My 165-74-13 record during the regular season earned me the number one overall seed in the playoffs and matched me up against the eighth overall seed (Tug Z’Nuff) in the first round. Tug Z’Nuff and I met in Week 6 of the regular season, with me prevailing 7-4-1 but that matchup was long history. Only four hitters that were on my team in Week 6 are currently on my roster. Six have since been dropped and two others have departed via trade.
The results changed slightly the second time we danced, and I used a weekend surge to survived a mid-week slump and moved into the semifinals with a 10-2 victory. Nothing too unusual as my team stuck to the plan they used all season and rode to the regular season crown—dominant pitching and just-enough scrappy hitting.
I lost home runs and stolen bases this week, won average and on-base percentage and barely hung on to runs and RBI. I made a couple of managerial moves that paid off big time this week, and enjoyed solid weeks from multiple players rather than a huge week from one guy. In a week where Dan Uggla was limited to three games with a groin injury and hit only .083 I managed only three homers, one each from Nick Swisher, Jorge Posada and Ben Zobrist. I made up for the lack of power by having seven hitter post OBPs of .385 or better and had nine players score multiple runs—seven had three or more. New pick-up Logan Morrison scored seven runs for me in his first week and Nick Swisher led my squad with five RBI. I won runs by one and RBI by two. Kosuke Fukudome stole my only base and Scott Rolen rebounded from some bad weeks with a .412/.545 performance this week. His power is still way down (only 2 HR since June) but he remains a run producer.
Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher both enjoyed nice weeks as the Yankees won eight straight games. They combined to hit .395/.444 while scoring seven runs and driving in eight with two home runs. Travis Hafner has a second nice week for me, hitting .300/.391 with two runs and three RBI. I knew his counting numbers wouldn’t account to much in Cleveland’s lineup, but his ratio stats have been well above average since I picked him up. Apart from Uggla, the only player to disappoint me this week was Lorenzo Cain who put up a .182/.250 line, scored one run and failed to steal a base.
After going 4-2 in the hitting categories, I needed only to split the pitching ones to advance. My pitchers did more than split, they swept them 6-0. They recorded four wins, a whopping seven saves, 63 strikeouts and seven quality starts while posting a 2.80 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. All of those numbers were enough to win each category rather comfortably. Wins, quality starts and strikeouts looked surpassable when Tug Z’Nuff picked up three starters to throw on Sunday, but only one recorded a quality start, none picked up a victory and they managed only seven strikeouts in over 16 innings.
Josh Johnson had a nice start this week in which he struck out 12 in six innings and Jaime Garcia and Barry Enright both won their starts this week, but the star was once again Felix Hernandez. He made two quality starts with a 0.00 ERA, 0.73 WHIP and 17 strikeouts. In fact, he’s allowed just one earned run in his last 45 innings. He’s more than fulfilled the expectations I had when I used my second round draft pick on him. Not to be outdone by King Felix, my closers had themselves quite a week too. Feliz and Franklin each saved a pair of games while Aardsma picked up three. None of them allowed a run and I ran away with saves 7-0.
I activated IF Jeff Keppinger midway through the week and to make room for him I parted ways with my seventh-round pick, Nyjer Morgan. Morgan disappointed all year, experiencing a considerable offensive drop-off from 2009. I took him mostly for his stolen base potential (42 in 2009) and he had 33 for me this year, but was also caught 15 times, likely costing me runs. His batting average and OBP dropped over 50 points from his 2009 numbers and with him looking at being suspended for up to 15 games, I was finally done with him – leaving me with just 10 of the 22 players I drafted.
I also made one more move late Sunday night, picking up Cleveland OF Michael Brantley and dropping Mike Minor. Logan Morrison took a foul ball off his face and Nick Swisher is dealing with a balky knee, leaving me an outfielder short. I anticipate both guys will be fine in a few days at which point I’ll bring back Minor, but until then, I needed a bat to keep the spot warm.
The semifinals will feature matchups between division rivals. Murderer’s Row and Honey Nut Ichiros (both from Division 3) will face off as the second and third seeds while I get Division 4 rival and fifth-seed Whipple23. Whipple23 finished fifth overall with a 133-96-23 record and knocked off the fourth-seed, Angel Dust n Hoffman 8-4 in the first round of the playoffs.
We met just the once time in the regular season, a 9-3 win for me in Week 9. That week we split the offensive categories and I swept all six of the pitching ones. He’s since cut some hitters in exchange for starters so I’m looking at a disadvantage again in regards to number of starts. I have just one pitcher making two starts, and it’s a rather unspectacular one in Jake Westbrook, while Whipple23 has five pitchers scheduled to make two starts. I’m going to need Adam Wainwright, who has lost four starts in a row to bounce back this week while my other starters continue their good work.
With the 10-2 win, I moved my overall record to 175-76-13, nearly 100 games over .500. The first round win also assured me of a Top 4 finish in the league which qualifies me to move up a level next year to a higher-ranked league. But I’m focused on getting through the next two weeks first!
As in every sport, teams can win games without playing up to their full capabilities. The best teams don’t always win and the worst teams don’t always lose. There is not one overlying explanation for this, but one of the most sensible is simply luck. Good luck, bad luck or Luck of the Irish, baseball teams and players experience their fair share of luck throughout the course of a season.
Luck plays a large role in the actual game of baseball and even more so in fantasy baseball. A lot of things can lineup to help or hurt you. You could match up against a team who’s manager hasn’t checked their club in a month, and therefore has two DL’d players still in his lineup and his best starter on the bench. You could simply run into a team that has players who all have an off day on Monday, while your players are from the eight teams that are playing. Your seven starters might make seven starts, while your opponent’s seven starters make ten or twelve. Maybe one of your opponent’s players goes on a ridiculous week-long tear that just happens to correspond with your matchup with him.
Playing in my first competitive fantasy baseball league this year, I decided to try and take a look at just how much of a factor luck proved to be. Luck is an intangible variable, something that is impossible to accurately analyze, but you can look at and compare certain statistics to get a rough idea of how much luck influenced a season. There’s no one way to do this, and as far as I know no one has applied this type of analysis to a fantasy league. But it’s been done for Major League Baseball, as evidenced by a team’s Pythagorean Record.
The Pythagorean Record determines the record a team should have based on the quality of baseball they’ve played during the season. This is calculated by using a team’s run differential, which is the difference between runs scored and runs allowed. Generally a good team will register a very high run differential, while a bad team will constantly be outscored. The greater your average margin of victory, the better team you should be.
While that system is flawed, it’s as good as any I’ve seen and that’s why I chose to base my evaluation off of it. I devised a way to analyze my team’s actual performance against what they probably should have done, had all things been equal. The graph below shows each statistic that my league used, my season total and overall record for each category, and my league rank for each total. The three columns on the far right represent the expected record for me based on the overall numbers my team posted.
My “formula” for determining the expected record, or “X-record” was simple. The X-record is simply the overall league record for the corresponding rank. For example, my team was ninth in runs scored with 551, but my 13-7-1 record was the fourth best record overall. The ninth best record for runs scored was 11-10-0, making that my X-record for runs.
Comparing my actual record and my X-record, it seems that my team’s overall record is slightly better than what their actual performance has indicated. My pitching actually ran into some bad luck this season, as their actual record was two games worse than what X-record said it should be. Despite recording the fourth most amount of total saves over the course of the season, my team was saddled with the ninth best record in that category.
My offense on the other hand, was fortunate to experience very good luck and outperformed their expected record by fourteen games. They outperformed their X-record in each of the six offensive categories, sometimes by a large margin. The red numbers at the bottom are my actual record (165-74-13) and what my record should have been, given how my team performed (152-85-15). So it appears that my team experienced a considerable amount of good luck this year, but not an overwhelming amount.
The 152-85-15 record that my team was expected to have still would have been an excellent record. In fact, it still would have been good enough for a first place finish in the league, albeit by seven games instead of fifteen.
It takes more than sheer luck to be a successful fantasy manager, but sometimes you can make your own luck. Fantasy managing ultimately comes down to two things – managerial knowledge and managerial activity. And I don’t think those two aspects are even splits either. Simply paying attention to your roster and playing matchups goes a long way to a winning season.
Below are the final standings of the league.
With a playoff berth and the first overall seed sewn up, the outcome of Week 21 mattered very little to me. That said, it’s probably best that my hitters got their worst three game streak out of the way before the games matter again. After starting the week brutally, I scraped back and nearly earned a tie, ultimately suffering me second loss of the season 5-7-0.
My offense didn’t hit too much, but when they did, they inflicted some serious damage. I hit only .246/.312 for the week, easily my worst week of the season in that regard, but managed pretty good counting numbers with 28 runs, nine homers and 36 RBI. I’ll take those three numbers any week of the year, but this week they were only good to win one of those three. Every single one of my opponent’s players hit a home run and he finished with twelve for the week. He bested me by one in runs and I beat him by six in RBI. Gaby Sanchez homered twice and drove in eight runs this week while Kosuke Fukudome hit .417/.533 with two homers and five RBI. Nick Swisher also had a big week, homering twice with five runs and five RBI while hitting .353/.417. A week after stealing seven bases, I managed zero this week and lost a winnable stat with my opponent getting only two.
Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright made two starts each this past week, but all four were rather pedestrian. They didn’t win a game and managed only one quality start over the course of the week. Excellent outings from Barry Enright, Felix Hernandez and Tim Hudson helped me win quality starts, strikeouts and wins. A save from each of my closers was enough to take that category but I dropped ERA and WHIP to finish 4-2 in the pitching categories.
The only move I made this week was finally pulling the trigger on dropping Denard Span. Several times the past few weeks, I’ve started the process of dropping him for an extra starter, but could never convince myself that any of the available starters would help me enough to validate dropping Span. I finally confirmed the release, but replaced him instead with another outfielder, Florida rookie Logan Morrison. I’ve realized that finding power and RBIs this late in the season is nearly impossible, so I grabbed Morrison who scores a ton of runs atop the Marlins lineup and fills out average and OBP very nicely.
The 5-7 week gives me a final record of 165-74-13, good for a first place finish and a 15 game cushion over the runner-up. Now it’s on to the playoffs and each team that wins this week will move up to the next league, so needless to say I’d like to win. I’m up against Tug Z’Nuff which is a tough matchup. He finished 123-111-18 and in eighth place.
I’ll have some posts this week analyzing my season, good and bad. I’ll cover things from the draft to an original method I’ve developed to look at how much luck factored into my first-place finish.
For the second time this season, I wrapped up a week with a clean 12-0 sweep. Combining a solid week for my team with a subpar week from my opponent led to me doing plenty to clinch the number one overall seed in the playoffs.
No one particular hitter had an amazing week, but several guys had pretty good ones. Gaby Sanchez homered twice and drove in seven runs. Jorge Posada homered twice and drove in five. Dan Uggla hit .320/.379 with a homer and five RBI. Ben Zobrist and Lorenzo Cain each scored four runs. The big news of the week was six different players stole a base, with Cain swiping two. In a week that my opponent got five steals from Jose Reyes, all my hitters picking up the slack was important. For the week I scored 27 runs, hit six homers, drove in 30 runs, swiped seven bases and hit .288/.367 which were all good enough numbers to win each category. After trailing stolen bases most of the week, I got three on Saturday and one on Sunday to pull ahead by one and sweep the week.
My pitching was also more than solid and I had the numbers advantage this week, with my guys scheduled to make more starts than my opponent. By the time Friday’s games were over I had leads in each of the six pitching categories. With my opponent’s starters done for the week, I decided to keep Barry Enright, Jaime Garcia and Mike Minor on the bench for their weekend starts, to guarantee I kept all my leads. All three pitched extremely well and either way I would have swept all six categories. Felix Hernandez was the big stud this week, hurling eight shutout innings against the Yankees striking out eleven and picking up a win. Josh Johnson picked up his first win in over a month with an eight-inning, two-run performance. Jake Westbrook, Tim Hudson, Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright all recorded quality starts but failed to pick up wins. Neftali Feliz and David Aardsma picked up a save apiece to win me saves in a week when my opponent had no closers. My pitching is looking spectacular heading into the season’s final week. With the playoffs being single-elimination, one crappy week can kill you.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit the disabled list a few days after I picked him up and with no enviable catching replacements available, I went with Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to take his place. Fukudome hit .429/.500 with a stolen base in his first two games with me. I also made another change, replacing Joel Hanrahan who had only one save since taking over closing duties with Travis Hafner. Adding Hafner gives me a little more pop and some OBP skills. Last transaction was strictly procedural as Jeff Keppinger hit the DL and to replace him, I simply activated Nyjer Morgan, who swiped a base in his first game back.
The perfect 12-0 week pushed my overall record to 160-67-13 and clinched the regular season title. It also gave me a 23-0-1 record against Brandon’s Bombers this season. I bet he’s glad to be done with me. The last week of the regular season matches me up with Albany Diamond Dogs, who I beat 10-1-1 in Week two, but has played his way to 7th place overall. The Diamond Dogs are coming of an 8-2-2 week that improved their record to 124-98-18. Depending on how Week 21 plays out, it’s possible that I’ll match up with Albany Diamond Dogs in the first round of the playoffs.
Fresh off my first defeat of the season, my team bounced back in fine fashion. Matched up against the sixteenth ranked team in the league, I handled them fairly easily and enjoyed a comfortable lead all week long.
My offense struggled for a second consecutive week and heading into the home stretch, that’s beginning to become worrisome. I lost four of the six categories winning only runs and RBI. Dan Uggla was a big reason why, scoring six times and driving in seven while hitting .391/.481 with a pair of homers. Denard Span (.316) was the only other player to crack the .300 mark while Ben Zobrist (.062) and Jorge Posada (.154) really contributed to my .214 average for the week. I lost stolen bases 2-to-1 with my one steal coming from the unlikeliest of players – Jorge Posada. It was actually his second steal of the year, and puts him one behind his career high of three.
My pitchers saved the week by sweeping all six pitching categories with relative ease. Adam Wainwright, Tim Hudson and Felix Hernandez combined for four quality starts, three wins and an ERA of zero. Hernandez and Wainwright each threw two-hit shutouts while Hudson went eight scoreless in his only start this week. Josh Johnson was bombed in his start, but after the season he’s had, one bad start is excusable, especially when the rest of my staff picked him up. David Aardsma had three saves in three perfect innings and Ryan Franklin picked up a pair of saves.
Nyjer Morgan hit the DL this week with a hip problem, so I had to scramble to find a replacement outfielder – not an enviable proposition when your offense has been slumping for several weeks now. I grabbed Chris Heisey from Cincinnati, but his everyday job was gone when the Reds traded for Jim Edmonds a day later. So I replaced him with Jarrod Saltalamacchia when Boston called him up so I’m back to carrying a caddy for days Posada gets off – which should be several in the August heat.
After a bad loss last week, an 8-4 win was a nice bounceback, even if it was against a bad team. The week pushed my record to 148-67-13 on the year and kept me in first place, although a half a game was shaved off my lead, cutting it down to 8.5 games with two weeks to play. Up next for me is Brandon’s Bombers who I beat 11-0 in the season’s first week. Brandon’s Bombers are 74-131-23 for the season and coming off a 11-1 loss this week. Hopefully my offense starts to heat up and my pitchers continue to bring the heat.
Eventually, every good run comes to an end. The Roman Empire, MASH and now my seventeen week unbeaten streak is over. Matched up against the number two team in the league for the third time this year, my team got out of the gate slow and couldn’t recover.
Not much to write home about offensively this week, as I was slaughtered in five categories and managed to stave off a sweep by swiping stolen bases. Dan Uggla and Gaby Sanchez were my only hitters to break .300 this week and Uggla combined with Nick Swisher to hit all four of my home runs. My team drove in seventeen runs during the week while Pedro Alvarez and Carlos Ruiz drove in sixteen for my opponent, who finished with 38.
Despite having just three two-start pitchers this week and my opponent having eight (!!!) I won quality starts (8-to-7) and strikeouts (62-to-48) and tied saves. I lost wins, ERA and WHIP, but going 2-3-1 when facing such a numbers disadvantage isn’t terrible. I got double quality starts out of Tim Hudson and Jake Westbrook, but Westbrook failed to record a win. Josh Johnson and Felix Hernandez were terrific once again but neither picked up a win. Story of my season.
Transactions-wise this week, I activated Scott Olsen and dumped him immediately for Braves rookie call-up Mike Minor. Olsen put up a stinker the day after I dropped him, so I dodged a bullet there. Also, as much as it pained me to do it, I dropped Brennan Boesch and picked up Milwaukee call-up Lorenzo Cain. Boesch absolutely carried me for about six weeks this summer and is a huge reason why my team is where it is. But he’s been brutal now for about a month and I had to cut ties.
Up next for me is Honkey Lips, who is 86-113-17 on the season and in 16th place overall. It’s a nice respite for me after a tough run in the schedule. My first losing week of 3-8-1 dropped my record to 140-63-13 and sawed five games off my lead, dropping it to nine with three weeks left.
Week 17 was an interesting week transaction-wise for me. With four weeks remaining until the playoffs start, I began shaping my team to compete with the other league powerhouses. I’ve spent most of the season beating up on weaker teams, and thought that I could make a few moves that would line me up to be more competitive with the stronger teams in the league. I need to win only the first round to assure myself of moving up a league, but I’d love to win the league outright.
Many of the top teams are carrying eight to ten starters while I was carrying only six. Sure, my six were fantastic pitchers, but I’d most likely lose counting stats playing a couple of starters down. I could keep pace in ratio stats like ERA and WHIP, but it would be harder for me to accumulate more wins, quality starts and strikeouts with less pitchers. So I began adding starters.
I started by adding Sergio Mitre while he was still on the DL. I chose to not activate him for his first start which proved to be the right move when he served up seven runs in five innings and was dropped from the rotation. I dropped Mitre and picked up Barry Enright, who’s made a couple of impressive starts since being called up. I added one more when Scott Olsen returned from the disabled list, and the arrival of those two starters plus my pickup of Jake Westbrook a few weeks ago, brought my total number of starters to eight, which I believe will be enough to keep pace with the more elite clubs headed to the playoffs.
I also decided to add these starters at the expense of my offense. I have three closers and one reliever who may now be Pittsburgh’s main guy for save opportunities, so I held onto all of them. For the past month at least, Jose Guillen and Brennan Boesch have been awful. Boesch has hit .209 without a home run and Jose Guillen has hit .207 with a paltry .261 on base percentage.
Of the two, I dropped Guillen, because if he’s not hitting homers (which he isn’t) he’s pretty much useless. Boesch is still working some walks and scoring some runs, and is a much better bet to get back on track over the next two months. But instead of sticking him in the lineup every day, he’ll be a matchup player for me going forward. With Jeff Keppinger playing very well, I feel comfortable using him as an everyday starter at short and shifting Ben Zobrist to the outfield full-time once he recovers from some minor back stiffness. Zobrist has hit under .200 the past month, but has a strong on-base percentage and is filling out the stat line with plenty of runs and steals, so he remains valuable.
I feel that carrying more pitchers and less, but better hitters will give me my best chance to make a run in the playoffs and hopefully finish high enough to earn a berth in the next league up.
My opponent this week was one I had some history with. Before the season started while I was shopping around for a hitter, we started some negotiations and she ended up being completely unrealistic with her proposals, wanting way more value back than she was giving up. I run across an owner like this every once and a while and it makes me want to beat the crap out of them when we play. And I had a pretty good go at it this week.
My offense, led by Dan Uggla this week was absolutely ridiculous. I hit eleven home runs, the most ever for me in one week, highlighted by five from Uggla and three from Swisher. With Brennan Boesch and Jose Guillen struggling, all eleven home runs came from my infielders. Imagine what my team could do with a passable outfield. Uggla, Swisher, Scott Rolen and Jeff Keppinger all put up on-base percentages over .400, with Uggla and Rolen clearing the .500 mark. That helped make up for the sub-.200 OBPs from Boesch, Guillen and Gaby Sanchez. I won five of six offensive categories, only losing RBI mostly due to the fact that of my eleven home runs, nine were of the solo variety. Can’t drive in guys that aren’t on base. Nyjer Morgan and Ben Zobrist each stole three bases, easily winning my that category. Zobrist only played three games this week due to some minor back stiffness, so hopefully he’s ready to go when the Rays start up again on Tuesday. His average has been down, but he still fills out the stat line.
I ran into a fairly hot pitching staff with Wandy Rodriguez and Dan Haren, but managed to take four of six categories due mostly in part to numbers. My opponent made only four starts with Stephen Strasburg hitting the DL, and I took advantage by winning strikeouts, quality starts and wins. My starters didn’t pitch badly, posting a 3.78 ERA and a 1.27 ERA, but it wasn’t enough this week. I picked up two saves which was plenty this week as my opponent had no closers on her roster. Josh Johnson and Adam Wainwright both had down weeks, posting ERAs over 5.00, but luckily they came during a week that I had mostly in the bag. I recorded six quality starts, but the only outing that particularly impressed was Tim Hudson’s 7.2 inning, one run performance early in the week. A lot of six inning, three runs jobs this week.
I’m going to hold off on the transactions for the week, because I made quite a few changes this week that I’ll detail in a post later this week. Overall this week I went 9-3-0 and improved my record to 137-55-12, still good for first place. The team behind me gained a game in the standings, and has a chance to do some real damage next week as we square off for the third matchup this season of the top 2 teams. The first one was all the way back during Week 2 and saw me come out on top and the second one was in Week 7 and also saw a victory for Morales in Wonderland. Hopefully I’ll do more of the same. I’m up against Murderer’s Row this week who’s name is more than fitting as they’re coming off a 10-2 week that pushed their record to 122-68-14.
This will be the first of a two-part series where I’ll go through and explain my thought process behind trades and non-trades. I figured with the major league baseball trade deadline being today and fantasy deadlines fast approaching, this would be as good a time as any for this type of analysis.
As a fantasy owner, you should always be on the look out for a deal that will improve your team. Don’t ever tell yourself you’re set with your team, because it can always be improved. If another owner is desperate for some pitching and you’ve got a surplus, it’s possible you can extract more value from the other owner than you give up. Don’t make a trade just for trading’s sake, but be constantly aware of other owner’s rosters and needs. It’ll give you a step up in negotiations if you’re familiar with that.
I’ve made only four trades this season, so Part 1 is going to be considerably shorter than Part 2. Rarely do I complete a first offer trade, and three of these deals took considerable work and bargaining to make them happen.
April 28: Traded SP Barry Zito for 1B Todd Helton
Barry Zito got off to a fantastic start for me, going 3-0 in four starts with four quality starts. I traded him after his 8-inning, 10 strikeout performance against the Cardinals. I had drafted Zito very late in the draft (18th round) and envisioned him as more of a back end of the rotation kind of guy, rather than the ace he pitched like for the season’s first month. So I sold high.
I didn’t bring back a great return, only getting the shell of Todd Helton, but I knew another owner was interested in Todd Helton, so I made a better offer than him, with my sights set on flipping Helton to him for a player I had interest in.
I’d rate this trade as a PUSH for me and a win for my partner. Zito has provided his new owner with about league average performance, going 4-6 with about a 4.30 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. Certainly not awful numbers, but more along the lines of what I had expected him to be, rather than the 1.53 ERA and 0.88 WHIP I got out of him in April. Helton didn’t start one game for me, but served as an important piece in my next trade.
May 8: Traded 1B Todd Helton, OF Ryan Sweeney and SP Chris Volstad for OF Denard Span and RP Tyler Clippard
Just over a week later, I agreed to trade Helton in a package to the owner that originally wanted him. My original team possessed only one stolen base threat in Nyjer Morgan, who got off to a pathetically slow start (pun intended). By adding Span I began building a more well-rounded team.
With Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Swisher and Gaby Sanchez, I had no room for Todd Helton and selling him off made perfect sense, as I would have dropped him otherwise. Getting value for a player that has no value to your team is always the smart move. If you’re planning on dropping a player, trying to get some value for him is smart. Making a 1-for-1 deal with that player rarely works, but the success rate goes up if you expand a deal and include him as a piece in a package, as I did.
Helton was expendable for me, so what I had to gamble on was if Span could replace Ryan Sweeney’s production in the outfield for me, and if I could find another starter on the waiver wire. Sweeney hit .306 with 1 home run and 25 RBIs for me before the trade, and hit .275 with no homers and 11 RBI after the trade, before landing on the DL with a season-ending knee injury.
I picked up Washington starter Scott Olsen to replace Volstad which has more or less been a wash. Volstad has spent the time since the trade shuttling back and forth between the majors and minors while Olsen has spent a majority of the time on the DL.
I’d rate this trade as a definite WIN for me and a LOSS for my trade partner. Span has been a good fit for me, and he’s been better after the trade than he was before. Nothing special, but a solid contributor in all stat categories. I got decent contributions from Clippard—3 wins, a save and decent ERA, WHIP and strikeout totals—before I replaced him with a starting pitcher.
As for what I gave up, Helton and Sweeney are both currently on the DL, with Sweeney out for the season. Volstad has had some decent starts since I traded him, but I haven’t had a day where I wished I had him back.
June 2: Traded 1B Adrian Gonzalez and 2B/3B Alberto Callaspo for 2B/SS/OF Ben Zobrist and RP Neftali Feliz
The manager I teamed up with here had just lost slugging 1B Kendry Morales for the season in that freak celebration injury. With my surplus of 1B I was open to trading any of them. I led with an offer centered around Nick Swisher, but he wanted the moon. So I figured I’d just go ahead and give it to him, so long as I got a decent planet or two back for it.
We moved to Adrian Gonzalez and none of his players was worth Gonzalez one-for-one straight up, so we worked to expand the deal.
In my mind, I felt I could take the hit in home runs that Gonzalez provided if I could get back a guy that matched his average and OBP, while upgraded my runs and stolen bases. I began targeting Ben Zobrist, who fit my description of what I wanted, and provided it all with incredible positional versatility. I’m able to slot him in at second, short and in the outfield, which allows me to play matchups on a daily basis.
While trying to figure out another piece to bring back in this trade, I focused on his surplus of relief pitchers. Sure, I already had two closers, but neither Ryan Franklin or David Aardsma were seeing very many save opportunities. Franklin because the Cardinals were winning big and Aardsma because the Mariners weren’t winning at all. So I ended up with Feliz, who has been incredible this season as Texas’ closer.
From my side of things, Zobrist would be replacing Callaspo and Nick Swisher would take Gonzalez’s place. My surplus of outfielders was due in part to me having to use Swisher in the outfield with Gonzalez at first. Moving Gonzalez enabled me to shift Swisher to first and cleared up the logjam in my outfield. Feliz would replace anybody, I’d just add his power arm to my stable of pitchers.
This is a pretty good example of a WIN-WIN trade. Both sides got what they were looking for and improved their teams. I was happy with this deal, and still am today. I’ve missed the home runs and RBI from Gonzalez, but Swisher has been excellent and Gaby Sanchez’s emergence as a quality hitter has softened that blow. And Feliz has carried my saves since the trade.
July 8: Traded SP Matt Garza for 2B Dan Uggla
After the Gonzalez trade, I thought I was done dealing, but as I mentioned at the top of this post, I’m always open to dealing whenever it improves my team. During Week 14 I was matched against an opponent who was stacked offensively, but needed some pitching help. Well, I had pitching and decided to move.
He had two excellent second basemen in Dan Uggla and Brandon Phillips and I targeted Uggla and his consistent power. At the time I had six starting pitchers and knew trading one away would put me in a numbers crunch when I went up against teams that had eight or nine starters. But like how I felt trading Zito and Volstad, I felt Uggla plus a replacement pitcher was worth more than Garza alone.
So I offered my lowest rated pitcher for Dan Uggla and was pleasantly surprised when it was accepted immediately. No arguing over value, no haggling for more players. It was a sweet and easy deal that came together very quickly. I ended up replacing Garza with Jake Westbrook and also scooped up Arizona’s Barry Enright. I also have Scott Olsen coming back from the DL and can activate him if he looks good.
Another WIN-WIN deal. Uggla has been a monster for me offensively, hitting six home runs, scoring 14 runs and driving in 15 over the 18 games I’ve had him. And as you may have heard, Matt Garza threw a no-hitter for the Rays in his second start after this trade. Both teams dealt from positions of strength to improve a weaker part of the team.
Look for Part 2: Fantasy Trades That Weren’t some time in the next few days.
After consecutive narrow victories over two of the league’s elite teams, my schedule lightened up a good bit for Week 16, matching me up against the league’s third worst club. My team had a very solid all-around week and nearly pulled off a clean 12-0 sweep. When the week ended, I was a little short on batting average and on-base percentage and settled for a 10-1-1 win.
Big week all around for my offense, production-wise. I lost batting average and tied OBP as I had four guys hit .214 or lower, but cruised elsewhere. Six guys drove in five or more runs for me and five scored at least four runs. I easily won runs and more than doubled my opponent in RBI (38 to 16). Swisher, Posada, Guillen and Zobrist all homered once while my two Marlins, Uggla and Sanchez each went deep twice. Nyjer Morgan finally had a week to write about, hitting .320 with two runs, six RBI and four stolen bases. Denard Span swiped two bases while Sanchez and Keppinger each stole one.
Because I carry a starting pitcher or two less than most teams, every once and a while I’ll hit a week where my opponent has several starters making two starts and I don’t. This was one of those weeks as my opponent’s starters made thirteen starts and my starters made seven.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, I swept all six pitching categories. I took wins when Ryan Franklin picked up a win in relief during the Sunday Night Baseball game and won quality starts when Barry Enright recorded one for me and Jesse Litsch failed to do so for my opponent. Six of my seven starts resulted in quality starts, but as has become all to common, only two of them resulted in wins. Felix Hernandez and Adam Wainwright combined for fourteen innings of scoreless baseball and neither received a win. Josh Johnsonstruck out 11 in 6.1 shutout innings and was denied a victory. Neftali Feliz saved four games during the week and Franklin and Aardsma each picked up a save apiece.
Transaction-wise I had a fairly busy week. I did not activate Mitre for his Saturday start and was very glad after he allowed seven runs in five innings. I dropped him even before Joe Girardi announced he would be moving back to the bullpen. I decided that I needed another starter, especially with my eyes set on the playoffs and picked up Arizona’s Barry Enright. To make room for him I dropped Ronny Paulino, and will roll with only Posada to fill my catcher’s spot – I’ll simply punt the catcher spot on the days Posada gets off and hope he stays healthy the rest of the season. I dropped Wilson Betemit for Jayson Nix but changed my mind before Nix was able to play one game for me.
Noticing increasing rumors about Pittsburgh trading their closer Octavio Dotel, I picked up Joel Hanrahan. I know last week I said that my middle reliever experiment was over, but I view Hanrahan as a closer candidate who’s completely expendable should he blow up.
My 10-1-1 week moved my record to 128-52-12 and kept me comfortably in first place. It was also my sixth winning week in a row, my longest of the season. Up next for me is JesusMo&JoeDiMaggio, whose 65-106-21 record is good for 18th place overall. But they’re coming off a 10-2 win and are starting to see some of their players turn around.