Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE
Some of your favorite Fake Teams writers recount a personal league decision they made which makes them full of shame and regret.
Today you are all guinea pigs for a new feature we are starting here at Fake Teams. Sometimes a subject is just either too important, or just too much fun for it to be limited in scope to just one of our writers. For those subjects, we are going to start aggregating the opinions and thoughts of our crack staff of fantasy baseball minds in order to provide you, the readers, with as much information and points of view as possible. So with that said, welcome to what will be the first of many Fake Teams staff posts.
Today's topic is a fun one, and one which attempts to bring us all together (writers and readers alike) in "celebration" of something we are ALL guilty of. It doesn't matter how much research you do or how much of an expert you consider yourself -- we all make stupid decisions in our baseball leagues. It's inevitable. The season is too long for a perfect track record. The most important thing is that we try to learn from them when faced with similar decisions in future seasons. And to kick off the conversation, many of our FT writers have contributed personal anecdotes from the 2012 season which will make you say "what was he thinking?"
So without any further ado, I present the stupidest things we did this season:
In an effort to repeat in one of my NL-only keeper leagues, the UBA league, I made one of my worst roster decisions of the season. After John Axford had blown several saves in a row, the Brewers went to a bullpen by committee, and I had enough of his poor performance, so I dropped him for Padres reliever Dale Thayer. Thayer had taken over for injured closer Huston Street. At the time of the roster move, I was in second place in saves and needed to grab someone who could help me in the category.
The move ended up hurting me more than helping me, as Thayer earned just two saves with a 4.76 ERA and 1.24 WHIP and was eventually replaced by Luke Gregerson as the Padres closer. To make matters worse, Axford went on to save 17 additional games with a 3.26 ERA and 1.24 WHIP.
I ended the season in third place in saves, nine behind the first place team. Those two points would have helped me a great deal, as the guy who came in first in saves won the league. I came in second, 2.5 points behind him. Had I kept Axford, I would have gained two points in saves, and the team that won the league would have lost a point in saves, for a three point swing. Had I kept Axford, I would have won the league by a half point. Sometimes it pays to be patient with closers who have lost their jobs to work on things. -Ray Guilfoyle
In my opinion, the most difficult thing to do in fantasy baseball is to keep a long-term focus when faced with a short-term need. On July 17th, in my most important league, I was in 5th place, 23.5 points out of first place. It's a very deep league (16 teams, 7 MLB team excluded from the player pool) with no bench, so nearly every player with a starting job is owned. My team was in last place in wins and near the bottom in strikeouts, so I was trying to load up on starters to accumulate these counting stats. I had two relievers on my roster at that point and had to either cut one of them for Garrett Richards (who was being activated from the minors) or let Richards go (which wasn't really an option since I needed starts). So I held onto Aroldis Chapman (obviously), but decided to keep Richards in favor of a middle reliever who I had picked up in June, liked his skill set a lot and was hoping he'd eventually make it into the rotation.
It turns out my gut/analysis was correct in June and when forced with a decision to stand by my convictions, I gave them up for my team's short-term needs. It only took two more weeks for Kris Medlen to make it into the Braves rotation, and we all know how that ended up. As far as the actual numbers, Medlen from July 17th to the end of the season went 9-0 with a 0.88 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 92 K in 91 2/3 IP. Garrett Richards ended up making three more starts from July 17th on, going 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 6 K in 17 2/3 IP before being demoted and then relegated to the bullpen. Fortunately, due to some well-timed hot streaks and shrewd moves, I ended up making a huge come back to win the league anyway -- but I certainly could have saved myself some unnecessary heart palpitations during the last two weeks of the season by holding strong on my convictions. -Bret Sayre
In my oldest league, we were converting to a keeper format for the first time. We would be able to keep any player in the round they were drafted, plus one, so a player drafted in the 20th round would be a 19th round keeper for next year and move up accordingly. However, each team could only keep a maximum of 5 players each year. There were no limits on how long we could keep the player, as long as they could still add a round to their keeper value.
My mistake in this league was putting too much emphasis on the keeper aspect of the league. With just 5 players being kept each year by each team, I basically should have managed the team in essentially the same manner as a redraft league, as the pool of players to be kept is very shallow. Add in that it is a 10 team league, and can rely very heavily on streaming pitching, I spent a lot of the season with burned roster spots on players like Wil Myers, Jurickson Profar, and even Dylan Bundy. This mistake really led to a lot of empty roster spots at times during the season, when I could have used players with lower upside but more production during matchups I needed it in.
While I did make the playoffs, there was not a lot of difference between my record (good for 5th) and the 2nd place team that received a bye in the first round, and over the span of the season I might have been able to make up some of that difference. -Jason Hunt
The most idiotic move I made this year may not seem like a major one, but I dare anyone to match its sheer, unadulterated stupidity. I currently compete in an 18-team keeper league, and due to a confluence of poor managerial decision-making and lost position eligibility, I went into 2012 with Daniel Murphy as my starting first baseman. No, that is not a joke. I obviously needed an upgrade, so I decided to go cheap, trading for 38-year-old Todd Helton, figuring he's be an upgrade in OBP and batting average.
To get him I gave up Tommy Milone, who I had picked up for free and who I thought was destined to collapse at any moment due to middling stuff. I figured I was getting a decent, if old, upgrade for a pitcher who would have an ERA over 6.00 in two months. Oops. Milone threw 190 solid innings and even struck out a decent number of batters. He was a legitimately good fantasy starter, especially in such a deep league. Helton, meanwhile, was just awful. I think I got two home runs out of him before I dumped his carcass onto the free agent pile in August. -Paul Rice
I'd like to see anyone top this stupid move. On May 23rd, I traded away Mike Trout and Rafael Soriano to get David Wright and Santiago Casilla. I really needed a 3B and at the time I thought that Soriano would lose his job to the David Robertson once Robertson came back healthy. I've lived by the sell-high mentality my whole fantasy career and this time it came back to bite me worse than ever. -Michael Gallagher
My biggest blunders of 2012 weren't the moves I did make; rather, it was the moves I didn't make. Early in the season is the best time to take full advantage of the waiver wire and free agency. Some fast starts are just that: fast starts. But some are fast starts that turn into career years. I regret not believing in players like R.A. Dickey, Aroldis Chapman, Aaron Hill and Alex Rios, all of whom have showed glimpses of stardom in the past. All were players that got off to relatively fast starts and kept it up 'til Game 162 -- and all were players that were at one point available for me to acquire. Sometimes you get lucky with early season acquisitions, but you won't get lucky by standing pat. Take a shot. It's silly not to. -Alex Kantecki
The stupidest thing I did this season was to trade Craig Kimbrel and Jonhny Cueto for Dan Haren. I made this trade on April 3rd in a 16 team Dynasty League and I made it for all the wrong reasons. After coming off a fourth place finish and losing to the eventual champion in the semi's I felt like the glaring need on my team was starting pitching. I already had players like Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, and Jordan Zimmermann but the guy who beat me last season had a CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee. I felt like I had a good rotation, just not a great one and that Haren was possibly that missing piece. Haren was coming off of a very good 2011 season in which he posted 16 wins and a 3.17 ERA. Even Haren's peripheral stats looked great. His FIP was 2.98, his xFIP was 3.29, and he posted a league leading 5.82 SO/BB ratio. The Angels had added Albert Pujols and I figured there was a very good chance Haren would be in the running for the AL Cy Young and maybe win 20 games. I also had Kenley Jansen and Brandon League as my other relief pitchers so while it pained me very much to let go of Kimbrel, who I knew and always thought of as the best relief pitcher in the game, I felt like I had a break out candidate in Jansen and a solid (if unspectacular) option in Brandon League, so I could withstand the loss of Kimbrel, who was coming off what I thought would be close to the ceiling of his fantasy value. I was wrong. Kimbrel one-upped himself and cut his miniscule ERA to 1.01, struck out 116 in 62 2/3 and logged 42 saves. Who knew?
As for the inclusion of Cueto I had recently acquired him on the cheap as a guy that I would use as a way to eat innings and try and sneak out a few wins. I projected him to be a mid-to-back of the rotation starter who might post a 3.50 ERA with about 12 wins over a full season -- a good, but not great, player. I thought his 2011, in which he pitched 156 innings with a 2.31 ERA, was unsustainable and the result of luck/SSS and that the real Cueto was something just a little bit better than his 2010 season. In 2011, he had set a career lows in both FIP (3.45) and xFIP (3.90), to go along with a career high 53.7% GB rate and a career low .249 BABIP. I figured he would return to the classic mid-rotation guy who won't kill you, but won't save you. The guy that I ended up trading him to was in rebuilding mode, liked that Cueto was in his mid-20's and asked for him as a complementary piece because he was giving up such a solid, reliable player in Haren. I complied and, of course, Haren would go onto be plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness during the worst season in his career. I went from finishing 4th in 2011 to finishing 7th in 2012 in this league, and this trade was a big reason. I made the move way too early to try and combat one owner and put my team over the top. Instead I ended up cutting off my nose to spite my face. Just for fun I recently asked the owner what it would cost to reacquire Kimbrel in this dynasty league (I was hoping he'd ask for Haren back lol) and he told me Kris Medlen and Oscar Tavares plus my 2012 first round pick. A request that I will not indulge. Ouch. -Brian French
So now it's your turn, readers. What was the stupidest thing you did this season, and what did you learn from it?
Which of our writers' moves do you think was the most defensible decision at the time?
Dropping John Axford in favor of Dale Thayer (10 votes)
Dropping Kris Medlen in favor of Garrett Richards (6 votes)
Trading Mike Trout and Rafael Soriano for David Wright and Santiago Casilla (9 votes)
Trading Tommy Milone for Todd Helton (5 votes)
Trading Johnny Cueto and Craig Kimbrel for Dan Haren (9 votes)
39 total votes