Category: Dailies

Expert League Update: Ask And Ye Shall Receive

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A few days ago, I foolishly wrote that I was looking forward
to when my team cooled down so I could stop worrying about when it would
happen.  The fantasy gods, who always
ignore my pleas to stop injuring my players or to keep my closers from
appearing in “non-save” situations where their success rate is lower than your
average comic book villain’s, were suddenly all too eager to grant my request.

 

shark riding elephant.jpg

For weeks now, my lineup has been fully raking, putting up
massive numbers.  They’ve been like a
shark riding an elephant, trouncing and eating everything they saw.  Then I had to open my big mouth and all of a
sudden I’m getting swept in all hitting categories at the halfway point of this
week’s match up. 

 

If I was to rank who was to blame, I’d go with:

 

1.  me

2. – 73.  Adrian
Beltre

74.  The Seattle
batboy for continuing to hand Beltre a whiffle ball bat each time he’s heading
to the plate

75.  The Seattle
police department for not realizing Beltre disappeared weeks ago under
mysterious circumstances

76.  All Major League pitchers from 2004 who allowed Beltre to think he could hit every pitch out of
the park thus causing him to swing so hard, you’d think he was auditioning for
a Bugs Bunny cartoon

77.  me again, for
drafting Adrian Beltre

 

At least I get my wish now and can watch the games this
weekend without worrying about the imminent arrival of my team’s inevitable
decline.  They’ve come back to earth and
now I get to root for them to pull it together and make a last second comeback,
which is actually more fun than being on the other side.  I’m looking forward to it.

Mailbag: Help With Holds

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carlos marmol.jpg

I missed the trade
article
, but you’re right on the money with the insulting initial offer. I’ve
now been offered multiple poopoo platters: JJ Putz for VMart (holds is a need
of mine) and Juan Cruz+Rickie Weeks for Pedroia. I’ve countered the second guy with
what I think is a pretty reasonable offer: Pedroia+Wandy Rodriquez for
Santana+Marmol. Think it has a chance? He also has Ted Lilly, so if he counters
with Lilly instead of Santana do I take it?

 

It would probably
help to note that I have Alexei Ramirez ready to fill in at 2B, and it’s a 6×6
league that counts Holds. I’m extremely deficient in Holds thus far (5, count
em), and Marmol is obvi a stud in that category + will sneak in some Saves along
the way.

 

All right, I’m already halfway to my word count!  Thanks guy. 
I’m just kidding, this is actually the level of detail needed for an “expert”
such as myself to have any chance of accuracy when answering a question (and
even then, I’m throwing proverbial darts at a proverbial board that has a
proverbial picture of Julian Tavarez as its proverbial bullseye).  Context is king when evaluating trades and
quirks in league rules can make deals that seem even on their face lopsided in
their results.

 

Speaking of quirks, holds is a ridiculous category.  In most leagues you are given a hold as long
as the lead still remains when you exit the game.  So you can enter a game with a one run lead,
walk the bases full, get booed lustily by a home crowd and still pick up a
hold.  This is like the guy who orders
the first round of drinks, thus earning him “great guy” status among the group
but then proceeds to order two lobsters and a condor egg omelet for dinner
because he knows someone else is picking up the bill.  Still a great guy?  No sir.

 

I understand the argument to make middle relievers a factor
in fantasy baseball since they are so important to real-life teams (if you have
any doubt, please look at this list of ERA’s for the Nats bullpen and then look
at their record), but counting holds is fitting a round peg in a triangular
hole and it can make a left-handed relief specialist more valuable than guys
who hit .300 or 30 bombs.  It’s as if “pancake
blocks” became a category in fantasy football and linemen became more
important than wide receivers.  Sure, it
may be a more accurate reflection of their relative value in real football, but
doesn’t it take a lot of the fun out of fantasy?

 

contra spread.jpg

Anyways, sorry for the tangent, but to be fair, it’s what I
do.  My writing is not very focused.  If it was a weapon in “Contra” it would be
the Spread, not the Laser.

 

Let’s finally get to your question.  In my experience, guys who make insulting
first offers don’t ever accept your counter-proposal no matter how reasonable
it is.  They typically only want to make
a deal if it’s completely one-sided.  If
he doesn’t back off entirely, he’s likely going to give you a new offer that is
only slightly less insulting (instead of flipping you the bird, this time he’ll
just grab his crotch).  So based on that,
I don’t think he’ll accept your offer.

 

As for the offer itself, I think it’s very fair and I would
do it if I had your specific need at holds. 
Both Pedroia for Santana and Wandy for Marmol offer roughly
equivalent value and seemingly would fill needs for both teams.  If he switches to Lilly, I probably would pass.  Then you are talking about it being Pedroia
for Lilly and I’ve got to think you could do better than that if you are
shopping the reigning AL MVP.  Also, I
think Wandy and Lilly end up with similar value at the end of the year, in
which case, you’d be trading Pedroia for Marmol.  Yikes.

 

Another course of action might be to just shop Wandy for a
guy who gets holds in a straight-up trade. 
You should send feelers to the owners of guys like Okajima, Wheeler,
Putz (see if he’ll be more reasonable than VMart), McClellan, and Madson to see
what it would take to get them before you accept anything resembling a desperation
trade.  Or try to buy-low on Scot
Shields, who has started slow after leading the league in holds last year.  After Holiday went yard on him last night,
you might find a fed up owner who is willing to deal.

 

Hope this helps.  If
you have any follow-up questions or want more advice as your negotiations carry
on, let me know and I’ll be happy to help.

Marry, Bury, Date: Week 5

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Welcome back to another week of Marry, Bury, Date — the
childhood game I’ve hijacked to provide the framework for my initial foray into
providing expert fantasy baseball advice.

 

prom5.jpg

The premise of the game is simple.  Three names are thrown out and the
participants must pick which one they would Marry (ie commit to long-term),
Bury (get rid of forever), or Date (could be fun in the short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

 

After I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I
“like ’em, like ’em” that’s up to you. 
If you do, I look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way
through the Junior High Prom.  Maybe I’ll
get my courage up and ask them to dance during Boyz II Men’s “Hard To Say
Goodbye.”

 

This week’s picks are below.

Continue reading

Expert League Update: First Place

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After the final pitch was thrown last night and I had secured
a 7-2-1 victory for the week, I noticed something peculiar — I have the best
record in the league. 

 

Platoon knees.jpg

It’s officially the latest in a season I’ve held first place
in a fantasy baseball league, beating the old record by infinity.  At no point last season was my name at the
top of the standings and I didn’t expect to break that streak in my first
expert league this season.  Given the
quality of my opponents, I figured to spend most of my season in front of my TV
in the Willem Dafoe in “Platoon” position: 
On my knees, arms lifted to the sky, sucking wind and left for dead, wondering
how everything went so wrong.

 

Instead, I’m stumbling around with the same look Jerry had in
the Even Steven episode of “Seinfeld.”  No
matter what I do, things seem to work out for me in the end, so I’m just
sitting back and enjoying the ride.  The
question is how long will it last?

 

My guess is another month or so, but not much longer than
that.  There is no way my guys can keep
up with their preposterously hot starts. 
When I drafted Carlos Pena and Adrian Gonzalez, I was hoping to get 70
bombs between them.  At their current
pace, they are going to be in that neighborhood by the All-Star break.  Raul Ibanez is putting up huge numbers, turning
back the clock at the age of 36 (and it’s not even his clock, he looks more
like Ted Williams right now than himself). 
And Ian Kinsler has played well enough that my girlfriend is starting to
get (rightfully) jeolous over how much I swoon for him.

 

Eventually these guys have to cool down and my team will
level off accordingly.  I actually look
forward to it in a weird way, as I’ll be able to enjoy the game more when I’m
not constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I mean, I don’t want to end up like Randy Quaid
in “Major League 2”, rooting against my own team and saying things like “so
what, they’ll blow it in the playoffs” when I should be celebrating, but that’s
kind of how I feel right now.  Or maybe I’m
just saying that so the Fantasy gods won’t smote me (not the worst idea).  But either way, all writers are more fun to
read when they have something to complain about, so if my team continues to
boom, look for me to start making up fake feuds and starting nonsense arguments
soon (WHIP: Friend or Foe?  Tune in next
to find out.)  Should be fun.

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Mike Kuchera

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Kuchera.jpg

Welcome
back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.

Our guest this week is Mike Kuchera, podcast pioneer and
founder of The Fantasy Man.

 

In
your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert? (basically the polite way of
asking – why should people listen to you?)
 

I’m just a guy that loves fantasy sports. Its not like I have a Bachelor’s
degree in Fantasy Sports or a minor in Stat-o-nomics. No such thing. I was one
of the first to put myself out there on the Internet as someone who was
knowledgeable and someone who could help beginners and even some
experienced players win their leagues. From that, people started to recognize
me as an expert. I did not give myself that title. When I started, I just
wanted to be the first guy to offer free advice and talk about fantasy sports,
and it just grew from there.
  Continue reading

Expert League Update: Trade Season

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man and bear.jpg

Tomorrow is May 1st, a date circled annually on
my calendar, for it marks the beginning of my own personal trade season (of
course every date is circled on my calendar. 
Today is my annual “make friends with a bear” day). 

 

You see, I absolutely love trading in fantasy, it’s my
favorite part of the game.  The draft is
the best single day of the year, but it’s over so fast it’s hard to savor.  Thinking about trades on the other hand can
be enjoyed all season long and the prospect of making a move creates an
everlasting spring of hope from which to drink. 
It’s the difference between tearing into a steak with your bare hands
and cutting it up delicately and enjoying each bite with just the right amount
of ketchup (you know, to really bring out the flavor).  Both ways put the meat in your belly, but
the latter is a much more enjoyable experience (and far less embarrassing for
your friends and significant others. 
Umm, not that I would know).

 

But in order to manage my trade-happy ways, I’ve got to put
in some artificial restraints.  The
primary restriction I impose is a no trades til May policy.  I hope doing so allows me to overcome any
over reactionary feelings I may have and allow me to see my players get a few
reps before actually evaluating them. 
It’s a good thing too, as it prevented me from doing a deal last year
that involved me giving up Ian Kinsler and getting back Howie Kendrick, which
would have been like trading Apple stock for shares of Chrysler.

 

I have to admit though, I have absolutely no idea what to
expect when trading in an expert league. 
I imagine it will be the same as most leagues, but without the one token
guy whose team gets picked clean by vultures before the “Lost” season finale
even airs.  Most trade talks will start
with an insulting offer, and then an equally insulting counter and after a
series of condescending emails are exchanged, the first semi-feasible trade
will finally come up.  Then nine times
out of ten, when one party realizes they can’t just completely and utterly rip
off the other guy, they’ll get cold feet and back off.  But somehow, someway, this process equals
good times.

 

travis_snider.jpg

The expert league has had one trade take place already.  In a somewhat questionable exchange, one team
sent Matt Holiday and Cliff Lee (their 2nd and 5th round
picks) packing only two weeks into the season and received back Bobby Jenks and
Travis Snider.  Maybe it works out for
them, but I must admit it made me thankful for my May 1st rule, as
it appears to be a bit of selling low, buying high. 

 

But it did demonstrate the high level of deference granted
in an expert league, as there was only one public complaint.  I guess everyone in these leagues just
assumes that the person must have their reasoning to make such a move and it’s
not their place to second-guess.  It’s
interesting to observe and quite different than what goes down in leagues among
friends.  If a trade like this had
happened in many home leagues, the first “I’m quitting the league” email would
appear like it was generated by MAILER-DAEMON.

 

I’m glad that such deference is present, as I’m sure I’ll
make at least one dumb move before the year is over.  But I’m glad my restrictor plate is off and
I’m ready to start thinking about moves. 
I’ve hit 20 more homers than anyone else in the league and it’s probably
time to turn some of that excess power into a pitcher that will help me lower
my WHIP, which is currently so abysmal that if it was a GPA, my team would
nearly be scholarship-eligible.  But even if
I don’t make a move right away, I’ll still have fun shopping.  In fact, I think I’ll go do some right now.

Mailbag: Too Many Birds In The Bush?

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This may be a dumb
question, but here it is: in one of my leagues, I’ve got Brian Roberts, Nick
Markakis, Aubrey Huff, and Matt Wieters waiting in the wings. I’m thinking of
trading for Adam Jones. I like all of those players, but a part of me thinks I
shouldn’t stock my lineup with too many players from one team. Is this an
irrational thought? Is there a downside to having all of those players when I
actually think they will all produce well?

 

In this blog there is no such thing as dumb questions, only
dumb answers.

 

clarenceroyce.jpg

Your line of thinking here certainly is not irrational.  Marketing a soft drink through a commercial
where two guys jump into each other and explode into a liquid that showers
those around them in what is somehow a refreshing and non-creepy manner?  Now that’s irrational (Sprite – Drink Your
Friends!).  Owning that many guys in
one lineup does carry some risk.  If the
Orioles slump or run into a few hot pitchers, then your fantasy team will
suffer along with them (by the way, is this Clarence Royce?  How did you end up with so many Orioles?)

 

This is especially true if you play in a weekly,
head-to-head league.  In that format, I
don’t like to roster too many guys from one team.  If they face a couple of buzzsaws that week
and get shut down, you will almost certainly lose your matchup.  However, these things tend to balance out
over the course of a season, so under a roto format the risk is significantly
reduced.

 

Overall, this isn’t fantasy football where touchdowns drive
success and there are only so many of those to go around per team.  All your guys can get theirs without harming
anyone else in the lineup.  So if you are
convinced all of your guys will produce and you got good value on each of them,
go ahead and make the trade, especially if you play in a roto league.  As long as each guy puts up the stat levels
you expect from them, it doesn’t really matter what uniform they wear and you
can always make a move later when Wieters gets called up if you actually think
having half the Baltimore lineup is effecting your squad.  Plus, it definitely makes it easier to follow
your fantasy team and you can cue up the video below to fire yourself up each
night.  It’s a hot jam by an artist of
today.  Orioles Magic!

Marry, Bury, Date: Week 4

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Welcome back to another week of Marry, Bury, Date — the
childhood game I’ve hijacked to provide the framework for my initial foray into
providing expert fantasy baseball advice.

 

The premise of the game is simple.  Three names are thrown out and the participants
must pick which one they would Marry (ie commit to long-term), Bury (get rid of
forever), or Date (could be fun in the short-term).  When considering trade offers or waiver wire
pick-ups, fantasy players are faced with these same three decisions all the
time, so in an effort to help aid these choices, I’ll name one player who I
like for the rest of the season, one player who I think could help in the
short-term, and one guy I wouldn’t touch in this space each week.

 

prom blazers.jpg

After I’m done, if you want to whisper to the player that I
“like ’em, like ’em” that’s up to you. 
If you do, I look forward to the awkwardness that ensues all the way
through the Junior High Prom.  Maybe I’ll
get my courage up and ask them to dance during Edwin McCain’s “I’ll Be.” 

 

This week’s picks are below. Continue reading

Expert League Update: Fearing The Unknown

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Picture 092.jpg

Like everyone else, I spent most of my time this weekend
outside enjoying the freakishly nice weather. 
My dog and I went on a romantic couple’s getaway to the Delaware shore
where she spent most of her time ruining the structural integrity of whatever
spot of sand I was currently calling home. 
She’d dig and dig until my chair caved in, then she’d dance around
happily in a circle, like a boxer who had just won a big fight or Homer after
he won a free Krusty Burger.

 

The place we were staying didn’t have internet, so in the
time I spent not wondering if my dog was evil, I was routinely checking my
IPhone for NFL Draft and fantasy baseball updates.  After the Raiders’ weekend, is there any
doubt in your mind whatsoever that you could totally dominate Al Davis in a
fantasy league?  After he took a guy who
WASN’T EVEN INVITED TO THE COMBINE in
the second round on Saturday, all bets are off. 
If Al was in your league, he’d be the guy who opens with Jeter in
the first (doesn’t care if he would available 70 picks later, wants to make
sure he gets him), Nyjer Morgan in the second (likes the speed), Giambi in the
third (never could resist a known cheater), and Chief Bender in the fourth
(Al’s favorite player from childhood, thinks he could still make a comeback).

 

For whatever reason, I could get updates on how my players
were doing, but I couldn’t get a scoreboard to load to see where my matchup
stood in the expert league.  I don’t know
if this has ever happened to you, but it’s absolutely maddening.  Without context, following your players
performances is even more frustrating. 
It’s basically all the stress without any of the reward.  When your guy hits a homer or gets a win, a
usually joyous moment is ruined because you don’t know if it made any
difference at all in the standings.  It’s
like being in a race where you aren’t told how long it will last or where the
finish line is.  You are stuck sprinting
like a sucker and what’s more miserable than just running?  Nothing, that’s what.

 

borowski.jpg

In fact, I’d argue that only seeing your players’ stats is
even worse than just complete radio silence. 
If you didn’t know anything at all, when you finally found out the
results, it would be a quick and relatively painless experience, like checking
your grades online in college.  But when
you know your players performances, you know when one of your pitchers gets
blown up and probably costs you a few categories.  You know, like if you owned Trevor Cahill and
knew he allowed an astounding 10 people on base and gave up seven earned runs
in just 2.2 innings of work on Friday, a performance so poor that even Joe
Borowski couldn’t watch.  Then it’s as if
your professor called just to let you know you’d left one of the ten questions
blank on your final and there was nothing you could do about it.  Wouldn’t you rather not know then spend the
next three weeks thinking you failed and constantly hitting refresh waiting to
find out?

 

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So driving back last night, listening to yet another
terrible Nickelback song my co-pilot had picked (I’ve discovered dogs love
them, which is the only thing that can explain their popularity), I assumed I
had been blown out and that my time at the top of the expert league was
kaput.  Upon getting home, I finally had
my answer after three days of worrying. 
Despite having a WHIP that may have lost me the ERA category some weeks,
I managed to only lose 4-5-1 and thanks to a blowout elsewhere, I’d taken sole
possession of first place in my division. 
Turns out my opponent had once again turned in a subpar performance,
allowing me to steal a few categories in the midst of our pathetic struggle (by
the way, is there a decent antonym for “epic”? 
There should be). 

 

cosby.jpg

I didn’t expect for this phenomenon to happen in an expert
league, but right now I’ve ridden this streak of underachieving opponents to
the top, despite having a pitching staff that’s lost it faster than Bill Cosby
(if you haven’t seen this yet, please watch this clip from the Draft
coverage.  I beg you.  Remember it when you see the inevitable
“America’s Dad Bill Cosby Asylumed” headline on CNN in about nine months).  I can’t say I’ve earned it, but after a
weekend of worrying, it’s thrilling to see I’m somehow bringing up the rear in
our leagues race to the bottom.

Fantasy Baseball Expert Interview: Ryan Hallam

Ryan Hallam.JPG

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Welcome
back to the newest installment in our series of interviews aimed at giving
readers insight into the minds and backgrounds of those fantasy writers and
pundits who have reached the level of “expert.” It seems there
has been an explosion in the number of people claiming the title in the last
few years, but no one seems to know where they come from. These interviews
aim to change all that, while also giving aspiring “experts” (such as
myself) some advice on both how to break into the industry and ways to improve
your fantasy skills.

Our guest this week is Ryan Hallam, the founder of Fighting
Chance Fantasy
.

 

In your opinion, what makes you a fantasy expert?  (basically the polite way of asking – why
should people listen to you?)

 
There are a few reasons. One, of course, is my experience. I have been playing
fantasy for a long time and have immersed myself in learning all of the
players, having an idea of who will break out and who is on the decline, and I
feel my strategies tend to work. The second reason is I truly do care about my
readers and emailers. I don’t write this blog everyday for my own ego, I do want
to help you succeed. I do get great satisfaction out of watching my readers
succeed.

 

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