Home MLB Weekly Hit Ground Ball: Living in a fantasy world

Weekly Hit Ground Ball: Living in a fantasy world

by Matt Smith

WHGB11It’s two weeks from today that the 2016 MLB season will get underway and we’re starting to see managers using Spring Training games to get their opening series lineups set.

The same goes for many of us that play fantasy baseball.

Our BaseballGB league had its draft on Friday night, as recapped by Mark George. You always like to set a draft as close to Opening Day as possible so that there’s a bit more certainty on which players will be making teams. Having Easter fall on the weekend before the season starter makes that slightly trickier this year so, like many others, we’ll be keeping an eye on the MLB news over the next two weeks in the hope that key selections don’t have any last-minute accidents before the games get underway.

The BGB League is a 14-team, MLB-wide, Head-to-Head setup and Yahoo was quite kind to me in randomnly selecting me at #5 in the drafting sequence. Clayton Kershaw was there for me to select in the first round, but I’m always wary of going for a pitcher so early – even one of the class of Kershaw – and couldn’t look past the all-round package that Josh Donaldson provides at third base, so he was the first name on my team sheet.

My first dilemma came in the next round where the stolen base collector Dee Gordon was a tempting option, yet Buster Posey‘s consistency and ranking as the best catching option seemed too good to turn down.

There are always moments in a draft when you’re left watching 4 or 5 other people and hoping that they haven’t got designs on the player you want to take.

The first of these occasions came in the 9th round when I thought that Hanley Ramirez might fall into my lap. Now that the disastrous left-field experiment has been ended by Boston, I can see Ramirez having a bounceback year at the plate. He’s currently listed as an outfielder on Yahoo, yet I had designs on bagging him and then moving him to first base. Unfortuantely, no sooner had I double-checkd Yahoo’s rules on when a player obtains eligibilty at a different position than the Mighty Slugs proved none-too sluggish in nabbing in him three picks ahead of me. Brandon Belt wasn’t a bad second prize though.

The second occasion came in the 13th round and once again it was those dammned Slugs that foiled my plans. This one was especially painful because it concerned Addison Russell. As an A’s fan, it’s painful enough to see our former top prospect playing in a Cubs uniform, but at least I thought I could enjoy his first full season in the Majors with him picking up points as my fantasy second baseman. Alas, it seems destined that Russell will always be out of my reach.

I responded by taking a flyer on Dustin Pedroia regaining fitness and form. Apologies to Red Sox fans if I’ve jinxed him.

My one shaky selection came in the 12th round when I drafted Shelby Miller. It’s shaky because my hunch is that the D-Backs’ all-in gamble will backfire and, if it does, part of that is likely to be down to Miller failing to live up to his 2015 performance with the Braves. All things considered Miller looked like a good option at that point in the draft so I went against my hunch and added him. We’ll see how that one plays out.

The other starting pitcher conundrum came in the 17th round when I selected Andrew Cashner. I was very optimistic about Cashner’s prospects last year and drafted him in the 11th round, only for him and many other Padres to disappoint. One year on and I’ve decided to give him another chance. Whether it’s his impending fee agency at the end of this season that inspires him, or my show of faith, I’m hoping that he won’t let me down again.

All in all, I achieved my modest drafting objective of not completely stuffing myself up from the beginning. Looking at my roster, I’m aleady taken by the fact that there will be a whole host of teams that I’ll be keeping a keen eye on that I otherwise may not concentrate on so much. It doesn’t get in the way of my actual supporting interest in the A’s (Josh Reddick is my A’s fantasy pick this year, and I adhered to my ‘no Angels but Trout’ stance – top fantasy tip: don’t touch Jered Weaver with a smelly stick), but one of the great things about fantasy baseball is that it gives you a reason to care about games that have little meaning to your ‘real’ team.

Add it to the list of reasons to be excited about the coming season.

Other thoughts

There’s always a late injury before a fantasy draft to keep on top of and this year for the BGB league it was the Rays’ project closer Brad Boxberger, who faces at least eight weeks out following abdominal muscle surgery. Tampa Bay needs good health to compete against the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees this year (I’m underwhelmed by the Orioles’ prospects) and this isn’t a great start for them.

The Adam LaRoche retirement fiasco over the past week has been completely bizarre and the way executive vice president Kenny Williams has handled it all has shown a surprisingly poor lack of judgement for such an experienced member of the Front Office. The general idea of limiting La Roche’s 14-year-old son’s time in the clubhouse seemed reasonable enough; however confronting the first baseman about it half-way through Spring Training has needlessly caused a significant amount of discontent and aggravation.

There were already some doubts about the White Sox’s competitiveness this season and manager Robin Ventura‘s job security as a result. Irrespective of what actual impact this issue has, if they start slowly over the first 6-8 weeks then Ventura, General Manager Rick Hahn and the players will all be pointing the finger in the same direction.

Finally, don’t forget that Nat Coombs’ new All American Sports Show begins on Tuesday at 18.00 on talkSport2, taking place at the same time that the Rays take on the Cuban national team in a historic game in Havana (broadcast live on BTSport/ESPN) . The show will also be available as a podcast if you can’t catch it live.

You may also like

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.