Not My Year
August 23, 2011

There's a part in the movie "the Replacements'" where the team is asked 'what do you fear?'  Some amusing responses are given pertaining to spiders and bees before Keanu Reeve's quarterback character replies, "quicksand".  No, not the stuff that you see in jungle movies that swallows up innocents and bad guys.  No, this quicksand occurs when you are doing your thing and something goes wrong.  You know how to fix it but when you apply the fix, even more stuff goes wrong.  And every time you address a new problem, something else goes awry.  Before you know it, you are overwhelmed with a growing, out-of-control disaster.  Quicksand.

Such has been my year in fantasy baseball this year.  I've already given some background as to the collosal failure that has been my XFL season.  Let me put it another way: every player with a salary over $13 and every pitcher with a salary over $9 that I began the season has been a bust.  That's a total of 10 players and $193 of a $260 budget.  Bust.  Anyway, here are two more examples on what is becoming an increasingly and annoyingly long list:

Hoping to salvage some aspect of the season by trying to play myself out of the cellar, I decided to jettison most of my starting pitching - seeing as I was in second-to-last-place in strikeouts anyway - and replace those innings with the best relievers available.  I looked through the stats and found seven relievers who had been dominant in June and July.  Even though I'd take a hit in the wins column, I figured I would more than make up for it in ERA, WHIP and who knows, I might luck into a closer for some saves, too.  The seven names I came up with: Josh Spence, Edward Mujica, Glen Perkins, Louis Coleman, Tyler Clippard, Lance Lynn and Rafael Betancourt.  I already had Jason Isringhausen so if just one of the other guys came through with a closer's job I could at least maintain my ranking in saves.  I didn't have room for all seven so, seeing as how Huston Street already had a pretty solid grip on the closer's role in Colorado, I decided he would be the only one of the seven I would not pick up.  You see where this is going, yes?  The day after I made the transactions, Huston Street got hurt, went on the DL and ever since then Rafael Betancourt has been the Rockies closer.  As for the guys I did roster, given that it was the beginning of August I figured I would get two months of excellent relief work - between 100 and 120 innings of brilliant performance by the end of the season -  that could propel me eight or nine points upward in ERA and ratio alone. 

Well, Lance Lynn immediately got injured and will be out until some time in September and unlikely to contribute at the high level he had previously once he returns.  If only the other pitchers had treated me so well.  Combined, between the new six and Isringhausen, they've given me 50 innings of 4.71 ERA and 1.4294 WHIP, which has actually moved me down in those standings.  Which is saying something since one of the starting pitchers I kept around was Edwin Jackson, who I don't need to tell anyone has pitched well below the level of someone with his talent should be expected.  Oh, and Isringhausen has lost the closer's job to - this is my favorite part - no one.  He was the closer, but once he reached his 300th save for his career, Mets manager Terry Collins said they would go with a committee, presumably to ease the pressure on closer-in-waiting Bobby Parnell.  But Parnell has pitched worse than Isringhausen over the last month.  So Collins took away Isringhausen's only redeeming quality for... well... nothing.

In order to acquire so many useful relievers, I had to cut some of the team's middle infield depth.  Between active and bench I had Zack Cozart, Chase D'Arnaud, Matt Downs and Mike Fontenot.  At the time, Cozart and D'Arnaud were on the DL but both were assumed to be returning soon so I parted with Downs and Fontenot.  A couple days after the transaction deadline, Cozart decided to go under the knife for season ending surgery and to date, D'Arnaud still isn't hitting his weight in Triple-A rehab.  Meanwhile, Downs is hitting .476/.500/.857 since I let him go after hitting .094 with a .241 OPS while he was on my team, and Fontenot is hitting .321/.375/.500 since his departure. 

Lest you think it's just my teams who have been jinxed, even those who've been kind enough to ask for my advice this season have been cursed.  A friend of mine asked me a couple weeks ago if he should pursue a trade for Tony Gwynn Jr in his NL-only league.  Looking at his performance up to that point - .250 with a .632 OPS, zero homers and only sporadic playing time - I said I didn't think he would do much as he hadn't performed well this season and he was showing no signs of wresting at bats from anyone.  So my friend went in another direction with his trade overtures.  However, since that date Tony Gwynn Jr has batted like his father during his halcyon days, hitting .344 with 2 homers and 4 steals. 

The lesson to take away from this is that even the most well-thought out strategies court the possibility of disaster.  Conversely, even stupid moves sometimes work out.  Winning fantasy baseball is as much picking the right players at the right time as it is employing any particular strategy, perhaps even moreso.  Even the best player can be rendered useless while the worst player can be incredibly helpful depending on the timing.  

All I can say is 2012 can't come soon enough.