A 12-step recovery program for your DL crisis

by BaseballHQ.com on April 7, 2009 @ 00:00:00 PDT


You know the feeling. Your mouth is dry. Your brow is wet. You feel cheap. You feel used. You've lost your marquee player for a significant part of the season.

You're in deep.

We're here to help. We're not judgmental here at BaseballHQ.com. Well, we are, but we've also got a 12-step program made just for you.

Step 1: Admit you have a problem. He's gone and he's not coming back anytime soon. He was counted on to supply your steals or saves. Maybe he was a really good power bat. His loss will hurt your team. That's okay, because there are ways out of this mess.

Step 2: Kick the wall. It isn't fair. How could this happen to you? You've always been a good owner. Yadda yadda yadda.

Step 3: Assess the situation. The purchase of a marquee player in the draft does not itself constitute a strategy. The savvy part wasn't buying your marquee player. The savvy part was assembling his surrounding cast. Did you have a good draft in this regard? Call in FEMA if it will help.

Step 4: Share your pain, you're not alone. Right now, over 12% of major league baseball is on the disabled list. That's an average of about three per team. It may seem like your world is spinning out of control, but in reality there's still competitive balance.

Step 5: Find your life partner. Look over your roster and see how you're benefiting from an injury on someone else's team. Then look over that roster and see how they're benefiting. It will help put things in perspective. If not, go back to step one.

Step 6: Recount your strengths. It's early in the season, but enough games have passed that category surplus and deficits are emerging. If your marquee player is the reason for your categorical excess, then it may be wise to wait out his injury. When he comes back, he'll be able to replenish that category.

Step 7: Trade. If it's not possible to wait out an injury, consider punting a category through trade. Maybe you tabbed Nate McLouth for your steals production, but have power bats to augment him. Trade off the rest of your fleet feet for some more power bats. You'll give back some points in SB, but shore up the HR and RBI points that Bonds took with him.

Step 8: FAAB. The free agent budget is like the nicotine patch of the 12-steps-to-DL recovery. You'll rarely find a perfect substitute in the FAAB pool, but you may find enough to stem the withdrawal. Scope out the free agents with good skill sets. Batters with solid eye ratios. Pitchers with good command. Three of the eight categories fluctuate, and don't require superstars to sustain. If you think "maybe Cesar Izturis isn't so bad", you're not ready for step 9.

Step 9: Restock your reserve list. You're going to need many active major league bats/arms at your disposal. Package the prospects to acquire active bats. FAAB relievers with good command and waive your dead weight. If you can still play for this year, you're going to have to mortgage the future.

Step 10: Perform detective work. In the happy event your marquee player is coming back, make sure the event doesn't take you by surprise. "Oh, I want to give him a few games to get his legs back and then I'll activate him." Sounds like a shame spiral, doesn't it? How many times do you hear of a player going on a hot streak upon activation? It happens a lot. He's probably played a few games on rehab, and is antsy to get back into the thick of things. Make sure you do your legwork. Players get activated right before games, and don't show up in the transactions list until the next day. Be proactive and you might get that extra HR or SB.

Step 11: Maybe you're beat. The fate of most teams is known by June 1. The money teams and also-rans are pretty well separated. If you're well below that money line, begin to play for next year. The two-month jump you'll get on the trading deadline means you can begin to broker trades long before the middle-standings teams hit the panic button. And you'll have a great cover to save face. "I would have been in the money if it wasn't for my marquee player catching typhoid."

Step 12: Learn from your experience. Injury-proof your team next year. If losing your marquee player was a painful experience, think about going after a group of 400 AB hitters instead of a superstar. Or pass on Felix Hernandez and welcome David Purcey and Glen Perkins. Draft more active reserve players and fewer prospects. Plan your FAAB strategy in advance. All of it speaks toward self-reliance, which is the goal of any good 12-step program.

Feeling better? Now go out there and face the world. From here on out, only you can help you.

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Ron Shandler began publishing statistical reports for baseball analysts and fantasy leaguers in 1986. Since then, his enterprise has grown into one of the largest information providers in the industry, producing quality products continuously and over a longer period than any other fantasy baseball company.

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