Navigating a team through the 27-week adventure that is the fantasy baseball season can be an arduous task. There will be plenty of roller coaster moments complete with mountain top highs and depressing, soul-searching lows. It’s extremely demoralizing to experience the latter in the first full week of the season.
That’s where I currently stand, though, as I’m left to pick up the shattered pieces after an abysmal Week Two performance.
I strolled through the first half of the week devoid of any legitimate hitting. My team had hit an unimaginable total of zero home runs heading into action on Friday.
Finally, it appeared as if my star first round pick, Jacoby Ellsbury had awakened from his slumber as he started the day 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. No sooner did I have the opportunity to appreciate his effort than I saw the misery that ensued as Reid Brignac came tumbling down on Ellsbury’s shoulder.
The early timetable has Ellsbury out for six to eight weeks, which is an absolutely crushing blow. In attempting to achieve my targets on draft day, Ellsbury had been penciled in for somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 home runs and 45 stolen bases. Oh, and doing so with a plus average, top-notch run totals and solid RBI numbers to boot.
There are few players capable of putting up those kinds of numbers, let alone available as free agents. This obviously won’t be a simple fix.
Hitting results: (297 AB) .253 AVG / 47 R / 4 HR / 31 RBI / 5 SB
Relative to targets: AVG – .037 (.238 compared to .275 target) / + 5.5 R / – 6.75 HR / – 4.5 SB
Even with the injury to Ellsbury, we still managed a solid total of 297 at-bats on the week. The power is obviously way under where we need it to be, but at least we managed four home runs over the weekend.
The average rebounded from an awful Week One, but is still far below the target. If this number is still sitting in the .240s after the next few weeks, I may have a real problem on my hands. Once you fall behind in average, it can be extremely difficult to make up the necessary ground.
The runs scored numbers were solid once again, and it’s the lone place on offense that I am ahead of pace. The steals numbers were a tad short, but still manageable. How they’ll react moving forward without Ellsbury is another story.
Chris Iannetta was the star of my offense for the week. In only 17 at-bats he managed to hit .353 with a pair of homers and a team leading seven RBI. Yunel Escobar, Hunter Pence and Melky Cabrera also turned in strong performances. Mat Gamel has failed to homer in the early going, but is contributing in other ways: He managed two stolen bases on the week.
Jesus Guzman hit just .095 on the week and has yet to homer or steal a base. He’s also in serious danger of losing his everyday job once Carlos Quentin returns. Ike Davis started off the season 1-for-22, but managed a two-hit day, including a home run, on Sunday. Angel Pagan, who started similarly slowly, came on over the weekend and grabbed his first stolen base.
Pitching results: (63.1 IP) 2 W / 52 K / 2 SV / 4.405 ERA / 1.532 WHIP
Relative to targets: -2wWins / + 4 K’s / – 0.25 SV / – 1.305 ERA (4.86 vs. 3.56) / -0.259 WHIP (1.484 vs. 1.225)
The pitching stared the week out strongly: Shaun Marcum pitched extremely well, earning a win on Monday and last week’s FAAB pickup Ross Detwiler followed with five shutout innings and a win of his own on Tuesday.
Sadly, those would be the only two victories we would acquire during the week. Dan Haren pitched poorly in his second consecutive outing, but still left the game with a 6-3 lead which his bullpen subsequently blew.
Similarly, Ricky Nolasco pitched decently in his five innings of work, leaving with a 4-2 lead of his own. Sadly again, the Marlins bullpen was unable to hold that lead and deliver the win.
Marcum and Detwiler each pitched well in their second outings of the week as well, though neither picked up a second victory.
After picking up three saves in the first weekend of games, the Mets didn’t provide Frank Francisco any chances this week. Mariano Rivera rebounded nicely from his Opening Day blowup and was perfect in his two save chances.
On the plus side, Ryan Vogelsong returned from the DL and pitched well in his first start. He will be a nice addition to the lineup next week.
Obviously, there are holes that need to be filled. Ellsbury is out for a considerable time, and there is no viable replacement to replace his production. Also, with Guzman struggling and soon to lose his everyday at-bats, we may soon need another bat to add to the lineup.
I’m always going to keep a minimum of nine starting pitchers on my roster, so those last two spots will remain pitchers, even if I seek to upgrade my rotation.
Upton should return on Friday, so he’ll slide in for Ellsbury. I have been playing Seth Smith in Upton’s place already, but ideally he would be a sixth outfielder on this team.
Casilla was drafted to be my middle infielder, but Ruben Tejada has outplayed him in the early going and is currently leading off for the Mets. With the production that he is providing, it makes Casilla expendable in my book.
Betemit and Loney are playing every day, though neither one is tearing the cover off of the ball. If I can use one of these spots to find a potential upgrade, I would do so.
As you can all see, the biggest need on my team right now is power. And there was a powerful bat, receiving close to full time at-bats, available. As a bonus, he’s also hitting in the middle of the order, which should provide RBI opportunities. That player: Travis Hafner. I didn’t think that he would require a large bid, and had settled somewhere in the $15-$20 range to acquire his services. After his towering homer on Sunday, I figured I would need to upgrade that bid to be safe. I may have overspent at $35, but I think he fills a glaring need on this team.
As far as the outfield is concerned, there are several names that I pondered as potential solutions to this Ellsbury problem. One that stood out was Andy Dirks. He’s playing every day against right handed pitching, and provides a decent blend of power/speed, although obviously much less than Ellsbury. Rick Ankiel has returned from the disabled list and looks to be the regular center fielder for the Nationals. Shelly Duncan has been hitting well in the early going, but could lose at-bats once Johnny Damon joins the team. Jarrod Dyson could provide an infusion of speed for a week or two, but then I would still be looking for another solution.
When all was said and done, I acquired my top choice of Dirks for $13. I think that deploying a combination of him and Seth Smith as my fifth outfielder should keep me in the game until Ellsbury returns, or until a better option presents itself. Duncan ended up going for $68 and Ankiel for $7, neither one with a runner-up bid.
As far as pitching side goes, I love the two starts that Joe Blanton has coming up this week at San Francisco and at San Diego. I also thought Kyle Drabek worthy of a bid, thought I knew I likely wouldn’t spend enough to acquire his services. Drabek ended up going for $227 with a runner- up bid of $27. Blanton went for $112 with a runner-up bid of $39.
I didn’t like any of the other two-start options available for this week, but I was intrigued by the double that Clayton Richard has lined up for in the following week. I snagged him for $2 and he’ll sit on my bench for a week until that juicy double.
Not having enough healthy players leaves me with few lineup decisions this week. Hafner will slide in at utility and give Guzman a rest. Smith and Dirks both have to play the first half of the week, and we’ll slide Upton in for one of them over the weekend.
As far as the pitching match-ups are concerned, the final spot comes down to Detwiler or Zambrano, who pitch against each other, or Clayton Richard at Colorado. As of now, I’m leaning toward Detwiler, but that could change.
Well, there you have it. Ihope most of you are off to much better starts and didn’t have to deal with losing your first round pick to injury so soon. For those of you in the same predicament as me, it’s time to dig in and battle back. Grind your way to as many at-bats and counting stats that you can and hope you’ll be rewarded by season’s end. I have a feeling that my team is about to embark on a great journey—don’t call it a comeback!
Any thoughts, questions, comments, insights are welcome and encouraged. Leave them below here or find me on Twitter @DaveShovein