VuFantasyBaseball Team Outlook 5/4May 4th, 2011 by Shawn Childs in Team Analysis
What does a fantasy player do to save a dying franchise? I had the pleasure of being invited to play in the Card Runners AL auction league. Or maybe I should say, I was sucked in as maybe I’m dead money. It’s been about 6 years since I’ve played in a real trading league. Over the past six years, I’ve spent my time in the high stakes baseball market where trading isn’t allowed.
During my years in trading leagues, I was never a wheeler dealer or someone looking for the big heist when I saw weakness. I was the commissioner for a good part of my trading leagues history so I tried my best to make my trades as fair as possible. Don’t get me wrong, on more than one occasion I made a trade where the player I moved ended up on the DL. I didn’t have any inside news just good timing on my part.
My team is really off to a slow start in the CR league. I think my offense is solid, but I have plenty of underperforming players. I spent close to $200 of my budget on bats. At least at this point of the season, I didn’t have any injuries. For me, I’m looking for assets to trade. I’d like to trade a player that has played well for me. Maybe he has overachieved, but I’m not a fan of trading one of my underperforming players. Once I get a run when I believe the players stats are in line, I feel as though I can move them if I have enough depth.
The bottom line in these split leagues are at bats. In the AL, there are 14 AL teams with 9 possible hitters or 126 possible batters. Each team in the fantasy league will own about 10.6 players that could get regular playing time. Of these 126 hitters, there are many players that don’t play every day. Almost every team will have three or four holes in their lineup. This is probably more important in a trading league. If you are short at bats to start the year and you are strong on the pitching side, you can trade your strength to help your weakness. If you can time it right, he can end up more at bats to make up stats.
Here’s my offense:
C1: Matt Wieters
C2: Jose Reyes
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Dustin Ackley
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Elvis Andrus
MI: Felipe Lopez
CO: Justin Smoak
OF1: Jacoby Ellsbury
OF2: Vernon Wells
OF3: Melky Cabrera
OF4: Conor Jackson
OF5: Corey Patterson
DH: Vlad Guerrero
I have three obvious holes – Jose Reyes, Dustin Ackley, and Felipe Lopez. The CR league has unique rules where I can pick up any NL player with the hopes of them being traded to the AL and you can play a player out of position.
This works well for Reyes as my second catcher. The second catcher is typically the weakest position in an AL only league. By playing Reyes there, it gives me a place to hide him and it gives me an extra roster spot. If Reyes isn’t traded to the AL, I won’t get his stats. The Mets are going to dump anyone and everyone at the All Star break. Reyes is a free agent and he will be traded for sure.
I have no choice but to play Ackley. There hasn’t been a reasonable option on the waiver wire all year. I bought him for $2 so I don’t have much invested. He helps me if he gets called up in June. He isn’t playing well at AAA so I may regret this decision.
Felipe Lopez was getting some playing time with Longoria on the DL. He’s pretty much a douche and he’s lucky to have a job in the majors. He was benched for not running out ground balls and he threw his bat toward a pitcher earlier in the year. Despite all of this, he’ll probably end up with a job. He could resurface in San Fran with Pablo Sandoval on the DL for six weeks or in St. Louis with Freese going down.
I have nine players that play full time. I think Conor Jackson will gain playing time as the year goes on. Corey Patterson is only a flash guy. If he could steal some base over the short term, he would help me.
On offense I need to improve on two roster spots to be considered a solid offense. I may have that on my team by June. I think I have the right balance of power and speed. I just need the back end fillers.
On my bench, I have Carlos Beltran and Lonnie Chisenhall. If Chisenhall gets called up on June 1st, I can’t play him. He would give me an asset to trade. I believe Beltran will be moved. He’s a good fit in the AL, but the teams that could afford him don’t have a need for him.
Without seeing any future trades, I believe my offense will have 50 plus points this year. In the past a score of 85 points of more would win an AL only league. In a league with trading, I think it is easier for a team to have a higher winning score. They can always trade any excess stats to help in another category.
Now here’s the major problem. My pitching is off to a brutal start. I like the back end of my staff. I have Jordon Walden, Chris Sale, and Aaron Crow. I’m not strong in saves, but I’m in the game. Sale could get a couple of saves during the season unless he gets moved into the starting rotation. Crow is the clear backup to Soria. He should get some saves this year. It won’t put me in the top half of the standings, but it buys me time to see how this category develops.
I left the auction short starters. My ace was Francisco Liriano. He’s been a bust and he needs to correct his bad numbers. I mean, what can I get for him on the trading market? I guess two mediocre starters. My second starter is Edwin Jackson. He looked good early, but he has fallen on his face. My third starter is Kevin Slowey. This auction was in early in March when I thought Slowey would have a job. He’s been on the DL. He should be back in the rotation soon. I though the front of the rotation was decent. So far, it’s been a disaster.
My other three starters are Jo Jo Reyes, Chris Tillman, and Joba Chamberlain. This is a huge weakness. I picked Reyes off waivers last week. He may be serviceable. I think Tillman is ok as a 6th starter. I’m behind in K’s so I can’t really afford to play four relievers. I need to trade Chamberlain. I thought he might get a chance to start in early March. I paired him with Manny Banueles. I’m still carrying Banueles.
At this point, I have 11.5 pitching points. I’m getting killed in ERA, whip, and K’s. As bad as it looks, I don’t have a ton of innings logged at this point of the year. I need to make up 55 K’s and 5 wins to gain 10 points. Even with my poor pitching, I’m still within striking distance of ten points in ERA and whip.
As the team is presently structured, I may be able to approach 80 points if Liriano turns out to be an asset. I need to improve at least three pitching slots on my team.
Now this where the problem lies; I like my offense, but it hasn’t played well enough to have any gaps in any categories. I should have help in a month from a couple of minor league players. As bad as my pitching looks, I think I need to wait and see if it improves. If the front of my staff can right the ship, I’m in much better shape.
My first move will be moving a quality bat for an arm. I just have to wait until that bat develops. Vernon Wells could be that player, but his value is real low. Justin Smoak could command a decent arm. He has enough talent where his value may rise even higher. If Ellsbury was running more, I could move him. I even thought I could trade Ellsbury for Crawford straight up. That would be an interesting call if offered. I wonder if I owned Crawford if I’d make that deal.
This league has nothing on the waiver wire. There is no dead money in the league. There’s no way I’m stealing any player from another team. My strength is non trading leagues where I can draft a balanced teams. For me to have success in this league, I’m going to have to make a couple of good deals.