It is freeze time for those of us in keeper leagues.
For me that means decision time in my Strat-O-Matic as well as my Scoresheet leagues. And, that means the fun is sort of just beginning.
When I say sort of, it is not like I don't think about both teams, and what moves I am making and how those moves will impact the coming year during the active season. In fact I think of all my keeper leagues on a regular basis.
That is because like it or not, every move has implications. And, as my late friend Sean Dugan, with whom I first played Strat-O-Matic in the '70s, and then my first fantasy leagues in the '80s, said, "Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don't make."
Overbay: yes, a commodity
The MidWest Strat-O-Matic League, as noted before, is a 30-team setup that is truly a dynasty, for in it we are allowed to freeze up to 24 carded players each year, along with five more "uncarded" players, before the draft of rookies and unfrozen players begins.
Since Strat-O-Matic operates as a simulation league - that is play is based upon the previous season - if a player does not play enough in the previous year - and Adam Wainright comes to mind - he is not issued a card of play.
Well, up to five "uncarded" players can be retained by each team. This can be handy, not so much to protect the Wainrights, for that is a given. But, it can be helpful when selecting prospects who have some ups and downs before they make it.
For example, I was able to freeze both Carlos Pena and Kelly Johnson early in their careers, when after a reasonable rookie performance, each went back to the minors for some seasoning before becoming full timers at the major league level.
Well, last Friday was freeze day in the MidWest Strat-O-Matic League, and while most of my league mates, including me, did not have too much trouble whittling down our rosters, some teams traded and wound up with a surplus.
So, at freeze time, the opportunities to pick up say Lyle Overbay and Chris Sampson in exchange for a sixth round draft pick - and remember only rookies and unprotected players are eligible, meaning by the sixth round, the pickings are lean - can abound.
While it is possible to pluck a gem from those later draft rounds, like I got Carlos Marmol years back, I do wonder about trading for these players.
For, if no one traded for say Sampson and Overbay, both players would simply go back into the free agent pool and be eligible for drafting without giving up anything.
Mind you, in this format, with strict usage rules, a guy like Overbay with 440 at-bats (.232-9-47) can really be helpful. In fact it is impossible to win without a bench filled with guys like Overbay, for better or worse.
Still, as a strategy, forcing an owner to have to simply let go of too many puzzle pieces, spreading them somewhat equitably among the remaining owners does make some interesting possibilities.
Which brings me to Murphy, my Scoresheet League, where things are a little different, for we can only freeze eight of what will become 40-man rosters after draft day in March.
Unfortunately there, I am among the owners with too much in the way of riches, for I can choose between Mike Moustakas and Michael Young at third base, and Gordon Beckham and Jemile Weeks at second. I have too many flychasers, and since I want to keep Alex Gordon, that means Michael Cuddyer is available.
Pitching has been a strength of my Scoresheet squad - my top three starters are Roy Halladay, Clayton Kershaw, and Shaun Marcum - and I have arms to swap. Among them I have offered Dillon Gee, Zach Britton, Josh Collmenter, Drew Storen, Carl Pavano, and even Kevin Correia.
Now mind you, none of these arms is a #1 starter, but for a team rebuilding, with less than five freezes, Moustakas and Collmenter, for a 27th round pick, for example, might be a good swap. Furthermore, in the league with 24 teams, where we must set a five-man rotation every week, starters of any ilk can be a premium.
Well, so far nary a nibble, meaning I might indeed get a chance to draft Beckham back (as I am inclined to keep Weeks at this point).
Meaning the exact strategy I would like to enforce in the MidWest League could indeed wind up victimizing me in the Scoresheet format.
I guess as Mark Knopfler wrote, "Sometimes you're the windshield, and sometimes you're the bug."
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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.