This article is part of our Salary Cap Chronicles series.
I often have this conversation with fellow players, but in a no-trade league like the NFBC, what exactly does one do with Tim Lincecum right now? I took him at the end of the round 3 in my live NFBC XII and while I did not have him in the top tier of SP's, I assumed he would provide a ton of K's and the ratio risk was minimal. Looking back, that was clearly an awful call and it is incredible how badly it hurts to have your SP anchor fail you badly in the ratios (not to mention my SP3 was Cory Luebke). It has a trickle-down effect, as it does not allow you to pick up some shakier two-start pitchers for wins and K's because your top guy is not anchoring the ratios. You have to keep starting him though, right? I am not sure how much of that is good solid thinking and how much is stubbornness, but assuming he is not hurt, no way am I going to miss the good starts after dealing with the bad ones. I am stuck with him through thick and thin I imagine, but I sure don't feel good about it as I watch fastball after fastball sail out of the zone. I loved that team after the draft and felt like Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista both getting to me at the 12/13 turn was a gift. Be careful what you wish for I guess, Adrian looks horrible
I often have this conversation with fellow players, but in a no-trade league like the NFBC, what exactly does one do with Tim Lincecum right now? I took him at the end of the round 3 in my live NFBC XII and while I did not have him in the top tier of SP's, I assumed he would provide a ton of K's and the ratio risk was minimal. Looking back, that was clearly an awful call and it is incredible how badly it hurts to have your SP anchor fail you badly in the ratios (not to mention my SP3 was Cory Luebke). It has a trickle-down effect, as it does not allow you to pick up some shakier two-start pitchers for wins and K's because your top guy is not anchoring the ratios. You have to keep starting him though, right? I am not sure how much of that is good solid thinking and how much is stubbornness, but assuming he is not hurt, no way am I going to miss the good starts after dealing with the bad ones. I am stuck with him through thick and thin I imagine, but I sure don't feel good about it as I watch fastball after fastball sail out of the zone. I loved that team after the draft and felt like Adrian Gonzalez and Jose Bautista both getting to me at the 12/13 turn was a gift. Be careful what you wish for I guess, Adrian looks horrible all around. Ugh, not a pleasant first quarter of the season.
Moving on to Head2Head, Week 7 has been a mix of good and bad so far. The Nationals pitching staff and Ryan Braun have been monsters, but Carlos Beltran has been hurt and Derek Jeter continues to slump. I have a decent sized lead on my opponent in my quest to move to 7-0, but I am sure I am slipping in the overall standings with my point output this week. Kelly Johnson, Edwin Encarnacion and Freddie Freeman have been very solid for their meager prices tags, but I have not done enough to take advantage of the savings they afforded and Matt Wieters has a nice round healthy zero for the week.
Looking at the schedule for Week 8 (as always, remember the Head2Head week goes Wed-Tues), there are definitely a lot fewer teams this week with a full slate of seven games. Among the teams with seven games, the Reds jump out with five homes games, as do the White Sox with five home games also. The Cardinals could also be an interesting play with seven games, but they are starting to look really beat up with Lance Berkman and Allen Craig out and Carlos Beltran a bit banged up. Of the teams with six games, the Rangers look solid with five of the six at home as does Toronto with a road trip to Texas. With not many of the big guys having seven this week, we might have a few more guys this week with six games in the lineup.
Catcher: Wieters has been healthy this week and has a grand total of zero points. Yes, zero. Wieters started off the season so well, but is in such a bad slump right now that his season average is now down to .243. His schedule is not bad at all, but it is probably time to jump off of him for a bit and let him work out of his slump. Catcher feels like a decent spot to save some cap this week as the three hottest guys in May (Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Lucroy and J.P. Arencibia) are all on the cheaper end. If you wanted to go on the high end this week, the clear play is Carlos Santana and his seven games. Carlos has not been huge so far this year, but he has still been solid and will be a nice play with seven games this week. After setting the rest of the team and having cap left over, I decided to play Santana over Ruiz.
First Base: This was another solid week for Freddie Freeman at his very affordable price tag. Freeman has seven games this week and I see no reason not to stick with him, except for the fact there are a couple of very nice cap savers available at 1B. Freeman does get Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg (if his arm is ok) this weekend, but the rest of the starters he faces do not worry me a lot. On the expensive end, it is hard not to love Joey Votto this week. He has warmed up considerably since his slow start and he has a seven game week facing a slew of weaker pitchers. He will be a flex option for me if I have the cap remaining. If you want to find a cap saver here, there are two excellent possibilities in Mark Trumbo and Adam Dunn. At only $6.1 million and $6.5 million respectively, they are both underpriced for their 2012 productivity. Both guys have seven games this week and provide two of the better cap saving players in the whole challenge. Even with Josh Hamilton's crazy 4-homer game explosion, would you believe he and Dunn are tied in homers for the month of May with nine each? Talk about under the radar. If I needed cap this week, Dunn would be a slam-dunk for me.
Second Base: The Kelly Johnson outside the box experiment has worked very well so far this week. He has earned his low price tag with 20 points through the first five games. With a couple of homes games to go with a weekend series in Texas and a lack of exciting 2B options this week, I am leaning towards leaving him in for his six game week. The other cheap option that could work well this week is Jason Kipnis with his seven games, but he has finally entered a bit of a cold streak after an excellent first five or six weeks of the season. I do not see a ton of great options at 2B this week, but Ian Kinsler with five of his six in Arlington is always an excellent option if you think he breaks out of his recent slump.
Third Base: Edwin Encarnacion has slumped a little bit, but he was still very solid at $6.8 million with 16 points so far this period. In Head2Head, his fluctuating BA will not hurt us as long as he keeps up the homers and even the surprise steals so far. At his tag, with a nice schedule this week, it seems pretty easy to just slot him in again this week. David Wright continues to mash and if you have the cap, he is an excellent play this week with seven games. Hanley Ramirez is also starting to come around and makes for an intriguing seven game option if you think he is close to back to his elite self. Of course, Miguel Cabrera is always an option with seven games, but he is very expensive and does get three games at Target Field this weekend. Aside from Ency, I do not see many cheap options I like, especially considering it is too risky to chance Will Middlebrooks with Kevin Youkilis expected back sometime this week.
Shortstop: It looks like I have ridden Derek Jeter's value into the ground. He had a second straight really bad week with only four points this week. Jeter is now cold and it is a good time to find another direction to go at SS for now. Of course, finding a replacement at SS is always tricky. The better plays this month have been JJ Hardy, Ian Desmond and Rafael Furcal. I decided to make the schedule play and go with Asdrubal Cabrera who is having an excellent month and has seven games this year. I never expected "Droobs" to match his 2011 breakout (especially the power), but he continues to be extremely solid. If you wanted to go expensive here, Jose Reyes with seven games could provide a lot of points in a seven game week. If you wanted to save some money here, the aforementioned Furcal is a great value in a seven game week (but I worry about STL this week with all the injuries) and Mike Aviles just keeps hitting for the Red Sox.
Outfield: Ryan Braun has been a monster this week and well worth the high price tag. Carlos Gonzalez and Giancarlo Stanton have been solid, but not great, and unfortunately Carlos Beltran has been banged up and missed time. Overall though, the outfield output for the week has been solid, but not fantastic. For my first OF, I am going to go cheap and play the electric Mike Trout for his seven-game week. He is on fire right now and his all-around-game should not be affected by Safeco as much as a pure power hitter. I tend to think the Bryce Harper call up helped Trout a lot as the spotlight has not been anywhere near him even though he is crushing Harper in terms of productivity. He better work since I am leaving cap on the table this week, I am taking him over more expensive options. At the second OF spot, I am going to play a six-gamer in Josh Hamilton. With five home games and five games against right handed pitching, I have to ride Hamilton while he is still healthy. With the third spot, I am leaving in Stanton for his seven-game week. I know the new Marlins stadium is huge, but Stanton is having a very good month and I don't doubt his ability to hit it out of anywhere. On the pricier end, some other OF I like this week are Hunter Pence, Matt Holliday (still concerned about the Cards offense this week though), Adam Jones and Jose Bautista. If you looking to save cap (besides on Trout), some solid options are Cameron Maybin (super cheap and out of Petco all week for seven games), Martin Prado (killing it in May and has seven games) and Alejandro de Aza (extremely cheap, seven games and has been very solid across the board).
Pitching Staff: Week 7 was yet another week of the Nationals stepping up nicely. They are at 57 points so far with Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann games left. The Nats will definitely be a consideration almost every week from here on out if their starters stay healthy. The price combined with their high level of strikeouts and low ERA makes them an exceptional option. With only six games this week and Edwin Jackson the two-start pitcher, and with Stephen Strasburg shaky to make his next start, I will have to find another pitching staff for the week. The Marlins present a nice opportunity this week with seven home games in their new gigantic park. You also get two starts each from Carlos Zambrano and Anibal Sanchez who have both been pitching very well. At only $18.7 and facing weaker offenses, they are definitely a strong play this week. The Mets do get four games against the Padres in their seven-game week, but they do not do enough for me as a staff to play them over the Marlins.
The expensive Phillies do get seven this week, but I think if I went expensive this week, I would prefer the Angels. The Angels get one in Oakland and four in Seattle with is an excellent five game run. They do face the Yankees for the final two, but they are at home and their two steps this week are from Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. They look like the best of the expensive options this week, even more than Detroit getting two from Justin Verlander. The Cardinals also get seven, but I still like the Angels schedule and 2 step starters more. In the other mid-range options, the Giants also have a seven game schedule, but with two starts from Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong, I think I like the Marlins more at a cheaper price and will go with them although the Angels are extremely tempting.
In summary, I ended up with this squad for Week 8:
Catcher: Carlos Santana ($9.2)
First Base: Freddie Freeman ($8.6)
Second Base: Kelly Johnson ($6.6)
Third Base: Edwin Encarnacion ($6.8)
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera ($8.7)
Outfield: Giancarlo Stanton ($9.7)
Outfield: Josh Hamilton ($10.9)
Outfield: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Joey Votto ($11.2)
Pitcher: Miami Marlins ($18.7)
Total: $97.4 (Hope leaving that much cap does not bite me).
Good luck to everyone in Week 8!