You've been playing this crazy thing called fantasy baseball for five months straight now. You're cranky. You're tired. It's way too hot. And out of the corner of your eye, you see a pretty girl in a red dress. Yep. Football.
But you don't let that distract you. You pull your baseball cap down tight and you check the box scores and you carry on. Welcome to the dog days of summer.
In the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, I'm leading the league. Not in anything important, though – I'm leading the league in total moves and trades. So I'm keeping the champagne on ice. But like I've said before, I play fantasy baseball because it's fun. It's only a game. If you're playing a game and you're not having fun, then you should stop. Immediately. And either find another game or come to terms with the fact that you're not exactly a barrel of laughs, you know?
Recently, our trade deadline came and went like a base stealer in the night. I had a few offers out that were all rejected at the last minute. And I got an offer that I rejected too quickly and have been second-guessing myself about ever since. Anyway, I thought this would be the perfect occasion to run down the list of every trade made in our league this season and give you the Average Joe perspective. Here we go:
First trade of the year. Best trade of the year. Before Opening Day, no less. Hunter has not only piled up MVP numbers, but he's also a joy to watch. And that makes him a joy to own.
I love Verlander, but with Erik Bedard, Curt Schilling, and Tim Hudson rounding out my rotation, I figured I could afford to give up a quality arm in exchange for some wholesome multi-category goodness. Turns out, I was right. Byrnes has been fantastic. Hey, I'm two-for-two so far. The Average Joe' s looking like an old pro.
You might remember I was actually king of the hill for a little while this year. I have to admit, being in first place felt fantastic. Then at some point I saw Pianowski pass me by. Then Liss. Then like everybody else. It's all kind of a blur, frankly, since I was in a freefall that didn't stop until I landed in twelfth place. And while I scratched and clawed my way back to respectability, another guy stormed the castle and knocked Pianowski off the throne – Behrens. As I write this, he's got a whopping 116 points. That's 32 points more than me. It's even 13.5 points ahead of Pianowski, who's still sitting pretty himself at 102.5. So why did Behrens rocket to the top and stay there? Trades like these. He got Figgy on the cheap when he was hurt and was rewarded with a .335 average plus 34 steals and counting. Meanwhile, Verlander's given him 10 wins and over 100 Ks. Now that's good managing.
I wanted to shake things up a bit and Funston was game. Neither player did much before the deal. Or after. Let's move on.
Oops. Now that's a bad trade. I cut Glaus about a week ago because I was sick and tired of playing peek-a-boo. Meaning, are you in the lineup today, Troy? You're not on the DL, but I can't see you. Come out, come out, wherever you are … Before the deal, Glaus had hit .320 with 7 HR for Behrens. After, he limped his way to a .249 average with 8 HR for me in about three times as many at-bats. And while Abreu had hit .236 for me, he's currently hitting .326 for Behrens with 13 HR and 16 SBs. Oh yeah, and he's still on Behrens' roster. Like I said, bad trade. I'm no rookie, either. I know about buying low and selling high. But Behrens took me to school on this one and I'm still standing in the parking lot, shivering in my gym shorts, waiting for Mommy to pick me up. Oh well.
Pianowski sold high on Johnson and took a chance on an unproven closer in Accardo. But after a big slump, Johnson bounced back. Neither player, though, spent a lot of service time with their new teams – in fact, Johnson's been on my team for weeks now. This is an example of a move that probably one if not both managers spent precious time and energy trying to work out and in the end, it really didn't matter at all. Fantasy baseball's funny that way.
Two days after Jeff Ma took over the reigns from Ryan Wilkins, he pulled off this whopper. He took a chance on Papelbon, who early this season had some arm issues and had plenty of people spooked. Papelbon's been just as nasty as last year, so Ma's gamble paid off. Of course, his team's stuck in last place. It was a bold move, though. Kudos.
This deal went down shortly after I wrote about how I think Smoltz is the best athlete in the world. So naturally Funston emailed me to gloat. What's worse is he used a player I traded to him in the deal. I hate that. It turned out mighty nice for him, too. Smoltz has been as good as ever, while Delgado's been pretty miserable all season long. Next year I'm taking Smoltz in Round 1. Well, maybe 5. Or 6. Oh, forget it.
Capuano's collapse has been mythic. He seems to have taken the entire Milwaukee team down the drain with him. Capps, though, took the baton from Salomon Torres in Pittsburgh and has pitched quite well. So Evans won this trade big time. At least Romig still has Papelbon to anchor his pen. (Oops.)
What do you know, a blockbuster. These kinds of deals happen all the time with the maniacs in my private league (I'm talking about you, Mayor!) but not here among the experts. I was ready to give the edge to Dodson because Howard's been homer happy for the last two months, but I checked the stats and Wright's hit .352 for Buser with double digits in HR and SBs. Too close to call.
I needed saves desperately, and considering I'd plucked Maine off waivers only a few weeks earlier, I was pleased as punch to flip him for a closer. The fact that Maine's no longer pitching like he's the White Pedro makes me sleep even easier. (Which reminds me of one of the best lines from "THE SIMPSONS," like, ever, courtesy of Ralph Wiggum: "Oh boy, sleep! That's where I'm a Viking!")
A good ol' fashioned challenge trade. By that I mean a position-for-position swap, just like my trade with Funston way back in May. Except for the fact that the guys in our trade suck and these guys here can play.
I'm a Yankees fan, but I'm rooting for Mike Lowell no matter what uniform he wears, Red Sox or otherwise. Why? Back in April, an 18-year-old girl was killed in a car crash. Her favorite player was Mike Lowell. When he got word of her death, Lowell sent a signed jersey to her family and also promised he'd hit a home run for her that night. Which he did. And when the girl's family visited Fenway Park a few days later to meet Lowell and thank him and see a game, he homered again.
Neshek has fallen apart, but the Big Hurt's been steady as ever. My feeble revenge for the Abreu/Glaus deal. Take that, Behrens!
Behrens offered me Lee, too, but I couldn't pull the trigger. It's a month later and I'm still not sure I made the right decision. That's fakeball for you.
Even though I'm hard up for saves, Street's a big injury risk and he still hasn't reclaimed the full-time closer gig. Meanwhile, Penny's been solid but unspectacular. Which is another way of saying he's fitting in perfectly with the rest of my players.
Ok, that's a wrap. I made seven trades this season and by my count, I won four, lost one, and tied two. Not bad. Not bad at all. Especially for an Average Joe. Next column, I'll break down the Yahoo! Friends and Family League pennant race and tell you whether I think it'll be Behrens or Pianowski to claim the title. And whether I've got a chance in H-E-double-hockey-sticks to finish fourth, let alone third. Wish me luck.