Fantasy Baseball: Tumbling Dice

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on January 11, 2011 @ 06:30:00 PDT

 


What I'm Going to Do, I Think

Back in 1969, Larry Woiwode wrote a novel called What I'm Going to Do, I Think. The book is described as "A dark, serious novel about a math grad student..." At the time I encountered the book, I had a girlfriend who was reading it, and even though I never did, I always loved the title. Kind of like I love hearing the sound of Neil Young's album Rust Never Sleeps. Both monikers are so haunting and evocative.

Anyway, each year I try to think of something I can do this year that I have not tried before to see if I can gain entrance to the winner's circle of my fantasy leagues. And, with this year's plan, every time I give it mental time, the first thing that pops into my head is, "This is what I am going to do, I think."

Cleveland Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera
Cabrera might be a steal

And, what I have begun to do - for I have already participated in one auction, the XFL, and three mock drafts for 2011 - for the coming season is look hard at players who had down years in 2010, but generally have a track record of success, along with having a starting job.

Of course this is not a totally new thought, but I have never tried to more or less plan a roster around. In essence it is a variation of taking mundane players, save I think players coming back from an off-year might be a little cheaper, giving me a little more to spend on the actual stars I want.

But, the more I play, the more it seems that owners want to take the Jason Heywards and Stephen Strasburgs instead of the Cody Rosses and Kevin Sloweys. Not that Heyward or Strasburg was a bad pick last year. But, Ross was both a lot cheaper and a much lower draft selection, and Strasburg did not return a full season, and will not likely begin to deliver again till 2012.

Then again, some of the players I am looking to were seriously dissed in a couple of the drafts I already did. For example Chone Figgins drew catcalls, along with Asdrubal Cabrera in the Scoresheet league where I just finished a mock draft, selecting them in the third and fourth rounds of a 22-team league snake draft.

True Droobs had a down year last year, thanks largely to injuries, but at 24, he is one year removed from a .308-8-68 season, with 43 doubles and 17 swipes. And, that was coming off a down season, where Droobs went .259-6-47, so, the youngster even has a history - albeit limited at the major league level - of bouncing back. Depending upon the league and set-up, I am thinking I can get Droobs around $10.

Figgy, on the other hand, who will be 33 on Opening Day, had the worst year of his career in 2010, going .259-1-35 with just 62 runs scored, and a .340 OBP. But, a year before, Figgins was .298-5-54, with 114 runs scored. He led the league with 101 walks, and notched a nifty .395 OBP.

Last time Figgins had a down season (2006) he finished with .267-9-62 (.330 OBP) only to respond a year later with a .330-3-58 (.393 OBP), and I am willing to bet despite the age, Chone will come closer to the 162-game average he has established over his nine seasons (.287-5-56, with a .359 OBP, 97 runs, and 48 swipes) than the down 2010. Figgins might cost a bit more than Droobs, due to swipes and the same history I cite, but $15 should be around his average cost, and that should be a steal.

On the hill I am looking at Josh Beckett, who was a major disappointment at 5-5, 5.78 over just 127 1/3 innings, in 2010. Last time Beckett had an ERA in the fives (2006, 16-11, 5.01) he returned in 2007 with 20-7, 3.27 numbers. True Beckett's WHIP went way up (1.53), but I am guessing the 30-year-old was trying to keep his beleaguered team in the hunt, and that things will go better in the coming season. Beckett should fetch around $16 in AL-only formats like Tout and LABR, and even less in a shallow mixed formats.

Some other names on my list?

Kevin Slowey ($8), a younger (26) pitcher with good control (career 1.28 WHIP), now a year removed from surgery. John Lackey ($14), who had to adjust to Boston and Fenway, and A.J. Burnett ($9), who could not be hit for six starts, could not get an out for another 25, and who has not struggled as he did last year since he hurt himself in 2003.

Along with Coco Crisp ($12) who just needs to stay healthy and play all season, and Russell Martin ($9), now a Yankee, and Martin's old NL teammate, Matt Kemp ($25). Along with Denard Span ($12).

For, all these players have a better chance of earning their money back, and then turning a profit, as any prospect. Especially a potentially high-priced one, like Jesus Montero or Brandon Belt.

Mind you, I am not going to get all of these guys. But, several, and well, a rotation with Justin Verlander, Beckett and Slowey for under $50 as anchors sounds OK to me in every way, shape and form.

So that is where I am going. I think.

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About Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.

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