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.
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.
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!
Monday, May 23 – 7:24 AM
It’s official! I turned 27 today. But I’m not one to make a big deal about birthdays, so let’s try this again. It’s official! My Chris Young for Huston Street trade proposal was accepted late last night. And, while I feel a sense of relief that I’ve finally acquired an established closer to go along with the promising but inexperienced Jordan Walden and the totally unproven Mark Melancon, there’s still an inkling of post-trade remorse. What if the streaky Young goes on a tear now and lands up besting last season’s stellar stat line? I doubt it. Although he might reach the 30-home run plateau, there’s no way that the free-swinger will bat as high as .257 again. And 28 steals? Forget about it. With just three swipes through roughly one-third of the season, he’ll be lucky if he gets 15. At least I try to convince myself of all this. The bottom line is that Young for Street is a trade that will most certainly help me in the long run. The one major downside is that instead of going with the same hitting lineup every week, Young’s absence has forced me to make a decision. Johnny Damon or Jason Kubel? Hmm. Despite the fact that he currently trails Damon in homers, Kubel offers greater power potential. But Damon is the more balanced player as he’ll also contribute in steals. I’ll go with Damon for this week, but this is a situation I’m going to monitor very closely. Johnny’s on a short leash.
Wednesday, May 25 – 5:35 PMEven though he has let me down plenty of times over the past few years by getting hurt when I needed him to stay healthy, I’m happy for Erik Bedard. I really am. Little was expected from the oft-injured lefty entering the season, but after getting off to a shaky start, he’s settled into quite a groove. Today, Bedard extended his scoreless inning streak to 15, and over his last five starts he’s 3-0 with a 1.09 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. When healthy, Bedard has always been very effective. The problem? He made a grand total of 30 starts from 2008 through 2010. This year, Bedard completely fell off the draft day map, and for good reason. He underwent three separate shoulder surgeries since his last regular season appearance in July of 2009. Nobody knew what to expect when he signed a non-guaranteed contract over the winter. Well, he’s tallied nine starts so far without incident. Back in April, I picked up Bedard in a couple of leagues and I’m reaping the rewards right now. And the great thing about this is that anything I get from him is gravy. We all know it’s just a matter of time before he hits the DL again but maybe I get lucky and he makes it to August.
Thursday, May 26 – 10:08 PMThat’s it! I’m adding Dustin Ackley. Over the past few days, Mike Moustakas and Brett Lawrie have been scooped up, and I had my eye on both of them. Due to limited roster flexibility, however, I was stuck. Do I burn a roster spot on a guy whose big league ETA remained up in the air or do I pass and gamble that he’ll stay on the wire for a little longer? Free agent pickups in this keeper league count $10 against the cap, so it’s not like it’s a can’t miss opportunity. Still, I’m kicking myself now for choosing to wait. I’ll go ahead and make the preemptive strike on Ackley and drop the useless Kenley Jansen as I no longer need to play the “potential closer” game. Ackley could actually be of some value to me this year should Kelly Johnson fail to wake up from his season-long funk. I’m not gonna just watch as my league mates grab all the top prospects.
Friday, May 27 – 10:34 PM
What’s going on with Adam Dunn? Although his batting average has always been mediocre at best, when it comes to home runs, few players, if any, have been more consistent over the past decade. Believe me, I wasn’t the only one who thought that a move to hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field could lead to his best season yet. 45 homers? Easy. Instead, through 47 games, Dunn is on pace to finish with 15 homers! Crazy, right? One really has to wonder if there’s something to the DH factor. The transition to a full-time designated hitter can be tough. We’ve seen it this year with Jorge Posada, but Dunn is a more extreme case. Unlike Posada, Dunn has spent his entire career in the National League and is simply not used to sitting in the dugout while his teammates take the field. It makes a lot of sense how a small slump can become a mega-slump if you’re constantly thinking about hitting. Look, Adam’s bat is bound to catch fire sometime soon. As a Dunn owner, I can only hope so. But he will need to go on quite a tear to reach the numbers we have come to expect.
Saturday, May 28 – 11:54 AM
Searching for a replacement for Buster Posey in my non-auction keeper league, I’m realizing why I chose him as a keeper in the first place. Reliable catchers are awfully hard to come by, and in leagues that start two backstops, good luck finding an acceptable option off the waiver wire. I settle on Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Hey, at least he starts almost regularly and is actually showing some signs of life with four homers and seven RBIs over his last seven games. It’s amazing what being in first place can do to your psyche. I’m disappointed that Buster could very well be out for the year, but if I were struggling in this league I would be angry. It’s nice to relax every once in awhile.