I'm trying something new this season. In the past, I've cranked out two, three, five pieces a week. Short(ish), making some fantasy points. Problem was, even short pieces that many times a week can be time-consuming.
This season, time's at a premium. I'm getting married in August. Publishing a novel in July. Moving. Starting a new job. Acquiring a stepdaughter. Y'all, I ain't got time to write you 1,000 words on a backup infielder four times a week.
So let's try this. I'm scaling back to once a week on here (with exceptions when I feel inspired). In exchange, I'm giving a once-a-week blowout. Fantasy advice. Things I notice. I'll be tossing in some non-baseball content as well, because I enjoy things.
It should be a healthy mix. But feel free to advise in the comments. If I go too non-baseball, pull me back into the path. But it's the weekly blowout.
(Also, a note: I'm starting a new fantasy-related job shortly. It isn't baseball, but it could rob me of baseball-writing time. More details will be in the offing shortly. Suffice it to say, Daniel hath achieved more-or-less dream job status. If I stop appearing in this space, love you guys.)
The Philosophy of Socrates
The injury to A.J. Pollock sucks. In my Bold Predictions column, I had the Diamondbacks as the NL West winners. That was largely out of attrition, as I'm not that high on the Giants or Dodgers, but still, they were my West winners. They aren't anymore. If I were running the column this week instead of last, this injury would push the Giants to my first-place prediction. But whatever, predictions are mostly for fun.
Anyway, Pollock's injury brought some things to mind for me. The first was Socrates Brito. In the preseason, it was increasingly looking like Brito would be stealing some time from Yasmany Tomas in Arizona. But now, with the injury (at least unless/until the Diamondbacks add another outfielder), both Tomas and Brito will be more-or-less full-timers, and as such have significantly increased fantasy value.
The second, related though was to eyeball some fantasy options who currently aren't even on the radar, but with the proper injury, these outfielders could turn into fantasy contributors. In standard leagues, these guys aren't adds now, but keep your eye on:
- Brandon Moss, STL (5 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues): I basically thought Moss was done in the middle of last year, after a pitiful second half of 2014 and nothing worthwhile about his first half with Cleveland. But then he joined St. Louis and took Super Cardinals Juice, notching a .344 OBP and a .409 SLG down the stretch. This season, he's basically behind a mix of Matt Adams, Matt Holliday, Stephen Piscotty and Randal Grichuk in the outfield and at first, but if you can find a sure thing in that mix, hat's off to you. Moss might not have a lot left in the tank, but I bet he'll get every chance for us to find out.
- Aaron Hicks, NYY (3 percent): Straight up, I might pick Hicks first among all the Yankees outfield options right now. He's 26; Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are 32, and Carlos Beltran is 38. Ellsbury is already dealing with injury, while Beltran is a bad sneeze away from the DL, and Gardner's hardly trustworthy for health himself. Hicks was once a top prospect, and never (from my seat) got a fair shake in Minnesota. He'll be a full-time player with the Yankees for at least part of the season, because injuries, and there's a line on qualifying for the batting title if things break right/wrong.
- Desmond Jennings, TB (2 percent): Kevin Kiermaier can field like a sonofagun, but can't really hit. I tend to believe in Corey Dickerson, even having left Denver, but you can't argue that he's without risk because of the move. Steven Souza could hit double-digit homers and steal double-digit bases, but he also strikes out in a full third of his plate appearances and could whiff himself right to the bench. Jennings had a 102 OPS+ over the three years before last year's immolation, and was good for 12-ish homers and 20-some steals a year. He's too valuable a chip to ride the bench all season; either he forces his way into the lineup in Tampa or someone (Arizona?) makes a deal. Either way, Jennings will be relevant.
- Hyun-Soo Kim, BAL (2 percent): This was weird. But in the end, the Orioles backed them into a corner where they had to bring Kim to the big-league club or end up having paid him $7 million for a spring training and then sending him back home. I don't know if it's a Buck Showalter/front office split or what, but the fact that the team invested in Kim in the offseason and then were willing to punt on him after a few weeks of spring training is baffling. This guy never profiled as a power bat, but there was supposed to be average, singles, doubles, enough to be worthwhile. Now he's behind name-sounds-like-a-boy-band-member Joey Rickard? That's gibberish. Kim will get the starting gig back, and he'll be the new Nick Markakis.
My Kentucky public school education had some hits and misses. I had one decent science teacher throughout my education, an eighth-grade science teacher who really cared. The rest of my educational history had highlights like (a) one who told us her greatest credential was her "degree in Bible," (b) one who my physical-therapist mom met and thought had a major head injury, whose first day featured a translucent blouse, a too-large bra and an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction, (c) one who doubled as our academic-team coach and regularly tried to sneak me answers to the quick-recall portion, and (d) one who was widely understood to be in a sexual relationship with the football player a year ahead of me.
But on the math side, my school system hit a home run. There was Ms. Hay, Mr. Fletcher, Mrs. Wiles. They knew math, knew how to convey the message, knew how to impart knowledge. Fletcher especially, who was also my baseball coach, was everyone's favorite despite being the strictest disciplinarian the school had ever seen.
The result of all this is that I came out of my schooling with an excellent math education, but a much dodgier one in science. So maybe I'm biased, but when I see articles like this one on Slate, arguing that advanced math curriculum is unnecessary, I go into a rage.
I would be more than happy arguing that a biology education, which to me is just memorization of a series of Latin terms, is unnecessary and could be excised. I know my brother would love to cut any Shakespearean education from schools. Geography? We have maps. Basically, everyone wants to eliminate what they struggle with.
Math is complicated and difficult. But math, unlike nearly every other subject, has an answer. When is it okay to use passive voice in English? Well, generally, never, but then it works sometimes. What countries are adjacent to Russia? Completely depends on the age of your textbook. But the quadratic equation works 100 percent of the time. My brother loves to point out that he never uses algebra, until I point out that he does it any time he goes to the grocery store with six bucks and wonders how many drinks he can buy, or when he has four kids with him and wants to find them an activity that doesn't break the bank. Just because a problem isn't framed as y=mx+b doesn't make it not algebra, and just because we as a country lack the teachers to properly convey the knowledge doesn't make that knowledge unnecessary.
Daniel's Conundrum of the Week
Despite having played in them for several years, I'm neither in love with nor totally sure on the strategy for single-league fantasy games. I'm in an AL-only experts league in which I spent my last $2 on Adam LaRoche (pre-retirement, obviously). When FAAB opened a week ago, I placed bids on Tyler Naquin and the like, the guys who had popped up since the draft. I just wasn't willing to spend what it took for any of them.
So I didn't get a LaRoche replacement in FAAB. I have dropped him, but at this point, it's just a dead roster spot. I'll likely drop a $0 on some middle reliever with marginal upside, but was I right to bail on Naquin? I knew I wouldn't get him for my bid, but I wasn't about to put up the $38 it would have taken to get him. I'd rather save that money for a midseason trade acquisition (splurging on Yoenis Cespedes in my NL-only last year spurred me to a late-season comeback), but it means a more-or-less dead roster spot for now. Is that better? Or should I have bitten the bullet and spent on Naquin, or Chris Coghlan ($34), or Tyler White ($20)?
(Taking the phrase "bite the bullet" into past participle really reads weird to me.)
Those boobs are just a "characteristic," you know
I took my fiancée, her daughter and my niece to a place called Café Meeples last week. It's a board game café that I would frequent much more often were it not close to an hour from my house, but as I had occasion to travel to Richmond, I insisted we stop for lunch. And as my stepdaughter-to-be is only 5, we focused on the games for younger kids.
She really wanted to play Guess Who?, and I hadn't played it since going to my grandmother's house as a young'un myself, so I was in. With my niece on my "team" and my fiancée on hers, we faced off. And my niece and I won in a matter of two or three questions. Second game, same thing.
And then I realized something. My stepdaughter-to-be, being, you know, a girl, had chosen girls for each of her first two rounds. And I started with "are you a girl?" both times. Well, asking that question creates an extreme division. If you're a boy, then asking gender eliminates five possibilities. But if you chose a girl, asking gender takes the whole thing down to only five choices. In other words, Guess Who? comes with 19 boys and five girls. In other other words, my fiancee's daughter was inherently at a disadvantage simply for wanting to pick a character who was like her.
I checked up on this. According to a 2012 Jezebel piece, a little girl wrote to Hasbro to ask why the division. Hasbro responded that they had all the characters broken down into five-person "characteristic" groups. So there were five with facial hair, five with hats, five with glasses, etc. Cool, cool. But somehow, the game maker decided that "female" is a characteristic, while "male" is ... our default state? That's straight-up bull. I don't want to raise a little girl to learn that choosing to be a woman puts her at a disadvantage. (You know, any more than life will teach her that, but I'd like to work on that as well.) We flipped over to the animal side for further Guess Who? playing. I haven't been able to figure out if newer versions of the game are more gender diverse, but come on, game makers. Be better.
The Blue Jays continue to be fantasy-friendly
In the past, I've noted that, while some teams shut down DL moves in September (because, with all 40 players available to you, what's the point?), the Blue Jays have traditionally still made the DL move. As far as I can tell, the only people this helps re fantasy players, as putting players on the DL in September lets us make roster moves in keeper leagues we otherwise might not be able to, and that's cool of them.
Well, I noticed it again this week. While most teams waited until the last possible minute to make DL moves (the Cardinals didn't put Ruben Tejada on the DL until Sunday morning, for example, despite news of his injury being out there days earlier), the Blue Jays didn't wait around. Marco Estrada, on one of my deeper rosters, popped up with that DL tag on, I think, Friday, though it's possible it was Saturday morning.
It's a little thing, but it's helpful. Estrada hitting the DL earlier than other players meant I could move him to my league DL and pick someone else up. The Blue Jays, by being fantasy-friendly, make it so there's often a tiny (tiny) advantage to owning their players in fantasy. Usually it's negligible, but I can envision a scenario where I am torn between two players and use that little advantage as a tiebreaker. And the more you can get fantasy players to invest in your players, the more you can generate fans. The Blue Jays have nailed this one.
Everything is so commercial
I love ads. Well, no, strike that. I think way too much about ads. TV commercials are little 30-second movies that have to entertain, educate and/or enlighten, all while selling a product. It's an obscenely difficult gig, and advertisers go about it to wildly varying degrees.
I need an outlet to discuss these commercials, so I'm going to use this space to talk about the ones that stick with me, for whatever reason. First, last year's Cadillac ATS Coupe commercial, starring Stephen Merchant, titled "Irresistible."
Okay, so that's cool. Dude goes from nervous and uncertain to super confident because the car was near him. Happy for him.
But what happened next? At the end of the ad, Stephen Merchant has grown super cocky and keeps walking straight, but the car that actually caught everyone's eye has turned left. He has grown so confident that he's doing fancy spin moves, convinced everyone of both gender finds him gorgeous in this new shirt. So he's going to wear that shirt for the next several days, desperate for someone to look at him the way they did during those first few minutes. And it isn't going to happen.
This is not a happy commercial. It's the story of a man who grows extraordinarily confident due to an extended coincidence, and it portends his eventual crushing downfall. The sequel to this commercial is Stephen Merchant spiraling into a crushing depression, losing everything in his life as he wears the shirt until it is rags. Eventually, with only the shirt left to his name, he meets his end. It's the prologue to the saddest movie of our times.
Tweet of the week
I decided I was going to highlight my favorite tweet of the week in this space (ideally, but not necessarily, baseball-related) early on, then spent the week not sure who would take the prize. It finally happened Monday afternoon, during the Rangers' opening game. Adam Morris of Lone Star Ball takes the prize:
If one of those spam Twitter accounts criticized that E6 on Marte, it would be a Bot calling Ketel whack.— Adam J. Morris (@lonestarball) April 4, 2016
Take a bow.
Let's create a league
And finally, I want to use this space to create exactly the right fantasy baseball league. So each week, I'm going to finish with a poll. If I get through enough of these (see the note at the top for why I might not), the season could end with us having created the perfect fantasy league.
First question, vote at the bottom: Are we building a single-year league, a keeper, or a dynasty?