You may recall that a month into the season, I was embarrassing myself in the LABR mixed league. Despite going offense heavy during the draft and being questioned about my pitching staff, my team simply wasn’t hitting. My pitching was performing better, but not nearly good enough to offset the atrocities at the plate. Well, a month later, things have improved. Not a whole lot, mind you, but better times indeed.
Let’s get what everyone wants to know out of the way first. I was in last place (out of 15 teams) and have climbed my way out of the basement and into the middle of the pack. As of Thursday night, I sit in 8th place, where I have been for the last week or so. I can’t recall exactly how many points I had a month ago, but I think I have gained around 20-25 points since.
Fortunately, my team has improved despite the fact that it still isn’t hitting. Albert Pujols did remember he was Albert Pujols for a 2 week span, and that’s been about it. The only hitter who has really surged after a slow start has been Paul Goldschmidt. Maybe that will finally keep the Diamondbacks from starting Lyle Overbay!
I’ve had injuries galore recently. Between Travis Hafner, who was himself an injury replacement at my Util slot, Nick Markakis and the demoted Ryan Raburn (I’m not sure if this was a blessing in disguise or not since it did force me to find a replacement for his useless butt, though I assumed he had to rebound eventually), I was hurting for hitters.
My pitching, which was supposed to be a staff I cobbled together during the year with hopes that it wasn’t poor enough to ruin what was expected to be a top offense, has actually been the star. Thank you Chris Sale, Johan Santana (until last night) and Jeff Samarzdija! Oh, and Felipe Paulino too.
-Two weeks ago, I added Juan Francisco to replace the injured Hafner thinking that with Chipper Jones down, Francisco would start every day. This is especially true because Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he didn’t want to switch Martin Prado between third base and the outfield. So of course, Francisco gets like two starts all week and look who’s back at third, Prado. He lasted that one week on my active roster.
-I knew little about Scott Diamond when I decided to pick him up, but he had a two start week with pretty good matchups and had shown pretty interesting skills so far. I needed a starter and decided to take the gamble. I didn’t truly expect to keep him for more than a week, but I’m somewhat intrigued now given his extreme ground ball rate.
-This past week, to replace Francisco who replaced Hafner, I went with Brett Wallace, who I recently highlighted in a waiver wire article. And hey, he homered last night! He’ll likely lose his value when Carlos Lee returns though.
I made two trades! I am very difficult to trade with and even have a hard time with owners in my non-expert leagues. So you can imagine my surprise that I managed to not only pull off one trade, but a second one less than a week later.
-With Raburn demoted, I was in desperate need of a middle infielder. This is a 15-team league with a 6 man bench and DL’d players do not count against your reserve limit. This means that no one has any middle infield depth and free agency is pretty barren. There were very few teams who could trade an MI who had an adequate replacement on their bench. One of those teams owned Ben Zobrist, whose .220 BABIP has led to a disappointing start to his season. Perfect, not only do I have the opportunity to acquire one of the best second baseman in the league, but I may be able to at the low point of his value.
I agreed to trade him Samarzdija and “threw in” Francisco Liriano, who at the time had just come off a strong start against the Athletics. After a second excellent performance against the Royals, I am nervous that I sold him at exactly the wrong time! I got him to throw back Brett Anderson though, who has a chance to generate some value if his control returns after coming back from TJ surgery. Of course, I thought I had some pitching to give and then Jaime Garcia promptly gets bombed and is hurt again and then Paulino strains his groin.
-Only days later, I negotiated with several teams in need of speed. I don’t exactly have an excess of steals. In fact, I need every hitting category! But at the time, I owned, and was starting, Ben Revere, Juan Pierre and Jarrod Dyson in my outfield. Holy no power, all speed batman! How I managed to start three of the same player, I don’t know. Anyhow, I was open to moving these guys and willing to listen to offers.
Without sharing the entire back and forth, I ended up making a relative blockbuster:
I am currently second in saves with literally no chance to move up (the team in first has 4 closers and has become a dead team of which I am tempted to out the owner), and I still have Santiago Casilla, plus Andrew Bailey returning in hopefully around a month. Then I get the obvious hitting upgrade at catcher and I don’t think I lose much going from Revere to Tabata assuming the latter rebounds from his slow start. And of course, Dyson loses his job within a month once Lorenzo Cain (who is sitting on my DL himself) returns. You’d think Lind will be brought back at some point, either with the Jays or another team, and get a starting job back. If that does happen, he’ll provide another nice boost to my offense.
It’s really frustrating to have drafted offense first and yet still have to trade for offense. But I am hoping this solidifies intand once my injured guys return, I’ll be ready to gain lots o’ hitting points. Can I pull the biggest comeback in LABR history, going from worst after a month to first? No idea if that has been done before, but it would be pretty cool if I pulled that off.
Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.