Posted on: July 25, 2008 8:10 pm
Edited on: July 25, 2008 8:18 pm

Observing a few starting pitchers

Not a whole lot of extra time today, but I wanted to share a few observations on made on Thursday night's starting pitchers:

I remember this spring when I kept calling Roy Halladay a non-strikeout pitcher in all of my draft preparation articles. He apparently read, grew incensed and plotted to bring about my ruin. His 133 strikeouts so far put him within six of last season's total and give him one more than he had in all of 2006. He's currently on pace to break 200 strikeouts for only the second time in his career. Shoot, he's only broken 150 twice. I don't know what changed in his pitching arsenal to make him such a different type of pitcher, but I have no choice to acknowledge it. I hereby eat my words.

Jamie Moyer is old, but he has a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts and his best all-around numbers since his 21-win season ion 2003. Again, I have no choice but to acknowledge it.

Oliver Perez deserves a whole new brand of acknowledgement -- that of the we-judged-you-too-soon variety. His 15-win season last year looked like a joke back when he had a 5.29 ERA on June 24, but since then, he has a 1.34 ERA in five starts, striking out 39 batters in 33 2/3 innings and walking more than three only once. I'm not sure how best to put this, but gimme, gimme, gimme.

Daniel Cabrera has become a perennial tease. Every year, he looks like he turns some corner in some stage of his development, making you think he finally has enough command to make the most of his talent. But he doesn't -- he proved it again Thursday -- and when a pitcher allows four earned runs or more in seven of his last 10 starts, that pitcher doesn't deserve a spot on any Fantasy roster.

I couldn't help but notice the contrast between Tim Redding and Matt Cain as they went the distance against each other Thursday -- one of the most overrated pitchers in Fantasy going against one of the most underrated. And here's a surprise -- Redding is the overrated one. OK, I have to admit he keeps pitching well, emerging as a useful NL-only option, but his numbers still look too good to be true. Cain, meanwhile, is on pace for more than 200 strikeouts and has a successful track record in the second half. If you own him, you'll consider him a must-start before season's end.

Todd Wellemeyer doesn't look like the same pitcher since coming back from a strained right elbow in late June. He has gone only five innings in four of his six starts, posting a 5.51 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. His success earlier in the season made less sense than this current trend, considering he never pitched all that well as a middle reliever earlier in his career. I think it's safe to say he's outlived his usefulness in mixed leagues.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 24, 2008 9:57 pm

Harden, Volquez, Peavy -- Buy or Sell

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The last time I did a rendition of Buy or Sell -- that's right: I have a new baby -- we found Johan Santana's name at the top of the list of most traded players in Fantasy leagues. Well, now that I've come back for Phase 2, there he remains.

Why would anyone not want this guy?

The top six most traded players in Fantasy:
Johan Santana
Is he old? No. Is he hurt? No. Is he fat? No. Is he anything that might give anyone cause for concern in the coming weeks? No. Is he the best pitcher in Fantasy Baseball? Well, not statistically -- not yet, anyway. But he pitches for a contender, strikes out three times as many batters as he walks, and has a history of performing better in the second half. I have nothing against Roy Halladay, Brandon Webb, CC Sabathia and -- who else? -- Cole Hamels, but I wouldn't hesitate to trade any of them if someone offered me Santana. He just has too much history and hasn't performed poorly enough this year to distance himself from it. Sure, his 8-7 record doesn't look great, but his luck has to turn eventually. After all, he goes at least seven innings more often than not, which is more than anyone can say for Jake Peavy. Count me among the buyers.

Rich Harden
Ah, Harden -- owner of some of the most beautiful stats I've ever seen. That 2.12 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 11.3 strikeout rate really make him out to be one of the best pitchers in Fantasy Baseball. But you also have to consider another stat: those six trips to the DL in four seasons, making his 15 starts this season equal to his amount from the last two seasons combined. He tempts fate every time he takes the ball and stomps up the side of the mound, each start potentially his last. Certainly, he has Fantasy value even with the risk, but if someone wants to pay ace value for him, why not listen?

Carl Crawford
Like Santana, Crawford had a spot on this last time, but he's only gotten colder since then. His .269 batting average makes his chances of finishing under .300 for the first time since 2004 pretty likely, and his .689 OPS makes owners in leagues that hardly reward steals wonder if they should even own him. I admit his prospects have looked better, but if you sell him now, you sell him for less than his actual value. When he gets hot again, his batting average will rise, and his stolen bases and power numbers will follow as the number of opportunities (in this case, hits) increase. And he has the potential to get really hot, as evidenced by his .358 batting average after the All-Star break last year. Stick with him.

Edinson Volquez
I love this move and all the people who make it. I'd kiss them on the lips if I could. And if I had the foresight to draft Volquez in one of my leagues, I hope I'd also have the foresight to trade him now. See those 122 2/3 innings of his? His career high is 144 2/3. That gives him -- what? -- four starts before he slows down, if he hasn't already (5.20 ERA over his last five, anybody?). Now, if you do decide to trade him, keep in mind this isn't a panic maneuver, but a shrewd one. Don't sell him for less than you'd sell one of the best pitchers in Fantasy Baseball. You want to cash in on his maximized value, so don't slip into the mindset that you have to get rid of him before it's too late.

CC Sabathia
Depending on how much his owner wants, I'd happily buy Sabathia right now. If he sees his 10-8 record and 3.30 ERA and decides those numbers make him less than a Fantasy ace, swoop in for the kill. Sabathia has three straight complete games since his move to the National League, making him like Roy Halladay except he strikes out a batter per inning and allows fewer runs. Oh yes, I said fewer runs, despite him having a higher ERA. Don't underestimate the impact of Sabathia's dreadful April on his cumulative totals. He clearly trumps Halladay right now, and I came within an eyelash of ranking him the No. 1 starting pitcher in all of Fantasy Baseball earlier this afternoon. Buy, buy, buy.

Jake Peavy
Does anybody trade hitters anymore? Other than Crawford, apparently not. I don't know what angle I can take with Peavy that I didn't take last time. I like his ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. I hate that he pitches for the Padres and has a history of arm problems. In Fantasy, I'd rather own Santana or Sabathia, so if someone wants to buy Peavy as the second-best starting pitcher in Fantasy (how he began the season), I'd hear him out. If someone wants to sell Peavy because he no longer sees him as an elite option, well, I'd hear him out too.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 22, 2008 4:04 am
Edited on: July 22, 2008 4:05 am

Bookkeeping and the logic of strikeouts

First, we need to do a little bookkeeping. If you don't like bookkeeping and just want straight Fantasy Baseball, skip ahead to the dashed line below.

I realize I've blogged only twice since the All-Star break, and those of you accustomed to me blogging every day might find that a little disconcerting.

But you should know I haven't abandoned you. I haven't abandoned the blog. I still love it more than I suspect I'll love some of my children.

Only the bad ones, mind you.

I have -- for lack of a better term -- neglected the blog in recent days because my responsibilities here have expanded greatly even since the start of baseball season. Quite simply, I've gotten more to do without getting more time to do it. Something's gotta give, and when I find myself routinely blogging at 4 a.m., I think we all know what that something is.

Look, I don't like it. In a perfect world, I'd just write a bang-up blog entry every day and go home. But the world, as most of us have come to learn by now, is not perfect.

So here's what I'll do: I'll still blog four days a week, which is really only one less day than before. I'll skip Saturday because I have to write the Hitting Planner, which is kind of like writing an encyclopedia. I currently have Sunday and Wednesday off each week, bringing our final tally to ...

Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday: no blog
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: blog

… except I also have Tuesday off this week, meaning no bloggy tomorrow.

OK, sorry for that drawn-out and possibly boring process, but I know if certain people don't know when to check, they might stop checking altogether. And I like having people read my blog. That's kind of the point.


I haven't taken a trade question in a while, and I found one that happens to touch on my philosophy for starting pitchers. Let's give it a go:

Looking for some advice on a trade. I am in a Rotisserie keeper league, and keepers maintain the same salary. I am in the lead overall, third in wins (very close) and ninth out of 11 in strikeouts. I have an offer where I would trade Joe Saunders for Felix Hernandez, and their salaries are both at $1. I am not worried about the keeper status, but I'd lose wins with Hernandez. Any thoughts?
-- Dino Diviacchi

I have many thoughts, Dino. This mind never shuts off.

Specifically on your trade, I think you should make it without hesitating a second longer. Don't even wait to read the rest of this response (but I hope everyone else does).

See, I like to classify starting pitchers into two fundamental categories: those that get wins and those that get strikeouts. The crucial difference between the two is that strikeout pitchers can sometimes get wins but win pitchers can never get strikeouts.

Following the strict logic of that statement, without getting distracted by the baseball terminology and any biases that go along with it, you obviously want the pitcher that gets strikeouts.

And I think we know who between Saunders and Hernandez gets the strikeouts. You implied yourself you'd get Hernandez to improve your strikeouts. I just wanted to point out that, by getting Hernandez, you wouldn't necessarily hurt your chances of improving something else too.

Sticking with Saunders, you would. He gives you wins, and if the wins ever stop, he gives you nothing. You could argue he helps your ERA and WHIP, but the difference between his contribution in those categories (3.05 and 1.14) and Hernandez's (2.95 and 1.23) is negligible.

OK, so why might Saunders stop getting wins? Luck, for starters. The Angels only score so many runs, and they might start scoring less for Saunders and more for someone else. He won't have any control over it. Sure, he can help his chances by pitching well, but if he allows even one run, the game's out of his hands.

But I have even more concerns about Saunders than the raw logic of the above argument -- concerns that might also affect his wins. I have reason to believe his 3.05 ERA and 1.14 WHIP might not last much longer given his pedigree and track record. He has no history of pitching like this in the majors, in the minors or anywhere else. Meanwhile, he does have a history of slowing down in the second half -- a short history, but a history nonetheless.

And if he slows down, even just a little, he could conceivably end up with stats like a 3.43 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and an 18-8 record -- still good numbers, but ones that hurt your ERA and WHIP, give you only six more wins, and don't at all help you in strikeouts.

You have to make that trade. If by looking at those projected final numbers for Saunders, you wouldn't interpret he had a second-half collapse, then it's really a no-brainer. Saunders has to pitch only so bad to make the trade end up looking so good.

And I think, Dino, even you can say yabba-dabba do to that.

That's all for now.
Posted on: July 18, 2008 6:01 pm
Edited on: July 18, 2008 6:02 pm

Second for saves

As promised Thursday, I've compiled a list of alternate closers for every major-league team. If a team's closer gets injured, traded or otherwise removed from the role, you now have my prediction for who would take his place.

Ask and ye shall receive ... with a little moaning and groaning beforehand, of course.

As an added wrinkle, because I likes me some wrinkles -- which sounds like a really weird fetish, but anyway -- I've implemented a system of asterisks to indicate the likelihood of the alternate closer actually earning a few saves, taking into account the injury risk or incompetence of the guy ahead of him. One asterisk means not at all likely. Two means I could see it happening. Three means I wouldn't drop dead if it happened tomorrow.

Yes, drop-dead insurance -- it applies to only a select few.

Arizona Diamondbacks:
Brandon Lyon -- Tony A. Pena**
Atlanta Braves:
Mike Gonzalez -- Blaine Boyer**
Baltimore Orioles:
George Sherrill -- Jim R. Johnson*
Boston Red Sox:
Jonathan Papelbon -- Hideki Okajima*
Chicago Cubs:
Kerry Wood -- Carlos Marmol**
Chicago White Sox:
Bobby Jenks -- Octavio Dotel**
Cincinnati Reds:
Francisco Cordero -- Jared Burton*
Cleveland Indians:
Masahide Kobayashi -- Rafael Perez**
Colorado Rockies:
Brian Fuentes -- Taylor Buchholz***
Detroit Tigers:
Todd Jones -- Joel Zumaya***
Florida Marlins:
Kevin Gregg -- Matt Lindstrom*
Houston Astros:
Jose Valverde -- Doug Brocail*
Kansas City Royals:
Joakim Soria -- Ramon Ramirez*
L.A. Angels:
Francisco Rodriguez -- Scot Shields**
L.A. Dodgers:
Jonathan Broxton -- Hong-Chih Kuo*
Milwaukee Brewers:
Salomon Torres -- Eric Gagne**
Minnesota Twins:
Joe Nathan -- Jesse Crain*
N.Y. Mets:
Billy Wagner -- Duaner Sanchez*
N.Y. Yankees:
Mariano Rivera -- Kyle Farnsworth*
Oakland Athletics:
Huston Street -- Brad Ziegler**
Philadelphia Phillies:
Brad Lidge -- Ryan Madson*
Pittsburgh Pirates:
Damaso Marte -- Tyler Yates**
San Diego Padres:
Trevor Hoffman -- Heath Bell**
San Francisco Giants:
Brian Wilson -- Tyler Walker*
Seattle Mariners:
Brandon Morrow -- Mark Lowe*
St. Louis Cardinals:
Ryan Franklin -- Jason Isringhausen***
Tampa Bay Rays:
Troy Percival -- Grant Balfour***
Texas Rangers:
C.J. Wilson -- Eddie Guardado**
Toronto Blue Jays:
B.J. Ryan -- Scott Downs**
Washington Nationals:
Jon Rauch -- Luis Ayala*
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 18, 2008 1:49 am

'Save'-ing face

Mind if I complain?

Who cares? It's my blog. I can do that from time to time.

First, I should preface this entry by providing a little context. I say all this as someone who not too long ago found himself in the same position as all of you -- an avid consumer, and not producer, of Fantasy content. In fact, I represent the first of a generation of men and women who can honestly say they dreamed of becoming Fantasy Baseball writers when they grew up. And believe me, exactly one year ago, I had no idea I'd have this job not only now, but ever. I feel incredibly lucky to have the position I have today and sometimes have to pinch myself to prove I actually do.

And I mostly feel that level of elation because I know the odds I had to overcome to get here. I know the competition I had to overcome. I know a lot of other boys and girls dreamed of becoming Fantasy Baseball writers when they grew up and haven't gotten the chance. Sure, I made the right choices as far as my education and the early stages of my career go, but so did a lot of other people. In the end, I know I just got lucky.

And because I represent one of the lucky few, some of the unlucky many hold me to an impossible standard, sending me an endless string of critical e-mails no matter how many ways I choose to say something. It comes with the territory, and it'll never, ever stop. I know that.

Still, every once in a while, one of those e-mails irks me.

I got one such e-mail Wednesday -- apparently, pretty much every member of the Fantasy-writing community did. I won't copy and paste its contents here because it's too long and names a few specific people from rival sites, but it basically wonders why we don't spend more time analyzing closers-in-waiting and then goes on a long, angry rant about how Fantasy writers waste their readers' time by telling them things they already know.

First, let me address the specific. In the case of most teams, the replacement for the closer is obvious -- the setup man. Us Fantasy writers could spend more time talking about which setup men would make the best closers, I suppose -- and we do some -- but the discussion is somewhat moot until they actually become closers. Unless you play in an especially deep AL- or NL-only league, you're better off racing to the waiver wire to grab someone who just became a closer than stashing away a potential closer in the off chance the guy ahead of him gets injured or traded. Doing the latter, except in some rare cases, just doesn't make good use of your roster space.

Now, to the part of the e-mail that really irks me -- the part about Fantasy writers wasting their readers' time by telling them what they already know.

Um, what do you expect?

We have the same access to newspapers, websites and other resources as you do -- nothing more. It's not like managers and front offices have a Fantasy hotline we can call to gain top-secret information. It's not like we come equipped with crystal balls to help us predict the future. All we can do is collect as much information as possible and offer an informed opinion to weigh against your own.

What does that mean? It means even if we say something you totally disagree with, we've still done you some good simply by saying it. We've validated it -- and by that, I don't mean we have some God-given or legal authority on the matter, serving as the notaries of the Fantasy community. I simply mean that if we -- people paid to form educated opinions on the matter -- feel a certain way, chances are someone in your league does too.

And that's the kind of information you want to have. Imagine you read me saying -- like I have so many times before -- "Carlos Quentin is awesome, and I want to have his babies," and you happen to own Quentin and think he stinks. Well, you might think twice about cutting him now. If I think he's awesome, so does someone in your league, and you'll want to find that someone to get something better for Quentin than the best thing off the waiver wire.

Obviously, that example sounds kind of silly now that Quentin has made an All-Star team and earned must-start status in Fantasy, so I'll give you another example -- one involving a disagreement between two of us Fantasy writers.

I recently wrote a column saying I don't have high hopes for Troy Tulowitzki in the second half. My colleague, Michael Hurcomb, wrote a column a couple days later saying he does. Obviously, one of us will end up wrong -- dead wrong -- but I don't so much care which one of us does. We don't keep track of every pick we get right or wrong, and we don't have a running competition to see who gets the most right. Our disagreement did something far more important than play a game of roulette with our egos. By providing two dissenting viewpoints, we gave you an accurate assessment of the likelihood of each. I actually like to point out any disagreements I have with my colleagues for that reason, as if to say, "Hey, I think this, but one of my colleagues thinks this, so weigh my opinion accordingly." If every Fantasy writer you read agreed with me about Tulowitzki, you'd probably cut him, and even I wouldn't want you to do that.

And that's really all there is to this job. All we do is offer silly opinions, and if you approach them as such instead of taking them so seriously, you'll probably get more out of the content itself and your Fantasy-playing experience. I love my job, but I know not to take it too seriously. Sure, I do as much research and weigh as many variables as I can before presenting an opinion, but in the end, I know I'm just guessing. I don't think any well-adjusted Fantasy writer would tell you otherwise.

With that said, in my blog Friday I'll go through every team's bullpen and suggest a backup closer for each. Hey, it's worth a look every now and then, just not a federal case.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
Posted on: July 15, 2008 2:59 am
Edited on: July 15, 2008 3:00 am

First half risers and fallers

As an extension of my Sliders column this week, in which I talk about the biggest sliders of the entire first half, I made a list of the biggest risers and fallers at each position. How 'bout I share?

Riser: Geovany Soto
Faller: Victor Martinez

Soto had sleeper written all over him going into the season, but people still waited until the 20th round to draft him. Can't exclude him just because some people saw it coming. Listing Martinez here might seem unfair because of his elbow injury, but he was so bad, and people drafted him so early. If you want another pick, I'll say Kenji Johjima.

First Base
Riser: Jason Giambi
Faller: Nick Swisher

I admit I declared Giambi toast, and while his batting average keeps him from becoming a clear must-start in Fantasy, his power numbers and strikeout-to-walk ratio qualify him as such in most leagues. As for Swisher, he always had a good strikeout-to-walk ratio of his own, and the move to a hitter's park should have helped his numbers. Not so. Hopefully, you didn't draft him in the sixth round like some people did.

Second Base
Riser: Ian Kinsler
Faller: Robinson Cano

Most people who drafted Kinsler drafted him to start, so in a way, he doesn't apply here. But he's risen so much I feel like I should still give him his due credit. To think he ranked behind Chase Utley, Brandon Phillips, B.J. Upton, Dan Uggla, Brian Roberts and Cano before the season. Now, some might argue he doesn't even rank behind Utley. Speaking of Cano, his poor plate discipline really caused his batting average to fluctuate, didn't it? Really, you had no business drafting him ahead of guys like Kinsler and Roberts, but what's done is done. The good news is he usually explodes in the second half, so don't sell now.

Third Base
Riser: Jorge Cantu
Faller: Ryan Zimmerman

Cantu's 28 homers in 2005 looked like a fluke or something worse, but he's on an even better power pace with the Marlins this year. Every time he looks like he'll slow down, he heats right back up, so I have to believe in him by now. I still can't believe I took Jose Castillo over him in an NL-only league. Talk about a bad move. As for Zimmerman, he got hurt, of course, but he still looks stuck in neutral after his rookie season. I wouldn't expect anything amazing when he returns -- certainly nothing to rank him among the top 10 at his position.

Riser: Jerry Hairston
Faller: Troy Tulowitzki

For the riser, I could have chosen Cristian Guzman, but I preferred to go with the guy the Orioles used to consider a better prospect than Brian Roberts. I seriously doubt he'll hit .350 all season, but he should hit well, and his stolen bases offer more for Rotisserie owners than anything Guzman does. Tulowitzki had some bad luck with injuries, of course, but even they can't explain a .166 batting average. He won't hit below .200 all season, but don't expect him to hit .290 in the second half either.

Riser: Carlos Quentin
Faller: Andruw Jones

Quentin was toeing the line of big-league bust before the season, but he's since emerged as an elite Fantasy outfielder. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted in most mixed leagues. I could have picked Josh Hamilton, J.D. Drew, Nate McLouth, Milton Bradley or Ryan Ludwick, but I went with Quentin for the combination of overall upside, low draft position and potential to sustain his current pace. As for Jones, when I have trouble sleeping all those lonely, guilt-ridden nights, at least I can take some solace knowing I warned people against drafting him in the eighth round.

Starting Pitcher
Riser: Justin Duchscherer
Faller: Brett Myers

So many risers at starting pitcher this season, which is the No. 1 reason I suggest loading up on hitting at the beginning of a draft, no matter the league format. From Edinson Volquez to Ervin Santana to Joe Saunders to Cliff Lee to Jonathan O. Sanchez to Ryan Dempster to any of a dozen other names, I could have gone in so many directions here. But I couldn't go against the man who's bailed me out in two Fantasy leagues. I mean, Duchscherer was a complete afterthought in AL-only formats, much less mixed, and he leads the world in ERA. And it doesn't even look like a fluke, considering his consistency. Meanwhile, no potential Fantasy ace has crashed and burned like Myers, with the exception of maybe Dontrelle Willis. I kind of hope people saw the warning signs with Willis, though.

Relief Pitcher
Riser: Kerry Wood
Faller: Trevor Hoffman

I know some people might pick George Sherrill as the biggest riser, but I get the impression a lot Fantasy owners don't quite trust him. I know I sure don't. Just look at his peripherals. I considered picking Joakim Soria and Brad Lidge -- and I couldn't have gone wrong with either -- but Wood entered the season totally distrusted in Fantasy circles, for understandable reasons. He's since become arguably the best closer in the National League, pitching for arguably the best team in the National League. Trevor Hoffman, meanwhile, pitches for the arguably the worst team in the National League, and he doesn't pitch particularly well. I applaud the Hall of Fame career he's had, but he looks finished at age 40.

That's all for now.
Posted on: July 13, 2008 3:14 am
Edited on: July 13, 2008 3:16 am

Konerko, Cantu, Nolasco -- The Observations

It's been far too long.

How long? Too long. How too long? Fifteen days too long.

So let's cut out the chitchat and jump right in. It's The Observations, where-have-you-been-all-my-life edition.

So the Yankees drop Brett Gardner from the leadoff spot to ninth, and he reaches base four times. I think this kid has it all backwards.

Not sure how Brad B. Wilkerson got to replace Vernon Wells. Not sure how he got to bat fifth.

Jose B. Reyes has lapped David Wright as most deserving Met not to make the All-Star team.

Ryan Garko's five RBI came about five weeks too late. He's still Fantasy roadkill.

Matt Garza achieved his greatest feat of a breakout season. He made the Indians lineup look good.

When I rub my eyes and squint really hard, I see a .349 mark next to Jerry Hairston's name. No, wait -- that's .349.349. Hmm. Guess it's no trick after all.

Paul Konerko -- 2 good 2 be 4 gotten.

Jim Thome -- already remembered. Check out his stats since the beginning of June. That boy gonna be all right.

Ian Kinsler obviously doesn't like playing second fiddle to Chase Utley, and I'm not sure he does by much anymore.

I'd get excited over Troy Glaus' three hits in two games, but the All-Star break will crush his momentum and reset his streak gauge to factory default. Just you wait.

I never thought I'd say this, but Adam A. LaRoche needs to calm down.

Nate McLouth makes me sorry I ever doubted him.

Ryan Ludwick makes me wish I always doubted him. One three-hit game doesn't make up for six weeks of struggles.

Todd Wellemeyer has a 5.48 ERA over his last four starts. The world makes sense again.

No pitcher makes me feel more stupid than Wandy Rodriguez. Don't play matchups with him unless you want to get burned.

Jorge Cantu has two times as many home runs as Matt Kemp and nine times as many as Andruw Jones. Someone knock some Todd Wellemeyer into him.

With a 2.84 ERA over his last 13 starts, Ricky Nolasco might rival Justin Duchscherer for quietest rise to Fantasy acedom.

That's all for now.
Posted on: July 12, 2008 2:09 am
Edited on: July 13, 2008 1:16 am

Quentin and I -- it's destiny

If only I could find the words to commemorate this moment.

If only I had the ability to express my emotions. If only I had a forum in which to make them known.

Oh wait ... I have this blog. And CBS pays me to express myself. Ha ... my life rules.

So what happened? I'll tell you; just give me a moment to collect myself.

OK, you know Carlos Quentin? I got him back.


In case you've only recently begun reading this blog and have no idea what I'm talking about, let me explain. I fell in love with Quentin following the 2005 season. His 1-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio made my heart skip a beat, and his .943 OPS made it turn somersaults. I saw in him the next Lance Berkman, and I've stated before Lance Berkman represents everything I want a player to be.

So when my oldest, most competitive league instituted a minor-league system in 2006, I knew who I wanted to draft -- Quentin. I had to have him then and there. Shoot, I had to lock him up for life.

And I got him. I got him, stashed him and waited. And waited and waited. I waited for two years, riding every wave of emotion along the way. I reveled in his major-league call-up in 2006 and cringed with his shoulder tear in 2007.

And every step along the way, I retained optimism. Other big prospects came and went, but I never even looked their way. I had what I wanted and would forever remain faithful to Quentin.

Or so I thought.

But something changed after he returned from that shoulder tear. His walks dropped. His strikeouts skyrocketed. His .647 OPS would have made David Eckstein blush. By all outward indications, he had become a different player.

I felt like I hardly knew him anymore.

But I still didn't give up. I wouldn't. I couldn't. I had made a commitment, and I still saw the potential in him even if no one else did.

I thought the move to Chicago might give the two of us a fresh start -- you know, remind us of the way things were. I thought it might give him a chance to get off the bench and do something rewarding.

But nothing changed -- not at first, anyway. The White Sox kept touting Jerry Owens as their everyday man in center field, leaving Quentin with nowhere to go but the bench.

A 25-year-old, third-year player ... on the bench. How embarrassing.

I decided then and there nothing would ever change. I couldn't keep doing this. I couldn't waste the prime of my life on a bench player. I had to move on.

So I did move on, cutting Quentin for Colby Rasmus. He didn't make me feel the same way Quentin once did, but he did make me feel secure, and I needed that. I needed some security.

And I felt better. I thought I had made the best decision for me.

Then, Quentin ended up in the starting lineup ... and proceeded to hit seven home runs in April.

What had I done?

My heart sank. I knew I had betrayed not only Quentin, but myself. And as punishment, I'd have to watch someone else benefit from my investment and consequent impatience.

It hurt in a way Fantasy Baseball never should. With every home run he hit, I lost some of my ability to love.

I've spent so many sleepless nights regretting that decision, wondering why I couldn't have waited just a little bit longer. I'd given him so much already.

All I wanted was a second chance, and finally, after months of negotiating with Quentin's new owner, I got it.

I gave
Vladimir Guerrero

I got
Carlos Quentin
Aaron Harang

When making a deal in Fantasy, I generally want to end up on the side that acquires the best one player -- in this case, Guerrero. But the potential for Harang to rebound in the second half put me over the edge, especially since I currently rank sixth among 10 teams and probably won't make the playoffs without a boost somewhere.

Would I have traded Guerrero for Quentin straight-up? Probably not. As much as I love Quentin, Guerrero has maybe the best track record in baseball. He certainly puts up numbers more consistently than Alex Rodriguez, with Albert Pujols maybe his only equal. But something about Guerrero hasn't sat right with me this year. Sure, he's begun to come around lately after a slow start, but through most of his career, his batting average never faltered from April to September -- certainly not like it did through the first two months of this season. Was it age? Was it a sign of decline? Might his batting average finish around .280 or .290 instead of .310 or .320? I didn't want to wait and find out -- not when I play in a keeper league and Quentin has his whole career ahead of him.

Besides, pulling the trigger allowed me to get a restful night's sleep for the first time all season. I would have traded anyone just for the peace of mind.

That's all for now.
Category: MLB
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