Monday, April 20, 2009 2009 Fantasy Baseball League: And They're Off

Welcome to the bi-weekly recap of the 2009 Fantasy Baseball League. About a month and a half ago we posted Part I and Part II of the draft recap. Two weeks ago we took a look at some of the more important moves during the preseason. This week we will get our first look at the standings and some of the moves that occurred over the first two weeks. Remember, our league uses a very limited bench and a two transaction per week limit.

I am currently in first place as I was able to overtake Jesse Spector yesterday. Spector has been in first for the first two weeks of the season and it didn't look like he was going to look back. Luckily, I was able to make a push, it is doubtful I will stay on top all year, though. Scott Simon also made a big push to get his team out of the cellar where it has been all season. A fourteen point swing between Chris Carmona and Simon pushed Simon over the edge. Brian Doyle, last year's champion, is also off to a very strong start currently sitting in third. There is a strong probability that the standings will be completely different five months from now, but it never hurts to get off to a strong start.

As you would expect, there were numerous transactions over the last few weeks. However, unlike some of my other leagues, there haven't been any moves that were all that questionable. Much like all of your leagues, the hot starts were pounced on. Bonifacio was picked up the first day and Nyjer Morgan was grabbed the next day. Conversely, the cold starts have found their way to waiver wire, but they were all smart decisions. Jason Motte and his flat fastball are sitting in free agency, as are Lastings Milledge and Hideki Matsui. Here are some of my favorite moves over the first two weeks.

Mike Colligan finally went all in on his Trevor Cahill man crush, but dropped Ryan Franklin in the process (in his defense Franklin had not yet saved a game). As the unfortunate Motte owner, I quickly jumped all over Franklin and it looks like I have lucked into St. Louis' closer for the near future. I like Franklin and I think he will probably keep the closer gig. He doesn't have dominant stuff, but he did a reasonably good job last season and is off to a strong start this year. I consider Franklin a must own in all league formats.

Darren Heitner made a very strong move yesterday grabbing Chris Duncan in exchange for Griffey. I had been watching Duncan all week, but previously used my transactions. In a deep league with a CI position, Duncan is very valuable as he has first base eligibility. Duncan has been batting anywhere between fourth and sixth in St. Louis' potent lineup. He is combining a strong average with solid RBI and run totals. He has also been getting compliments from LaRussa in the press. He could produce top 10-15 numbers for a first baseman and top 30 to 40 numbers for outfielders. Duncan should be owned in all but very shallow leagues.

There must be something in the water in Kansas City and Chris Carmona is drinking from the same fountain. Zach Greinke, Gil Meche, and Kyle Davies have each had very strong starts and Carmona was able snag Davies. Davies is a young pitcher who could be coming into form. He was very strong last September and is building off that finish. He showed good control last season and is using that control to his benefit this season. He currently has a 13:3 strike out to walk ratio and is averaging a hair over a strike out per inning. KC is playing well to start the year and if they can give Davies decent run support, Davies could be a strong fourth or fifth pitcher.

Carmona also made what was probably the best move of the two weeks in picking up Nick Swisher. Swisher has been killing the ball for the Yankees and with the recent injury to Xavier Nady, looks to be in line for plenty of playing time. Sure, Swisher shouldn't continue to hit for average, but he has shown legit power in the past. Swisher has been hitting fourth recently and that should continue until A-Rod gets back or Swisher goes cold. You have to like the odds of Swisher hitting about 25 home runs, collecting 80-90 RBI, and scoring 70-80 runs. I'll take that from my third or fourth outfielder, even with a .270 average.

Jordan Zucker made another strong move by adding super-rookie Elvis Andrus. Andrus probably won't continue to hit .300, but his speed is for real. In a very good Texas lineup Andrus could get about 80 runs and combine it with 25-35 stolen bases. In a league that uses a MI position, those numbers are very useful. Andrus' value in a 12 team mixed league is debatable, but in deeper leagues, Andrus is a solid option. If Andrus can hit at least .280, though, he becomes an option in deeper leagues. However, I don't expect to see the five-tool talent until next year.

In desperation to make something happen, Scott Simon is looking for help from...the Pirates? Yeah, that's right, Scott picked up Zach Duke to help bolster his underperforming pitching staff. It is the same Pirate that jumped on the fantasy scene a few seasons ago and was coached into obscurity. Duke seams to have found his mechanics and has pitched strongly. I view him as slightly better than a match ups pitcher, which makes him valuable in just about all leagues. Remember, there is still solid value in players that play for bad teams.

There were plenty of other moves, but these were the most interesting. Check back in two weeks for our second bi-weekly league roundup. As with any SportsJudge article, feel free to leave a comment or question.

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