Saturday, March 19, 2005

Sometimes A Fantasy

[Note: Matt and I would like to extend a big round of applause to our good friend Missie, the newest member of this blog, a die-hard Red Sox fan now living in Virginia. Her passion for the Sox is only exceeded by her passion for David Duchovny. -Jay]

Jay: Two years ago, I ran a free Yahoo fantasy league with a group of friends. It was my first real foray in running a league and, due to my choice of league (point style, weekly transactions) it wasn't quite the success I hoped it would be. [Translation: Matt took the pennant, and it's still chafing me two years later. Matt] After playing in a rotisserie league last year (and loving it), I decided to give it another go. Keep in mind this league is NOT serious at all--it's more of a medium for trash-talking than anything else--but I thought it might be fun to follow the league as it progresses this summer, tag-team journal style. The league stats can be found here.

First off, a couple notes about who we're dealing with here:

Hillcats NorthMatt
The Wright WayJay
LawsuitBen, brother to Jay and Evan
JosAsian SensationStephen, Boston friend of all
No NameAnthony, Jay's roommate
Concrete DonkeysCraig, Ben's buddy
Little OrangeKate, Ben's girlfriend, Yankee fan
BombersMark, fellow Sinai student
ILDJ55NYYFumiko, Jay's co-worker, Yankee fan
shmetsEvan, brother to Jay and Ben
SheadreamingDana, fellow Sinai student
Lost in C-Ville Missie, Boston friend of all, now in Virginia
A motley crew, to be sure -- two things to point out here. Stephen's team, the Josasian Sensation, is almost entirely composed of Asian players and guys named "Jose." There aren't quite enough of them to fill the entire roster at every position, thus the inclusion of Jason Varitek. Fumiko is a huuuuuuuuuge Godzilla and Yankee fan, thus her selctions are somewhat skewed as well. It's also worth pointing out that the number "55" means "go-go" in Japan. Thus, Godzilla (who wears #55) is actually called "Go-Go Matsui" and her team name means "I Love Derek Jeter, Go-Go New York Yankees."

Yes, I know.

Anyway, we had the draft last Thursday and since Matt had the first pick, I'll let him have the first shot at it.

Round 1Round 2
Hillcats NorthA. PujolsM. Cabrera
The Wright WayV. GuerreroH. Blalock
LawsuitC. BeltranC. Delgado
JosAsian SensationI. SuzukiJ. Reyes
No NameA. RodriguezC. Crawford
Concrete DonkeysM. TejadaB. Abreu
Little OrangeA. SorianoJ. Posada
BombersR. JohnsonB. Bonds
ILDJ55NYYH. MatsuiD. Jeter
shmetsM. RamirezS. Rolen
SheadreamingT. HeltonJ. Schmidt
Lost in C-Ville J. SantanaD. Ortiz

Matt: The first rule of Matt's roto-team: No Yankees. The second rule of Matt's roto-team? No Yankees. With the first pick, and the statistically attractive but supremely unconscionable Judo Chop! not an option, it boiled down to Pujols or Guerrero. The third rule of Matt's roto-team: as far as possible, avoid karmic entanglements with your real-world rooting interests. Vladi's a great player, and his steals make him slightly more versatile than the Neckless Wonder in St. Louis. Even so, I reserve the right to get angry if Vladi has another nine-RBI game against the Sox. No treasonous sliver of "at least that boosts my OPS" for me. I'll take the monstrous talent in the other league, thanks.

The downside of picking first: I don't get another choice until the end of the second round, where the fourth rule of Matt's roto-team comes into play. Where appropriate, pick the player whose exploits will most annoy the co-blogger. How about the burgeoning talent, still young enough to improve, on a key division rival? Miguel Cabrera, come on down!

Those Bombers! They don't look a day over forty, do they?

Jay: Don't worry, I get revenge on the irksome poet later on in the draft. As for my #2 pick, I have similar handicaps in my selection style as well: No Yankees OR Braves. None. Zip. Nada. Thus my rules also eliminated Slappy as a possibility and it came down to The Impaler or Beltran. Normally, Beltran would be the obvious choice being on my home towne team. But for some strange mystical reason, I find that Mets players I select tend to suck it up big time while they're on my active roster (see Phillips, Jason as Exhibit A). There are exceptions to this, which I'll come to later on, but here Guerrero seemed to be the safer choice.

Coming back around, I wanted a third baseman and Rolen was off the board. In retrospect, I probably should have taken a 2B or SS since they were much more scarce. I had my choice of Eric Chavez, Aramis Ramirez, Adrian Beltre, and Hank Blalock. I almost took Beltre but I honestly feel he was playing a bit over his head last year so I decided to go with Blalock. Foolish, eh? Perhaps. But he's still only 24 and could certainly be primed for a breakout year, especially in that lineup. Anyway, I made up for my foolishness with my next two picks (which were complete steals).

Missie: You will find very little in the way of strategy with my picks for 2 reasons. Reason 1, I did not participate in the live draft because my computer is older than Matt, that is to say, dirt. So I pre-ranked my players, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I ended up with last picks. So much for hope. Reason 2: I'm a working mother of 2, 3 if you count the 100 lb puppy, and lack the time and energy to wax strategic on a fantasy baseball team. If there's justice in this world, I'll beat out Matt and Jay anyway.
That being said, I did still have the rule of No Yankees. Small and Petty I know, but that is the future title of my memoirs, despite what Matt says. Having done this league 2 years ago with Jay, I had great bats, not-so-great pitching. This landed me dead center at the end of the season. So I went after pitching first. Because as we all know, pitching wins championships. Of course this is fantasy and ordinary rules and steroid use need not apply. However the take home message here is that the Red Sox won the World Series last year.

Round 3
Round 4
Hillcats NorthA. BeltreV. Martinez
The Wright WayB. SheetsP. Martinez
LawsuitA. RamirezM. Prior
JosAsian SensationJ. VaritekJ. Vidro
No NameJ. ThomeM. Mora
Concrete DonkeysM. TeixeiraE. Chavez
Little OrangeM. RiveraJ. Smoltz
BombersG. SheffieldJ. Pierre
ILDJ55NYYM. MussinaR. Clemens
shmetsE. GagneM. Piazza
SheadreamingJ. KentI. Rodriguez
Lost in C-Ville C. SchillingN. Garciaparra

Matt: The fifth rule of Matt's roto-league is a little baffling, though it's derived from the endless font of wisdom that is The Simpsons: "Always do the opposite of what Matt says." In my pre-draft rankings, I'd shared Jay's sense that Beltre had played over his head last year, and had opted for Chavez as my first choice for third base. Faced with the actual moment in a live draft, however, I opted for the high-end gamble over the proven commodity. Safeco isn't very hitter friendly, but if he could hit forty-eight homers playing half his games in Dodger Stadium, he can probably handle Safeco just fine. I'm just hoping that he hasn't already bought sixty-four million dollars' worth of KFC Honey Barbecue Wings with his newly lucrative contract. 'Cause that, unfortunately, is exactly what I would do in his shoes.

During the long wait for my fourth pick, I decided I ought to snag some pitching. I was hoping that Pedro would fall to me. Everybody's concerned about his health, and I figured the Mets fans in the league wouldn't want to put the roto-jinx on him. Here he comes...three more picks...two more picks...curse you, Mastaitis. Now I have two picks in a row and I need an arm. First, though one of the strongest players at one of the more shallow positions: Victor, the other Martinez, even though he lit up the Sox even worse than Vladi did last year. Rule five, kids, rule five.

Jay: Bwah, hah, hah, hah! I really got kinda greedy these two rounds. I knew I wanted a top-flight starter before they all disappeared and I settled on Ben Sheets rather than Pedro in the third round, largely because 1) as Matt stated, I really didn't want to jinx Pedro and 2) I knew Dana would likely take Sheets if I let him fall. As I was watching the draft come back around, I had decided to take Victor Martinez if he wasn't already gone. When the queue came back to me, he indeed was still on the board but, inexplicably, so was Pedro. Thus I was torn.

On one hand, if I let Pedro slide, the greedy lemur would have snatched him up.

On the other hand, I really wanted Victor Martinez, who was far and away the best catcher on the board.

Now at the time, I wasn't sure if Matt would have taken Victor with one of his two picks before the queue came back to me and Pedro was just too good to pass up. So I snatched him away. And Matt quickly scooped up Victor. Having Matt fume was just icing on the cake. Mmmm...icing.

Having a 1-2 punch of Sheets and Pedro at the top of my rotation should win me several pitching categories, if not most of them. Especially when you see who I scooped up in Round 6.

Missie: Nomar, I will admit, is a sentimental favorite. However, I also have found through personal exprience that revenge is a fantastic motivator, (again, see Small and Petty), so I expect great things from Nomah this year. Especially if he cuts all pork products from his diet.
Schilling, again, trying to beef up pitching after my weak roster two years ago. Franken-ankle better hold, baby. ( I suppose if I really wanted to "beef up" pitching I would've gotten Wells and Clemens. Alas, there aren't enough pork rinds in all of cyberspace to support those two on one team.) You may have noticed the sacrifice this has caused in the bats. I'm hoping weekly urine tests will work to my advantage there. The rest of you can take your Bonds and Sheffields and shove them up your Pujols.

Round 5Round 6Round 7Round 8
Hillcats NorthOl. PerezB. WagnerO. CabreraC. Patterson
The Wright WayJ. KendallB. LidgeT. HafnerS. Sosa
LawsuitJ. EdmondsM. YoungR. OswaltT. Hoffman
JosAsian SensationS. TakatsuD. RobertsJ. MesaJ. Guillen
No NameJ. RollinsC. JonesJ. LopezO. Dotel
Concrete DonkeysR. FurcalM. GilesJ. PeavyA. Benitez
Little OrangeC. PavanoD. WrightC. GuillenB. Boone
BombersE. RenteriaA. HuffM. LorettaF. Cordero
ILDJ55NYYT. GordonT. HudsonP. Lo DucaJ. Beckett
shmetsJ. DamonD. WellsJ. DrewK. Wood
SheadreamingFr. RodriguezS. PodsednikC. ZambranoJ. Nathan
Lost in C-Ville K. FoulkeT. WakefieldM. MulderE. Guardado

Matt: I tend to wait to draft pitching. It's tougher to predict from year to year, so that once you get past the premium arms it's more of a crapshoot than most of us would care to admit. Taking a Pirates pitcher is a little unsound, in that he's not likely to get a ton of run support. Perez, though, is young and left-handed, with great strikeout numbers. Plus, his home park can be tough on right-handed hitters (expansive alley in left-center), so I decided to snap him up.

At this point, my draft connection cut out, and while I got it back in time before I missed a pick, it made me a little panicky. Wagner's a plausible snag, especially in light of the run on relief pitching between my fifth and sixth picks, but there was no reason to take Cabrera so high. He'll probably turn out a little better than his season last year demonstrated--a few more steals, steadier defense--but his lack of plate discipline will no doubt add to my already exquisite collection of gray hairs. Corey Patterson brings a little bit of everything, and as a primarily AL fan I was a little paranoid about neglecting steals. Incidentally, steals is the one category where I can see JosAsian Sensation (Ichiro, Reyes, Roberts) rating highly.

Other items of note: Missie saved me from myself by grabbing Mulder. The warning lights are flashing, but I kept saying to myself, "League switch! Run support! Complete games!" I may be a roiling cauldron of regret and envy by June, but for now I'm sleeping more easily.

Missie: Pitching, pitching, and more pitching. What the hell was I smoking when I was pre-ranking? Hopefully it will all pay off come June when my pals Regret and Envy set up house in Matt's apartment, but honestly, had I been drafting live, I doubt this would've happened. Of course, had I been drafting live, a lot more of my life would look different besides my roto-team.
As an aside, I can't believe anybody picked up that sissy slapping ARod. Has Anthony not seen that he is instant death to any team he touches? Can he not learn from the mistakes of the Mariners, Rangers and Yankees? I was one of the few Boston fans not offering up my first born to get him to Beantown in the offseason of 2003-2004, and that was from the benefit of only two teams. I realize grudges will probably not serve me well in fantasy baseball, but a girl's gotta have her principles.

Jay: Did Missie just say that she had principles? Your powers have grown weak, woman.

With Matt snatching up Victor, I plucked Jason Kendall with my next pick and then watched as the queue came back around to me with Brad Lidge still out there. I thought I was dreaming -- I needed a relief pitcher at that point but never in my wildest dreams did I think Lidge would still be on the board. Between Lidge, Pedro, and Sheets I should take the strikeout category easily. Sammy Sosa was just too tempting not to take in the eighth round. While he has been declining the last few years, he seems like he has something to prove this year and hitting half of his games in Cadmen Yards hopefully will equal a bounce back season (not to mention another ten in Fenway Park. Bwah, hah, hah, hah!). So here are our complete teams:

V. GuerreroA. PujolsJ. Santana
H. BlalockM. CabreraD. Ortiz
B. SheetsA. BeltreC. Schilling
P. MartinezV. MartinezN. Garciaparra
J. KendallOl. PerezK. Foulke
B. LidgeB. WagnerT. Wakefield
T. HafnerO. CabreraM. Mulder
S. SosaC. PattersonE. Guardado
R. HalladayJ. BondermanB. Mueller
L. CastilloL. HernandezR. Sexson
B. LooperJ. UribeT. Percival
B. CrosbyB. WilkersonD. Graves
R. HidalgoJ. RinconB. Radke
L. WalkerB. RobertsC. Sabathia
B. WebbM. BarrettM. Bradley
M. OlivoB. ArroyoR. Hernandez
K. CaleroP. BurrellJ. Lane
D. WillisA. KearnsLu. Gonzalez
C. FloydJ. CruzR. Durham
Y. BrazobanM. ManteiC. Crisp
M. Adams
A. EatonB. Schneider
G. CarraraD. HarenS. Casey
K. GreeneC. SilvaJ. Lugo
M. CameronT. NixonW. Williams
M. Cuddyer
J. SuppanS. Hillenbrand

Jay: I was fairly happy with my team in the end. It got kinda messy later on and it's worth noting here that I picked up both Mike Adams (Milwaukee's potential closer) and Mike Cuddyer (Minnesota's starting 3B -- I completely forgot they traded Koskie -- who is eligible for 1B, 2B, 3B, and OF) off the waiver wire after the draft! My team is pretty slow -- steals will likely be needed later on -- but otherwise I'm ready to bring everyone down. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you, VanWinkle.

Matt: That's super, Jay! It's good to have goals.

The steal of my draft as I see it is Juan Uribe, who's valuable for many of the reasons Jay went looking for Cuddyer (qualified at three infield positions). Plus, Uribe's twenty-seven years old and should be peaking.

If Bronson Arroyo flames out this year, he has grounds for a good civil suit against me. In the past six months I have A) attempted to coin a nickname (The Paper Airplane) for him, B) argued vociferously that he should be a part of the Sox rotation even if Wade Miller becomes an option and C) placed the dread "Roto-league plus real-life rooting interest equals epic karmic backlash" whammy on him. I might as well have picked him for the NCAA Final Four and set him up with Mia Hamm's closest available female relative just to finish him off.

I wonder if, on the night of the draft, a chill ran up the spine of Ramon Hernandez because, in some alternate reality engineered by Missie, he has to catch Tim Wakefield.

The last two rounds I got knocked off the draft connection, and Trot Nixon was the only remaining player on my list of pre-selections. This was a pleasant surprise. Jeff Suppan, whom I emphatically did not pre-select, rapidly became acquainted with the waiver wire. I think this was the shrewdest move I've made since that dream I had in 2001 where I traded Jose Offerman to a Siberian baseball team for a polar bear and a bottle of vodka. I wish I were making that last bit up, and I wonder why everyone asks me "what kind of vodka?" whenever I mention the dream. The vodka's just a throw-in; the bear's the centerpiece. The bear, dammit!

Missie: Final thoughts on my team? We'll need a whole lotta serendipity to get through the season. And vodka. However I feel Jay is a tad overconfident in his pitching roster. I can't really say why other than a gut feeling and a phone call I made to some friends. I also anticiapte Arroyo's arm falling off as he throws his first starting pitch- thank you very much VanWinkle. You killed Giambi the Lesser and you've come back for Arroyo! [Note: If I hadn't killed Jeremy Giambi, David Ortiz might well have asked for and received a trade in May 2003. But where's my medal? Matt] Really my only goal is to come ahead of JosAsian Sensation. Such lofty goals I have set for myself this season. Rumor has it that is also the top priority of Steinbrenner's for his Yanks.


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