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MLB Barometer: The Dangers of Micromanaging

Howard Bender

Howard Bender

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. For more from him, you can find his personal musings on his blog RotobuzzGuy.com or follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy. For questions, thoughts or comments you can email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.


In the fantasy world, there's a fine line between due diligence and obsessive compulsion. While I highly recommend you spend some time every day reading up on the status of your fantasy team and the daily happenings in the world of Major League Baseball, you have to be very careful not to fall into the trap of severe micro-management. It's one thing to make lineup changes because a player is getting a day off or is facing a pitcher against whom he is hitless in 50 at-bats, but unless you're talking about a daily fantasy league game, sometimes you just have to let your guys do their thing and let the law of averages take over.
 
All too often, I have received emails from people who are poring over their league's waiver wire list, desperately searching for someone to replace their slumping hitter or pitcher. The problem is, the players whom they are looking to replace are quality performers who just happen to be struggling right now. Some slumps have lasted longer than others, but all are proven commodities. And the funny thing is that the slumps aren't even that severe. In fact, can you even call a three-game 1-for-12 a slump? I don't think so.
 
There are obviously a number of reasons where micro-management fails - the potential to miss a slumping star's breakout, the failure of a flavor-of-the-week player to consistently perform from one day to the next, and even the occasional "oops, I forgot to change my lineup this morning and the games all started early." But above all, micro-managing your team is simply going to drive you crazy. You're going to continuously over-think things, read way too much into news that might not even be accurate, make bad lineup choices and likely leave a whole lot more on the bench than you're going to get out of your active lineup. You're going to start obsessing over every little thing and from there, it only gets worse.
 
Suddenly the fun of playing fantasy baseball is gone. There's no more joy in watching games because you're constantly sweating your inane lineup choices and you're frustration level continues to grow. You spend so much of your time tinkering with your lineup that your significant other wants to throw you and your laptop out in the street.
 
And where does that leave you? All alone, homeless and probably in last place.
 
Perhaps that is taking it to the extreme, but you know what? So is dropping Matt Cain so you can stash Brandon Beachy.
 
Now let's see whose fantasy stock is rising and falling….

Heating Up

David Lough, OF KC - Truth be told, earlier in the week I was really looking forward to hyping Jarrod Dyson in this section, but the young speedster sprained his ankle trying to chase down a Mike Trout home run and landed on the DL. But while the names have changed and we're talking Lough instead of Dyson, the situation in Kansas City remains the same. Manager Ned Yost has finally had enough of Jeff Francoeur and his consistently nightmarish plate appearances and says that he is putting him on the bench until he has exhausted the rest of the bats. Lough is a 27-year old, left-handed bat with moderate power and moderate speed but with a big opportunity. He may not start every game this week, but he'll be in the lineup more often than not and should be hot enough at the beginning for you to use in your lineup on a short-term basis. You'll want Dyson in two weeks, but Lough should make for a solid place-holder.

Brandon McCarthy, SP ARI - The biggest knock on McCarthy has always been health, so when he moved to the NL during the offseason, there were plenty who lauded the move but added the injury caveat. Well, injuries haven't been the issue this year; it's been the adjustments to a new league. But now that he's learned to use his cutter and change-up more than his curve, things have started to turn around for the 29-year old right-hander. He's improved overall over his last four outings, thrown three consecutive quality starts and is sitting on a 2.15 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in May. He's inducing a lot more pop ups as batters are getting under the ball, and while that might increase his HR/FB rate a little, it's proving effective in the end-game. He gets the Padres next and then it's a tough return to the Ballpark at Arlington, but after that, he should fare very nicely so long as he sticks with what he's doing right now.

Daniel Murphy, 2B NYM - He's in the midst of a seven-game hit streak in which he is batting .500 (14-for-28) with one home run, four RBI, five runs scored and a stolen base. Might be about time to get off, right? Wrong. This wave should be ridden a little longer, at least through this week as Murphy faces a run of five right-handers, against whom he is batting .305 with three home runs and 13 RBI this year. In fact, for his career, he is hitting .297 with 21 home runs against the righties. Concerned about his .208 average at home thus far? Don't be. It's just a rough patch. He's batting .319 over his last 450 at-bats at Citi Field. 

Sean Doolittle, RP OAK - For those of you in roto leagues looking to fix some troublesome ERA and WHIP numbers, you may want to avoid streaming in the low-end starters and consider just putting Doolittle into your rotation for a little while. He hasn't allowed a run in his last 10 appearances and he's given up just three hits over that span which covers 9.1 innings. Included in that span also is a ratio of 10 strikeouts to no walks. There's always a hopeful chance that should something happen to Grant Balfour, Doolittle would get a chance to close, but for right now, you're just looking to improve your ratios and make a move north in those categories.

Michael Wacha, SP STL - This one is more about a little prep work and advanced scouting. With Jaime Garcia heading to Dr. James Andrews' office to have his shoulder evaluated, the Cardinals are going to need another starter soon. Their current in-house options in the majors (Joe Kelly, Carlos Martinez, Seth Maness) really aren't that appealing and the top two at Triple-A are Wacha and lefty Tyler Lyons, who has struggled over his last few starts. Wacha has looked strong here in his first season at Memphis, posting a 4-0 record with a 1.89 ERA and a 32:14 K:BB over 47.2 innings. The walks may seem a bit high, but if you look at his game log you'll see that he's cut them down over his last several starts. He could be a great short-term option right now as Jake Westbrook and possibly even Chris Carpenter could be back soon, but he's a name to keep on your radar for a while and could make several starts for the Cards throughout the year.

Cooling Down

Tony Cingrani, SP CIN - For those who thought Cingrani was here to stay, you have my deepest sympathies. I, too, was hoping, but Mike Leake apparently has some incriminating photos of Dusty Baker and was able to hold onto his rotation spot a little longer. But don't worry as Cingrani will return at some point this year. When is obviously up in the air, but it should happen. If you want to put a positive spin on the demotion, you could say that he'll get more of an opportunity to rest his shoulder and at least he's not being demoted because of poor performance. He goes back to Louisville with tremendous confidence and knows that he's just biding his time until another injury, or should Dusty come clean about the photos and take away Leake's leverage.

Ben Revere, OF PHI - Though his stock was never super-huge to begin with as he really only contributes in one category, Revere's .237 average and .286 OBP have landed him on the bench in Philadelphia, dropping that stock even further. The team is much happier to go with John Mayberry here and you can't really blame them, now can you? He'll get an opportunity to redeem himself every now and again, but at this point, you can consider him in a platoon situation, at best. He'll likely continue to see work as a pinch-runner which could actually help improve the rate at which he is stealing bases, but unless your league is crazy deep where you can afford to have someone like that in your lineup, he's not going to have much in the way of value.

Wade Miley, SP ARI - I suppose we'll know more about this Sunday based on how he fares against the Marlins, but Miley has struggled here in May and there are concerns popping up left and right. In three starts this month, we've seen a significant drop in his strikeout rate and K:BB ratio, an increase in both his fly ball rate and HR/FB and the rate at which opposing teams are hitting off of him is growing with each outing. There hasn't been any change in his velocity or pitch mix which indicates that hitters are simply figuring him out better thanks to seeing him more. He is going to need to start making some adjustments which could make things a bit uneasy over the next few starts and then we'll have a better idea of whether he's someone to trust for the long haul or someone just to stream.

Jake Odorizzi, SP TB - Not so much a cooling down, but more of a fair warning here. Rays manager Joe Maddon announced that the young right-hander would take all of David Price's missed starts and while it's tempting to use a promising rookie few people have seen, it doesn't look like a good week to use him. First off, his numbers in the minors really aren't that spectacular. A 3.83 ERA over eight Triple-A starts doesn't really give you that warm, fuzzy feeling, especially when your two-start week has you pitching in hitter-friendly Toronto against a right-handed dominant lineup (he has a 6.34 ERA vs. righties this season) and then coming back home to face the Yankees who are surging. Odorizzi has the potential to be a decent number three or four starter someday, but this does not look like the week to start trying him out.

Yuniesky Betancourt, 2B/SS MIL - I'm going to put my Captain Obvious cap on for this one as you seasoned fantasy vets can wrap up your reading and move along here. You know all about Yuni, don't you? But for you fantasy rookies out there, let's just be clear, what Betancourt had done over the first month of the season was beyond out-of-character for him. The fact that he is batting .150 for the month of May is a much better indicator of his talent level. Should people be trying to trade Betancourt to you, haphazardly shopping him as some power middle-infield option, don't fall for it. You could trade them a piece of gum from the bottom of your shoe and you'd still be giving up too much. And for the record, that's me being nice. Just stay away. Stay very far away.