At Casa Falzone recently, at 3 o'clock in the morning, the baby started crying. The wife was sick with the flu, so the only parent on call was – you guessed it – me. After I stumbled through the darkness, changed her diaper and got her a warm bottle of milk, I was sitting in a comfy chair with the little girl in my lap when suddenly some thoughts took hold of my foggy mind and wouldn't let go.
Not the lyrics to "Itsy Bitsy Spider." Not some snippet of advice from "The Happiest Baby on the Block." Not a fresh idea on meaning of life as we know it. No, this:
Teahen. Reynolds. Crede.
The names of the last three guys to man the corner infielder position of Team Falzone.
The Yahoo Friends and Family League title probably won't be decided by who I play there. But then again, it might. At 3 o'clock in the morning, while Hillary Clinton was no doubt fast asleep and dreaming of her White House telephone ringing on her White House night table next to her White House bed, I was awake and obsessing over my fantasy baseball lineup. F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote "In the real dark night of the soul it is always three o' clock in the morning, day after day." They didn't have fantasy baseball in the Roaring '20s, but if they did, he might very well have been tempted to add "… and it's baseball season all year long."
Anyway, here's what I think about the three players I had on the brain that night:
If you owned Mark Teahen in the 2nd half of 2006 when he hit .318 with 11 home runs – like I did – then you probably owned him in 2007, too, when he banged out all of seven homers. All. Season. Long. But you haven't forgotten about the second half of 2006, have you? Neither have I. He was probably the best Royals hitter this spring besides Billy Butler, too. Still, seeing Teahen's name in my lineup didn't inspire the confidence I'd hoped for. I kept an eye out for reinforcement – and soon I found one.
Ah, the joys of living in the Information Age. I read a note that said Reynolds might be hitting cleanup this season. I scanned our free agent pool and there he was. A cleanup hitter still available? And a shaky CI slot on Team Falzone? A few points, a few clicks, and he was in the next cab headed to the Falzone clubhouse. Then I read a note online somewhere saying, despite his mighty bat, he could still lose playing time when Chad Tracy returns from the DL. Suddenly, Reynolds sounded less like a solution and more like a new problem. So I cut him loose. And four days later he's the league leader in home runs. Of course. Back to the free agent pool.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't a guy named Joe Crede hit .283 with 30 home runs only two seasons ago? Sure, he was god-awful last season, but it turned out he needed back surgery, which he had this offseason. I like Josh Fields and all, but it's not like he's the second coming of … hmm, well, I can't quite come up with the last great White Sox third baseman. Anyway, it's too early to give up on this guy. He'd make a fine CI for any fantasy team. Especially mine.
The baby finished her bottle, so I tucked her in and stumbled back to bed. The wife was awake, so I asked her if she's feeling any better. "Maybe. I don't know. It's hard to tell at 3 a.m."
Amen, honey. Amen.
So far this season, three trades have gone down in the Friends and Family League:
I was so confident in my late-night managing skills I went and made a trade for a new CI days later. As a Yankees fan, I'm all too familiar with Joe Torre's stubborn refusal to trust young players over veterans. As a fantasy owner, I've got faith in Kemp, but there's only so far that faith can take me if Torre doesn't scribble his name on the lineup card every day. So this was a particularly gratifying trade to make because for Kemp I got in return the guy who could've solved the Yankees first base woes the last five years – Nick Johnson. We all know Nick the Stick can hit, and we all know he's more fragile than the Leg Lamp in "Christmas Story." But I'll take my chances because at least his lineup spot is guaranteed. It solves my CI conundrum while at the same time freeing up a spot in my crowded outfield. So I think I either win this trade, or it turns out to be good for both teams. I like it.
It's funny. Before Liss and I had a deal, I'd offered Kemp to pretty much every owner in our league, including Funston, and I asked for Gallardo in return. Last year at this time, there were so many good young hurlers who looked ready to break out – Gallardo, Tim Lincecum, Phillip Hughes, Homer Bailey, and a few more I'm forgetting. While I like Lincecum, I think Gallardo's clearly the best of the bunch. That said, Matsui is no slouch, so I think this trade is even-steven.
First of all, getting O-Dog for my MI slot solves my second biggest headache after my CI slot. He's a solid contributor in all categories and he's got a cool nickname. In other words: He's my kind of guy. I wrote last time that during our draft, I couldn't decide between Sabathia and Beckett. Well, I've decided. I also like having three terrific closers slotted into my everyday lineup. Meanwhile, there are plenty of solid SPs in the free agent pool (like recent Falzone signees Andy Pettitte and Ervin Santana). Best of all, Shea sent me a nice email to tell me I won our trade, so you don't even have to take my word for it – take his!
So there you have it. My team has gotten off to a solid start, holding steady in third place. Is it because of all my scheming and dreaming, or despite it? Don't get me started. I'd rather not spend 3 o'clock in the morning thinking about that. Now how does "Itsy Bitsy Spider" go again …?