Before getting into this week’s article, a quick note about this week’s podcast: We experienced some technical difficulties with the audio, and the second half of the podcast sounds choppy. We believe it is still listenable, however. Apologies, and we are working to fix the problem. Well, the one of us who has any idea whatsoever about how to fix it.
We’re tackling two strategy concepts this week, along identifying some players to start and sit. First, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of working together as a three-headed monsters. And then we talk about some broad goals for the supplemental drafts.
We frequently are asked what it is like running a Scoresheet team as a group, and this week saw another listener write in with the same question. As background, after running teams individually for a couple of years, the three of us have been acting as co-owners together for the last several years.
On the positive side of the ledger, running Scoresheet teams as a group means we always have the opportunity to collaborate on decisions—we each come to decisions with different perspectives and being able to discuss draft picks, trades, lineup cards and other roster moves makes us all more comfortable that we make the best decision possible. We’re also busy, and having three people to balance the time required to run a Scoresheet team means we can comfortably run multiple teams as a group. An additional benefit is the gains from our comparative advantages. We each have different strengths, and similar to, say, a scramble tournament in golf, we can rely more on the best person for each situation. The best prospect guy has more input on drafting and trading minor leaguers, the most effective negotiator handles traders, and so on.
There are some downsides as well, and the biggest is probably that we are slower to act than teams run by only one person. We respond to trade inquiries from other owners more slowly, and even though we designated roles for each of the three of us, we still try to discuss everything and we’re not always available to do so quickly. It is possible to limit this delay by discussing as much as possible ahead of time and by occasionally granting the authority to make trades for some of the smaller trades. But if we get a surprise trade proposal involving Miguel Cabrera, we want to make sure all of us get a say. We know we’ve missed out on a few trades because our response time just wasn’t quick enough.
Still, even with the drawbacks around prompt responses, we’re happier running teams as a group, and we’d encourage all of you to consider doing the same with your friends. And “friends” is a key word there. One reason we enjoy running teams as a group is because we enjoying talking baseball and especially talking fantasy baseball with each other. If you can’t work with someone or don’t like talking with them, you probably shouldn’t run a team together
Switching gears a bit, one major difference between Scoresheet and most other fantasy baseball is the concept of supplemental drafts. Scoresheet doesn’t do a waiver wire or FAAB or any other daily/weekly system of acquiring new players (setting aside a very small number of leagues with their own rules). Instead, the monthly two-round drafts are the only way to add new players to a team, other than trading. This system, no doubt, originated from Scoresheet’s origins as a play by mail game. As impossible as it may seem, there was a world before the Internet. And in that scary, dark place, the logistics of the instantaneous add/drop system we take for granted were pretty much impossible.
A consequence of the supplemental drafts is that you have to plan at least a month ahead. If you have an injury-prone starter on your team, you can’t just stash him on the DL and pick up a replacement. You need to have someone on your bench who can fill in. One of the reasons we stress backups upon backups and rostering tons of SPs is that there’s no easy and quick way to find a replacement for an injured or demoted player, which is vital since employing Player AAA is a fairly significant downgrade from virtually any major league player.
The supplemental draft system, therefore, rewards a deep knowledge of major league rosters. In some sense, the same thought process holds true for the supplemental drafts as it does for the preseason draft. Which available players are playing now, who will be playing in a few weeks, and who is most likely to gain playing time in the event of injury or demotion? The difference is that for the preseason draft, the answers to most of these questions are stars, top prospects, and scrubs, where in the supplementals, the answers to these questions are usually guys who aspire to be scrubs. Often we are talking second- and third-tier prospects, retreads, and players of that ilk. Swinging for the fences in a supplemental is difficult. Instead, usually, the goal is identify players who will get playing time now or in the near future where you need it, or where your opponents may need it so you can profit in trade.
No, he hasn’t gotten off to the best start in his first 10 plate appearances of the season (this isn’t a thing that matters to us, but we’re not Ron Washington). Texas is moving into the soft part of the schedule in Week 3, however, facing King Felix and then the back ends of the weak Seattle and Chicago rotations at home, which may give Choice his first great opportunity to show that patient slashing style he displayed this spring. It’s therefore a good week to make most of your Ranger hitters more prominent, and Choice may be worth playing ahead of your starter to capitalize on his two or three appearances that week.
Kansas City is another team facing a soft schedule in week 3. They’re scheduled to face Minnesota and Houston, both of whom have a bunch of meatball-tossing righties. Many Royals should hope to take advantage, but Moustakas’ tendency to cheat for power may make him more of an asset than most other players who have started a season 0-for-21. Don’t panic yet, and this may even be a good week to feature his bat against righties.
Mariner bats have shown up in the early season, but they end up at the other end of a matchup here for a second straight week. Eovaldi may be the closest thing there is to an early season breakout, as his velocity has trended up and his skills seem to be consolidating. Even if the immediate returns are illusory, Eovaldi should be added to the rotation against average or worse hitting teams at home or in other pitchers parks. Cutting against this is Seattle’s strength against righties and Eovaldi’s platoon split, but at this point, he should probably be in your rotation more weeks than not.
Yes, the Beard is throttling the baseball, having sucked up all of Bryce Harper’s mojo in the opening week to use for his dark arts. Week three will be tough on Washington’s righties, as they face four of St. Louis’ starters (missing only Joe Kelly), and get Jose Fernandez as an aperitif. We don’t necessarily recommend benching Werth outright, but outfield tends to be the deepest position in Scoresheet, so it may be worth giving him a week on your bench if you have another great option, or to move him down the order a bit if you don’t.
The Dodgers’ offense remains potentially great, but somewhat dysfunctional, and the loss of A.J. Ellis removes one of baseball’s more underrated OBP sinks. This is still a team set up to feast on righty pitching, however, and Cahill is the type of pitcher who should probably be bouncing in and out of your rotation in the best of circumstances. Cahill was also hit hard in his first week-two start, so check his appearance against the Dodgers in week 2 as well to figure out if you’ll be the victim of some bad luck balancing.
Some weeks, you’re just scheduled to face Boston and Texas. Johnson should probably be on your bench at any rate, or even on the farm in shallower leagues, at least until he proves himself further against major league hitting. He’s drawn a number of bad matchups already this season. A bad April probably won’t get him removed from the Sox rotation in a rebuilding year, but it could get him put on blast.
This Week’s Podcast: Wallace and deGromit
This week, the Outcomes are troubled by audio issues about halfway through the podcast, but soldier on bravely. At 3:05, they tackle the question of whether it is better to do it together, if it in this case refers solely to running a fantasy baseball team. Then, at 14:40, the Outcomes discuss how supplemental drafts work as a concept, and what the practical effects are on league quality and training. At 26:35, the Outcomes review some deep league AL and NL only starting pitcher stashes, and at some point, gremlins impact the sound quality. After taking a quick detour into RBI Baseball nostalgia at the 45 minute mark, the Outcomes rally strong at 54:40 with some start and sit suggestions for Week 3. This week, TTO is music for your ears, if you are heavily into the DIY scene!