This week’s message is a simple one. Perhaps it is too elementary for many. Yet it is one that can be taken for granted. I have been playing a long time and re-learned it the hard way this past week.
With spring in the air and related outside projects awaiting, visitors in the house and a full weekend of Mother’s Day-related activities planned, there were plenty of potential distractions around.
As a result, I did not watch daily transactions as closely as usual. OK, really I skipped a couple of days, figuring I would catch up on Sunday night before weekly transactions are due.
The result was sort of like what I received earlier in life after cramming for exams at the last minute – much less in return than desired.
In the particular league in question, mid-week transactions are allowed when a player is deactivated due to injury, sent to the minor leagues or released. The same applies if a player comes off the disabled list.
Because I was not paying full attention to roster moves in Major League Baseball, I did not notice that the San Diego Padres activated third baseman Chase Headley off the 15-day disabled list on Saturday. His first day back, San Diego’s number five hitter launched a home run and drove in three. Also important in an on-base percentage league like this one, Headley also drew two free passes.
To help put that performance into perspective, in his 76 plate appearances prior to injury, Headley had just 13 hits and six walks.
The player in my lineup while Headley was on the disabled list was Jeff Bianchi. Not only did Milwaukee’s reserve third baseman did not play last Saturday, he had just two at-bats the entire week. During his too-long stint on my roster of two week’s duration, Bianchi contributed no home runs, no RBI, no steals, two runs scored and an on-base percentage of .167.
Despite Aramis Ramirez having been placed on the disabled list, I dropped Bianchi – though it was a day too late. With Mark Reynolds able to shift to the hot corner and Lyle Overbay available to play first, Bianchi should remain nailed to the Brewers bench for the foreseeable future. If only I had seen that coming.
A couple of weeks ago, I took a flyer on then-just promoted outfielder Randal Grichuk of St. Louis. After seven strikeouts in 21 at-bats and a .182 OBP, the right-handed hitter was returned to Triple-A for more seasoning.
With that transaction effective on Friday, I thought I was ready. I actually had two outfielders potentially available, with one on my bench and another available to bring off the disabled list.
My backfill choice for the dropped Grichuk was Logan Schafer, again of Milwaukee. I thought that at-bats could be had given Ryan Braun’s oblique injury. During the weekend, Schafer had one hit in five at-bats with an RBI.
The other choice would have been the right one – the Mets’ Eric Young, Jr. I had been worried after Young was struck in the face by a ball during batting practice at the start of the week. The outfielder went six days without starting, but when he did on Sunday, a significant result ensued. EY went 3-for-6 with two runs scored and two stolen bases.
Like in the case with Headley’s return, I missed Young’s big day – due to a basic lack of attention on my part.
Perhaps I could have shaken off those mistakes more easily had I not made two other blunders this past week in another league. There, I picked up Ryan Vogelsong and Jordan Lyles, only to leave them on the bench in favor of Tim Lincecum and Alfredo Simon.
The two starters were torched for nine earned runs in just seven innings while Vogelsong and Lyles yielded just five earned runs in 21 1/3 frames - and added 15 strikeouts to boot.
Sure, the long summer is still ahead. These miscues will not make or break my season. Yet they were potential moves entirely under my control, but were missed. Especially with a team not in contention and struggling to become relevant, these kinds of small cuts in aggregate can eventually become fatal wounds.
The bottom line message is simple – pay attention each and every day all season long.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 16-year history. He also holds the all-time NL Tout single-season records for wins and saves. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.