RotoAuthority League Update

RotoAuthority League Update: A Lesson in Fantasy Remorse

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

Let's be honest. There's nothing more annoying than hearing someone talk about his or her fantasy team, but you'll have to excuse me this week, readers. With all due respect to the other owners in the league, I'm going to be selfish this week and focus on my squad, A Century of Misery. Don't worry; I do think there's a larger point here.

First, though, I need to present a little backstory. In January I provided my own personal top 12 as I analyzed how I'd approach drafting in the first round of a fantasy draft this spring. One of the rankings that stood out to some readers was placing Edwin Encarnacion at tenth overall. It was certainly a bullish ranking, and you'd be hard-pressed to find any other website that had the Blue Jays star any higher. Heck, I'll admit it; even I was worried I was getting carried with my Man Crush when I saw other sites had him outside the top 25. When I removed the names and focused simply on the skills, however, I just couldn't get past the rosy outlook for Edwin heading into this season.

Now flash forward to the RotoAuthority League Draft in March. Once I found out I had the twelfth pick, I knew I'd be taking Encarnacion at the turn, and I even wrote about it in my draft preview. Sure enough, I ended up grabbing Edwin along with Chris Davis with my first couple picks in the draft. I was quite satisfied with a foundation built around power at the corners, as the Blue Jays star is eligibile at third base in Yahoo! leagues.

Well, that brings us to mid-April. In my first deal of the season, I traded Encarnacion along with Cody Allen to Pulling Brzenk in exchange for Stephen Strasburg and Martin Prado. You can read my rationale behind the move here, but it boils down to a couple of things. For one, Encarnacion was striking out a ton early on this season. One of the first statistics to stabilize each season is strikeout rate, and he had one of the most significant spikes after a couple weeks. I'll admit it: I was worried he wasn't fully healthy coming off offseason surgery. Meanwhile, Strasburg was flashing elite skills despite getting poor results. He made for a sabermetrician's ideal Buy Low target at the time, and I felt compulsed to get relatively fair value for Encarnacion if by chance he was indeed hurt and his early season struggles continued.

Well, if you've been paying to baseball in May at all, you know how this story ends. Edwin Encarnacion just tied Mickey Mantle for most HR in May in the history of the American League. The Blue Jays first baseman is completely locked in and now ranks as a truly elite commodity in fantasy baseball. Going forward, I'd take Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Troy Tulowitzki, and Giancarlo Stanton over him. That might be the full list, though. I should say it's not as if I've been disappointed by Strasburg. He's been great and should be one the best pitchers going forward. In today's game, you have to take the elite hitters over the top pitchers.

The lesson in all of this is that if I clearly preferred Encarnacion to Strasburg at the outset of the season, I really shouldn't have let two weeks of games change my valuations all that much. We hear it all the time, but the fantasy baseball season is a grind. More often than not, the best action in April is no action at all. This trade will certainly sting for awhile, especially given that I actually loved E5 going into the season. My team has risen out of the bottom four of the standings, but I'm not sure my roster has what it takes to take home the title. If I never would have made this trade, though, I'd be right in the thick of things. Excuse me while I go get drunk...

RotoAuthority League Update: Trades Galore... Again

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

Once again, the RotoAuthority League doesn't fail to disappoint. It was yet another incredibly active week on the trade front in this league. Let's take a look at all of the deals that went down this past week.

05/20 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Zack Greinke to Pulling Brzenk for Victor Martinez

As you'll see, I made a concerted effort over the past week to trade a surplus of excellent starting pitchers for quality bats. My roster has been quite unbalanced so far this season with a lights-out staff and a miserable offense. Accordingly, I made up my mind to address my offensive needs sooner rather than later. In a vacuum, I certainly don't love this deal, as I'm actually quite bullish on Greinke in Dodger Stadium. Even so, few hitters outside of Troy Tulowitzki have displayed better skills than V-Mart so far this season. Entering this week the Tigers DH has 12 HR and 13 K; that's just plain silly in today's game. As long as he can stay healthy, V-Mart should be highly productive all season long. With the league's top offense, Pulling Brzenk had some impetus to deal for Greinke, as an improved staff in the second half could be precisely what this owner needs to repeat as champion.

05/22 - The Jewru agrees to trade Nelson Cruz to A Century of Misery for Madison Bumgarner

For all intents and purposes, this deal is a carbon copy of the previous one. Once again, I dealt a highly skilled arm for a veteran hitter off to a great start this season. Once more, I don't love this trade on paper. Mad Bum is a bona fide fantasy ace at this point, and I thought I could get more in return for him. As it turned out, however, few owners wanted to move power, and Cruz was the best bat I could acquire in exchange for Bumgarner. Similar to V-Mart, Cruz should be a Roto monster, barring injury.

05/23 - The Jewru agrees to trade Julio Teheran to Brewsterville Bruins for Matt Carpenter

Looking to acquire a quality arm, the Bruins moved one of last season's top breakout performers in Carpenter in exchange for the talented Teheran. It's tough to make sense of the young Braves right-handed at this point. His skills have been good but not spectacular, yet only Jeff Samardzija and Adam Wainwright had a better ERA entering play Monday. Meanwhile, Carpenter has been fine from a real baseball perspective but is off to a slow start in fantasy. Ultimately, though, each owner dealt a player that he had placed on the block and acquired another player that addressed a need. As such, this was a rare win-win for both parties involved.

05/23 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Giancarlo Stanton to A Century of Misery for Stephen Strasburg and Carl Crawford

My third and final pitching-for-power move of the week was arguably the most exciting of all. It's tough to part with Strasburg; his skills have been elite thus far. By including Crawford, I also probably overpaid a tad. Then again, trades aren't won or lost in a vacuum; they're won or lost in the standings. Stanton is precisely the type of hitter that my offense needed. Full disclosure: he's also kind of a Man Crush. Overall, I'm not sure I won this deal on paper, but I'm confident my team should gain points in the standings as a result of it. The same can also be said for Men With Wood, whose fate likely lies in the performance of his staff going forward.

05/23 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Sean Doolittle and Mark Melancon to Brewsterville Bruins for Homer Bailey and Lorenzo Cain

With Jason Grilli set to return from the DL, Men With Wood opted to move Melancon as well as a highly skilled arm who recently was named closer in Doolittle. For my money, Cain is somewhat of a throw-in. If we assume Melancon is simply a setup man going forward, this deal ultimately boils down to Doolittle for Bailey. Make no mistake: Doolittle is an elite closer if he has the job. The sabermetricians have been waiting for a good month now for Bailey's results to begin to catch up to his peripherals, but that hasn't happened yet. Unless the Red right-hander returns to last season's form, I think the Bruins did quite well here to grab Doolittle, especially given the premium placed on saves in this league. Then again, Men With Wood is first in the league in saves by a wide margin, so this owner really isn't losing anything.

05/23 - The Bombers agree to trade Adam Dunn to Men With Wood for Emilio Bonifacio

A clear categorical move, the Bombers sought to acquire some speed while Men With Wood boosted the power on its roster. If you were to make lists of players who can address specific categorical needs yet don't cost all that much, Dunn and Bonifacio would certainly be good targets for power and speed, respectively.

05/24 - The Jewru agrees to trade Matt Carpenter and Trevor Rosenthal to Spirit of St. Louis for Wil Myers, Ryan Howard, and John Axford

Just a day after acquiring Carpenter, the Jewru flipped him along with the third baseman's teammate in Rosenthal to add some pop to roster from Myers and Howard. I guess Axford has a chance to reclaim the closer role in Cleveland, but I don't really see that taking place. Accordingly, this is by and large a two-for-two deal. After a strong Rookie campaign, Myers is in the midst of a sophomore slump; still, he's just too talented to keep hitting as he has thus far. Howard, meanwhile, has established himself as a decent source of power at the expense of AVG at this stage of his career. To me, that doesn't seem like a sufficient haul for an elite closer in Rosenthal as well as a solid middle infield option in Carpenter. Then again, Myers could just as easily catch fire as he did last season and carry the Jewru  out of the bottom four.

05/25 - Brewsterville Bruins agree to trade Jason Grilli and Mark Melancon to E-Z Sliders for Alfonso Soriano and Wade Davis

Yet another deal with saves on the move, the Brewsterville Bruins shipped Melancon out of town a couple days after acquiring him as part of a deal that also included the man who usurped his closer role in Grilli. In essence, E-Z Sliders landed one closer, as it remains to be seen whether Grilli will be able to hold onto the job all year long. In return, the Bruins got a cheap power bat in Soriano as well as one of the game's top setup men in Davis. The return does seem a tad light, given how this league values saves. Ultimately, though, it's all about the standings. A long-time league member, the Bruins find themselves with their league mortality on the line, as the squad is in last place at the moment. Trading a closer is virtually always a good proposition if you're in that position.

RotoAuthority League Update: Quarter Pole Update

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

It feels like Opening Day was just a week ago, but we've already reached the quarter pole of the season. Let's see what the standings currently look like in the RotoAuthority League.

E-Z Sliders 90

Men With Wood 82

Pulling Brzenk 77

Spirit of St. Louis 75

Guitar Masahiro 73

The Bombers 71.5

Smell the Glove 59

Cobra Kai 57.5

A Century of Misery 57

Gramma Nutt Crushers 51

The Jewru 48.5

Brewsterville Bruins 38.5

Led by several players who were undervalued this spring like Alexei Ramirez and Neil Walker, E-Z Sliders continue to lead the pack atop the RotoAuthority League. At this point the only glaring weakness on this roster is the bullpen. In fact, this squad ranks among the top half in every category except saves.

Right behind E-Z Sliders are the teams with the most offensive points in the league, Men With Wood and Pulling Brzenk. The offenses on both of these rosters are scary good, and I don't see either team falling much in the hitting categories. If either of these owners can turn around their pitching staffs, E-Z Sliders's lead will trim in short order.

Rounding out the top six we have a couple of new owners in Spirit of St. Louis and the Bombers. While it may be the first year in the league for each owner, there's no denying that each squad looks to have some staying power. Experience isn't everything in this game. Meanwhile, Guitar Masahiro is also right in the thick of things, seeking to cash for the first time.

After the top six there's a pretty clear schism between the haves and the have-nots at this stage in the season. While the top six have their eyes on prize, the rest of us in the bottom half simply don't want to get booted from the league.

After a strong start, Commissioner Tim Dierkes's Smell the Glove has struggled recently. Newbies Cobra Kai and the Jewru aren't enjoying the same early success as Spirit of St. Louis and the Bombers. Meanwhile, veterans like the Gramma Nutt Crushers, the Brewsterville Bruins, and my own squad may have our work cut out if we wish to receive an invitation back next year.

Upon closer examination of the standings, one interesting revelation sticks out to me. The three teams atop the power categories of HR and RBI are the very same three teams atop the standings as a whole. It seems that in today's depressed run environment, the ability to find power just might be the secret to success in fantasy baseball.

As home run rate continues to decline in this post-steroids era, it's become more and more challenging to find consistent producers in the power categories. Oddly enough, I actually had this in mind as I planned for my drafts this spring. I even thought I had begun to execute my plan when I drafted Chris Davis and Edwin Encarnacion at the turn in this league.

So where do I currently lie in HR and RBI? Well... dead last in each. I guess it's only a good strategy if you pick the right players.

RotoAuthority League Update: Blockbuster Week

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

Just about all of the trades covered last week were one-for-one deals. This past week, however, we witnessed several trades featuring multiple players on each side of the transaction. In general, I prefer to make moves that are smaller in size, as it's simply easier to analyze the categorical effects on my roster. Moreover, the greater the scope of a deal, the increased chance of highway robbery. Then again, I guess that's not a bad thing, assuming you're the one committing grand larceny. Let's take a look at the big deals from this past week.

05/05 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Ryan Zimmerman and Corey Dickerson to the Bombers for Everth Cabrera and Eric Young

The Bombers currently lead the league in the SB category, so they could afford to ship Cabrera and Young out of town. Before checking the full standings, I assumed Men With Wood must have had a need for speed; however, the former champion actually lies in third place in that category right now. Accordingly, this may have been a value-based move for Men With Wood, at least to a certain extent. Although Dickerson had a big day at the plate on Saturday, he still doesn't crack the lineup everyday. In effect, this trade will ultimately come down to the return date for Zimmerman. Overall then, the Bombers are gambling on Zimmerman's health while dealing from a surplus of speed.

05/07 - Pulling Brzenk agrees to trade Justin Verlander, Ervin Santana, and Joe Smith to Brewsterville Bruins for Alex Cobb and LaTroy Hawkins

As I mentioned, the more players included in a deal, the greater the possibility that the trade swings more and more in one direction. Well, for my money this was a great move by the Brewsterville Bruins. I have a ton of respect for Pulling Brzenk; after all, he won the league last year and is currently in second place. Clearly this owner is doing something right. Moreover, I'm very bullish on Cobb; in fact, I've made an effort to acquire him in all my leagues while he's on the DL. I also understand that you have to overpay to acquire a closer via trade in the RotoAuthority League; that's just how the market has been set.

Concessions aside, however, I still think the Bruins did very well here. I know Verlander's early skills are worrisome, but he's still viewed as a no-doubt ace on the fantasy marketplace. Santana, though, may be the true prize of this haul. The move to the NL has done wonders for the verteran right-hander, as his skills thus far have been electric. If we break this deal down, I think it's safe to say that Santana is at worst equivalent in value to Cobb, especially given that the Rays right-hander will still be out a couple more weeks.

That leaves a swap of Hawkins for Verlander and Smith. I'm sorry, but that just doesn't pass the smell test to me. If Hawkins were an elite closer, I think you could justify the move for Pulling Brzenk; however, the Rockies closer is actually harmful in the strikeout category, as he's currently fanning just 10% of batters. Smith picked up a save on Saturday and still may be the closer for the Angels. Even if we assume Frieri usurps the role eventually, Smith still has to rank as one of the most valuable middle relievers going forward. After desconstructing this deal then, the Bruins practically acquired Verlander for free.

05/09 - Smell the Glove agree to trade Jonathan Lucroy and David Robertson to Pulling Brzenk for Matt Wieters, Daniel Murphy, and Nathan Eovaldi

Another trade, another closer acquisition for Pulling Brzenk. Given that Wieters was placed on the DL yesterday, you might have a slight preference for the Lucroy over the Orioles backstop. Overall, though, I think Lucroy and Wieters are virtually interchangeable commodities when healthy. As I mentioned last week, I'm a fan of Robertson and feel he has what it takes to be a borderline-elite closer. Still, I think Commissioner Dierkes did well here in acquiring Murphy and Eovaldi. At this point Murphy has established himself as a solid middle infield option who contributes a little bit across the board. Eovaldi, though, looks like the hidden gem here. He's always thrown hard, but now the results are catching up to the stuff. The early skills are truly elite: he currently ranks seventh in the game in SIERA. In a pitcher-friendly park, Eovaldi should be able to put together a solid season. Ultimately then, I prefer this deal in a vacuum for the Commish assuming Wieters isn't out too long, but Pulling Brzenk did well given league context.

RotoAuthority League Update: Trades Galore

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

We're only in the first week of May, and many fantasy pundits often warn against making any significant trades this early. Don't tell that to any owners in the RotoAuthority league, though. Trades seem to go down on a daily basis in this highly active league. Let's take a look at the deals over the past couple weeks.

04/22 Men With Wood agrees to trade Francisco Rodriguez to the Jewru for Sonny Gray

As part of a trade to acquire Buster Posey, the Jewru had dealt Gray just five days before flipping him to Men With Wood. In a vacuum, I like this deal for Men With Wood. It's important to keep in mind, however, that closers hold significant value in this league. K-Rod has been pretty much perfect, and it's all fully supported by the peripherals. If he can continue to pitch even close to how he has so far, this will prove to be an excellent move for the Jewru given the context of the league.

04/26 - The Bombers agree to trade David Robertson and Corey Kluber to Smell the Glove for Jason Heyward and Tanner Roark

Another trade, another closer dealt. Commissioner Dierkes shipped Homer Bailey for Jason Heyward a couple of weeks before moving him to the Bombers as part of this deal. The Commish capitalized on a gem by Roark to then land D-Rob and Kluber. D-Rob has the skills to join the second tier of closers this year, and Kluber is a sabermetric darling who should improve going forward. Overall then, while Heyward is probably the best player in this deal, I still think Smell the Glove improved his squad here.

04/26 - Men With Wood agrees to trade Doug Fister to A Century of Misery for Mark Melancon

Given that I'm punting saves, I knew I'd be dealing Melancon once Jason Grilli was placed on the DL. Doug Fister has long been undervalued in the fantasy community, and I certainly liked him going into this year. Whether I got sufficient value for Melancon will really come down to the return date for Grilli. If Men With Wood only gets a month of saves, I think I made out pretty well here. On the other hand, if Melancon holds the job all season, this may prove to be a regrettable decision on my part.

04/28 - Brewsterville Bruins agree to trade Yu Darvish to the Jewru for David Wright

The Jewru put Wright on the block with aspirations of acquiring an ace. While Darvish has been a tad less than what fantasy owners had in mind thus far, he should be ecellent going forward. Wright, meanwhile, may not have the power he once possessed. That being said, the third base position has been a trainwreck thus far this season. Wright offers rare reliability at a position where it seems like just about every regular is either hurt or struggling.

04/30 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Nick Swisher to Pulling Brzenk for Michael Brantley

With sneaky value across the board, Brantley has emerged as one of the most undervalued players in fantasy baseball for my money. I'm normally a fan of Swisher, but I don't really like what I've seen thus far. Power has become even more scarce this season, so I'm typically reluctant to make a deal in which I'm downgrading in the HR category. As I mentioned, though, I'm relatively bullish on Brantley going forward. This looks like a top-30 outfielder to me with a market value far below that.

05/02 - The Bombers agree to trade Trevor Rosenthal to the Jewru for Cliff Lee

I think this trade is a testament to the value of closers in this league. In a typical league, you're not going to be able to acquire a bona fide ace like Lee for any closer, but that's not the case in the RotoAuthority League. To be fair, Rosenthal is a beast and has joined the elite ranks of closers. Of course, I'd still prefer 200-plus pristine innings from Lee.

05/02 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Oscar Taveras to Spirit of St. Louis for Matt Lindstrom

Here's another deal that will ultimately be decided by playing time. Given that I'm hovering near the bottom of the standings, I don't feel like I can afford to wait around for Taveras. I already have Gregory Polanco stashed on my bench. Don't get me wrong; Lindstrom isn't good. Having said that, he's the guy on the South Side. Given the value of closers in this league, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to acquire one for a player who may not be up for months. Then again, if Taveras is up by June, this will prove to be grand larceny by Spirit of St. Louis.

05/02 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Michael Bourn to E-Z Sliders for Nick Castellanos

Like Brantley, Castellanos has emerged as a personal favorite of my so far this season. I really like ths skills that he's displayed in spite of the mediocre results. I actually view Bourn as more valuable on the surface, but my current roster can no longer afford to carry a player who's a zero in the power categories.

RotoAuthority League Update: The Early Leader

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

It's still very early, but it's worth pointing out that E-Z Sliders entered yesterday with a 12-point lead atop the RotoAuthority League standings. It's always interesting to see what leads to success in a fantasy league, so let's take a look at how this squad been able to get off to a good start this season.

First of all, it says something about the psychology of fantasy owners that the E-Z Sliders currently are in first place despite the fact that this owner has made the fewest pickups in the league with a mere eight thus far. That's rather unusual for this highly active league; for instance, Commissioner Dierkes is already over 60 transactions. I guess it's a tad easier to sit on your roster when you're comfortably atop the standings.

You might assume that while this owner has made just eight moves, they have probably paid dividends. However, that couldn't be further from the truth. In reality, this squad has gotten virtually all of its production thus far from the draft. Given that's the case, let's focus on the  draft results for this team:

1. Adrian Beltre (11)

2. Jacoby Ellsbury (14)

3. Justin Upton (35)

4. Max Scherzer (38)

5. David Price (59)

6. Kenley Jansen (62)

7. Yoenis Cespedes (83)

8. Jose Altuve (86)

9. Anibal Sanchez (107)

10. Brandon Belt (110)

11. Alfonso Soriano (131)

12. Mike Napoli (134)

13. Alexei Ramirez (155)

14. Jim Henderson (158)

15. Miguel Montero (179)

16. Torii Hunter (182)

17. Alex Wood (203)

18. A.J. Pierzynski (206)

19. Nick Castellanos (227)

20. C.J. Wilson (230)

21. Kolten Wong (251)

22. Dan Haren (254)

23. Angel Pagan (275)

24. Corey Hart (278)

25. Kevin Gausman (299)

26. Neil Walker (302)

27. Junichi Tazawa (323)

As you might expect, many of these names have far exceeded their Draft Day cost. A quick look at the ESPN Player Rater reveals a whopping total of six members of E-Z Sliders inside the top 50. Jacoby Ellsbury may not have a HR, but he's still been very productive with eight SB thus far. Justin Upton has been a monster; Scherzer is proving that last year's Cy Young campaign was not a fluke. Brandon Belt is taking his game to another level with a spike in power. Alexei Ramirez has been the most valuable SS to date, and Alex Wood has been lights out.

It's also worth noting, however, that things have been far from perfect for this owner. Adrian Beltre missed a couple weeks on the DL. David Price has been subjected to a good deal of misfortune from the batted ball department. Kenley Jansen has incredible skills thus far, but an absurd .467 BABIP has limited his fantasy value. Yoenis Cespedes has been underwhelming, and Anibal Sanchez just got placed on the DL. Finally, this owner was the victim of the Brew Crew's surprising decision to make K-Rod the closer on Opening Day, so Round 14 pick Jim Henderson has been practically worthless. I only point this out as a reminder that you don't need a perfect draft to win a league.

OK, so yeah, it's still really early. Having said that, I'd much rather be in this owner's position than hovering near the bottom, as I am now. What do you think? Does this squad have the staying power to compete for a title this year?

RotoAuthority League Update: Early Trades

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

04/11 - Smell the Glove agrees to trade Homer Bailey to the Brewsterville Bruins for Jason Heyward

Here we have a swap of a pair of players who both look like excellent Buy Low candidates to me. As Mark Simon of ESPN notes, Jason Heyward has still been making hard contact but just hasn't been getting results. His plate discipline metrics look fine to me, and I fully support the idea of looking to acquire him.

Meanwhile, few SPs make for better trade targets than Bailey right now. The ugly 8.16 ERA on the surface masks the same great skills the right-hander displayed last year. Maybe we shouldn't expect a league-average HR/FB rate for Bailey in the Great American Ballpark; however, the current 60% rate is simply laughable. I'd expect a performance more in line with his 3.17 SIERA going forward.

04/15 - A Century of Misery agrees to trade Edwin Encarnacion and Cody Allen to Pulling Brzenk for Stephen Strasburg and Martin Prado

Here we have my first trade of the season in this league. If you've been following my work this year, you know I have a Man Crush on Encarnacion. Accordingly, it's rather surprising that I received a trade offer in which I was willing to move Edwin. It's possible I'm overreacting to small sample sizes; however, given his slow start, I've begun to worry about the offseason wrist surgery affecting his power. Edwin should be fine eventually, but it still may be awhile before he's back to his old self.

Like Bailey, Strasburg looks like a prime Buy Low candidate. Despite his poor results thus far, his skills have actually improved. I really could care less about results in April, and he's striking out one in every three batters. Needless to say, I think he's on the verge of a special campaign.

I'm not sure I would have dealt Edwin straight up for Strasburg. By adding in Prado, though, last year's champion ensured that he'd get Encarnacion from me. I certainly could see Cody Allen usurping the closer role from John Axford later this season, but I wasn't going to let a middle reliever deter me from agreeing to the deal.

04/17 - Smell the Glove agrees to trade Buster Posey, Sonny Gray, and Hector Rondon to the Jewru for Greg Holland, Yan Gomes, and Edward Mujica

Commissioner Tim Dierkes has been looking to acquire a closer ever since news broke that Bobby Parnell would be out for the year. In this deal he downgrades from Posey to Gomes at catcher while adding an elite closer in Holland in exchange for a quality arm in Gray. Rondon may very well prove to be the guy to close out games on the North Side in Chicago, but the Commish recently dropped him anyway. Lastly, given that Koji Uehara is certainly an injury risk, Mujica is a sneaky piece for Dierkes to acquire.

Overall, I prefer the haul for the Jewru purely from a value perspective. Context always needs to be kept in mind, though. This league places a significant premium on the value of closers. In trading for a closer, you practically know going in that you're going to get the short end of the stick. With that in mind, I don't think Dierkes lost all that much here.

04/18 - Gramma Nutt Crushers agree to trade Junichi Tazawa to Pulling Brzenk for Shawn Kelley

It's always a tad exciting when a big trade goes down in one of your leagues. This is not one of those deals. I'm not exactly sure why either owner felt the need to make this trade. I'd understand a little more if the Gramma Nutt Crushers owned David Robertson, or if Koji Uehara were a member of Pulling Brzenk; however, neither is the case. At any rate, it's possible both of these relievers adds a handful of saves while posting good ratios.

RotoAuthority League Update: Early Surprises

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

We hear it all the time, but it’s worthy of repetition: the MLB season is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re just finishing up the first couple miles on this marathon, yet many fantasy owners respond to the first weeks as if they mean something. In reality, though, we’ve learned hardly anything at this point. Indeed, the best course of action for a fantasy owner in early April is probably no action at all.

Having said that, now may be the time to speculate on players off to fast starts while their market prices are down. If these players prove to be for real, the asking price of their owners will never be lower. With the Buy Low/Sell High mantra on the minds of most fantasy owners, Buying High may be the optimal route for a true heist today. Just ask anyone who traded for Jose Fernandez last April. Let's take a look at a few interesting names among the top 25 on the ESPN Player Rater and see if any may be for real.

The Bombers - Dee Gordon (2)

Yes, believe it or not, only Giancarlo Stanton has been more valuable than Gordon entering play Monday. It doesn't hurt that he stole four bases yesterday. That now gives him nine on the season, or three times the output of Billy Hamilton. Will it be Gordon, not Hamilton, who dominates the SB category this season? I still don't think Gordon can hit, so I wouldn't count on a positive contribution in the AVG category. Still, the Dodgers seem set on giving him everyday playing time. Given his speed, Gordon will certainly rank among the leaders in the SB column. That's not too bad for a Round 18 pick out of the Bombers.

Guitar Masahiro - Charlie Blackmon (10) 

Coors Field truly does wonders for the stock of hitters in fantasy. It's gotten to the point that if you know a player is going to get consistent at-bats for the Rockies, you might as well speculate on him. Blackmon appears to be on the better side of a platoon in center field and has made the most of time thus far, hitting an absurd .488. Blackmon should be able to make enough contact to continue to provide a positive contribution in AVG.  Hitting atop the order will also help him in the runs category even if it he's not in the lineup everyday. My concerns would be that he lacks the tools to produce much in power and speed. Even so, the park effects of Coors Field cannot be overstated. Accordingly, this is a Mixed League outfielder whom I'd rank among the top 50 at the position going forward. At this point, no pickup has been more valuable than this one by Guitar Masahiro.

Men With Wood - Emilio Bonifacio (11)

Few players possess such a wide discrepancy between real value and fantasy worth than does Bonifacio. This is a fringy MLB player who probably should be no more than a bench player at this stage in his career. Then again, if the Cubs are going to give him playing time, the speed will play in today's Roto game. Men With Wood took Bonifacio in the last round of our draft; given that our league allows for daily lineup changes, that pick looks quite clever in retrospect. After all, Bonifacio is eligible at 2b, 3B, and OF in Yahoo leagues, so Men With Wood can plug the speedy utility player into his lineup if any of his regular starters are getting a day of rest. If you can find an owner in your league who thinks Bonifacio is for real, I'd sell as soon as possible; after all, the Cubs are likely to see what players like Javier Baez and Kris Bryant are made of after the All-Star break. Still, this is a valuable option in the short term.

Cobra Kai -Brian Dozier (14)

Out of all these names, Dozier just might be the most legitimate. It speaks to just how early we are in this season that the Twins second baseman can be hitting .191 yet still rank among the top 15 overall on the ESPN Player Rater. Much of that has to do with the fact that other than Alexei Ramirez, Dozier is the only player with at least three HR and three SB. At this point, however, I think it's safe to say that this is what we should expect out of him. After all, he did have 18 HR and 14 SB over 147 games last year. The AVG won't be pretty, but a middle infielder who's a rather safe bet to go 15 / 15 is valuable today. It's safe to say Cobra Kai will return a profit on this Round 22 pick.

Guitar Masahiro - Adam Eaton

Another wise selection by Guitar Masahiro, Eaton may also hold staying power. Few players were as popular on sleeper lists last spring. Unfortunately, fantasy owners were left waiting and waiting for the outfielder to return from injury. This spring, Eaton didn't get quite the buzz, perhaps due to the crowded White Sox outfield. Well, he's clearly the guy in center field for the Pale Hose. Like Coors Field, U.S. Cellular Park can significantly boost the fantasy worth of hitters. The team may not be great, but the offense should be fine. If Eaton can approach double-digits in HR and SB, he'll provide enough value in AVG and runs to continue to be a Mixed League option. Like Blackmon, this looks like roughly a top-50 outfielder going forward who shouldn't be on any waiver wires at this point.

RotoAuthority League Update: Closer Chaos

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

Over the next six months, I probably won't write about closers all that often. Here at RotoAuthority we already have great work put forth by my colleague Luckey Helms in the weekly Closer Update as well as the must-follow @CloserNews on Twitter. Given what we witnessed over the first week of the season, however, I feel no choice but to discuss how bullpens in flux have impacted the league.

Since the RotoAuthority League Draft two weeks ago, we've already seen an astounding total of five changes in who's getting the ball (or who we thought would get the ball) in the ninth. At this rate, it's possible we could be looking at unprecedented turnover in closer roles this season.

A Century of Misery

Demotion - Nate Jones

My squad comes first alphabetically, so I'll reluctantly have to start here. Jones displayed excellent skills last season, and he was a preseason target of mine. I thought I had gotten decent value when I grabbed him at the end of Round 15, given that only five closers were still on the board at the time. Well, I guess this is Exhibit A in support of the notion that roles matter in drafting closers. Even though we as a fantasy community had all assumed that Jones would be the guy, Manager Robin Ventura had yet to make a decision. Now Jones is on the DL, and my squad doesn't have a single closer. This isn't exactly the start I had in mind.

Brewsterville Bruins

Promotion -  Jose Valverde

Demotion - Casey Janssen

I think it says a lot about the volatility of closers that Valverde wasn't even in the Yahoo player pool until March 27th. The Brewsterville Bruins wisely picked up the veteran reliever just a few days later, and now he's the closer for the Mets. In Toronto Janssen may be on the DL, but it sounds like he could be back as soon as he's eligible to return. Overall then, the Bruins have witnessed a net positive from the recent closer turmoil.

E-Z Sliders

Promotion - Josh Fields

Demotion - Jim Henderson

The Astros were said to be going with a closer-by-committee, and that still may prove to be the case. Most fantasy pundits, though, believed Chad Qualls would be the first one to get a shot a the job. Instead, it was Fields who came in for the first save opportunity for the Astros. It doesn't take a whole lot to be a successful closer, so the young reliever could certainly hang onto this job all season long. That's not too bad for a player who went undrafted in this league. Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, fantasy owners were surprised when K-Rod, not Henderson, came in for the first save chance on Opening Day. Manager Ron Roenicke has indicated that Henderson could regain the role , but for now the E-Z Sliders are left patiently waiting to get any value of their Round 14 pick.

Men With Wood

Promotion - Francisco Rodriguez & Sergio Santos

Perhaps no owner has benefited more from the early-season closer madness than Men With Wood. First, this owner skillfully drafted Santos in Round 25, and then he grabbed K-Rod minutes after the veteran entered the game in the ninth on Opening Day. Santos may not have the job much longer, but he could certainly be closing once again this season should Janssen struggle or be traded. I personally don't have much faith in K-Rod, but that doesn't matter all that much. He's the guy right now in Milwaukee, and role takes priority when it comes to closers.

Smell the Glove

Demotion - Bobby Parnell

Tim Dierkes will be without his Round 15 selection for the rest of the season, as Parnell is set to undergo Tommy John surgery. Dierkes's two other closers, Ernesto Frieri and Jonathan Papelbon, are also off to poor starts. Accordingly, the bullpen for Smell the Glove doesn't look all that great right now. Still, few owners are as active on the waiver wire as Tim, and I'm confident he'll be just fine in the saves category.

Spirit of St. Louis

Promotion - Matt Lindstrom

Like Men With Wood, Spirit of St. Louis was on the ball when he grabbed Lindstrom just minutes after news broke that Robin Ventura had named the veteran reliever as his closer. If you count Aroldis Chapman on the DL, that gives this owner a total of four closers, a true luxury when it comes to trade negotiations in this league.

RotoAuthority League Update: Draft Recap

The RotoAuthority League is a highly competitive 12-team fantasy baseball league run by Tim Dierkes. The settings consist of standard 5 X 5 Rotisserie scoring and 23-man lineups along with 4 bench spots. In an effort to keep owners interested as well as to infuse new blood into the league, the teams that finish below 8th place are kicked out of the league each year. The author of this column just hopes he isn't one of them.

The RotoAuthority League draft took place a week ago. As always, it was a grueling three hours that really put our decision-making skills to the test. Full draft results can be found at the link at the bottom, but here's a quick look at how each team turned out in order of draft slot.

1. Men With Wood

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 8th, 2009 – 4th, 2010 – 2nd, 2011 – 1st, 2012 – 5th, 2013 - 8th

It's a luxury to own Mike Trout in any league, and it's always interesting to see how an owner chooses to build around the closest thing to a perfect fantasy player. Intended or not, Men With Wood placed a premium on quality outfielders early when he selected Carlos Gomez and Giancarlo Stanton once the draft snaked back to him. Offense was clearly a priority for this owner, as he didn't take a pitcher until Jordan Zimmermann in the seventh round. The bullpen is deep with three closers in Addison Reed, Steve Cishek, and Fernando Rodney as well as three quality setup men in Rex Brothers, Danny Farquhar, and Sergio Santos. As usual, I expect Men With Wood to be a contender this year.

2. Yu at the Animal Zoo

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 1st

Like I said last week, it's a tad scary that last year's champion gets to build his team around Miguel Cabrera once again. This owner chose to follow up Miggy with the currently red-hot Jose Bautista and then a pair of aces in Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander. The reigning champ continued to stockpile power with picks of Wilin Rosario, J.J. Hardy, and Matt Wieters. In addition to that dynamic duo at the top of the staff, this manager has a pair of arms with sky-high ceiling in Gerrit Cole and Yordano Ventura. The one weakness on this roster may be relief pitching, but this owner is incredibly active on the waiver wire.

3. Brewsterville Bruins

Previous Finishes: 2011 – 5th, 2012 – 2nd, 2013 - 4th

I projected this squad to draft Paul Goldschmidt with the third pick overall, but instead the Brewsterville Bruins selected a relatively safer option for my money in Andrew McCutchen. After grabbing the dominant Yu Darvish on the way back, this manager continued to load up on across-the-board contributors like Dustin Pedroia and Alex Rios. If you subscribe to the theory of drafting last year's bums because regression is a powerful force, then this roster is for you. The Bruins envision bounceback campaigns from Albert Pujols, Jason Heyward, and Starlin Castro. As always, the Bruins have a very reliable roster that should be right in the thick of things come September.

4. Spirit of St. Louis

Previous Finishes: N/A

Spirit of St. Louis built a strong offensive foundation by drafting just one pitcher over the first nine rounds. This owner places at least some value in scarcity, as he owned a player at every infield position by the end of the seventh round. Homer picks or not, this manager somehow ended up with five Cardinals by Round 20. Overall, I expect this squad to do well in the offensive categories, so the fate of Spirit of St. Louis will ultimately come down to its pitching staff.

5. Smell the Glove

Previous Finishes: 2008 – 1st, 2009 – 6th, 2010 – 5th, 2011 – 12th, 2012 – 11th, 2013 - 2nd

After all these years of playing with Tim Dierkes, I was virtually certain that he'd take Carlos Gonzalez with the fifth pick overall, so I for one was certainly surprised when he chose to go with Ryan Braun instead. Dierkes is clearly on the side of "steroids, schmeroids" when projecting Braun for this season. As usual, Tim then built his roster inside-out by filling up most of his infield with Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Eric Hosmer, and Elvis Andrus. Dierkes is on record that he's a believer in Masahiro Tanaka, and he put his money where his mouth is by taking the new Yankees starter in the sixth round. Smell the Glove then continued to add power with middle-round picks of Jonathan Lucroy, Domonic Brown, and Aaron Hill. Finally, I like what Tim did late with high-upside plays like Khris Davis, Avisail Garcia, and Javier Baez. Ultimately, this roster will be fine offensively, so the true test will be the performance of Tanaka coupled with the health of Cole Hamels.

6. The Jewru

Previous Finishes: N/A

Perhaps no owner spoke louder with his picks than this one last Monday night. Right from the start, the Jewru swung for the fences with Bryce Harper at sixth overall. This owner then calmed down for a bit with relatively safe picks of David Wright, Jay Bruce, and Cliff Lee. However, the Jewru then took the player who embodies high risk / high reward more so than any player in this game with the selection of Billy Hamilton in Round Five. And yet, this manager was far from finished with highly volatile picks. From Xander Bogaerts to Anthony Rendon and Taijuan Walker, this roster is loaded with upside. Let's face it, though: Billy Hamilton is going to win or lose leagues this year. If the Reds speedster proves he can hit well enough to stay in the Bigs all year, this owner may get first round value out of that fifth round pick. Then again, Hamilton could easily bust and wind up in the Minors by May. One thing is certain: the Jewru could care less about finishing in the bottom four and getting booted from this league; he's in it to win it.

7. The Bombers

Previous Finishes: N/A

If you look at the first five picks for the Bombers, one is clearly not like the others. Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto, Felix Hernandez, and Matt Holliday put up numbers year in and year out. At pick 42, however, the Bombers couldn't pass up the chance to draft the ultimate wild card in Yasiel Puig. Some fantasy pundits view Puig as an elite top-15 player while others consider him to be a risky top-50 option. For the most part, this is a safe roster that I'm confident will avoid the bottom four. If Puig proves that last year was no fluke, though, this squad will have just what it needs to finish in the money.

8. Guitar Masahiro

Previous Finishes: 2012 – 8th, 2013 - 6th

Well, the owner who went by the name of Say it Ain't So Cano last year opted against drafting Robinson Cano in Round One, choosing Clayton Kershaw instead. Guitar Masahiro then selected Troy Tulowitzki for the third year in a row. This manager took an interesting approach to drafting pitchers. After grabbing Kershaw, Guitar Masahiro didn't select another starting pitcher until Matt Moore in Round 12. Instead, this owner drafted four closers in Koji Uehara, Glen Perkins, Jim Johnson, and Huston Street. That should come in handy, as there's always an owner in need of saves. Just a speculation: we might have a Boston sports fan here, as this owner drafted a grand total of eight Red Sox.

9. Gramma Nutt Crushers

Previous Finishes: 2010 – 1st, 2011 – 8th, 2012 – 4th, 2013 - 3rd

I really like how the Gramma Nutt Crushers started the first three rounds of this draft with picks of Robinson Cano, Prince Fielder, and Shin-Soo Choo. That's about as safe as it gets. On the pitching side, this owner chose to embrace a tad more risk with Danny Salazar and Michael Wacha behind staff ace Chris Sale. After loading up on power early, the Gramma Nutt Crushers picked up some speed later on from Desmond Jennings, Brett Gardner, and Rajai Davis. In general, this looks like a balanced roster without any real categorical holes.

10.  Cobra Kai

Previous Finishes: N/A

Last week I gave my best guess as to which player each owner would select in Round One. Well, outside of the first two picks (which probably shouldn't even count), this is the only other pick I predicted correctly. Cobra Kai took five-category stud Adam Jones and then came back with last year's best player on a per-game basis, Hanley Ramirez. This owner clearly buys into the idea that elite catchers are worthy investments, as he not only took Joe Mauer in the third round but also Brian McCann in the fifth round. This manager also made a couple interesting selections with the well-hyped Jose Abreu in Round Six followed by the enigmatic Matt Kemp in Round Seven. In addition, Cobra Kai made it known that he doesn't care about a player's age. This roster has plenty of youth in players like Jose Fernandez, Zack Wheeler, and George Springer. There are all sorts of ways this squad could go this year, but it's certainly not short on talent.

11. E-Z Sliders

Previous Finishes: 2013 - 5th

I haven't seen Adrian Beltre go in the first round of 12-team leagues all that often this year, but I view the Rangers third baseman as worthy of Round One. After grabbing the consistent Beltre, E-Z Sliders drafted a pair of outfielders with first-round talent in Jacoby Ellsbury and Justin Upton followed by a couple of aces in Max Scherzer and David Price. This pitching staff could be special, as this owner also was able to get lights-out closer Kenley Jansen and the electric Anibal Sanchez. In general, the E-Z Sliders took a value-based approach. There seemed to be quite a few "look at me" picks throughout the draft, and this owner skillfully scooped up undervalued veterans like Alexei Ramirez and Torii Hunter when they fell too far. Given that I had to follow this owner, I know there were several times in which he drafted the player I had at the top of my rankings.

12. A Century of Misery

Previous Finishes: 2009 – 5th, 2010 – 4th, 2011 – 4th, 2012 – 3rd, 2013 - 7th

And finally we get to my squad. I wanted to play it safe at the turn, but I couldn't pass up the power of Chris Davis. I actually consider Davis to be overvalued this season, yet I somehow own him in four out of nine league this year. After Davis, I came back with Edwin Encarnacion; if you've read my work at all, you know by now he's a personal favorite, especially with third base eligibility in Yahoo leagues. I’m only guessing when it comes to the strategies of other owners in this league, but I can tell you my plan was to simply trust my rankings and draft the best player available as often as possible. In the past I've loaded up on offense, but I'm not so sure that's a recipe for success anymore in today's game. I can't say I'm happy to have only one closer, but I'm usually able to grab one or two off the waiver wire over the course of the season. I also have several next-in-line setup men in Mark Melancon, Cody Allen, Carlos Martinez, and Tyler Clippard. On paper my squad is rather boring, but I feel better about this one than how I felt about my team from last year.

So who's going to take home the title this season? Which squad do you like best?

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