Because I am always late to the writing party, I figured why not just add another Bryce Harper column, but with a Michael Taylor happy ending.  So what’s-his-face got hurt and now Mike Taylor returns from the DL to save the day.  Gone one day and BH is now what’s-his-face.  It sucks, but injuries happen.  That is why waivers and free agent pools exist.  So before Taylor inured his oblique in early July, he was on a torrid pace that was making him an asset for fantasy.  Now what capabilities will he have with that injured oblique?  Since this is the SAGNOF report, we only care about one thing.  Increasing his SB total from 10.  The thing in his favor is that the Nationals lineup is going to change slightly.  Because of the absence of “some guy”.  Small ball and base-to-base stuff still wins and it may have to happen without a middle of the lineup thumper (besides Zimmerman).  I can’t believe I just called him a thumper, well… suspend disbelief for a minute and just assume I didn’t mean it.  Taylor may take a few days to get into the swing of things but Bryce isn’t walking through the door anytime soon, so at-bats and top of the order stuff are coming. Happy SAGNOF’n!

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When I write titles like this, often times I say to myself: Do I need to extrapolate on the actuality of the point that I am trying to convey?  Fortunately for you I am going to be all basic with knowledge this week because it is pretty cut and dry.  Are you winning saves?  How much are you winning saves by?  If yes for the first question and over 20 for the second, be like Billy Ray and sell.  Do not liquidate all your assets, just slim down your roster to a smattering of usefulness instead of a hoard.  Find a culprit who maybe chasing second, third or even fourth.  My reasoning for this and why you should do it now is that before people realize that there is no hope in dope or chasing saves when you can’t make them up… they will lose interest and they will have zero trade value.  Don’t get stuck holding a struggling middle/upper closer when you can reinvest that in a bat that can make up a stat other than just one.  Today’s moral is:  sell saves, be aware that your return may not be as great as expected, but it’s better then dumping them to the waiver wire for nothing.

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When it comes down to it at the end of the days, teals are steals and saves are saves.  Doesn’t matter how coyly they are obtained or if you are stealing from the waiver wire one day to only dump and chase the next.  The big wheel of accumulation keeps turning.  My near-the-end of the year strategy for closers is: I would rather chase on winning teams as the saves and chances are greater.  Steals… not so much, it is the exact opposite almost as the “look what I can do” type players come more from them, especially with September call-ups and such.  So to recap, saves for winners, stealing is for losers.  I sound like an after-school special starring Judith Light.  So now on to another loser, of the Philadelphia denomination… let us take a peek at the goodies that César Hernández is doing, and doing it fairly unnoticed.  He is owned in less then 40% of the four-letter word leagues and has been tuning up most opponents lately.  He is batting .379 with 10 runs scored and 6 steals in the last 15 games.  He also has a 12-game hitting streak and a poodle that can walk on it’s front paws.  Why do I bring attention to César ?  Because the middle infidel spot is always a good spot to find free-range steals.  It turned Merrifield into a household name and it’s the same place that Villar is still rostered in 70% of leagues.  I can’t ever explain everything, but I throw some deadly darts sometimes.  Have at this week’s SAGNOF do’s and doh’s…

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The trade deadline usually makes a real hash out of bullpens, and this year was no different.  Closers become just ordinary relievers.  Ordinary relievers become closers on teams punting.  Even further down, the holds through the obtuse guys now become a usable commodity.  Fantasy baseball with hold leagues, catch the spirit!  So like I was just saying, we have seen 5-6 teams rip apart their pecking order for hold-dom, and in some cases muddle up the closer order by trade, attrition, or subtraction.  This is a good thing, makes decisions easier.  Aim for guys on teams that are still getting you save opportunities. If you can’t find the stat, always fall back on the standings to guide your waiver wire hand.  Or even more finite, look at that teams W/L record over the last 10 games.  It is no coincidence that the top three teams in save opportunities since the All-Star break have winning records (Dodgers, Mariners, and Blue Jays).  Also, if you haven’t been streaming Holds yet this year, there is no better time than the present.  The list of holds leaders over the last 15 games is littered with names that weren’t even in print by me for the whole year.  So don’t be afraid to roster the unknown rather than a commodity because with the season basically over in six weeks (three if you have playoffs), every one counts and every H2H win counts.  Cheers!

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In the real world, the realm of 20 homers and 20 stolen bases has now become a cheap rack of cheaters at your local pharmacy.  The state of the power and thievery in the game, as a combined entity, is a pooh-fest currently filled with zero residents.  The possibilities of getting maybe three could happen by the end of the month and those names are first round darlings: Paul Goldschmidt (22/15), Jose Alutve (15/21), and Mookie Betts (17/17) are the closest to reaching the ranks of the common folk from 10 years ago.  I have gone over the numbers in previous years posts and the number of 20/20 players is on a perpetual downward slope.  So while nothing is guaranteed for the standard “he is a 20/20 player” from year-to-year, the reward when he does it is, well… rewarding.  If the standard for the dual threat is just being one of a few who does both, then they deservedly so belong in the first round.  Like the three names that I just mentioned.  All had ADP preseason in the top-10 and very comfortably.  I know it’s August and I am here waxing poetic about ADP… Well, it is the first of the month and the other ADP is all about paying people, so I thought it was apropos.  So when looking next year at what you can get out of a player, dumb down the 20/20 expectations and limit it to a select and proud few.  sad state of affairs, next thing you know we will be giving fantasy participation trophies to everyone so nobodies feelings get hurt.  Cheers!

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The deadline is right around the corner, I know this because it said it would be right back and asked me to watch it’s dog while it shuffled up all the bullpen stuff that I just took the time to write out.  The trade deadline is a mischievous beast, he will lure you with rumors and a weird one-windowed van and leave you out of the loop when it comes to bullpens.  Contenders don’t care, they will have 2-3 closers or former closers on the roster… greedy is what I say.  But I am still looking at situations in flux because I have no life.  Scouring the goodies of bullpens left behind, and it takes me to Oakland.  The traded recipient, that being Blake Treinen is in the prime ready-five chair as he watches Santiago Casilla implode for 4 blown saves in his last 16 appearances… and of course he blows the first chance he gets.  No matter, I think that he still is a better bet going forward than Casilla.   The bullpen cupboard is bare, there’s no Doolittle, there’s no Madson, there’s no more Axford.  It is Treinen and Ryan Dull as the lone men standing, and Dull just got back from the DL.  It is a matter of when, not if Blake gets the go of things and makes all the Bay City girls swoon with his saves.  If the A’s go full on punt and trade the rotation to nothing, his potential for saves could be minimal, but chase away oh friends of the ‘NOF.

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It’s all fun and games when the lights go off and the special things in life glow under different color light.  Laundry detergent, player names, and the puns that are associated with them… and believe it or not a good ole bottle of Hennessy.  So now that we have concocted that cocktail and images in your head, let’s move onto the Fantasy Baseball portion of this relationship.  That being Marcus Semien.  I am going to be the first to admit that I really like the idea of this guy on my team after last season’s output, as he produced 27 HR’s and 10 steals.  Not the elite of foot by any stretch of the SAGNOF imagination, but the 27 taters from a middle infield spot takes a lot of gleam off the cube.  So why now?  Well, his season was derailed by injury and he only still has 86 at-bats on the year.  Ignore all the other facets, he is not going to hit for average and not going to score a ton of runs in the A’s lineup, but he has 7 steals in those 86 at-bats.  (He only had 10 last year in 586 at bats, remember I just said that.)  So he has gone from a once every 60 plate appearances per steal guy to one every 10.  I am by far no mathematical genius, but that looks like a gigantic difference.  Since he returned from the DL, he is hitting 30 points above his career average, which is only .230, but still, .265 is better then .230.  The steals are what we want and that’s why we here.  So with the expectations of him not slipping out of the lineup now that he is returned he could easily be a cheap source (8.6% owned in ESPN leagues).  With the way that the middle infield spots turn over and the trade deadline around the bend stats at any chance are better then none.

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This is the best time of the year, next to when Shark Week is on TV.  All the movement in real baseball sends a ripple throughout the fantasy universe and in most position player cases, the player is owned to the moon or already a contributor.  Not so much in the realm of baseball’s forgotten warriors: the setup men.  As teams scramble for bullpen help, it creates an everlasting (not really forever) waterfall effect that resonates to the new and old team.  Take for example the Yankees/White Sox trade it has created job questions for five separate relievers: Betances, Robertson, Kahnle, Clippard and Swarzak.  Now with all the hype surrounding trade rumors, it is best to identify the team who gets the bullpen help first, than the trading team second.  Because the trading team usually is where the goodies are at.  Anthony Swarzak looks to be the biggest beneficiary in the setup options, and yes, Clippard will be closing, but Swarzak will be there when Clippard gets dealt again whether it’s before or after the non-waiver trade deadline.  So to summarize here, be speculative but not crazy.  Pay attention to the reliever deals in place and realize that some pitchers get moved down a few pegs, but on the reflexive, some move up. Have at some juicy reliever tidbits, Cheers!.

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Well, the All-Star break happened and now here I sit.  Only three games of data to expunge my sort of genius onto the masses… that’s like the Gettysburg Address stopping at “four score and seven”. So with limited research, I gotta get creative with words.  Like, have you checked out Fantasy Soccer, yeah… it’s that oddly shaped ball at the top of this page.  Don’t play? Well you should.  So onto the number seven with bacon.  Also known as the KC stealer.  Over the past 15 games that oddly enough dates back when we were still celebrating fireworks and stuff, Whit Merrifield leads the majors in steals with 7.  Big deal, 7 whole steals!  Well, the steals bandwagon has lost some steam this year with Billy not doing consistent Billy things and Trea doing game-ready stuff at Chuck E. Cheese’s, but strangely enough he still needs an adult with him.  Curse you baby-faced guys!  Whit isn’t just a dead stick as he has revitalized the Royals line-up, as they have an unbelievable record since his insertion into the leadoff spot.  It’s not George Springer-type good, but for SAGNOF, we take what we can get.  Currently owned in half of the ESPN leagues, which means that he is owned in every RCL league (basically), so kudos for all of us that are paying attention.  But on the happenstance that he isn’t owned, go grab him, do it gently though, he pees when he gets nervous.

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We break from the usual 12 dollar salads, donkeys, and hypothermia to breakdown, in basic fashion, the relief rankings for the final 70-plus games.  Why is this helpful you may ask?  Because for trade target reasons or chasing saves for points, you may want guy A over guy B.  With the relief ranks it is as fluid as a clogged sewer drain, because on any given week, the middling type closer can hit bumps in the road and be removed from contention. So if you are using this as a trade commodity in your quest to add saves, my advice is this add the elite only.  Nothing lower than the top-12.  These guys are all nailed on and in an impressive state, barring an injury obviously. Now with that, we also have to realize that trades will happen… and take one reliever from a good situation to a better one, then on the reflexive of that, it can turn one with a job into a set-up situation.  Regardless, here is my stab at the top relief pitchers for the second half of the Fantasy Baseball season.  Cheers!

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