I have been spending a fair amount of time over the week figuring just what exactly to do about the injury to Josh Hamilton, who graces - or at least graced - my Tout Wars outfield corps.
First, though, I must admit that I knew what I was getting when I bought the rights to Josh, and second, he was simply trying to help his team win a game by scoring a run. It was not boneheaded. Nor was it the result of lifting a fork (Cecil Fielder went on the DL after tweaking is back doing this), getting out of bed (Wade Boggs hurt himself doing that) or running away from imaginary spiders (Glenallen Hill).
Actually, the reality is I knew what I was going to do, and that lesson harkens back to 1989, my second year playing fantasy ball, and the year I won my first crown (I finished third my first season).
Mauer will be back to power you
That year I spent a bit of time in first place, but it was back and forth with a couple of other teams for a lot of the season. I also had Kent Hrbek, the big Minnesota first sacker on my team, but during the first months of the season, Hrbek dislocated his shoulder.
I don't remember how I adjusted, but, my team held its own on offense in a more than capable fashion, such that when "Hrby" returned, I knew I did not need his offense to stay competitive. I did, however, need some pitching, and arranged to swap my first baseman for a couple of good starters (Bud Black was one).
Once, though, I completed the swap, I knew I would finish first simply because no one had as much pitching or offense as I, and my team, "Lawrence's Arabians," won their first crown by a good 12 points.
There were a few lessons garnered from that season and experience, but the most important was how to gauge whether my team had enough "oomph" to win.
And, believe it or not, the handicap of losing my player Hrbek for six weeks was indeed a help, since it taught me how to objectively see if my team could produce, and would be able to compensate without one of my bigger hitters. Note too that Hrbek hit .312-25-76 the year before, and in an AL-only format as the league was, he represented one of my bigger bats.
Well, in LABR this year, as soon as Hamilton's injury of this year became known, poor Chris Liss, who owns him there (and did two years ago, another injury year), sent out a half joking e-mail about trading his outfielder.
In fact, I would imagine similar owners in any of your leagues out there are panicking, second guessing, and wondering what to do.
Well, as I noted, I have Hamilton as well in an AL-only setting, and I am simply going to sit on him and wait.
The thing is, when Josh went down, I was in fourth place, maybe 15 points out of first, with very little of the offense that put me there belonging to my Texas flychaser (though I have dropped a few places since, but due to pitching, not hitting).
Similarly, as I write, Mr. Liss is in fifth place, maybe 20 points from the top, with most of his problems stemming from a weak offense.
It will be a long two months for both of us, but, for those of us who do own Hamilton: if we can hang onto the spot in the standings we currently hold, or at least stay within 15-20 points of the lead, then we know that we have a competitive team.
What that means is that when Hamilton returns, it will be like getting serendipity of a player - an extra, in this case big, bat to join our roster - who simply fell onto our already strong rosters.
I am sure those owners of Joe Mauer in deep leagues are wondering the same thing about their commodity, and to them I say the same: "Make all the best moves you can, playing the waiver wire, making small trades, and doing what you can to keep as full a roster of everyday players as you can."
And, mark your time, for Hamilton and Mauer are players like Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, and Troy Tulowitzki. They are players who get hot unlike mere mortal hitters, and players who can truly carry a team.
On the other hand, should you try to trade Hamilton, or Mauer at present, you will never get real value for either of them. Not to mention, winning is often a byproduct of having the hot team at the right time, and getting either blue chip player back in the throes of summer could provide plenty of team heat.
So, brace up, try to be patient, and manage your team to the best of your abilities. And wait for the return of "That Hamilton Man" (see Alexander Korda's 1941 film with Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier for the reference).
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.