Monday, July 4 – 11:20 PM
An encouraging quote was all it took. After making the wise decision to bench Adam Dunn for a week in which he appeared in just four games, going hitless in 11 at-bats, he’s right back in my lineup. Why? Despite going 0-for-4 yesterday, Dunn came away feeling good about his approach at the plate. “I don’t know what it was, something actually felt normal for once,” the first-half bust said. “Hopefully that will carry over to tomorrow and we can kind of get it done.” I just had a gut feeling that a hot stretch was in the cards. Tonight, I was rewarded for my loyalty. Not only did Dunn launch his first home run in more than three weeks, but he posted just his second multi-hit game since May 14. Hard to believe, I know. Could this be the start of a resurrection? Maybe. Maybe not. At this point, like Dunn, all I can do is hope.
Tuesday, July 5 – 10:45 PM
Whenever your fantasy starting pitcher lasts just five innings, it’s disappointing. When he lasts just five innings while giving up zero runs, it’s curious. And when he lasts just five innings while giving up zero runs and finishes with a pitch count of 62, you know something is wrong. But there’s only so much you can learn from a box score. So after digesting this series of alarming numbers, I go to my team page to learn that Scott Baker was lifted early from today’s outing due to a mild elbow strain. Even though the injury is termed not serious, considering Baker’s history of arm troubles, I’m more than a little concerned that a DL stint lies in his future.
Thursday, July 7 – 7:35 AM
Thanks to my late-May acquisition of Huston Street, I haven’t had to think about closers for awhile, but with the July 31 trade deadline looming, there are plenty of potential saves on the waiver wire. Look, why wouldn’t the Mets trade Francisco Rodriguez? Yeah, the Amazins’ have been a pleasant surprise this year, but they’re still hovering around .500, and that’s not going to cut it when it comes to making the playoffs. I understand the whole vesting option factor in K-Rod’s contract that would pay him 17.5 million bucks for 2012 if he finishes 55 games this year, but if he gets traded to a team that uses him in a setup role, he won’t be finishing many games, so this isn’t as big of a deal as it’s being made out to be. Anyway, who would likely close in the event of a Rodriguez trade? Meet Bobby Parnell, the guy who has given up just two runs over his last 18 2/3 innings of work, striking out 22 in the process. Before he becomes a household name, I’m making this pickup. My philosophy with potential closers is simple. As long as you have the roster room, you might as well scoop them up. Even if you’re not in dire need for saves, at least you’re keeping saves away from your competition, and there’s plenty of value in that.
Thursday, July 7 – 5:15 PM
I’m hearing that Charlie Blackmon might need season-ending foot surgery after fracturing a bone in his left foot while sliding into third base today. Remember when I wondered if seven FAAB dollars was too much to spend for him? For a few weeks, I looked like a genius. Now? Not so much. Well, the Blackmon era was fun while it lasted.
Friday, July 8 – 7:24 AM
The e-mail in my MLB.com inbox is time-stamped 4:11 AM. What can possibly be so important that it needs to be shared in the middle of the night, you might ask? Apparently, while most of the country was sleeping, the Angels decided to call up top prospect Mike Trout. The team says the move was made solely out of necessity, with starting center fielder Peter Bourjos suffering from a hamstring injury. But if the 19-year-old Trout, arguably the game’s No. 1 prospect, gets off to a hot start, it’ll be awfully hard for the Angels to say “Nice job, kid. We’ll see you in September.” That’s just not happening. I say he has better than a 50/50 chance of staying in the big leagues for good. Through 75 games at Double-A this season, Trout is batting .324 with nine homers, 28 steals, 69 runs scored and a .950 OPS. Unfortunately for me, waivers in my money league run each night, and since I’m dead last in waiver priority, it’s looking like I’m out of luck. To put it simply, the odds I get Trout are equal to the odds that the other 12 owners in my league are either out of internet access or are vacationing somewhere on a deserted island. I’ll put in a claim anyway. Miracles do happen.
I’ve stuck with him for close to three months now. This is long overdue. I’m benching Adam Dunn for this week. When it comes to fantasy GMs, I’m about as patient as they come. But even I have had enough. Not only does Dunn have just two hits in his last 26 at-bats but he has struck out a whopping 16 times during this span. That has to be some sort of record, no? Actually, I have a very good excuse to bench him this week as the White Sox will be playing all six of their games in NL parks, and it’s not like Ozzie Guillen is ready to sit Paul Konerko anytime soon. Maybe Dunn starts one game at first base and he gets a few pinch-hit at-bats. Considering how my season is going in this league, he’ll probably hit three homers in five at-bats, but at least I’ll have a logical explanation as to why I benched him, so mentally I’d be at ease.
Wednesday, June 29 – 11:15 AM
You’ve probably heard enough about Adam Dunn by now so let’s talk about what is actually going right with respect to my money league team. Unlike in the early part of the season, my pitching has been lights out this month. Even I have to admit that I did a pretty nice job drafting starting pitching as three $1 guys, Erik Bedard, Anibal Sanchez and Scott Baker, make up half of my starting staff. My power, however, which I considered to be a strength back in April, has been absolutely non-existent lately. Man, do I wish I still had Chris Young. Was trading Young for Huston Street a mistake? As it turns out, Young, since getting dealt from my team in late-May, has raised his batting average by 30 points while launching six homers and swiping seven bags. But Street has racked up nine saves for me while posting solid ERA and WHIP numbers. I’m tempted to once and for all determine whether or not this trade was beneficial by comparing the two players’ stats since the deal, figuring out if the points gained in pitching outweigh the points lost in hitting, but I’ll pass on this work-intensive exercise. I’m kind of afraid to learn the answer and have a feeling it might just make me angry.
Wednesday, June 29 – 3:52 PM
I can’t say I’m surprised but Erik Bedard has just been placed on the DL with a sprained knee, an injury that has really come out of nowhere as there wasn’t any mention of this following his last start on Monday. My first reaction? Here we go again. But the more I think about it the more I see a silver lining. It’s not an arm injury. With the All-Star break coming up, there’s a decent chance he misses just two starts. But by now I know that all bets are off when it comes to Bedard’s health. Hopefully, this injury will be remembered as merely a minor setback in what has been a huge bounce back season for the Mariners’ southpaw.
Thursday, June 30 – 9:22 PM
Annoyed by losing out on Paul Goldschmidt a couple weeks ago in my NL-only keeper league, I’m about to put in a claim for Jameson Taillon. He’s one of the few top-20 guys listed on MLB.com’s top prospects list who is unowned in this league and I do have an open Minors slot on my roster, so I figure there’s little downside in making this move. The only problem? He’s not expected to reach the big leagues until 2013! I don’t care. His upside potential is said to be “Josh Beckett with better command” and I can own him through 2014 at a salary of five dollars. This is a no-brainer.
Thursday, June 30 – 11:30 PM
To think that I once considered my six dollar investment in Brian Matusz my best value pick goes to show you just how much can change in three months. Today, the promising lefty was demoted to the Minors following a four-start stretch in which he posted a 13.50 ERA and 2.59 WHIP. I’m beginning to think that he hasn’t fully recovered from the intercostal muscle strain that sidelined him for all of April and May. This is clearly not the same pitcher who went 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA over his final 11 starts last year. I’ll keep him on my roster for now though. Maybe he figures things out and makes a contribution during the stretch run.
Saturday, July 2 – 10:18 AM
In the past, I’ve had a tendency to over-manage my starting pitching staff, benching all non-aces in unfavorable matchups. And I missed out on a good amount of solid outings to the point where I was hurting my team more than helping it. So this year I decided to change my approach. If a guy is pitching well, he deserves my trust regardless of the matchup. Such was the case with Anibal Sanchez, who got roughed up by the Rangers last night to the tune of seven runs over 3 2/3 innings. This marked just the third time in 17 starts this season that Anibal has allowed more than three runs. But why was this awful performance especially tough for me to swallow? Because at least a dozen other concerned owners who wrote in to the Fantasy 411 blog asking me if they should pitch Sanchez actually followed my advice. That’s all right. I can take the heat.
When I shelled out 27 bucks for Adam Dunn on draft day, I couldn’t possibly have expected that in early-June I’d be seriously considering benching him. I’m not one to make rash decisions but I have to admit that I’m rapidly approaching my breaking point. With only nine starting hitter slots, quality options are always available on the waiver wire in this league, and Mark Trumbo is looking awfully enticing. He’ll provide me with the power I’m missing from Dunn, and while his .262 average is nothing special, it’s 83 points higher than Dunn’s .179 mark! On batting average alone I should be able to gain some roto points. OK, I’ll put in a claim for Trumbo and give Dunn a few more days to get his act together before I determine his fate.
Maybe I should think about radically altering my approach to fantasy baseball and turn into the trigger-happy owner who benches a top-flight player after a couple of lousy weeks. That guy would be in a much better position than I’m in right now. Does this game actually reward impatience? Maybe I should start valuing the early-season numbers a lot more than the names.
Wednesday, June 8 – 3:30 PMLet’s face it, when you’re in first place it’s a lot tougher to make trades, especially in a non-keeper league. No owner wants to be the one who brings you closer to a championship, even if the trade would significantly improve his own roster. Here’s my problem. It’s a nice problem to have but a frustrating one nonetheless. Now that Andrew Bailey is back from the DL, I own six healthy closers but can only start four of them. After drafting Francisco Rodriguez, Jose Valverde, Joel Hanrahan and Bailey, I was able to scoop up both Kyle Farnsworth and Matt Capps off the waiver wire. I really didn’t need to make these pickups but figured that I could deal a closer or two at some point down the road once I built up a huge lead in saves. Well, I’m at that point right now and it seems like no one wants to trade with me no matter the offer. I figured I’d try to buy low on Carlos Gonzalez and offered the Gonzalez owner, who happens to be very weak in saves, Rodriguez along with the revitalized Bartolo Colon and the red-hot Michael Morse for Gonzalez. Rejected. And the guy doesn’t even send me a counteroffer! The least he could do is either tell me what he would be looking for in a deal for Car-Go or admit that he simply doesn’t want to do business with me because I’m in first place. Although I don’t really have a huge need in any one area, an outfield upgrade would be nice and it’s really a shame to see all these saves waste away on my bench. I might as well get something for them, right? I’ll continue to float offers out there but if nothing comes of this it’s not the worst thing in the world. Don’t get me wrong, wasting saves is a real bummer, but at least I’m preventing other teams from earning them. Sometimes, good defense is the best offense.
Friday, June 10 – 11:15 PMRemember Brandon Lyon? You know, the guy who absolutely ruined my ERA and WHIP during the first month of the season before he hit the DL? Well, thanks to the fine work by his replacement, Mark Melancon, and even more importantly the absence of Lyon, I’ve made up serious ground in those two departments. And now I hear the horrifying news that Lyon, who returned to action today, will soon be re-inserted into the closer role. You’ve gotta be kidding me! Since Lyon’s last appearance on May 4, Melancon has pitched to a stellar 1.72 ERA while converting on six of his seven save chances. I mean, do the Astros really want to start blowing ninth inning leads again? Even though I own both relievers, this is terrible. I simply can’t afford many more of those Lyon disaster outings. Oh, and by the way, Lyon served up a homer to Chipper Jones tonight and Houston manager Brad Mills offered a rather humorous quote afterward. “It was good to get Lyon in the game, get some of the rust off him,” Mills said. All I have to say is good luck with that.
Saturday, June 11 – 10:35 AM
My money league squad is on quite a roll. Considering that I’ve spent most of the year in 10th place out of 13 teams, the climb to 8th place has been an awfully fun ride. My patience in Kelly Johnson has paid off as he’s on a power tear and Andrew McCutchen is batting .366 over the past four weeks. In the last week, my pitching has really picked it up, recording a 3.58 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 68 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings. With only three steals in the past two weeks, speed is definitely an area of concern. But this might only be a short-term issue as Hanley is expected to return early next week and I still have Desmond Jennings waiting in the wings. Does the Rays’ organization care at all about my fantasy team? What are they waiting for? Bring the kid up!
Is seven bucks out of a $100 FAAB budget too high a price for Charlie Blackmon? Some might say yes. They’ll point to Blackmon’s uncertain playing time status once Dexter Fowler returns from the DL, but in my NL-only keeper league, I’m so devoid of quality outfield options that I think it’s a risk worth taking. Actually, considering that Blackmon was batting .337 with 10 homers, 49 RBIs, 12 steals and 49 runs scored through 58 games at Triple-A Colorado Springs, I’m rather surprised that my bid turned out to be the winning one. Look, I’ve been very fortunate to catch lightning in a bottle with Laynce Nix, and one would think that it’s only a matter of time before the career part-timer will fizzle out. Jonny Gomes’ measly batting average was tolerable back in April when he belted six homers. But he’s hit just one homer since and I’m still trying to figure out why I’ve kept him in my lineup all this time. Outside of Justin Upton, the rest of my group can be summed up in one word: uninspiring. Meet Roger Bernadina, Nyjer Morgan and Gerardo Parra. Blackmon is certainly a welcome addition. But do I start him right away or hold off a week? And if I do start him, who do I bench? This could turn out to be a huge mistake but I’m sitting Blackmon just for this week. Let’s see how he adjusts to big league pitching. My current patchwork collection of outfielders has helped me reach first place. Let’s show them some respect!
Tuesday, June 14 – 11:15 PM
I’m a big fan of Adam LaRoche. For some reason this guy is always undervalued, and while he is streaky, LaRoche finishes every year with roughly the same numbers. 25 homers and 80-plus RBIs are a given, yet LaRoche goes undrafted in many 12-team mixed leagues and even gets overlooked in non-mixed formats. For the NL-only owner like myself who shies away from spending big on an elite first baseman, LaRoche has always been an ideal consolation prize. So for the third straight season in my NL-only league I drafted LaRoche. Too bad this is the first season that I will regret it. Today it was announced that LaRoche, who has been on the DL since late-May, will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Injuries in non-mixed leagues are an absolute killer, even at a position as deep as first base. In reality, no position is all that deep in a non-mixed league, and it’s often the case that staying healthy is what separates the fifth place team from the first place team. Come to think of it, the fact that I reside in the middle of the pack despite owning Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and LaRoche (notice how I’m not mentioning our friend Brandon Lyon) is a flat-out miracle.
Anyway, I’ve got a problem here. My current starting first baseman is Brad Hawpe. Enough said. There was a time in the not so distant past when Hawpe was a valuable fantasy commodity, but an injury-plagued 2010 campaign combined with the 180-degree move from Coors Field to Petco Park has reduced him to a marginal option, even in an NL-only league. I need to make a trade here. Relying on Hawpe is simply asking for trouble. But how exactly does one go about making a deal in a league where there is no such thing as roster depth? There’s a reason why I’ve made just one trade in my three years of NL-only play. This is challenging stuff.
Wednesday, June 15 – 5:37 PMThere’s no way around it. My decision to sit Charlie Blackmon was, plain and simply, the wrong one. Through three games this week, he’s hitting .583 (7-for-12) with three RBIs and three steals. But I’m not upset. I can stomach a few days worth of wasted stats if it means that I’ve found myself a long-term solution to my outfield dilemma. Now, word is that the Rockies might keep Fowler down in the Minors even after he returns to action so that he can rediscover his stroke. Blackmon’s future is looking very bright as he will be given every opportunity to stay in the Majors for good.
Friday, June 17 – 5:19 PMPart of the reason why I was a little intimidated when invited to join an NL-only keeper league this year is that I’m far from a Minor League guru. Usually, I learn about the next great prospect when the rest of the fantasy world does, which in most cases is a few months before their eventual call-up. But to have continuous success in this league, being a year or two ahead of the curve could pay off big down the road as players can be signed to long-term contracts. So last week, I spent some time perusing fantasy sites in search of the next hidden gem, and I found one. His name is Paul Goldschmidt and his Minor League numbers jump off the page. He hits for average, he hits for power and this season he has more walks than strikeouts. Placing a $0 bid on Goldschmidt came with zero risk and the consensus opinion was that he would be up in the Majors by 2012. But I was in more need for the immediate help of Blackmon, and since there was only one player who I was ready to drop, I prioritized the Blackmon bid. Well, I won Blackmon, so the Goldschmidt pickup would have to wait another week.
At least that was the plan. This week, another team decided to place a $0 bid on Goldschmidt, and since he trails me in the standings he won the tiebreaker. I think it had something to do with a recent quote by Diamondbacks’ GM Kevin Towers about Goldschmidt possibly being called up around the All-Star break. Thanks a lot, Kevin.
Monday, May 30 – 10:02 PM
If the events of today are any indication, it’s looking like I might be in store for a disastrous week. While my lineup decisions were based on careful thought and sound reasoning, the timing could not have been worse. But I can’t beat myself up over it. What can you do?
Jason Hammel had given up a combined two earned runs over his previous two outings spanning 13 2/3 innings. He was entering a two-start week with rather favorable matchups, at the Dodgers and at the Giants. Considering that he sported a 1.71 ERA on the road this season, this decision was nothing short of a no-brainer. So what does Hammel do? He allows a season-high seven earned runs, failing to make it through the fifth inning for the first time all year. While we’re on the subject of Hammel, here’s a fun fact:
Jason Hammel 2011 Stats (11 Starts): 3.89 ERA 1.34 WHIP
Jason Hammel 2011 Stats while in my starting lineup (3 Starts): 8.50 ERA 1.61 WHIP
Now that’s what you call great timing! The good news? There’s a decent chance that Hammel pitches to a sub-8.50 ERA on Sunday when he faces San Francisco.
Tuesday, May 31 – 3:45 PMAnd you thought we were finished talking about timing, right? I’m really glad I chose to start Jason Kubel over Johnny Damon this week. Despite the fact that Damon batted .409 for me last week (9-for-22), his counting stats, no homers, two RBIs and two runs scored, were simply unacceptable. So I went with Kubel and he lands up leaving yesterday’s game early due to a sprained foot and is not in the lineup tonight. Best case scenario for me is he misses a couple of games. Worst case? He goes on the DL and I’m forced to waste a starting spot for six straight days. You gotta love these Monday injuries in weekly lineup leagues.
Thursday, June 2 – 7:42 AMUnlike Jason Kubel, Hanley Ramirez got injured on a Sunday. But even though I knew that a stiff back would keep him out of Monday’s lineup, I decided to start him anyway. I mean, was I really going to sit Hanley if there was a chance he would miss only a game or two? No way! This sounded like more of a day-to-day thing anyway. So a day went by, then another day, then another day, and it’s sounding more and more likely that Ramirez will indeed require a DL stint. Time for me to make contingency plans. One look at the available shortstop pool and I’m reminded why I opted to spend nearly one-fifth of my auction budget on Hanley, seeing him as an ultra-safe choice at an ultra-thin position. And what a mistake that was. What has happened to this guy? Four straight seasons of at least 21 homers, 92 runs scored and a .300 batting average, and now this? A .210 average with four homers through 48 games from a player who was taken no later than second overall in 99 percent of drafts this year? I’ve actually been chatting with several fellow Hanley owners over the past few days and one of them uttered a sentence that would have sounded absurd a mere two months ago. “I’m kinda hoping he goes on the DL so that he can stop hurting my team,” this disgruntled owner said. Wow. One thing’s for sure, I definitely picked the wrong season to become a first-time Hanley owner.
Anyway, back to my waiver wire shortstop search. Jamey Carroll, Cliff Pennington, J.J. Hardy and Jason Bartlett are the best options. Ugh. I’ll go with Bartlett. He’s batting just .249 but at least he has nine steals.
Thursday, June 2 – 4:50 PMAs I feared, the Twins have officially placed Jason Kubel on the DL. Not only does this leave me short a starting outfielder for the next few days, but it presents quite a dilemma. Six DL-eligible players for three DL slots. This means that three of my seven bench spots are now occupied by guys who are giving me absolutely nothing right now. And there’s a long list of players I’d like to pick up, highlighted by Anthony Rizzo, who is tearing up Triple-A and could be called up fairly soon. I’m seriously considering dumping Jonathan Broxton. What do I need him for? All he’s done this season is cause me grief and I do already have three closers. Has the time finally arrived to simply cut my losses with Broxton and put that roster spot to better use? I’m thinking yes.