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While Sunday is normally a day of rest for most, we fantasy baseball players need to be at our sharpest. The week is wrapping up and the waiver wire is a hotbed of action. We have to go through each team, check playing time situations, pore over injury reports, and see who’s hot and whose cold spell is pushing them closer and closer to bench time. From there, it’s checking next week’s match-ups and, for those in leagues with weekly moves, it’s all about planning the course of attack for the next six or seven days. We’re only two months in and this type of due diligence needs to be followed each and every week. It’s the dedicated ones who rise to the challenge while the casual fan whose interest drifts in and out starts to suffer.
With the usual shorter slate of games on Thursday, we’re going to skip the usual format and go with one of those game by game, stream of consciousness-style round-ups again. As a matter of fact, I think we’re going to make this a regular thing for Monday and Thursday nights as it allows us to take a broader look at what’s going on throughout MLB with respect to the fantasy world. This should actually help with waiver wire selections, especially for those who are in leagues with daily roster moves and transactions. So without further ado, let’s take a look at what happened Thursday and what we can expect, fantasy-wise, moving forward.
Fernando Rodney is struggling this year. What a shock. I pegged this as a legitimate possibility this year when I barely had Rodney in my top-20 at the closer position in my preseason rankings. Is he going to lose his job working the 9th, and if he does who will take over for the Rays? Jed Lowrie has had a great start to the season, but his star is already fading. Should you be buying or dealing the middle infielder? Mark Reynolds continues to bash balls and now he might qualify at another position which will only enhance his fantasy value. Finally, maybe Jason Heyward isn't as big of a wuss as we thought. He'll start his rehab assignment this week and could return to action next week for the Braves. What's his outlook for the rest of the season?
Offense first – that’s what they say. Pitching may win championships in the real world, but this is fantasy baseball we’re talking about and in fantasy, it is a dominant offense that wins it for you. It’s said so many times that you would think it would be ingrained in people’s heads by now, yet we still see starting pitchers get taken in the first round and people reaching for “aces” faster than they really should. It’s an age old debate that leaves most scratching their heads as to how and why it is still even up for discussion. Well, if there were ever a day to prove the point for the pro-offense side of the argument, it was Sunday.
If you’re still surfing the web here looking for fantasy baseball advice, then you’re probably in the midst of a dogfight with the rest of your league’s contenders and jockeying for position in the standings. Every at-bat, every start, and every relief appearance could mean the difference between winning your league (or at least finishing in a money spot) and falling to sixth place, a usual landing spot for the frustrated and disgruntled at this time of year. So what you have to do now is start thinking short-term. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised as to how many people still think in terms of a full-season right now. You don’t care what a player’s year-to-date stats look like and you don’t care how well-balanced a player they are. You need to start looking at the standings and figuring out where you can attain points with the most ease. If only five stolen bases separate you from the team three spots ahead of you, then you need a stolen base guy to grab those points. It doesn’t matter what else he brings to the table. Who cares? Just as long as he’s stealing bases. It’s the same for power, saves, strikeouts, whatever. You need to find guys specific to your needs.
So roto leagues are coming down to the wire and head to head leagues are smack dab in the middle of their playoffs. This is it. September is here and that marathon you started back in April has come down to a final sprint here in the last month of what has been a grueling, yet hard-fought, season. Some leagues still allow waiver pick-ups, so you want to make sure that you’re staying on top of the latest news and September call-ups while others just require daily/weekly maintenance on your roster. Hopefully you’ve got the depth to deal with any late-season injuries. If you’re reading this and have the time left to make adjustments, perhaps there are a few notes you’ll find relevant and even a little helpful…
With six shutouts, four teams held to just one run and overall, 17 of 30 teams being held to three runs or fewer, it makes for a pretty quick recap article. It happens sometime. What can you do? Not every day can be filled with fireworks. It does make for some nice pitching highlights overall, which we’ll get to, but rather than try to create something out of…well, literally nothing…we’ll just get on with the regular highlights. I mean, we could sit here and discuss the dissension within the Red Sox organization, but how many people really enjoy talking about what a huge a-hole Bobby Valentine is and how many times can you actually say it? He does it enough with both his words and his actions. So without further ado, let’s just hit the highlights.
Are you there, Dr. Andrews? It’s me, Jacoby. Red Sox Nation and fantasy owners around the world took it in the you-know-where Friday when Jacoby Ellsbury slid into second base and Tampa Bay shortstop Reid Brignac fell onto the outfielder’s shoulder. You could tell by the look on Ellsbury’s face – or maybe it was the obscenities that he was screaming as he lay there in pain – that this was going to be bad. He was helped off the field and immediately rushed for an MRI. A shoulder subluxation is what they’re calling it right now and owners are looking at missing their first-round draft choice for a minimum of six weeks. Further tests are going to be run – it won’t be less time, but it certainly could be more.
We are all looking for value at the draft table. One of the easiest ways to determine the value of a player is to consider what position he plays. With the growing trend toward people drafting based on “position scarcity,” I thought it would be worth my time, and my time is extremely valuable so it must be important, to give a list of some of the bigger name players who qualify at more than one position on the diamond (to be listed below the player has to have appeared in at least 20 games at each position – the standard qualifier in almost all fantasy leagues). To be clear, I'm not saying you should draft Mike Aviles before J.J. Hardy simply because he qualifies at more than one spot. What I am saying though is if you are trying to decide between Mike Aviles and Jason Bartlett that maybe you should lean toward Aviles because he will be able to help you out in two spots (in Aviles case he'll also qualify at middle and corner infield, further increasing his usefulness).
Prince Fielder trusted his agent and waited, and waited, and waited. It paid off as the Tigers signed him to the 4th largest deal in the history of baseball. Will he continue to have success in Detroit? At this time of year everyone talks about projections. I'll give my thoughts on why I think number projections are a shell game that no one really has the answer to. I'll also touch on two relatively minor signings – Bartolo Colon to the A's and Wilson Betemit to the Orioles – and tell you which one has the potential to be a more significant move for the 2012 season.