Thursday, May 7, 2009 2009 Fantasy Baseball League: Panic Zone

May has finally arrived. As a fantasy baseball owner, you've had four weeks to get settled and get the Emilio-Bonificio's out of your system. Personally, I look forward to this time in the season as an opportunity to pick up good talent when fellow owners hit the panic button on underachieving players. Earlier today, the SportsJudge team took an in-depth look at some of these players. It's worth a read before you click that fateful 'Drop Player' button. Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Aramis Ramirez are all off to uncharacteristically slow starts, but I've been impressed with the expert league one seems to be panicking yet. Here's a look the league standings (as of Monday) and the change in points since our last article two weeks ago:
  1. 98.5 pts Joe Romano 2.0
  2. 89.5 pts Jesse Spector (1.0)
  3. 82.0 pts Brian Doyle (1.5)
  4. 70.0 pts Baxter and Lowe 10.5
  5. 65.0 pts Chris Carmona 17.5
  6. 64.5 pts Darren Heitner 3.5
  7. 60.5 pts Marc Edelman (2.0)
  8. 58.5 pts Amanda & Melissa 7.0
  9. 57.0 pts Mike Colligan 3.0
  10. 53.5 pts Jordan Zucker (4.0)
  11. 41.0 pts Elie Mystal (25.5)
  12. 40.0 pts Scott Simon (9.5)
The big risers are Chris Carmona, author of the 'And Now You Know' column on the blog, and Brian Baxter & Zach Lowe of AM Law Daily. In this week's article, I'm going to take a look at a few interesting moves Chris Carmona has made and why they just might ensure he stays in the top five for a while.

Carmona had a slow start to the year after his pitching staff was devastated by injuries and poor performances. After losing (and eventually dropping) Chien-Ming Wang and Chris Carpenter early in the season, and more recently Carlos Zambrano, he's been searching for solid arms to get him back in the race. He quickly turned to Wang's replacement in the Yankee's rotation, Phil Hughes. If Hughes is available in your league, I think he is a must-grab. His first start resulted in 6 innings of two-hit ball and 6 strikeouts last Tuesday. You might remember Hughes struggled mightily in eight starts in 2008, but he wasn't completely healthy and has developed a nice cut fastball to go along with his already devastating knuckle-curve and four seam fastball. Just like any 22-year old, Hughes will have a few hiccups early on, but I think he'll fit in nicely next season (or earlier) as a #3 starter behind CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett.

Another savvy move recently made by Carmona was the pickup of David Aardsma, relief pitcher from Seattle. Aardsma assumed the closer role for the Mariners after fireballer Brandon Morrow hit the 15-day DL with bicep tendinitis. It sounds as if Morrow will be back in the lineup when he is eligible on May 9, but there's more to this situation than meets the eye. With every injury that Morrow suffers, I can't help but wonder if he might end up being the second coming of Kerry Wood. While he can no doubt groove 100-mph fastballs, it's possible that it just takes too long for Morrow to get warmed up and ready for 9th inning closer duties. On top of that, it's hard to expect more than one or two save opportunities per week with the current state of the Mariners. With that in mind, it would make much more sense for all parties involved if Seattle moved Morrow into the rotation in the near future. Some might question whether Aardsma can truly handle the closer duties over the long haul, but he's easily been the team's best relief pitcher this season. Still not convinced? Ok here's the wild card: Chad Cordero. You might remember the former first-round pick had a surprising 37 saves with the Nationals in 2007 before suffering a torn labrum. He's currently targeting a return in the first week of June, and if he can find any version of his former self, he could be a perfect option to close out games for Seattle. As an owner, definitely hang onto Morrow, but keep an eye on how this situation plays out over the next month and a half.

The end of April also marked the first dispute in the Experts League. All in the same week, Joe Romano added Joel Zumaya to his roster and DL, and dropped David Aardsma, added Jordan Zimmerman, and, days later, dropped Huston Street to make room on his roster to allow Zumaya to come off the DL. Mike Colligan challenged Joe's moves as in violation of the league's two move transaction limit, claiming he made three moves in the same week.

In his opinion which can be read here, Justice Cohen ruled that only dropping a player, without adding one, did not constitute a transaction. In reaching this decision, Justice Cohen agreed with Joe's argument that the intent of the transaction limit was to limit an owner's ability to add players, not drop players. As such, the dropping of Huston Street did not constitute a transaction and was legal. Be sure to check out the full opinion for further details.

Check back in a couple weeks for another look into the 2009 Fantasy Baseball League.

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