Fantasy Baseball Tumbling Dice: Valentine's Daze

by Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com on September 4, 2012 @ 07:59:36 PDT

 


This week I need to stray a bit, working a little with fantasy baseball, but also using an example on the actual field.

But, the comparison between the two and the point will hopefully become self-evident.

To give a little context - and set the fantasy stage - I am having my worst year ever in the MidWest Strat-O-Matic league, where going into August my Berkeley Liberators are 38-72.

As I have documented in this very virtual space, I am indeed rebuilding with the Liberators, where I have swapped Ryan Zimmerman, Javier Lopez, Shane Victorino, Laynce Nix (don't laugh, he had a great 2011 and very good Strat card, and well, the 2012 season is indeed based upon 2011 stats in Strat-O-Land).

Oakland Athletics OF Yoenis Cespedes
Definite building block: Cespedes

Considering my 2011 included those players, plus a myriad of underachievers who were also struggling in 2012 (e.g., Jonathan Sanchez, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jeff Niemann, Aubrey Huff, Jhoulys Chacin), the only possible path was to rebuild.

I actually did start the path before our 2012 rookie draft, swapping Jose Tabata and some draft picks for Aaron Crow, and what ultimately became Jimmy Paredes, Chase d'Arnaud, and Taylor Green, while my swaps nabbed the likes of Alex White, Domonic Brown, and a pair of first-round picks, giving me three.

Now, my ultimate hope is to cop Bryce Harper in next February's draft, but truth is Matt Harvey would be OK, but, whether it works or not, I have a plan, and will execute accordingly.

The only question is whether the guys I got in trades, coupled with the guys I hope to draft, step up to the plate, so to speak.

Which brings me to the Boston Red Sox, whose Friday game I worked, while I watched the  Saturday and Sunday games on the tube.

Now, I have written a few pieces of late on how terrible I think the housecleaning trades Boston made were, and have also expressed my inability to understand any team's fascination with Bobby Valentine as a manager.

For, like him or not, Valentine has been a major league manager over 16 seasons, with precisely one playoff appearance and zero titles, and a record just 34 games over .500 after being at the helm for 2,324 contests.

I have been in the booth for eight years now, scoring games for MLB.com, and I have seen some bad teams, including a lot of Oakland Athletics squads that were less than exhilarating. But, I have to say the Boston team that Valentine put on the field this last weekend is among the worst teams I have ever seen ever.

In fact, Oakland can indeed pitch and they seem to be able to hit home runs, and the team the Athletics faced this past weekend and the same Boston squad of two weeks ago are different. Conspicuously gone are Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett, with James Loney the lone on-field addition for Boston.

But, just a looking at offense, Oakland carries team totals of .237-155-550 with 573 runs scored and a .709 OPS, as opposed to Boston, who sits at .268-147-616, with 652 runs and a .754 OPS.

Still, Oakland ran roughshod over the Sox this weekend past, beating them in three straight with a 33-38-0 line over the troika of games to Boston's 5-19-3.

Pathetic.

The thing is there never seemed to be a question that the Athletics would simply step all over Boston, and nothing exemplifies this more than Oakland's nine-run seventh inning that took 42 minutes, and at one point had nine consecutive hitters reaching base.

Of course Oakland is hot, but going into 2013 they will boast at least five very good (and young) starting pitchers, a pretty good outfield with Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick at the corners. The team will need to make sure that the infield corners along with second base are well represented, but penciling in Derek Norris and Stephen Drew (assuming his option is exercised) at catcher and shortstop respectively gives Oakland a pretty good core going into next year.

What can we say of Boston, then? Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Jon Lester will all be part of the equation. Along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, although Ryan Lavarnway is lurking and now 36-year-old David Ortiz could be back again next season.

And maybe in a couple of years Rubby De La Rosa and Jerry Sands - return spoils from the Los Angeles Dodgers - might return some value, but for the most part Boston does not seem to have a plan aside from making sure their mediocre manager has players he can control.

So, to bring this full circle, for better or worse I have a plan with my Berkeley Liberators, as do the Athletics, and even Dodgers, receivers of Boston's spoils, however costly they may prove to be.

And, the truth is, the path to success is with a business plan, for that is how a team - in fact any business - not only survives, but moves forward.

However, looking at the ledger, Boston seems to have no plan aside from jettisoning some salary and letting the volatile Valentine try to sort through things on the fly.

I am not sure about you, but I have a pretty good idea which teams have a better chance of success over the next three years, and none of them play at Fenway.

Hey, now you can get me on Twitter at @lawrmichaels!

You can also subscribe now to the Mastersball Platinum Package, and get the edge that has led to three Tout Wars titles, eight NFBC crowns, two Scoresheet Championship teams, a KFFL title, and a Fantasy Pro 911 title over the last three years.

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About Lawr Michaels, 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.

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