looks like 2014 could be an on year for this vagabond slugger.
Morse opened the season as San Francisco's starting left fielder, and he's marked his territory nicely during the opening games. A pair of doubles Thursday raised Morse's slash line to .400/.455/.733 (here's some brickball video for you), and he's already collected a couple of homers and 10 RBIs. Given how difficult it is to find power in today's game, this is a welcome reemergence.
Morse usually bats fifth or sixth for the Giants, a reasonable spot for run production (slotted behind Belt, Sandoval, Posey, and Pence). And you love seeing Moose production in April for once, as it's been his worst month over his career. Time to work on that ownership tag, gamers; Morse is still unclaimed in about 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• You can't spell Michael Pineda without "pine" but no one seems to care, apparently. The Red Sox took Thursday's 4-1 loss (and Pineda's obvious pine tar usage) in stride, perhaps because Clay Buchholz is known for having a shopping cart of items with him on some nights.
In any event, take a long look at the Pineda video, it leaps off the screen. His stuff is as filthy as his right hand. He's posted a sparkling 12 innings thus far (9 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 12 K) against the Jays and Red Sox; if you can make it in this jagged division, you can make it anywhere. He draws the cuddly, user-friendly Cubs next week, and then it's a trip to Fenway Park. Terrific story, fun own.
• Let's take a moment and appreciate the brilliant and bizarre outing Danny Salazar gave us Thursday in Chicago. Ten strikeouts in 18 batters faced, that's ridiculous. Mind you, he also allowed six hits, five runs and two homers – and he didn't get out of the fourth inning. But I dare you to watch this video and not come away impressed. Every glowing Salazar report from the spring looks validated to me, and I say that as someone who (sadly) doesn't own a single share of the right-handed fireballer. It should be fun to watch him pitch in Detroit next week.
• Travis Wood has become a pet player of mine, I make no attempt to hide this. My underground scout approves him, and my contrarian nature also pushes me to the case. While just about everyone understands last season's 3.11 ERA wasn't fully supported by the secondary stats, the market seemed to overcorrect in March. Wood's ADP was a piddly 255 in Yahoo leagues, and over 300 in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Regression isn't the end of the conversation, it's the beginning of one. At those prices, there's a ton of room for profit.
(And heck, the ERA estimators aren't everything. When's the last time Ricky Nolasco did anything nice for you?)
Wood's been surprisingly effective through two starts (12.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, 17 K), missing far more bats than anyone would expect. He's doing a much better job of coaxing out-of-zone swings, a key for putting away batters and piling up the punchouts. A two-game sample isn't enough to prove anything, but I feel confident Wood can keep his ERA in the 3s and maintain mixed-league relevance all year (take that, Regression Police). He's only owned in 48 percent of Yahoo leagues, despite the recent K-parade. It's about time you woke up to Wood.
• I try to keep Terry Collins out of my sandlot life; I can't stand the impatient (and illogical) way he bounces players in and out of his lineup. That established, Eric Young should be safe for a while, after Thursday's monster game (5-4-3-0, three bags) and the recent Chris Young injury. Keep in mind EY swiped 38 bases in 91 New York games last year; he can dominate in this one area. Kick the tires on a short-term rental – you'll find Junior Young ready to add in 80 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Speed Round: With Avisail Garcia done for the year, Dayan Viciedo gets first crack at a regular outfield gig. Viciedo became a forgotten flavor in Chicago fairly quickly, but he does have 39 homers over the last two years, covering 946 at-bats . . . Apparently all the Rangers are going to get hurt this year; Adrian Beltre (quad) is the most recent. The team is holding off on a DL stint for now . . . The Indians now say Michael Bourn (hamstring) is looking at a Monday return. Make him play a couple of prove-it games before you activate him . . . Andrelton Simmons (wrist) didn't play Thursday and probably won't go Friday, either . . . Daniel Webb worked two clean innings (with two strikeouts) and is an intriguing sleeper in the White Sox bullpen . . . Francisco Rodriguez (1-2-3 ninth, two strikeouts) has been dominant all season, which might force the Brewers to hesitate with their Jim Henderson reinstatement plans . . . Although Brian Dozier is just 6-for-36 this year, three of his hits are home runs. He's also walked four times, and seems secure in Minnesota's leadoff spot . . . If you're chasing quality relief innings and don't necessarily need saves, check out the early K/BB returns from Chris Withrow (passes the eye test as well), Adam Ottavino (a shame he's in Colorado) and Tyler Thornburg. Withrow is my first pick from this class, backed up by his 2013 body of work . . . For some additional pick-up ideas, here's my colleague, Andy Behrens.