Monday, June 3, 2013

BRAGGING RIGHTS 2013: Mediocre Season in the Works

Felipe M

It's been awhile since I wrote an update on my fantasy baseball team, the Black Hole Army.  I already explained the rules of the league at the beginning of the year, but quickly recapitulate, it's a Head2Head, Fantasy Point, Weekly Keeper League.  The name of the league is Mardi Gras Madness.

After getting off to a blazing start, winning 4 out of the first 5 games of the season, I've dropped 3 out of the last 4 games.  This has me with a 5-4 record although I'm very fortunate that I still have a winning record considering I own the 2nd to last worst record in terms of fantasy points.  So I could easily be 0-9.  The season is still young as only one team is really running away from the pack with an 8-1 record, team Balls Out.  All other teams, at worst, are only 2 games behind the wildcard standings.  That's definitely something to celebrate.  

The following is a what my team looked liked at the beginning of the season:

  • Green=Keeper Player
  • Yellow=Drafted Player
  • White=Waiver Pickup


Week 1
Pos
Player
C
Carlos Santana
1B
Edwin Encarnacion
2B
Ian Kinsler
SS
Danny Espinosa
3B
Martin Prado
LF
Ryan Braun
CF
B.J. Upton
RF
Allen Craig
DH
Jay Bruce
P
A.J. Griffin
P
Tim Hudson
P
Tommy Milone
P
Andy Pettitte
P
J.J. Putz
P
Huston Street
P
Jordan Zimmermann
2B/3B
Jedd Gyorko
CF/LF
Desmond Jennings
P
Mitchell Boggs
P
Gavin Floyd
P
Brandon McCarthy
P
Rick Porcello
DL
Jason Motte
Minors
Chris Archer
Minors
N/A

































At the last moment, I had decided to cut Ricky Nolasco to pick up Rick Porcello as the latter was pitching very well in spring training and Nolasco looked like a bust coming into the season.  Also, had to pick up Mitchell Boggs to replace the injured Jason Motte.  A great idea at the time, Boggs was terrible as the St. Louis Cardinals' closer.  Chris Archer was on my team last season and when I saw that he would not make the Tampa Rays' 25-man roster, I decided to insert him in my Minor League slot thinking that he had the inside track to be called up first to the Big League club.  Of course, Jake Odorrizi would be the first prospect to get a crack at the Rays' rotation when ace pitcher, David Price went down with an injury.  

This is what the team looks like now entering the current week:

Week 10
Pos
Player
C
Carlos Santana
1B
Edwin Encarnacion
2B
Jedd Gyorko
SS
Jed Lowrie
3B
Martin Prado
LF
Ryan Braun
CF
Desmond Jennings
RF
Allen Craig
DH
Josh Willingham
P
Andrew Cashner
P
Corey Kluber
P
Tommy Milone
P
Andy Pettitte
P
David Phelps
P
Dan Straily
P
Jordan Zimmermann
3B
Nolan Arenado
SS
Didi Gregorius
CF
Angel Pagan
RF
Jay Bruce
DL
Ian Kinsler
P
Shaun Marcum
P
Ricky Nolasco
Minors
Trevor Bauer
Minors
Taijuan Walker

































Josh Willingham was a player I had on my team last season and he was one of the biggest reasons I had made it all the way to the championship game in 2012.  Was hoping I could reacquire him on draft night, but that didn't come to fruition.  Then an owner, surprisingly enough, dropped him and after Willingham had cleared waivers, I added him to my roster with much haste.  In his last 53 at bats, he's hit 5 homers and driven in 11 RBI.  Not bad for a waiver pickup.

I had been paying special attention to Jed Lowrie for the last 2-3 seasons but injuries and lack of opportunity has always been major hurdles.  This spring, Lowrie was in tight competition for the starting shortstop spot in Oakland.  Had he been given the job before the day of my draft, I would have picked him up as my starting SS.  But Oakland waited until the last moment to pencil him in as the starter.  Many people are down on Lowrie due to his lack of counting stats and power, but he's been getting on base and making great contact with the ball.  That's really all you can ask for from your waiver pickups.  

However, this is a points league and getting on base is only step 1 of the process.  What you do on the basepaths is how owners rack up points.  Lowrie had been battling foot problems that may or may not have caused him to slump in the last 2-3 weeks or so.  Not one to give up on Lowrie, but knowing I had to have a backup plan, I was pleasantly surprised that no one had picked up Arizona D'backs' SS, Didi Gregorius. Gregorius was one of the players that Arizona acquired for uber-prospect, Trevor Bauer

Bauer, was cut in week 1 or 2 of the season as the Cleveland Indians decided to call him up for a spot start.  The owner decided to cut him not wanting to risk having an "illegal lineup."  Well, that's when I decided to swoop in and use my high waiver priority to pick up Bauer.  Hopefully, he'll be ready to go for the stretch run of the season when I will need his high upside to carry me to the wildcard berth.  

The other prospect I had recently signed was Taijuan Walker as I had given up on Archer thinking that the Rays might only call him up for bullpen duties.  Walker may not be called up this season, but his potential makes him a great, long-term player.  Also, the league has done a great job in stockpiling on the best prospects in the game right now so considering that the pickings were slim, I'm content with having Walker on my club.  

The injury to Ian Kinsler was unfortunate, but came at a time where #41 ranked prospect, Jedd Gyorko was finally figuring out how to be a Big League hitter.  #6 Prospect, Nolan Arenado was picked up as a backup plan to the struggling Martin Prado.  Both have been disappointing, but I'm holding out hope that both will play to their full capabilities sooner rather than later.  

Gyorko's teammate, Andrew Cashner was somebody I had high hopes for in 2013.  But injuries in the spring forced the San Diego Padres to start him out in the bullpen, therefore, making him a bad pickup on draft day.  As soon as he was named to the starting rotation, I immediately picked him up.  The lack of strikeouts has been a disappointment, but can't argue with his good control.  Another long-term project on the team.  

Another Padres' pitcher, Huston Street was dropped recently due to injury.  I picked up Dan Straily as he's pitched very well in his last 3 starts.  Also trying to make up for the fact that I had dropped his teammate, A.J. Griffin, perhaps a bit too prematurely.  

It's been that kind of season as I have been forced to play musical chairs with my pitching staff.  It was something I knew I had to do coming into the 2013 season, but it's been a lot worse than I had anticipated.  The frustration has not only come from players I picked up as long-term solutions to my staff fizzling out in their starts immediately after I had added them to my roster, but also from guys I was counting on on draft day.  Most notably, Tim Hudson, after showing signs of brilliance at the beginning of the year, I finally had to cut him loose as he was getting lit up way too many times for my taste.  I'm really hoping that Corey Kluber and David Phelps can continue to pitch like they did before week 9.  Both pitchers combined to score ZERO points in the last game.  Also betting on the fact that oft-injured Shaun Marcum can continue to get strong and healthier with each start that he makes.  You will also notice that I went ahead and reacquired Nolasco.

Finally, I can talk about my team without warning everybody about the great peril that is B.J. Upton.  There is a reason why I drafted Jennings alongside Upton.  Both players can prove to be explosive, especially in a points' league, but both come with poor plate approach, especially Upton.  Sure enough, Upton does terribly.  Upton is so bad, he's still a free agent player in my league.  Currently, Upton is owned in 71% of CBS leagues.  He was owned by 99% of the leagues in week 1.  That's a lot of drops.  He was replaced by somebody I should have drafted to be my starting CF in the first place, Angel Pagan.  His patience and contact skills make him an ideal, prototypical centerfielder in fantasy baseball.  Injuries, unfortunately, have been a nuisance however.  When healthy, Pagan has been a steady player on my team.

I'm not sure what the future holds for me this season.  I saw this season as one where I would not only have to rebuild, but stay competitive in a division that was there for the taking.  The Division may be out of reach now, but the wildcard is still there if I want it.  I have no excuses however.  I know my pitching staff is terrible, but I will continue to aggressively pursue pitchers to fill out my starting rotation on a permanent basis--not just spot starts.  My batting lineup, on the other hand, are full of players that I had targeted on draft day and are now on my team.  They're slumping right now, but the reason I acquired them was because their plate discipline would help extinguish slumps in a fast manner.  If anything, their approach would at least help them get on base, therefore, help these players score runs or steal bases.  So far, the plan looks like it has backfired, but I will continue to go to battle with these guys.  I'm encouraged to see Gyorko develop into the hitter I thought he could be in his rookie year and I'm hoping guys like Arenado, Lowrie, and Prado can follow suit.  

Feel free to share your fantasy baseball experience in 2013 in the comments' section.

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