Monday, June 22, 2009

Maybe and No

The initial intent was to get content up every single day, but baseball season has, and undoubtedly, football season will also bring into focus the point that something interesting isn't happening every single day.

A 12-team basketball league generally has 10-11 teams with severe injury concerns, or at the very least looking for a solution at the center position. Thus, every night a new player may become worthwhile -- Brendan Haywood coming off the disabled list, a 2nd year stud starts to see consistent playing time. One tiny change can make all the difference for a player's fantasy value.

Such is not the case for baseball. Even when a player...scratch that...even when a good player gets a boost in starts, or works his way into the rotation, there's no guarantee he'll be worth picking up. So, as we near Summer, the July heat and the "dog days" and what-have-you, it's important to remember that the early-season wheeling-and-dealing is probably over, and it's time to exercise some patience.

Now is the time to grab sure bets, but it really takes a great deal of work to make sure you're on the right track. Watch pitchers closely, don't jump on a particular player's bandwagon because of one good game. Most likely, you've already got 90-95% of a fantasy team accounted for, so you may be dropping a better player than what you'd be picking up.

There's your lesson of the day. Now, a couple names to ponder, both good and bad.

JEREMY GUTHRIE - Guthrie has been a relatively slow starter throughout his brief career, but this year has featured a surplus of stink. Guthrie worked his way on and off of rosters in just about every fantasy league, with owners hoping that each decent start was a sign of things to come. So far, they haven't been. It's not entirely clear what's going wrong -- maybe hitters have finally figured him out. Guthrie has good stuff, though, and it seems like if he can spot his pitches, he could still salvage the season. The Orioles are hitting the ball a tad better, just finishing up pounding on the Phillies for a few nights (why the Phils are so awful at home is a discussion for another day, and maybe another person -- that one is just nuts). So, can Guthrie start pitching like he did in 07 and 08? I'm not sure. Last night was arguably his best start of the year, going 7.0 innings and allowing just a run on 3 hits. It was his second 7-inning, 1-run performance of the year, the other coming against a slumping Blue Jays team roughly one month ago. The key for Guthrie seems to be keeping the ball in the yard. He has allowed a ridiculous 17 home runs so far this season, and even the 1-run he allowed last night came on a solo shot by Greg Dobbs. Maybe the answer is to start Guthrie in large ballparks. Maybe the answer is to stash him on your bench for 5 days and see if he can't string two decent starts together.

GARRETT ATKINS - Now the bad news. I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong, and I honestly believed that Atkins couldn't tank this hard for an entire season. First, a benching, then a platooning, now he's just out of the lineup. Ian Stewart is the starting 3B in Colorado on a Rockies team that's suddenly destroying all competition. No reason to think new manager Jim Tracy is going to hand the corner back to Atkins with his team playing this well. If you're one of the unlucky saps with Atkins (I'm wearing the burgundy "sap" sash, Atkins is on my head-to-head league team), it may be time to cut the cord. I see no light at the end of this dark time, unless somehow the Rockies can trade him. At the very least, get him at the splintery end of your bench, and put someone in that's actually playing. My apologies, once again, on this mis-read.

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