I just wanted to give those readers out there in fantasy land (hi ma, get well soon!) a reminder that while I have been a bit too busy with my day (and often night) job to write much here lately, I am still following the games as closely as ever and keeping up my teams and I will most certainly keep TTO going when in the future. I just got one of them new-fangled smart phones, an HTC Incredible, so I’m fully mobile now. I spend a lot of my working days on location and away from WiFi interwebs, so mobile access to my fantasy teams will give me that much better a chance at glory as we head down the stretch. Currently the renamed “Donkey Punch!” (12 team h2h keeper league) sits in 4th place and is looking good for the playoffs, while the Harlem Hangovers seem to have been stuck in neutral and are mired in 7th, 29 points out of the top spot. Barring a miraculous come-back, it looks like it’s time to start looking forward to next year for the Uptown faithful…
So just a reminder, if you’ve got roster questions, comments, suggestions for future pieces you’d like to see or whatever else, do comment here on the site. You can also go to Advanced Fantasy Baseball to get the 411 from John, Paul and myself in one tidy package. We schmooze like Steve Somers on the overnight.
After a long and arduous road, it’s done. Weeks of back and forth negotiations proved fruitful, when I divested myself of my last share of Nelly “Boomstick” Cruz. Last week in my keeper league, I finally dealt the injury prone Texas Ranger outfielder, along with the disappointing tandem of Blue Jays second baseman, Aaron Hill and Baltimore catcher Matt Wieters, in exchange for Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth and San Francisco catcher of the future, Buster Posey. Hear that? That’s me giving a dramatic sigh of relief as I feel like I can finally start to set my team towards a late summer playoff run.
Don’t get me wrong, Cruz is a phenomenally talented player. His per-game numbers are unmatched by anyone in baseball this season. The Texas Ranger outfielder has hit for tremendous power, good average and has been quite the thief on the basepaths. I bet the multi-talented slugger can even make a mean margarita! Unfortunately, Cruz has one major flaw to his game, he cannot seem to stay healthy. Hounded by a balky hamstring, Cruz, who returned today from a second stint on the disabled list, has proven to be injury prone through out his career, an absolute albatross around the neck in a head-to-head league. After drafting him in the third round in my 12 team keeper league, I quickly came to regret the decision as I saw my team plummet in the standings without Cruz’ potent bat in the lineup.
Thankfully, I’ll no longer have to go scrambling for a roster replacement the next time Cruz visits the doctor. In Werth, I have a player whose numbers should come close to approximating Cruz’ production. He hasn’t stolen as much as he did in the past, but Werth has a ton of pop and hits in a bandbox of a stadium, while nestled comfortably in the five hole of the best lineup in the National League. Along with Werth, comes hard hitting Giants catcher/first baseman, Buster Posey. While the rookie has slowed down his torrid pace in recent days, he provides my team some flexibility, allowing me to play him at the corner infield position or at catcher when rookie sensation Carlos Santana gets a day off. This ability to add more counting numbers from the C slot, proved invaluable to me last season when I had both Wieters and then catcher eligible, Pablo Sandoval alternating at the position. Perhaps more importantly, it gives me valuable better bargaining chip, which I’m already trying to flip – I’ve just offered this weeks opponent, the surprising Jamaica Beef Patties Posey and reliever Jon Rausch for disturbingly ineffective Arizona starter, Dan Haren.
Moving the offensive black holes of Aaron Hill and Matt Wieters seems like a case of addition by subtraction right now, as neither have been producing much aside from goose eggs in the box scores. In fact their horrifying numbers have been a terrible drain on my ratios, one of the main reasons my team carries a .264 team batting average, third worst out of the 12 teams in the league. To be fair Hill has provided decent power with 10 homers on the year, while his .182 BABIP is the lowest of all qualifying hitters in baseball. That number simply has to rise as the season progresses. With my team flush with power and needing run scorers, base stealers and batting average, Hill was just not a good fit for my lineup. Wieters was an even bigger disappointment after coming into the league with such fanfare last season. While his hot September played a key role in my playoff success, the young Baltimore backstop has looked clueless at the plate this year, seeming to regress more and more with each passing game. I have little doubt that the talented youngster will one day be a star, his lack of production was hurting my team too much to continue to hold him. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised to get anything for him. With Carlos Santana proving to be every bit the hitter he was advertised as so far in his young career, Wieters became expendable.
Filling in at the second base hole for Hill right now is Cardinals utility man Felipe Lopez, who has hasn’t been doing much either in recent weeks. The versatile Lopez has seen a lot of time at the top of the St. Louis batting order, which has been eerily quiet as of late. As the Cardinals heat up (as Matt Holiday has begun to do) look for Lopez to be crossing the plate with greater regularity. Along with taking Lopez off of waivers, I also grabbed injured San Diego Padre shortstop, Everth Cabrera for a much needed speed boost. I had originally drafted the light hitting infielder in the 21st round of this years draft, but quickly sent him and Reds outfielder, Drew Stubbs to the Patties in exchange for White Sox work horse Mark Buerhle, in what may go down as the most futile trade in our leagues history. The Patties ultimately cut Cabrera and Stubbs and I sent Buerhle off to waivers after his inauspicious start to 2010. Now the EverCab is back in the fold and looks to return from the disabled list on Friday.
So with the team retooled and ready to go, we managed to dispose of last place Animal House by a score of 9-2 last week, as we closed the first half of the 2010 fantasy season on a high note after an excruciatingly slow start. Next up, a rematch with The Patties and a push towards another playoff berth.
My 12 team, head to head mixed keeper league held it’s live draft this past Sunday. It’s the fourth year for this league, my third since the league expanded. It’s a 6×6 league with daily substitutions and roster moves, using the standard 5×5 plus On Base Percentage and Quality Starts.
Last year, Luis Tiant surged through the second half of the season on their way to a 2nd place finish in the regular season, 11 games behind the always dangerous Dan Pasqua. The playoffs saw me earn a 1st round bye, before emerging victorious from an epic, back and forth nail-biter in the semi-finals against The Mountain Cats. With heralded rookie Matt Weiters emerging to lead the charge into the finals, the heavily favored Tiant demolished bitter rival, Jamaica Beef Patty to capture the crown and go 3 – 0 against the Pattys for the season.
Here are my team’s draft results with where they were drafted, or what they were kept for, in parenthesis. This is the current roster, having made a few moves.
C: Matt Weiters (K 10)
1B: Albert Pujols (K 1)
2b: Aaron Hill (K 21)
ss: Derek Jeter (2)
3b: Pablo Sandoval (K11)
CI: Nick Swisher (19)
MI: Ian Desmond (20)
OF: Nelson Cruz (3)
OF: Carlos Quentin (7)
OF: Dexter Fowler (17)
OF: Kyle Blanks (19)
UTL: Josh Willingham (22)
BN: Austin Jackson (FA)
SP: Adam Wainwright (K 9)
SP: Cole Hamels (5)
SP: Gavin Floyd (8)
SP: Carlos Zambrano (10)
SP: Kevin Slowey (15)
RP: Brian Fuentes (16)
RP: Jon Rausch (20)
RP: Ryan Madson (21)
RP: Matt Guerrier (FA Dropped Takashi Saito)
SP: Mark Buerhle (Aquired via trade for Drew Stubbs and Everth Cabrera)
SP: Kevin Correia (FA Dropped Matt Latos)
SP: Jason Hammel (FA Dropped Bronson Arroyo)
I’m pretty happy with the results. I obviously don’t spend much on relief. Never do. I’d much rather work the wires or trade as need to fill relief needs, than spend valuable picks where I could be building up on offense and my starting staff. Also not the rather wacky numbers. I traded numerous draft picks during my stretch run last year and received a bunch in the late rounds. This is common in my league, so the draft become incredibly hard to predict with many teams finishing up their rosters, while some are still filling up their empty spots. This leads to some interesting challenges to overcome in the draft and through out the season.
I would have liked to have had another stud starter, but pitchers were flying off of the board too early for my taste. The Buerhle deal has already drawn jeers from some but it makes sense to me. Drew Stubbs was quickly replaced by newcomer Austin Jackson. While Everth Cabrera’s speed may be missed, he’s a one dimensional player, slated to bat 8th for the Padres. I think my team has enough speed to absorb the loss and I think Ian Desmond will prove to be a far more valuable player than Cabrera at year’s end. Buerhle, while not a strike out pitcher, is your classic innings eating workhorse who gets a big bump in value in a QS league. He’ll get his wins and quality starts because he goes deep into games and never seems to miss a start. I like dependable, if somewhat unspectacular pitching.
So that’s the squad we’re taking into Sunday night’s opener. First up is a championship rematch against The Patty’s. What do you think? Can this team repeat?