Saturday, March 29, 2008

Learning how to juggle a daily-lineup roster on the fly

Let me state this up front: I need to learn how to master a daily-lineup fantasy league, and I need to learn fast. It's not that I haven't played in one before, but the ones I've managed teams in have been smaller, less competitive, more relaxed leagues, where maxing out games played wasn't really a criteria for winning. (And my hardcore 14-team money league, my most important league, the one I've played in for seemingly ever, uses weekly lineup changes -- totally different animal.)

This season, however, I was invited to play in a 12-team daily-lineup league against 11 other bloggers from notable fantasy sites around the Net. (Remember my roster, which, after the draft, looked like this?) I've no doubt it's going to be a tough league that will require daily attention. Unfortunately, I feel I'm already fucking things up with my team, and a big reason why is because I haven't yet learned the best way to manage a daily-league roster, especially one with only three bench spots.

The Bloggers League is a two-catcher league, and I drafted two high-risk, high-reward guys -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ryan Doumit. Salty, of course, got sent down to Triple-A this week, and I was forced to pick up Gerald Laird to take his place. Somebody had to be cut to make room, but I was hesitant about letting go of Salty because, if and when he returns to the Majors to start, his upside should be sky high once more. (Most preseason fantasy rankings had him among the top 10 catchers.) So I figured I'd hang on to Salty in one of my three bench spots (which would ensure that I'll always have a Rangers catcher to start), and I instead cut Mark Teahen, my only non-starting positional player.

I think that might have been a really, really bad decision. I'm convinced Teahen will outperform most of his projections this year, and he would have been somebody I could have regularly plugged into all five starting OF spots and 1B to keep that games-played meter on pace for 162 at each position (which I figure will be necessary to accumulate enough stats to do well in this league). But I axed him for a guy I can't even start right now because I was thinking about how best to cover my ass at catcher without considering how the rest of my team would suffer with no other offensive players on my bench. Since then, I've decided that Mike was right, and I've got to cut Salty immediately and find a multi-positional backup that can help plug daily lineup holes. It won't be Teahen; another manager snagged him off waivers. (Cantu, maybe? The waiver request is in for him. We'll see what happens.)

And the Saltalamacchia/Laird/Teahen mess isn't my only concern right now. The Pirates still haven't named either Paulino or Doumit as the starter (the local press seems to think a platoon-type situation is the best-case scenario right now for Paulino owners and fans, if there are such things), but if the Pirates make a bad decision (which has been known to happen) and Paulino is awarded the job outright, I've got another catching catastrophe on my hands.

Meanwhile, I drafted two closers who might also qualify as high-risk/high-reward picks -- Rafael Soriano and Takashi Saito (whose age and spring-training health issues definitely have me concerned). Saito may or may not be ready for Opening Day. I do have Tom Gordon to pick up the slack until Lidge comes back, but he'll go back to being nothing but a solid middle reliever once that happens. And I have NO experience dealing with solid middle relievers in fantasy play. I'm a "max out my innings using nothing but starters and closers" kind of guy ... probably 'cause I just don't know any other way.

So it's going to be an interesting year trying to compete in this Bloggers League. I figure, worst-case scenario, I sure am going to learn a lot.

1 comment:

Mike Bock said...

I play every year in a 12 team, 25 man roster league with only three bench spots. You need at least two extra starters you can plug in or you start hemorhagging innings and games played. Fast. You can't win that way. You just can't. You're going to be losing three to five points in the "counting" categories (Runs, RBI, HRs, SBs) just because of the 100-150 games you're going without.

Teahen had 1B and RF eligibility, too. Ouch. The chances of finding an equivalent player, let alone a multi-positional player, on the waiver wire is essentially zero.

With daily leagues, you have to manage your bench religiously. Unless you have a high waiver pick, there's no way you're getting Cantu. Is Mike Jacobs (on fire this spring) available? If not, maybe Nick Johnson *shudder*.