Finding the proper balance is crucial in pretty much everything we do, in all walks of life. Of course that applies to managing one’s fantasy baseball rosters, as well, or as I will explain below, the risk of overmanaging.
I readily admit that I really want to win National League LABR in my first year of competition. Of all the industry leagues in which I play, I came into August with the best chance of winning here, currently in second place, 8 ½ points back. Certainly seeing a good chance of taking it all leads to higher levels of interest and attention.
In my early assessment, I may have overdone it, however.
Last time in this column, I crowed a bit about a pair of trades I had recently made, picking up shortstop Jonathan Villar, starting pitcher Adam Wainwright and closer Seung-hwan Oh. In return, I gave up shortstop Aledmys Diaz and outfielders Odubel Herrera and Matt Joyce.
I was looking to move power and add speed, a top starter and some saves.
I clearly dodged a bullet when Diaz suffered a fractured thumb just a few days after the deal was done, but I have taken another round to the head in acquiring Wainwright. I accepted the Cardinal veteran as a fallback when I could not shake loose Jose Fernandez from his current owner.
Up until then, I had avoided Wainwright in all leagues this year as I could see his always-thin edge was eroding with the inevitable increasing age and injury. An early-July improvement by the right-hander on the mound, the encouragement of a close friend and the desire to get any deal done led to temporary insanity on my part.
Fast forward to the present. It is not pretty. Over his last three starts, Wainwright has been gored for 12 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings, for a 6.11 ERA. The Cardinal has been amazingly hittable, with 25 hits allowed plus six walks issued during that time.
Even though I was unsure of Oh’s tenure as the Cardinals’ ninth-inning man, I was willing to take a chance on him. That has turned out to be a reasonable decision with Trevor Rosenthal’s mounting health problems (shoulder and forearm). Yet in his first game on my new roster, the Korean blew the save, against the last-place Reds no less.
The reason I felt I could use help in saves was that I did not trust my draft day strategy.
Way back in March, I went cheap on closers, spending $7 on Arodys Vizcaino and $4 on Fernando Rodney. The former had yet to take over in the ninth for Atlanta, but it seemed inevitable given his stuff and the competition. The latter, no matter where he pitched, always seemed on thin ice, but both ended up providing a good half-season, before injury and trade, respectively.
I also spent a dollar on Brandon Maurer in the end game on draft day, believing that if Rodney lost his job, Maurer would be the one to get the call for the Padres.
My problems began when I grew tired of Maurer’s high ERA and WHIP. With LABR’s rules not allowing players to be moved to the reserves unless injured or demoted, I finally released Maurer – the week before Rodney was surprisingly traded to Miami.
Though Rodney had lost most of his value in his new job setting up A.J. Ramos, I had no reason to panic. After all, I still had Vizcaino – until Atlanta’s closer went on the disabled list. Fortunately, I had already grabbed veteran Jim Johnson.
Despite my shaky closing situation, I could see two points just ahead in saves, but also had three points at risk. So getting Oh to hopefully stabilize matters seemed to make sense.
In hindsight, one of my failings was to take on two pitchers without trading any away. As a result of my trades, I had the two Cardinals hurlers coming in – Wainwright and Oh – but no place to put them on my roster.
I had tried to move several of my lower-end starters, decent pitchers with ERAs under 4.00, yet could not come up with a match. As a result, I had no choice but to drop two of three relievers I had been holding, waiting for them to potentially become closers.
That quickly eroded into a Maurer situation times two.
Earlier, I had picked up Pittsburgh’s second in command, Neftali Feliz, but more for the ratios than any thought he might secure ninth-inning duties. When the surprise trade of Mark Melancon to Washington occurred, I became excited at the potential he might be named the new Bucs closer.
Not yet knowing that Tony Watson would apparently seize the job, and with a roster deadline looming, I decided to keep Feliz over Rodney and Johnson.
Rodney seemed locked into setting up behind Ramos and while his ratios were excellent, so are the ratios of other relievers on the waiver wire. Further, I had convinced myself that Johnson would be traded to a contender by the constantly-rebuilding Braves, ruining his value as it had Rodney’s. Further, his ratios were far worse than Feliz’.
Sure enough, the week I dropped the two, each logged two saves. Oh also had two, but with an ERA of 8.10. In the meantime, Johnson was still the Atlanta closer - with the icing on the cake Tuesday’s news that Ramos’ finger injury was more serious that anyone knew.
Johnson had quickly been snapped up off the waiver wire this past transaction period, going to the last place team. However, that club is one of the group just ahead of me in saves, making my first-place hill just one more step tougher to climb. Needless to say, I am rooting for Vizcaino’s speedy recovery and/or Johnson to become a waiver trade.
While Rodney remains a free agent in NL LABR, now that he of the crooked cap will be closing for the Fish until further notice, his price this coming weekend will surely be out of my range. Plus, to be honest, it greatly irritates me to have to overspend to try to correct one of my own missteps.
This turn of events does not signal the end of the line for my title chances, but if my team falls short, I will forever wonder if I had been better off to just stand pat.
The lesson to be learned? You had a strategy coming in. Don’t abandon it along the way without fully considering the consequences.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 17-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.