I estimate I've reviewed about 12,000 box scores over the last six years. Haven't missed a one during that time.
It's rewarding in its own way. The process takes about 15 minutes a night, which seems like a small price to pay for the security of knowing I didn't miss a big performance or critical lineup change. Shoot, watching a highlight show would take four times as long and not give me as much information -- different information perhaps, but arguably the less important kind.
|Jose Reyes (DL)||SS||NYM|
|Justin Upton (DL)||OF||ARI|
So you can imagine what happens when life intervenes, forcing me to go without TV or consistent Internet access for days at a time. It's not exactly Gilligan's Island, but it's a disconnect from reality in its own way, leaving me feeling anxious and disoriented. And with each passing day, that question that started as just an uneasy feeling in the back of my mind grows louder and more desperate: When will I have time to catch up on everything?
That's baseball for you: It doesn't stop. It doesn't take sick days, and it doesn't recharge on weekends. No matter what else you have happening in life, baseball keeps chugging forward like a runaway locomotive. You get the feeling even with the button pressed and the missiles on their way, the Mudville Nine would still bounce out of the dugout to John C. Fogerty's "Centerfield."
It's enough to make some casual Fantasy folk give up, fall back in step and worry about the details later. And I'll admit when I came home Sunday night with six days' worth of box scores staring me in the face, I felt like doing the same thing. Those 15-minute review sessions have a way of adding up -- with the sum often equaling more than the parts -- and I didn't so much feel like capping my trip to Gilligan's Island with a visit to the computer for a three-hour chore ... a three-hour chore.
But in the end, I did what I always do: Go thorough or go home. My efforts didn't lead to many roster moves -- hey, four of my five teams improved, so who needs them? -- but at least now I know about Elijah Dukes' sudden RBI surge, Denard Span's nine hits in two days and J.A. Happ's and Derek Holland's timely shutouts.
You don't think that information helped me set my lineups?
12-team mixed Rotisserie (3rd; 5x5 Score: 78.0)
My one spot of bad news concerned my 12-team mixed Rotisserie team, which fell from first place to a three-way tie for third. With five teams within four points of each other as we approach the final month, you get the feeling a hot streak at the end of the season will ultimately determine the winner.
|Jorge De La Rosa||SP||COL|
|Lance Berkman (DL)||1B||HOU|
Unfortunately, I stand to lose some ground between now and then. Justin Upton, the player I acquired for Chad Billingsley in a deal I hoped would get me over the hump offensively, has an oblique injury and won't return until September. And I didn't hear about it until four days after the fact. Great.
I ended up grabbing the player I probably would have grabbed all along: Michael Cuddyer. I don't know what more a player has to do to get a roster spot than go 4 for 5 with two home runs, but there Cuddyer sat, unclaimed, Sunday night. He can't replace Upton's batting average or stolen bases, but he might equal him in the other three categories. I see myself keeping him over Aubrey Huff when Upton returns.
Speaking of Huff, I added him for Alberto Callaspo after leaning on Callaspo during his week against six left-handed pitchers. It worked out well enough -- he hit .393 (11 for 28) -- but he's not a long-term answer at DH.
Across the rest of the league, Elijah Dukes and Travis Hafner both have roster spots again. I considered adding Dukes myself in another 12-team Rotisserie league. Someone dropped Jorge De La Rosa for Justin Masterson. I wouldn't go there yet, but I understand the logic of banking on Masterson's upside. And someone else decided Chris Coghlan would give him better numbers at third base than Adrian Beltre would. Yeah, Coghlan is hot and, in some ways, a better offensive player than Beltre, but I still think Beltre will have the better power numbers between now and the end of the year. In Rotisserie leagues, those matter more.
10-team mixed Head-to-Head (5th; Record: 10-8)
Wouldn't you know it? The first time I start Happ, he throws a shutout. Those rare moments of clairvoyance don't happen often.
|Lou Montanez (DL)||OF||BAL|
|Tim Wakefield (DL)||P||BOS|
|Daisuke Matsuzaka (DL)||P||BOS|
|Kevin Slowey (DL)||P||MIN|
|Koji Uehara (DL)||P||BAL|
Or at such critical times. I had just lost three games in a row, falling from first place to sixth in the process, but with the help of Happ and the rest of my pitching staff, I finally won a game. In fact, I led the league in scoring, which only extended my season lead in points.
Unfortunately, points don't determine the standings. Win-loss records do, and mine still places me out of the playoff picture. Time for an encore, Happ.
I'll take his two starts over the two for Jorge De La Rosa and the one for the continually disappointing James Shields. No, I haven't lost faith in Shields for good, but who else would sit? I obviously have to start Happ, Matt Garza also has two starts, and Wandy Rodriguez proved his health with seven strong innings Sunday. Shields is the obvious choice to sit.
Same for Denard Span, despite his nine hits over the weekend. I can't bring myself to bench Andre Ethier until he slows down, even if he's back on the road this week. I still think Carlos Quentin is due for a big breakout and obviously prefer his upside to Span's. To top it all off, I could have opted to activate Lance Berkman if I had any confidence in his gee-golly optimism that led some people in daily leagues to start him over the weekend (read: I don't).
At reliever, I'll stick it out with Jonathan Broxton for now, but I started Ryan Franklin over David Aardsma just because I don't think the Mariners will have much success against the red-hot Yankees at the end of the week. Of course, I'm probably better off choosing one of the two and sticking with him the rest of the year. Once you start mixing and matching, you've already lost. Unless you're clairvoyant.
12-team AL-only Rotisserie (5th; 5x5 Score: 64.0)
You know, if I can somehow make up the 20 points separating my team and the fourth-place team -- which just so happens to be colleague Eric Mack's -- I'll consider it a success. And one I desperately want. I have yet to finish lower than fourth (or out of the playoffs) in any expert league, in any sport.
Hey, if I continue to gain a few points every week, it just might happen. My offense appears set now with the acquisition Edwin Encarnacion. In fact, I might even have some overflow. I wouldn't mind finding a place for Trevor Crowe to start.
That doesn't mean I've given up trying to improve. Right after the July 31 trade deadline, someone began shopping Jacoby Ellsbury for an elite starting pitcher. I rank 10th in stolen bases, with the ninth-place team ahead of me by six and the eighth-place team ahead of me by a seemingly insurmountable 18. But if anyone could surmount it, Ellsbury could, and if he did get over that hump, he might end up gaining me three or four more points in the category.
|Jorge De La Rosa||P||COL|
|Alfredo Amezaga (DL)||SS/OF||FLA|
|Nate Schierholtz (DL)||OF||SF|
|(DL) Brett Myers||P||PHI|
|Micah Owings (DL)||P||CIN|
I told the guy I'd consider trading Jon Lester for Ellsbury if I got Jake Peavy through the FAAB process. I ended up getting Encarnacion instead, so I considered the matter closed. Turns out he offered me Ellsbury for Lester anyway sometime during my mini vacation. I never got around to answering it, or even seeing it, before he traded Ellsbury to someone else -- again Emack, ironically enough -- for Justin Verlander.
It's probably for the best. On the one hand, the biggest lesson I've learned this year is that you should never sacrifice offense for pitching in Rotisserie leagues as deep as this one. But on the other hand, I could see myself fading fast in those pitching categories if I unplugged Lester, especially with Tim Wakefield's return still up in the air. I built up a big lead in them early, before trading away A.J. Burnett and Edwin Jackson, and Lester might be the only thing keeping me afloat.
So Lester stays, as does everyone else in my mostly complete lineup. Neftali Feliz goes a long way to fortifying my relief corps, and Lance Cormier joins him for now. Hopefully, Wakefield will make his stay a short one.
12-team NL-only Rotisserie (5th; 5x5 Score: 77.5)
Those unsung heroes have done their best to help me forget about the departed Scott Hairston and the injured Nate Schierholtz. In fact, they've probably done more than Hairston and Schierholtz ever did.
And you can add Elijah Dukes to the list after he came up from the minors to drive in 10 runs over the weekend. Those three all had a hand in the nine points my team added to its 5x5 score last week.
OK, so it didn't exactly gain any ground in the standings, but at least a first-place finish isn't completely out of the question now. Second place is more likely and even, by some standards, within reach. Why not? Other than Chad A. Tracy at corner infield and Emilio Bonifacio at second base, my team doesn't have any real weaknesses. It even has two closers.
The middle relievers have complimented the starters well, not that Happ, Ryan Dempster or Jorge De La Rosa have any glaring weaknesses to conceal. Braden Looper gives me a fourth starter to work into the mix whenever he has two favorable matchups, which he does this week against the Padres and the Astros. Take a seat, Mark DeFelice.
I'm cautiously optimistic here. Eight weeks might give me enough time to make a serious run.
20-team mixed Head-to-Head (3rd NL-only side; Record: 9-9)
(10 teams NL-only, 10 teams AL-only)
|Lance Berkman (DL)||1B||HOU|
|Jose Reyes (DL)||SS||NYM|
|Chris Young (DL)||SP||SD|
|Randy Johnson (DL)||SP||SF|
|Pedro Martinez (DL)||SP||PHI|
Thanks again, Mr. Happ.
Man, that guy -- that one performance, really -- might have gotten me to the playoffs in two leagues.
He didn't end my slide in this league single-handedly, though. I also got wins from new acquisitions John Lannan and Joel Pineiro (though Pineiro netted only nine points after his awful start earlier in the week). Competent pitching along with the 11-RBI week from afterthought Elijah Dukes landed me not just the win, but the third-highest score among all 20 teams.
Pretty good for a team that had lost three games in a row.
Across the rest of the league, someone on the AL side dropped Gio Gonzalez for Junichi Tazawa. That obviously should have never happened, but it shows what kind of hype Tazawa has right now. Relax: Someone picked up Gonzalez as soon as he cleared waivers. Again on the AL side, someone dropped Luke Scott for Rajai Davis, which is worth noting just because Scott looked like a must-have in standard mixed leagues earlier in the season. Believe it or not, I don't have a serious problem with the move now.
I didn't make any lineup moves other than sitting one-start Tim Stauffer for two-start Braden Looper, though I should note I didn't trust Lance Berkman enough to activate him here either. Hey, I don't want to mess up a good thing. That win solved most of my problems. A 2-0 finish will surely put me in the playoffs, but now even a 1-1 finish might get the job done.
You can e-mail us your Fantasy Baseball questions to DMFantasyBaseball@cbs.com . Be sure to put Full Disclosure in the subject field. Please include your full name, hometown and state.