April Is the Cruelest Month | Zach Steinhorn
Sunday, April 17 - 12:10 PM
What's wrong with this picture? Recently, I've been spending a good chunk of my time at work calming down frantic owners of underperforming teams. "The season is six months long," I say, "not two weeks." I use terms like "sample size" to support my true belief that Hanley Ramirez will not finish the year with a sub-.250 batting average or that Andrew McCutchen will exceed his current pace of 12 stolen bases. Now these predictions are rather simple, but it's still not easy to ignore the early-season league standings. I know I shouldn't really pay attention to the standings until at least mid-May, but as I'm setting my lineup for one of my five teams, I'm beginning to get a sick feeling in my stomach that perhaps this team just isn't as good as it looked on paper.
Sanchez's near no-no: rare high note
As I said, I'm in five leagues this year, some more competitive than others, three mixed and two NL-only, three weekly and two daily. I care a great deal about all of my teams, but the one I care about the most is my lone money league, a 13-team mixed weekly. Comprised of friends from college, the roster format is quite simple: nine hitters and nine pitchers. Three outfielders, one utility, no corner infielder and no middle infielder. I'm a big believer in going hitter-heavy on draft day as we all know that starting pitchers tend to be more inconsistent from year-to-year. But, I'm starting to think that I'll need to slightly adjust my strategy next season due to the smaller number of starting bats. What's wrong with this picture? I'm already thinking about next season, come on Zach, you know better than that! I always feel a ton of pressure to do well in this league. Everyone knows that I work in the fantasy industry, so how can they take advice from someone who they can beat?
Did I mention that I own both Ramirez and McCutchen and that I'm in 12th place out of 13 teams? Good thing it's only mid-April.
Tuesday, April 19 - 1:40 PM
I take a great deal of pride in being a hands-on fantasy owner: someone who is constantly scouring the waiver wire looking for ways to improve his squad and someone who checks his lineups multiple times each day to make sure that the right guys are playing and the right guys are riding the pine. This is why the events of the past few days are so troubling.
First, I forget to make a FAAB bid on the great Jonathan Herrera, who prior to an 0-for-4 effort was batting .400 on the year with 10 runs scored and four steals through 10 games. Coming into the season, Herrera was viewed as just a backup, but the struggles of Jose Lopez and Ian Stewart have opened the door for close to regular at-bats, and he's certainly taking advantage. Can he keep up the hot hitting to the point where he sees 500 plate appearances? Considering his far from jaw-dropping Minor League record and his merely pedestrian production as a part-timer for the Rockies last season, I have my doubts. But still, in a non-mixed league, playing time counts for a lot, particularly when talking about middle infielders.
Then, as if I had not learned my lesson from the Herrera blunder, I make another, this time in one of my daily mixed leagues. Carlos Zambrano was nearly flawless last night, holding the Padres to just three hits over eight shutout innings while striking out 10. Too bad Big Z was sitting on my bench. Yup, I forgot to play him. Sometimes it's tough to decide whether or not to pitch someone in a certain matchup, but this one was a no-brainer. The Padres?
I'm starting to wonder if five leagues is too much for me to handle. I think I'll go down to four next year to prevent these terrible things from happening.
Thursday, April 21 - 10:30 PM
Some might disagree with me on this, but I love it when two of my fantasy starting pitchers go up against each other. I know, I know, it's impossible to earn two wins, but there's a very good chance you'll get one, and there's nothing more gratifying than a 1-0 final where one of the pitchers tosses a complete-game shutout. OK, maybe that's a bit unrealistic, but tonight I'm ecstatic that I chose to start both Scott Baker and Jeremy Guthrie in my money league. The two have rewarded me with a combined 1.29 ERA and 0.86 WHIP, and Baker has netted me that all-important win! My team's ERA has dropped by over one-third of a run, to a sparkling 4.70. By the way, I really like Baker this year. I'm a sucker for the K/BB ratio, and Baker's been one of the game's more consistent hurlers in that department. If he can only do a better job limiting homers (and spacious Target Field should provide him with that opportunity), he could turn out to be a draft day steal. I got him for a buck!
Friday, April 22 - 9:45 PM
My pitching prowess continued tonight as Anibal Sanchez, whom I own in four different leagues, came three outs away from turning his 85th career start into his second career no-hitter, cooling off a red-hot Rockies' lineup. Dexter Fowler spoiled things with a seeing-eye single on Sanchez's first pitch of the ninth inning, but Anibal briskly retired the next three batters, finishing with a one-hit gem. After opening the season with one shaky outing and one disaster start, Sanchez has now pieced together two straight impressive performances and seems ready to build on last year's breakout campaign.
But all is not well for the Fish, who placed Logan Morrison on the DL. As a Morrison owner in an NL-only league, this presents me with the tough task of finding an outfield replacement. Although there are some slightly appealing names on the wire (Emilio Bonifacio, Laynce Nix, Ryan Spilborghs), it's nothing too exciting. Ugh, I'll revisit this in the morning when my head is a bit clearer.