Paying full attention in fantasy baseball can be easy at times and difficult at others.
At what point does having conviction about a player you drafted become blind foolishness after weeks of inconsistent or sub-par results – only to see a dropped player prosper after letting him go?
How dangerous can it be to not check the very latest news prior to weekly transaction deadlines?
With varying first-game starting times across Major League Baseball each week, how easy is it to miss roster-setting deadlines?
While the three points above may seem obvious, sadly I have been tripped up on each this past week. As such, I hope my fresh examples of blunders will help you avoid similar pitfalls.
After all, these are factors that can and should be under our control. In that way, they are completely unlike injuries and playing time changes for which we have no choice but react.
In leagues with deep benches, holding onto an under-performing player is a lot easier than in a format like National League Tout Wars. There, the reserve section of the roster is just four players. That has to cover MLB-active and ready substitutes plus any speculative stashing of prospects deemed close to the Majors who could become difference-makers later on.
One such example of a late starter is Juan Nicasio of the Colorado Rockies. Through five April starts, the right-hander had logged 14 strikeouts and walked 13. He had gone beyond five innings just once and had an ERA of 4.62 to go with a WHIP of 1.50.
Not feeling comfortable I could trust Nicasio even away from Coors Field, I cut him. The next week, he joined the roster of Lenny Melnick of FantasyPros911 on a $5 bid (reduced to $4 by Vickrey Rule as the result of two lower bidders). Immediately, my thoughts were to ask myself why I let a valuable asset get away without even trying to get something in return.
Shortly after leaving my roster, Nicasio got his walks under control, lowering his WHIP to 1.095 in May while increasing his strikeout rate. On Sunday, versus the World Champion Giants no less, Nicasio tossed a three-hitter with no runs allowed over six innings. His bullpen did its job, protecting the victory. Needing wins badly, it was tough for me to watch.
Another example of my not paying attention closely enough occurred that same night.
I blame the Dodgers’ Ellises for confusing me. When second baseman Mark Ellis was activated from the 15-day disabled list, someone had to go. It was one of catcher A.J. Ellis' backups. Despite Ramon Hernandez’s terrible numbers (.045 batting average this season), it was backstop Tim Federowicz who drew the short straw since he could be optioned to Triple-A.
The problem was that I had just added Federowicz to my roster as a backfill for injured Wilson Ramos of Washington. Though I had checked the daily transactions earlier, the later Sunday game in Los Angeles eluded me. A week with no stats from one catching spot is my self-imposed penalty.
A better play would have been to grab Humberto Quintero of Philadelphia, called up when Carlos Ruiz was injured on Sunday. Another decent option could have been Jeff Mathis of Miami, just off the DL himself.
Speaking of injured, that same night, I bought the services of outfielder Scott Van Slyke of the Dodgers. Despite the club having no open job in the outfield, I spent $4 on Van Slyke, even though I knew his three home runs from the week before would not be replicated anytime soon. I convinced myself Van Slyke is a poor-man’s Rick Ankiel, who had just gone for $24.
Again, not seeing player news on Sunday night, I missed that Van Slyke left the game after fouling a pitch off his leg. Though the injury was not serious, the questionable roster move seemed right in line with my weekly theme.
There is no excuse for missing these, as information is abundantly available. For example, our excellent stats provider OnRoto has player capsules readily accessible. Many sites offer sorting capability as well to help one sift through the volume of material for what is most relevant to us in whatever formats we play.
Just a week earlier, I whiffed on the first of two consecutive noon Monday roster deadlines. Again, I cannot complain to anyone as league members were even warned in advance by e-mail. I just got busy and as a result, entered my weekly transactions a few minutes late on Monday.
As a result, in the XFL, Xperts Fantasy League, I was stuck carrying two dead spots for an entire week, despite having viable bench replacements. Tommy Hanson of the Angels was on the bereavement list and Rockies' outfielder Michael Cuddyer had been placed on the DL.
For a brief moment, I thought about asking our league SWAT, Lord Zola, to show me some mercy on the transaction time, but decided it would not be fair to even suggest starting down that potential slippery slope.
I’d rather just beat myself up for not paying enough attention. I need to get back into my Sunday night groove and I had better do it fast.
You should find the weekly routine that works best for you and above all, stick to it! In other words, please do as I say, not as I do.
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. Follow Brian on Twitter.