Monday, October 20, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Eight

And so we have finally made it to the final part of our journey. For a quick review of where we have been:

For a review of where we have been so far:

Part One - The Draft
Part Two - The Start of the Season
Part Three - Becoming a Seller
Part Four - The Rebuild
Part Five - The Trade Deadline
Part Six - The Stretch Run

Part Seven - The Playoffs

At this point, there is nothing to be done but to review the performance. Since I feel like the absolute maximum anyone could write about their fantasy team is seven parts, I have made this eighth part my longest part of the story. First off, here is the team I started with and what happened to each player.

14 Ryan Braun, Mil OF - Traded
23 Evan Longoria, TB 3B - Traded
26 Joey Votto, Cin 1B - Released
38 Justin Upton, Atl OF  
54 Zack Greinke, LAD SP - Traded
78 Masahiro Tanaka, NYY SP - Traded
83 Wilin Rosario, Col C 
91 Matt Cain, SF SP - Released
98 Cole Hamels, Phi SP  
115 Chase Utley, Phi 2B  
126 Jose Abreu, CWS 1B  
134 Jedd Gyorko, SD 2B  
139 Danny Salazar, Cle SP - Released but then added again.
146 B.J. Upton, Atl OF  
150 David Robertson, NYY RP  
163 Leonys Martin, Tex OF  
179 Koji Uehara, Bos RP - Traded
187 Chris Tillman, Bal SP - Released
198 Chris Carter, Hou 1B  
235 Jose Veras, Hou RP - Released
246 Mike Moustakas, KC 3B - Released
259 Ubaldo Jimenez, Bal SP - Released
270 Josh Johnson, SD SP - Released
283 Edwin Jackson, ChC SP - Released
294 Derek Jeter, NYY SS - Released

Now what my team ended up at and how I was able to acquire all of them:

Wilin Rosario, Col C - Draft
Chris Carter, Hou 1B - Draft
Chase Utley, Phi 2B - Draft
Pablo Sandoval, SF 3B - Trade
J.J. Hardy, Bal SS - Trade
Jedd Gyorko, SD 2B - Draft
Jose Abreu, CWS 1B - Draft
B.J. Upton, Atl OF - Draft
Leonys Martin, Tex OF - Draft
Ben Revere, Phi OF - Free Agency
Gregory Polanco, Pit OF - Trade
Jorge Soler, ChC OF - Free Agency
Justin Upton, Atl OF - Draft
Eric Hosmer, KC 1B - Waivers
Sean Doolittle, Oak RP - Free Agency
Danny Salazar, Cle SP Draft/Free Agency
Kevin Quackenbush, SD RP - Free Agency
Cole Hamels, Phi SP - Draft
Alex Cobb, TB SP - Trade
David Robertson, NYY RP - Draft
Hector Rondon, ChC RP - Free Agency
Marcus Stroman, Tor RP - Free Agency
Jake Arrieta, ChC SP - Free Agency
Jake Odorizzi, TB SP - Free Agency
Justin Verlander, Det SP - Trade

Be honest, you're wondering how in the hell I came one Jordan Zimmermann no-hitter from getting a championship? I seriously don't know either. Chase Utley had the most at bats for my team, and that does not compare to the pitching fact of not having a single pitcher get me double digit wins this season. 

First off, I'm going to look at my active stats leaders to see who were my biggest contributors:

At Bats: 

1. Chase Utley - 589
2. Justin Upton - 566
3. Jose Abreu - 556
Yep, Chase Utley played the most for my team. He was totally fine. Luckily, the next two guys were pretty great. Oh, and if you're wondering why I didn't sell Justin Upton early on, it's because I can't split up the brothers. If I end up drafting Justin again next year, I will end up drafting BJ too, even though I know it is a terrible idea.

1. Jose Abreu - 80
2. Justin Upton - 77
3. Chase Utley - 74
Yeah, so if you have the most at bats, you will likely be able to lead in things like runs. Jose Abreu is great. That will only become clearer as we go through the other categories.

Home Runs:
1. Jose Abreu - 36
2. Chris Carter - 34
3. Justin Upton - 29
Although I kept Chris Carter the entire year, it doesn't mean that I kept him in the lineup the entire year, so I missed out on a few of his homers. These home run numbers are actually pretty good, but it should be noted that the next most on my team was 12. So yeah, there was a slight dropoff after this point.

1. Jose Abreu - 107
2. Justin Upton - 102
3. Chris Carter - 82
No surprises here after looking at the home run lead. Fun fact about my RBI list is that Ben Revere had over 400 at bats for my team and knocked in 19 runners, while Jorge Soler had 89 at bats and was able to knock in 20.

Stolen Bases:
1. Ben Revere - 34
2. Leonys Martin - 30
3. BJ Upton - 20
See? BJ Upton is not completely useless; he is only very useless.

Batting Average:
Josmil Pinto - .400
Jose Abreu - .317
Ben Revere - .313
I had Josmil Pinto for eight games early on in the season, and it was probably his best eight game stretch of the entire year. Thanks, Josmil. We couldn't have made it without you. Another fun fact is that Ryan Braun hit .309 for my team and ended up with a .266 average. Apparently his new team had a toxic clubhouse.

Obviously, my hitting was not great, but let's look at my pitching leaders, because I must have done something right there.

Innings Pitched:
1. Cole Hamels - 191.1
2. Nate Eovaldi - 180.1
3. Marcus Storman - 115.1
We were not able to manage a 200 inning pitcher. The other thing that jumps out is that there is a big dropoff after those top two pitchers as there was a lot of upheaval on the pitching side. By the end, my pitching was strong, but early on, I had a lot of jabronies taking the mound for my team.

1. Cole Hamels - 185
2. Nate Eovaldi - 126
3. Jake Arrieta - 118
Despite pitching 73 more innings, Nate Eovaldi was only able to beat Jake Arrieta by eight strikeouts. Marcus Stroman and Danny Salazar were he only other two guys to hit triple digits.

1. Cole Hamels - 9
1. Marcus Stroman - 9
3. Jake Arrieta - 8
3. Masahiro Tanaka - 8
Cole Hamels pitched an entire year with a 2.49 ERA and only managed nine wins. The Phillies clearly hate him and should trade him to the Cubs for Chris Coghlan. Also notable is that Tanaka spent two months on my team and nearly led everyone in Wins. Thanks for all of your help, Masahiro.

1. David Robertson - 37
2. Hector Rondon - 26
3. Sean Doolittle - 16
No surprise here, as Robertson was the only closer that was on my roster the entire year. Rondon and Doolittle were both valuable additions.

1. Kevin Quackenbush - 0.00
2. Koji Uehara - 0.76
3. Jonathan Broxton - 1.13
4. Masahiro Tanaka - 2.06
5. Alex Cobb - 2.15
Kevin Quackenbush was my final addition of the season, and he never gave up a run in three innings, so nice job there, Kevin. Koji  pitched 23.2 of dominant baseball before getting traded, and Broxton proved very valuable before Aroldis Chapman came back and took over the Closer role. I expanded this list to five to include Masahiro Tanaka who was so much fun to own early on this year and Alex Cobb who just dominated throughout the second half of the season.

1. Sean Doolittle - 0.71
2. Jaime Garcia - 0.71
3. Koji Uehara - 0.80
4. Jake Arrieta - 0.87
Jaime Garcia only lasted one start with my team before being traded, but at least he had a great WHIP in that game. Also, I expanded this field to show just how great Jake Arrieta was. He was really great. I'm already sad that I likely will not have him next year.

Looking through my leaders, it is pretty clear that Jose Abreu was my most valuable player, while Cole Hamels was probably my most valuable pitcher. Instead, let's end this with the guys that buried my team throughout the year with the 20 least valuable players that I had on my team throughout this season.

20. Joey Votto - He hit .255 with 6 home runs, and since I already had him at first base, I took Matt Cain instead of Anthony Rizzo.

19. Edwin Jackson - Jackson had a 5.02 ERA, a super high WHIP and only one win. Luckily, I got him on a relative hot streak, since his overall numbers ended up much worse.

18. Nate Eovaldi - Overall, he was only below average, but he managed to stay on my team from his first start right up until the final week of the season. He managed to be just good enough to not be dropped. Also, living in Florida throughout the season, I was able to watch him anytime I wanted, and every time I watched, he was just awful. Maybe it's my fault.

17. BJ Upton - The only guy on this list that managed to stay on my team for the entire season. He only managed 12 home runs while hitting .206. Luckily, he got 20 stolen bases, which isn't great, but it is something positive and enough to keep him low on this list.

16. Drew Hutchison - He came on my team at the right time, as it took a lot for somebody to get dropped, as I just didn't have the moves to get rid of guys. Also, he struck people out, and I am a total strikeout whore. Unfortunately, He had an ERA of nearly 5 and a WHIP of 1.36. Oh yeah, and outside of some flashy performances, he really wasn't all that great at striking dudes out. I finally traded him, and he started doing a whole lot better. He must have just not wanted to be a part of a winning culture.

15. Josh Willingham - He hit .198 in 62 games for my team after being a throw-in in the Ryan Braun deal. He did hit ten home runs, which wasn't too bad. He actually earns positive points for being so bad that I dropped him instead of getting rid of Chris Carter.

14. Chris Tillman - Man, I tried to hold onto Tillman as long as I could. Finally, after 71 innings of 5.20 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP, I finally had to replace him. He proceeded to dominate after that, somehow lowering his ERA to 3.34 and his WHIP to 1.23. I did not know he was that good until looking up these stats. That very much sucks. I will likely not be rooting for Chris Tillman anytime soon.

13. Jorge De La Rosa - He was a throw-in on one of my selling trades, and he performed like one in his only start, going 5.1 innings and giving up five runs. He did have five strikeouts, so that was nice at least.

12. Joe Smith - Another throw-in. He managed .2 innings, gave up a run and three hits. He may have been the worst pitcher on a per inning basis, but considering he had less than an inning, he didn't have enough time to be that negative of a presence.

11. Juan Francisco - This ends the trifecta of throw-ins. He played one game, was 0/4. He provided no positive value, but at least his negative value was limited.

10. Josh Reddick - With Reddick's rampant support of the Ultimate Warrior, I wanted him to stay on my team, but he hit under .200 in 24 games for my team. Also, I saw him in person during that stretch and he played like garbage which was the nail in the coffin for me to drop him. At least he improved after that.

9. Ubaldo Jimenez - I kept him for 21.1 innings, and he provided me with a 6.75 ERA and nearly a WHIP of 2. He shockingly was unable to get a win while pitching like that. Somehow, there were nine guys that I deemed worse than him.

8. Sergio Santos - Santos has been a guy that I have liked for a while, because he throws hard and has the proven closer label which inevitably means he will get more chances. Casey Janssen was hurt to start this year, so Santos stepped into the closer role, and he may have lost his proven closer label because of it. He managed to give up 11 earned runs in 8.1 innings. Somehow, he still managed five saves, but amazingly he never really got better this season, so at least he lost his closer role early enough to not completely destroy my pitching staff.

7. Jedd Gyorko - This one hurts, as I love Jedd Gyorko, which only gave him more of a chance to hurt me. Gyorko was awful at the beginning of the season, and I never even considered dropping him. Despite a lengthy DL stint, he still finished eighth in games played for my team. Obviously, looking back, I wish I wouldn't have drafted him and just picked him up when someone inevitably released him, but that didn't happen, and it turns out he was not the solution.

6. Mike Moustakas - 109 at bats, just 16 hits. He did hit four home runs, so that was something.

5. Mike Olt - I feel like Mike Olt had some good stretches early on this season. None of those moments happened for my team as he went 3/28 for a .107 average and zero home runs. I have actually liked Mike Olt for a while. That is why he was initially lower on this list, and this may still be generous. He was really terrible for my team.

4. Jose Veras - He was given the Closer's job for the Cubs, yet could not manage a save before being demoted and eventually released. He did manage 12.27 ERA. At least I waited and picked up Hector Rondon to be my replacement Closer. Otherwise, he would make a strong case for the #1 spot.

3. Tanner Scheppers - I picked him up at the beginning of the season, because if the Rangers believed in him enough to make him their opening day starter, then surely he would succeed. Four innings and seven earned runs later, he was quickly dropped. Good for him on getting his ERA down to an even 9.00 by the end of the year.

2. Luis Valbuena - Valbuena was brought in when both Chris Owings and Jedd Gyorko were on the DL, and I needed some second base help. Somehow, he performed even worse than Gyorko by batting just .159 in 21 games. I'm really glad I was not a believer in Josh Harrison and went with Valbuena instead.

1. Justin Masterson - Expecting Justin Masterson to immediately turn his fortunes around when joining the Cardinals seemed like a likely outcome to me. Turns out, the Cardinals could not fix his issues. He was the hottest of garbage with an ERA of nearly 8 in 28 innings for my team. The positive was that he was hurting the Cardinals; the negative was that I traded for him and chose Masterson over getting Trevor Bauer in the deal. And, just want to put this on the record: If the Cubs sign him this offseason, there is a 100% chance I end up drafting him two rounds before anybody would even consider him. Why do we love the ones that hurt us?

And that wraps it up. The longest fantasy baseball story ever told is over. I would congratulate the ones who made it to the end, but I highly doubt anyone did. Still, if you did, thanks a lot. Thanks a whole bunch, because fantasy sports stories are boring, and my writing isn't good enough to completely save it, so this was a long, hard journey that you completed. You are a great friend and mentor. All I'm really trying to say in this final paragraph is, "Thanks for reading, Mom."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Seven

For a review of where we have been so far:

Part One - The Draft
Part Two - The Start of the Season
Part Three - Becoming a Seller
Part Four - The Rebuild
Part Five - The Trade Deadline
Part Six - The Stretch Run

And that leads us to the playoffs. By hook or by crook, with a whole lot of luck thrown in, my team not only made the playoffs but secured a first round bye. In an ironic twist, my opponent would come out of the two teams that I sold off my best assets to. It was the Greinke/Longoria/Uehara trifecta that bested the Braun/Tanaka combo.

In the biggest game of the season, my offense let the moment overwhelm them. Only Ben Revere, Jorge Soler, Eric Hosmer, and Leonys Martin had what could be described as average or better weeks. Meanwhile, our opponents were crushing the ball. We lost by 6 runs, 10 home runs, 20 RBI, 27 points of batting average, and a single stolen base. Only the last one really hurt, as it was necessary to get the victory. My ragtag group of players gave it their all, but it would not be enough to get a victory...

But my pitching would not be denied. Led by a 13 strikeout, one hitter from Jake Arrieta and two saves and a win for both David Robertson and Hector Rondon, my pitching managed to dominate in four categories. But, due to two pickups immediately picking up saves for my opponent, we were tied in Saves going into Sunday. I had one move left, and I had to decide whether it would be worth using it. Ultimately, I decided that I have to make the championship to win the championship, and I pulled the trigger to pick up interim San Diego Padres Closer, Kevin Quackenbush. He did not get a Save, but luckily, David Robertson did which locked up every pitching category for my team. The week would end in a 5-5 tie. Despite us having the same record, my seed was higher and hence I would be moving on to lead my team into the championship.

The odds were stacked against me in the championship. I was not only playing the number one seed, but he also had seven moves left to secure players as he pleased in the final week. This was another part of my reasoning to pick up Quackenbush as I could use Saves in the final week but stats like Wins and Ks would be tough to get since he could add pitchers as he pleased.

Still, my pitching was strong, and I figured my offense would bounce back after a lousy week. One of these things would prove true. Offensively, both teams were bad. Still, by the end of the week, he pulled away in RBI and average, but I pulled away in stolen bases. Saturday, he solidified his lead in runs. Meanwhile, despite all of his possible moves (he would end up using all seven), my pitching was proving strong. I took care of business in saves thanks to Quackenbush and Robertson getting a save, Rondon getting three, and Stroman adding a 4 inning save in there for good measure. I also had big leads in ERA and WHIP but barring a miracle, he was going to be too much for me in strikeouts.

Going into Sunday, a chance of getting the outright victory was slim. Unless my team got some major power on the final day, I would not be able to close his home run lead, so he was going to win five categories. Still, I could force the tie and split the big winnings for the championship as there are no tiebreakers in the championship round. I had three starters going, he had two, but I had a one win lead. With Cole Hamels, Alex Cobb, and Danny Salazar, I felt great about my chances.

Unfortunately, before the early games started, Salazar was a late scratch so they did not give him too many innings. It was 2 on 2 at this point, but I had what were likely my two best pitchers. Alex Cobb finally ran out of steam, as he had a pour outing against Salazar's replacement and the rest of the Cleveland Indians. Meanwhile, Hamels gave up only two runs in eight innings, but the Phillies only scored one.

One of his pitchers was Jordan Zimmermann, whose team also only gave him one run of support. Unfortunately, that was plenty, as he only allowed one baserunner in a no-hitter on the final day of the season. With all of his extra moves, he was able to get the tie in wins and beat me 5-4-1.

There would be no Natural Light celebrations. There would be no team of destiny stories. We were hard luck losers, but I was still damn proud. Usually, the almost champs never have their story told, but with the heart, determination, and chemistry of 25 guys coming together to make a team deserved to have their story shared with the world.

There are so many things that I could expound on, but let's take a break until we get to part eight of the longest fantasy baseball story ever told.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Six

For a review of where we have been so far:

Part One - The Draft
Part Two - The Start of the Season
Part Three - Becoming a Seller
Part Four - The Rebuild
Part Five - The Trade Deadline

So did all of my moves pay off? Immediately, things were looking pretty good. I was facing a playoff team with the likes of Stanton, Altuve, and Felix, but my team took them behind the woodshed and put a beating on them. Chris Carter led the offense by providing 6 runs, two home runs, seven RBI, and even a stolen base all while batting over .300. On the pitching side, Odorizzi, Salazar, Hamels, Arrieta, and Stroman were all on point. It was an 8-1-1 victory and my fifth straight win.

That matchup was the beginning of the toughest stretch of the season, as it was the first of five straight weeks against every team that would be in the playoffs. Next up was the team that I traded Carlos Gomez to (whoops) as well as Longoria, Greinke, and Uehara. He had won four in a row, and we were tied in the standings so I needed this one. Luckily I had Chris Carter to hit three homers, and Utley, Sandoval, and recent acquisition, JJ Hardy, to add two apiece. The pitching was nearly as good with Eovaldi, Odorizzi, Stroman, and Hamels all adding dominant starts to carry my team to a dominant 7-1-2 victory.

After that, it was time to play the first place team. They hadn't lost in seven weeks. Chris Carter came up big again as he hit four home runs during the week. Jake Arrieta led the pitching staff with two strong starts during the week, yet it was still close going into Sunday. I held a slight lead going into Sunday, but luck was not on my side. I scored a solid 6 runs on Sunday, but he scored 10 to take the lead in that category. While I hit .269 on the final day, he hit .365 to take a .007 advantage in batting average. And finally, despite having Salazar and Arrieta giving up a combined two runs, neither got a win, while he managed to get a win out of Neftali Feliz to take over the lead in that category. My team put up a strong week, but it was not enough, as we lost 6-4.

I was tied for third, but just a game out of second place with three weeks left. Luckily, I would be playing that second place team the following week, and my team was not one to let a single loss get them down, it just made them more determined. This week wasn't pretty, but we managed a solid enough performance. Justin Upton had 11 RBI, and Ben Revere and Leonys Martin combined for five stolen bases to help the offense, while Hector Rondon managed four saves to give me the 7-6 edge, and a 6-4 victory.

Unfortunately, that week also marked Gregory Polanco getting sent down the minors. Since I knew he would be called up in about a week when rosters expanded, I was not ready to get rid of him. My DL spots got filled up by Sean Doolittle getting hurt, so it was time to get rid of some wasted space and boost my outfield. Luckily, the perfect guy just called up to the majors.

I dropped Matt Cain and acquired Jorge Soler in free agency.

I was down to only two moves, and unfortunately, Wilin Rosario was hitting the DL meaning that I would have to get another catcher, so I picked up Travis d'Arnaud while finally ridding my team of Joey Votto.

He had won four in a row, but my team would not let him make it five. Soler and Carter both hit three home runs. Carter did it while hitting .222 while Soler batted .538. Eovaldi, Odorizzi, and Cobb all got double digit strikeouts for the week, which was enough to give me a couple pitching categories. Stolen bases from Ben Revere and Jose Abreu on Sunday were enough to get me a tie in that category for a gritty 5-4-1 victory.

With one week left, there was a three-way tie for second place and an all-important bye in the first round. There would be no drama for my team, as we were playing the worst team in the league, nearly all of my pitchers dominated and Chris Carter added three home runs, while d'Arnaud hit a bomb of his own while hitting over .500. The other two teams won as well, but I had the tiebreaker. This infuriated another member of the league as he felt he should have been #2 or #3 but was instead given the #4 seed. Maybe my favorite moment of the year was him calling me to tell me that he had just talked to ESPN Customer Support to figure out the tiebreakers (turns out it was whoever won the most categories in their matchups throughout the year).

But all that means is that I won nine out of my last ten matchups to earn a bye in the first round despite having the same record as two other teams in the league. It was time to take the week off and let my team rest for the journey ahead, because this Cinderella was ready to wear her slipper. But we will get to all of that in part seven.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Five

There has been a lot that has led up to this point. First off, I drafted a team that did not fully work out as planned. Then, I got some good luck early on in the season and put together a very solid record. After that, my luck ran out, I saw the writing on the wall and traded away most of my top assets. But then, I managed to make some savvy moves and put together a couple wins.

We last left off where I talked about getting Hosmer and Verlander on the team, but there was a third reason that the second week of July was so important for me. That third reason?

Chris Carter turned into a BOSS. In my draft review, I mentioned that only the most die hard Chris Carter fans would actually hold onto him long enough to take advantage of his value. Well, guess who is a massive Chris Carter fanboy? THIS GUY. And oh man, did it pay off. Hosmer and Abreu each hit over .400 and hit two bombs, Chase Utley added two bombs and two stolen bases, and Chris Carter added four homers in six games to help carry my offense to another big victory. It got me to three straight victories going into the All-Star Break and everything seemed to be coming together for my team.

With the post All-Star week being a 10 game marathon stretch, it took a total team effort. It also took an old love coming home.

I reacquired Danny Salazar in free agency.

With Salazar back in the majors, I knew he had to be mine. I had the Google Alert set up for him so I could monitor when he would be coming back. Along with Stroman and Hamels, Salazar added double-digit strikeouts with two wins. Combined with three saves from David Robertson, my offense was able to combine a total team effort to give me the edge in a 5-4-1 victory as my team was able to make up the difference and pull off a tie in RBI on the final day of the week.

With only having three acquisitions remaining and the trade deadline coming on August 1st, I needed to do everything I could to bolster my roster. Well, everything without giving up valuable assets. My first trade was a real blockbuster.

I traded Brad Miller and the right to swap 13th round picks for JJ Hardy.

I made this trade with the same person that I got Gregory Polanco and Justin Verlander from, and I literally couldn't have added less in the deal. His last pick was the 13th round. Also, he ended up picking higher than me, so it turned into Brad Miller for JJ Hardy. Miller was not consistently starting and JJ Hardy could at least provide that while hopefully finding some of his previous power stroke.

And finally, I made one more push to further strengthen my pitching.

I traded Drew Hutchison and a 10th round football pick for Justin Masterson, Alex Cobb, and a 15th round football pick. 

I had wanted Alex Cobb for a really long time, but I wasn't really willing to give up enough to actually get him. Finally, with this team totally out of the playoff picture, they decided to help beef up their football roster and get rid of some pitchers. Justin Masterson had just been traded to St. Louis, and I thought he could turn things around. It turned out I was very wrong about that thought.

I had won four in a row and got creative to add some pieces to both my hitting and pitching. But would it be enough for the stretch run? Tune in next time to find out. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Four

After a good but not great draft, my team started off hot, but the writing was on the wall. That led to me selling off almost all of my top draft picks so I could worry about next year.

At this point, my team was 5-5-2. We were right in the hunt for the last playoff spot but considering all of the talent I had lost via trade, I was going to be an underdog in just about every matchup for the rest of the year. But due to some savvy free agent acquisitions and a whole lot of scrappiness, my team refused to lie down.

It started off with some good luck in scheduling as I took on the second worst team in the league and got three stolen bases apiece from Polanco and Revere while Marcus Stroman had two very strong starts to lead my pitching staff to victory to get the team back over .500.

Unfortunately, I couldn't rig the schedule to only play the worst teams in the league the rest of the year, and I ran up against a team that was ahead of me in the standings due to a plethora of starting pitching. Still, due to dominant starts by Hutchison, Stroman, and Arrieta and help in relief from Robertson and Rondon (I call them R&R, because there is no need to worry with these guys closing out games), my pitching led the way and a couple stolen bases from BJ Upton and Ben Revere got me a tie in stolen bases to eke out a 5-4-1 victory to put me two games over .500. Also, at the end of the week, I finally conceded that Andrew Heaney was probably not coming back to the majors anytime soon after his disastrous first starts and made a crucial free agent pickup.

I acquired Jake Odorizzi in free agency. 

My pitching was coming together, and it was at this point that I started to believe in my chances. I was no longer looking towards the future, because the future was now.

The next week would prove important for three reasons. First off, I noticed that somebody dropped a player I was quite fond of as a spot opened up on my roster due to a DL stint.

I acquired Eric Hosmer on waivers.

The good news was that I got Hosmer; the only downside was that I was running out of moves. That was my 21st acquisition which left me with just four remaining pickups for the rest of the year. Oh yeah, and I also had the completely worthless Dylan Bundy on my roster. This leads me to the second important thing that happened that week.

I trade Dylan Bundy and a 12th round football pick for Justin Verlander and a 14th round football pick.

I was betting on Verlander putting it together in the second half, and although he was never Verlanderian, he was always better than Bundy, he didn't cost me a move, and the man knows how to perform in the playoffs (even if those are only the fantasy playoffs).

As for the third important thing that happened that week? Well, you'll just have to wait until next time for me to get into that one.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Three

We started at the draft, and then left off with my team sitting at .500 and needing something drastic to happen to get this team on the right track.

That something happened on June 4. My two months of attempting to trade Ryan Braun finally paid off, but instead of looking to reload my roster, I decided it was time to rebuild and focus on the upcoming basketball season while throwing in the towel on baseball. I would not only lose Braun but also a pitcher that dominated in the first two months of the season.

I traded away Ryan Braun, Masahiro Tanaka, my 8th and 11th round basketball picks for Josh Willingham, Jorge De La Rosa, a 2nd and 3rd round basketball pick and the right to swap first round picks in an upcoming basketball draft. 

It was tough to lose Tanaka, but this baseball team just didn't have what it took to contend. Just two days later, I would complete the selling process with another trade that hurt just as much as the first one.

I traded Evan Longoria, Zack Greinke, Koji Uehara, my 9th and 12th round basketball picks for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Joe Smith, Juan Francisco, a first round basketball pick and a conditional basketball pick depending on how many home runs Longoria had the rest of the year. It was guaranteed to be at least an 8th, would move up to a 6th if he hit ten more homers, and up to a 5th if he hit 20 more homers (it became a 6th). 

These moves decimated my team for all intents and purposes, but right around this time, I made two pickups that seemed to be minor but would change the course of my season.

In free agency, I picked up Ben Revere and Marcus Stroman. 

Stroman had recently gotten blown up as a reliever, but he was getting a shot in the starting rotation. As an undersized person, I love undersized pitchers, so Stroman was a guy I had coveted for a while. Ben Revere was an empty batting average and stolen bases, but if he could do those two things well enough, he could definitely add value, and it wasn't like I didn't have the space to give some new guys a try. Those are moves that worked, but a few days later, I also added Andrew Heaney and Dylan Bundy with speculation that they would be called up soon. Heaney was called up soon, but did not deliver results and Bundy was completely worthless. But hey, you can't win 'em all.

Not shockingly, my team lost immediately after trading away five of my best players. Although, I was selling for this year, I'm always looking for value for next year, so I did the logical thing and made another trade.

I traded Jorge De La Rosa, and a 9th round football pick for Gregory Polanco, a 15th round football pick, and the right to swap 7th round football picks.

Polanco had been drafted in the 25th round, which means he would only cost me a 23rd to keep in 2015. This was worth a later half football pick to me, as all of my trades had left me with nobody to keep but Jose Abreu.

Partially led by Gregory Polanco, I won my next matchup against the worst team to get back up over .500. It was short lived, as I lost my next matchup by falling one run and one RBI short to go back to .500. Still, it was an important week, as I made this move.

I picked up Jake Arrieta in free agency. 

With Revere, Stroman, Polanco, and Arrieta, there were winds of change on the horizon.

But this is only part three, you'll have to wait for part four to get to that story.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part Two

We last left off this story right after the draft. A lot of people believe that a strong draft is the way to build a championship team. I believe that the draft is the first chapter of a long book, and I will trade my mother if I think I can get good value.

So the first thing that I did after the draft was get myself a real shortstop and got Chris Owings. I also took advantage of 3 DL spots, so I could add Derek Holland and pick up Tanner Scheppers to start for my team on Opening Day. I added Tyler Skaggs and immediately dropped him after his first start. So, yeah, my early pickups did not pay off, but the 25 pickups didn't start until halfway through week one, so I was still fine. I did manage to pickup Nate Eovaldi early on who had some good moments before falling apart in the second half, but he would stay with my team for a very long time.

Halfway through the second week of the season, I was convinced that Ryan Braun was not going to be healthy enough to tap into his power potential and began my efforts to trade him. It would take me nearly two months to trade him, but it would be worth it when it finally happened.

Anyway, things were going shockingly well for my team in the standings. Nate Eovaldi and Chris Tillman helped lead my pitching and carry the team to victory in Week 1. After that, both Jose Abreu and Justin Upton had four home runs to help my offense carry me to a victory in Week 2. In Week 3, BJ Upton's three steals and multi-homer weeks from Votto, Moustakas, and Braun helped me enough to pull off a tie. In Week 4, Jose Abreu hit five home runs, and Chris Carter added three in what may have been his only valuable week during the first half of the season. After the first month, I was 3-0-1.

I also wisely Brandon McCarthy twice in this span, but don't worry, I would drop him before he actually got things turned around and started dominating. I did pick up Hector Rondon who solidified my relievers and also Drew Hutchsion who had some nice moments throughout the year. Unfortunately, my luck was about to run out.

In Week 5, my offense completely shit the bed, and my pitching wasn't much better. In Week 6, we got a lot of strikeouts and home runs but didn't do much else for another loss. In Week 7, Hutchison, Tillman, and Tanaka all threw complete game shutouts, but that was still only enough to get me a tie.

Week 7 also marked Danny Salazar being sent to the minors who I replaced with Jaime Garcia. I immediately tried to trade him for an underperforming Pablo Sandoval. The owner told me that it was close, but he needed a solid third base option in return. A few days later, I noticed that David Freese was coming off the DL. One minute after adding Freese, I made an offer of Freese and Garcia for Sandoval which was enough to get the job done two hours later.

I traded Jaime Garcia and David Freese for Pablo Sandoval.

I turned two free agent pickups into a hitter that was just about to get over his cold streak and hit very well for the rest of the season, so that worked out well.

Still, things were not going so well in the standings. Pablo Sandoval did help in his first week with multiple homers, and Justin Upton added three to get me my first win in a month. After that, I didn't have enough to win despite double-digit strikeouts from Tillman, Hamels, Greinke, and even David Robertson.

I was ten weeks into the season, and my team was 4-4-2. If the season ended today, I was in the playoffs, but there were a lot of holes in my roster and the guys that I bet on just didn't seem to be paying off. I was ready to make a change, and change was going to be drastic.

Tune in next time for part three of the longest fantasy baseball story ever told.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Longest Fantasy Baseball Story Ever Told - Part One

With the end of the regular season comes the end of fantasy baseball. This was probably my proudest fantasy baseball season, as I managed to buy, sell, and compete all at once. I don't do drugs, so trades are what I imagine crack would be like. I managed to make seven trades this season, and that doesn't even include the trades I made before the draft to move up and down as I bought and sold picks from other sports. With that, there are three important things to know about this league.

1. We have a baseball, basketball, and football season, so we can trade guys between sports. We compete in the individual sports and compete for an overall championship as well.
2. We are introducing keepers this year. Very limited, as you can keep two guys for each sport, and it costs two rounds higher than when the guy was drafted. Free agents are ineligible.
3. You are only allowed 25 free agent acquisitions throughout the entire season. This makes every move way more stressful than a normal league and adds way more strategy to the free agency process. There is no streaming pitchers every week, but maybe you can make a Sunday pickup to put your team over the edge.

There is only one place to start this story, and that is with my draft. After you see my draft, you will understand why I had to make trades. Anyway, here is what I was able to acquire (Note: There were trades before the draft that altered some of my picks, so that is why I did not pick until 19):

19 Carlos Gomez, Mil OF  
23 Evan Longoria, TB 3B  
26 Joey Votto, Cin 1B  
38 Justin Upton, Atl OF  
54 Zack Greinke, LAD SP  
78 Masahiro Tanaka, NYY SP  
83 Wilin Rosario, Col C  
91 Matt Cain, SF SP  
98 Cole Hamels, Phi SP  
115 Chase Utley, Phi 2B  
126 Jose Abreu, CWS 1B  
134 Jedd Gyorko, SD 2B  
139 Danny Salazar, Cle SP  
146 B.J. Upton, Atl OF  
150 David Robertson, NYY RP  
163 Leonys Martin, Tex OF  
179 Koji Uehara, Bos RP  
187 Chris Tillman, Bal SP  
198 Chris Carter, Hou 1B  
235 Jose Veras, Hou RP  
246 Mike Moustakas, KC 3B  
259 Ubaldo Jimenez, Bal SP  
270 Josh Johnson, SD SP  
283 Edwin Jackson, ChC SP  
294 Derek Jeter, NYY SS  

The highlights obviously start with my first pick, Carlos Gomez. An outstanding player in all categories and before I go on about him, I should mention my first trade:

I trade Carlos Gomez and an 8th round football pick for Ryan Braun and a 15th round football pick.

My analysis of this trade: Whoops. I thought Ryan Braun's wrist was healed and I'm not a huge believer that PEDs make a large difference. I stand by the latter, but the former was just poor research on my part.

Other lowlights include my Joey Votto pick which did not work out. I was targeting Stanton there, and he got scooped up right before my pick. I was heartbroken and immediately trying to trade for Stanton, especially since I was living in South Florida at the time so I attended multiple Spring Training and regular season Marlins games. It never came to fruition, and Votto's most positive contributions was when he was only occupying a DL spot instead of starting.

Matt Cain wasn't very good, as I was targeting Anthony Rizzo with that pick, but since I already had Votto and was targeting another first baseman later in the draft, I didn't really need him. Gyorko and Salazar were two young players that I expected to take steps forward, but they both decided to jump backwards instead.

Finally, my last six picks were all dropped within the first six weeks of the season, but to be fair, I only drafted Jeter as a joke since it is free to add guys before the season starts. I replaced him with Chris Owings.

But there were highlights. Greinke, Tanaka, and Hamels were all great values that could lead my starters and Robertson and Uehara were great closers to get later on. As for hitters, the only real highlight was Jose Abreu. That was a great pick, but it may have been my only great pick, as only the biggest fanboy of Chris Carter would actually have held onto him throughout his entire cold streak to be paid off for when he became red hot during the second half of the season.

Looking back, this is a solid team. A good pitching staff that is going to have to carry a disappointing offense. But this is the longest fantasy baseball story ever told, so we'll get into that next time.