Wednesday, June 09, 2010

My Boring Fantasy Team #1

Last week I made two fantasy trades that sent a couple tremors through the rest of the league. First, I sent 2B Daniel Cooley Uggla and 1B Paul Konerko to my friend Kyle in exchange for 2B Brandon Phillips, OF Michael Bourn and Zack fucking Greinke, arguably one of the top three pitchers in the game right now. It stings to give up Uggla when I've had middle infield problems but Phillips is probably a net upgrade when you consider his stolen bases and I have not pointed out to my trading partner that Phillips doesn't have such a drop-off in the power counting stats. Kyle is sorely in need of power, and Konerko is a better CI than any of the guys he's been playing there so far. And he's frustrated enough with Greinke's winless ways that he's willing to offer him for an otherwise replaceable CI. Power is hard to come by on the wire, but I plucked Konerko off waivers and I can play Justin Smoak or Chipper Jones or Daric Barton until I find a stable solution. I'll lose a bit in power, but gain serious stolen bases and upgrade to an ace starter when I'm in the middle of the pack in ERA/WHIP. 

What I'm betting on is Kyle not realizing the damage he will do by giving me so many stolen bases. I'm next-to-last in SB, and he's third from the top, but there's only 5 stolen bases separating us in the standings. With Phillips, Bourn and Jimmy Rollins soon coming off the DL for me, I expect to race up the charts. I also expect to take Kyle down a notch in ERA/WHIP, now that he's lost a key source. Kyle is so far behind me in power that what I've given him will hurt others more than it will hurt me. Greinke got bitch-slapped for 6 runs last night, so his tenure on my team is not off to a good start.

My other trading partner was The Guy We Don't Know. I flipped C Gerald Demp "Buster" Posey for closer Brian Wilson. With Bill and Andy nipping at my heels in saves, my 2nd placing in the category is getting precarious. What better way to fix that problem by trading a surplus catcher to the only guy ahead of me in saves? In a two-catcher league, the position is at a premium and I had scooped up Buster when an extra roster spot presented itself. I was already playing Joe Mauer and Miguel Olivo (to replace Jorge Posada and his hairline-fractured foot) so I looked around for teams hurting for catchers. The Guy We Don't Know was employing Dioner Navarro, he of the putrid 46 OPS+. He was quick to pounce the chance to upgrade his catcher, even at the expense of losing ground to his biggest competition in saves. 

The season will tell who wins these trades. I'm sitting in 2nd with competition, but I think I've systematically eliminated Kyle from the five or so contenders. 

Monday, May 10, 2010

Aramis Ramirez is a problem.

The Cub third baseman is slashing .160/.226/.261 in 133 plate appearances this year. The counting stats are pretty crappy, which would be tolerable in early-season fantasy baseball if the walks and doubles were there. It would mean a guy is seeing the ball well and hitting it hard; it's just a matter of time before he progresses back to the mean and the doubles start falling over the fence a bit more often and some of his slumping teammates start helping him create more runs. But Aramis Ramirez is not doing anything with the bat these days, especially with a dude who hasn't slugged less than .491 in seven years. So what's wrong with him? I don't watch a lot of Cub games so I have no idea. He's not that old; this is Age 32 season and historically speaking, his power shouldn't be disappearing this rapidly, even though he wasn't all that good the last two months of 2009. He is striking out 23% of the time, a lot higher than his usual seasons, but his walk rate has actually been a bit better. He's definitely capable of a rebound but what's going on? Is he pressing a bit too much in the early going? Is he just really really unlucky with his .176 BABIP? Is he hiding an injury?

This guy theorizes that it's possible his Dominican upbringing may affect his play, and that Aramis has trouble playing baseball in Chicago in the colder months. The linked article is outdated by several years and while Aramis's numbers in the Aprils and Mays of his earlier career back that up, it wasn't like that the last few years. Have there been unusually warm springs for Chicago recently? I really don't know.

But Aramis is simply too good to drop, and if an impatient leaguemate has released him, you should consider picking him up. In the meantime, I'll be benching him, and pick up a replacement until he starts showing some signs of life. There's a few not-unattractive options on the waiver wire for a CI if I shift the eligible Kevin Youkilis to replace Aramis at 3B and plug in Paul Konerko at 1B, a waiver wire pick-up of mine who has done no wrong for me so far.