It’s an age old question for anybody who has ever taken a trip to the grocery store, or to shop for pants—do you buy what you need/want, or do you buy what is on sale? …and, no, I don’t wear Ugg boots (I’m not Tom Brady), but I could pass up the clever title.
Last week, in my shallowest league, a cold Dan Uggla surfaced on the waiver wire. I hadn’t entered the store of available players to look for a power-hitting middle infielder, or any middle infielder at all, actually. I had just stopped in to browse the spot starting pitchers section. But, like when you are in one of those discount stores and you see an item from a brand normally too high-end to show up at that store, my interests were certainly piqued. Now, this is not the nicest model the second baseman brand makes, and as mentioned, I had no intent to pick up a middle infielder, but the allure of discounted luxury goods can be alluring… even if there’s a chance this Dan Uggla is an irregular. So, I picked him up.
But, did I make the right decision? Is it a good idea to pick up a player simply because he represents a bargain?
In some cases, I think there is a very strong argument for this philosophy – amass talent and decide what to do with it later. And, if you are going to employ this strategy, early in the season is the time to do it. However, the other variable with this strategy is whether your team has current glaring needs. In my case, my offense has been stellar but my pitching has been atrocious. Beyond that, I’m falling a bit too far behind the pace in innings. Even if I feel that much of my staff will come around in the long run (and, I do), I still need the flexibility of that roster spot to take advantage of decent waiver wire options matched up against the Astros and Marlins.
So, I did what your favorite rapper or pop star does with the $8,000 outfit from his/her video. I used my Dan Uggla once or twice and then I returned it. After dropping it off, I bought a lovely start from Nick Tepesch against the Astros and then a productive day from Lyle Overbay on the travel day. I was hoping Uggla would remain available, and allow me to use him regularly on those travel days, when I typically look for spot bats as opposed to spot arms. He may have even convinced me to drop or trade somebody else to make room for him as a regular part of my wardrobe. But, unlike when actually shopping, I couldn’t hide a sweater in the housewares section so I could buy it next time I returned to the store. So, a day or two later, somebody else picked up Uggla.
At the end of the day, I’m comfortable with my decision to prioritize need over value in a vacuum. I have way more room to improve in pitching and need to try to augment my rotation via the wire, either by repeated wise plays or by catching lightening in a bottle on that end. The name of the game is to earn the most points, not accumulate the most talent or value.
How do you balance need vs. value when combing the available players in your league?