August 16, 2006

Fantasy Sports

With the football season looming and the major league baseball season winding down, Rotisserie baseball players need to make the critical decision: go for it, or play for next year.

I decided to try and win the championship in a big way, pulling off two trades involving 26 players, that cost me the services of home run King Ryan Howard, who I had locked up at a $10 salary. That left me with only 13 of my original 40 players, and that means it's been a fun season!

I needed to make a big push in the Saves and Stolen Bases categories, and the two trades addressed both my needs. I traded Howard along with Jess Barfield and some prospects for two speed demons, Raf Furcal and Jimmy Rollins, and Francesco Cordero, the reliever Milwaukee recently acquired. I also added power with Carlos Delgado and Pedro Feliz. None of these guys will help me next year because their high salaries mean I'll have to cut them loose. But they're likely to give me the boost I need this season.

I traded John Willingham and Wilson Betamint, two young, cheap players, for some grizzly old veterans including Steve Traschel and Jon Lieber, for pitching depth, and Luis Gonzalez, hoping Gonzo would recapture some of his lost power. So far, he's hit four homers for me after managing only eight for the entire season, and both Lieber and Traschel have turned in two quality starts since the trade.

Right now the Bandits have 77.5 points, The Orange Pac has 71.0 and my team, The Fire, has 70.5, up five points since the trade was made.

Yes, there will be a pennant race, and all the excitement it brings, in my house this September!

Strategy Corner: It's all about pitching. I went into last winter with nine good starters, and even though I lost Jeff Weaver (thank God!) and Kris Benson to the American league (we play in an NL-only league) and Mark Prior to injuries, I sill had a solid rotation headed by John Smoltz, Brett Myers and Tom Glavine. I also picked up Joe Borowski and Armando Benitez on the cheap — remember, old closers never die!

Always keep good veteran pitchers stockpiled, because you never know who will get hot down the stretch. Besides Lieber and Traschel I picked up Tomo Ohka for next to nothing, Ben Sheets when he was hurt, and Brad Hennessey, a sometimes starter for the Giants. I'm also trying to trade for Andy Pettitte. Having extra starters allows you to mix and match — activate the guys who are going against lousy teams in pitcher's parks, drop the guys who are facing the other team's ace on the road.

Hopefully, you can maximize wins and steals and still keep the ERA and WHIP down.

HINT: Be prepared for anything the last week of the season. You may want 10 starters active, or, if you have the ERA, WHIPS, and WINS categories locked up, you might want 10 guys who aren't even going to pitch. Plan ahead by scanning the Free Agent lists for useful bodies.

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