Monday, May 09, 2011

Fantasy Baseball - Love and Hamstrings

What can I say about the Disabled List? It's like your weird Uncle. He's given you some great gifts over the years, maybe a great piece of advice here or there, but he's a nut. You don't mind seeing him, but you want him out of your house before he finds the Peppermint Schnapps.

My Disabled List consists of two spots. For several weeks, I never needed it, but now I am loaded with hurt players. It started with Rafael Furcal, then Victor Martinez. Logan Morrison was next up, and I was already out of spots. Since then, Jose Contreras and Pablo Sandoval have become DL-eligible as well, so I've had several tough decisions to make. I like the DL, don't get me wrong, it's handy...but when it's active, you get a sort of visceral attitude toward it.
Now I want this to serve as a guide to you n00bs because I am one of you after all, but rest assured, there is no ideal way to handle a lot of injuries (unless you can DL ALL of them, then Mazel Tov to ya).

As I said, Furcal went on the DL first. I was ready to cut him anyway, but I figured I'd throw him on the list and pick someone else up. I had the DL spot free, I may as well keep him regardless. V-Mart went on next, so that filled the DL. Once Morrison went on though, I had to move someone else off the DL and onto my active roster, or cut someone. That was a pretty easy decision, needless to say. Morrison to DL, Furcal, out.

The decisions since then have been trickier. I've made roster moves like crazy these last few weeks. Most of the moves are to spot-start Pitchers that I think have good matchups. I've solidified my Catcher position by snagging Mike Napoli from an impatient owner (qualifies for 1B as well, which is handy since I still only have Moreland there). To replace Morrison for a couple weeks, I felt like I could pick up a hot Outfielder and hope he sticks to it for a while. I got Jeff Francoeur, who has been filling in quite well for Morrison. I dropped Ryan Franklin (finally) and picked up Mitchell Boggs just around the time Franklin had officially lost his closer role.

As these injuries have piled up though, I've found that my ability to keep adding/dropping Starting Pitchers during the week to maximize my opportunities from those spots has been very limited. I think I've actually been doing better since I stopped doing that. Seems odd, you'd think that when I have a Starter going every day that I'd be gaining more points, but that hasn't panned out somehow. But hey, stick with what works, right? Perhaps this roster immobility is a blessing in disguise.

Anyway, I finally elected to let SP Jordan Zimmerman go in favor of SS/2B Darwin Barney because I need the SS. I have Marco Estrada who has been stellar for me in the...well, the one game he's pitched since then (losing 4-2 as I finish this piece). But, he qualifies as an RP as well as a SP. I slotted him in a RP role (so my 4 relievers were him, Rivera, K-Rod, and Boggs), and that worked nicely. Zimmerman became flexible after another questionable outing, so I'm opting to go short a RP in favor of having some depth to my bench offensively.

I think that's ultimately the best advice I can give as a newbie. If the DL starts to become more Hyde than Jekyll, consider how important the player in question is. Keep them if you can, but if it's like the decision I had with Furcal/V-Mart/Morrison, then you may have to dump someone. If they're valuable enough, ride it out. I don't like saying that you should have a dead spot on your roster for 2 weeks, but if they're good enough, you'll have to look at trade options and keep eyes on your long-term roster. Shrewd pickups, a good deal or two, and you can cover up that hole on your roster for a while. I'd recommend, if your league is anything like mine (Points League), going short a SP. Marco Estrada is moving back to the pen shortly (presumably) now that Greinke is back. I hate being short an RP, but my other closers are strong enough that I can survive it in the short term.

A good way to see how valuable your players are...check out the Players list in your league, and look over everyone, not just Free Agents, but everyone. Line them up by “Points” or “Points Per Game” and look over the list. Obviously, you'll need to do a little filtering, but you should be able to determine who the best/hottest players are throughout the year. My general rule is, if I have one player in the Top 10 (10 teams in my league, hence that number) at each position, I'm in good shape. I make adjustments for guys who missed time for whatever reason, and I will cut my guys some slack for having a player outside of the Top 10 who is gaining ground at a solid pace (like say, a Mitchell Boggs, who didn't start scoring big points until recently).

For example...here's how my 2-2 team looks:

My top C is ranked 3rd in points. With V-Mart coming back (and surprisingly, not that far outside the Top 10) I know I'm doing well there.
1B - Napoli and Moreland are ranked 16th and 19th. That sucks. Definitely an area I need to address.
2B– Cano is #1.
3B – A-Rod, Chipper, and the Panda are ranked 4, 6, and 8 in my league. I can easily afford to trade one of these guys.
SS – Picked up Yunel Escobar and Barney, which puts me in slightly better shape here. They're ranked 10th and 15th though. Not bad for a shallow position, but certainly a spot I need to monitor. Barney the Dinosaur would almost be an improvement over the guys I drafted...almost...the kid's show host is not available in my league though.
OF – Among my 6 active OF's and one on the DL, they rank 7, 31, 32, 34, 39, 45, 46. Not so hot. On the other hand, my top 4 are all underachieving, and I'm still confident they'll get it turned around. Cargo, McCutchen, Choo, Bruce...can you blame me for waiting it out with these guys (BTW, just got the news on Choo, and I'm not concerned about any suspensions, although I wonder how this will affect him over the next few days)? 39th is a strong spot for my 5th and final OF in a daily lineup, and they've all had very good days for me at some point.
DH – Ortiz is only 11th, but just had a great day, and I'm really not concerned with his current pace. I think this stock will rise as the year goes on. Maybe not the top DH, but he'll be quietly solid.
P – Top 3 SP's are 9, 31, and 50. Not great at all. My top 3 RP's are 8, 18, and 22. Starting Pitching could use some help, but given the major fluctuations I've had through the year so far, I'm neither surprised nor bothered by this. Carpenter, Kuroda, Nolasco, and Masterson are holding their own, and that's all I'm asking of them. SP was going to be my weak position, so I can't say I'm shocked here.

So I definitely have room for improvement. I like the idea of taking risks in fantasy sports, so I'll keep looking at Shortstops, maybe First Basemen that come up from the minors if they're in a good spot. But again, that DL will have to help me out, just like that crazy Uncle coming over to fix my sink.

David Bobke

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