Please check out the Hippeaux's weekly posts at SNY affiliate, It's About The Money.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Fantastic Life

As part of my ongoing look inside my obsession with fantasy baseball, I will be tracking my top four franchises throughout the 2009 season. All have been going for at least two seasons and, with the exception of the SPH 640, have money on the line. Here are the details:

The Sporting Hippeaux 640 (commissioner, league's 2nd season): 16-team mixed H2H points league with 40-man rosters and 6 keepers. 25-man active roster includes five relief pitchers, two catchers, and LF, CF, RF distinctions. Daily roster changes. 50 transactions per season. 12 pitching starts allowed per match-up (weekly), no limit for AB or IP.

Eight Men Out (my 1st season, league's 20th! season): 12-team mixed $330 salary-cap H2H points league with 31-man rosters and 12 keepers. 23-man active roster with nine pitchers (min. 2 relievers) and 2 utility positions. Weekly roster changes. 22 transactions per season. No limits to starts, AB, or IP. Players are eligible at any position they play 5 games at (includes starter/reliever). Player salaries are determined by Sporting New Fantasy. 6 players are retained at previous year's price. Scoring structure heavily favors SB, SV, HLD, and to a lesser extent W and HR.

Jerkball (my 4th season, leagues 5th season): 12-team mixed $350 salary-cap H2H points league with 31-man rosters and 16 keepers. 23-man active roster with nine pitchers (min. 2 relievers) and 2 utilty positions. Weekly roster changes. 22 transactions per season. No limit to starts, AB, or IP. Players are eligible at any position they play 5 games at (includes starter/reliver). Player values are determined by Sporting News Fantasy. 8 players are retained at previous year's price. Scoring structure heavily favors SB, SV, HLD, and to a lesser extent W and HR.

Screw The DH (my 1st season, league's 3rd season): 10-team NL-only traditional 5 X 5 roto league with 29-man rosters and zero keepers. 23-man active roster with nine pitchers and 2 catchers. Daily roster changes. Unlimited transactions. No limit to starts, AB, or IP.

Here are my Draft Day rosters:

Hippeaux's Soul Brothers (SPH 640)
C - Ramon Hernandez (#7)
C - Jason Varitek (#25)
1B - Albert Pujols (Keeper)
2B - Orlando Hudson (#8)
3B - Adrian Beltre (#2)
SS - Alexei Ramirez (#1)
MI - Nomar Garciaparra (#24)
CI - Prince Fielder (Keeper)
LF - Adam Lind (#10)
CF - Chris Young (#3)
RF - Alex Rios (Keeper)
OF - Cody Ross (#12)
UT - David Ortiz (Keeper)
UT - Chad Tracy (#17)
B(C) - Kenj Johjima (#18)
B(3B) - Pedro Alvarez (#33)
B(SS) - Bobby Crosby (#27)
B(LF) - Matt Joyce (#21)
B(CF) - Wladimir Belentien (#19)
B(CF) - Brian Anderson (#28)
B(RF) - Gary Sheffield (#22)
B(DH) - Mike Sweeney (#30)
SP - Ubaldo Jimenez (Keeper)
SP - Brett Myers (#5)
SP - Aaron Harang (#6)
SP - Mark Buehrle (#9)
SP - Bronson Arroyo (#13)
SP - Jonathan Sanchez (#14)
SP - Anthony Reyes (#16)
SP - Homer Bailey (#26)
SP - Josh Outman (#29)
SP - Koji Uehara (#32)
RP - Bobby Jenks (Keeper)
RP - Matt Capps (#4)
RP - J. J. Putz (#11)
RP - Leo Nunez (#15)
RP - Cory Wade (#20)
RP - Jensen Lewis (#23)
RP - Jim Johnson (#31)
RP - Mitch Stetter (#34)

I think this team will fair well in this very deep format. I've got some good young talent and depth in the starting rotation, balanced by Buehrle, Arroyo, and Harang, veteran innings-eaters who are as close as you can get to safety with starting pitching. The potency of my offensive keepers (Pujols, Fielder, Ortiz, and Rios) should help protect me if I have a couple of injuries or flops from the rest of the lineup. My biggest concern at the moment is that I have a duo of fragile Athletics benchwarmers, Nomar Garciparra and Bobby Crosby, sharing my middle-infield duties. At the moment Eric Chavez is injured (speaking of fragile), so they should see some time, but I'd be happy if I could deal for a consistent, if mediocre everyday player. I'm thinking somebody like Jack Wilson or Jason Bartlett. My bullpen is a source of optimism. We actually decreased the scoring categories for closers and set-up men over the offseason, but I expect several matchups will still be won on the strength of the middle relief corps (just like real baseball). I have two bonafide closers and several set-up men who will rack up strikeouts and holds. As an added bonus, it looks like Putz, Nunez, and Lewis are all next in line on their respective teams if the closer goes down.

Soul Rebels (Eight Men Out)
C - Russell Martin (#1, $20)
1B - Derrek Lee (K, $19)
2B - Robinson Cano (K, $15)
3B - David Wright (K, $41)
SS - Stephen Drew (K, $11)
MI - Rickie Weeks (#4, $10)
CI - Victor Martinez (#11, $19)
OF - Nick Markakis (K, $27)
OF - Matt Kemp (K, $22)
OF - Vladimir Guerrero (K, $26)
OF - Vernon Wells (K, $22)
OF - Adam Lind (#14, $9)
UT - Rafael Furcal (#16, $20)
UT - Matt Joyce (#13, $2)
B(1B) - Kila Ka'aihue (#18, $1)
B(3B) - David Freese (#12, $1)
B(OF) - Wladimir Belentien (#10, $1)
SP - Felix Hernandez (#2, $21)
SP - Matt Cain (#3, $16)
SP - Manny Parra (#5, $4)
SP - Ubaldo Jimenez (#7, $10)
SP - Edinson Volquez (K, $1)
SP - Gavin Floyd (K, $1)
SP - Kenshin Kawakami (#8, $1)
RP - Joel Hanrahan (K, $1)
RP - Brandon Morrow (K, $1)
B(P) - Scot Shields (#15, $3)
B(P) - Trevor Cahill (#6, $1)
B(P) - James McDonald (#9, $1)
B(P) - Jeff Niemann (#17, $1)
B(P) - Josh Outman (#19, $1)

I'm entering a league full of veteran fantasy players with a slightly unconventional scoring structure whose particular oddities I have yet to experience over the course of a season. This league will probably be the single biggest challenge in my quest for a sweep. I took over a decent roster and, thankfully, I felt as though I drafted very well. It was, unintentionally a kind of stars and scrubs concept, with no less than a dozen $1 players on my roster, giving me the luxury of paying for five guys $16 and higher, despite the fact that I started the draft with only $143. Getting King Felix and Matt Cain in the first three rounds felt like a bit of coup, considering my pitching keepers (Volquez, Floyd, Morrow, and Hanrahan) were spotty to say the least. After that I loaded up on high-risk, high-reward young talent. Cain, at 24 years of age, is the most experience guy on my staff. On offense I am far more steady, though not necessarily dominant. I like the balance of young players on the rise (Kemp, Drew, Lind, Weeks, etc.) and veterans looking to bounce back from injuries (Guerrero, V-Mart, Furcal, Wells, etc.). These two types of players have been the building blocks for most of my best teams. At this point all I can do is cross my fingers.

Soul Brothers (Jerkball)
C - Russell Martin (K, $20)
1B - Prince Fielder (K, $29)
2B - Howie Kendrick (#2, $19)
3B - Joe Crede (#9, $8)
SS - Rafael Furcal (K, $20)
MI - Mike Fontenot (#8, $2)
CI - Derrek Lee (K, $19)
OF - Ryan Braun (K, $35)
OF - B. J. Upton (K, $25)
OF - Milton Bradley (K, $15)
OF - Justin Upton (K, $13)
OF - Andre Ethier (T*, $12)
DH - David Ortiz (K, $24)
UT - Adam Lind (A*, $9)
B(3B) - Scott Rolen (A*, $7)
B(OF) - Elijah Dukes (K, $1)
B(OF) - Colby Rasmus (#12, $1)
B(OF) - Brian Anderson (#13, $1)
SP - Roy Halladay (K, $17)
SP - Cliff Lee (K, $1)
SP - A. J. Burnett (K, $15)
SP - Aaron Harang (K, $14)
SP - Chris Carpenter (K, $4)
SP - Ryan Dempster (K, $1)
SP - Ubaldo Jimenez (#3, $10)
RP - Heath Bell (T*, $9)
RP - Koji Uehara (#5, $1)
B(P) - Jonathan Sanchez (#4, $6)
B(P) - Jesse Litsch (#7, $3)
B(P) - Leo Nunez (#10, $1)
B(P) - Homer Bailey (#15, $1)

*I was not pleased with my draft in what might be the most competitive league that I play in, so I immediately got to work on my team. With the news that Fernando Rodney was replacing Brandon Lyon and Matt Lindstrom was going to be healthy enough to start the season, I found myself without a closer (not that Lyon and Leo Nunez were excellent option to begin with), and I wasn't ready to count on James McDonald and Koji Uehara every week. It was also revealed that, at least in the early going, Austin Kearns was going to be getting more at-bats in Washington than Elijah Dukes. Within 24 hours of the draft I traded Daisuke Matsuzaka (#2, $27) and McDonald (#6, $1) for Andre Ethier and Heath Bell. I then used the waiver wire to exchange Kevin Kouzmanoff (#14, $15) and Lyon (#11, $1) for Adam Lind and Scott Rolen. I felt it gave me improved roster flexibility until the playing time for Dukes, Nunez, Colby Rasmus, and Brian Anderson becomes more settled.

After my roster moves, I'm feeling much better about my team. This is a league I have dominated in recent years, leading the way in wins in both '07 and '08. In the latter I set a new league record. My team from last year was almost too dominant, evidenced by the fact that five of the first 21 picks in this year's draft were gusy I was forced to dump back into the player pool; guys like Dan Haren, Dice-K, Matt Garza, Manny Parra, Ervin Santana, James Loney, and Michael Young. Do I sound bitter? Nevertheless, it was through this franchise that I invented and refined the "Soul Brothers" concept, as may be obvious.

2 Legit 2 Not Acquit (Screw the DH)
C - Yadier Molina (#11)
C - Jason Kendall (#22)
1B - Albert Pujols (#1)
2B - Brandon Phillips (#2)
3B - Garrett Atkins (#5)
SS - Rafael Furcal (#6)
MI - Alex Gonzalez (#21)
CI - James Loney (#8)
OF - Matt Kemp (#3)
OF - Adam Dunn (#4)
OF - Milton Bradley (#10)
OF - Elijah Dukes (#13)
OF - Brian Giles (#16)
UT - Chad Tracy (#18)
B(C) - Buster Posey (#23)
B(3B) - Mat Gamel (#29)
B(OF) - Carlos Gonzalez (#25)
B(OF) - Andrew McCutcheon (#29)
SP - Matt Cain (#7)
SP - Bronson Arroyo (#12)
SP - Manny Parra (#14)
SP - Jonathan Sanchez (#15)
SP - Hiroki Kuroda (#17)
SP - Joe Blanton (#20)
SP - Ian Snell (#24)
RP - Matt Lindstrom (#9)
RP - Kevin Gregg (#19)
B(P) - James McDonald (#26)
B(P) - Kevin Correia (#27)

I love NL-only leagues, and this is no exception. My offense if primed for domination and I once again banked on breakthrough performances from pitchers like Sanchez, Parra, Snell, and Kuroda. The lineup is already strong and balanced (speed, power, average), but I will really benefit if one or two of the four top prospects I booked on the bench makes it to the bigs during the first half. It will give me some more flexibility and take a little pressure off the pitching. Gamel is probably the best bet to get a shot if Bill Hall gets off to another slow start in Milwaukee. Regardless, I think all four will get the call by August. It is a serious chance I'm taking, however, since in a deep NL-only league the waiver wire options will be very thin if one of my studs goes down. The good news is, I plan to hold onto my #1 waiver rank in preparation for an intraleague blockbuster in June or July. Matt Holliday, Erik Bedard, Adrian Beltre, Aubrey Huff, and Hank Blalock are among the potential players on the market, any one of whom would provide a sizable boost. Of course, I'm saying my prayers it will be Roy Halladay to the Cubs.

No comments: