Sunday, July 31 – 9:35 PM
So much for saving all those NL-only FAAB dollars for a high impact player getting traded from the AL to the Senior Circuit. The MLB trade deadline has come and gone and who’s the big prize? None other than Derrek Lee! What a bummer. Lee’s first career season in the American League has been a rather mediocre one as the veteran first baseman is batting .246 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs through 85 games with Baltimore. I’ve always been a believer that non-mixed league owners shouldn’t go out of their way to conserve most of their FAAB bucks for the trade deadline with the idea that they’ll be greatly rewarded. It’s just too risky and limits their ability to add useful pieces throughout the first four months of the season. Anyway, I might as well just about empty my bank account for Lee. Who knows, maybe he finds his stroke now that he’s back in the more familiar league. I’m bidding 42 out of my remaining 44 dollars on the newest Pirate. First base has been a problem for me ever since Adam LaRoche went down. I could use all the help I can get.
Monday, August 1 – 7:12 AM
Whoa. At first, I wasn’t sure if I was reading this correctly. Late last night, minutes before my money league’s trading deadline, a mega-deal was agreed upon, a 4-for-4 swap between one owner way out of contention and another with an excellent chance of taking home some cash. And the more I break this down, the better I’m feeling about my Matt Kemp trade from last week, because the white flag owner is getting absolutely fleeced. I mean, this was the best he could do? Here’s the trade:
Felix Hernandez ($35)
Ian Kinsler ($26)
Jon Lester ($25)
B.J. Upton ($15)
Jered Weaver ($17)
Michael Brantley ($10)
Neil Walker ($5)
Jordan Zimmermann ($2)
I get it. Weaver is the best keeper in the deal. But did the guy really have to give up two aces, an upper-tier (yet overpaid) second baseman and a quality (yet inconsistent) outfielder for Weaver, two so-so keepers plus Brantley? He’s simply not making the most out of his trade chips. I would’ve saved one or two of those players for use in a second trade rather than pay such a high price for Weaver. Maybe the pressure of working against a rapidly approaching deadline got to him and he figured that any deal was better than no deal. Waiting until the last minute to do something usually doesn’t work out too well in real life, and it certainly doesn’t work out well in fantasy baseball.
Tuesday, August 2 – 11:42 PM
Want to get me in a bad mood? Mention the name Paul Goldschmidt. Yesterday, the kid made his big league debut and tonight he hits his first homer, a towering shot off a pretty good pitcher named Tim Lincecum. With Brandon Allen now in Oakland, Goldschmidt will receive everyday at-bats for the rest of the season and most likely the rest of his Major League career. And I let him slip right through my fingers.
Friday, August 5 – 4:36 PM
Never underestimate the power of hype. Not to say that Brett Lawrie won’t be a very good big league hitter. Hey, he could be a perennial All-Star. But for now, he’s just an ultra-talented prospect who has yet to play a game in the Majors. That will change tonight as the 21-year-old is set to don a Blue Jays uniform for the first time. And fantasy owners should be excited. But let’s not get carried away.
Here’s a sampling of Lawrie-related questions sent to us at the MLB.com Fantasy 411 this week. Some are reasonable, others are pushing it, and the last one is flat-out crazy. Keep in mind that these are all for non-keeper leagues.
•Lawrie or Freese?
•Lawrie or Kelly Johnson the rest of the way?
•Am I foolish for sticking with Ackley and not rushing to the waiver wire to pick up Lawrie?
•Pick up Lawrie and drop Valencia?
•Howie Kendrick or Brett Lawrie?
•Between 2B and SS I have Tulo, Rollins, Utley, and Kinsler. Would you swap any for Lawrie?
Now let’s see how long it takes for everyone to jump off the Lawrie bandwagon after he starts off 1-for-15.
What can I say…… I love my job.
It’s about time. The Desmond Jennings Triple-A hostage situation is over! As a Jennings owner in a keeper league, I’ve spent more than a month thinking a call-up was imminent only to be disappointed and see my team sink further and further in the stolen base category. I mean, what were the Rays waiting for? Back-to-back cycles? In 89 Minor League games this season, Jennings posted a .374 on-base percentage with 68 runs, 17 steals and a surprisingly high 12 homers. Jennings will undoubtedly be in my lineup come Monday, but with so much ground to gain in steals, I’m not sure he’ll help me much in 2011.
Saturday, July 23 – 9:33 PMEveryone seems to like Jose Altuve. Standing only 5’ 7’’ and weighing a mere 170 pounds, Altuve has been compared by many to Dustin Pedroia; diminutive in size but makes the most of his ability and plays the game hard from start to finish. I don’t know a ton about him but this all sounds good. His 2011 Minor League numbers (.389-10 HR-59 with 59 runs and 24 steals over 87 games) sound real good. Altuve made his big league debut this past Wednesday and the Astros say he’ll play every day from here on out. The fact that he’s making the jump from Double-A to the Majors is a bit concerning, but a middle infielder who can hit for average and steal bases is plenty appealing, particularly in a non-mixed league. Here’s the problem though. I only have $44 left out of a $200 season budget, and Altuve’s bound to go for big money, even though this NL-only league is a non-keeper. I’m putting in a token bid of $6 but there’s no way I win this unless six of the other nine owners forget that FAAB bidding runs on both Saturday and Sunday.
Tuesday, July 26 – 11:24 AM
With my mixed keeper league’s trade deadline less than a week away and my chances of finishing in the money close to zero, I’m ready to do something drastic. I just proposed a trade that will undoubtedly hurt me for this year but I think will benefit me heading into 2012 and beyond. Matt Kemp is my target. I’ve always been a big fan of Kemp, even before this monster season, and his recent mini-slump (.229-2-7 RBI 1 SB over his last 13 games), if you can even call it that, has done little to change my opinion. In fact, I’m still regretting my decision to pull out of the Kemp bidding on draft day only to see him go for a very reasonable 30 bucks to the team who, coincidentally enough, currently resides in first place. I want Kemp badly, and since my 2011 campaign is all but over, I’m willing to overpay a little to get him. So my offer is this: I give Andrew McCutchen ($28) and Matt Cain ($17) for Kemp ($30) and Daniel Hudson ($10). I like McCutchen a lot but going forward I’m not convinced that he can develop into much more than a 25-home run hitter. Kemp, on the other hand, will be a 30-plus home run guy for years to come and should provide just as many if not more steals. Cain at $17 is actually pretty nice value but since he always flies under the radar due to his routinely low win totals, I don’t think I’ll need to pay much more than 20 bucks to get him back next year. And Hudson is a solid young starting pitcher with tremendous upside. Can I pull off this deal? Stay tuned.
Tuesday, July 26 – 2:32 PM
Rejected. “Decent offer,” he says, “but there’s not enough separation between Hudson and Cain.” OK. So I’m scanning his roster to find a suitable replacement for Hudson. Jeremy Hellickson? He’s been impressive in his first full big league season but what’s the deal with the low strikeout rate? After whiffing well over a batter per inning during his Minor League career and registering an 8.18 K/9 rate in 10 games with the Rays last year, Hellickson sports a mediocre 5.99 K/9 rate this season. Honestly, I’m a little worried about this. But at 24, the kid is bound to improve in this department. Plus, the former Minor League player of the Year makes for a fine keeper at $9. Since I’m really focused on the future anyway, I’ll go ahead and counter. McCutchen and Cain for Kemp and Hellickson. I’m not bending any more than this.
Tuesday, July 26 – 5:42 PM
Accepted. Now the obligatory post-trade remorse is kicking in. I got the best player in the deal in Kemp, but maybe I gave up too much. Sounds like the Rays will be limiting Hellickson’s innings down the stretch by giving him extra days off between starts. Great. And in a weekly league, this is especially bad news. Forget about those two-start weeks. But I keep reminding myself that this trade was made with the future in mind. I need to calm down.
Thursday, July 28 – 10:26 AM
What should you do when you receive a trade offer that appears too good to be true? Do you accept it immediately or wait an hour or two to make it look like you thought long and hard about it and, while it was a tough call, you ultimately decided to accept. Well, I just hit the “Accept” button on a trade proposal in my NL-only keeper league. I was actually in a meeting when I first saw it while pulling out my Droid to check my e-mail, and couldn’t get back to my desk soon enough. This one owner, who is out of contention, is waving the white flag and dangling some pretty appealing players in return for attractive keeper contracts. So he offers me the newest Blue Jay, Colby Rasmus, for Kyle Blanks, who is signed through next year at a cost of $2. Since I’m currently in first place, this is a no-brainer. Yeah, Rasmus is only a rental, as he will no longer be in the player pool next season, but I think he’ll benefit greatly from a fresh start in a hitter-friendly ballpark and with a manager who doesn’t hate him. Blanks has potential, but he’s yet to live up to it and Petco Park won’t exactly turn those long fly balls into homers. Some owners in the league might question the fairness of this swap, but since he was the one who proposed it and is clearly on a mission to become the fantasy baseball equivalent to Wayne Huizenga, I think I’m in pretty good standing if this somehow leads to a veto discussion.
Friday, July 29 – 3:29 PM
If you’re wondering whether or not I’m still agonizing over the Matt Kemp trade, the answer is yes. I guess the fact that I feel neither overly positive nor overly negative about it means that it was a good deal as risks were taken on both sides. But I’m a little freaked out right now. Why? It happened a few minutes ago while answering a question on the Fantasy 411 blog. My trade advice was “You can do better,” but I made a typo. “You cain do better,” the sentence read.
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.
Monday, July 11 – 2:45 PM
It’s a strange feeling not having to set my lineups today for my weekly leagues, but it’s also a nice feeling, even though I don’t really know what to do with all this new found free time. What did I used to do before I started playing fantasy baseball? The scary thing is that I don’t really remember. I know a lot of “fantasy experts” advise people to use the All-Star break to assess your team to identify strengths and weaknesses, explore trade possibilities and send out some offers, but I’m going to try something different. I’m going to attempt to not even look at any of my teams for the next 48 hours, until I have to start thinking about my lineups for Thursday. I’ll let you know how this goes.
Wednesday, July 13 – 12:08 AM
Mission failed. Thanks to the Mets’ decision to trade Francisco Rodriguez to the Brewers, I’m staring at my lineup right now and wrestling with a monumental decision. My decision to add Bobby Parnell last week has proven to be a brilliant one, but there’s also the possibility the Amazin’s turn to the more experienced Jason Isringhausen (293 career saves) to handle closing duties. I’m in a very nice position right now as waivers get processed at around 1 AM each night. I doubt that anyone else in the league has already learned of this breaking news story and will put in a claim for Izzy in the next 52 minutes. So I have an opportunity here to secure a monopoly on the Mets’ closer market. But the more I scan my roster the more I’m realizing that I simply cannot afford to drop any of my current players. I’ll pass on Izzy and just hope that the Mets opt for Parnell’s upside over Isringhausen’s track record. There’s also the distinct possibility that the club trades Isringhausen. I say the chances are greater than 50/50 that Parnell will be the guy.
Saturday, July 16 – 11:40 AM
You know the type. He’s the owner in last place who can’t help but find an excuse. “Ah, I stopped paying attention to that league a long time ago,” he would explain. Or he might say something like “This is the league I care about the least of all my leagues because it’s not for money.” And it’s even worse when this owner is your commissioner! I mean, why did you start up this league if you knew you wouldn’t be able to put 100 percent effort into it? Well, in one of my NL-only leagues (which is billed as an experts league), our commish, who at this time finds himself in the cellar, posted a mid-season message last night wishing everyone good luck in the second half, apologizing for his team’s poor performance and vowing to right the ship. And that’s all fine and dandy. But then he goes on to say “Of course, like most of us I’m sure, I prioritize the time and effort I put into my leagues, and $ leagues naturally tend to take precedence.” Now, the funny thing is that this guy totally doesn’t fit the “bitter owner” label. He hasn’t abandoned his team, he doesn’t have any injured players in his active lineup. He’s doing the best he can with an underperforming roster that includes the likes of Dan Uggla, Casey McGehee and the injured Josh Johnson. No further explanation needed. This just isn’t his year. And that’s OK. I really wonder why he chose to make that statement. Sometimes, it’s better to just not say anything.
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.