June 14, 2006

Fantasy Sports

The battle lines have been drawn in my league, The North Albany National Rotisserie League. The Bandits haven't won in 10 years but have patiently built from the ground up for the past three years and are currently in first place. Let's use the team as an example of how to build a winner. Note that, in a keeper league, the operative word is patience.

Also note that his team isn't filled with superstars: in a 12-team National League--only league having a lot of "cheap" players wins titles.

For example, their catcher, Ronny Paulino, came from the reserve squad so his salary didn't count against the $260 payroll. His shortstop, Ronny Cedeno, has a $2 salary. The Bandits got Felipe Lopez from us two years ago when we finished second but were forced to get rid of our young talent. Lopez, at $6, is a steal. Add in Matt Holliday at $10, who also came, (unfortunately) from us, and there was a solid young nucleus in place on draft day.

Because they had a lot of cheap players on draft day, the Bandits were able to splurge on some stars like Chipper Jones, Scott Rolen, and Carlos Beltran.

We think that as the season wears on the Bandits pitching will prove their undoing. They don't have a single starting pitcher whose salary exceeds $10 — a rule of thumb in Rotisserie Baseball is when it comes to starters, you get what you pay for. So far, the Bandits have gotten by with Chris Capuano, Derek Lowe, Brad Penny, Mike O'Connor, and several mediocre starters. They did splurge for a closer, Tom Gordon ($32), which proved a good move, but their second closer, David Weathers, has lost his job, and the Bandits foolishly did not grab his back-up, Todd Coffey.

Contrast the Bandits staff with ours, The Fire. We have Glavine, Smoltz, Brett Myers, Willis, Clay Hensley (a waiver wire pickup) and Wandy Rodriguez. We have Sheets and Prior on the reserved list. We went so heavy on starting pitching we even lost Jeff Weaver and Kris Benson when they went to the American league, yet we are still in first place in the Wins category.

Right now the Bandits have 76 points and The Fire 62, but we're last in both the Saves and Steals categories, while the Bandits are pretty much locked in near the top in all eight categories. It's only June, so there is plenty of time to rise up the ladder in categories you're doing poor in.

To address the saves situation, we grabbed Logan Kensing off the free agent list and then traded for Joe Borowski, who is currently closing for the Marlins. We believe Kensing will replace him at some point, and we've already gotten a win and a save from him and two saves from Borowski. We outbid everyone for Ken Ray, guessing Atlanta had finally gotten sick of Chris Reitsma. When Ray got the call the other night and responded with a 1-2-3 inning with two Ks, imagine the joy in Fireland!

Now we need steals. We only have 20, but there are six teams within reach. We activated Tony Womack from our Reserve List. We picked up Jamey Carroll. We're hoping So Taguchi runs more, and Jessie Barfield keeps running, and Adam Everitt starts running. We traded for Dave Roberts, who has 15 steals, but for some reason the dopey Padres have been starting Eric Young over Roberts, who was so upset he went over the manager's head and straight to the general manager. That will probably get him even more bench time.

Meanwhile we're looking for more speed and dangling a starter as bait.

There is still time, remember: PATIENCE. If we still need steals a month from now, we have a huge bargaining chip: Ryan Howard at $10. He will bring a king's ransom on the open market as teams looking to rebuild can shed their high-priced players for this stud, who they can lock up for four or five years; his two remaining $10 years, and a two or three year extension at $5 each.

Do we want to trade the kid? Of course not. But in our cutthroat league, you go for the gold when it's within reach: we've had nine different winners in 10 years, and no team has repeated in over a decade.

We could, of course, back down and trade our overpriced guys, get some draft picks, minor leaguers, and young players and look to build around Howard. That would be the sensible thing. But pulling out after waiting all winter for the joy of competition isn't what The Fire is all about. Charge!

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