Tag:Dear Mr. Fantasy
Posted on: August 6, 2008 4:13 am

Pitch the pitchers; keep the hitters

Some of the Dear Mr. Fantasy entries inspire such lengthy responses that I just have to transfer them to my blog. I just have to, Kenny. I'm sorry.

I know it's still early, but I'm looking to next year for my keeper league. I'm in first place now. I get to keep three players. I can't decide between David Wright, Grady Sizemore, Ian Kinsler, Brian McCann, Roy Halladay and Joe Saunders. Pitchers are obviously worth more.  Halladay has been stellar for me this year, but Wright, Kinsler, Sizemore, and McCann are the best at their positions this year and entering their prime. The scoring system is standard Head-to-Head. What do you recommend?
-- Kenneth Lazor

I recommend you rethink your premise that pitchers are obviously worth more. I have a pretty steadfast rule in this situation: Pitchers and keeper leagues don't mix.

If you could keep more than three or four players, maybe you could sway me, but in your case, not a chance. I've gotten burned too many times in my own keeper league -- Head-to-Head ones, at that -- to recommend keeping a pitcher -- first by Mark Prior, then by Jake Peavy, and just this year by Erik Bedard. What happens when I keep pitchers? They get injured, every time, without fail.

I don't plan to keep a pitcher ever again.

"But wait," you say. "Pitchers don't always get hurt. You just didn't keep the safe ones."

Oh, I didn't? Maybe I would have had better luck keeping pitchers without a history of injury -- guys like Roy Oswalt, Aaron Harang and Tim Hudson.

Yeah. Good call.

"W-well, you've just had bad luck. You got burned a few times, but it won't always happen."

OK, yeah, you could call a pitcher getting injured "bad luck." But these days, couldn't you just as accurately call a pitcher not getting injured good luck?

And the blunt truth is, in Fantasy, I don't want to rely on any sort of luck. Does getting lucky help? Yeah, it does. But I don't want to rely on it, and drafting a pitcher early -- the equivalent to keeping one -- puts me in a situation where I have to. If you want the one guideline to ensure that you finish near the top of your Fantasy league every season, this is it:

Don't leave yourself vulnerable to things you can't control.

I can't control injury, but by making a pitcher the centerpiece of my team, I leave myself vulnerable to it. So while I can think of situations where I'd consider doing it, in your case, where you have plenty of viable alternatives at other positions, why?

OK ... Wright is a first-round pick. No contest with him. Sizemore is nearing that point. I'd probably call him a second-round pick right now, but you obviously want to keep him.

Your final decision comes down to Kinsler and McCann -- two of the best options at two of the weakest positions. I generally don't like to invest much in catchers because even the best can't play 162 games in a season. The consistent off days required by the position have a way of depolarizing the position, making the elite options less of an improvement over the second-tier options than you'd see at other positions. In other words, I'd keep Kinsler over McCann.

So Wright, Sizemore and Kinsler -- and under no circumstances a pitcher. There you have it.

That's all for now.
Posted on: July 8, 2008 7:30 pm

Buyer's remorse

Some e-mails get a little too long for Dear Mr. Fantasy. Some provide me with ammunition for my blog on days when I don't have any earth-shattering ideas. This one does both. Plus, it was written by a guy who shares his name with a former Braves prospect that didn't pan out, so I have a soft spot.

I recently made the following trade, then I started to think, "Heck, it wasn't broke; why did I try to fix it?"

Am I crazy? I gave Lance Berkman, Joe Mauer, Mike Lowell, Felix Hernandez and Brandon Morrow. I got A.J. Pierzynski, Justin Morneau and Alex Rodriguez. My top remaining pitchers are Josh Beckett, Justin Duchscherer, John Lackey, Edinson Volquez and Javier Vazquez, but I still wonder if I'm crazy.

-- Mike Kelly, Harmony, R.I

Um … you're crazy. Your only saving grace is that you got the best single player in Rodriguez, but even that doesn't count for much considering you gave up Berkman. So you upgraded a little at third base, downgraded a little at first base, downgraded a lot at catcher and threw away a near ace in Hernandez and an emerging young closer in Morrow. Yeah, I have a hard time defending that deal.

But that doesn't make it unfair -- a lot of people confuse the two. Just because I can look at a deal and say I'd prefer one side over another doesn't mean the deal shouldn't stand. You should have to give up an arm and a leg to get A-Rod; I just don't think you should have. See the difference?

And you say you didn't have a real need? Your team wasn't "broke," as you put it? Can I assume, then, that you lead your league or at least don't trail the leader by much? This deal looks more like one a rebuilding team would make in a keeper league.

But you made it, so try to make the most of it. Who knows? If any one of those hitters you dealt gets hurt, you suddenly have the better end of the deal.

And to be fair, for as much as I condemned your doing, you certainly didn't wreck your team. You got two good players in Morneau and Rodriguez, and I can envision a few scenarios where your team actually improves as a result of this deal. I just wouldn't have made it or recommended you make it.

That's all for now.
Posted on: June 7, 2008 10:03 pm
Edited on: June 7, 2008 10:09 pm

Time for a commercial break

Just finished my first Hitting Planner. It's probably not as fun to read as my Sliders column or even this blog, but you'll hopefully find some valuable information in there. Speaking frankly, I consider Emack's Pitching Planner a little more valuable, but I'll look to make improvements in the coming months. Suggestions are always welcome, though keep in mind time constraints might make some of them impossible.

Speaking of time constraints, they'll keep today's blog entry a little shorter than most, but I'll take a timeout to answer a couple quick trade questions I just received today. Yeah, you could call this entry a truncated version of Dear Mr. Fantasy, but at least I won't talk about any New York Yankees.

By the Numbers. Playing the Waiver Wire. There. I think I've named every baseball column we have.


Geez ... gotta love our Fantasy content, huh? And while I'm off on a tangent promoting our Fantasy content, why not promote our new Fantasy content site. I'm sure you've seen the ads for it -- you know, those creepy ones with all our faces lined up:


Check it out if you haven't already. Or check it out again if you already have once. In fact, keep checking it out every day because, like any good content should, ours keeps refreshing.

All right, enough with the commercials. On to the questions ...

Would you trade Evan Longoria and Jonathan O. Sanchez for Albert Pujols? And the only reason I ask is because of Pujols' health.
-- John Anthony

I don't think anyone approached Pujols' elbow more cautiously than I did this spring, going so far as to say I wouldn't draft him in the first round -- and I'd still say that if the season started today -- but come on, Johnny. Pujols is obviously still a monster, enough that you have to bank on the likelihood he won't blow out in his elbow over the next four months. If I owned him now, I might shop him to see what I could get, but I also wouldn't hesitate to acquire him, especially for two players who, in standard mixed leagues, I'd consider fringe waiver fodder. (Yes, I call Longoria borderline rosterable -- not because he's bad, but because he's a rookie. When he can maintain a batting average over .280, we'll talk.)

I have been offered Alex Rodriguez and Derrek Lee for Nate McLouth, Justin Morneau and Adrian Beltre. What do you think?
-- Shawn (of the dead?)

Yeah, that sounds like the kind of deal I'd make, Shawn. I still think of A-Rod as the best player in Fantasy, and I'd probably prefer Lee to Morneau even though the former has slumped lately. As long as losing McLouth doesn't leave gaping chasm in your outfield, pull the trigger.

That's all for now.
Posted on: May 27, 2008 10:56 pm
Edited on: May 30, 2008 6:33 pm

No dumping zone

While preparing to write this week's Dear Mr. Fantasy column, I came across a question too long, really, to address in that interface, but I thought it deserved a response nonetheless. So here you have it, from C.J. Meyer in San Diego:

In my NL-only Rotisserie league of 10 owners, standard 5X5 scoring, $260 salary cap with carryover contracts, the following trade sparked some heavy discussion:

Owner A gets:
Johan Santana ($42 for this year and next plus option to sign in 2010 for $47 plus $5 additional per year for subsequent years)

Freddy Sanchez ($5, final year of contract)
Ryan Spilborghs ($1 for this year, option to sign next year for $6 plus $5 additional per year for subsequent years)

Owner B gets:
Nate McLouth ($1 for this year, option to sign next year for $6 plus $5 additional per year for subsequent years)
Juan Pierre ($18 for this year and next, plus option to sign in 2010 for $23 plus $5 additional per year for subsequent years)

Brandon Backe ($2 for this year and next, plus option to sign in 2010 for $7 plus $5 additional per year for subsequent years)

Clearly, the deal is Santana for McLouth and Pierre, with some throw-ins for roster spots.

The owner getting Santana (owner A) is the overall leader in offense, but second to last overall in pitching. The owner getting McLouth/Pierre (owner B) is almost dead last in all offensive categories but tops overall in pitching.

In your opinion, is this deal lopsided for either owner? Some accusations of "dumping" and playing for next year have been thrown around, and even though every Rotisserie owner has a different philosophy on that strategy, what is your opinion? In general, at what point in the season is it too soon to start playing for next year, and do owners have a legitimate gripe regarding the strategy of dumping?


I don't see how this late in the season anyone who acquires McLouth for any one player can be accused of dumping. Anyone who still calls him a fluke or a hot starter needs to get with the program one-third of the way into the season. He hasn't let up from opening day to the end of May, and whether or not he'll hit 40 home runs -- I agree he likely won't -- people should realize he will keep hitting. And just in case the owner acquiring him worried about him regressing to the mean, he got a pretty high-profile insurance policy in Pierre. Last I checked, 60-steal players can make a pretty dramatic difference in Rotisserie-league standings, particularly those limited to a player pool of either the AL or the NL. In fact, I might go so far as to say the owner acquiring actually has the advantage, especially considering the long-term ramifications of owning McLouth at such a low price.

And then you say the team acquiring the stud pitcher desperately needs pitching but has hitting to spare and the team acquiring the two near-stud outfielders desperately needs hitting but has pitching to spare? Shoot, based on the needs of each team, I can't think of a more logical trade.

If the trade was a clear case of salary dumping, like Owner A giving up Santana for -- I don't know -- Mark Kotsay, I could understand your leaguemates having a gripe, particularly this early in the season. I don't think Fantasy titles should be awarded on a first come, first serve basis, which salary dumping generally boils down to. But this isn't salary dumping. This is two owners trying to improve their teams.

That's all for now.
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