Monday, August 25, 2008

Fantasy baseball hopes on life support

I just fell to fourth place out of 14 teams in my fantasy league. I’d been in third for quite a while, and was really hoping to climb to second; the guy who almost always wins the league is running away with it, per usual, so second place will definitely be a moral victory. Instead I fell back. Factors: My usual inability to make a profitable trade. My usual lack of astuteness at judging starting pitchers. A couple of injuries, plus Jimmy Rollins going completely in the tank the last few weeks; he seems to be trying to play his way out of Philadelphia.

I’m pretty resigned to my fate, and if I weren’t there’s not much I can do about it now. I’m vexed, though, when I think about who to keep from this year’s roster for next year’s. Lance Berkman is a no-brainer, I suppose. Billy Wagner would be a solid choice, but his arm injury throws that choice into doubt. Randy Johnson has been lights-out the last month, but he’s about to turn 45; that’s older than me, for Chrissakes. Roy Oswalt: unusually inconsistent this year. Matt Cain: good young pitcher on a crummy team.

Bobby Abreu is a perfectly plausible keeper candidate. I think of him as a 30-30 guy, which he isn’t anymore, and will never be again at his age (34). Yet I am haunted by the memory of a year I gave him up in a trade, stupidly, because somehow he didn’t live up to my dazzling expectations for him, although there it is in the numbers, in his unassuming way he racks up counting stats just by virtue of being on the Yankees, the goddamn New York Yankees… Bobby Abreu is up in my psyche way more than is even remotely justified.

Then there’s the cases of Jimmy Rollins and B.J. Upton. Here I have another heart vs. head dilemma: there’s nothing that bothers me more in a player than a record of not hustling, and both of these guys have developed such a record this year. Rollins is in his early 30s and you have to figure he won’t be putting up another MVP type season. Upton is still quite young (24?) but his eventual superstardom seems much more doubtful now than a year ago. But one thing about both of them is you can mark them down for 30-40 stolen bases, and guys who rack up SBs at that rate and are otherwise decent, are quite valuable.

Tentative list of four keepers: Berkman, Cain, Oswalt, Upton. In the mix: Rollins, Abreu.

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