By Brian Walton
Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes, fate is against you? That is how I am feeling in National League Tout Wars. While the season is far from over, a lead that was over 30 points at the start of June has turned into a 6.5-point deficit.
Derrek Lee has become my season's new poster child. Just last week, I wrote about the new Pittsburgher with trepidation. Due to the first baseman having suffered a hand injury just 16 at-bats into his Pirates career, word was that a mid-month return was questionable.
As such, of course Lee was on my bench last week. Then, all of the sudden, apparently out of the blue, Lee was activated by the Bucs on the Saturday before last, with neither any advance notice nor a minor league rehab stint.
Like many weekly leagues, Tout allows daily transactions only to replace demoted, released or ailing players. Unable to plug Lee into my lineup at corner infield to replace Padres third sacker Logan Forsythe, who was hurt but had yet to be officially placed on the disabled list himself, I helplessly watched Lee go 6-for-10, with a home run, six RBI and two runs scored, all before Monday's transaction period arrived.
FAABulously long wait
Those stats, much like my $66 FAAB investment in Lee, quickly flowed down the drain, forever lost.
Forsythe, who did not play an inning in September, was finally officially shut down for knee surgery on the 7th. Though I did not play him the next week, missing Lee's outburst was quite painful.
It wasn't the first time with Lee, either. In his initial game with Pittsburgh, on July 31, Lee smacked two home runs and drove in three. It was a Sunday. Of course, as fate would have it, Tout weekly bidding is Sunday night, with roster changes effective Monday.
In summary, of Lee's four home runs, 10 RBI and six runs scored to date with the Pirates, due to timing issues out of my control, I have missed out on it all except for one measly solo shot and another stray run.
It is of no consolation that my team hasn't lost many points at all since I racked up my huge lead - less than 10, in fact. Instead, a most formidable competitor emerged. The USA Today team of Steve Gardner has been gobbling up points from the other 11 teams like a fantasy-deranged Pac-Man.
His team has been led by stalwarts Matt Kemp and Mike Stanton, and augmented by emerging players like Mike Morse and Freddie Freeman. The difference makers in leagues like these are often the bargain-basement pickups. Gardner is no exception as he has accrued 40 RBI from a $0 Aaron Miles and 34 stolen bases from another $0 player, Emilio Bonifacio. Getting eight home runs and 32 RBI from Lucas Duda is more than good fortune.
On the pitching side, Steve received a nice boost from the July deadline acquisition of Edwin Jackson, as he wisely passed on Lee. Jackson joined a strong staff that includes Zack Greinke, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Garza and unheralded $1 addition Cory Luebke.
Don't get me wrong. I am not throwing in the towel and in fact, have bullets remaining. Along with the $9 FAAB that remains in my pot, I have 10 dollars additional for next week.
In other words, we have finally seen the day when the Mets actually placed Ike Davis on the 60-day DL. In case you haven't been counting like me, Davis has not played since May 10. It only took New York four months to get around to the move. Until this happened, I could not recoup any of my $21 draft-day investment in Ike.
Had the move occurred before the All-Star break, I would have seen my entire $21 returned. Receiving half at this point means it is likely too little, too late. With all the big-name call ups in the majors and on other rosters, I will hold the money but likely have no place to spend it.
It ain't over yet, but one has to like Steve's chances, with "mo" on his side.
Note: For those interested in a quick glimpse into what one of the Tout drafts look like, be sure to check out this four-minute video. It is from the American League proceedings, so look for our Todd Zola and Lawr Michaels.
Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league's 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.