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Scott Pianowski

Opening Time: Tales of a fourth-place nothing

Scott Pianowski
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The last week of the fantasy baseball season gets downright silly at times, no one can deny that. Once you hit the innings pitch maximum it's time to drop all of those arms – they can't help you anyway and it's too late for someone else to gain from your discarded ace. Categorical needs force you to make some strange decisions. The schedule matters more than ever, weather messes with you, karma comes and goes, all for a virtual trophy and a contented feeling all winter.

I'm not sure I'll have that contentedness when I look back at the 2009 Friends & Family League - I've been in second most of the year (behind the uncatchable Chris Liss juggernaut) but over the last few weeks it's turned into a battle with Andy Behrens and Paul Singman for that second spot. I raced past the IP max Wednesday but didn't get exactly what I wanted – the decision to not trust Brandon Morrow(notes) is going to haunt me and Francisco Rodriguez's(notes) blown save cost me a key win. Hey, the balls roll funny for everybody kid, I get that. But when this all craps out in the next few days and I finish third or fourth, I'm gonna be a little bummed, even as no one else will remember or care.

Home runs are one of the key battleground in our F&F stat jockeying and with that I dropped Michael Bourn(notes) for Randy Ruiz(notes) Wednesday night. It's the type of move that would be ludicrous and objectionable at any other time of the year but now it's a slam dunk for me – I need power (which Ruiz has) and I can't gain a thing in steals (I'm landlocked into second there). My broad mistake here was not realizing earlier in the season that Bourn would be a great guy to deal. Ruiz isn't even guaranteed weekend at-bats; yes, he homered twice Wednesday, but he was only in the DH slot because Adam Lind(notes) is a little nicked up. Go grab some bench, Ruiz, and I'll tap you on the shoulder Friday if you're in the lineup.

Now is a good time to get multiple catchers on your roster, especially if you dropped a bunch of deadweight pitching as I did. Nick Hundley(notes) wants your attention in San Diego; he's got five multiple-hit games in his last nine starts and he's stolen three bases in his last five appearances. Forget the season numbers, you can't say no to that. Don't think, just grab. (Dr. Behrens had a smart angle on the catching strategy, grabbing both of the Colorado guys, Yorvit Torrealba(notes) and Chris Iannetta(notes), for the final weekend. It's not Bench and Wieters, but it will do.)

Nick Punto's(notes) punch-and-judy game can't help me in the F&F but he might be a good addition for you, a multiple-position guy who's at .292 in September with 14 runs and seven steals. Punto does bring some risk if the Twins get eliminated from the AL Central chase Thursday – you never know how Ron Gardenhire might take the weekend if his team doesn't have a carrot – but otherwise he's a nice bench option. And this further underscores why you want more offensive players now, it's important to max out those at-bats and make sure you make the strongest push possible in the counting stats.

Jose Bautista(notes) is another player I generally wouldn't touch midseason but he's got four homers in five games and I need pop, so he's on the bus too. He hit one out of the park for us Wednesday night and he qualifies at two spots (third, outfield). My team has nothing to really lose or gain in the other four offensive categories, so I can ignore Bautista's obvious flaws. I don't care if he strikes out a bunch and his modest speed doesn't affect me. Just keep swinging for the downs.

Streaming Options – Friday: Kevin Correia(notes) has been outstanding over the last month (1.25 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) and he gets a friendly assignment, the Giants in Petco Park. I also like Barry Zito(notes) on the other side of that, even though he's come back to earth in recent turns. … Tom Gorzelanny(notes) has two solid efforts to point to and I'll consider him at Wrigley against the Diamondbacks (his teammates should put numbers up against Billy Buckner(notes)).Gio Gonzalez(notes) is a high-risk, high-reward play against the Angels; his season numbers are an obvious red flag but he might not see the full LA lineup and he mowed these guys down last week. How badly do you need those strikeouts?

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