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Like many of you, I cut my fantasy baseball teeth on snake-drafting 10-12 team mixed leagues.*  But I’ve found that, to paraphrase Spinal Tap, the looser the league’s Free Agent waistband, the deeper the quicksand I get into.  I’d lose a closer to injury only to find that some joker on the West Coast picked up the replacement while I was sleeping.  I’d stubbornly stick with a lemon of a player through end of May while other teams spackled their roster holes with the breakout stars of the year (e.g, Quentin and Ludwick in 2008, Zobrist in 2009)

*Actually, Grey and I started duking it out in ESPN auto-drafting leagues and waking up the next morning to find 4 shortstops or 3 catchers on our squads.

Anyway, I’ve found myself venturing more into AL/NL-only leagues because of the frustrations mentioned above and because it is required curriculum to get a MFB (Masters in Fantasy Baseball) degree.  Last year, my first try at NL-only went splendidly as I took home the FantasyPros911 NL-only Blogger League pennant aided by a draft where I didn’t end up paying more than $21 for any player.  For every disappointment like Russ Martin ($21), I had a crazy bargain like Ryan Franklin ($4) or Mark Reynolds ($14).

The victory earned me entry into FP911’s ‘Expert’ League, which is AL-only and has more seasoned competitors like Tout War vets (Jason Collette of DockoftheRays.com and FanBall.com’s OwnersEdge; Perry Van Hook of FantasyBaseball.com) and writers from well-known sites like FoxSports (John Halpin), Baseball Prospectus (Marc Normandin), and Hardball Times (Rob McQuown).

Below is my team with my post-draft thoughts.  Here’s a draft review on FP911.  Here’s the league page.

A 12-team AL-only league with 2 C + CI/MI/5 OF is about as masochistic as you can get in fantasy baseball.  The two less teams in the AL (14) vs. NL (16) plays a big role.  In a number of cases, just getting a crappy starter like Jack Wilson is huge because the alternative is some schmohawk with 150 ABs all year.  Getting 40 Runs / 40 RBIs is awful unless the alternative is 10 and 10.  And forget about the free agent wire – it’s a barren wasteland.  Drafting prospects is a great idea – so great that everyone does it.  So the only impact players that will be found in free agency are guys coming from the NL in trades or deep sleepers.

This lack of depth affects draft strategy as you can’t afford to be too generous or stingy with your early-round bidding.  The player pool dries up quick and you don’t want to be left with a bunch of $1 bench-warmers or a team full of 3rd-tier players with money to spare.

My biggest bet was on Joe Mauer whom I had as the most valuable player in AL 12-Team Point Shares and got for a relative bargain at $33 (Crawford went for $35, Youk went for $31).  I overbid my Point Share value of Granderson ($26 vs. $20) in the belief that CHONE/ZiPS underestimated the impact of Yankee Stadium for lefty pull hitters.  The rest of the offense is a spotty mix of guys that skew towards HR/RBI vs. SB/AVG.  Hoping my Valbuena/Hardy middle infield tandem turns into a nice value play.   The only above-average guy in the lot is Kurt Suzuki who, combined with Mauer, will hopefully give me a monster advantage at the catcher position vs. other teams and mitigate some losses I’ll have at other spots like 1B.

I liked Sabathia at $26 and a pre-suspension/pre-injury Cliff Lee at $22 to anchor the staff.  Buerhle ($9) and Pettitte ($6) are safe types that hopefully will net some Wins without hurting my ratios too much and $7 on Bedard felt cheap enough to gamble he can throw a quality half-season.

Closers were going at high prices (e.g., Papelbon at $25, Jenks at $17) and I got the cheapest RP option available in a $13 Kerry Wood.  He came cheap for a reason and, lucky for me, that I spent $4 for his handcuff (Chris Perez).  I think Mijares ($1) will get a couple of saves this year and took fliers on Ziegler/Devine and Putz in case Bailey or Jenks get hurt or falter.

End result:  I ran my projections against everyone’s drafted team (swapping the occasional bench guy for a ‘starter’ like one team that has Beckham on the bench as he awaits MI eligiblity) and my team did as well as I could’ve hoped.  I came in at 77 points which would net me 2nd place.  My team proved strong in R/HR/RBI (32 out of 36 points) and absolutely dreadful in AVG and SB (1 point in each).  My pitching ratios are great (23 out of 24 points) with average performance at W/SV/K.  Luckily, if there’s one thing available in free agency, it’s marginal SPs that can help me boost Wins and Ks.  Desmond Jennings would be a lifesaver for SBs if called up but it’ll likely take an OF injury in Tampa for that to happen.  Most likely, I’ll trade some power for speed at some point, tapping into my treasure trove of DHs (the league mistakenly was set up with DH vs. UTIL – so a player has to be DH-eligible to be placed there.  Crazy, right?  Makes my bench pick of Jim Thome – done on autodraft while I went to see Ray Davies play @ SXSW – look brilliant.)

Next post, I’ll cover my NL team in a league run by KFFL.com…

  1. GTG says:
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    AL only 4×4 league w/11 teams: would you trade c.davis for borbon? We’re low on SBs w/Kinsler on bench (and worried he may not come back running).

  2. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @GTG: I’d do that trade.

  3. brad says:
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    That league is crazy deep. Definitely be nice for you to trade either Burrell or Thome for an OF that’s getting ABs and steals. Getting down to either Murphy or Byrnes instead of both in the starting lineup would put you in a pretty nice spot, being able to rotate one or the other in if he’s getting the start.

  4. William says:
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    Hey Grey, I noticed you ranked Alfonso Soriano just under 80th in your 2010 Top 100. Any thoughts to a revision? I just used my #2 waiver priority in my 12 team league to pick him up after someone dropped him. I figure Soriano is worth the risk and he’d be my #5 OF behind Kemp, Bay, Granderson, and Quentin.

  5. Good stuff Rudy, good luck! Looks like you have a solid team.

  6. @brad: i hear you but no team has an extra OF to spare (assuming they even have 5 decent OF!). it’s sad when you have to root for Burrell to get some starts in the OF…

    @3fingersbrown: cross two of those three fingers that my team stays healthy (when Lee and Bedard start their first games, i’ll be feeling a whole lot better…)

  7. T-BZA says:
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    In a vacuum: Fra-Gu for Alex Rios straight-up in an AL-Only league.

    Which side do you like?

  8. Terrence Mann says:
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    I warned y’all that Hochevar is really Charlize Theron.

  9. Buge Hoobs says:
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    All mighty Grey,

    Coming from the dreadful guy who drafted Montero, Kinsler, Roberts, and Cliff Lee, I’m considering renaming my team Lisabled Dist …

    How concerned should I be about Chipper?? I have him riding the pine, but after shifting some players around, I’m going to have to drop either him, Span, or Latos to pick up Alexei Ram or Jose Lopez.

    Also Snyder or Yadir to replace Montero? What’s your gut?

  10. and1mcgee says:
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    @Buge Hoobs

    Very concerned about Chipper. It’s Chipper, c’mon. Do you want Grey to tell you “Don’t be concerned at all about Chipper.” ??? c’mon…

    Replace Montero with Clement or Olivo…. or Snyder

  11. brad says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Yeah I noticed that too. I wonder if someone would bite if you threw in Jennings too. . . .

    Or you could just wait for Hamilton to get hurt, to open up more time for Murphy.

    @Buge Hoobs: smart money’s on molina

  12. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Buge Hoobs: Rudy and I dropped Chipper in one league. Was a pretty shallow 12 team league though, so not sure what you’re working with. Yadier’s fine.

  13. brad says:
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    @and1mcgee: clement more assured abs, but olivo has looked good. if you want to plug someone in and forget about him go clement, if you want to keep playing musical catchers go olivo.

  14. Ian says:
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    Would you recommend using a #1 waiver priority on Ortiz? 12 team standard roto league…

    I’ve got Adam LaRoche at utility so Papi would just be riding the bench and spot starting on off days, but could give me some trading chips if he turns it around (I have Miggy at 1st and DLee at corner spot)

  15. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Ian: Nope

  16. @brad: i need jennings too much – granderson is my only decent SB threat. just hoping he gets called up in June and that Murphy and/or Byrnes gets extended playing time (remember, Seattle has Bradley in the OF).

    @Ian: Let Ortiz be. You seem set with Miggy, DLee, and LaRoche…

  17. T-BZA says:
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    One more AL-Only trade in a vacuum:

    Verlander for Choo and Bedard

    Which side do you like?

    Thanks is advance.

  18. brad says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: ahh yes, i wasn’t considering bradley’s injury-proneness.

  19. @T-BZA: I’d take the Choo/Bedard side. I had Verlander at $29, Choo at $24, Bedard at $7 (and i’d say FA is worth $0-$1.). Plus, Choo is such a massive upgrade vs. who you have at OF if you’re in a 5 OF league….

  20. brad says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: you really think jennings comes up and gets ABs?

  21. @brad: yeah, there’s no reason to keep him down past end of may (he’ll have cleared ‘super 2′ status by then). TBD to see what happens with Sean-Rod and Burrell (neither of which are assured playing time) and Upton is a bit fragile…

  22. Brian says:
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    Trade:

    Rios and S. Drew for Hamilton?

  23. @Brian: I’d take the Rios/Drew side. Hamilton not worth the risk.

  24. Brian says:
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    Thanks,

    That is what I figured

  25. floridamach1 says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: @Grey: Do I trade Granderson/Wandy for De la Rosa/Harden/Bay? Wandy is lookin rough

  26. @floridamach1: I’d say Wandy and De La Rosa are comparable this year. Same goes for Granderson/Bay. Harden is so-so given his risk. I’m bullish on Granderson this year so I’m partial to staying pat but it’s a fair deal…

  27. floridamach1 says:
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    Thanks, Rudy. I was thinking the same thing but I feel like I am having a coronary everytime Wandy pitches. Granted he is playing a potent lineup today but he looks terrible. George of the Rose looked tremendous in his first start (albeit against the Pads). Harden healthy could be of some value. As a side note, I also have Heyward, Sizemore, Rasmus, Rios and McCutchen and only start 4 OFer.

  28. Steve says:
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    F*** you, Chris Perez.

  29. Perez ain’t long for the closer’s seat in Cleveland. Who’s next? Sipp? Lewis? Wright!? Please not Wright.

    I’m thinking of grabbing a good RP for support. Lewis seems like he could be next in line, but Affeldt’s lurking on waivers and he had a ridiculous fantasy week – due of course more to circumstance than skill. I hear good things about Esmailand Caridad for The Cubs too. I have little faith in Marmol keeping his job through the season. Who would you guys take?

  30. Brian says:
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    @3fingersbrown: I’ve been thinking the same thing on Perez. Lewis seems next in line. I doubt it would be Sipp as they view him more as a lefty specialist.

  31. brad says:
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    feliz throwing cheese

  32. mauledbypandas says:
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    Anybody watching Feliz throw 101 repeatedly right now? Man this guy just looks nasty.

  33. Hardcore Midget says:
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    Since Gordon Beckham just became 2b eligible, I’m about to cut bait with Scott Sizemore.

    Which FA do I pick up off the wire- Headley (3b/OF eligible), FraGu, Josh Willingham, or Juan Pierre.

    OPS league. Thanks.

  34. @Grey: No doubt. At least he should miss some bats.

    Different team – I’ve got my roster pretty much set with RPs: Fuentes, Rausch and Madson, but now I notice Jim Johnson’s available on waivers. Think he’s valuable enough to drop Jason Hammel or Dexter Fowler?

    I’m leaning towards standing pat, even though I know Madson’s time as closer is limited. Just hate letting someone else get a cheap save!

  35. By the way… howdya like Willingham HRing again. Hitting that ball like it owes him money!

    Wainwright’s going to get to finish his shutout. Between him, Willingham, Albert and Cruz, it’s been a nice start to the week. 10 – 0 good guys

  36. Nevermind. Yahoo stat tracker psyched me out. Said Wainwright was batting in the 8th.

  37. GopherDay says:
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    In a vacuum, position scarcity aside, Wright or Holliday?

  38. Ben says:
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    Grey,

    In a vacuum, HEPA filter of bagless?

    Nevermind, she’s gone from suck to blow.

  39. ThePoonTycoon says:
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    man, i love having taken neftali right now late in a non-holds league.

    i also love having nelson cruz in 2 of my 3 leagues. too bad he’s about the only bat on either team starting off hot.

  40. GrandSlamSingle says:
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    Rollins has a calf strain, and will get an MRI tomorrow.

    Werth left the game with a sore hip and is day to day (DAMMIT!)

    Lidge getting beat up by minor leaguers again.

    And thanks Wandy for crapping the bed again.

  41. Martin says:
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    @grey- also what do you think of jay bruce. Somebody in my league just dropped him. Should i try and waiver him?

  42. Cheese

    Cheese says:
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    Please tell me I need glasses… is that Juan Pierre batting ad DH?

  43. BeanyBill says:
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    Listen, I know we’re only a week in, and I was the guy last Wednesday mocking someone for threatening to drop Borbon, but I am nearing the end of the line on Borbon, Snider and Crush Davis. I know for a fact that their lines from the last couple years say I’d be crazy to consider dropping Davis or Borbon, and I know Snider’s strong like bull…….. but in a 12-team, CI/MI/4-OF/2-UT, points league, and I crazy to consider ditching any of them. The options are dregs like Kotchman, Hafber, Milledge, Maybin and Encarnacion, my best plan is to stay the course, right Grey???

  44. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Cheese: Hehe

    @BeanyBill: I’d lose Snider for Milledge or Maybin, depending on needs.

  45. BeanyBill says:
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    @Grey: Even in a points league where AVG/SBs don’t count for a whole lot?

  46. BeanyBill says:
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    @Grey: Grey, you’re like the lone lighthouse on the rocky, storm-ridden coastline that is my fantasy-baseball life. You’re the only constant, and distant as your light may shine, you steer me to salvation.

    I’m on my second cocktail of the evening, BTW.

  47. BeanyBill says:
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    @BeanyBill: Wow, I just reread that, and I can come to only one conclusion: Bill Shakespeare ain’t got shizz on me.

  48. @Grey: With Hammel going against SD again this week and Madson looking good (and Lidge lousy) I’m going to hold on Johnson. For the few saves he might get, he’s just not worth the potential ERA/WHIP death. I think Hammel’s going to be a nice surprise.

    Brignac’s hit his first HR. In my 15 teamer I think I’m going to drop Luis Castillo for the kid. Think Brignac will get enough playing time to be rosterable? They’ve already benched spring training heart throb, Sean Rodriguez.

  49. BeanyBill says:
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    @3fingersbrown: They haven’t benched SeanRod – so far, he’s essentially played every other game, with Kapler and Brignac getting the starts in between (and don’t forget Matt Joyce, who will come back from the DL soon). Don’t read Brignac’s start tonight as a sign that he’s their starting 2B — he’s no more their starting 2B than SeanRod or Zobrist, and no more a starter than Kapler or Joyce.

  50. Ben says:
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    It’s so early but I was never a big Rios fan and don’t have much faith in him. I know to wait it out but don’t want to miss a viable alternative. Is Willingham enough of a buy that its worth dropping Rios for him? You commented the other week in the roster section of the forum that my team needed power. OPS league btw.

  51. Ben says:
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    How much do we love big willy?

  52. Juice says:
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    Rasmus or Blanks? OBP and total bases instead of avg and hr.

  53. @BeanyBill & Grey: I hear you’s. I’ll take a shot and see what he does. Castillo’s a nightmare to roster anyway for a few steals, walks and slunts (firejoemorgan lingo there). He’s always hurt, but never DL’d. This is for my bench mind you, so I’m just gambling on upside.

    Peep Blank-man and the Pod Peoples busting out tonight in support of m’man Correia! This may go down as my best H2H monday ever.

  54. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @Ben: Maybe take the question to the forum, so I can see your team. Just go to the thread where I said you needed power.

    @Juice: Blanks

  55. mrbaseball says:
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    K. Correia – there is no place like hime

  56. mrbaseball says:
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    home

  57. MarkM says:
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    Anyone watching the A’s game? I just saw on stat tracker that Duchs only faced Jack Wilson in the 8th. Did he leave hurt? It seems weird that they’d trot him out in the 8th just to face the 9-man with a 4 run lead.

  58. I'm Keith Hernandez says:
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    Drop Clement or Soto?

  59. MarkM says:
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    @Grey: Me too, unfortunately

  60. BSA says:
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    What a night for Peavy?! This transition to the AL is going splendidly – I can’t wait to see what happens as it heats up and the ball flys farther and faster.

    Rudy, Great piece!

  61. Aaron Hill to the DL

    @Grey: With a roster spot open and my 2B/MI McGehee and Desmond, should I grab a backup MI (to cover if Desmond loses playing time) or pick up a useful arm. I’m thinking of a SP/RP to help me with K’s and ratios. We play with 3RP and I’ve got closers.

    Sean Marshall (he goes to 11) > a mixed bag of SP: Lewis, Richards, Bonderman and Morrow? Could be this years Kuo…

  62. The MI are pretty slim: Lopez, Renteria, Uribe, Baker (yawn)

  63. MarkM says:
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    @3fingersbrown: Renteria is surface-of-the-sun hot right now. If you’re not looking long term, you could do worse than him.

  64. @MarkM: Hopefully short term. That’s what I’m thinking. My hitting is pretty strong now, like I should win 5/6 categories every week and Rents doesn’t steal anymore.

    I love those SP/RP high K/BB guys. Marshall can make up for a bad start and maybe vulture a win.

    He has a -.71 FIP right now

  65. I'm Keith Hernandez says:
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    @Grey: I need to set and forget Soto and check back in 156 games

  66. I'm Keith Hernandez says:
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    @Grey: Panda sucked last year on yahoo in the beginning but I followed your method and it paid in spades.

  67. JordanRoyal says:
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    I was just offered Adrian Gonzalez for Justin Verlander. Should I pull the trigger? 10 team Head-to-Head auction keeper league. Gonzalez will cost $30 next year and Verlander $24.

    My team:
    C- Kurt Suzuki
    1B- Joey Votto
    2B- Robinson Cano
    SS- Ian Desmond
    3B- Ryan Zimmerman
    MI- Rickie Weeks
    CI- Chase Headley
    OF- Matt Holliday
    OF- Carlos Gonzalez
    OF- Carlos Quentin
    OF- Hunter Pence
    OF- Jason Heyward
    UTIL- Cameron Maybin
    Bench- Jay Bruce
    Bench- Everth Cabrera
    DL- Carlos Beltran

    SP – Z. Greinke, J. Verlander, C. Hamels, R. Nolasco, J. Shields, K. Slowey
    Bench- F. Liriano, CJ Wilson
    RP- R. Soriano, C. Marmol, C. Perez
    Bench- O. Dotel

  68. charlie batch says:
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    man rudy, that is a deeep league.

  69. charlie batch says:
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    @JordanRoyal: I think your pitching is excellent, you can afford to lose verlander. Id do it, grey may think differently

  70. BeanyBill says:
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    @JordanRoyal: Yes and don’t think twice about it. Adrian with the BoSox next year will be well well well worth it at $30.

    Grey, you buyin what Andrew Jones is layin down? I’m thisclose to ditching Snider for a half-pack of Big League Chew.

  71. BeanyBill says:
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    @JordanRoyal: By the by, I’m sure you’re just doing it based on Bruce’s abysmal 1st week, but if you’re starting Maybin over Bruce two weeks from now, I will be angry with you.

  72. timsti says:
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    @Grey: Rank these Rollins replacements por favor:

    Furcal
    Desmond
    O.Cabrera
    Aybar
    Pennington
    Wilson
    Cedeno
    Uribe

  73. BKK says:
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    @timsti: I’d say that’s about the right order as you have them.

  74. Grey

    Grey says:
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    @timsti: I agree with BKK.

  75. bobmac says:
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    Try AL keeper league 11×11 where there were only three legit closers available.High inflation so I punted the category hoping to use my speed to climb back in a month or so.Not good.The question I have is how did you like Ray Davies?

  76. DrEasy says:
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    Drop Jose Lopez for Kelly Johnson? Ian Desmond is also available.

  77. bobmac says:
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    That was 4×4 eleven team league and no I’m not drinking.

  78. eltoo says:
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    @Grey: I currently have Sandoval at third and have my eye on Zimmerman. How do you feel about trying to sell high on panda (6R 1HR 3RBI 1SB .414AVG) for Zimmerman (2R 0HR 2RBI 0SB .211AVG)? I know it’s early for high/low, but I’m kind of bleh on panda. Do you think this is too much of a lateral move to bother with, plus theres some added risk with zimmerman (I believe he’s sitting out with “tightness”).

  79. ThePensive says:
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    @eltoo: I think I agree with you in that I like Zimmerman quite a bit more than Sandoval. I’d try to make the deal.

    Grey, Cueto was just dropped in my league–drop Ervin or Kennedy for him?

  80. Buddo Chezuski says:
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    I have Borbon on my bench in a weekly league and was envisioning playing him certain weeks at 1 of 2 UTIL spots depending on matchups and whatnot. I hate to do a knee jerk reaction and drop him so soon but should I drop him for Rajai Davis? I’d like to wait a little longer on Borbon but I feel like the window to pick up Davis is closing

  81. ThePensive says:
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    Eh, after thinking it over a little bit I’m dropping Santana. Don’t want any part of him vs. NYY tomorrow, so I wouldn’t use him for a bit anyway.

  82. Brian says:
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    @DrEasy: Keep Lopez. He’s batting cleanup and will drive in 100 runs or close to it unless he gets hurt.

  83. @eltoo: Yeah he’s bleh… he only hits everything. Would I trade Zimmerman even up for him? No, but Sandoval’s your biggest problem, do you play in a 6 team league?

  84. @Grey: Rents cooled off tonight with 3 K’s. I think he had his good week for the year. My offense is fire now anyway.

    Going to see what Marshall gives me. I like his K’s (I’m a little low there) and he won’t explode my ratios like some of the mediocre, high K starters available.

  85. DrEasy says:
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    @Brian: OK, I guess I should leave Jose Lopez alone and hope he comes around. My offense is doing ok anyway.

  86. Dr. Orlando Schadenfreude says:
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    @Rudy Gamble: Yo Rudy, is there anyway to check out the scores in the other razzball leagues? I’m feeling pretty good about my stupendous selection of suck (333.33 points in week one) but I’ve got no idea how that stacks up against the other leagues. I know its early in the season, but I have no idea what I’m on pace for.

  87. Rudy really did an excellent job–your team is a definite contender. one easy way to look at it is how many $30 players; no more than one means you handled the auction well. and I love that Valbuena/Hardy combo. looks like second place at best for you though, since I aim to repeat…

  88. eltoo says:
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    @3fingersbrown: Don’t recall saying he was a problem (that honor currently belongs to Snider & Borbon), just an opportunity. He swings at everything, I don’t like that, I’ll be impressed if he matches last year’s numbers. Zimmerman has the better chance to at least repeat 2009, in my opinion, and his line was better.

  89. @bobmac: ray davies was awesome. it was a 1,000 person club and he was in good spirits. played a good set (‘you really got mix of 60’s/70’s material) – only song I was really bummed he didn’t play was ‘Waterloo Sunset’.

    @Dr. Orlando Schadenfreude: I’ll post all the league URLs and standings in a week or so. But all of the URLs are the same format and public. http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/razzball01, http://baseball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/razzball02, etc. through 16 (skipping 09).

    @patrick dicaprio: should be a good pennant race!

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