5.03.2005

FLB BLOG: Dissecting the Move

karabell_eric_m

George Steinbrenner is the greatest fantasy owner I have ever played with. I've been in a few leagues with George, and he's the sort of owner who always has an eye on the waiver wire, and is ruthless when it comes to trades. Why do I mention that? Because it seems like George's reign might have finally come to an end.

I'm in a head-to-head mixed league with George, and last night he made some drastic moves, the biggest being that he dropped Bernie Williams from his starting lineup to use in the DH slot — apparently he's going to occasionally platoon him with Jason Giambi. This isn't a bad move necessarily, as neither player is the fantasy stud that we once knew him to be. But the demotion of Bernie could hurt George in the long run. It's the classic "sell low" mistake. George would have been much smarter to wait for Bernie to get hot, and then deal him to some owner who thinks Bernie can play his five-tools like they were his six-string.

With Bernie teeing off on a host of fantasy duds in May — the schedule pits him against the cellar-dwellers — GEORGE STEINBRENNER'S WINNINGEST FANTASY BASEBALL TEAM (his team name) could easily engineer a swap for, say, a Brady Clark (No. 15 on the OF Player Rater) or even a Larry Walker (No. 62), the sorts of guys whose upside is worth taking a flier on.

The biggest error, however, is in moving Tony Womack to LF. Not only are there far better outfielders on waivers (Nook Logan, for example), but Womack is a useful fantasy player only at the relatively weak second base, where his stolen bases and batting average make him No. 22 on the 2B Player Rater. In the outfield? Folks, we're talking Rob Mackoviak (No. 100 on OF Player Rater) territory.

I don't know much about this kid Robinson Cano, except that the last young Yankee second baseman was Alfonso Soriano, who went in the second round of most ESPN fantasy drafts. Cano apparently won't steal many bases or hit for power, but people once said that about Barry Bonds, too. It's a risky move, especially with someone like human upside Jorge Cantu available in our league (and in yours, most likely), but most of George's moves in the past have paid off.

The biggest error of all is that GSWFBT is actually leading in all of the hitting categories; it's his pitching that's struggling, with a team ERA higher than Tristan Cockcroft can count. George would have been better off acquiring some starting pitchers, people like Vazquez (No. 46), Loiza (No. 44) or Lieber (No. 21), three readily available tossers who are lights-out so far this year.

I know you readers get annoyed when I write too much about my own league rather than broader fantasy trends, but it's important to take note when a surefire fantasy owner makes drastic moves, even if it doesn't directly affect your fantasy fate. A good owner keeps tabs on tendencies and is able to capitalize on hot and cold streaks, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Cano go from 0% owned in ESPN fantasy leagues to 60% overnight. Will he take you to fantasy glory? I don't know, but George sure seems to think so.

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