It was Sunday afternoon when I knew I wanted to make a deal. Too late, quite frankly.
One of the league's co-commissioners had sent out a reminder late Thursday, letting us know we had three days until the deadline. I interpreted it as three days to procrastinate.
|Jose Reyes (DL)||SS||NYM|
|Justin Upton (DL)||OF||ARI|
Perhaps I would've acted with more urgency if I knew I had another loss ahead of me. By Sunday, I did, and I realized if I didn't want to risk missing the playoffs, I had to do something to make my team not just good, but invincible.
Besides, I hadn't made a trade all year, which is more than a little unnatural for the guy who's held the reputation of constant trader since the earliest days of our 10-team mixed Head-to-Head league. Back in 2004, when I still had the luxury of playing out one league at a time, I made a grand total of 13 trades, which I can only assume is a league record. Back then, I operated under the mantra "if you're not trading, you're not trying," believing anyone with enough knowledge and experience could make just about any team into a winner through trading.
So I had two things at stake with this specific trade deadline in this specific league: my reputation as a winner and my reputation as a trader. Both meant something to me, but apparently not enough for me to drag myself over to the computer earlier in the week. Because there I was Sunday afternoon, scrambling.
Some deadlines go quietly, with only one or two exchanges of borderline waiver types. Others change the entire landscape of the league, with every team fortifying for a playoff run or positioning itself for next year. But no matter what shape your deadline takes, it starts earlier than the deadline itself. Every deal takes time.
And on this Sunday afternoon, in my league with the most at stake, I just didn't have enough.
12-team mixed Rotisserie (3rd; 5x5 Score: 78.0)
But before we get into the deadline madness of that league, I first need to touch on my 12-team mixed Rotisserie league, which has fallen back into the purgatory of third place with the injury to Justin Upton.
I had pretty much resigned to crossing my fingers and hoping for a quick return when something miraculous happened.
|Jorge De La Rosa||SP||COL|
I don't get it. I understand Borbon has the potential to steal bases, but so does Rios. And for as much as Rios has "struggled" this year, he still ranks 33rd among outfielders, in between Brad Hawpe and Nate McLouth. Considering he's batting .297 over the last three seasons, he only stands to improve over the final seven weeks and could end up providing numbers almost identical to Upton's. I'd rather have Upton, but Rios softens the blow.
I also don't get how I managed to scoop up Rios on Sunday night when the guy released him Sunday afternoon. Did nobody else visit the computer all those hours? Did anyone who did just not see the value in adding Rios? I can tell you my debate between Rios and Aubrey Huff didn't last long. As far as I'm concerned, the only team that got Rios easier than mine did was the White Sox.
Now it's just a matter of seeing if he delivers ... and waiting for Upton to return. I don't plan to make any dramatic changes in the future, though I might eventually replace one of my team's closers -- most likely Andrew Bailey -- for a high-strikeout starting pitcher like Jorge De La Rosa. I have a chance to gain two points in strikeouts while I'm pretty much set in fourth place in saves, eight behind third place and 14 ahead of fifth. If not for the effect Bailey has on my ERA and WHIP, I might have made the move already.
Maybe if I dumped Chad Qualls instead ...
10-team mixed Head-to-Head (6th; Record: 10-9)
Yup, no deals for me.
I even had the perfect bargaining chip: Jonathan Broxton. I didn't need him since I also had Ryan Franklin and David Aardsma, had lost faith in him because of his 6.41 ERA since June 20, and believed others would covet him in a league that awards 10 points per save.
I knew I didn't have time to waste trying the squeeze the maximum possible return out of one of my opponents. To get a deal done that afternoon, I had to put my best possible offer on the table right away. I had to make it eye-catching -- something that would make the other guy say "wow" without sacrificing more of my roster than I could adequately replace. This wasn't about gauging anyone's interest; I had to make a deal someone would want and want now.
So I readied my big guns, not limiting myself to just my own excess. I looked for the team with the biggest need at closer -- someone starting Jim R. Johnson, perfect -- and offered him Broxton and Kevin Youkilis for Alex Rodriguez.
|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|
Without skipping a beat, I moved on to the next team needing a closer -- one starting Andrew Bailey, a pitcher who hadn't put together a 20-point week since April. In him, I saw my opportunity to land Carlos N. Lee, a personal favorite of mine in leagues that deduct points for strikeouts. In addition to Bailey, this owner had another weakness, a starting rotation that included Carl Pavano and Jeff Niemann, so I included one of my own starting pitchers in an effort to seal the deal. I offered Broxton, Denard Span and James Shields for Lee.
Finally -- and this deal seemed like a complete Hail Mary, but I didn't want to limit my possibilities -- I targeted the owner of Trevor Hoffman, whose numbers look good enough, but who hasn't scored as many as 25 points since the first week of June. I offered him Broxton, Shields and Todd Helton for Mark Teixeira.
Needless to say, the deals led to nothing -- two of them literally, as in no rejection notices, counterproposals or raucous laughter, which tells me even if the two owners saw the proposals, they didn't have enough time to take them seriously. And who can blame them? No one wants to rush into a big move. It takes thought, and thought takes time.
The one owner who did respond was the one I considered most likely to accept my proposal -- the one with Lee. He told me while he didn't see Span as a huge downgrade from Lee and did need starting pitching, he felt confident enough with Bailey (hmm ...) that the loss of Lee exceeded the gain of Broxton, Span and Shields. I didn't agree with his reasoning, but I appreciated his response and immediately wondered if I should have offered Matt Garza instead of Shields -- again, something I could have tried if I had more time.
So forward I march with my same group of losers who've now gone 1-4 over the last five weeks. I'm still first in points, but who cares? I have to go 2-0 over the next two weeks to reclaim a playoff spot.
Fortunately, the return of Lance Berkman allowed me to bench the slumping Todd Helton, but I didn't stop there. Carlos Quentin also took a seat in favor of the trusty Denard Span, who I can never bring myself to start even though he almost always tops 15 points.
I took a chance with my pitching staff too, benching both Garza and Shields in the same week for the first time all season. The surprise starting nod went to Scott Feldman, who I've never given much credit but who makes two starts this week. None of my other pitchers do.
|Jorge De La Rosa||P||COL|
|Alfredo Amezaga (DL)||SS/OF||FLA|
|Brett Myers (DL)||P||PHI|
|Micah Owings (DL)||P||CIN|
12-team AL-only Rotisserie (5th; 5x5 Score: 63.0)
I'm 17 1/2 points out of fourth place and slowly coming to realize I might not have a chance to finish higher than fifth. It's a painful realization given as far as I've come, but it doesn't mean I'll stop trying to disprove it.
Apparently we all stopped trying earlier this week, though. Somebody won Randy Ruiz -- the Blue Jays' new primary DH -- with a bid of $0. That shouldn't happen, not in a league where somebody owns Fu-Te Ni.
Side note: Ni is actually pitching pretty well. He should be owned in more leagues than he is.
It has to mean something. I personally prefer Smoak to Jackson, but Emack must have made that switch for a reason.
12-team NL-only Rotisserie (5th; 5x5 Score: 82.0)
Oh look, I've topped 80 points.
One week after gaining nine points, I gained 4 1/2. This team has apparently found its stride, and it's only getting better and better. If the first-place team didn't have 103 points, I'd like my chances.
I noticed someone added Jason Heyward this week. As a Braves fan, I don't see them rushing their future centerpiece to the majors at age 20, but minor-league pitching can't seem to contain him. It's an interesting add -- potentially an ingenious add -- but one I think will ultimately prove fruitless.
No crazy lineup changes for me this week, though I did drop Micah Hoffpauir for Sam Fuld. If the Cubs like one more than the other, I guess I should too, not that I foresee Fuld playing much for them ... or me. Knock on wood.
I also substituted Mark DiFelice for Braden Looper, which I'll do whenever Looper has a one-start week. I figure DiFelice will help more in ERA, WHIP and maybe even strikeouts during those weeks. Whenever Looper makes two starts, I'll take my chances with the poor ratios for the increased possibility of a win.
20-team mixed Head-to-Head (3rd NL-only side; Record: 10-9)
(10 teams NL-only, 10 teams AL-only)
This is not the time to get flaky.
|Jose Reyes (DL)||SS||NYM|
|Chris Young (DL)||SP||SD|
|Randy Johnson (DL)||SP||SF|
You never like to be in a situation where you have to decide between a stud with a day-to-day injury or a marginal backup who you know will at least get to play a full week. It's never good, but in a must-win scenario, it's the pits.
It's the situation I faced, though, when setting my lineup for this week. Brandon Phillips, Martin Prado and Nick Johnson, while not studs, have become mainstays in my lineup, and all entered the week with red crosses next to their names at a time when one wrong lineup decision could literally make or break my season. Perfect.
With Lance Berkman returning -- one small bit of good news, thank God -- I couldn't justify starting Johnson. He has a hamstring injury, and those rarely sideline a player for just a day or two. I could see him putting up a big, fat zero this week.
As for Phillips (bruised hand) and Prado (dizziness), I kept both active. I couldn't find anyone nearly as good as Phillips off the waiver wire, and Prado's injury didn't strike me as serious. If it did, I could have moved Pedro Feliz to third base and started someone like Seth Smith at DH.
Perhaps I should have. Perhaps Prado's dizziness -- still a mystery of sorts -- will linger all week and prove the direct cause of my demise. It'd be a kind of poetic justice for me hyping Prado as the second coming of Jason Bartlett.
I exaggerate, of course. Or did I back then?
Just to be clear, I don't have to win in this final week to make the playoffs. But if I lose, I'll need the two teams behind me to lose also. A win guarantees I'm in.
So naturally, I turn to a completely unproven commodity in Pedro Martinez -- and for two starts, no less. He'll either give my starting rotation its biggest boost since I traded for Joel Pineiro or destroy me by scoring minus-45 points.
He replaces Braden Looper, who I ended up cutting so I could instead bank on the upside of Bobby Parnell. I couldn't see myself substituting Looper for any of my top five pitchers now that I count Martinez among them, but if Parnell follows up his first start with more like it, he could potentially replace John Lannan.
If I make the playoffs with a team that lost its first-round pick (Jose B. Reyes) and three of its top four pitchers (Brett Myers, Chris R. Young and Randy Johnson) to what have amounted to (or at least look like) season-ending injuries, I'll feel pretty good. Then again, if this team makes the playoffs and that juggernaut from my 10-team mixed Head-to-Head league doesn't, something will have gone seriously wrong in the world of Fantasy.
Nothing poetic about that injustice.
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