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Co-managing Expectations: Another Day, Another Spreadsheet

Apr. 4, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ryan Roberts (14) watches the play during the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE
Apr. 4, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Ryan Roberts (14) watches the play during the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

As I've mentioned before ad nauseam, I've never co-managed a fantasy baseball team before. Now that my brother and I share custody of a team, all kinds of considerations have popped up that I've never had to deal with before. For example, while I anticipated having to be in constant communication with my co-owner about making adds and drops, I didn't think for one second about the extra work that would have to go into setting daily lineups.

A few years ago, I took a vacation during the last week of the regular season, so it was the final round of the playoffs. I was in the bronze medal game, so it was sort of a big deal but not really. I decided that I would use the internet at the hotel we were staying at to set my lineups, since the hotel's website assured me that it had complimentary internet access. Upon arrival, I learned that "complimentary" actually meant $14.95 a day, and there were usage limits. After doing a quick cost-benefit analysis, I decided to deadbeat my team, which of course lost. Later I went back and looked at my stats and I think I would have lost anyway, but there were still people acting as if it was a huge point-shaving scandal. What I'm driving at is that having somebody else on your team can be an advantage. For example, I'm leaving town this weekend and though I will have free internet access this time around, it will just be easier to have John take over lineup setting duties while I'm away.

What happens on normal days, though? We could rotate lineup duty, but that's no fun. Neither of us got into this with the intention of having a hands-off approach. So, we came up with a solution, which just so happened to include making another Google spreadsheet.

Our big idea was to create a depth chart for each position on our team. This is something that you can do even if you're managing a team by yourself. The concept is simple enough: Rank each player eligible for a given position, and play the one listed higher when both have games. It's an exercise that you do in your head every time you set a lineup, but putting it down on (virtual) paper has a certain finality to it that I like. I've never made one of these for any of my teams before, but it will be a practice of mine from now on. Not only does creating a depth chart for your fake team force you to make valuations about all of your players that you might have otherwise put off, but you're always ready to make a transaction in a pinch. Notice a player you like on the waiver wire but you only have 5 minutes allotted for fantasy baseball before you have to do some real work for the day? Take a quick look at your depth chart, check the statistics to confirm, and pull the trigger. You've already done all the legwork ahead of time.

Looking at our current depth chart, it's abundantly clear to me that the Senators are very weak at third base, or at least they will be until Miguel Cabrera gains eligibility there. Ideally, Ryan Roberts (our current placeholder, as well as dead last on our depth chart for the utility spot) will jump out to a hot start and we can sell high on him to an owner that overvalues early season performance.

In other news, one of our competitors apparently doesn't understand how the disabled list works, as he straight up dropped Andrew Bailey earlier this week. Bailey's surgery is serious, and there's no guarantee he's going to come back 100%, but he's not out for the season. We picked him up and stashed him on our DL, and hopefully when the time comes he can either help our pitching staff or we can flip him (maybe even back to the guy who dropped him) for a useful piece. Lesson: Always check your league's rules. If you're in a Yahoo! league, the DL spot doesn't show up until you have a guy that's eligible for it and you try to move him. Don't assume that it doesn't exist just because you can't see it.

Next week I'll start providing standings updates and we can get into the meat of how to improve this team, but as of this moment the standings are completely irrelevant, as the Senators have a grand total of 32 at bats and 1.2 innings pitched so far.