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Charging the Mound: Literally Charging

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Erickson
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 8:21pm
To: Chris Liss
Subject: Charging the Mound - Literally

So this week has featured a rash of brushback pitches, plunkings and ultimately a brawl between the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks. These two teams have a pretty nasty history dating back to last year, so it didn't take much to light the fire. What's your take on that situation, or the one in Tampa between John Lackey and Matt Joyce, or the one in Pittsburgh this week? The silver lining for me was at least Miguel Montero avoided making one out when Zack Greinke hit him.

* The news that Cameron Maybin will be out at least six weeks with a torn PCL is devastating news to me. He had just gotten back from a lengthy stint on the DL, after first laying torch to my batting average in a couple of leagues. I missed out on the first of his four Coors Field games in two leagues due to various roster restrictions, plus you and I own him in our doomed Scoresheet team. In the NFBC, I have to cut him now after waiting so long for him to come back - those reserve spots are at a premium, and if he's out 10 weeks, there's no way he can make up the value of that spot. Oh, I suppose it's devastating to him and the Padres, too.

* Speaking of the Dodgers, it's about time that they displaced Brandon League as the closer and put in Kenley Jansen. Nearly everybody thought that the League signing was a bad deal, and it turns out nearly everybody was right. He's this year's Heath Bell - not even his contract could save him. So I asked this on Twitter on Monday night as he was blowing the save: What is Ned Colletti's worst contract as the Dodgers' GM? There are so many to choose from. Is it League? How about Andre Ethier's contract extension last year, one that they're so desperately trying to unload, or is it Jason Schmidt, as Jay Jaffe suggested? Or maybe it's Juan Uribe? How does he still have a job (Ned, not Jay)?

* Have you decided yet whether you're going for it or trying to build the super keeper squad for next year in the RotoWire Staff League? I made two big trades this week, which were just two of the whopping six that were made overall in the week. Because I went for it and won last year, my farm system this year was pretty depleted, but I picked up both Tony Cingrani and Robert Stephenson in this year's draft to replenish, and they were my two best minor league trade chits. I gave up Cingrani straight up for Max Scherzer (priced at $30 in his first year) in one deal, and then gave up Stephenson and a first-round pick for David Price (priced at $35 in his second year). I love the first trade, and am hopeful for the second deal - if Price comes back in July and returns to form, that could be a huge boost. Either way, I figure I keep one or the other next year but not both. Thoughts on the deal? Are you close to pulling the trigger on any trades there?

* You're drafting in your first fantasy football league of the season that counts (sort of) tonight in the FSTA league - any special strategies? Good luck, looking forward to seeing the results.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Liss
Sent: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 10:35pm
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Re: Charging the Mound - Literally

I like how the guys on the MLB Network - and certainly most people watching (including me) - love to see a brawl, but you know Bud Selig or whoever's in charge of policing things will condemn it as a terrible thing and say something needs to be done about it. I say more brawls would be good for the game. It's good for the viewer and great for creating rivalries. How much more intense is a playoff series where the two teams hate each other? Players should be like Magic and Bird where they hated each other and only became friends once they retired.

You have to drop Maybin now and maybe try to pick him up 2-3 weeks before he's due back. But you wonder how much he'll run now. I have both him and Curtis Granderson on my NFBC team, incidentally.

The thing that gets me about the clamor for Jansen closing over League is those same people complain about how useless the closer role is and how one's best pitcher should be used in the highest leverage situation regardless of what inning it is. So which is it? Should Jansen be the guy who comes in with men on base in the seventh, or in a tie game in the eighth, or should he close? Maybe neither League nor Jansen should be in that role.

I wanted to build the super dynasty but unfortunately our team is too good this year. We won't give up too many prospects, but one or two more pieces could do it. If your team is good - like yours - and you only have a couple prospects, it's an easy call to mortgage everything. And if your team is bad, and you have a couple valuable in-season guys, it's also easy to dump them for the future. But we'd hate to do too much damage to a team that should peak in 2014 or 2015 to try and win it this year. But we're close enough - and have a good enough team - that we have to try.

Incidentally, I liked both of your trades a lot. Elite prospect for elite starter, decent prospect for injured elite starter with upside.

We're 10 rounds into the FSTA draft - 14-team PPR. I picked 12th. Here's my team:

1.12 A.J Green
2.3 Dez Bryant
3.12 Lamar Miller
4.3 Montee Ball
5.12 Cecil Shorts
6.3 Andrew Luck
7.12 Giovani Bernard
8.3 LaMichael James
9.12 Antonio Gates
10.3 Rueben Randle

What do you think?

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Erickson
Sent: Friday, June 14, 2013 3:22am
To: Chris Liss
Subject: Re: Charging the Mound - Literally

Sure, there will be hand-wringing aplenty, but the suspensions will end up being pretty tame. Even Carlos Quentin received just eight games, far less than the smallest penalty you can get for any PED offense. I think if there's a clear transgressor, the penalty should be stiffer - people actually get hurt in these brawls. I sort of agree with the idea of teams hating each other, but some of the stuff that starts these flare-ups are pretty dumb. Then again, I've never been in a real, full-blown fist-fight in my life, so you can see where my bias is.

Next year, you'll have to make sure you don't have Version 2.0 of "The Plan." What a nightmare to lose Tulowitzki. Oh, and for the Rockies, too.

The stupid part of the League deal to me was less in naming him the closer than in giving him the contract anyhow. How many times do we have to see an ace reliever flame out after two hot seasons? League was never even that great anyhow - how does he get his deal, when Joel Peralta signed for $6 million over two years with the Rays roughly at the same time? And don't get me started again on Jonathan Broxton's deal, especially in light of today's debacle.

You're right about the leverage point, though. Sometimes the ninth is the highest leverage situation, but clearly not always. The thing is though, can you really give Don Mattingly pre-credit for using Jansen in the highest leverage situation possible before that change? I doubt it.

I like the football draft results of yours. You need a few things to go right at running back, but who doesn't? Love getting Andrew Luck in the sixth round of a 14-team league - man this is such a good year to wait on QBs. The Montee Ball pick already looks better one day later, following the Broncos' release of Willis McGahee. You pulled a reverse Rick-and-Glenn FSTA move, by having really good news the day after the draft.

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Liss
Sent: Saturday, June 15, 2013 3:25am
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Re: Charging the Mound - Literally

That team is still in fifth place, believe it or not, but it sucks to get Stanton back finally and promptly lose Tulowitzki. I'll make a prediction though: if Bryce Harper comes back in two weeks, Stephen Strasburg stays healthy going forward, Tulowitzki comes back at full strength in six weeks and Stanton stays healthy, I'll win that league. Keep in mind I've gotten nothing from Logan Morrison, Oscar Taveras, Billy Hamilton or Ike Davis yet, either, and I'm in fifth place.

As for the League deal, of course they named him the closer - why else would they give him that money? Broxton's deal was bad, too, and they also named him the closer before demoting him for Chapman. Set-up men (except for Rafael Soriano on the Yankees) never get that kind of money.

As for the draft, I feel good about it. When you go WR-WR in the first two rounds of a 14-team league, you know RB could be thin. But for some reason, Miller and Ball were still there - I don't think that would be the case by the time the NFFC rolls around. I wanted to wait even longer on a QB, but when Greg and Tom took Matt Ryan at the end of Round 5, and Charlie Wiegert took Colin Kaepernick with the second pick of Round 6, I knew I had to take Luck or miss out altogether by the time it came back to me. Sure enough, Russell Wilson, Tony Romo, Matt Stafford and RGIII all went before my next turn.