I’m not proud of myself. Football season seems a hundred years away, and the Titans are apparently waiting to hear if Bam Morris wants to be their starting running back next year. There are teams making crazy signings (Daniel Graham for $30 million), and others seem to be making out like bandits (Pats and Adalius Thomas, Rams and Randy McMichael). The only reason why fans get so nuts over NFL free agency is that the league has brainwashed us to think that this is a year-round sport. It really isn’t, but then again, people obsess over Britney’s hair and Anna Nicole’s final resting place, so if I have a choice of obsession, it might as well be sports related.
As I mentioned in my first blog ever, baseball is a superior sport when it comes to fantasy. There’s no reason for me to re-hash those arguments. Over the past few weeks I’ve returned to my “other” sport by creating endless Excel spreadsheets and trying to read every link in a Buster Olney article. Baseball without a doubt is not a year-round sport for me, although it fits better than the NFL. You don’t see NFL players spending their winter playing ball in Mexico and Venezuela, do you?
I have three leagues rolling over from 2006. The first is my trusty Yahoo league. It’s a simple 6×6 head to head league with friends and family. Last year I finished out of the playoffs for the first time ever. I’m trying to have a redraft state of mind. I failed miserably at that in my one redraft (technically keeper) football league, and my reward was an 11th-place finish. Leagues two and three are dynasty-contract leagues. One problem with dynasty-contract leagues is that the free agency in subsequent years is a relative bore. League one, home of the Buckhead Green Sox, contracted and wiped out all rosters, so I get to start from scratch. Signings like Albert Pujols for ¼ of a team’s total salary cap leads to such moves. My favorite part of any dynasty team is that initial draft/auction, and the year doesn’t feel the same without one. That’s probably why I’ve added one dynasty fantasy football league in each of the past three years.
The final league is a dynasty/contract league rolling over from last year. There’s a $100 million salary cap with $10 million extra after the “free agent blitz.” Don’t you wish that NFL teams had an extra $10 million socked away? That’s why they get the big bucks, probably on par with the average punter salary.
Going into year two, I have $13 million left for the FAB. My offense is stacked, I have six, maybe seven starting pitchers (Yusmiero Petit might slip into the Marlins’ rotation), and no bullpen.
Any player who made their Major League debut and is not on a roster is available. That means Daisuke Matszuka won’t be available until after the FAB. Only three teams have more money to spend than me.
The FAB works like this: You put guys in a first-offer queue. Each team gets to make a first offer to five players, and the offers go like a draft. After that, there’s 24 hours for teams to bid until the player stops accepting bids or the time runs out. Points are added to your GM rating for successful bids and taken away for poor ones. A good GM rating lets you see things like other team’s bids. Since my GM rating is 52 and the max is 100, I doubt that mine will go up very much.
I thought about playing it cheap and waiting the market out, but with so little cash out there I might as well be bold. I’m going for Mariano Rivera, since my bullpen is empty. I can offer him a no-trade clause, which gives the bid a little extra juice. During the offseason I did something that the Yankees never would. I signed Rivera last year for $8 million, and had the opportunity to extend him for $9 million. I let him go in hopes that the price would go down during the FAB. This is the kind of thing that would never happen in real baseball.
In the real world, I like what the White Sox are doing with their starting pitchers. Offering three-year deals is smart. I doubt that the Barry Zito will go as poorly as the Mike Hampton deal, but there’s almost no way that the Giants will get value out of the deal. On the off chance that Zito outpitches his deal, he’s stuck. Guaranteeing Javier Vazquez 11.5 million per year seems like lunacy, but in the current market it’s not a bad deal. Jose Contreras took that deal and from what I hear, Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle have turned them down. The Sox have Contreras until 2009, Garland until 2008, Vazquez until 2010, and Buehrle for this year only.
After the McCarthy and Garcia trades, the Sox have some interesting prospects in the minors. Jon Danks looks like an even-money bet to have a better career than McCarthy. Gavin Floyd may be a placeholder, or he might harness his talent. Gio Gonzalez is slight but has been excellent to date in the minors. Larry Broadway, an ex-first rounder, should make his ML debut this year. Neither Garland nor Buehrle have plus “stuff.” They just have track records. The Sox can’t afford four eight-figure pitchers forever. They’re going to need some outfield help soon, and the rest of the team isn’t exactly young.