Fantasy Sports R Us

Just like those zany swallows returning to Capistrano year after year, now’s the time FSRU devotees first start to comingle their dreams of fantasy glory with early dispatches from baseball’s winter meetings, all those trade rumors and free agent signings. It may still be frigid outside and heavy tarps still cover thousands of diamonds above the Mason Dixon line, but those 2015 FSRU baseball drafts are beginning to beckon in earnest.
No question those tension-filled drafts are lots of fun ! But much as we may feel most of our astute picks are likely bound for Cooperstown someday, reality has a way of quickly rearing its ugly head as April inevitably brings with it those initial oblique strains, 0 for 20 hitting skids and 3IP/ 8 ER/ 0 K pitching implosions.

And wasn’t last season the quintessential example of how little any seemingly awesome March draft can really matter in the final analysis. There were so many injuries. Today’s athletes are stronger to be sure, but oh so fragile so it seems. What’s more, so many top rated  draft picks seemed to seize upon 2014 as a great opportunity to fall flat on their collective, highly compensated keysters.

For instance, here is one draft I am betting most of us wold have been thrilled with last March…

C     Wilin Rosario                   SP  Homer Bailey
1B   Prince Fielder                  SP  Matt Latos
2B   Jason Kipnis                   SP  Jose Fernandez
SS   Everth Cabrera               SP  Justin Verlander
3B   Chris Davis                      SP  Mike Minor
CI    Joey Votto                        SP  Chris Medlen
MI   Jedd Gyorko                     SP  Danny Salazar
OF   Carlos Gonzalez            SP   Matt Garza
OF   Bryce Harper                  SP   Andrew Cashner
OF   Wil Meyers
OF   Sin-Soo Choo                 RP   Grant Balfour
OF   Jay Bruce                        RP   Jim Johnson
DH   Alex Rios                         RP  Bobby Parnell

If your FSRU drafts had included a few or more of these 2014 lemons, as mine sure did, there were only two ways to rectify the situation: try to trade your way back into contention or relentlessly scour the waiver wire for relief before Justin Verlander’s early season stinkbombs or Jay Bruce’s futile swings succeeded in effectively ending your season well before the All Star break.

And, lo and behold, there actually were some genuine gems out there  lying in the weeds, just waiting for your claim.  And we’re not even talking about players who were taken in mid/later rounds in most drafts and who did return outsized value to their fortunate owners: guys like Nelson Cruz, Victor Martinez, Johnny Cueto, Todd Frazier or Dee Gordon. No, these were little known or lightly regarded nonentities last Spring who, in the final analysis, would have soundly thumped our aforemention collection of 2014 lemons by season’s end. To wit…

C     Devin Meseraco                SP  Scott Kazmir
1B   Lucas Duda                       SP  Jake Arrieta
2B   Kolten Wong                     SP  Phil Hughes
SS   Danny Santana                SP  Jacob deGrom
3B   Josh Harrison                  SP  Alex Wood
CI    Chris Carter                      SP  Dallas Keuchel
MI   Scooter Gennett               SP  Carlos Carrasco
OF   Melky Cabrera                 SP  Garrett Richards
OF   Charlie Blackmon           SP  Drew Smyly
OF   JD Martinez                                            
OF   Corey Dickerson             RP   Zach Britton
OF   Marcel Ozuna                   RP  Sean Doolittle
DH   Steve Pearce                   RP  Mark Melancon

Hey, I’d be the last one to advocate just auto picking our drafts . Like those Capistrano swallows, it’s far better to do the actual flying returning to our FSRU home every year. But if 2014 drove home any lesson in spades once again,  it was that pennants are rarely won in March alone. It truly takes six full months of pursuing any and all trade possibilities and/or religiously working that waiver wire to keep our teams competitive and in the hunt….unless, of course, you were to have a 2015 MLB crystal ball.

Incidentally, if by chance you had were to have such a ball, just send it my way, and I promise to Fed Ex you an official Prince Fielder neck brace, a genuine Grant Balfour home plate compass , plus an autographed , pre-holed Chris Davis Louisville Slugger. Do we have a deal ?

Mike Russell