Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Lure of the Can't-Miss Prospect Pitchers.

From the outside looking in, it should've been all too easy for me. I'd won back to back fantasy baseball titles, had arguably the best 8 keepers coming into this season, owned the three top picks of the 5th round in this years draft, to acquire quality pitching. So where did it go wrong, why did I feel the need to reach for the "can't-miss prospect" when seemingly all that my team needed was quality non-flashy veterans?

I think that some of the allure of playing fantasy sports, especially keeper leagues, is that you want to go out and grab that gem athlete. The next Johan Santana or Barry Bonds or Kevin Garnett, or Peyton Manning. It doesn't matter that you're sitting there with a very formidable line-up, you want "the next big thing" to be on your roster and not somebody else's. For instance, take the SexyParties' first title season of 2 seasons ago. Mid-season acquisitions of Ryan Howard and Zach Duke were catalysts on the way to a title. And if such players are not kept, they should in theory, bring back picks or players by way of the draft. Thus, going out and getting a future star, for little to nothing, should benefit your team, if not now, than in the future.

Last season's top rookie pitching prospects coming into the year were Cole Hamels, Jered Weaver, Anthony Reyes, Francisco Liriano and Justin Verlander. Three of the five of these young gunslingers remained healthy and were kept coming into this current season, setting a huge precedent and lust for young arms. The 2007 season had a glut of young rookie arms available to owners. Matt Garza, Homer Bailey, Mike Pelfrey, Philip Hughes, Andrew Miller, Tim Lincecum are just some of the names that have already been on a Middle Earth roster.

Granted, hitting just one big-time player per year is worth it for a keeper-league, but the question about my team is 'Did I really need to take chances on these guys?' or 'Should I have left the meat market up to the other 11 owners?'. Currently, three rookie pitchers are taking up space on my roster, and so far this season, they have totalled a combined 0 innings pitches, with 0 wins, 0 Ks, and 0 saves. I suppose it might seem foolish to the perennial 10th place finisher that the team with the inside track on winning the league is wasting such roster space.

In the end, however, taking chances on guys like these and seeing them succeed (or even fail) is what makes this game fun. Looking at my eight keepers from last season, 4 of the 8 guys, (or 1/2 if you're good with fractions) were on my roster as rookies, and numerous players on other teams were dealt by me after successful rookie years. So, perhaps the rookie phenom isn't the way to win a title this year, but it makes that game more enjoyable, and hasn't failed me so far. So, be quick, fellow Middle Earth franchise owners, because chances are that I'm watching those can't-miss prospects that you're contemplating picking up, but don't fret, because if you miss out, maybe you can get them after the season for a 3rd round pick.


plundoctor said...

I'm not much for punctuation and spelling and such, sorry.

GoodPointJoe said...

There's no doubt that the big time prospects have become a part of many owners' strategies in our keeper league, and presumably in other ones as well. But the value of the unproven prospect is very questionable.

With Howie Kendrick on my team, I have no idea what I would want for him in a trade, (although his situation is further muddled due to his injury status). Looking elsewhere, what are Lincecum and Garza worth? Bailey? Any of them? It's interesting, because while in the major leagues these guys are often nigh-unavailable in trades, any prospect who hasn't played (save Delmon Young, who Eddie sat on all season) is waiver fodder.

Perhaps it would behoove the weaker teams (such as my own, despite the standings) to offer small, useful pieces for the "super-prospects" in the hopes that one or more turn out to be a real gem. But the reality is, with 8 keepers, most teams should usually keep more proven players. Barry Zito is a better keeper prospect than Billy Butler (or was, at least).

It begs the question, should we consider expanding rosters? Or expanding keeper lists? Or both?

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