I Could Be Wrong
April 26, 2005

In the course of writing about what may or may not happen, there are occasions where I am, quite simply, wrong.  Sometimes I come to the wrong conclusion based on the data and sometimes I have the right idea but the circumstances change.  For example, on Sunday I wrote that Chad Fox will likely be the Cubs' closer.  And based on the way he was used Sunday and Monday, that seemed like it was going to be the case.  However, Fox was injured on Monday - something that happens with great frequency with him - and the talk is that not only won't he be the closer, but his career could be over.  The circumstances changed, but I was probably wrong to name Fox as the guy who would succeed and for two reasons.  The first is that Fox' injury history was such that the likelihood of him making it through a whole season with his arm and shoulder in tact were pretty remote.  The second was that Mike Wuertz, who will now likely get a shot at closing, was a pretty solid closer in AAA and is old enough (25) for Dusty Baker to take him seriously.  Granted, Baker is notoriously myopic when it comes to choosing between talent and age - this year's example was his choice of Neifi Perez over Jerry Hairston to assume everyday duty at second base when Todd Walker went down - so it's no given that Baker will give Wuertz a shot even if he retires every batter he faces for the next month.  But at this point, he looks like the logical choice.

I don't think I was wrong about Michael Cuddyer (or Matt Clement for that matter) this year, but I may have inadvertently given both of them "the Tout Wars Hex".  For the last few years I thought I had cursed Red Sox first basemen by acquiring them for my AL Tout Wars team.  Tony Clark's abysmal showing in 2002, Jeremy Giambi's flop in 2003 and Kevin Millar's first half non-production (and offensive explosion the week I traded him) last year seemed to present enough evidence to give the notion some credibility.  But maybe there's another curse at work here: the curse of the $18 bid.  In 2002, I got Clark and Cristian Guzman for $18, Scott Spiezio and Millar went for $18 last year, and this year Cuddyer and Clement found their way onto my squad at the same salary.  It's true that I had Johan Santana for $18 in 2003 and it didn't seem to affect his performance.  But remember that Ron Gardenhire refused to put him in the rotation that year until July, so his production that year was half of what it should have been had the Twins manager not been vexed by my fantasy curse.  I also had Ugueth Urbina for $18 that year.  Yeah, he had a pretty decent year... until he got traded to Florida.  Then for two months he set up Braden Looper.  No saves until the final week of the season despite superior numbers to Looper.  In the playoffs, however, Jack McKeon arrived at the same obvious conclusion everyone else on earth had come to - that Urbina should close instead of Looper - and installed Urbina as the closer.  Too late for my benefit of course.  It was a move that allowed the Marlins to run the tables and win the World Series.  Six regular season saves in Florida and 4 post season saves; I lost out on tying for the Tout championship that year by 9 saves.  In 2002, along with Clark, I had Cristian Guzman for $18.  This was the year after he he hit .302 with 10 homers... so I got him the year he started stinking.  He hasn't been the same since.  So if in the afterlife we find out that my bidding ruined the careers of Tony Clark, Cristian Guzman, Scott Spiezio and Michael Cuddyer, I sincerely apologize.  I was only trying to show my love.  But as we all know too much love can be a dangerous thing.  At least I saved Millar's career by trading him. 

Speaking of Tout, it's still very early, but the current leader (Ron Shandler) has a pretty nice lead and has put together a solid squad which if I may be so bold, doesn't look like a typical Ron Squad.  For example, he's got Rondell White and Corey Koskie.  Both guys are notoriously injury-prone, something Ron has for years steered clear of because of the risk involved.  Another uncharacteristic choice was Richard Hidalgo, who's inconsistency must be maddening for a guy who loves steady "boring" players.  But the Baseball HQ team has an everyday player at every hitting position and a solid enough pitching staff to stay competitive in the pitching categories.  In fact, save the absence of Johan Santana, his squad looks a lot like mine did last year, including having Kevin Millar, Orlando Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Craig Monroe, David Bush, Travis Harper, George Sherrill and John Maine... hey!  Give me back my team, dude!

About the only chink in his armor is that he doesn't have any hitting reserves so if one of his players gets injured for an extended period, he'll have to get someone from the wire.  That's not such a big deal since that's exactly how I won last year.  But this year's AL crop of reserves doesn't appear to be as potent as previous years, so it may be a more difficult strategy to win with.  Of course, I'm currently scrounging about that waiver heap trying to find another outfielder to keep pace with the offensive juggernaut that is Brian Roberts (his admitted reason for his lead) until Frank Thomas returns.  More specifically, I'm hoping that Chuck Lamarr decides sometime in the next week that the D-Rays can't win this season and calls up Delmon Young.  In lieu of that, I'll have to hope there's a 2005 version of Gary Matthews lurking somewhere in the minors... Luke Allen, anyone?