June 07, 2006

Fantasy Sports

Help From Unexpected Places

Now is the time to scour the free agent pool, waiver wire, and the rosters of the teams in your league for players who can help you in your title quest.

That's because, two months into the season, Major League teams out of contention start to shake things up. As we reported last week, closers are losing their jobs and their replacements were often available for pick-up. This week, I grabbed Ken Ray, who I think will emerge as Atlanta's closer, and Logan Kensing, the young Florida reliever who is getting used in clutch late-inning situations.

There are always a couple unknown players who, given a chance to play, grab a job. I picked up Jamey Carroll, a career utility man, for a lousy buck the other day. Why? Carroll is playing regularly in Colorado, where the high altitude has made hitters out of many a middle-of-the-roader. Plus, he's stealing bases, and I need steals.

I took a flyer on Clay Hensley of San Diego because he plays in a pitchers' park and he's won three games for me already.

Injuries open up opportunities for younger players. In New York, the Yankees promoted Melkey Cabrera and he looks like a hitter. The Mets brought up Lastings Milledge last week and he has tremendous potential.

In keeper leagues, now is about the time fantasy owners who are off to slow starts look towards next season. I picked up Dave Roberts, who has been stealing a lot of bases, for future considerations — minor leaguers and draft picks.

If your league allows reserved rosters, stockpile yours with players who can help you win this season. Most of my fellow owners in the North Albany National Rotisserie League grab young minor leaguers and try to hold onto them for years. I grab guys who I think will play in the majors this season. For example, I just brought up Tony Womack, who is the every day second baseman for the Cubs now and who can also play outfield. Plus, he steals bases.

I still have Cesar Izturis stashed on my reserve roster, though he's been out all year with an injury. Now he's getting ready to return, and he also steals bases. Both Womack and Izturis are probably available on most on-line leagues — if you are not doing well in the steals category, by all means grab them.

Love Those Retreads

One of the best deals I made all year came during the winter. Because I didn't want to drive all the way to Albany for my winter draft, I traded my number one pick for Tommy Glavine. The truth is, I've never liked Glavine as a fantasy pitcher — even when he was winning a lot of games in Atlanta he was giving up a lot of hits. Worse, when I watched him on television it became apparent he had very little velocity left. But I did note that during the second half of last season he put up very good numbers. This year, he's been the ace of my staff that includes guys like John Smoltz, Brett Myers, Mark Prior, and Ben Sheets. As of this writing he is 8-2 with a 2.59 earned run average. Overall, I lead my league in the Wins category in no small part to Tommy. The prevailing wisdom would be to sell high and dump him, but I just turned down a Glavine for Armando Benitiz offer even though I need a closer. The reason? Glavine's strikeout numbers are way up and that tells me he's found a whole new groove. I'm keeping him. Kenny Rogers is another oldie but goodie in the same mold.

Coming Soon

Speaking of oldies but goodies, Roger Clemens, because he was retired, probably won't be available in most leagues until he is activated. In ESPN leagues, most leagues will have a waiting period and use the waiver wire procedure — the team lowest on the waiver wire list gets him. In Sports Line leagues, however, Clemens will become available as soon as he is activated via the "add/drop" function under the transactions link. That means you need to monitor the situation carefully and visit the sites each day as Clemen's arrival becomes eminent.

Moving Up

Skippy's team, The Fire, moved into third place in the NANRL with 62.5 points, behind the Bandits 74.5 and The Huskies, 63.0. The Huskies, however, correctly sensing they don't have the horses, have announced they will sell their higher priced players for more affordable players — thus increasing the chances they will be competitive next season. Now that The Fire has added speed and a closer, look for Skippy's team to gradually start moving up — The Fire is presently last in the steals and saves categories.

Note: The North Albany National Rotisserie League, a National league only keeper league, is one of the oldest in the country.

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