After going 11-4 as a rookie, there were high hopes for Tommy Hanson going into last season. Despite 75 more innings pitched, he finished with one fewer win en route to a 10-11 season.
It would easy to be disappointed by the sub-.500 record, but there was more to the story. Despite a difference of 0.257 in winning percentage, his ERA went up just 0.44 to a rock solid 3.33. His WHIP actually dipped a bit from 1.18 to 1.17.
While he struck out fewer per nine innings, he made great strides in his control picking up just ten additional walks in those extra 75 innings.
A look at his splits are proof at how wins can be overrated. Take a look:
Before the All-Star Game:  4.13 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, .271 BAA
After the All-Star Game:  2.51 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, .205 BAA
Clearly he was 2-6 in the first half and 8-5 in the second half. Wrong. Despite pitching remarkably better in the second half he won just two out of eight decisions. continue reading »

Now an early look at the NL East.

1.  Will Tommy Hanson lead the Braves in Wins?
There is a decent chance he does. Jair Jurrjens pitched about as well as you can imagine last year and only managed to win 14 games. Tim Hudson always has question marks. Derek Lowe hasn’t won 16 games since 2006. That leave Hanson who won 11 in 21 starts. He stumbled a bit in July (1-2, 3.94 ERA), but rebounded nicely to finish the year off.

2.  Can Billy Wagner hold up?
He sure looked good for Boston last year. He had good velocity. He’s getting up there in age, but I believe the lefty could put together a 30 save season.

3.  Will Ricky Nolasco bounce back?
Nolasco was high on everyone’s list going into last year after his 15-8, 3.52 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in 2008. Sure, his ERA bloated to 5.06, but his WHIP was a very respectable 1.25. What’s more is he had a better strikout ratio (9.49 K/9 compared to 7.88). Plus, he was 11-4 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP from June through the end of the year. Hopefully his first half struggles and overall numbers let him slide in your drafts making him a great value in 2010.

4.  Will Leo Nunez hold on to the Closer gig?
It’s his job to lose, but do note that he blew seven of his 33 save opportunites (21 percent). He was even worse in December with three blown saves in 11 chances with a 6.10 ERA.

5.  Is Citi Field cursed?
I can’t recall a team going through as many injuries at the Mets did last year. Reyes, Wright (see where he ranks among 2010 Third Basemen), Johan, Beltran, the list goes on and on. Seriously though, I think the offense will be fine. Jason Bay adds his big bat to an already impressive lineup (when healthy). The trouble is their pitching. I don’t see them having enough starting pitching to compete with Atlanta or Philadelphia.

6. Will Cole Hamels return to form?
I can’t think of a more important question for the Phillies. I think the role of Superman in the postseason may have got to his head a bit. He received a lot of negative attention when he said he couldn’t wait until the season was over. I didn’t take it as him quitting rather the year took a toll on him. I think he’ll work hard to get back to the level he and his fantasy owners have grown accustomed to. Despite his struggles, he did manage to produce a decent ERA (4.32) and a solid WHIP (1.29). He doesn’t have the pressure of being the ace of the staff anymore either.

7.  Will Jayson Werth continue to be a fantasy beast?
After a solid 2008 season, Werth’s numbers exploded last year as he scored 98 runs, hit 36 HRs, and had 99 RBIs. He matched his 2008 SB total with 20. He’ll turn 31 early in the year, and I see no reason he can’t continue to produce at a high level, especially in that lineup.

8.  Should you draft Stephen Strasburg?
Only in deep keeper leagues. He means too much to the future of the Nationals for them to rush him along. If you’re in a league with three or four keepers, he won’t be worth hanging onto just yet. Be patient with him, like the Nationals will be.

9.  Will Nyjer Morgan continue to produce?
I don’t see why not. He was solid for Pittsburgh before being dealt to Washington, where he was even better. He hit .351 with 35 runs and 24 SBs in 49 games with the Nationals.


Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

We are after June 1 making now the time that most teams are willing to promote their top prospects. Here are the highlights:

  • The Braves released future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine today, clearing way for Tommy Hanson to be recalled (click here for the article).  He is set to take the mound on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers, with Kris Medlen moving to the bullpen.  Hanson is one of the premier pitching prospects in the game and could quickly prove to be a usable option in all formats.  He had posted a 3-3 record with a 1.49 ERA and 90 Ks over 66.1 innings.  I’d run and grab him now if you are not too late.
  • I speculated on this yesterday after Nate McLouth was traded, but the Pirates have officially recalled Andrew McCutchen (click here for the article).  McCutchen is a speed player, though he did have 10 doubles, 8 triples and 4 home runs at Triple-A, while batting .303.  In his last 10 games he was hitting .395 with 2 HR and 4 RBI.  He also had 10 SB and struck out just 24 times in 201 AB.  I’m curious to see where the Pirates hit him, but he definitely has value in all formats that require 5 OFers immediately.
  • According to The Chicago Tribune (click here for the post), the White Sox have recalled 2008 first round pick Gordon Beckham, designating Wilson Betemit for assignment (who I can think can certainly help a few teams).  Beckham started the season at Double-A, hitting .299 with 4 HR, 22 RBI and 23 R before being promoted to Triple-A, where he caught fire.  He was hitting .464 in his 7 games there with 0 HR, 3 RBI and 6 R.  There’s no doubt that he’s being recalled to play.  He as yet to show the power of a top 3B, so keep that in mind in shallower formats. 
    What do you think of these players?  Which are worth owning?

    MLB News

    3 June 2009

    It’s been a busy baseball night, both on the field and in the clubhouses.

    The Pirates are at it again–trading their known commodities for prospects.  This time they sent Nate McLouth to the Braves for three Minor Leaguers.  The deal included Gorkys Hernandez, who was one of Atlanta’s top prospects.  McLouth is hitting .256 with 9 HRs and 34 RBIs.  Hernandez was hitting .316 for Double-A Mississippi. 

    The Braves also released future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.  They felt he did not have enough in the tank to face MLB hitting.  Glavine is the last pitcher to reach 300 Wins.  Randy Johnson’s attempt for 300 was postponed. Finally, the Braves called up prized prospect Tommy Hanson.  Hanson was 3-3 with a 1.49 ERA and 0.86 WHIP.  He had 90 Ks in 66-1/3 Innings.

    Chien-Ming Wang will return to the starting rotation for the Yankees.  To make room for Wang in the rotation, Phil Hughes was demoted to the bullpen.

    Scott Hairston (bicep) and Asdrubal Cabrera (shoulder) landed on the DL.

    J.C. Romero completed his 50-game suspension for taking a PED.  Speaking of PEDs, Sammy Sosa is officially calling it a career.

    Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

    June 1 tends to be the time when a lot of the top prospects start getting called up.  We are now two weeks away, so let’s take a look at seven prospects (I left out names like Clay Buchholz and Lastings Milledge, who have already seen extended time inthe major leagues) that should be on owners radars, as they could offer potential help once recalled:

    1. Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles - He hit 3 home runs over two games earlier this week, breaking a long homerless streak and moving him ever closer to the major leagues.  He’s lowered his strikeouts, with just 5 over his past 10 games (through Saturday) and has his average at .280.  Fantasy owners have been anxiously awaiting his arrival, and I think the patience is getting ready to finally being rewarded.
    2. David Price – Tampa Bay Rays – Struggles or not, I still think he’s going to be the first starter to get the call for the Rays.  We all know he’s an elite talent who can perform on the grandest of stages.
    3. Tommy Hanson – Atlanta Braves - Kris Medlen is getting the first opportunity, but long-term we all know that Hanson has the higher upside.  His time is going to come, considering his 64 Ks in just 47.2 innings at Triple-A.  In his last four starts he hasn’t struck out fewer than seven in a game, totaling 35 over 27 innings.
    4. Kyle Blanks – San Diego Padres - He’s not on too many radars, but in my opinion he really should be.  He’s not only working out in the outfield, but actually appearing in games in LF.  If he proves adequate there, he is going to get his chance.  I know he’s struggling with the bat now, but slumps happen.  He has a power bat that will translate to the majors, as we’ve already discussed (click here to read my review on him).
    5. Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles - While a lot of talk focuses on Jake Arrieta, Tillman has been excelling at Triple-A thus far.  In six starts he’s gone 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 37 Ks in 31 innings of work.  Considering they are currently using Mark Hendrickson and Adam Eaton in the rotation, it really shouldn’t be surprising to see him in the Orioles rotation soon.
    6. Austin Jackson – New York Yankees – There’s a lot of clamor in New York to give the young centerfielder a chance, given the Yankees early season struggles, and he’s doing everything he can to force their hands.  The 22-year old is hitting .348 with 8 SB in 115 AB and could provide a spark at the top of the Yankees line-up.  Of course, he has been struggling lately, hitting .265 in his past 10 games, but when has something like that slowed the Yankees down in the past?
    7. Aaron Poreda – Chicago White Sox - The 22-year old has been solid in Double-A, posting a 2.52 ERA over 39.1 innings.  The team has proven that they are willing to shake things up, already demoting Jose Contreras and replacing him with Clayton Richard.  It’s very possible that Poreda could replace Richard if he struggles, or maybe even Bartolo Colon.  Either way, it’s likely he makes his major league debut soon.

    Which of these players do you think are worth owning?  Obviously, these aren’t the only prospects that may get recalled soon.  Who do you think I missed?

    To read the previous article, click here.

    Picture courtesy of Icon Sports Media, Inc.

    Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

    We are now about a month into the 2009 season, so it’s the perfect time to update how some of the brightest young pitching prospects are fairing early on this season.  Don’t see one of the young pitchers you want to read about?  Let me know and I will be sure to add him onto the next report.

    Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
    2009 Statistics (Single-A): 3-1, 24.1 IP, 1.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 23 K
    The sky is the limit for this youngster and by mid-2010 I could see him emerging as a solid fantasy starter.  Concerned about the strikeouts?  Last season he posted 164 Ks over 141.2 innings and they want him to work on pitches other than his fastball.  Do not worry about him in the slightest.

    Carlos Carrasco – Philadelphia Phillies
    2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 0-3, 31.1 IP, 5.46 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 34 K
    He had started off extremely strong, but over his past three starts he’s allowed 14 earned runs over 12.1 innings.  His control has continued to be excellent, however, despite his turn in performance.  For the season he’s walked just six batters, certainly an elite number.  He needs to figure out how to get righties out, as they are currently hitting .307 against the southpaw.  He has a chance to make an impact this season, especially with the struggles the Phillies have had in the rotation, but he needs to get things straightened back out.

    Jhoulys Chacin – Colorado Rockies
    2009 Statistics (Double-A): 2-3, 26.0 IP, 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 19 K
    The numbers are skewed from one awful start, giving up 7 runs on 10 hits and 1 walk, striking out 4, over 4.2 innings.  Outside of that he’s given up just 5 earned runs over 21.1 innings of work.  He also has posted a groundball rate of 60.0%, making him the perfect pitcher to succeed in Coors Field.  Look past the ERA and realize that he is certainly worth watching.  At 21-years old, it would not surprise me to see him get a chance in the second half of 2009.

    Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers
    2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 1-1, 19.2 IP, 5.16 ERA, 2.03 WHIP, 21 K
    For a pitcher that is considered one of the brightest pitching prospects in the game, those numbers are downright ugly.  Some of it is bad luck, with a BABIP of .410, and part of it is his own doing, with a BB/9 of 7.50.  He hasn’t pitched more than five innings yet in any start and has at least two walks each time out.  The strikeouts are nice, but at 21-years old (on 5/2), he may be overmatched for this level.  He threw only 45.1 innings at Double-A, so be patient and give him time to adjust.

    Tommy Hanson – Atlanta Braves
    2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 1-3, 32.2 IP, 1.65 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 48 K
    He has not pitched more than six innings in any of his six starts, the only potential negative that you can point out.  He’s been lights out, striking out nine batters or more on three occasions already.  He’s allowed only 1 home run.  He’s handled lefties (.200) just as well as righties (.161).  Yeah, the 12 walks put him at a BB/9 of 3.35, but even that’s acceptable.  It’s just a matter of time before he steps onto a major league mound.

    Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays
    2009 Statistics (Double-A): 2-1, 30.0 IP, 2.10 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 36 K
    He has dazzled this season, including walking just 8 batters over his first six starts of the season.  One thing to watch is his FB%, which is currently at 54.1%, yet he’s given up just one home run.  Sooner or later that is going to catch up to him, which will cause his ERA to rise.  His biggest problem, however, is being buried behind a talented young pitching staff that has not yet given David Price an opportunity in 2009.  With his control (he walked 20 in 152 innings in ‘08) and strikeout potential, he certainly is worth keeping an eye on.

    Vin Mazzaro – Oakland Athletics
    2009 Statistics (Triple-A): 0-2, 29.0 IP, 4.34 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 23 K
    Before we get all upset, he has had his fair share of bad luck with a BABIP of .345 in the early going.  He also had been fantastic over his first four starts before struggling in the last two, giving up 11 earned runs over 9 innings.  That obviously is going to have a negative effect on his overall numbers, but very easily could just be considered a little cold spell.  He’s managed to keep the ball in the ballpark in the high-powered Pacific Coast League allowing just 2 HR, a very positive sign.  The key is that he has gotten opponents to continually drive the ball into the ground, with a groundball rate of 65.2%.  Last season he was at 50.4%, so while he is a groundball pitcher this is a little bit too far.

    Junichi Tazawa – Boston Red Sox
    2009 Statistics (Double-A): 3-2, 32.1 IP, 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 28 K
    He had one bump in the road (6 ER over 5.2 innings on 4/25), but has given up two earned runs or less in each of his five other starts.  Outside of that, there really isn’t much negative to say about him thus far.  With a 7.85 K/9 at Double-A, you can say that he doesn’t seem like he’ll be a good strikeout pitcher as he progresses, and that’s fair.  Still, he’s not likely to contribute in the major leagues until 2010 at the earliest, so he has plenty of time to continue his development.

    What do you think of these pitchers?  Anyone you are extremely high on?  Anyone you think should be avoided?  Let’s hear your thoughts.

    Written by Eric Amzallag
    Unlocked Sports – Baseball picks

    It’s around this time of year when organizations wise up and start using their best players, regardless of how old they are or what sort of minor league service time they have. There comes a time in an GM’s life when he realizes that having Matt Wieters sitting in AAA, while Greg Zaun acts as your everyday catcher is just asking for trouble, and ridicule from people like me. But moving on, how do we as fantasy owners grade these guys? We’ve never seen them in the big leagues, we have their minor league track records in fancy spreadsheets, but how do we really know?

    There are a few guys that you need to keep an eye on, and a few more that probably aren’t worth your time yet.

    Let’s take Matt Wieters for our first example. The switch-hitting catcher is like Johnny Bench morphed into Matt Teixeira, and at the catcher position, he provides a ton of value. Scouts say that they have never seen another catcher this good at any point in development, so there is reason to expect that Wieters can be the all around catcher in baseball within the next two seasons. For this year, he’s going to be a huge contributor when he gets called up, so if he’s available in your league, it’s time to snap him up. According to ESPN’s Peter Gammons, his call-up could come sooner rather than later.

    Though Wieters is the preeminent prospect position player, there are plenty of pitchers who are poised to make an impact on the big league level this season. One of them is already making noise in the big leagues. Jordan Zimmermann is the gem of the Washington Nationals farm system, and he has the ability to develop into a really good number two pitcher in the National League. He comes with an MLB-ready 97 MPH fastball, and a good assortment of breaking pitches. Even more impressive is that he’s managed to bounce back from trouble in his two starts, posting two wins for a once-struggling Washington club.

    But can he help you this year? That depends upon your needs and how deep your league is. In NL-only leagues, he’s certainly worth carrying on the roster. In shorter, mixed leagues, he might not be at that level just yet. Zimmermann will get figured out by NL hitters, and when that happens he might pay the price. One of his problems is that he attacks the plate a little bit too much, and until he learns to hit the corners and keep the ball outside of the zone, he’ll be prone to giving up the long ball.

    Soon you will see a guy by the name of Tommy Hanson, the ace prospect of the Atlanta Braves farm system. His call up will probably come in late May, and he has made a mockery of minor league hitting up to this point. He strikes out better than a batter per inning, which is a strong indicator of value in a pitcher. The problem with Hanson is that he probably won’t pitch much past the sixth inning in his starts this season, as his pitch counts will run high from walks and strikeouts. Still, he should be good for a 3.50 ERA and lots of 7 strikeout performances in his time with the Braves. If that sounds like something that can help your team, then pounce on him now if you have the roster space.

    This article is brought to you by UnlockedSports.com, your source for Premium and Free Sports Picks

    Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

    Today I want to take a look at how some of the brightest young pitching prospects are fairing early on this season.  All stats are through Monday, unless otherwise noted.

    Don’t see one of the young pitchers you want to read about?  Let me know and I will be sure to add him onto the next report.

    Carlos Carrasco – Philadelphia Phillies
    Pitching at Triple-A, Carrasco has gotten off to a great start to his season despite not yet winning a game.  He’s allowed just 5 earned runs over 19 innings of work, good for an ERA of 2.37.  He’s struck out 20 batters, though that is not even the most impressive number.  That goes to his walk total, which stands at 1.  He’s never been known for elite control, with a BB/9 of 3.19 last season at Triple-A (36.2 innings).  That’s the number that certainly needs to be watched closely over his next few starts.  If he’s going to pitch like that, he’ll be ticketed quickly for the majors.

    Tommy Hanson – Atlanta Braves
    He’s struck out 23 batters over 14.2 innings just continuing his impressive Arizona Fall League performance to Triple-A.  Do any other numbers really matter?  It’s obvious that the Braves are putting a limit on his pitch count, pitching no more then 5.1 innings over his first three starts.  That should tell you that they want his arm fresh for later in the season.  It’s just a matter of time so sit tight.

    Phil Hughes – New York Yankees
    He struggled in his first start of the season, giving up 3 runs over 6 innings (he allowed two home runs), but he came back with a vengeance the second time, throwing 5.2 shutout innings.  He’s struck out 12 while walking just 2.  With the problems Chien-Ming Wang is currently sorting through I think it would be more surprising if he didn’t make a start for the Yankees within in the next two weeks.  Depending on the match-up he could be worth using.

    Vin Mazzaro – Oakland Athletics
    While Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill enjoy pitching in the major leagues, another A’s pitching prospect is excelling in the Pacific Coast League.  Mazzaro has made three starts, posting an ERA of 1.93, giving up just 1 HR in the high-powered league.  It isn’t all positives, however, having walked 7 batters over just 14 innings.  The main culprit was his second outing, where he walked 4 over 4 innings.  He didn’t have control issues last season, with a BB/9 of 2.37, so this certainly is awfully surprising.

    Neftali Feliz – Texas Rangers
    (stats include start on Tuesday) He’s one of the top prospects in baseball, but at 20-years old maybe pushing him to Triple-A was too much too fast.  After throwing 4 shutout innings in his first start Feliz has allowed 7 earned runs over his last 8 innings.  Even in the first start the control was a major issue and thus far he’s walked 10 over 12 innings.  It’s going to take some time so sit tight.

    Junichi Tazawa – Boston Red Sox
    At Double-A, I think many thought Tazawa could get off to a slow start as he adjusted to the game in America.  He’s excelled, however, to the tune of a 2.30 ERA over his first 15.2 innings.  The control is something to watch, as he’s gone from 1 walk in 5 innings to 2 walks in 6 innings to 3 walks in 4.2 innings.

    Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays
    The Rays stock of young pitchers just seems to be endless, doesn’t it?.  Hellickson didn’t allow a run over his first two starts (10.2 innings), before yielding 2 over 5.1 innings his last time out.  That left him with a tidy 1.13 ERA and 0.81 WHIP.  Throw in a strikeout per inning and things have looked good in the early going.

    Jhoulys Chacin – Colorado Rockies
    The 21-year old has been extremely solid in the early going, posting a 2.30 ERA over his first 15.2 innings (3 starts).  His last time out he failed to strikeout a batter in 5 innings of work, certainly not what fantasy owners want to see.  He has more potential then that, having struck out 160 over 177.2 innings last season, so it could just be taking him a little bit of time to settle in to Double-A.  It’ll be interesting to see how he adjusts as the season progresses.

    Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants
    He could be one of the more intriguing pitching prospects in baseball, though at 19-years old he could still be a year away from making any serious impact.  The lefty has made two starts at Single-A, going 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA.  He’s allowed just 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 9, over his first 11 innings of work.  He’s certainly worth keeping an eye on for the future.

    What do you think of these pitchers?  Anyone you are extremely high on?  Anyone you think should be avoided?  Let’s hear your thoughts.

    Rotoprofessor Bonus:  Prospect Report: Brad Bergesen

    Written by Eric Stashin the Rotoprofessor

    Having been in the media a little bit recently, rumored to possibly be part of a trade for Jake Peavy, I wanted to take a look at the Atlanta Braves Tommy Hanson.  The 22-year old was originally drafted by the Braves back in 2005, but not until the 22nd round.

    What has been impressive about him thus far in his career (the highest level he’s appeared in is Double A in ‘08) is his strikeout rate, which was 10.63 during 2008 and is sitting at 10.42 over his 3-year career (322.2 innings).  He does it featuring a fastball in the low 90’s, along with a curveball and change-up.  His control is not tremendous, but it is not going to kill him either.  At Double A this season, he walked 41 batters in 98.0 innings, good for a BB/9 of 3.77.

    In 2007, there appeared like there could be problems with the long ball for Hanson, who gave up a total of 16 HR in 133 innings at 2 levels of Single A.  He seemed to correct that last season, giving up just 9 over 138 innings (though they all came in his 98 innings at Double A).

    Let’s take a look at his total numbers from ‘08 (pitching at both Single & Double A):

    11-5, 138.0 IP, 2.49 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 163 K, 85 H, 52 BB

    Only allowing 85 hits is extremely impressive, no matter what level you’re pitching at.  The breakdown was 15 hits allowed in 40 innings at Single A and then 70 hits allowed over 98 innings at Double A.  Yeah, he allowed more hits at Double A, but opposing batters hit just .197 against him at that level.  You have to be impressed by that.

    He is pitching in the Arizona Fall League this winter, and the dominance has continued.  He is currently 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA over 13.2 innings, having allowed just 4 hits and 3 walks.  He’s also struck out 19 batters, just continuing to prove that he has the potential as a big-time strikeout prospect.

    He furthered his dominance in the Rising Stars Showcase on October 24.  Throwing 43 pitches over 3 no-hit innings, Hanson struck out 7 and walked 2.  That’s right, he got 9 outs, and 7 of them were via the strikeout.

    If he does indeed get moved as part of a trade for Peavy, that worry of the long ball would be significantly decreased, pitching half of his games at the pitcher-friendly Petco Park.  I can’t make that assumption right now, however, as he’s property of the Braves, meaning the home runs could be an issue and is something that owners should certainly monitor.

    Prior to the 2008 season, Baseball America had him slotted in as the Braves #9 prospect overall, but after last season I would anticipate him moving up that list this season.  He has proven that he has the ability to pick up plenty of strikeouts at higher levels, though I’m very curious to see how he will perform at Triple A at the start of this season.

    There’s no doubt in my mind that no matter what team he’s playing for, his season is going to begin in the minor leagues.  He just needs some more time at the upper levels before I’d deem him ready to make an impact at the major league level.  That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t look for him to get recalled somewhere around the All-Star Break, however.

    He certainly has the ability, and should be looked at as a potential mid-season boost to your strikeout totals.  Yearly league owners shouldn’t touch him until his recall, but those in long-term keeper leagues should certainly look to stash him away.

    For more great fantasy info, check out Rotoprofessor.com.

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