13 pitchers? Then who are the 12? More importantly, who is the 12th?


It is simple math with a possible complex summation. There are 25 roster spots and Manager A.J. Hinch has announced that he plans to start the season with 13 pitchers. Taking out my old HP calculator, that would leave 12 spots (more or less to the eighth significant digit) for the Astros’ position players heading out of Spring Training.

So, until that 13/12 split becomes a 12/13 split (if ever) who will be the 12 position players most likely to make the team out of ST and what chance do the various hopefuls have of making the team. Note, there are some hopefuls (A.J. Reed, Colin Moran, Reid Brignac??) who have been tearing things up. Does it matter?

The following folks are sure things to make the team, if they are vertical or not traded by the end of spring training.

  1. Jose Altuve – 2B
  2. Carlos Correa – SS
  3. Alex Bregman – 3B
  4. Yulieski Gurriel – 1B
  5. Nori Aoki – LF
  6. George Springer – CF
  7. Josh Reddick – RF
  8. Brian McCann – C
  9. Carlos Beltran – DH
  10. Evan Gattis – Backup C
  11. Marwin Gonzalez – Swiss Army Knife
  12. ????

There are a number of ways the last spot on the bench could be filled.

Traditional

Traditionally, considering that MarGo is more of an infielder, the 12th spot should go to a 4th OF. This does not mean it has to be Jake Marisnick, but he is the one with the most experience (even though the batting portion of his experience is bad). Tony Kemp is an option, though like MarGo he would be best fit to play LF as a sub. Teoscar Hernandez could fill in all around the outfield but would they rather have the young man getting some AAA bats under his belt? Derek Fisher would seem to be an option down the road.

Versatility

The team could say the heck with tradition, we don’t need to have 4 OFs. We can have the OFs back each other up and roll MarGo, Beltran, Gattis, Bregman, Gurriel and the kitchen sink out there when we need another OF. So instead the team could add to their versatility and hold on to a Kemp or perhaps Colin Moran or Reid Brignac or whoever is dazzling their socks off.

Power

Forget a 4th OF. Forget versatility. Go grab A.J. Reed and his big bat and put him at 1B, DH or off the bench and hope that he has grown beyond the pain of his first time up in the majors.

Other

Trade MarGo for a youngster or two and give one of your younger, cheaper guys with more of an upside a shot at the 11th spot – along with (fill in the blank) in the 12th spot.

So, if you were making the call – how would you fill out that last spot or those last spots on the bench?

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102 comments on “13 pitchers? Then who are the 12? More importantly, who is the 12th?

  1. Good question, Dan. While I personally believe that each member of the trio of Derek Fisher, Tony Kemp, and Teoscar Hernandez has more upside than Jake, and that any one of them would do a MUCH better job offensively than he will, I don’t think any of that trio needs to be sitting on the bench most nights at this stage of their careers. Jake has, unfortunately proven time and time again he is never going to be able to hit for either average, OBP, or power in the major leagues, so he fits the bench–warmer role perfectly. He can be a late-inning pinch-runner and defensive replacement, and take one or two starts a month from Aoki, Springer, or Reddick if they are ailing. But most of the time his rear-end needs to be on that bench.

    I don’t really think that right now, when waiver wire dudes are about to become available in droves, that we could trade Margo straight up, due to his salary. For one more year – but NO MAS due to the price – he should indeed be our Swiss army knife. He’s our insurance policy if the grind of the season wears Gurriel down again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill, if Gurriel wears down, we’re got several insurance policies other than Marwin, just a day away in Fresno. My point is that Marwin is not indispensable. We’re not going to freak out if he goes on the DL. We’ll manage.

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      • I am not thinking about DL-level issues; I am just thinking about Gurriel probably needing more rest than most due to his age and whatever problem is unique to him that caused him to flake out on us when we needed him most at the end of last season.Yuli has never played a full season of MLB baseball – and dealt with the physical and emotional toll it takes – before, so his stamina level is a question mark in my mind. In case a DL level injury is the issue, I figure we see A.J. Reed or Tyler White, whoever has a better start in the minors.

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  2. I am in complete agreement with Mr. Bill. Jake will get that last bench spot because he doesn’t need ABs and he fills a role, as Mr. Bill stated, as a pinchrunner, late defensive sub and about 2-3 starts/month. If they have a lead late in the game they will want to sub someone in for either Beltran or Aoki in LF. As much as Marisnick’s offense frustrates all of us his role is perfectly suited for this team.

    Now, and this may be addressed in the next blog, the big question is who will fill out the 13-man pitching staff. Your locks are Keuchel, LMJ, McHugh, Morton, Gregerson, Harris, Sipp, Giles and Devenski and, probably, Fiers unless he is traded. That leaves 2 spots open and I have a feeling Musgrove will get one of those spots then it comes down to Feliz, Hoyt and Gustave for that last spot. They may opt to start Musgrove in AAA and go with 2 of the triumvirate I mentioned.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Apparently, my math is not very good. I listed 10 locks and then said that leaves 2 spots open. I don’t think 10 + 2 = 13. Thus, after the 10 locks there are 3 spots open. My guess Feliz and Musgrove make the team and then it comes down to Hoyt or Gustave.

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  3. With just twelve position players, one being the back up catcher, that pretty much leaves us with two guys off the bench. Marwin gets a job. He’s versatile and bats from both sides. Jake is all but a done deal for now in my mind. What this points out to me is the biggest weakness on our club. Again. We are a bad pinch hitting team. Marlon and Jake both have bad clutch and late inning stats. Neither guy gets his bat on the ball oftern enough. Sure we’ll using guys on their day off to come off the bench to hit, but too often the options will be Marwin and Jake.

    I hope we find ourselves with a stable rotation a couple of months into the season, one getting into the 7th inning on a regular basis.

    We need 13 bats ultimately, and that will only happen with a solid batch of starters.

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  4. Basically, Aoki needs to hit LHP close to his career numbers and Reddick needs to be not terrible against them. You don’t *need* a late inning sub for any of our outfielders, but Marisnick potentially saves more runs and therefore may be kept solely for that purpose. Unless Luhnow/Hinch believe his defensive value will be negated completely by his offensive struggles it’s a done deal for the 12th roster spot.

    The other questions, in my mind, are Gurriel and Bregman. I think the former will hit well enough, but it’s not guaranteed. As to Bregman, we assume he’ll continue his hot hitting from last season’s end and play strong enough defense to stay in the lineup, but if either is a problem he might spend some time in Fresno.

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    • If Reddick is terrible against lefthanders, I would hope A.J. will give Beltran some starts in the OF and let Marwin DH; or at least give Marwin an OF start or two and let Beltran stay at DH. It is nice to have options.

      As far as Bregman goes, of course we are all expecting great things from him – but there are no guarantees. That short, compact, powerful swing should bode well for him, especially with some tutelage from Altuve and Beltran. But if Alex totally collapses [see White, Tyler, 2016], it is good to know we have the new, improved Tyler White, the suddenly powerful Colin Moran, and ultimately the consistent J.D. Davis just a plane ticket away.

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      • And did I mention the option of A.J. Reed taking over 1B and moving Gurriel back to his natural position at 3B?

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    • Devin, I’m already prepared for Reddick to be bad against lefties. That’s the reason I would not be surprised to see Marwin or Jake gone sometime this summer. We can’t afford to have our right fielders post a ..600 OPS against lefties. That’s what I think Reddick and Jake will give us against them. We’ll want a righty bat out there along with Reddick, even if it means a guy like Teoscar only getting a couple of starts a week. I don’t want to put Marwin or Brltran out there, nor do I want to move Springer back there.

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  5. The post asks us how we would fill out the last two positions on the roster with only 12 going to position players. It’s easy. We’re paying Marwin six times more than any others and Jake twice as much as anyone else to be considered. This decision was made months ago.
    I would like Teoscar to have taken this job from Jake and I haven’t watched a full game this spring because of the Astros lousy television coverage and the fact their best players are playing somewhere else. From what I’ve read, Teoscar has not taken the job from Jake. So, I go with the veterans and hope that all the prospects explode in Fresno and are ready when they are needed.

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  6. Marisnick and Springer are probably the best athletes on the team. That’s saying a lot! You do want them on the field late – agreed. A wipeout pitcher negates the need for Jake’s kind of insurance.

    If you compare Jake’s routes to Fisher’s – not close, unless the latter has made drastic improvement, their base path speed is fairly close. Fisher, meanwhile, has a much better approach at the plate. Is it better than Gattis, or whomever else is sitting out, like Marwin? Maybe.

    So, this question hinges on a case-to-case of whether we’re ahead on the scoreboard, or behind. Hinch will need the best combination in one player if we’re asking about a second utility.

    Today, I’d take Fisher Moran or Reed because you want to set a precedence that upward mobility is possible – and you will earn it to play on this team. Ain’t gonna happen and it’s sending the wrong message.

    At present, Tony Sipp will cost us runs, and maybe games. How do we curtail this? Find he has a “torn something or other”, and put on a competition between Framber Reif Guduan to keep two through first 3 series’. I’m sure the FO is acutely aware this is our weakest link, and you don’t invest 100’s of millions to leave something like this so obviously vulnerable! Here’s a novel idea: trade.

    My righty 13th man depth chart is: Hoyt, Feliz, Gustave. There’s just no room in the inn, fellas!

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  7. The Astros cut their major league roster to 49 players in major league camp on Wednesday, reassigning OF Andrew Aplin, LHP Reymin Guduan, RHP Brady Rodgers and LHP Ashur Tolliver to minor league camp.

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  8. McCann three for three – homer and GR double, 2 runs scored and 2 RBI. Welcome, to the offensive charge, sir!

    Jon Kemmer, 3 run HR. Now that’s refreshing!

    Musgrove not at his best [4 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, only 2 Ks, 4 aerial outs to only 2 groundball outs], but still held a powerful Nats offense to just 2 runs. It’s beginning to look a lot like baseball.

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  9. Hinch on Musgrove: “He’s one of the better pitchers that we have as a rotation candidate. We’ll see at the end of camp where he ends up.”

    Sounds like the 4, or 5 starter to me!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. More appropriate to the last topic, but I thought this would be of interest to the group. I was at the Indians-Rangers game today. Rangers had Carlos Gomez leading off. My first impression was he seemed a lot more relaxed than when he was here. At one point he broke a bat and looked into the dugout for a replacement, but none was forthcoming. He began walking toward the dugout and pointing for a replacement, but still none. He keeps walking and suddenly someone throws a bat toward him out of the dugout. Carlos had a “what the heck” look on his face. I never saw a batboy come out. Maybe Spring Training hijinx, but I can tell you Carlos was NOT amused.

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  11. From a money perspective, Reddick and Aoki are going to play. From a talent perspective Springer is going to play. So the next question who is the “best player with high potential.” Then when you answer that, the final question is “do you want him watching in the majors or playing in the minors.” So I am now in a terrible quandary, I agree with Mr. Bill but am so hesitant to agree with Tim. Must be time for me to swallow my pride and agree with both. Jake stays and the rest gets to play.

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  12. The heck with March Madness, it’s baseball season. The boys and I leave for Florida early tomorrow morning. We will be at the games tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Go Astros!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yesterday was a good day for the Astros on the USA team at the WBC. Bregman started at SS, and went 2-3 with a walk. Luke Gregerson came on at the end and picked up the save. For Venezuela, Odor, who played 3B so Altuve could play 2B, hit a HR, and drove in 2 runs, but also struck out twice and made two critical errors. Altuve was 1-3 with one K. Drew Smyly was nasty.

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    • I watched the VZ – USA game from about the half way mark on – a few observations:
      – Bregman did a nice job at bat. He solidly went the other way for a base hit and his walk was an excellent at bat as he got down 0-2 and then worked it all the way for a walk while spoiling some tough pitches and laying off some others.
      – As much as I hate Odor – he is a 2B trying to play 3B and made a couple errors. Of course he is kind of an error machine at second base anyway.
      – The commentators tried to blame Altuve for being a small target when he was drawn off second on a force play. First, he would have had to be Yao Ming to stay on 2nd and catch that errant throw. Second, second base the last time I looked does not move. If the third baseman threw to the bag it might have been a double play.
      – King Felix will be a tough assignment in the first series against the Astros as he is already putting up 5 shutout innings against a tough lineup.
      – Gregerson was his typical self – even when he gets behind on a count or walks a batter he does not give in – keeps throwing that breaking stuff until he gets what he wants – like that double play to end the game (that was smoked by the way).
      – Venezuela bats Altuve leadoff – what a concept!

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      • Then you missed Bregman’s first hit, Dan. Simple swing, no frills solid, right up the middle. The young man looks ready.

        King Felix looks good but gettable. It’s Smyly, I’m thinking why in the world we didn’t land him?! His past numbers don’t reflect how sharp he is already, too!

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  14. I don’t expect Reddick to start hitting left handed pitching. So I think initially, Jake will take right against lefties. But between both guys, they’ll produce an OPS of .600 against them. That’s not enough from a corner outfield position. Neither Marwin nor Beltran are good options for right field defensively, although we’ll probably see both out there on occasion. That’s why I also believe we’ll see a guy like Teoscar ( but not necessarily Teoscar) at some point this summer, even if it means he’s only getting a couple of starts a week. Sooner or later, our minor leaguers will start showing up, even if there is not an everyday job available to them.

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    • Kemmer’s clutch home run and two hit game yesterday could be a step toward making him the guy you are talking about, Dave. Teoscar, unfortunately, has had a brutal spring so far.

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      • You know Bill, when a guy comes in to Spring Training knowing the offensive side of the 25 is already set, barring an injury, it’s got to be a bit tougher. On the other hand, our buddy Reed is hitting. Maybe he likes having no pressure on him.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kemmer, Moran, and Brignac have apparently started drinking the same Kool-Aid as Reed. Kemp, T. White, and Derek Fisher have had their moments, too. Teo for some reason has chosen this spring to put up the worst numbers of his class – and launch a throw from the outfield all of 5 feet in the process. He really needs to switch from Te Dulce to Kemmer Kool-Aid before Aoki gets back!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah Bill, Teoscar is not the guy right now, but let’s see what happens when he gets to work in Fresno, where all the guys already know they are going. My thing about Kenner is that he’s also a left handed bat and not exactly a gazelle out in the field. Like Tim, I’m really interested to see what Laureano does over the next few months.

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      • And don’t overlook Alejandro Garcia. Just wish he hit for more power, because the rest of his game looks pretty good.

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  15. How can Venezuela feel knowing they have to come back, after losing late to the USA last night, and face the DR tonight and then line up against Correa/Beltran and the crew from Puerto Rico for a day game on Saturday? Of course, the USA team has to take those two monsters on in reverse order – with just a little more rest. Odds look pretty good right now we have Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Luke Gregerson back by next Monday. I figure it will be end of next week before we see Aoki, Beltran, or Correa.

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    • This is the team I see the Astros going with to start the season, barring injury.
      I would not be surprised to see Framber Valdez sent to AA Corpus to test him immediately and have him close by in case they need a left handed reliever.
      I think Gustave goes to Fresno as a closer and Guduan as their main lefty reliever and a set-up guy. I believe the Astros sent Guduan down yesterday with a specific set of things to work on.

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  16. If you’re on Twitter you can follow me and see photos from this weekend. My Twitter handle is @roundrocktim and I posted one photo already of my youngest son in front of the large ‘H’ Astros sign in front of the stadium.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Forest Whitley said, in an MLB Network interview, that he has gone from 260 lbs to 200 lbs in the last year and a half. Now is 6’7″ and 200 lbs.
    At 19 years of age, this guy is serious about his career.

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  18. Looks like Reid Brignac is trying hard to be this year’s Danny Worth. Reid just gave the ‘other Astros’ a lead against Boston with a 2-out, 2-run double that pushed his Spring BA to .367 and gave him 7 RBIs on the spring.

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    • Jack Mayfield hits the walk off to beat the Braves.

      Fisher gets all 3 RBI’s prior to, and scored the winning run, blazing around the bases.
      Moran goes 2 for 4.
      Nick Hernandez looked good!

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  19. Now we get to see why every team Luhnow has talked to about a trade, want Martes!
    He’s young, he’s SO talented…..and he WILL be in this rotation next year, and that’s a VERY GOOD THING! Reid Brignac… (never heard of him) needs to be sitting on the bench to begin this season. Like I said, never heard of him but the guy gets hits and scores runs in every game he’s been in so far….PLUS he can play all over the infield.
    Maybe I’ll get to listen to the games this weekend….and unless he gets on the stick it looks like McHugh will start the season on DL. Think Peacock did enough today to keep his head above water? Seems like he’s always teetering on the edge of a full blown meltdown every time he pitches…..but that’s just me. I love the way the minor league guys are playing, and a nice assist from Fisher today. BUT….I can’t wait till our big boys come home to play!!
    I’m finally feeling better, and trying to shake hands with food again. I don’t hate ANYONE bad enough to wish this on them. Thank you for your prayers, and your gentle thoughts my way, you don’t know how much I appreciated them. Becky⚾

    Liked by 2 people

    • We are so glad to have you back and commenting again Becky.
      I’m watching the US against Puerto Rico. The box score is telling me that after 2 hits in 2 ABs – that Carlos Correa is hitting .750 in the WBC. That makes Beltran look like a slacker at .429….

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  20. AND…. Sipp walks in a run. Nightmare dreams of 2016. I don’t know where he’s gonna get one, but Luhnow has GOT to get another lefty for the bullpen.
    Paulino has a bruised right shoulder and will be shut down for the next few weeks.

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      • If they decide to go without a LH it could between Hoyt and Gustave, whichever doesn’t initially make the team.

        On a side note I was in downtown WPB at a place called City Place with my boys. I was walking and heard someone say “Go Astros” as we’re wearing our Astros gear. My youngest son turns to me and said that’s Tony Kemp. Sure enough, I turn and see it was Tony Kemp. He had already passed us otherwise I would have asked for a photo with him and the boys.

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  21. Go to my Twitter feed, @roundrocktim. We ran into Tony Kemp at a restaurant and got a picture with him and my boys. He couldn’t have been more gracious and kind.

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  22. Even though Dyson was untouchable in the 8th, Leyland goes with Gregerson to close the biggest inning of the WBC yet. Luke did not disappoint! USA advances to play Japan in the semi’s.

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  23. DOCTOR! DOCTOR!! CALL THE AMBULANCE!
    McCullers has a bloody toe! DANG IT!! We gotta get this fixed, and FAST! We can I’ll afford for him to go down, since McHugh hasn’t thrown a pitch in spring training!

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  24. Saw the Rangers ST game yesterday vs Reds. Yu Darvish was hitting 94 mph regularly, but he was wild. Walked a couple of guys and hit 2 more. Rangers were horrible in the field: 5 errors on the game, and at least 1 or 2 other plays that could have been called Es. There was a weird play by the Reds. Rangers runner on first was stealing second. The pitch was outside and the catcher was on his knees. He tried to throw to second from his knees. Even though Bronson Arroyo (yep, he’s still playing) ducked down, the throw was so low it smacked him right in the face. Ouch!

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    • I guess I’m naive but it is hard to believe that Singleton never improves – you would think just by accident he would pop over the Mendoza line.

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  25. Some observations from this weekend. I’m very excited what a healthy Charlie Morton can do for this team. Throwing in the mid to upper 90s and a heavy sinker ball can make him a solid #3 and maybe a #2. I’m a bit concerned about Devo. His changeup today was flat and the Yankees were teeing off on it. Last, the Yankees are going to be a dynasty again in about 2 years. They are just loaded with young, very talented players. Cashman played his cards right at the deadline last year and this team is on the precipice of taking off. Man, I hate the Yankees almost as much as the Rangers (but not quite as much).

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  26. Tough way for Gustave to end the game. He has to have that bad taste in his mouth for a few days. I’m very hopeful that in a couple of years he will be a big part of our bullpen……maybe even be a closer, you never can tell! Moran is really making a splash this spring! Let’s hope he continues that torrid pace in Fresno this year.He was supposed to be “that” guy when the Marlins took him 1st in the draft. Maybe he just needed some more time to wake up, I’m glad he did!! We will get Altuve back tomorrow…..I’m really glad, now we just need Correa and Beltran back in camp too!!

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  27. What about Stijn van der Meer! He’s the lone Dutchman repping the Stros.

    Anybody notice the seed that Reddick threw today to gun down a would-be double, or his diving catches so far. Of course, no one has mentioned him hitting the ball either..

    Teoscar and McCann had a big day. I didn’t see Devo’s innings, but he didn’t give up any runs? His changeup hasn’t been sharp yet, nor was Lance’s breaking stuff. As of today, I’m thinking Morton takes No. 2 if Lance and Musgrove don’t pull ahead soon. Hinch said #3 today, so he’ll probably start v the M’s. Dayan Diaz pitched well again. Advantage Hoyt in his competition with Gustave. I still think we’ll see Jandel this season pitch over 50 innings.

    Marwin is becoming an offensive liability – something I wouldn’t have said before. He’s hitting nothing like last Spring! And Reed’s chances are slipping to make the OD. Springer missed a few golden opportunities today.

    Yep, thank goodness it’s Spring

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