Friday, May 25, 2007

Fantasy Baseball 2007

I'm a fantasy sports nerd. I started in the early 80s with the Strat-O-Matic basketball game we had. I had cracked the code to make new player cards using current stats, but I also made my own 8-team league using a random-player generator I developed and played a 56-game season.

From there I started participating in a turn-a-week basketball league run by L&L Activities in Terre Haute, Indiana. I'd write down my lineups and mail them in with a weekly fee dependent on whether I made any roster moves or not. I even won the overall (across all basketball leagues) championship one year with the mighty Maulers.

With the spread of the Internet, all the work and expense for players has gone away. No longer do I need to sit and run through the free agent listings with my calculator to see if anyone is worth picking up - Yahoo! ranks them for me in their free fantasy leagues. It even keeps track of my results over the years (you have to log into Yahoo to view, however - go to the Fantasy Profile page, log in, then enter 'zaui' in the COMPARE PROFILES area and click 'compare') - since 1999 I've been in 35 baseball, football or basketball leagues and have finished 1st 5 times, 2nd 4 times and 3rd 9 times.

Anyway, enough of my fantasy cred, I'm in 4 baseball leagues this year, but only really care about one and a half of them. One league I created, but only got six teams (I started late - after the season started), so everyone has an all-star lineup. This makes is much less interesting then a normal 12-team league, so I'm only caring about it half of what I should. The league I care the most about is a 12-team public head-to-head league, just because it's very competitive.

I've made two trades so far this year, which is rare these days, just because folks are afraid to screw it up.

My first was to get rid of Barry Bonds. The league draft was auto-pick, meaning the Yahoo computers ran the draft and players were assigned by their default ranking in Yahoo.

My team started out like this:

(round, pick#, player)

1. (1) Albert Pujols
2. (24) Travis Hafner
3. (25) Derek Jeter
4. (48) Garrett Atkins
5. (49) Carlos Zambrano
6. (72) Gary Sheffield
7. (73) Billy Wagner
8. (96) J.J. Putz
9. (97) Matt Cain
10. (120) Josh Barfield
11. (121) Chad Cordero
12. (144) Álex Ríos
13. (145) Scott Podsednik
14. (168) Bob Wickman
15. (169) Pedro Martínez
16. (192) Bengie Molina
17. (193) Nomar Garciaparra
18. (216) Barry Bonds
19. (217) Ken Griffey Jr.
20. (240) Ted Lilly
21. (241) Kelvim Escobar

Since dropped: Kelvim Escobar (hurt), Ken Griffey Jr. (old), Nomar Garciaparra (old), Bengie Molina (slow start), Bob Wickman (hurt), Scott Podsednik (hurt), Chad Cordero (no room - didn't need 4 closers at the time) and Josh Barfield (slow start)

Picked up: Ryan Doumit (replaced Molina), Hunter Pence, Reggie Willits, B.J. Upton, Howie Kendrick, Dan Uggla, Ryan Zimmerman, Dan Wheeler (replaced Wickman) and James Shields (replaced Escobar)

Of my top 5 guys, 3 have been disasters this year - Pujols (the #165 player right now, according to Yahoo!), Atkins (#699) and Zambrano (#878).

It's no surprise I'm 37-32-1 and 6th place - but that's not bad - the top six teams make it to the playoffs at the end of the year.

Bonds was a surprise right out of the gate - rocketing to a top-10 ranking in Yahoo. But I knew it wouldn't last - he's too old to stay healthy or be very consistent. So I put a note out to the league that I would entertain trade offers for him. There was only one team that responded. After some back-and-forth, they offered Joe Blanton and Mark Hendrickson for Bonds, then Luis González, Joe Blanton and Roger Clemens for Bonds & Shields.

I rejected those and offered Bonds for Scott Kazmir - his 2nd or 3rd best starting pitcher. He took it right away, which made me think I may have been able to do better. But Kazmir is 23 and had a good season last year, so I thought it was worth the offer.

Since the trade two weeks ago, Kazmir has been OK - 2 starts, no wins, 9 innings, 3.00 ERA, 13 K, 1.78 WHIP (walks + hits per inning).

But Bonds has been awful. While I had him he was hitting .318/.520/.753 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) with 11 HR, 23 RBI and 24 runs. Since I traded him, he's 4-25 (that's .160 - all singles) with 4 runs and ZERO RBI. He's now hitting .282/.503/.618.


Ahem, anyway I've made another trade that will be in effect this weekend - Upton and Pence for Carl Crawford. Pence and Upton are two flavors-of-the-month this year - both doing very well (Upton is #22 and Pence is #75 after almost a month of play) after being ranked in the hundreds (Upton #187 and Pence #743) at the start of the year - but Crawford is a legitimate top-10 player. He's only ranked #43 by Yahoo right now, but he's too good to stay down for long. So basically I'm getting a first-round guy for two I picked up for nothing.


I have to come up with at better war cry.



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