I am hardly the first or only writer to recommend working extra hard on your rosters early in the season. Last week, I discussed some of the differences between daily, weekly and monthly transaction leagues. Diligent roster management is a universal need, no matter the format.
The first two formats have already offered me some unique early-season opportunities and challenges here in 2011.
My weekly league is none other than National League Tout Wars. The constitution has always identified the initial transaction period to be the second Sunday night following the draft.
That has always been uneventful for me, until 2011, that is. The year’s draft was moved up a week earlier than in the past. That meant the second transaction period was scheduled three days prior to Major League Baseball’s March 31 Opening Day.
While Tout Wars allows MLB disabled list players to not count against one’s roster limit, it was still too early for that avenue to come into play. The rub was that almost no players had been officially placed on the disabled list at that point as MLB allows retroactive moves.
My team stumbled out of the gate, with Brad Lidge’s injury first in line. I thought Houston’s number new number two hitter Clint Barmes was primed for a decent season, but he, too, did not make it to Opening Day. In this very deep NL-only league, Jay Gibbons had value to me as he owned a regular job – before his eye injury, that is.
A lack of confidence in Ryan Theriot led me to pick up a reserve player I knew would be out for a month or two in Nick Punto. All that, coupled with the demotion of third baseman Matt Dominguez, meant I had go forego picking up replacements for one week - until after the official MLB DL announcements had been made.
It was not a big deal as I did not miss out on any players that I really wanted, but I suspect the suboptimal timing of this situation was not anticipated when the constitution was written. I will remember and recommend a change be made for 2012.
In my Yahoo daily league, I have already taken advantage of the quick early-season trigger fingers of several owners. The rules allow just four reserve positions and one disabled list spot, with the intention of discouraging stockpiling and driving roster turnover.
Sometimes strategies of others surprise me. During this mixed league draft, one owner used a late-round spot for injured Johan Santana. Left alone, not only would Santana sit on the waiver wire for most of the season, but that owner also ties up his DL spot when a new injury occurs.
Instead, I did not draft an injured player nor have any of my selected players yet gone down since the season began. Yet my non-use of the DL spot changed when one of my competitors dumped Chase Utley to pick up an extra catcher, Russell Martin. I was more than happy to grab the second baseman off the wire to stash him away until his status becomes clear.
Two others I have already nabbed off waivers in this same league are Adam Lind and Logan Morrison. The common thread? Very good players that had slow starts to the season coupled with impatient fantasy owners.
In fact, when I went to the site just now to verify the Utley-Martin transaction, I see that amazingly, Kevin Youkilis has hit the waiver wire.
OK, I know that in his last game prior being dumped, Youkilis went hitless in four at-bats and stranded four. Further, his Boston team is struggling mightily, but c’mon. Youk has considerable value in any format at any time.
Remember that you wanted these players when you selected them not many days ago, so give them a chance to produce before you panic no matter where you currently sit in the standings. A tiny sample of 15-20 at-bats is not what I am talking about.
On the other hand, if quality players drop into your lap, move quickly and decisively to improve your team. If Youkilis somehow makes it to me through the waiver priority, he will be joining my roster, no questions asked.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.