There are a couple of tough rhetorical questions that challenge most fantasy owners now that we are one-quarter into the season. (And, if you are in a keeper league, the problem is somewhat compounded, but that is a story for another day.)
The first is "Can my team realistically compete for a title this year?"
If the answer to the first interrogative is "yes," the second part of the equation is, "What do I do to make that happen?"
I find myself in the enviable position of answering these queries in the affirmative in my two most visible leagues: Tout Wars and LABR (League of Alternative Baseball Reality).
Viciedo: part of my solution
In LABR, the nice lead I wrote about a few weeks back has dissipated, as I am down five points to KFFL's Nick Minnix, with Baseball HQ's Dave Adler buffering us, with 81.5 points to Nick's 82, then my 77.
I should get a LABR boost in a week when Andrew Bailey comes back to join my bullpen, but a trade opportunity has presented itself that I am seriously considering.
In Tout I just got Jake Peavy back, and should get Josh Hamilton and Brian Matusz in a few weeks, and that should give my struggling team a nice boost.
So, in both contests, I am looking carefully at my reserves, and my points, trying to see how I can turn something over when my bench and DL players return, or are promoted.
In Tout Wars I have the potential extra luxury of sitting on Dustin Ackley, and anticipate the second baseman joining the team before too long as the Seattle Mariners youth movement continues (I already nabbed Carlos Peguero a couple of weeks back).
So, in a sense I am marking time in both leagues, looking for an opportunity.
Unfortunately, in this case "opportunity" is synonymous with the word "risk."
The thing is, winning almost any league is not only difficult, but it also involves that "risky" word that is both hopefully optimistic and eerily pessimistic.
My case in point is Tout Wars 2009, when, needing an offensive boost, I swapped my star pitcher in CC Sabathia for Howard Kendrick and Curtis Granderson just as August arrived. It was tough to make that swap, but Kendrick, who was not starting when I swapped for him, was one of the hottest hitters in baseball the final six weeks of the season.
And, making that trade won a title for me that would have been lost had I stood pat.
Since both leagues are throw-backs, with a scratch draft each season, my path here is much easier than in say the XFL, where I have to realistically look and see if my team can now pick up the 60 or so points we are behind leader Jeff Winnick.
In LABR, I have an offer on the table for Nick Swisher: one that would bag Peter Bourjos, the speedy Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim outfielder.
My thought in that league is that Dayan Viciedo, who is sitting on my reserve list, is promoted soon (for the Pale Hose are hurting at the hot corner and Viciedo can play first, third, outfield, and DH).
So though it would be tough to trade Swisher, who has yet to show any consistent hitting, and who probably will belt 20 homers, Viciedo could make up some of the slack and Bourjos would help my average, runs scored, and swipes.
Better, if Viciedo does get time at third, that could make part of my current third base/corner combo of Jack Hannahan and Danny Valencia expendable to package with Swish for some real production.
In Tout, the same possibilities exist when, and if, Ackley comes up shortly - Chone Figgins, Alberto Callaspo, Jack Wilson, or Kevin Kouzmanoff in some combination.
For, while it is true that virtually all players noted are underperforming, in a deep single-league format, a two-for-one swap that nets at-bats is a very good thing.
Now, which package of whom goes where, as noted, is still a work in progress, but, I also anticipate making these moves in the next week or so, for though baseball is a game of patience, it is also one that that sometimes screams for decisive action.
Since I have the resources, and three-quarters of the season is still ahead, this is one of those times.
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.