Posted on: June 2, 2008 10:57 pm

Do no harm

Another day, another e-mail followed by a stirring rant ...

I feel like I have better hitting than pitching. I put Albert Pujols on the trading block, not because of concerns over his elbow but because I was hoping to snag a monster pitcher in return. I was offered Cliff Lee straight up and turned it down. Instead, I countered with Pujols and Justin Verlander for Justin Morneau and Brandon Webb. His counter was Morneau, Lee and Brian Roberts for Pujols and Ian Kinsler. I don't want an extra player, so I wouldn't even ask for Roberts.

Am I crazy not to be completely sold on Lee? Am I being too stubborn and asking for too much, or should I see Lee and Morneau for Pujols and Kinsler as a good trade? Though I think Kinsler is playing like a top-three second baseman, no one else seems to think so because I can't get a good offer on a trade for him. What do you think?  Would I be crazy to ask for Cole Hamels instead of Lee, or is that even a good idea?

Cheers from Australia,
(I live in South Jersey, though, just studying abroad. Go Phils!),


No, no, no, no, NO! Please, Eric. No. Step away from the vehicle.

You are not crazy. You are not stubborn. You are doing everything right except for seriously considering this embarrassment of a proposal. Your opponents are tight-fisting you, and you've let their unreasonable expectations cloud your otherwise passable judgment.

In trading Pujols, you're trading arguably the best player in Fantasy Baseball. Only Alex Rodriguez, Lance Berkman, Chase Utley, David Wright and Hanley Ramirez would give him a run for his money, and if we started the season over tomorrow -- without any fear of his elbow injury, because you say you have none -- I'd still probably take Pujols. Don't forget it. Don't ever, ever forget it.

If you really think you need pitching, and I'd argue you probably don't -- not in a shallow Rotisserie league, where you can usually fashion a functional staff on waiver fodder alone -- don't settle for anything less than a tried-and-true ace in exchange for the best player in Fantasy Baseball. Don't settle for less than Webb. None of the other pitchers you mentioned even comes close to the value of Pujols. Even for Hamels, your opponent might have to throw in Morneau and go two-for-one.

And Lee? Really, Lee? No doubt, I respect everything he's done to this point, but nothing in his track record suggests he'll maintain even close to this pace. Even if he betters his career bests across the board, I still wouldn't trade Kinsler straight up for him, much less Pujols. Again, you have the accurate assessment of Kinsler's value, not your opponents.

You say your team is thriving? Then why push it? Why trade one of your most instrumental cogs just because you detect a slight chink in your armor? I could understand if you had a desperate need, were falling totally out of the race, and stood no chance of competing this season unless you made a significant change. But don't make a trade just to make one.

Think of yourself as a doctor and your Fantasy team as your patient. You want a healthy patient, and to get one, sometimes you have to get your hand in there and rearrange a few things. So do make adjustments. Do make changes. Do what you need to do to make the patient better. But above all else, do no harm -- particularly if your patient is already sitting up on the operating table, smiling and winking at you.

And there you have it. It took a few entries, but I finally referenced an episode of Lost by title. It's a good one. Go see it.

... But only if you've seen all the other ones preceding it.

That's all for now.
Posted on: May 8, 2008 7:36 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2008 8:09 pm

Swapping stories

You might notice I have a blog entry on Thursday for, by my recollection, the first time ever. Yes, getting a three-day "weekend" last week means I get a one-day "weekend" this week, which means I have to work on Lost day. But I have a second and third VCR set up to record it, so I'm cool.

Although that's an ironic way to put it.

Anyway, I thought I'd take a moment here to address some of the feedback I've received over my recent entries on trading, starting with a blog comment from CBSSports.com user "tweedy."

"I love your trade philosophy. I have tons of studs on my team, but I'm always looking to tinker. I accused half of my league of being "hand sitters" and throw in zingers like "well, losing in the first round of the playoffs every year might be good enough for you, but I'm looking to win it all." What do you think of a Head-to-Head trade of John Smoltz, Greg Smith and Clayton Kershaw (his dudes) for my B.J. Ryan, Joe Saunders and Oliver Perez? I'm thinking Smoltz will replace Ryan, Saunders is at peak value and Kershaw is due to come up soon. The guy is a Mets fan, and he's getting two starters he can use now and a closer that just had the training wheels taken off. Basically, is Saunders this good, and is Smith for real?"

See, I'm not so sure you have a clear advantage in that deal. The Dodgers are handling Kershaw with kid gloves, so I have a feeling the 20-year-old won't get a call-up before September. Ryan might have just lost his training wheels, but at least he's healthy. I don't know if I can say the same for Smoltz. The guy clearly loved starting, so I think him so quickly volunteering to move to the bullpen suggests he had no choice. If he's too hurt to start, might he also discover he's too hurt to close a week or two into trying? Smith-for-Saunders is almost a wash. Both are unproven, and I actually think Smith has more upside. So basically, I think you're giving up Perez for nothing but a riskier closer. How's that a good move?

Next, I'll answer an e-mail from Robert Brooks.

"I am going to pick up Greg Smith and drop Jeremy Bonderman. What do you think of this choice? Also, do you know who I could pick up in place of Michael Bourn? I mean, I need his steals but his batting average is hurting my team average."

Smith is a popular guy these days, isn't he? I guess that'll happen when you have a 2.54 ERA through six starts and you're going seven or eight innings most of the time. He has more walks than strikeouts and is on pace for only 101 of the latter, and we're talking about a guy who struck out over 200 batters as recently as 2006. I have a hard time believing the pinched cartilage in his elbow that caused him to blow up in the second half last year isn't somehow related. Yeah, I'd make that exchange.

I mostly wanted to answer this e-mail because I recently traded Bourn in a deal Gonos mentioned in his blog. I gave up Micah Owings, Stephen Drew and Bourn for Rafael Furcal. I originally offered Owings and Drew and, when it didn't go through, decided Bourn wouldn't be such a loss for the exact reasons you mentioned. You can't write his batting average off to a slow start anymore. It's .195 in early May and steadily getting worse. At this point, I wonder how long the Astros will keep him in their lineup, considering his main contribution is steals and an inability to get on base renders it meaningless. He also hasn't stolen a base since hurting his groin April 21 -- a span of 11 games. In other words, I feel like I was actually selling high on Bourn, if you can believe it, and I'd suggest you try to do the same rather than simply cutting him.

I was able to add Furcal, of course, and grab Randy Winn off waivers to compensate for the loss of steals. If you need to look deeper, I wouldn't totally sleep on Scott Podsednik. He won't get many at-bats, but when the Rockies use him, he'll steal bases for sure.

And finally, I'll field one from a somewhat fed-up Gerry Nason.

"I've noticed in my leagues that owners are placing way too much priority on prospects. Way too much! Yes, prospects are fun to watch grow, and they give you that warm fuzzy feeling of building a dynasty. However, prospects can also be dangerous when you overvalue them to the point you are trading established vets to acquire them. In three of my leagues, prospects are all the rage, and the fad is to stock your minor-league system with nothing but the best. However, due to media hype, expectations are way out of line versus reality. Most of these media darlings will not reach the lofty goals projected for them. For every Ryan J. Braun, there are twenty guys like Anthony Reyes. Phil Hughes, Jason Hirsh, Brandon Wood, Delmon Young, half the Marlins' pitching staff -- there are too many to name that have not lived up to the hype for one reason or another. I know it is your job to build these kids up and sell them as the future of the game, but I think that owners need to be cautioned that the game is won and lost in the present and trading top players for a package of prospects not only kills the competitive balance in your league, it in no way guarantees you of getting a good player."

Without commenting on each of the players you named, Gerry -- some of which I wouldn't yet pass final judgment on -- I tend to agree with you. Too many Fantasy owners bank too heavily on the unknown. Prospects are fine as late-round fliers or last-second free-agent pickups just to see what they can do, but you don't want to stash them and wait because -- like you said -- you might end up waiting for nothing.

In only two types of leagues would I recommend stashing prospects:
1. Long-term keeper leagues where you have to maintain a minor-league system (and even then, I'd make it an afterthought compared to my major-league roster).
2. Deep AL- or NL-only leagues where the concept of free agency is virtually meaningless, making every call-up the only real chance you have to improve your team (other than trading, of course).

That's all for now
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 25, 2008 6:40 pm
Edited on: May 8, 2008 8:07 pm

My inaugeration and thoughts on Bonds

I've never had a blog before. I'm from Georgia. (Not that that means anything, but people like to joke, and I like to accommodate, so there you go -- fuel for the fire.) But now that I've joined up with CBSSports.com, they've given me a blog space and told me to use it, assigning me a topic on which to direct my focus: baseball -- or, more specifically, spring baseball ... as it relates to Fantasy.

Good thing I really like baseball, huh? I mean, they could have told me to blog about werewolves ... or corned beef hash.

So baseball it is, and baseball it shall remain. It might have a distinct stream-of-consciousness feel to it at first, but I hope to establish some sense of order eventually. I like order. Oh, and I also hope to work in a Lost reference whenever I can. I like Lost.

Of course, what does it say about me that the two most important things of my life are Fantasy Baseball and Lost?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand break!

Word out of Tampa -- or, more specifically, the St. Petersburg Times -- has the Rays interested in Barry Bonds. We could argue for days about whether or not the Rays should want him or whether or not they'll actually get him, but regardless, this news has Fantasy implications because, for the first time, I get the feeling Barry might actually play this year. Before, all the talk of steroids and perjury and his suspected involvement in either or both had me under the impression that no team would touch him with a 39 1/2-foot pole. Now, low and behold, someone might actually want this guy.

So knowing he apparently wants to play and some teams might actually want him to play, how should we approach him in Fantasy? I wouldn't go crazy. Even if he officially signs somewhere, you could still probably wait until the latter rounds to draft him. But he deserves to start for someone in your league. He did hit 28 homers last year. And in leagues that count walks, he might ultimately rank in the top 30 outfielders, assuming he stays healthy. So I'll start to think about drafting him now, at least with my last-round pick -- or maybe my second-to-last-round pick if everyone else gets the same idea. I still wouldn't bother with him in NL-only leagues, though. If he's signing, he's signing to DH.

With this news, I also get the impression the Rays must think they have a chance to compete this year, and I wouldn't totally dismiss the idea. I think as things stand now, they could at least compete with the Blue Jays for third in the division.


Phillies closer Brad Lidge caught his spikes on the pitcher's mound Saturday, joining Yovani Gallardo in the I-hurt-myself-before-spring-games-e
ven-began division, and ended up needing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. He might not recover in time for opening day, which certainly doesn't wreck his Fantasy appeal. It does, however, cause me to shy away from him a little on Draft Day. I'm not saying I don't want anything to do with him, but I saw him as nothing more than a No. 2 Fantasy closer to begin with, and now he just had a procedure on his knee. Players don't always bounce back from those so quickly (see Bay, Jason -- 2007). For now, I think I'll slot Joakim Soria ahead of Lidge in my rankings -- yes, I mean the Royals closer. Don't totally sleep on the Royals either. They'll probably finish last, sure, but it'll be a good last, if that makes any sense.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 25, 2008 6:32 pm
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