Snagging pair of cheap Yanks

Hey
Guys, love the show.  I have a trade on the table of Robinson Cano and
Johnny Damon for Brian Fuentes, Adam LaRoche, and Corey Patterson.  I
would get Cano and Damon.  Is this a smart trade?

 

Matt
from Cincy

 

 

Matt,

 

This one’s
close…As bad as the Yankees’ offense has looked of late, I’d still do the deal
provided that you have depth at closer.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Yankee
fan, but I just cannot see Cano finishing the season in the same brutal way
that he’s started it.  Robby is still a very nice option at a shallow
position.  Expect a turnaround soon!  I’m a little more concerned
about Damon because he’s always banged up and is no longer an upper tier No. 2
fantasy outfielder.  But the recent news that Jason Giambi will likely
miss the rest of the season provides some hope for Damon owners.  With
Giambi out, Joe Torre plans on frequently using Damon at DH while playing Melky
Cabrera in center.  Not having to roam the outfield should help to
maximize both Johnny’s at bats and his health.  Patterson gives you more
steals, but Corey’s poor plate discipline will always prevent him from reaching
that next level.  LaRoche is a useful player who will have a tough time
ever duplicating last year’s numbers considering the lack of a supporting cast
in

Pittsburgh

.
Even though you’re taking a risk by completing this trade, the upside is
significant.

 

Zach
Steinhorn, MLB.com 

1 Comment

Great fantasy article in the NY Times magazine ‘PLAY’ this weekend. Enjoy!

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/sports/playmagazine/0603play-show.html?_r=1&oref=slogin&pagewanted=print

June 3, 2007

The Show

We Don’t Need No Stinking Baseball

By BRYAN CURTIS

Consider this the next time you’re tweaking your fantasy baseball lineup: you are part of an intellectual revolution. A minor revolution, perhaps, somewhat less ambitious than the call to arms described in “Moneyball,” but a revolution all the same. With every hour you spend “managing” your fantasy team, with every moment spent devouring the literary output of experts like Ron Shandler, the fabled publisher of Baseball Forecaster, or Matthew Berry, a writer otherwise known as “the Talented Mr. Roto,” with every soul fiber you sink into fantasy baseball, you move one step closer to becoming a postmodern baseball fan. Makes you feel better, no?

For three decades, fantasy baseball has been rightly called a despoiler of work and family life, with the only side benefit — if you can call it that — being an intimate familiarity with the backup catchers of the Milwaukee Brewers. But lately there seems to be a new elegance in the fantasy universe, a sort of native intelligence. As every baseball fan knows, fantasy has grown in both size — 15 to 18 million people are now estimated to play some kind of fantasy sport — and prestige. Open your local sports page and you are likely to find fantasy baseball treated with a reverence formerly reserved for “real” baseball. Instead of gazing at box scores, as they did in the 1980s, fans can go to Yahoo and ESPN.com for supercharged scoring. Fox has inserted fantasy statistics into its game-of-the-week broadcasts, and even crusty old Fenway Park puts the fantasy stat WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) on a scoreboard. In baseball’s fantasy era, we are beginning to see fans engaging in a metaphysical feat never thought possible: being a fan of fantasy baseball without being a fan of the game as it’s played on the field.

It sounds crazy. But younger fans are up to something rather sly. More and more, some of us are entering baseball through a side door. Steroids and other annoyances have made baseball too dreary to follow in its straightforward form. So fantasy baseball has become the preferred way to hold actual baseball at arm’s length, to enjoy the game without the Sturm und Drang emanating from the front office and the grand jury. There’s a wrongheaded notion that we are attracted to fantasy baseball because it reinforces all that we love about baseball. In fact, we play fantasy baseball because it shields us from all that we hate about it.

I am a wretched fantasy baseball player. My last experience came in a league created at Oxford years before by a group of five-tool intellectuals on Rhodes scholarships who had reconvened stateside. When the group lost a player, they offered me a spot. A less cocksure man would have begged out, but I figured that being a “sports” guy, rather than a “smart” guy, would give me a certain cultural advantage over the Oxford swells. I was out of contention by May. All that remains from that season is the fantasy player’s paranoia that every baseball event, no matter how minor, contains some deep significance. There are moments during the 2 a.m. “SportsCenter” when I find my brain slip-sliding between the worlds of fantasy baseball and real baseball like the hero of a Philip K. **** novel. Placido Polanco whiffs and I wonder, Why am I so upset?

The man most responsible is, of course, Daniel Okrent, a writer, editor and former public editor of The New York Times and, despite those vocations, one of the saner guys you’ll ever meet. In 1980, Okrent and 10 friends founded Rotisserie League Baseball, a game that allowed amateur general managers to draft a team of major league regulars and compete in eight statistical categories. (The categories have, of course, caused all sorts of controversy among statheads.) At season’s end, all but a few players — the so-called “keepers” — were released back into the pool for the next year’s draft, so that fantasy delivered what baseball never really did: a fresh start. Several of Rotisserie’s founding partners were media people, and during the 1981 players’ strike, sportswriters in desperate need of material began spreading the gospel of fantasy baseball. Okrent became a kind of yogi to the fantasy set. One afternoon, he spotted a mysterious stranger tailing him in the concourse at Yankee Stadium. “He followed me right into the restroom,” Okrent told me recently. “And then he started telling me about his team, about the trade he didn’t make.”

He was a prophet, that discombobulated stranger. Because what Okrent and his comrades could not foresee was how their creation would smack up against the zeitgeist like a Roger Clemens fastball thwacking a batter’s helmet. Fantasy baseball took hold just as baseball was entering a particularly gloomy period: two labor stoppages and a canceled World Series; rumors of juiced balls and steroids; a competitive imbalance between the large- and small-market teams; a continuous slippage in popularity versus professional football; and frequent intrusions by pariahs like Pete Rose, Marge Schott and Barry Bonds. Being a fan meant opening the morning newspaper to the latest bad news, a dreary buffet that The New Yorker’s Roger Angell once compared to “a dog’s breakfast.”

Had it appeared in happier times, fantasy baseball might have been mere entertainment like Strat-O-Matic Baseball. But over three decades, it has evolved to become a kind of psychological alternative to baseball, a full-fledged fantasy realm. In fantasy baseball, no one is held hostage by the whims and follies of the Lords of Baseball, as the sportswriter **** Young used to call them, or the indiscretions of the players. You have the feeling of Steinbrenner-like control over the lineups, the rules, even the personnel of the league. If the pose of baseball fans has long been the helpless crouch, the alternate universe of fantasy baseball offers fans an illusory sense of empowerment.

Indeed, part of what makes fantasy so pleasurable is that it has taken the reptilian behavior of the owners and the commissioner and transferred it to the fan. If knucklehead owners like the Florida Marlins’ Jeffrey Loria want to offload key players every season, then the fantasy owner will do them one better, shedding all but a few keepers. If Major League Baseball maintains a caste system between the rich and poor teams, then fantasy players will simply pluck the best players from both. Bud Selig’s rueful ignorance of the human growth hormone coursing through the game is exceeded only by the fantasy player’s. In fantasy baseball, even Barry Bonds becomes an uncomplicated slugger, because in fantasy there is no such thing as a tainted record.

But what you see in the fantasy class is not blissful ignorance so much as a new hardheadedness, a sense that baseball is something to manipulate rather than be manipulated by. In 2004, Donald Levy, an intrepid sociologist at West Virginia Wesleyan College, went spelunking into the subconscious of nearly 1,200 fantasy baseball players. He found that they resembled the BlackBerry warriors in the box seats: 98 percent male, 94 percent white and 69 percent college-educated, with an average income of $90,000 per year. “The people in the fantasy world have been fighting this perception that they’re some geek in their parents’ basement still wearing a Little League uniform,” Levy told me. “This isn’t true. The most ardent fantasy participant is a professional.” These white-collar types, Levy said, preferred the label “owners,” to signify the control they had come to enjoy over the game.

Fantasy owners who packed their lineups with beloved favorites (I love you, Manny!) were deemed ineffectual, even effeminate. “A poor fantasy owner will be described in gendered terms,” Levy said. “He played like a woman, he let his emotions control him. He allowed his inner fan to make the decisions.” In other words, the fantasy fan had evolved to the point where his sloppy, emotional connection to baseball — the kind exalted by “Field of Dreams” — had been replaced by an icy, businesslike connection, a toughness that could deal with whatever new horror baseball dished out. One lifelong St. Louis Cardinals fan told Levy he became so fed up with his home team that he switched to fantasy baseball in middle age. “The Cardinals don’t care about me, so why should I care about them?” the fan said. “I have 23 disparate humans on my fantasy team, and that’s the team I’m loyal to now.” It’s the logical endpoint of the revolution: detachment from Major League Baseball and total devotion to the fantasy world.

Try as I might, I can’t go quite that far. But as someone suspicious of the soft-focus side of sports, I salute this newfound emotional distance. Baseball has for too long preyed on our affections. So whereas fantasy football merely mimics the soulless culture of the N.F.L. and where fantasy Nascar — which really exists — does not upset the delicate scene at Talladega, the ruthlessness inspired by fantasy baseball packs more of a psychological wallop. In his memoir, “Fantasyland,” Sam Walker suggests that the fans most eager to embrace baseball after the 1994 players’ strike were fantasy players, since they had nothing to forgive baseball for.

It is only too perfect that fantasy has raised the hackles of Major League Baseball, which does not like intellectual movements that don’t come emblazoned with a New Era logo. In 2005, the league attempted to seize fantasy baseball from the outlaw zone. The league paid $50 million to the players’ union for the rights to market the players’ names and statistics together and then sued a fantasy provider called CBC Distribution and Marketing. As one of the league’s lawyers explained, CBC was “marketing the ability to buy, sell, draft and cut Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols. And part and parcel of the reason that people are willing to pay for that ability is the persona of Jeter, of Rodriguez, of Pujols.” An unimpressed judge threw out the suit, ruling that raw statistics could not be copyrighted. And fantasy players continued to draft and swap Jeter and Pujols.

Baseball fans have long been depicted as put-upon, miserable creatures, and sportswriters (generally the ones doing the depicting) wondered what would happen when baseball had exhausted their patience. Would they abandon the game in droves? Throw down their Dodger Dogs and unite? What baseball fans did, in fact, was perform an end run around the Lords of Baseball and devise a way to interact with the game that did not depend on them for enjoyment. A decade from now, fans may switch to video games or some new technology, but for now, when baseball becomes too much to bear, they play fantasy baseball. How’s that for a revolution in fandom? Now back to your lineups. .

Bryan Curtis is a contributing writer to Play. He lives in New York City.

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