Unread for 5/19

Hey Guys,

I watch the show every day and really need some advice on how to proceed here.  I’m in an 11 team Mixed 5×5 Roto league and through mismanagement and injuries find myself in last place.  My team is as follows:

C-Victor Martinez
1st-Derrick Lee
2nd-Kent (Kendrick when healthy)
SS-Jose Reyes
3rd-David Wright
OF1-Matt Holiday
OF2-Chris Young
OF3-Chris Duncan (Also have Jeff Francoer) DH-Chipper Jones (Also have Edwin Encarnation for when chipper gets hurt) SP1-James Shields SP2-Dustin McGowan SP3-Tedd Lilly SP4-Jair Jurgens  (Also have Wolf, Ducherecer, Hughes, and Hill on bench) RP1-Brandon Lyon RP2-Jon Rauch (Also have Brian Fuentes) Is this a last place team?  Do you see any glaring holes I need to fill? Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

Bill in Chicago

Hey Bill,

Roto leagues can be tough to make up ground in once you’ve dug yourself a hole. You noted that you are in last place, but I have to figure that your offense alone should be able to help you climb out of the cellar before the end of the season. Bill, you really need to take a deep breath and look at your offense. Holliday, Reyes and Wright are first-round picks in just about every fantasy league from New York to Chicago to L.A. and you have all three on your team.
Victor Martinez hasn’t hit a home run and he has only 15 ribbies, but he has averaged 21 homers and 99 RBIs the last four seasons. He will find his power while maintaining a .300-plus average. Derrek Lee is just fine at first base. Reyes, Wright and Holliday are your core and should not be traded unless a team offers you a collection of fabulous players and throws in the moon for good measure. Chris Young’s .254 batting average is hurting you, but his power/speed combination is dazzling. Don’t worry about his paltry three stolen bags. He swiped 27 last year to go with his 32 home runs, so you want that sort of statistical versatility on your team. I would play Francoeur over Chris Duncan at all times. You could do much, much worse than Frenchy as your third outfielder. He’s averaged 104 RBIs the past two years, and smacked 40 doubles in 2007 despite going deep just 19 times. Your overall team speed isn’t great, but Reyes, Wright, Young and Holliday (seven steals this year, an average of 12 the past three seasons) should keep you high enough in that category.

This lineup is already an impressive array of home run bombers and high-average hitters before you think about Chipper Jones as your utility guy. His .410 average will come down, but he was a .307 career hitter coming into the year, with a .331 average from 2006-07. His power (11 home runs) is legit and he will continue to be a major run producer (32 RBIs to this point) in a very productive Braves offense. Encarnacion is a great power option on the bench.

Your two second base options – Kent and Kendrick – are big injury liabilities, but they each have definite strengths (Kent and his power, Kendrick and his batting average) when they are healthy. This is the biggest weakness on your offense, but I don’t feel like you need to upgrade. The rest of your high-powered offense is good enough to cover up for the lack of overall production at second base. Scour the free agent wire and be prepared to drop Duncan if you need to pick up a second baseman if Kent and Kendrick are both out for an extended time. Duncan doesn’t need to be owned in an 11-team league, especially with the type of offense you have.
Your pitching depth is suspect, but Shields (45/14 K/BB ratio in 59 innings and 1.13 WHIP) is a good start. McGowan’s ERA (4.38) and WHIP (1.44) are a tad high compared to last year (4.08 and 1.22), but I would stick with him. We’re closing in on June but you can’t be so dismissive with younger players this early in the season. Many fantasy owners expect immediate rewards from younger players, but sometimes players take a little longer to get going than others. Jurrjens has been a surprise, but his 7.3 K/9 ratio is about in line with what he produced in the Minors. Ted Lilly’s 5.33 ERA makes him look like a candidate to be unloaded, but check out his 1.28 WHIP and 50/17 K/BB rate in 50 2/3 innings. You want that kind of strikeout production on your roster and he should be able to pick up double-digit wins with the Cubs offense supporting him.
Jon Rauch (10 saves, 19 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings) and Brandon Lyon (12 saves, 1.00 WHIP) are doing a fine job. Fuentes is alright, though he has value as long as he remains Colorado’s closer.
Bill, I suppose you could package Chipper and Francoeur for a top-of-the-line starter or trade David Wright for a couple of starters and plug in Encarnacion as your third baseman, but I don’t recommend it. I never like to trade elite hitting for elite pitching. I always worry about the injury risk of pitchers, as witnessed by the current health questions with Jake Peavy (elbow) and Roy Oswalt (hip). Your offense has the potential to be the best all-around in your league, so you might only need to be strong in a couple areas of pitching to secure a higher place in your league. I would focus on searching the waiver wire for starters who have good strikeout numbers. You can pick one up after dropping Duncan. Keep apprised of closer situations on ballclubs as well, since you might be able to pounce on a potential closer of another team before your leaguemates become aware. If you are still stuck toward the cellar in late June, then I would consider trading one of your big bats for a No. 1 starter. Hope this helps.

Kyle Stack, MLB.com


Thanks for the feedback Kyle. My strategy going in was load up on offense and high risk-high reward pitchers. My offense is 3rd, but I’m dead last in pitching. I drafted Gallardo, Hughes, Ian Kennedy….which all turned out to be busts. I’ll try to ride it out, but its really tough being in last place!

Also remember Jeff Kent is a traditional second half player so he may have his ups and downs early in the season but if he stays true to form he will be solid after the break.
Nate in Springfield

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