A 3-7 record. It hurts every time I look at it.
Don't get me wrong -- I've certainly done well and have a good chance of winning in several leagues this year, but this one is my mainstay, my bread-and-butter, the one I play with friends I know and love instead of just the grouches I work with.
I don't do 3-7 -- never ever. I can't say I always take the No. 1 seed into the playoffs, but I'm always right there, no more than half a step behind the leader. And of all times to sink so far, I do this now -- the same year Fantasy Baseball becomes not just a hobby, but a job. How can I live this down?
Fortunately, I've chosen my friends carefully. They'll let me fall to last place with dignity, saying everyone has a bad year now and then. They won't rub it in my face, calling me a disgrace to my profession or whatever other insult best fits the occasion. They certainly could, though, and perhaps they should.
I don't mean to say I've given up. I remain active on the trade front and the waiver wire, hoping some combination of moves will help my team over this hurdle. This league has a history of teams starting worse than 3-7 and still making the playoffs, but I obviously have an uphill battle to climb.
So to turn my failure into a lesson for us all, I've made a list of the top 10 reasons why I've done so poorly in this league. Then again, some might argue owning Lance Berkman, Chipper Jones and Milton Bradley should negate any excuses I make. A valid point.
Quick note: The league is a 10-team, mixed, Head-to-Head keeper league, with Alex Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Jimmy Rollins and Erik Bedard as my keepers.
1. Drafting Travis Hafner
Oof! Like a punch in the stomach, Hafner fell short of even my most pessimistic expectations, furthering last season's disappointment with two months of flat-out incompetence ... and then a shoulder injury. Even worse, I drafted him the sixth round. I wouldn't say he didn't concern me going into the season. He did, mostly because I didn't have an explanation for his struggles. But he still had a nice strikeout-to-walk ratio, and I figured the sixth round was a bargain for him -- especially since he usually went in the fifth round in my earlier drafts, most of which didn't even count walks or strikeouts.
2. Early-season struggles for Vladimir Guerrero
Going into the season, my one hitter who I felt gave me no cause for concern was Vlad. A staple of my team since I traded for him midway through 2003 -- his only injury-marred season, though some people would have you believe otherwise -- I could always count on Vlad for at least a .315 batting average and 30 home runs ... until this year. Hey, I've tried trading him. I couldn't find any takers who didn't want a steeply discounted rate. I see no choice with Guerrero but to wait and hope he improves, but my faith is rapidly diminishing.
3. Drafting Carlos Pena as my starting first baseman
Like Hafner, I didn't aim for Pena. I didn't end up with him in league after league after league. I didn't expect him to hit another 46 home runs, but I didn't think 35 sounded too optimistic. So on Draft Day in this league, I waited and waited for him to go off the board, nobody wanted him, and when Round 9 came, I figured he'd fallen in my lap as my starting first baseman. Lucky me. Granted, he didn't hit as many home runs as I thought he would before he got injured, but the few he did hit his 71 strikeouts quickly negated.
4. Drafting Rafael Soriano and Manny Corpas as my starting closers
In retrospect, I should have made sure one of my closers had a little more of a track record. To make matters worse, I drafted B.J. Ryan as my third closer but cut him to create roster space early in the season. Last year, I drafted Jose Valverde as my third closer and cut him early in the season too. Clearly, I don't know what I'm doing.
5. Early-season DL stints for Alex Rodriguez and Jimmy Rollins
And considering Erik Bedard also spent some time on the DL, I had a couple weeks where I got nothing from any of my keepers. Of course, A-Rod and Rollins have long since returned, playing just as well as they should, and I don't think I've won a game since.
6. Cutting Carlos Quentin in spring training
If drafting Hafner was like a punch in the stomach, cutting Quentin was like a kick in the groin. No, worse than that. It was like the removal of that whole area by someone with the time and patience to use a plastic knife instead of a surgeon's scalpel. I've made reference to this bonehead decision so many times. If I had drafted Quentin only this year, then I could live with cutting him as simply a bad move. But I drafted him in 2006 and stored him in one of my two minor-league slots for two years. Some marriages don't last that long.
7. Bad lineup decisions
I make these all the time. Actually, I've done pretty well in most leagues this season, but in this league, my bench comes dangerously to outscoring my starting lineup -- not good when it has only half as many players. For instance, just this last week, I started Jason Bergmann for the first time. He had come off four consecutive great starts, including his first career complete game last time out, and was facing the lowly Giants. What could go wrong? Whatever, man. I did everything I could.
8. Approaching the waiver wire too pitching-oriented
Ironically, I thought I loaded up so much on hitting in the draft that I played the waiver wire for pitching in the early weeks of the season, missing all the breakout players like Nate McLouth and whatever second chance I had at Quentin. Most of those pitchers became nothing more than matchups types, and I ended up trading my best arms to patch the holes left by Hafner and Pena.
9. Not drafting a quality third outfielder
I drafted Jermaine Dye as my third outfielder, which might sound pretty good to most of you out there. But keep in mind in a league this shallow, he barely makes the cut and certainly doesn't give me an edge at the position. Just another example of why shallow doesn't necessarily mean easier.
10. Trading for Brian Fuentes instead of B.J. Ryan
After Soriano and Corpas flopped, I had to make a deal unless I wanted to rely on Brian Wilson and C.J. Wilson all season. I traded the aforementioned Dye to a guy who had stashed away five closers. I could have asked for Ryan, but I went with Fuentes instead because the Blue Jays hadn't cleared Ryan to work on back-to-back days yet. As we all know, the Rockies went from being NL Champions to a bottom-of-the-division bust, and Fuentes' Fantasy appeal tanked as a result. I've since gone back to starting Brian Wilson.
That's all for now.