Keep it on the DL

I interrupt this usually esoteric discussion of relatively advanced fantasy baseball strategy to issue a very simple, practical reminder. Make use of your DL spots.

I always find it surprising how many otherwise savvy fantasy players neglect to expand their rosters by utilizing the disabled list. Your DL spots are roster spots. Quite simply, they represent the capability to claim control of potentially valuable assets.

I’m often a proponent of drafting players who are on the DL late in drafts. The price of such a move is usually quite cheap, as all you are sacrificing is the difference between one of your last picks – a player likely close to replacement value – for your pick of replacement player. For those in leagues that do not use FAAB, once the season begins, the price of obtaining a player on the DL goes from cheap to free.

Many owners may already be dropping and adding, tweaking their rosters and chasing this year’s frogs turned princes. Well, before you drop Luke Gregerson to pick up Jordan Walden (if this comes as a surprise to you, make sure you stay in tune with Paul Singman on Closer Watch), scour the waiver wire for lottery tickets. Is Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, or Chase Utley floating amongst the free agents? How about Grady Sizemore, Johnny Cueto, Domonic Brown, or Brad Lidge?

When you drop your next player, before picking up his replacement, pick up the best DL-ed player and stash him on your DL. Then proceed to pick up your dropped player’s active replacement. Are you in a keeper league where Stephen Strasburg is not owned? Pick him up, maybe you won’t need the room on your DL and will be able to hold him all year so that you control him as a potential keeper.

Many of these players will not ultimately pay dividends, but some will, and they’re free. If one of your regular players gets hurt and his DL stint is projected to be brief, then drop one of your stashed assets and make room for the player most likely to help you the most and in the nearest future.

Rostering disabled players is really about making the most out of your roster spots and keeping potentially valuable assets away from others. Sometimes an injured player will become valuable simply for healing. It is quite likely that if Chase Utley or Johan Santana return this season, they will hit peak value on the day they debut. You may not be optimistic about their prospects for performing to their established levels, but somebody in your league will be. Injured players are potential assets, potential depth, and potential trade chips, and, I repeat, they’re usually extremely cheap or free.

If your league allowed you to hold the rights to a few minor league players, you wouldn’t forfeit that privilege, would you? Even though it isn’t particularly probable that any single one of those players will come up and make a huge impact on your team, you’d be a fool to not to sign up for your lottery tickets.

Personally, I don’t play the actual lottery. Even with the potential payout, the odds are just too steep for me to find it sensible. Many people do find it a worthwhile gamble though and I don’t really blame them either. This means, if you have the DL space, it may even be worth throwing a few bucks at an injured player in a league with FAAB. But, one thing I do know, is that if somebody gave me a free lotto ticket, I’d thank him/her, put it in my pocket, and the check the numbers the next day.

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  1. Mark Geoffriau said...

    This is a great reminder—I blame Yahoo for the fact that more people don’t use this strategy.

    Now, Yahoo lets you drop a player directly from your DL spot. Years ago, however, Yahoo would not let you do this—you had to move the player out of the DL spot before you could drop him.

    As a result, rostering an extra injured player as a “lottery ticket” was very risky—if one of your regulars was injured, and you needed that DL spot back, you had to first drop some other player (possibly more valuable) in order to move the lottery ticket out of the DL spot.

  2. Brad Johnson said...

    Way ahead of you Derek, I snatched up Scott Downs in my home league this morning just for this purpose. I tried to grab Frank Francisco too but came up $3 short on the FAAB bid.

    As Mark points out, Yahoo has made it a lot easier to use those DL slots now.

  3. Red Nichols said...

    Is Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, or Chase Utley floating amongst the free agents?

    I think you mean: Are Johan, Jake etc.

    You amateur scribes may know your baseball but you’re contributing to the wholesale destruction of the English language.

  4. Mark Geoffriau said...


    “With compound subjects joined by or/nor, the verb agrees with the subject nearer to it.”

    See #4 here:

    Therefore, since the compound subject “Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Brandon Webb, or Chase Utley,” is joined by “or,” using a singular verb is correct.

  5. Derek Ambrosino said...

    Thanks, Mark.

    Here’s another example of such a sentence:

    Red, is your left or right foot tasting good right now? smile

    And, I do recall the glitch you are talking about.

    As a sidenote, for fantasy basketball purposes, it was weird when the NBA did away with the DL. Their remedy was just to allow 15 players on each team’s roster, but allow the team to only make 12 of those players active for any given game. Many of us just added an extra roster spot to account for this. If MLB did away with the DL and then commishes just added an extra roster spot or two to leagues to compensate, I wonder how owners would use these spots. Would they just try to add more healthy and productive depth, or would they use the spot ostensibly as a DL.

    …Right now, my choice is an injured potential star at that position, or nothing at all. But, if I had the choice of an injured Chase Utley or an additional replacement level player on my roster to maximize my ABs and play match-ups, that would be a more interesting question.

  6. birrrdy! said...

    Oh SNAP!  Red, you arrogant dumazzz.  The beautiful irony of your comment, too, is not lost on the rest of us…  smile

  7. Brad Johnson said...

    fwiw, it was Mark’s source. Personally, I think worrying about grammar is asinine. If our editors don’t catch the error, it probably wasn’t important.

  8. Red Nichols said...

    Leave it to a SABRmetrician to fall back on a pedantic argument with an online source as the authority. I’m guessing you also toss around words like ‘amongst’ on auction day.

  9. Brad Johnson said...

    “Correct” grammar is only important so long as it does not disrupt the meaning of the statement or the flow of the words. This particular example is utterly dismissible.

  10. Derek Ambrosino said...

    We are online, Red, in case the keyboard sitting in front of you isn’t enough of a clue. I’m not sure what other form of citation you would have preferred Brad offer. Should he have scanned a page from Strunk and White (my real language pedant friends all proclaim them butchers, by the way) and put that up for you to see? What if he sent you a link to Elements of Style online? Would that be bush too, because it’s an “online” source?

    Thus far, Brad’s online source is being held in comparison to your offering – of no source whatsoever. So, feel free to post one of your own, though it will be one of those frivolous online sources, so you may prefer to mail me a book or some sort of papyrus scroll.

    By the way, I don’t even get why this should be contentious issue. The compound subject is comprised entirely of single forms of the (proper nouns). I could see the sentence tipping your radar if I had said, “Is the manager or his his players…” However, that would have been correct as well.

    BTW, I’m not really irked or offended at all by the nitpicking, I just find this kind of amusing. Plus, when you celebrate having successful dental surgery with 7 hours of binge drinking, online arguments about grammar are about as rigorous an activity as you can muster. Let that be lesson to all you kids out there…

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