Friday, June 29, 2012

Fantasy Funkhouser: Like Constantinople or Rome Before it...Your Fantasy Team is Beyond Saving and Must be Allowed to Die

The League of Shadows had the right idea in Batman Begins. To start anew, you have to burn this mother down.

With the All-Star game approaching, the unofficial midway point of the major league season is here. In the fantasy world, it means it's time to take a long hard look at your squad. Players should be slowly coming out of any early season slumps, or if you're unlucky, staying in them. Teams are feeling good or bad about themselves and there's a better understanding about what certain owners need and what certain owners are looking for.

In real life, GM's have to decide if they are going to be buyers or sellers for the rest of the year, but the magic of fantasy baseball is that even if you're in last place, if you've been an active owner...there's still a chance. You can't be timid though. In a standard redraft league there are no favorite players or thinking about the future. It's what can you do for me know, maximizing value, and catching the right player at the right time.

So, if you're in the bottom half of your fantasy standings, let's take a look at some moves you can make to ignite a second half run at a playoff spot. Because we all know, you just have to make it to the playoffs. Anything can happen after that.

Note: There are obviously a million different scenarios for a million different teams, so I'm looking to provide some more generalities for most public, redraft, H2H leagues.



The most obvious answer is usually the right one. But at this point, the mentality of trading has to go out of the window. If you're finding yourself among a number of vintage wines (in the cellar) then it's clear you've had some bad luck, drafted players that aren't panning out, or just missed completely.

Earlier in the year, the objective of the trade is to get one over on another guy. Propose a deal that seems fair, but in reality you like much more for yourself. Now, it's not about winning or losing it's about reconstructing your team. Depth is needed, not names.

Odds are you must surely have at least a couple of marquee players on your team. Whether it's a Robinson Cano, Andrew McCutchen, or even David Ortiz there has to be someone that is producing and doing a great job. If you drafted Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Roy Halladay with your first three picks...sorry. You must take these top flight players and get as much for them as possible. One man cannot win you a championship, but trading Cano for Ben Zobrist, Alex Rios, Paul GoldschmidtMatt Harrison? That's reinforcements. Obviously you'd have to add a couple of more players on the Cano end, but Cano is the other guy's target.

This isn't a trade you would ever consider at the start of the year, but now, it's about returns. Let's look at the stats projected for the rest of the year:

Robinson Cano 0.320 53 10 72 2 0 0 0 0 0
Total 0.320 53 10 72 2 0 0 0 0 0
Ben Zobrist 0.265 45 7 50 10 0 0 0 0 0
Alex Rios 0.272 45 11 40 16 0 0 0 0 0
Paul Goldschmidt 0.268 38 13 47 6 0 0 0 0 0
Matt Harrison 0.000 0 0 0 0 6 116 0 3.98 1.32
Total 128 31 137 32 6 116 0 3.98 1.32
Difference 0.268 75 21 65 30 6 116 0 3.98 1.32

These are rough estimates based on remaining games and career averages. Again, the garbage players you throw in will skew the Difference down a bit, but it shouldn't affect things that much. Certainly you can't expect Cano to outperform 3 other major leaguers worthy of ownership in a fantasy league, but look at the outcome. Aside form a loss in average, you'd pick up a solid starter in Harrison along with over 20 homeruns and 30 steals. That's production you won't find on the waiver wire. And while it's not as fun to root for Alex Rios as it is for Bob Cano, if you intend to contend, you have to do this.

The key is realizing that an owner that's feeling pretty good about his team right now, probably has good depth. They'd love to add a flashy toy like Cano in order to bolster their team, and giving up some fringe players like those listed is NBD.

Seriously, think about the kind of mentality a guy has to be in 1st or 2nd and continually rip on a league full of complete strangers. This person certainly isn't making up for anything in his personal life under the guise of fake sports and taunting a room full of people that will never, ever know who he really is. No way.We've all dealt with this kind of person,and the kind of thrills he must get from acting like an eternal bad ass while subsequently living in a world where he is anything but, must be supremely fascinating for shrinks. Even I'm getting a kick out of it.

There are tweaks and modifications you can make in this example of a trade to push for the playoffs. Look at what your team needs. Is it in all 5 catgories? Do you have too much of something?

Trade Cano? You may have no other choice. (AP)
Mainly the types of players I'd look to trade for are high upside guys. Players that either had slow starts (Justin Upton, Gonzalez, Shane Victorino, Jose Reyes) that might be frustrating their owners or post-hyped prospects that have a high ceiling (Goldschmidt, Carlos Quentin, Carlos Santana, Pablo Sandoval) . While it'd be nice to put a package together to acquire R.A. Dickey, how much better can he really get? You'd pay full price for a guy that can't really perform better than he has. This takes a lot of resources that a bad team just doesn't have, and ultimately won't pay dividends.

The kinds of guys I'd like to off-load are going to be those big name guys. Anyone that is performing as they should and you can get a big package in return for. Also, I'd always, always, always move pitching for hitting. If you can get a solid group of offense you have to move forward with that. Pitchers can fluctuate greatly, and the standard league has more than enough available pitching that you can stream if need be or maybe get lucky with someone that really takes off in the second half. Riding hot streaks with hitters is much more difficult.

With closers I consider this especially true. You want to be sure to have a couple in your line-up so you don't punt the category, but closers are such a volatile position, you never know what could happen. If someone wants Kenley Jansen or Craig Kimbrel, do it. If you have a lot of depth, then definitely try to overload an owner with saves. Give them two closers for an OF. If he's struggling for saves, two guys with 12+ saves at this point are really enticing.

Closers are always going to be created out of nowhere. While things have calmed down since the beginning of the year, we're reaching the 2nd most tumultuous point of the year, the MLB trade deadline. Closers are always on the market to bolster a contending teams bullpen. Guys like Brett Myers, Rafael Betancourt, Jonathon Broxton or Huston Street have the potential to lose their jobs all together. In their wake, new closers will emerge.


If you have them, use them. As much as possible. There's no reason you should have an open DL spot if there is anyone that has ever been serviceable for a fantasy team that will play this year available on waivers. Carl Crawford, Ryan Howard, Emilio Bonifacio? Sign em up. There's no harm in adding these guys. Most of them are nearing a return by the end of July anyway. Holding onto these lottery tickets will provide you with great value if it works out, or if not, just cut them.

Don't forget about those DL'd players (caffeineandcardigans)

The DL spot is also a useful avenue for trades. If an owner is too loaded with DL'd players or in lieu of say Jacoby Ellsbury getting injured they happened to add Edwin Encarnacion well then, guess who doesn't need Ellsbury all that much. Trading active players that can be useful to that team will allow you to get these players on the cheap and store them for their eventual return. For example, I am dead last in one league, so I made a big play for Matt Kemp. I received some high ceiling guys back as well, but the guy had added Mike Trout as a replacement for Kemp, so he was more apt to move Kemp who was just taking up DL space. I wouldn't call this move risky, as what did I really have to lose? There was nowhere else to go but up, and if Kemp can return to his Kemp ways, then that's a huge piece towards getting better.

You have to utilize your DL spots anyway possible. Think of the pitchers alone that are on the DL that are probably available on waivers. Ted Lilly, Derek Holland, Brandon Morrow, Josh Beckett, Ryan DempsterDrew Storen, Andrew Bailey. Those are all potential contributors in mere weeks, and all it'll cost you is a roster move.


Odds are if your team is in the dumps, you weren't early to the Mike Trout party (or if you will, sell him, sell him now!). But the last untapped resource for fantasy owners this time of year is prospects. Those AAA studs that just tasted the majors a bit last year or perhaps not at all have been in the minors all season and are ready to make a difference. Remain vigilant on what you need and who will make an impact. This year has been particularly prospect heavy with Matt Moore, Trout, Bryce Harper, Jesus Montero and Eric Hosmer making early headlines in the fantasy realm. The catch with prospects, as you can tell, is that they can work out or not. Each new Anthony Rizzo could lead to untold success or crippling mediocrity. Beggars can't be choosers, so take a flier with anyone experts say will be a future star. It may not happen this year, but you never know. Look at the case of Trevor Bauer. He made a less than spectacular debut last night, but if he's available, grab hold for at least a couple of starts. This was a guy many people couldn't wait to arrive in the bigs. A 4 inning first start shouldn't deter you from looking for a big K output the rest of the way.

There are a couple of guys still working their way to the bigs this season. Add Danny Hultzen, Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Cashner, and Wil Myers to your watch list. Hitters tend to have a bigger impact than pitchers, but they can be harder to come by. A young pitchers best asset is being unknown to big league hitters.

All of these moves come from an aggressive stance. Patience is for the first half of the year. The second half is for making moves. It's quite possible you could go down in flames, but it's better to go out swinging than bemoaning why Ryan Zimmerman couldn't turn it around, or getting happy thoughts every time Carlos Gonzalez has a multi-homerun game for a team that's losing 4 of 5 categories.

The Funkman says: "I don't want to trade Stanton. If I have to, I'll leave his OF slot open in memoriam."

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