There comes a point during every fantasy season where you have to heed the words of the great Andy Dufresne. You either get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.
My NFBC main event team has been merely treading water for the past couple of weeks. Yes, we are still in first place in our league, but we’ve been bouncing back and forth between 25th and 45th in the overall competition. And while for some people, winning the 15-team league prize would be a tremendous accomplishment, I set my sights on the big prize.
If our goal is to climb to the standings over the remaining nine-and-a-half weeks of the season, we need to make our move now. One of the ways that we felt we could best accomplish this is to examine how we were using our bench spots and try to get rid of any dead weight.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the roster as it stood heading into this previous weekend’s free agent bidding (FAAB) period:
C: Russell Martin and Josh Thole
1B: Ryan Howard
2B: Danny Espinosa
SS: Elvis Andrus
3B: Michael Young
OF: Carl Crawford, Corey Hart, Mike Morse, Carlos Beltran and Will Venable
CI: Casey Kotchman
MI: Zack Cozart
UTIL: Carlos Guillen
SP: Justin Verlander, Chris Carpenter, Matt Garza, Michael Pineda, Ryan Vogelsong, Scott Baker and Joe Saunders
RP: Joel Hanrahan and Drew Storen
Bench: Ty Wigginton, Justin Turner, Brandon Belt, Vladimir Guerrero, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jake Peavy and Nick Blackburn
Here’s our thought process as we tried to decipher what to do for the free agent period, and how to best structure our roster going forward. Keep in mind that our biggest weaknesses are batting average, runs and stolen bases on offense, and wins on the pitching side.
The catcher position is obviously a concern, but in leagues this deep where 30 catchers are started, there just aren’t any quality options available. Rod Barajas was the best option out there, and at least represents someone who’s getting near full time at bats and has some power potential. Thole has been conceding a lot of time to Ronny Paulino, but at least won’t kill you in average. In the end, we decided it was mildly worth the risk and threw $2 at him. He ended up going for $2 to a team lower in the standings and we were the runner up.
Another area that we wanted to try to upgrade was corner infielder. Casey Kotchman is nice and all, and he’s hitting .330, but provides little to nothing in the counting stats. The recent deal of Wilson Betemit to the Tigers to play third base intrigued us. He’s someone who’s shown the ability to hit for average and power, and given the chance for full-time at-bats could be an asset going forward. We bid $28 on him and now welcome him to the squad in place of Kotchman.
Lonnie Chisenhall is another guy who’s been disappointing for us. He just hasn’t quite provided the spark that we were hoping for. What our team really lacks, is a quality outfield option with potential to make up ground in runs and stolen bases. Will Venable has been better of late, but doesn’t play at all vs. left-handed pitching. Ty Wigginton is our super sub as he qualifies everywhere (OF, 1B, 2B, 3B), and he’s currently our only other outfielder on the team. The one guy available that I really liked was Lorenzo Cain. Provided Melky Cabrera or Jeff Francoeur get moved at the deadline, he could be an incredibly valuable player the remainder of the season. Getting him for $11 felt like a steal.
Justin Turner is another guy who was providing sporadic production, but just wasn’t doing enough to warrant being in our lineup full time. While he doesn’t have any experience above Double-A, we felt that Jose Altuve could be a high impact guy, and should at least score some runs hitting second for the Astros. We put a $27 bid on him which we also won.
Finally, Jake Peavy continues to struggle to the point where he isn’t even playable for us lately. The back end of our rotation is already somewhat weak with Joe Saunders (who we shouldn’t pitch at home) and Nick Blackburn (who we shouldn’t pitch on the road). What we needed was another decent spot play who we could throw in there on occasion and not worry about him blowing up our ratios. Enter, John Lannan.
So as of now, Venable/Wigginton will continue to occupy the fifth outfielder spot until Cain gets called up, or Belt gains his eligibility there.
With Cozart on the DL, Altuve steps into the middle infielder role.
Betemit/Belt/Wiggy will all see time at corner infielder depending on matchups and playing time in an effort to maximize at-bats.
And the resurgent Carlos Guillen will man our Utility spot until Guerrero is healthy, and then will still see at-bats at middle infielder.
Hopefully now, our team is poised to make a run at glory. We will continue to look for an upgrade to our second catcher position. Always keep looking for another quality arm to add to the back end of our rotation, and keep plugging away trying to maximize at bats and climb that overall leaderboard.
On a more important note, I’d just like to publicly give my thoughts and prayers out to Dave Cameron. If you’re unfamiliar with his work over at FanGraphs, you’re definitely missing out as he is one of the finest writers in the industry. He has recently been diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, a particularly nasty member of the cancer family. As he battles the disease with the zeal of a challenger, please keep him in our thoughts and prayers as well. (To read more about his story or drop him some kind words of encouragement, http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/when-probability-is-not-helpful/ ).
Thanks again, and as always your input is always appreciated, leave some comments!