(NOTE FROM GREY: Last year, Razzball Commenter League winner was given carte blanche to write a post for the site.  If you’re interested, I think there’s still room in the our fantasy baseball leagues for one or two more people.  Comment on that post, if you want in.)

Welcome to the first annual p0rk burn “Point/Counter-Point.” As the winner of the seminal Razzball Commenter League I’ve graciously been given the opportunity to write a post. As I’m neither funny nor knowledgeable, this was the only way I’d get my name on the Razzball marquee. While a point/counter-point format typically includes two people with opposite talking points, I’ve been warped by law school and am now able to pretend (for the right price) to believe two contradicting points at the same time. Not only does this allow me to make money being a jerk for a living, in this instance it has the added benefit of allowing me to not share the bully pulpit.

When I proposed a league among the commenters last season I was sure it would be fun but I didn’t expect half the response it received. For those of you that weren’t able to participate last year I’m excited to see the idea has spawned a new tradition.

The four of you still reading are going to learn my dirty little secret – I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t use a slide rule or player projections to make decisions because I was too poor to go to The College of Fantasy Baseball at Charleston – I was stuck choosing between Topeka Fantasy Baseball A&M or a diploma mill like the University of Phoenix.  Instead, I decided to save my money for important things, like microwaveable burritos and sweet haircuts.  As such, my approach is simpler and summed up by “don’t have crappy players on your team.” This strategy has worked in the past, so the lack of actual methodology doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of competence. The trick is in properly bumbling your way to victory.

1. Use the experts to your advantage

  • Let (some of) them do the work for you: most people don’t have time to come up with their own player projections and instead rely on advice from the lucky people that do. Some of you visit Razzball.com for more than the quality writing, right? Its ok to leave some of the work to the experts, just be careful who you rely on. Grey and Rudy? Good choice. Karabell and any of the hacks at Yahoo? Kiss your season goodbye.
  • Use “expert” advice to your advantage:  I believe in do-it-yourself fantasy baseball. It’s a much more rewarding experience to take what the experts say and distill it. You wouldn’t drink sour mash would you? Taking the advice most of your league mates are relying on and using it against them is like turning sour mash into Jack Daniel’s: it sure is fun while it lasts and, rarely, you wake up with a fat chick – as long as your friends don’t catch you riding the scooter its all good. Use the advice that’s out there to see which players the other managers will overpay for. Since most people get their information from the same pool of advice they are going to be easy to take advantage of. Razzball calls this “zigging when they are zagging.” Just try to stay away from the fat chicks. And scooters. The Jack Daniels is your call, we don’t judge here.

2. Don’t forget why you are playing

  • The point is to have fun: unless the point is to win the money your sucker friends paid to play (that’s gambling and is illegal so nobody here is doing that anyways). First and foremost, you should enjoy playing the game, otherwise it’s like work except you aren’t getting paid. I don’t know about you but the only reason I go to work is the paycheck. If having fun means drafting a team composed solely of players with mustaches, knock yourself out. Also ask Grey for advice, I bet he has some pointers for you.
  • Play to win the game: To cross my sports references, Herm Edwards said it best. Having fun is well and good but it’s a lot more fun when you can make fun of people. Playing to win makes the game that much sweeter. Even if your team happens to suck and you’re the one being made fun of, keep playing competitively. There is nothing worse in a league than the managers that gave up and aren’t setting rosters.

3. Intangibles

  • Play with the heart: it goes back to playing for fun but you should make a few moves based on your gut and emotions. If you think a player is posed to have a breakout year but you can’t think of a single reason why, say screw it and draft him. Don’t use this approach to draft Pedro Martinez in the first round, but a lot of your team’s performance is going to be out of your hands. The one thing you can control is how you feel about the players on the team. I picked Dan Uggla up off the waiver wire early in his rookie season for the sole reason that I lived in Miami and wanted to have a player I could root for while watching Marlins games. He became something of a mascot (coincidentally, for significant stretches the Mariner Moose will give you better stats) and the fact that my team won the championship was even better because he was there.
  • To win you need to play smart: the margin between winning and losing is often exceedingly small. Fantasy baseball is a game of cold hard numbers and there simply isn’t room on a winning team for feel-good stories. Most feel-good stories don’t end up like Josh Hamilton. After that first season with Uggla I made it a point to have him on my teams which entailed reaching a round or two for him. When we drafted the RCL I fought the urge and decided to draft him where he deserved to go – and didn’t end up with him. I won the league by half a point. That wouldn’t have happened if Uggla had been on the team.

4. Making Moves

  • Active managers are champs: after the draft, the only reasonable place to get talent for free is to find a gem among the schmoes on the waiver wire. Last season Carlos Quentin was largely undrafted and Alexei Ramirez was unheard of. Knowing then what you know now, don’t you wish you had picked them up? Don’t be afraid to cut players loose if a better deal is out there. Generally, at least a third of the players on my teams at the end of any season weren’t on the opening day roster. Maybe I just suck at drafting. To do this properly you need to figure out who has historically underperformed and is now playing at their real level of talent; conversely, don’t pick up the players that historically were playing at their actual level of suckitude and are now enjoying a streak of good luck.
  • Being an active manager is an easy way to get hosed: Even though it is said time and again, you have to remember that baseball is a game of averages. Dealing someone (or dropping them for a waiver wire pickup) during the middle of a cold spell can be a good way to end up stuck with the worst part of their season and miss out on their production. Don’t cut ties with a guy just because he hasn’t had a decent game in a few weeks. Instead, sit him on the bench and plug in someone else until he comes around. Similarly, don’t try to score a player because you think he’ll keep up his monster numbers; boys and girls, we call that overpaying. The start of Dan Uggla’s season last year was real nice – too bad he balanced it out with June through September. Hamilton also cooled off quite a bit. Chances are at the end of the year the managers that traded for those guys early were wishing they had the players they gave away in the deal.

Following this advice will in no way guarantee you a championship. If you’re in the Original Recipe division with me I strongly recommend you disregard this entire post. Everybody should find their own approach to the game and make it work for them. Most importantly, keep coming to Razzball.com to see what you should really do – just remember to make sure the author wasn’t p0rk burn.

  1. Freak says:

    “Don’t cut ties with a guy just because he hasn’t had a decent game in a few weeks. Instead, sit him on the bench and plug in someone else until he comes around.”

    I oopsidentally cut Adrian Gonzalez after his two months of sucking towards the end of the year. Literally the day he came off waivers he started mashing again. Luckily it didn’t hurt me too much and I still won. Eat it, haterz.

  2. cubbies299 says:

    Who do you like more, Kotchman, Laroche or Giambi at 1B?

  3. cubbies299 says:

    also, this trade. Uggla, Kouzmanoff for Chipper, (kotch or laroche)

    I get chipper. I think this is good for me

  4. Bob says:

    Nice post, Pork.

  5. Grey

    Grey says:

    @cubbies299: Kotchman, Giambi, LaRoche, in that order.

    @cubbies299: Don’t like the trade.

    Yes, agreed. Well done, p0rk. You’re a salty man of great seasoning.

  6. cubbies299 says:

    @Grey: You don’t like it by a little or a lot? Im trying to get him to throw in jair jurrjens and i’ll give him kelvim escobar. I could also get him to agree to roberts instead of uggla… Thoughts?

  7. PhillyYorker says:

    “Let (some of) them do the work for you: most people don’t have time to come up with their own player projections and instead rely on advice from the lucky people that do.”

    In law school terms, is this “Get your outlines off of outlinedepot.com from the people who actually put the time in and did the work.”? That’s what I did. Worked like a charm.

  8. Grey

    Grey says:

    @cubbies299: I’m not a huge fan of Chipper. You’re trading one headache for another. If you want to make a play for a 3rd baseman, at least go for one I can get behind.

  9. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Grey: If I still need a 3B by the 5th round, I’m looking at either Chipper or Chris Davis in the 6th. I’m also targeting Bruce in the 7th (or later) so I’m tempted to take Chipper so I’m not overly reliant on unproven youngsters. (Instead, I’d like to be overly reliant on fragile veterans.)

    I don’t like Zim in the mid-rounds because that’s where all my favorite pitchers live. And I don’t want Mark Reynolds and his .239 avg as Option 1: I like him better as a late-round flier.

    Is there a 3B play I’m missing out on or overlooking here? Grey (or anyone) who do you like at 3B after the 5th round (i.e. after Wright, Miggy, and the various A-Rams and Rods are gone.)

  10. cubbies299 says:

    @Grey: I’m highly confident I can flip Chipper to Aramis’ owner… probably straight up. That said, I also have no 1B. I have the kind of team depth to back up chipper if he only plays 120 games.

    Iunno. You saw my team earlier, so power is a weakness, but I think I at least gain power by trading uggla for laroche/chipper (combined). I get the increase in ops and avg from chipper. And i already have a starting 2B. I have David Wright, so this isn’t about getting a 3B. But I think that Chipper is a much more tradeable asset in a league where pretty much everyone has a 2B and the guys that don’t aren’t active. And, I can’t help but feel a team with Krisby young, Uggla, and Alex Gordon can’t compete in avg (not that laroche is Ted Williams, but at least he’ll beat swisher player for player and Chipper will offset some of the avg sinks)

  11. Dom says:

    If there are still spots open for the league let me know.

  12. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Baron Von Vulturewins: Beltre, REYNOLDS, Encarnacion, Sandoval, DeRosa, Gordon, Zimmerman or Kouz. I kinda like them all for their value. And it’s not that I hate Chipper, if drafted he can be fine. I don’t like trading Uggla/Kouz for Chipper. Uggla/Kouz should get more than Chipper. Sure, Uggla’s a nightmare, but some people value his 30 HRs at 2nd base, you just need to find that person. Not sure why I’m talking to you about a trade proposed by someone else. Carry on…

  13. cubbies299 says:

    @Grey: Haha, thanks. I’m gonna take a big spoonful of shut the fuck up now

  14. Grey

    Grey says:

    @cubbies299: Nah, now that you explain more your thinking I can understand your MO. But first I thought it was Kouz/Uggla for Chipper now you’re saying it’s Uggla for Chipper/LaRoche. Do the trade then. But you’re fooling yourself if you think you’re going to enjoy owning LaRoche at all.

    @Dom: You should post your email on the post I linked to above in my note.

  15. cubbies299 says:

    @over Morales/Swisher, I think I’d enjoy Shia LaBouff. Laroche? You bet your ass. I might take Giambi instead of Laroche. I just can’t stomach Kotchman. I don’t know why. He’s so goddamn Blah.

  16. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Grey: I can see owning Encarnacion or Kouz of that bunch. Sandoval I’m targeting as my catcher, Zim and I have issues, ditto Gordon (I’ve owned his blahtastic ass every year), and everyone knows how I feel about Blahtre.

  17. Doc says:

    Pork, nice post. I’m going to start calling you Sybill. Oh, and this is the end of your reign of terror and salty meat. Tombstone will rise again! You’re no daisy! No daisy at all!!!

  18. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    Pork Burn — nice post!

  19. Chase says:

    @Doc: I’m your huckelberry doc

    Awesome post piggy

  20. BigFatHippo says:

    p0rk, don’t get too confident up there on your throne, or in there on the throne for what it’s worth.

    This year, I’m the other white meat.

    Nice job buddy.

  21. Bruce Dickenson says:

    “I believe in do-it-yourself fantasy baseball. It’s a much more rewarding experience to take what the experts say and distill it”

    Totally agree. I also believe playing in only one league is more challenging and rewarding than having a shot in multiple ones.

  22. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    Great Post, Pork Burn;

    “Its ok to leave some of the work to the experts, just be careful who you rely on. Grey and Rudy? Good choice.”

    Only one problem with that. The leagues are filled with managers who drink their morning coffee (or in some cases, their morning’s bloody mary’s) over Grey and Rudy. This was best shown in my league’s draft, which was quite bizarre, as at least 10 of the manager’s had a similar draft strategy. And, of course, their was a chorus of razztastics for the manager who drafted Chone Figgins.

    Concerning Chipper, Casey, the Ole Perfesser, perhaps said it best:

    “He’s old but he still glues his meat together after he gets hurt.”–

  23. Steve says:

    Some good news from an exploding post-it note for a change:

    Steve Gilbert, of MLB.com, reports Arizona Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin is leaning toward putting 2B Felipe Lopez in the leadoff spot this year. Melvin is leaning toward having OF Chris B. Young and SS Stephen Drew follow Lopez in the lineup. OF Conor Jackson is also a candidate to hit either second or third. 1B Chad Tracy will likely hit fifth with OF Justin Upton batting in the No. 6 spot. 3B Mark Reynolds will likely bat seventh and C Chris Snyder will round out the order in the eighth spot.

  24. Russ says:

    I hate to be that guy, but where are these leagues where Quentin went undrafted and no one had heard of Alexei last year?

  25. p0rk burn says:

    @Bob: @Grey: @Doc: @Baron Von Vulturewins: @Chase: @BigFatHippo: @Paulie Allnuts: Thanks everybody for for the kind words. It was intimidating to try to write a post that would meet the high standards set by the regular contributors.

    @cubbies299: If you can get ARam for Chipper straight up I think you HAVE to do it. Notice the modifier on that absolute.

    @PhillyYorker: Other peoples’ outlines are in law school terms a guaranteed B. The trick was to use them as a supplement to your own material so you can pull the A, which is the premise of that point/counterpoint. There were plenty of C/B students in law school (and metaphorically in fantasy baseball) that will more than succeed relying only on the work of others. But they didn’t win last year so they don’t get a say in this.

    BigFatHippo: I welcome the challenge, but do you really think you can compete with “one parts crazy and two parts insane”? The other three parts are trade secrets.

    @Paulie Allnuts: True, this approach was much easier to use last year when Razzball was new to the scene. Grey and Rudy, I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t shared you with most of my leaguemates; I just don’t want to share you. Even then I was wondering if a few of them found you on their own after some of the picks in my last draft. Granted, you don’t have a monopoly on recognizing talent, but sometimes it was a little too convenient. The basic point still stands – zig when they zag and use more than the main “experts.”

  26. AL KOHOLIC says:

    @Paulie Allnuts: i did to!!!!have a bloody marry that is,,@Steve: without a real cleanup hitter there,upton might not be hurt on his rbi total,,conor and tracy good obp

  27. cockyphoenix says:

    Great post, p0rk.

    Of course I will not disregard, and since now I’m inside your head, my vengeance will be complete and overwhelming. Enjoy the crown while you can

  28. cockyphoenix says:

    @p0rk burn: it is no exaggeration when I say that my brother is the ONLY person I’ve told about this site

  29. cockyphoenix says:

    shameful, really

  30. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Russ: Quentin went undrafted in my league last year, which is a 12-team mixed roto w/ 3 OF slots.

    He was a gimpy D-Backs castoff who, I can’t imagine, was in anyone’s top 50 OFs, and that’s about how many OFs get drafted in my league every year.

  31. Steve says:

    @Russ: @Baron Von Vulturewins: And Al-Ram didn’t get drafted in a similar league that I’m in.

    I made sure he got grabbed off the wire though ;-)

  32. Grey

    Grey says:

    @Steve: That is great news. About Lopez, not about Quentin not being drafted.

  33. James says:

    @BVV – Dont get off the Zimmer train. He got hurt, it happenes. He sure helped me in Sept when he came off my DL. He has a legit chance at 30-100-100 .290 and some SBs.

  34. BigFatHippo says:

    @Grey: You just went over 5000 with that comment, got carpal tunnel?

  35. James says:

    5 grr? Impressive – I thought I was gangster going over 100.

  36. Grey

    Grey says:

    @BigFatHippo: As the kids say, w00t! Actually, I’m not sure if they say it since there’s numbers in it.

  37. BigFatHippo says:

    @Grey: They text it to their Fave 5 while simultaneously adjusting their earbuds, hitching the beltless britches up and asking if you want fries with that order.

    Ah, youth, the multi-taskers of the next generation…………..be afraid, be very afraid.

  38. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Steve: Al-Ram was so far off my radar last year, he might as well have been playing soccer.

    @James: I hear you. Zim was just some collateral damage in the shizz-show that was the Baron’s fantasy season last year. I had so much hate for Jeff Francoeur, I had to spread it around to a few other players.

    You too, Gordon. Grrrrrr.

  39. john says:

    Nice cherry popping, pork bun

  40. john says:

    So how far has Morrow fallen now that he might not even make the starting rotation until his arm strengthens? Is he worth keepin or should I just drop him and pick up the likes of Wandy or Marshall who are sittin pretty on the wire?

  41. Baron Von Vulturewins

    Baron Von Vulturewins says:

    @Russ: Speaking of which, who’s the Quentin (or Ludwick) of this year? i.e. former top prospect now hardly thought of, but in a position to win a starting job…

    I’m making a late-rounds sleeper list right now.

  42. PhillyYorker says:

    Pork, a B? My god, where did you go to law school? With grade inflation being what it is at the top tier schools, the lowest grade in the class is a B. I did my own work, just didn’t bother outlining, when other more organized people did it so much better than I could have.

    Who drafts without BP? Am I right people? Can I get a concurrence?

    F. Lopez will fail. Coco Crisp will be a superstar.

  43. Grey

    Grey says:

    @john: I like Wandy.

  44. john says:

    yea, Marshall’s numbers (albeit, only spring training) are pretty good so far though

  45. Grey

    Grey says:

    @john: I like them both, but I’d take Wandy slightly over Marshall. Dealer’s choice, if you want.

  46. john says:

    @Grey: I have a feeling that it doesn’t really matter since both will probably be waiver wire pitchers for the entire year in my league

  47. cubbies299 says:

    K, Grey. I managed to talk him into Uggla/Swisher for Chipper/Laroche. He said he was gonna sleep on it and barring any unforseen circumstances, accept it in the morning. I think we good here

  48. Emporers Monkey says:

    Just accepted this trade offer in a roto league that also uses OPS as a catagory.

    I give:
    Aramis Ramirez
    Danny Haren
    Pablo Sandoval

    I get:
    Miguel Cabrera

    Its a yahoo league, so Sandoval is catcher eligible.
    Fairly equal?

  49. cockyphoenix says:

    drafted another team in a fit of insomnia. Got Motte. Is the Perez handcuff even necessary now? Picked him up last round but my OF is a little thin so I might prefer to find something on the wire

  50. Jeremy says:

    Any spots left for the league? I’d love to be a part of it.
    I first start playing fantasy baseball in ’01 and went from a virgin to a nympho.
    I’m very active — a veritable hawk on the wire, especially when it comes to young arms with K-ability, natch.
    Please consider me if there’s still room.

  51. big o says:

    pork burn and b.f. hippo (the other white meat) …. sandwich picks , going into the season (ing) ?

  52. Jeremy says:

    That could be fun. The question is, if I win, can I write an article?

  53. Mark says:

    I like this article. Going along the lines of “having fun” I went to a Rockies @ Nationals game last year. Not a fan of either team. Don’t live anywhere close to Washington either, but I had Matt Holliday. One of the kids in my league I went to school with was living in the area. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a game. Nobody goes to Nationals games (go figure) so we sat in left field right next to Matty. Sweet view of my best player for the past three seasons butt. What? I’m a manager I’m allowed to slap him on the butt and I’m allowed to look at it as much as I want if he’s in front of me.

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