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Sunday 18th Feb 2018

It is the throes of the draft season. Last Saturday was LABR. Next Saturday is Tout Wars. Right now my 30-team Strat-O-Matic league is finishing up our free agent final run, and I still have one back end pick to complete my roster. Usually, such a pick is junk, but sometimes a throw-away is not that at all.

A few years back I picked up Carlos Marmol as my last pick and same with Shane Victorino.  Marmol was young and wild, but Victorino was up and down: one of those guys who was thought to have a bright future, but he struggled. I got him near the end on the downside.

Of course that league allows 29 keepers, which is why I love it, for one can actually build a team or rebuild a team, or continually tune a team, depending upon conditions. I truly love playing like that.

My Scoresheet League--The Murphy League--drafts tomorrow, with 24 teams filling out 40-man rosters. My first season I had a strong team and I finished with the best overall record, only to lose the league World Series in six games.

The league allows for eight soft freezes--the teams that keep fewer than eight fill out their squads via snake until each team has eight--and over the past two seasons, among my eight, I have frozen Joe Nathan.

But last year, the day after I submitted my keeper list, Nathan went down to injury so I went into the draft with seven, and my eighth pick was everyone else's ninth. Furthermore, in my innocence I traded away my ninth pick (thinking it was my 17th), thus hitting the year at a real handicap. Still, I only missed the playoffs by one game, finishing with 86 wins to the Paridoxicals.

So this year I am trying some different stuff.

I do believe the real key to Scoresheet success lies in starting pitching. I had planned to freeze five of my 2010 starters: Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, Carl Pavano, Max Scherzer, and Shaun Marcum. Of course I am keeping Albert Pujols, and I have a good catcher in Kurt Suzuki. But, a month back, I decided to swap Scherzer for Gordon Beckham, and for my last slot I took a chance on a prospect in Mike Moustakas.

I actually had thought that were I to keep four pitchers, Pavano would be the one to go, but the Scherzer swap was a good one for both of us. And, I can't explain it, but I just like Moustakas and think he is worth the gamble. And Pavano has had a couple of increasingly good seasons since returning to the world of the live arm. He could very well continue to be Ryan Dempster/Ted Lilly-like.

What that means--and I pick 23rd and 26th--I can grab a shortstop and my fifth starter, and grab three outfielders and in there a third baseman to start. Meaning for the most part I can have five starting pitchers and all my starting position players going in to the draft, where I’ll be selecting among the second most populated position set. Essentially, after five rounds I will already have my team built. Surely, some of my league mates will as well, but this league--in fact it seems Scoresheet particularly--fancies keeping a couple of kids each, and I do have a strong keeper list.

It has become fun, though. It seems no matter what type of fantasy ball--Strat-O-Matic, Mixed League, Bill James, Diamond Legends--they all grow on you. And, they are all fun.

But, I do think they might do something else for us: I think playing strategy games keeps your brain active. It is like doing Suduku, or Crossword Puzzles, or playing Scrabble. Just a different character set and group of parameters.

As I understand it, the more we use our brains and keep them active, the greater the likelihood that our mental faculties will be strong longer, just like keeping your body active facilitates a longer and healthier physical life more often than not.

So from my perspective, having my body in good shape, ready to think about just who I should pick for shortstop or third base for as long as possible is not a bad thing. At least I hope it works like that.


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