Friends and Family Matters

Brad Penny, I had you wrong.

All this time I thought you were just another hefty right-handed pitcher with a low strikeout rate and a history of attractive girlfriends. But no, it turns out you are also a genius.

After allowing a combined 20 hits and eight earned runs in your previous two starts, you found a creative way to turn around your string of bad luck. Or so it reads on the News & Notes page of your player profile: "Glenn Rabney, of, reports Los Angeles Dodgers SP Brad Penny will pitch Wednesday, April 16, against the Pittsburgh Steelers."

Pitch against the Steelers, eh? I guess that's one way to lower an ERA. Regardless of what critics might say, my fantasy team in the Yahoo! Friends & Family League appreciates the tactic. In part due to those 5 2/3 scoreless innings of five-hit ball against the … Steelers, and with help from a Carlos Zambrano gem earlier in the day, my fantasy team vaulted from sixth place to first after the completion of Wednesday play.

And now, with my team sitting atop the league standings, I am ready to let other people manage it. But let's not talk about that just yet. It's time for introductions.

I am Michael Gehlken, and I will be rotating with Craig Falzone this season as the Friends & Family League scribe. I will write about the league all year in a semi-weekly column series, and in it I will analyze/comment/complain about what goes on in the expert league, which I, in all honesty, have no business being a part of.

See, I'm the "Average Joe." I'm your everyday person who thinks he is good enough at fantasy sports to compete in expert leagues. Now that I'm in those leagues, it's time to put up or shut up. Last football season, I failed miserably. Last basketball season, I fared better. This baseball season, I have my eyes set on a top-three finish and a key to the Yahoo! trophy case.

If I'm going to get it, I'll need your help. Seeing how I am just your everyday non-expert who plays fantasy sports, I find it fitting that I don't go into this alone. It is a world of Average Joes, and it is about time we unite.

All season I will be listening to anyone who wants a say in the Friends & Family League. If you think I should adjust my starting lineup, tell me why. If you think there is a player I should add or if you think there is a trade proposal I should offer, explain to me your rationale.

If I take or seriously consider your well-developed piece of advice, I'll place it in my next column with your name and city attached. This season we're all in this together.

To catch everyone up to speed on how our team has done so far, we had a bad draft. It was my fault. There were some picks I knew were bad the second after I made them, and if I could take them back, I would.

We're moving on, though. There's a lot to be optimistic about since then, as the league standings would suggest. For one, we have top waiver priority, which I think we should preserve for somebody special (think: Johnny Cueto, Part II). I have also made some waiver transactions I feel good about. Shortly after the draft, I added Jose Lopez, who is currently the fifth-best second baseman so far. In the early days of the season, I added Mark Reynolds (before he broke out) and Jeff Keppinger (after he broke out).

Most recently, I made a trade that makes a lot of sense for our team. Upon Evan Longoria's call-up, we were suddenly stacked at the corner infield spots with five very startable options: David Ortiz, Justin Morneau, Aramis Ramirez, Longoria and Reynolds. However, in this league's format, there is a maximum of four corner infielders that can be started at the same time (1B, 3B, CI, UTIL). To maximize the use of our studs, I had to trade one of them. After trying incessantly to sell on Reynolds, who no one is willing to give value for right now, I swapped Aramis for Manny Ramirez.

As it happens, the timing for this trade works out perfectly. In what might be the weirdest DL trip in Chicago since Sammy Sosa sneezed, Alfonso Soriano is out of service after straining his calf from the habitual hop he makes before catching fly balls. With Ramirez coming in at OF, we should be able to stay afloat offensively. To cope with loss of Soriano's speed, I dropped Austin Kearns for Skip Schumaker.

Alas, you are now all caught up. Take a look at our team. Browse it over. Let me know what you think. I don't know if there any adds or trades we should be making right now, but if you do, I'm all ears. I will be all season.

Let's win this league.

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