I could call my recent articles “the second guessing series.” After all, as the season nears its end and my team is not in contention, it is only natural to consider the many potential reasons why.
Timing is everything. That is what I am going to discuss.
Haven’t we all been right about an emerging player, but either didn’t act or perhaps did, but gave up too soon?
I can share examples of all of the above.
In the final week of spring training, Andrelton Simmons was injured and lost out on the Atlanta Braves’ shortstop competition to Tyler Pastornicky. Since neither player was a proven major leaguer, I grabbed Simmons as one of my four reserve spots in National League Tout Wars.
When I called out Simmons’ name, I recall defending league champion Steve Gardner of USA Today commenting about his admiration of the choice. That was a nice endorsement as well as a warning. If I dropped the youngster, Gardner seemed ready to pounce. He also happened to own Pastornicky.
It was a bit surprising to see Simmons assigned to Double-A to start the season, given how close he was to not only making the major league roster, but starting for a playoff-quality club.
In the back of my mind, I was expecting the youngster to tear up the Southern League and be back in Atlanta inside of 30 days. After all, the 22-year-old was the 2011 A-Advanced Carolina League batting champion.
The reality is that I barely gave Simmons three weeks before dropping him on a speculative play on Washington’s Tyler Moore. That didn’t work out, to say the least.
On May 30, Simmons was back in the majors. In the June 4 bidding period, the man who holds the lead in the league, ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft was the winner of the spirited bidding for Simmons. Cockcroft bid $26, reduced to $21 by the Vickrey rules which drop the price of all high bids over $10 to the value of the second-highest bid plus $1.
Already loaded with middle infielders at the time, I stayed on the sidelines for the Simmons bidding. Instead, I was intrigued by a call up by the Padres.
Catcher Yasmani Grandal moved to San Diego in the Mat Latos trade during the off-season. There was one problem. The Padres bestowed a three-year, $9 million deal on Nick Hundley, so Grandal was returned to Triple-A.
With Hundley batting just .169 after two months, the Padres broke down and added Grandal. I assumed it would be for good and bid accordingly, $10. In fact, I thought it would be too low.
What I missed is that Grandal, who was called up on Friday, was retuned to Triple-A on Sunday. I had paid $10 on a minor leaguer who I had to carry one week with no stats and no idea when he would be back.
At this point, keeping Grandal was both a matter of pride and an acknowledgment that most NL prospects with a chance to contribute this season were already rostered by other owners.
I felt better soon, as Grandal made major league history on June 30. He became the first player ever to hit home runs from each side of the plate for his first two major league hits.
I didn’t feel that good, since June 30 was a Saturday. Grandal had been called up unexpectedly and hit those homers before the Monday league transaction date occurred – meaning no stats for me.
In this case, my timing wasn’t terrible and I continue to receive the benefit of Grandal’s stats to this day.
As I wrote about earlier, I left the draft without a proven closer. I went heavy on closers-in-waiting instead. One of them was Francisco Rodriguez, formerly known as K-Rod.
After a 5.56 ERA first month, during which he fanned nine and walked eight, I tossed Rodriguez over the side. Mike Gianella grabbed him the next week. After giving Mike two decent months, K-Rod tanked again in July and August.
Only because of the roller-coaster ride known as John Axford did K-Rod manage to get three saves this season. I was happy to be rid of him. This move was actually ok for me.
Or was it? With K-Rod’s roster spot, I added Derrek Lee based solely on one news report that Milwaukee might be looking at him.
I will stop there, though I could continue at this indefinitely. At this point, the pain is still manageable, but it may not remain that way.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.