Collette Calls: Key Moves at Key Times

Collette Calls: Key Moves at Key Times

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

I usually whine about the All-Star break because it is now four full days without real baseball. The home run derby is cool and the mid-summer classic is hit and miss, but the two days after it just suck without baseball. What I do like about the break is I use the time to assess my fantasy teams and what I can do the rest of the season.

The teams I have in LABR and Tout Wars were deplorable and unsalvageable. All I could do in those leagues was to try to finish above the penalty threshold and that isn't going to happen in Tout Wars as too many injuries did that roster in. In my second year in a local AL League, I thought I had a decent shot at the money so did make some moves to try to get there, but eventually sold off assets once I realized I had hit my ceiling. My consolation prize in that league is that it appears I'll finish one spot out of the money, which will give me the first pick in the reserve part of the draft next year.

I did pick up a 12 team NL-Only keeper league this year and participated in an expansion draft to put together a team. The league champ has seemingly been in first place all season and nobody has had a decent shot at him for quite some time. At the break, second place was 31 points behind him and my team

I usually whine about the All-Star break because it is now four full days without real baseball. The home run derby is cool and the mid-summer classic is hit and miss, but the two days after it just suck without baseball. What I do like about the break is I use the time to assess my fantasy teams and what I can do the rest of the season.

The teams I have in LABR and Tout Wars were deplorable and unsalvageable. All I could do in those leagues was to try to finish above the penalty threshold and that isn't going to happen in Tout Wars as too many injuries did that roster in. In my second year in a local AL League, I thought I had a decent shot at the money so did make some moves to try to get there, but eventually sold off assets once I realized I had hit my ceiling. My consolation prize in that league is that it appears I'll finish one spot out of the money, which will give me the first pick in the reserve part of the draft next year.

I did pick up a 12 team NL-Only keeper league this year and participated in an expansion draft to put together a team. The league champ has seemingly been in first place all season and nobody has had a decent shot at him for quite some time. At the break, second place was 31 points behind him and my team was 6.5 points behind that team. When one team has such a huge league, that makes the middle of the pack rather tight so, though I was in seventh place, there was a decent shot at the second money slot, which pays out 25 percent of a league pot that is usually around $2,500 after the $200 entry fee and the $5 per trade per team fee.

I don't believe in the adage that nobody remembers who finishes second place. If you can make money in this hobby, you make money. I have seen owners go all Red Sox and win one season, tank it the next one, and then win it all again in the third season. I have also seen some teams consistently finish in the money but never win the league. There is no shame in either route and any year you can turn a profit in fantasy baseball is a good season.

That is the conundrum I had in mid-July: go for second place or try to build a team that could be really good for a couple seasons. I decided to chase the cash and thought you, the reader, could benefit from reading how I was able to transform a meddling roster into one that is hanging by a thread onto second place and a nice family weekend away somewhere in the mountains.

At the break, I had 74 overall points – 42 in hitting and 32 in pitching. The categorical breakdown was as such:

Offensively, there was some room for improvement in batting average and a little bit of room in home run, runs, and RBI. Pitching wise, there was clearly room to do something in saves and wins, but strikeouts and the ratios were pretty much settled. My roster at the break was:

Catchers: Cameron Rupp, Chris Stewart

Infield: Chris Carter, Chase Utley, Andres Blanco, Jean Segura, Jedd Gyorko, Daniel Murphy

Outfield: Derek Dietrich, Starling Marte, Yasiel Puig, Giancarlo Stanton, Rickie Weeks

Utility: Michael Bourn, Stephen Drew

Pitchers: Chase Anderson, Joe Blanton, Mauricio Cabrera, Junior Guerra, Daniel Hudson, John Lackey, Boone Logan, Seung Hwan Oh, Sergio Romo, Adam Warren

Bench: Dominic Smith, Dilson Herrera, Chad Kuhl, Jake Thompson

Injured: Hunter Pence, Alex Wood, David Peralta, Matt Harvey

Lost to NL Trade: Drew Pomeranz

The first move was made just before the break when I traded Ender Inciarte to acquire Chris Carter's power. I was very unlikely to go higher in steals so decided to go the power route hoping to catch Carter on one of his insane hot streaks he goes on. The next move was to pick up Brad Hand to replace Pomeranz. I needed strikeouts and Hand was the best option on the waiver wire and he has gotten the strikeouts as he is one of 10 relievers this season to get at least 100 strikeouts while working nearly every game out of the bullpen.

Every chase for cash involves selling off some future, and in my case I combined two future pieces moving Smith and Thompson in the same deal to the first place team for Matt Kemp and Wilmer Flores on Aug. 9. The presumptive champ was in such a comfortable lead that he was able to sell off final year pieces that early to get future pieces and did this with a number of teams. I had Peralta on a cheap deal through 2017, but also sent him packing on that same day for an expiring Gerardo Parra and Ivan Nova. Parra was acquired for his health at the time while Nova has long been one of my white whales as I refuse to give up on his upside. I was still in need of the strikeouts that I lost with Pomeranz, so adding him as a starter to replace one of the middle relievers I was carrying helped get more strikeouts.

Despite those moves, I found myself 8.5 points out of second place on Aug. 15, so I sold off a keepable Stanton to re-acquire Inciarte as well as land an expiring Yadier Molina and a recently-FAAB'd Matt Moore. I was still sitting eighth place in strikeouts and ninth place in wins, but there was room to jump two to three points in each category before the end of the season so adding Moore was crucial whereas the other two guys were plugging weak spots in my lineup.

One week later, I was still stuck in eighth place in strikeouts but was only 10 strikeouts behind sixth place. I was also in eighth place in wins at 59 but fourth place was at 62 wins so adding another starter versus chasing vulture wins was a must. I had to make another move to sell off some future trading Dilson Herrera, a guy I really like, for the final year of Julio Teheran. I then went after riskier strikeouts trading the recently re-acquired Inciarte along with John Lackey for Robbie Ray and Drew Hutchison. I had written about Ray's upside earlier this summer, but made this move thinking that I was doing well enough in ratios to absorb the hit. More on that later.

The one area I had not addressed in this reload was saves as I was in 11th place on Aug. 25 with 18. I made my final trade of the season before the Aug. 26 deadline by trading an unkeepable Starling Marte and Joe Blanton for Santiago Casilla. I already had Romo but it was Casilla getting the saves and he was the most available closer I could get a hold of.

Here, in the final days of the season, I am up to 90 points and am holding a very slim lead onto second place.

The 16-point improvement since the break was not from a huge jump in any one category as much as it was incremental improvement in multiple areas.

HITTING CATEGORIESDIFFERENCEPITCHING CATEGORIESDIFFERENCE
BA+2ERA0
HR+3K0
R-1S+3
RBI+2W+5
SB-1WHIP0

The gains in strikeouts and wins achieved by adding starting pitchers has not hurt my ratios, yet. Notice the very slim margins I hold in WHIP and ERA as we head into the final three games into the season. I was in second place in both ratios as September began, but my starting pitching has been horrendous in the final month. Compounding that issue was the blown save by Oh on Thursday night thanks to Randall Grichuk's fielding and the swinging bunt by Scott Schebler. That extra save would have given me a four-point lead over the team behind me in the overall standings as that team is one save ahead of me.

Flags fly forever, even runner-up flags. Even though the All-Star Break is actually past the halfway point of the season, it still is not too late to change your team's fortunes. Had I stood pat with the roster I had, it is unlikely I'm in second place because my roster at the break didn't have the pieces necessary to make the gains where they could be achieved. Nearly all of my improvement came in the trades because I did a rather terrible job with FAAB this year leaving $42 on the table as there was not much to spend it on and I made the mistake of holding onto money waiting for moves at the trade deadline. Happy final weekend of the season and while I'm not taking home any big trophies, I hope that happens for many of you this weekend. You've earned it!

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only MLB Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire MLB fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999, and here at Rotowire since 2011. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls,and was the 2023 AL LABR champion. Jason manages his social media presence at https://linktr.ee/jasoncollette
Four Clear Trends From EARTH ADP
Four Clear Trends From EARTH ADP
Spring Training Job Battles: AL Central
Spring Training Job Battles: AL Central
Five Starting Pitchers Who Are Confusing Projection Systems
Five Starting Pitchers Who Are Confusing Projection Systems
College Baseball Betting: Expert Picks for Sunday, February 25
College Baseball Betting: Expert Picks for Sunday, February 25