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Tip Drill: Crossing Zack Greinke off my cheat sheet

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Tangled up in Blue (USAT)

To some fantasy owners, Zack Greinke is a target player, a guy to chase after. Some other rotoheads consider him more of a fantasy conundrum, a tricky case that's not easily solved.

I'm not losing any sleep with Greinke this spring; I'm not swimming in the spreadsheets and trying to read the tea leaves. Just give me a red pen and I'll do all I need to do with this commodity – strike him off my list. None for me, thanks.

Zack Greinke.

Okay, it's not quite that simple. I never really say never with any player who will post value. If I found myself in a draft or auction where everyone seemed to distrust Greinke then sure, I'd consider stepping in. But I don't think such a room exists.

Greinke's physical status has been an issue over the last few days. He's dealing with a sore elbow and the club isn't sure if he'll be ready for the opening week of the season. He won't return to bullpen work until next week at the earliest, according to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports.

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The medical news hasn't taken a huge bite out of Greinke's fantasy stock, at least in the corridors I'm hanging out in. Most of the industry remains very bullish; consider the current rankings at Fantasy Pros. Greinke was the 17th starting pitcher taken Tuesday afternoon in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, going to Derek Carty at the 6.12 slot (82nd overall). To put it in context, Gio Gonzalez, Kris Medlen, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and James Shields were still on the board.

I'm risk-averse with big ticket items, especially when it comes to pitchers. That's the main part of my duck-Greinke stance. Why cut a healthy check on someone who obviously isn't 100 percent right now? But there are two other major prongs to the argument:

-- Greinke's been a peripheral tease for a few seasons now. I know it's become fashionable to bash straight ERA, and we can use intelligent, modern metrics that give a better sense of a pitcher's actual performance. But ERA still pays the bills in our 5x5 roto existence, and lately Greinke hasn't been pulling his weight.

Greinke's 2.16 ERA in 2009 still resonates in the mind and memory, an electric Cy Young season. That said, he's never had an ERA below 3.47 in any other season. This dates back to 2004, gamers – Greinke's rookie year. At some point, we need to take this fact at face value and stop trying to explain it all away. (Didn't we learn anything from Ricky Nolasco and Javier Vazquez?)

-- You can always find interesting value pitchers in the middle or late stages of a draft, or on the waiver wire. The structure of our games (real and fantasy) play into this. There are ostensibly 150 starting pitches in The Show at any given point in time, but they're constantly shuttling to and fro, getting hurt and getting healthy, improving and regressing. From a fantasy perspective, there's a lot to digest – but there's also a lot of choice at the table. It's a dynamic position, a volatile position, a crazy position. You'll want some sure things at the front of your staff, sure, but you can always hope to find cheap help as the exercise goes along. There will always be options, alternatives, Plan Bs.

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I grant you the positive elements on Greinke's profile. He's working in a big park; he no longer has the pressure of being his team's No. 1 arm; he's still just 29. The shape of Los Angeles should agree with him; it's a very livable city for famous people who want to stay reasonably anonymous. Maybe he'll put it all together again and be a Top 10 arm, or a Top 5 arm, or heck, maybe even the 2009 dominator will return. That's in the range of possible outcomes. If you want to buy in, I'm not going to talk you out of it.

My Greinke rank pretty much guarantees I'll go without owning him. Looks like I'll try to beat you with some of the other 149 starting pitchers. Game on. (Okay, make that 148 pitchers. I won't be gambling on Doc Halladay and his sluggish velocity. Let's talk about starting pitcher theory in the comments, amigos.)

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