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Tuesday 21st Nov 2017

As a fantasy owner, it’s only natural to grow fond of certain players. And, sometimes that fondness grows to the point where it overtakes reason. I’ve always had an issue with this, as I tend to reward players who might have carried me to a league title back in the day by drafting them again and again. Then, I compound the mistake by giving them too long of a leash in the event that they struggle. Strangely enough, of the five leagues in which I am competing this year, Tout Wars, the most challenging one, is the league in which I am enjoying the most success, as I’ve remained in the top-5 for the vast majority of the season. As much as it pains me to admit it, a key adjustment has been my gradual transformation from an owner who gets caught up in longstanding loyalty to an owner that is more in tune with the reality of the situation. Here’s a look at a handful of emotionally tough decisions I made in Tout this year that have paid off.

Not drafting Matt Cain

To be honest, I came awfully close to winning Cain at the auction, but when the bidding reached one dollar above what I had budgeted for my #2 SP, I reluctantly bailed. So I sort of lucked out here. At a position where long-term consistency is hard to find, Cain has been as close to a sure thing as it gets over the course of his career, and he’s been on so many of my fantasy squads through the years, including two this year. But now he’s set to undergo season-ending surgery to remove bone chips in his right elbow, and it wasn’t like he was pitching all that well anyway. He’s expected to be fine for spring training, and I’ll probably be sucked in again next year since he’ll be available at a fraction of his usual cost. Maybe I’d be better off simply moving on.

Not drafting Joe Nathan

Coming off a dominant 2013 campaign, it seemed like Nathan still had plenty left in the tank, and he was arguably the MVP of my Tout team last year. But I figured I’d change things up this time, instead opting for David Robertson as my top closer. To say that Nathan has been a disappointment this season would be a huge understatement. On the bright side, he’s tossed scoreless innings in nine of his last ten outings. On the dark side, he sports a 5.45 ERA and 1.46 WHIP through 42 appearances. Nathan turns 40 in November. Could it really be as simple as that?

Not drafting Nick Swisher

Being a good clubhouse guy doesn’t count for anything in fantasy, but come on, who doesn’t appreciate Swisher’s genuine enthusiasm for the game of baseball? I know I do, but what I also appreciated was nine straight seasons of 20-plus homers and his added value in an OBP league. Well, barring 12 home runs in two months, that 20-plus home run streak will come to an end this year. The only factor that prevented me from owning him was Scott Swanay leaving so much money on the table at the auction and opting to spend some of that extra dough on Swish.

Trading Desmond Jennings

Ever since I drafted Jennings for $1 in a keeper league in 2011, the year in which he was called up for good by the Rays towards the middle of the season, I had visions of that inevitable 20 HR/40 SB campaign. Three years later, it has become clear that the chances of that ever happening are slim to none. This spring, Jennings found himself on my Tout Wars roster for the second straight season. And for the second straight time, he failed to meet my expectations, which by the way was no longer 20 homers and 40 steals. I gave up on that a long time ago. Right before the All-Star break, I gave up on the Tampa Bay centerfielder entirely, trading him, along with Nathan Eovaldi, for Billy Butler and the old and boring Torii Hunter. While Jennings hasn’t done much of anything since the trade, Hunter has made an immediate contribution to my team. I should really make these types of moves more often.

Benching Dan Haren

Five bucks seemed like a reasonable price for Haren on draft day, and through the month of April (3-0, 2.03 ERA), it looked like I got an absolute steal. And, this made me very happy. You see, Haren has been a favorite of mine for quite some time now, thanks in large part to his elite career K/BB ratio, which is the stat I pay the most attention to when evaluating any pitcher. It’s been all downhill since April, however, as diminished velocity and a diminished strikeout rate have turned an established ace into a pitcher that often looks like he’s throwing batting practice. After leaving Haren in my active lineup for the entire season, I thankfully benched him for a start at Coors Field where he allowed eight earned runs. I gave him one more try, in a home start against the lowly Padres, and when he got roughed up in that one, I decided that I had enough. Haren has not returned to my active lineup since, and he won’t return anytime soon.

At this point, I should probably cut bait. Why waste the roster spot?

Nah. At least not yet. I’m still a bit fond of him.

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