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It’s déjà vu all over again, right Yogi? Pablo Sandoval hitting the DL with the exact same injury as last season? Kung Fu Panda joining fellow third sackers, Evan Longoria and Ryan Zimmerman, just as he did one year ago today? Brutal. Just brutal. Fantasy owners that invested in a top third baseman because of how thin the position remained this year are banging their heads against the wall trying to find an adequate replacement on the waiver wire, something that probably doesn’t exist even anymore. By the time Sandoval owners got the news, third base-eligible waivers had already been picked clean by owners of Longoria, Zimmerman and throw in Kevin Youkilis this time for good measure. Shallow league owners are likely deciding between Pedro Alvarez and Chris Johnson while deeper league victims are probably staring at Wilson Betemit, Alex Liddi and John McDonald and just shaking their heads both in disgust and disbelief.
Truth be told, I was planning on taking the day off here to rest up for a big weekend of baseball, but I don’t want to leave you all hanging here when so many Jered Weaver owners are dying to talk about his no-hitter on Wednesday. Far be it for me to ignore one of the most difficult feats…although with the frequency of no-hitters and perfect games over the last few years, maybe it’s not so difficult…in the game. For the pitcher to shut down an offense like that is tremendous and Weaver’s performance deserves the accolades. I won’t even trivialize it by mentioning that Jerome Williams tossed a three-hit, complete game shutout against these same Twins just one night earlier and how I talked about streaming pitchers when they play Minnesota. That wouldn’t be fair to Weaver or his owners that are strutting around today like proud peacocks.
“I love my life. I love my wife. And I wish you my kind of success.” These are the words of legendary sports agent Dickey Fox, inspiration and mentor to Jerry Maguire, and they ring true for me almost each and every day. I spend the majority of my days watching and writing about the game of baseball – both real and fantasy. It doesn’t quite pay the bills yet, but I sling some drinks on the side and am married to a very loving and supportive woman whose job does more than just pick up my slack. But what’s even better than having a “sugar mama” like that is that she is a die-hard baseball fan as well, has two fantasy baseball championships under her belt, and never asks me to turn off the ballgame so that she can watch The Real Housewives of Who Gives a Crap. So I’ve got it pretty good. While some people sit there and lament over what their lives could have been and wish that they walked a different path, I’m pretty happy with the way things are here. I like who I am and I don’t wish to be anyone else.
So here we are at the end of April where, for the most part, the hot starts begin to cool off and, with luck, the cold ones begin to heat up. Full-time starters have roughly 80-90 at-bats under their belt and your sample size arguments for why things are the way they are, start to dissipate. That doesn’t mean that all players are leveling off right now – some still have some work to do. Yes, Albert Pujols, I’m looking in your direction. But when you’re sitting there wondering what to do with your guys like Nolan Reimold, Jordan Schafer or Jose Altuve, watching their every move right now is key. They’re all off to hot enough starts that they have some decent trade value, but if they start to go into the tank because they’ve been playing over their head for the past month, your window of opportunity to reap some of the value in a trade will begin to close very rapidly.
Patience, people….patience. I know the debuts of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were supposed to be these huge, breakout extravaganzas, but remember, it’s just one game. One game of a remaining 140-ish on the schedule. We talk about things like sample size all the time and constantly use the cliché, “it’s a marathon, not a sprint,” so really, in essence, the initial debut games of Trout and Harper mean very little in the grand scheme of things. Each player has a very long way to go and one game just isn’t going to cut it for an evaluation, let alone talk of what either may be worth in your fantasy league. Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch and just enjoy the game for what it is…a game.
Usually this section is reserved for one item in particular that either grabs my attention or something specific that really sticks in my craw – wow, do I sound like an 82 year old man yelling at kids to stay off of my lawn when I use that expression? – and commands my undivided attention. But with so much happening in the baseball world right now, I can’t even bring myself to focus on just one topic. Blame baseball for being so damn exciting or blame my scattered thought on sleep deprivation. Whatever the case may be, I’m going to break from our usual format and just hit you with some rapid fire baseball thoughts that are wrap up the events of yesterday and impact the fantasy baseball community at the same time.
Wednesday was a pretty big day in the world of baseball – both real and fantasy. You’ve got the news that Michael Pineda has a torn labrum in his shoulder and is headed for season-ending surgery before throwing even one regular season pitch for the New York Yankees. Then there’s Paul Konerko hitting his 400th career home run, a solo shot to tie the game in the top of the ninth inning and force it into extras. Or how about The Kansas City Royals ending their 12-game losing streak with a four-home run assault? And if you stayed up late, then what about Javy Guerra taking a vicious line drive off the face and still staying in the game to finish the innings? Just a day steeped in baseball deliciousness.
Just a quickie again today, folks. Time constraints have a hold on me again today, so as much as I would love to ooh and aah about some killer young starting pitching, I’m going to have to keep it brief. One thing that I will reiterate to all you fantasy hounds out there is that if there’s one thing you can take away from yesterday and this first month of baseball, it’s that pitching will always be the deepest position out there, and if you do your due diligence prior to your draft, you can build yourself a spectacular pitching staff without having to invest in one of these top flight aces that will cost you an arm and a leg in bid dollars or a pick as high as the second or third round. We all know that offense wins fantasy championships, so if you load up on the big hitters first and then draft some of the better pitchers from the third or fourth tier or even lower, you can still come out ahead and win your league.
Fantasy owners that used their second or third round pick to select Giants ace Tim Lincecum, affectionately referred to as The Freak, have been banging their heads against the wall since he made his first start on Opening Day. He coughed up five earned runs that day, not even making it out of the sixth inning, and hardly looking like the player worthy of such a high draft selection. From there, he went on to give up another 11 earned runs in 8.1 innings over his next two starts, pushing his ERA to a very uncharacteristic 10.54 with an equally atrocious 1.90 WHIP and suddenly there was panic in the air. Was he hurt? Was he having a mechanical issue? Was he done?
While remaining patient in fantasy baseball is one of the most difficult things to do, it is also one of the most critical at this time of year. Sitting back and watching underperforming players is ridiculously frustrating, especially if those that aren’t pulling their weight are the ones you were relying on most, and their lack of production has you sitting, if not all the way at the bottom of your standing, at least real close to it. But as we get set to enter the final week of April, your patience with these players is now more important than ever.