Fantasy baseball is a fun game (and when I say "game," I mean "obsession") but every so often an action or decision sucks the air out of your league. For me, it happens whenever the league rules -- or their interpretation -- stand in front of the competition. It's like an ump making a bad call that destroys the relevance of the play on the field. This happened this past weekend in my NL-only keeper league because of an interpretation of the rules regarding AL/NL trades. In our league, if you lose a player to the AL, you get back the talent coming into the NL for the rest of the season at the same salary as the player you lost. Also, it's the commissioner's discretion to award more than one player to the team owner if the players' respective values warrant it, but this is not an everyday occurrence.
So one owner lost
So I'm stuck with figuring which is worst: being totally ignored, having someone pull the wool over other players' eyes with bad stats, or being in a league where no one realizes Moss' value will explode for the rest of the year because he has a starting gig. Wait, is it me?
Along the same line, it's not just fantasy baseball in which we scratch our heads at the personnel decisions made during the season. Here are eight of the more interesting decisions made this year (my "crazy eights"), and how they've panned out.
If one issue has dominated the thoughts of fantasy players with respect to starting pitching, it's been this one. As we've discussed many times in this column, it takes a good 18 months to recover from Tommy John surgery. But most general managers think they're also doctors and rush pitchers back as quickly as 12 months later. This not only derails the recovery process, but can result in further (and permanent) injury.
In his three April starts, Liriano had an ERA of 11.32. He then got sent down and started to improve his pitching (I use the term "improve his pitching" deliberately: his velocity was down, but he got better at getting outs without his best stuff). He did win his first game back, giving up no runs, and for the first time this year recording more strikeouts than walks. Liriano is, of course, gone in every league, and I watched him sit on the waiver wire after he was initially dropped only to watch someone else pick him up. Just proves that fantasy baseball is a marathon, not a sprint (and hopefully in better air than that found in Beijing). But to be fair (and I like to be fair), the Twins mismanaged his return before his 18 months were up, but likely did the right thing waiting to bring him back for a game where he would succeed.
Just keep two things in mind: (1) Liriano's game against Cleveland may be the high point of his pitching the rest of this year as the Indians are awful against southpaws (they're last in the AL in AVG against lefties), and (2) he is not at full strength and will get shelled a couple of times. So if you're in a non-keeper league and want to sell high, that's not a bad idea, either.
And the rest of the NL Central agrees. In addition to the Cardinals, the Brewers and Pirates have also experimented with the lineup change. While in fantasy leagues the batting stats of pitchers are rarely used, any improvement in run support for a pitcher has direct bearing on his ability to win games.
Oh, and if your pitcher is used regularly as a pinch hitter, trade him immediately as nothing good comes of this. Just ask the struggling
Near the beginning of the year I wrote that Chamberlain should be left in the bullpen because stretching him out this early for such a pressure-packed situation could lead to all sorts of problems, physical and mental. The Yankees front office seemed to agree, but then
He's approaching 100 innings pitched, which, to a reliever, is still a lot of work. And as I write this (and almost on cue) he's coming out of a game with what looks like a shoulder problem. We can only hope Hank knows a good doctor as well.
To be fair,
The Diamondbacks made the decision to stick with the post-surgery Davis over phenom
Sometimes we use a combination of intuition and luck to predict the problems a team will have. Other times, we look at the 20-foot sign with big flashing neon letters. For those of us who said the Tigers had to fix their bullpen and couldn't win it on offense and starting pitching alone, we used the latter technique. It was obvious that
But to make matters worse, when they did finally make a move for relief pitching, it was giving up a future Hall of Fame catcher for a guy with more career blown saves than saves and an ERA over 4.00. Was there no package the Tigers could put together for
Hey, the Astros got a good deal in
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