In just a little more than a week, I will be sitting in the sun in Phoenix at Ron Shandler's AFL First Pitch, watching Fall League games and prospects with friends including Tim Heaney and Nick Minnix from right here at KFFL.
In addition to scheduled discussion groups and talks, as well as the attendance of games, the Experts Fantasy League (XFL) will conduct their annual auction as part of the festivities. (Which means I am never sure if this is the last draft of this season, or the first draft for next?)
The XFL is a 5x5 where we count OBP instead of average, and in which to play, participants must be at least 40 years of age, with 10 years in the fantasy industry.
Save, we also have some experts, like Don Drooker and Jeff Winnick, who are simply very good players, but not really affiliated with a Web site or related content. And, take it from me, like many other great players out there who are not in the industry, and who toil in anonymity, Drook and Jeff are very, very good players. In fact Don is the current champion with three titles to his name, and the only other league player close is Jeff, also with three crowns in the league's nine years.
Craig is making a name for himself
Well, I have already fashioned a strategy, and submitted my freeze list, and it is no secret that I am going as young as I can in this format.
Since we have the draft with so much time before opening day and the myriad of drafts and auctions that precede the actual start of the season, one of the challenges is anticipating lineups six months ahead of time. For, as we all know, doing this a couple of weeks ahead can be daunting.
We will hold a 17-round expansion draft before the 2012 season begins this year to fill out our rosters to a true 40-man setup, and then will have a monthly free agent draft from the reserve pool, for there are only monthly waivers in this format (though we can adjust our rosters from the 17-man reserve to active each Sunday).
This year, among my keepers are Dustin Ackley and Ben Revere and Tyler Flowers, each of whom will cost $4, along with Josh Beckett ($15), Justin Masterson, Erik Bedard, Kyle Farnsworth and Nick Hundley, all at $6, plus some odds and ends and a handful of prospects.
I had decided to freeze Fernando Salas at $10 as with Farnsworth it gave me nice a pair of closers for $16 total which is not bad.
I also have Allen Craig on my roster, though he would be $10 should I freeze him for the 2012 season meaning the same price as Salas.
Craig, who attended UC Berkeley, making him local, has actually been on my radar as exactly the kind of young and undervalued player I wanted to try and acquire, as my guess was he would go near the end of the draft for a couple of bucks if that.
And then the 2011 playoffs happened.
Suddenly Craig was getting attention, and I began rethinking my St. Louis freezes, not so much because Salas was doing poorly, though there are big questions around who will hold the closer role in St. Louis to start next year.
But, Craig is doing two things. First, he is having a fine postseason and gaining notice. Second, he looks like a surefire starter for next season.
Well, the guys in the XFL miss nothing, and I think whether I like it or not, Craig will now go for at least the 10 bucks he would cost me for 2012, if for no other reason than he went .315-11-40 this year over 200 at-bats, and depending upon the format, qualifies at first, second, third, and outfield (not in the XFL, however, where 20 games at a spot is needed).
So, after careful consideration, when I sent my freeze list in today, Craig made it, and Salas did not.
I guess we shall see what the correct choice actually was in just about a year.
See more of Lawr's work, including the Hotpage (published each Monday) and Bed Goes Up, Bed Goes Down (each Saturday), along with the work of Todd Zola, Brian Walton, and the Mastersball team at www.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.