I consider myself a patient person. There are many things I’m waiting
and hoping for in my life — not the least of which is money — but I
usually end up deferring to that old axiom, “I’ve waited this long; I
can wait a little longer.”
Baseball, though, is different. Its season spans half a year (more like
eight months, counting Spring Training and the postseason). It’s the
backdrop to our lives, there everyday. I envision its daily
omnipresence like communications theorists do the radio for Joe Blow
Cubicle. He awakes in the morning to his radio alarm, listens to his favorite talk show in the car on the way to work, throws on the rock station at his desk during the day and so on.
For all the anticipation leading to Opening Day (deservedly so), many teams — including my Mets this year — have an off-day after their respective openers.
After waiting six months for Mets baseball and enjoying a tidy 2-1 win over the Reds on Monday, I’m ready for Game 2 on Tuesday. But, I will wait — begrudgingly — because I have no choice, because the Scheduling Gods, exploiting my patient disposition, have seen to it that the Mets will not play on consecutive days.
Sure, there is fantasy baseball to tide me over. Between my three(!)
teams, I’ll have more than enough to keep me busy on that front.
Tuesday is also Nenny’s birthday, so we have dinner plans before my
late shift (8 p.m. – 4 a.m. ET, yuck).
Don’t get me wrong: I understand the necessity for an off-day one or two days after the opener. Teams are traveling, getting acclimated to chillier climes. Pitchers’ arms must be preserved. This makes plenty sense. But I don’t have to like it.
In fantasy baseball and real life alike, everyone wants to “win” trades. The logic isn’t difficult. Everyone wants to get as much in return while giving up as little as possible. I’m sure there’s some obscure economic theory that sums this up far better and more succinctly than I can. The Mets stole Keith Hernandez from the Cardinals many moons ago and pulled off one of the worst swaps in recent memory in deal Scott Kazmir to the Rays for the one and only Victor Zambrano (last seen pitching for Team Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic).
In my rookie year of fantasy ball in 2K7, I gave a competitor Miguel Cabrera for Tim Lincecum, Chris Young of the D-backs and Adam LaRoche. Three contributing players are better than one stud, right? Let’s just say I learned that to not be the case the hard way. I atoned for it last year, however, giving up Zack Greinke and — symmetrically — Gordon for Mark Teixeira.
The fact is, If you partake in fantasy baseball, you are bound to come across bad trade offers, for a variety of reasons. If your team is struggling, some shrewd contender will come along, looking to fleece you of your few desirable players. Others might look to fatten up their rosters on account of you’re being an idiot — an especially insulting assumption.
Such was the case in one of my leagues recently, when I happened upon an e-mail containing a trade proposal from a fellow GM. Curious, I thought, that an owner was already looking to wheel and deal just days after our draft, with Opening Day still nearly a week off.
It’s always exciting when you find a trade offer nestled safely in your inbox. What might it contain? Who is the owner — a chief competitor?
My excitement, however, soon gave way to incredulity.
The owner of You Are Killing Me, Smalls was dangling the prized “package” of Edgar Renteria, Mike Cameron and Travis Hafner — what essentially amounted to a heaping pile of waiver-wire fodder — for a pair of my starters, Mark DeRosa and Shin-Soo Choo.
Now, I would never argue DeRosa and Choo amount to much more than complementary fantasy players. Coming off a career year at age 34, DeRosa is now considered a prime regression candidate in a tougher league, and Choo, who had fallen from prized prospect to mere afterthought before breaking out in the second half of ’08 with the Tribe, is hardly a shoo-in to put up big numbers.
But Renteria, Cameron and Pronk? In 2005, sure, I’d be all over this one.
Now, I’m not naive. Many
degenerates people live by the mantra that it’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money. Can the same be said of inept fantasy owners? It’s immoral to let a hack keep his best players? That’s why trades must be approved by commissioners or league vote, I suppose. You can’t fault a shrewd owner for trying … or can you?
The past few days, my best baseball friend Nelson and I have been indulging in that old fantasy pastime: mock drafts. Yes, for-pretend draft, where delusional fantasy gamers believe they can sharpen their wares in preparation for the real thing in a few weeks or so.
The pressure is less, stakes lower. All mistakes are forgiven. Curtis Granderson in the seventh round is wiped from the slate as if it never happened; a crime committed in a bad dream.
But we take it no less serious.
We agonize over positional scarcity vs. overall production, the merits of forsaking common thought to select pitchers in the early rounds, whether Ryan Howard’s stock has truly dropped him to the “lowly” status of a third- or fourth-round pick.
While the rest of the baseball world rejoices over the first official congregating of full squads, we gauge how long we can wait before finally snagging hotshot rookie catcher Matt Wieters.
Don’t get me wrong — the ensuing month of inconsequential exhibitions, reports of weight fluctuations and the unfortunate injury are all necessary evils leading us to those fateful nights in March, when the whether is slowly turning toward the bearable and our rosters take shape.
Are there more productive ways to spend my ever-shrinking free time (which I’ve been complaining about more and more)? Yes. But somehow, calculus homework just doesn’t have the seem appeal as nabbing Han-Ram with No. 1 overall pick.
Here are some random observations after about five mock drafts the past few days:
– The shortstop market is impossibly thin. Get Hanley or Jose Reyes in the first round, if you can.
– Despite Chase Utley’s looming injury, the second-base market is deeper than you might think. Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia, Brandon Phillips, Brian Roberts and Dan Uggla are all suitable options.
– There are a handful of interesting pitchers going in the late rounds due to obscurity or injury from 2008. Erik Bedard, Brandon Morrow, David Price and Chien-Ming Wang can all be had in the late-teens or later.
– The flaky users in the mock drafts have been incredibly annoying. People are joining the draft, then disappearing before the first pick is even made, meaning the tracker keeps the user active for a full two-minute pick before recognizing him/her as inactive and doing an instant autopick. Seriously: Why join a draft if you’re not going to participate?
– There was a bizarre incident today in which one user (with a recognizable Jewish name) was attacked by another with anti-semitic remarks. Not cool.