Preview: Reflections on a fantasy baseball season gone wrong

I have a confession to make. It takes me forever to write anything. It’s one of the reasons I was never able to┬ácomplete my dissertation. So I’m using the early posts in this blog to get my feet wet again, to relearn how to write in a semi-coherent manner.

That said, I’m going to be introducing an extended set of articles over the next month or so. They’re all related to looking back on my season in fantasy baseball. You see, I had a really bad year in one of my leagues so I’m using this to figure out just what happened. A good thought exercise leading to the upcoming season.

I’m proposing the following set of posts, but don’t worry if it grows beyond this.

1. The league that actually went somewhat well
2. Setting up the rules of the game
3. Roster construction – beginning and end
4. Offense
5. Defense
6. Lessons learned from this season and looking forward to 2013

Really hope you enjoy the posts and get some good ideas about how to land a better team at your next draft.

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Transactions and why I take joy in them

You’re in the middle of the season and you need to add steals. You have plenty of pitching, so you target Dee Gordon. (This has to be a really deep league for you to have Gordon, but play along.) Another team offers to take Mark Buehrle off your hands in return. Do you do it?

It depends on your situation. Will those extra steals really help you that much? Can you bear Gordon’s weak bat? Will you miss Buehrle’s steady but unspectacular production? Are you able to keep the players beyond this year? Etc. etc.

Why is this seemingly mundane scenario so interesting? Because it’s something that happens every hour of every day in real life. Teams are built and dismantled over months and years of transactions. GMs have to decide on a daily basis how to construct a team, how to maneuver to optimize for both short and long term success. Just imagine the number of players that pass through waivers each week, each a decision that the GM and his staff have to make. Get lucky and you can grab a useful reliever. Get unlucky and the player is back on waivers next week. (I’m looking at you Eli Whiteside.)

I am simply fascinated by transactions for some reason. I love that there is so much risk involved. The Blue Jays may come out ahead in the short term in the Dickey trade, but it could be disastrous for them in 5-6 years. I don’t think I could handle dealing with this amount of pressure, hence why I’m not one to make a ton of fantasy baseball trades. (Though I’m known for scouring the waiver wire.) I love the complexity of baseball’s transaction system. Rosters, trades, waivers, drafts (rule IV and V!), options, DFAs, arbitration, free agency. It all adds up to a fascinating game within a game.

And perhaps my favorite oddball transaction? The rule V draft. We all know it’s not half as interesting now that the rules for time you can keep players has changed, but it still amazes me that teams go to the depths to draft guys, both in the major and minor league portions. Seriously, how much do you have to know about other systems to draft players onto your AA team? It’s a wizardry that the vast majority of us can only ever aspire to.

Initial thoughts on RA Dickey and other news

Seeing that the big R.A. Dickey trade has finally happened, let’s delve into a few thoughts about it.

  1. I first thought it would be a steal for the Mets to land d’Arnaud for Dickey but the more I think about it, I really love the deal for both teams. Why? Glad you asked.
  2. Dickey should be a well-above pitcher for at least the first two years of the deal. You’re talking about a #1 or #2 starter who’s making the equivalent of #4 starter money. Huge improvement in the rotation for the Jays. Not sure what we can expect from Romero next year. Johnson, Morrow, Buehrle*, Happ, Drabek(?). I’d take that.
  3. The Mets get a guy who has a good chance to be an above average catcher for the next six years. Snydergaard has great potential, though being so far away it’ll be years until we know what he’ll end up. And I like taking the chance on someone who’s even farther away in Becerra.

* Random side note on Buehrle. He’s known as a major pitbull advocate. As an owner of a rescued pitbull, I have nothing but admiration for him.

A few other notes…

  1. Not sure I would have given Stephen Drew $9.5 million, but if he provides the Sox with league-average play they’d be happy. Can’t help but seeing a .500 team there, not really a contender.
  2. Carlos Pena. Guess the Astros need someone with pop. Man, that team is going to be bad again, but they’re in much better shape now than a year ago. I like what Luhnow has done.
  3. The Anibal Sanchez signing makes sense to me. Again, I wouldn’t have gone 5/80 on him, but I understand the motivation. As a Keith Law follower, I tend to agree with his notion that longer deals don’t make a whole lot of sense. But there’s great value here for at least the first three years, and the Tigers could use an arm like his.
  4. Heard that the powers that be are introducing padded hats for pitchers. It makes a ton of sense. It’s not just Brandon McCarthy. I’ve been playing softball for years, and have seen guys hit so many times. If adding some padding can help stop someone from a terrible brain injury, I’m all for it.

Until the next time…

Dave

A few thoughts on the Big East and conference realignment

Let me preface this by saying that I’m an NC State grad and have always been a big fan of the ACC. I grew up in Maryland rooting for UMD, but don’t feel any connection now.

1. I think that the C7 schools breaking away is a great idea. The Big East has been dragged down for the last decade by the conference scrambling to get football schools. It’s just a big mess now with a coast-to-coast conference.

2. Cincy and UCONN will end up somewhere. I know they desperately want to join the ACC now, but for the time being they’re in limbo. I think eventually a couple schools will get picked off by the SEC or Big Ten and Cincy/UCONN will end up in the ACC. Which is really too bad, because it seems like the conference is becoming diluted to a certain extent (see: ACC baseball). I reminisce about the “old days” when the ACC just had nine or ten teams.

3. I like the move to get Louisville into the ACC. Not a great geographic fit, but they’re solid in football and basketball. And my sister-in-law happens to go there.

4. The impact on sports beyond football and basketball is interesting. It has to cost universities more and more money for travel. And with budgets tightening up all around, this can’t be good. Natural rivalries are quickly disappearing it seems too.

5. The MAC is great. Other than a couple minor additions and subtractions, the conference has been quite stable. As someone with deep connections to Kent State, I really enjoy seeing this group of schools together.

I just wish this would all stop honestly. But we all know that conference realignment will continue for as long as we have collegiate sports. Which might not be as long as we think in the current sense, with the nonsense the NCAA pulls.

Thoughts on the Indians/Reds/Diamondbacks trade

Just a little background first. I’ve been living in Northeast Ohio for about five years now. After a while, I’ve grown to enjoy the Indians. Not the most interesting team or stadium, but a team worth rooting for. And for the record, I’ll always be an Orioles fan, growing up in Maryland in the 80’s and 90’s.

Let’s just say that I absolutely love this trade for the Indians and don’t get it for the Dbacks. Strange strange trade on their part. The Reds did a good job, helping their team next year without sacrificing anything important.

I see this trade as pieces of a puzzle. You have one year of Choo for 5-6 of Bauer. That’s a huge return for an above average hitter who is a terrible defender. Not going to be a pretty outfield in Cincy, but that’s not really why you have Choo. Bauer has the potential of a #2 starter. Love the potential here, assuming he can figure out how to throw strikes. Francona should work well with him.

The Indians then give up a utility infielder in Donald and a nice situational lefty in Sipp for a couple fungible relievers and a lottery ticket in Stubbs. If he doesn’t hit next year, the Indians can cut bait.

Didi Gregorius. Great fielder, terrible hitter. Still has some value, but likely to be overrated. Not worth giving up the value of a young pitcher like Bauer. Unless you think Lars Anderson will turn into a major league first baseman (and outhit Goldschmidt), in which case you’d be completely nuts.

Not sure what Kevin Towers is doing to be honest. The Dbacks have four mediocre shortstops now. Don’t see how he’s made them much of a better team this offseason.

Looks to me like the Reds are mostly done this offseason. Looking forward to seeing Chapman tried as a starter. The Indians still need to find a taker for Asdrubal, but from I gather they’ve outpriced their bidders. Perhaps at the trade deadline. It’ll take a while, but they’re headed in the right direction finally.