April 17, 2008
Here's one of the comments buried in the discussion of last night's Closing Time:
Yahoo needs to get C.C. Pizza Sabathia off the no cut list. He has got totally blown out in three appearances. I would drop him in a heart beat as nobody wants to trade for this scrapper. He has no value right now and causes you to lose ERA every week and takes up a pitching spot. Come on Yahoo get with it and let us cut him!!!
The commenter clearly isn't sentimental, I'll give him that much. He understands that you only own the set of numbers attached to the player, not the player himself. And he's obviously not too happy with the set of numbers currently attached to CC Sabathia: 0 W, 0 SV, 14 K, 13.50 ERA, 2.56 WHIP.
We also know a few other things about the commenter. First of all, we know he's in a head-to-head league: "(Sabathia) causes you to lose ERA every week."
It's clear that this fantasy owner isn't thinking about having the best possible roster in September, when head-to-head championships are actually decided. Instead, he's panicked because he's losing ERA and WHIP in April. He's literally willing to trade CC Sabathia right now for any player who isn't on the Can't Cut List.
If you're involved in a league with an owner like that -- someone who's already dropping talented, underperforming players -- then you should be able to treat him like a minor league affiliate all year.
What do you suppose the commenter above would have done with Miguel Cabrera last weekend, when he was hitting .167?
He'd have traded him for Joe Crede, that's what.
The biggest mistake that fantasy owners commonly make is to infer too much from too little data. If Alex Gonzalez homers on consecutive days, people decide that he's developed a new set of skills, and he gets added in thousands of leagues. And if CC Sabathia has a series of poor starts, people decide that he's finished -- never mind the 1406 innings that preceded the poor starts. Or the 1.14 WHIP in 2007. Or the 1.17 WHIP in 2006.
If an owner drops a player like Sabathia this early in the season -- or threatens to drop such a player, or complains that he can't drop such a player -- it's a hugely important tell. You should scout their roster for buy-low candidates all season, because they're definitely willing to sell.
By the way, here's what Sabathia himself says about his performance so far:
"Usually, it's something mechanical or in my delivery ... But it's not [this time]. I look at the video, and I haven't been [establishing] the inside part of the plate to right-handed hitters. I have no feel for my cutter. Last year, I did a good job commanding both sides of the plate, and this year I haven't done that."
There's been no indication that he's injured, and no drop in velocity. Cutting him right now would be a mistake in any format.