The official unofficial halfway point to the season allows us to take a step back and examine the first half choices made by both players and fantasy managers alike. We all receive a respite from the daily grind of adjusting lineups and pitching rotations to watch a muted broadcast of Yoenis Cespedes hitting the tar off the ball and fall asleep to some resemblance of a softball game. If you didn't catch him the first time, watch the slow motion replays of Bryce Harper's dingers. His swing is so explosive that his back foot is substantially off the ground virtually every time at the point of contact. Did you know that? Now you know!
The short break allows for another exercise: mercilessly tearing into one another's fantasy teams. I'll be delving into the Craig Counsell League, as it's the one I am a part of and can hopefully shed some light on the questionable decision making of others. You (yes, you) can follow this link right here to examine the official league standings and current rosters. As I'm sure you won't, I will be going into detail on each roster, breaking down key transactions and what direction the team is headed in. Though you should check the league out yourself. You can read and write all you want about the different types of pizza and beer, but you're never really going to know what they actually taste like unless you try some yourself. In this metaphor, there are no bad pizzas or beers. Except Noah's team.
|Jeffrey Loria's Trust Fund||88||47||15||Rendezvous|
|THE CarGos||74||62||14||Unknown (N/A)|
|Joey Votto Junior Shabadoo||72||69||9||Cheeseandcorn|
|Are you Segurabout that||68||75||7||Noah Jarosh|
|Medicine Hat Gamels||74||62||14||aaronetc|
|Poopy Pants Tomatonose||71||64||15||Unknown (N/A)|
|The Betancourt Advantage||65||78||7||roguejim|
|Fight Fiers With Fiers||58||80||12||Lukayyy|
|Dale Sveum's Nipple Slips||52||89||9||nullacct|
Here, you can see the where we are currently sitting in the standings. I tried to pull as many as the user names as I could, but please feel free to let me know if you can fill in the blanks or make a correction with regards to team ownership. There's a pretty sizable inequality in regards to the wins per division, as three of the non-leaders in the East would be leading or be tied for the Western crown. Luckily, I can toss scraps down to the bourgeois and watch them duke it out for the (2) and (3) seeds while Noah wishes he could be a part of the Western bloodbath. Overall, I'd like to thank everyone for such a commendable job and offer praise to those who are finally starting to tear apart my Watch List. Now stop. On to the team evaluations!
Jeffrey Loria's Trust Fund
Key Transactions - +Ervin Santana, +-Adam Dunn, TRADE Buster Posey, Sterling Marte, and Justin Masterson for Brett Gardner, Tim Lincecum, and Chris Sale, TRADE Brandon Crawford, Jason Heyward, and Jon Lester for Nick Franklin, Alejandro De Aza, and Zack Greinke, +Leonys Martin, +Matt Wieters
Late round draft gems of Justin Masterson, Sterling Marte, and Matt Joyce quickly propelled the team into strong contention after a fairly slow start from the collective whole. I was lucky to get Dunn back before he went on his first power surge in mid-May. I'll make the second trade every time, with Heyward struggling and Crawford and Lester playing at replacement level talent. I've got a man crush on Nick Franklin and De Aza and Greinke more than make up for Heyward's potential. If my hitting led by McCutchen and Beltran can tread water, the staff of Sale, Wainwright, Minor, Lincecum, Greinke, Santana, Shields, Cobb, and Cueto (plus four entrenched closers) can maintain my lead at the top of all pitching catagories. Except for Wins. I'm coming for you, Cheeseandcorn.
To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I pulled the trigger on the first deal initially. With Carlos Santana on board, I deemed it appropriate to deal Posey for top pitching, though I don't think I received as high of a return as I could have. I just wanted an easier way to keep tabs on Lincecum (my favorite player), and it was as simple as that. Let that be a lesson; don't let emotion towards a certain player dictate the direction of a blockbuster trade. And kids, that is how I picked up Tim Lincecum before he threw a no-hitter. No, he's not the mother. Yes, I do want to go to In-N-Out Burger with him and get a stack of 4x4s.
Overall, Of Counsell scores an overall standings score only a position and a half below me. Employing the waiver wire closer strategy, he's fond some usable pieces but not enough to get the save numbers into the top tier. Matt Harvey and Madison Bumgarner can only do so much against a disappointing year from Gallardo and the hit and miss method of streaming pitchers. The offense should remain fairly productive though, as solid but unspectacular veterans like Ian Kinsler and Jimmy Rollins are helped by youngsters Mike Trout and Yoenis Cespedes. A resurgent campaign is welcome from Big Papi, but Curtis Granderson is seemingly light years away from the best years of his career.
Look at that, an identical overall score. That would explain the similarities in the standings. hebrewer has remained relatively quiet, processing only a limited number of transactions. However, the offense needs no help, as he's receiving strong seasons from Jonathan Lucroy, Paul Goldschmidt, Robinson Cano, Freddie Freeman, and breakout seasons from Jean Segura, Domonic Brown, and Bryce Harper. The pitching staff will benefit from the return of David Price, but there will need to be some upgrades if the team hopes to contend. Rafael Betancourt and David Hernandez can provide in the way of saves, but it is not entirely clear where or how the starting staff can be upgraded. Just don't go all Herb Kohl and ram mediocrity down your team's throat.
A small separation in the standings! THE CarGos are propped up by some strong offensive showings from Edwin Encarnacion, David Wright, Ian Desmond, Carlos Gonzalez, and Hunter Pence. The pitching staff, on the other hand, leaves a lot to be desired. Behind Max Scherzer, Craig Kimbrel, and Kenly Jansen, there’s not a whole lot to show. Sure, Mike Leake and Eric Stults can be serviceable arms in a fantasy rotation, but do you really want them to be your #2 and #3 starters? Any trailing off from any of the handful of overachievers on the offensive side of the ball will cause some serious damage to this team’s playoff aspirations, creating a potential opportunity for Votto Shama Lama Ding Dong and Noah (like that’s going to happen) to move up in the standings. The decisions to drop Kendrys Morales and Matt Wieters especially puzzle me, even more so that the latter was dropped for Miguel Montero. That being said, if you’re really confident your team can maintain success and play the waiver wire well, and want to part with some of your runs, dingers, or RBIs for pitching, you know where to find me.
Joey Votto Junior Shabadoo
Discrepancy alert! As evidenced by the average standing in each category, Votto’s overall place in the schedule is a little deceiving. With no real weaknesses, outside of stolen bases, each category standing is in the top half or at the top of the league. Votto, Chase Utley, Pedro Alvarez, Jay Bruce, Shin-Soo Choo, Colby Rasmus, and Michael Cuddyer set a great example of how to assemble the offensive side of a team. The pitching staff, led by Stephen Strasburg, while not entirely comprised of big names, gets the job done. A breakout season by Jose Fernandez, continuity from Jeff Samardzija and Kyle Lohse, and career revivals by John Lackey and Bartolo Colon allow Votto to succeed. With three established closers in place, there is no reason to believe success will not continue, unless Biogenesis potentially takes down more than Colon or regression comes in hard in fast. Cole would ideally counteract some of that as his rookie season continues to progress. As it stands now, this is one team I would not envy facing in a playoff scenario. Much unlike Noah’s team.
Are you Segurabout that
Key Transactions – TRADE Chris Sale for Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, and Jason Vargas, -Jhonny Peralta, TRADE Matt Carpenter and Jim Johnson for Adrian Beltre and Matt Garza, TRADE Victor Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Cameron Maybin for Jesus Montero, Matt Holliday, Chris Davis, and Dustin Ackley, -Mitch Moreland, +Evan Gattis, TRADE Fernando Rodney and Jurickson Profar for Derek Holland, +Chris Tillman, +Julio Teheran, +Zach Wheeler
I kept trying to find his roster, but the 404 Error; Good Fantasy Team Not Found kept popping up when I clicked on his team name. Noah got his wheeling and dealing out of the way early, raising a few eyebrows in the process. At this point, first trade is arguably Sale for Andrus straight up. Even including the potential boom (at the time) of Profar, I’m not so sure if I would make that deal. The second is interesting, as on the surface, it looks like a huge steal, getting Beltre on the cheap. However, Carpenter has scored a ton of runs and hit for average, evening it out just a little bit. Noah came out like gangbusters in the third deal, landing a very productive Matt Holliday and runner-up MVP candidate in Chris Davis for, to this point, a disappointing Stanton. V-Mart is starting to put up some numbers again though. Holland was a nice pickup with the excess saves. The pitching acquistions through free agency have also been useful.
The offense has been productive, getting a ton of production from the outfield slots and Kyle Seager at third. However, with limited stolen bases and a low average, all that production can only typically win a maximum of 3/5 categories per series. Not a terrible thing, but it does have its downsides. The pitching follows the same theme. The aces of Justin Verlander, Gio Gonzalez, and Shelby Miller can carry a staff by themselves, but they’re being bogged down by the quantity vs. quality approach. With no bench on offense, the likes of Josh Johnson, Edwin Jackson, and Zack Wheeler get to be thrown out on a consistent basis. Not bad players, certainly serviceable, but they really bring down the team ERA and WHIP when they get lit up. It’s difficult to know what to do with this rotation, as they have positive overall value, but they’re not helping the team much. All in all, this is literally the worst team on the face of the earth, everyone is dumber for having seen it, and may God have mercy on his soul.
Medicine Hat Gamels
Key Transactions – -Rajai Davis, -Steve Cishek, +Josh Donaldson, TRADE Josh Hamilton, Aaron Hill, Jose Reyes, and Zack Greinke for Albert Pujols, Travis Hafner, and Tony Cingrani, +-Francisco Liriano, +Francisco Rodriguez, +- Leonys Martin, +Rickie Weeks, -Jake Peavy, TRADE Josh Donaldson for Yasiel Puig and Tommy Milone, +Jeremy Hellickson
The leader in the West, the Medicine Hat Gamels have built a small, but decent lead over the fellow members. There have been some misses on the waiver wire, but overall, the Gamels have done a nice job circulating in new talent when needed. Josh Donaldson was picked up literally seconds before I was about to pluck him off my watch list, a nice value that was turned into Puig and Milone - we'll see how that one progresses. The larger initial blockbuster was probably doomed from the start, with Hamilton and Pujols canceling each other out, for all extensive purposes, and thus hanging Hill, Reyes, and Greinke out to dry for practically nothing. Cingrani is a useful piece, but his role is not entirely defined and not worth that price tag.
Without Miguel Cabrera, the offense would probably be struggling a little more. However, even Miggy and Yadier Molina can't save the team batting average from the standings cellar. A rotation of roster additions to keep replacement level players where they belong can help the team maintain its position atop the West. Saves and wins won't be a problem moving forward, but the strikeouts might take a hit and ERA and WHIP certainly aren't on the upswing. However, similar to the offense, smart free agent decisions can continue to help out here - both picking up the right players and not letting go of players too early.
Poopy Pants Tomatonose
Key Transactions – +Daniel Nava, -Adam LaRoche, +Nate McLouth, +Jose Veras, +Scott Feldman, +Steve Cishek
If I ever really wanted to hear about the origins of a fantasy team name, this would probably be it. Seriously, what is going on there. Despite being only a few games out of first in the division, Feces Trousers Peppersnout hasn't made a roster addition since June 3rd, with a few players to be DL managed and some that probably shouldn't be on a roster. Just a few tweaks could propel this team and overtake the Gamels, with strong standing in the non-cumulative stats. Exchanging some non-closer relievers for starters capable of putting up a few wins and strikeouts rectifies that situation almost immediately. Getting Pablo Sandoval and Wil Myers off the bench would probably help too. If you fix it, they will win. Maybe.
The Betancourt Advantage
Key Transactions – +-Kevin Gregg, -Norichika Aoki, TRADE Albert Pujols, Travis Hafner, and Tony Cingrani, for Josh Hamilton, Aaron Hill, Jose Reyes, and Zack Greinke, -Alexei Ramirez, TRADE Derek Holland for Jurickson Profar and Fernando Rodney, +Nick Franklin, +Rajai Davis, +Yasiel Puig, +Adam Lind, TRADE Yasiel Puig and Tommy Milone for Josh Donaldson, +Jeremy Hefner, TRADE Nick Franklin, Alejandro De Aza, and Zack Greinke for Brandon Crawford, Jason Heyward, and Jon Lester, +Tony Cingrani
The Betancourt Advantage is making a strong effort to win the number of moves made crown. There have been some wins and some losses; letting go of Aoki and Ramirez were probably mistakes, but the quick draw on Franklin, Davis, Puig, and Lind probably saved the season. I've already covered these trades and would again classify them as a big win, small loss but useful, small win (Let's see how Puig continues), and small loss as it stands now (Heyward's your problem now).
Because of the relative weakness of the West and the drop off in team talent, Betancourt is probably in no danger of missing the playoffs. In fact, with Jose Reyes now back, and with any small improvement from the other guys/rosterbating, the offense could do some serious standing climbing. The real direction of the team probably lies with the pitching staff. If Jered Weaver can continue making strides and Jon Lester can get his ERA and WHIP down, all four pitching categories in the middle of the standings would improve substantially. However, we all know what happens on the flip side of the coin. Converting one of the bench offensive players to an additional pitcher probably wouldn't hurt either.
Fight Fiers with Fiers
Key Transactions – TRADE Elvis Andrus, Jurickson Profar, and Jason Vargas for Chris Sale, TRADE Adrian Beltre and Matt Garza for Matt Carpenter and Jim Johnson, TRADE Jesus Montero, Matt Holliday, Chris Davis, and Dustin Ackley for Victor Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, and Cameron Maybin , +Tim Lincecum, +-Julio Teheran, +- Francisco Rodriguez, +Norichika Aoki, +Francisco Liriano, TRADE Brett Gardner, Tim Lincecum, and Chris Sale for Buster Posey, Sterling Marte, and Justin Masterson
The story of Fiers's season is an interesting one. There's been a few blockbusters and some good free agent pickups, seemingly improving the team. Sale was a nice addition and Carpenter and Johnson were an okay return for Beltre. Posey, Marte, and Masterson were all pretty great pickups. However, dealing Holliday and Davis for Stanton dealt a huge blow to the team that may have actually permanently damaged hopes for success on the season. As a whole, the team doesn't actually look too bad. There's a decent spread of stats and big names among the offense, but the standings tell a different story. There's just not enough production there, and there may not be a whole lot that can be done to fix it, and that's just really unfortunate. Maybe if Kemp comes back strong and Hanley Ramirez keeps it up, there's a chance. And dumping some of the non-closers for starters with wins and/or strikeouts probably wouldn't hurt either.
Key Transactions – -Chris Tillman, -Gerrit Cole, +Jake Westbrook, +Chris Johnson, +Travis Wood, +Patrick Corbin, +Jeff Locke, +Kendrys Morales
There could have been a successful team here. Really. Focusing on offense in the draft, pitching was left to the wayside and free agency. This lead to the successful pickups of Westbrook, Wood, Corbin, and Locke, anchoring a staff that would really be struggling without them. If the team can get a few more strikeouts and wins from the staff, it'll shape up to be a good, not great rotation. Any source of saves would also help out extensively. However, the real problem came on offense. The following players have all spent time on the DL, currently reside there, or are going to have nagging injuries for the rest of the year: Brian McCann, Stephen Drew, Derek Jeter, Ryan Braun, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino, Aramis Ramirez, Neil Walker, and Angel Pagan. That's more than half of the hitters on the team. You can argue about the merits of keeping some of those players on the roster or not trading some away, but that's pretty unlucky and is not going to produce a lot of good results.
Dale Sveum's Nipple Slips
Key Transactions – None.
There have been no roster additions. There was one roster update on April 11th, and another on April 24th. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 KittenMittons. The Nipple Slips actually won a matchup pretty recently against Fiers, 6-4. That's pretty embarrassing. Even Noah can beat these guys.