A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.
I AM IN LOVE WITH A GROUP OF MEN
That was going to be the title of the entry about my team in the RotoJunkie United Rotisserie Baseball League (5x5 NL-only, 12 teams), back when i reall really reall really liked my team. I'm sticking with the headline even though my infatuation has since cooled off (as I'll explain below). I still like me chances this year, though, especially considering...
I tried to get my AL-only league to let me keep all the players I lost from my NL-only league this off-season, but they wouldn't go for it. Gone from Doug and Sky's Get Buff Team in the RJURBL were Ivan Rodriguez, Curt Schilling, Kevin Brown, Mark Redman, Rondell White, Mark Bellhorn, and Robert Fick. Not that they were all at keepable prices, but that mass exodus seriously hurt my keeper list. Add in the fact that I traded away solid keepers in Ramon Castro, Ben Sheets, and Marcus Giles to solidify my second place finish last year, my keepers were just about the worst in the league. I ended up trading Isringhausen for Wigginton $6, and also kept BGiles $35, RSanders $12, RFurcal $17, Joe Borowski $5, and JSeo $7. Looking back, Giles was no cheaper than I could have gotten him at the inflated keeper auction, and I wish I had the $7 from Seo to spend on another hitter, but oh well. There were teams with 10 solid MLB keepers along with a few minor league keepers they'll plug right into their starting lineup this year. I was definitely behind the eight-ball going into...
My strategy, to make up for keeper-suckiness, was to go stars-and-scrubs, focus on hitting, and fill in with cheap underrated pitchers. Finding breakout pitching has always been a strength of mine, and I planned on taking advantage of that gift. Hitting inflation was about 25% and pitching inflation was about 35%, making the hitter-heavy approach an even better idea. As usual, things didn't go according to plan, and fortunately another strength of mine is adjusting on the fly.
I grabbed Benitez early at $28. He's always gotten a bad rap as a closer that "just isn't clutch enough." Whatever. His ERA is always good, he strikes people out, and he's definitely the closer for the Marlins. Coupled with Joe Bo, I'll finish near the top of the saves category for only $33.
I also grabbed Randy Johnson early on for $26. This was an amount beyond what I had originally told myself I would go. His ERA from last year was inflated due to bad luck ($H was .348) and his knee injury. I foresee the usual Unit domination this year, although he may miss some games the second half of the season due to pain. If you didn't have any cartiledge in your knee, you'd sit out a few games, too. Looking back, this move was a little risky, but could pay off big time. By this point, my "don't spend much on pitching" strategy was out the door.
Two of my biggest break-out candidates this year are Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn. They were both "can't-miss" prospects with the Reds who had off-years for two different reasons. Kearns tore the cover off the ball early, then got hurt. Dunn tore the cover off the ball in between whiffing 126 times. Call me crazy, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Dunn rebound to an AVG in the .275 range with 40+ HRs, 100+ RUNs/RBIs, and 10-15 SB. I hugged my computer when I managed to land him for $19. I hate to think about how high I would have chased him. Kearns, unfortunately, was a keeper, so I couldn't throw wads of money his way
My only other big buy was Luis Gonzalez at $22. Frankly, with his AVG and power, he's worth more than this. The injury scared people off and I was able to get a guy below actual value, let alone inflated value. Another risk, but I had to take them.
Rounding out the team are CJohnson $10, BAusmus $3, BBuchanan $6, TZeile $1, KGinter $4, BHart $1, JRivera $8, RCedeno $5, WWilliams $13, RWolf $17, JWeaver $11, MKinney $1, and DDreifort $3. Quick thoughts: Ausmus sucks, but at least he's got the full-time job - he's actually worth a couple bucks more than that. Zeile's bad, and Hart will probably be sent down, so I need to find two offensive replacements, minimum. Ginter's ok, and has a lot of upside. I unfortunately thought Rivera and Cedeno would be getting more playing time than they actually will be and overspent by a couple bucks. I like Wolf, and since a lot of similar pitchers went for more, $17 isn't bad. With a good two months or so, he's prime trade bait for another offensive bat. The Kinney/Dreifort combo could hurt, but I ended up with a few capable reserve pitchers, so those two spots shouldn't be total black holes. I kept anticipating Weaver to turn things around last year, and the move to LA has only increased my optimism.
I had to leave the auction a little early because of an SAT course commitment, so a random poster from Mastersball, Tyler, finished things up. He didn't have much to work with, and was the person who got Zeile, Buchanan, Hart, Kinney, and Dreifort, along with picking all the reserves. Not pretty, but some upside if you ignore Zeile. Here are the reserves: EDessens, PWilson, RMadson, RDempster, JStokes, JHanrahan, SSparks, and BBullington. Outside of Stokes, I'd never heard of any of the prospects, but others seemed to think they were ok. Looks like Madson might stick with the Phillies in the bullpen. Unfortunately, there's no hitting help here, so I'll have to rely heavily on free agents and the trade scene. Sure, Dessens 2002 was flukey, but his 2003 dERA was 4.30. I'll take that in a heartbeat. In fact, my team has lots of...
Ok, there are a lot of risks. But that's the idea. With the keepers I had coming into 2004, I shouldn't have stood a chance this year. If my risks pan out, I can compete for the title. If some flop, I still have enough quality players to trade for great keepers. Not that it means anything, but the Rototimes projections have my team projected to finish second in the league. My pitching is good on paper, and will be even better than most would predict. My offense has a solid foundation, but needs to have the clunkers upgraded to mediocre versions. My outfield is among the best in the league, my catchers aren't completely awful, and there are a couple quality buys in the infield. If things break right and I can add a few quality players throughout the season, I've got a chance at going all the way.
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