The 9th Cut Is The Deepest

So the Mets just ripped off an improbable six-game winning streak, but couldn’t hit Livan Hernandez enough to extend it last night. In truth, I was more distracted by (1) the NFL draft and (2) my new team in ottoneu’s high-variance picksix game.

Picksix was fun on the first day – as the goal is to choose six players, and see how many points they can score via FanGraphs’s linear weights system. You’ve got 120 bucks to choose your six, so strategy and matchups play a big role. Game gets rained out? You lose. Buster Posey sits instead of plays? You lose. So as much as anything, this game is about silly variances and luck. Which, of course, makes it more fun.

My team on the first day was a little Red Sox-heavy: I chose Josh Thole (C), Adrian Gonzalez (CI), Ben Zobrist (MI), Grady Sizemore (OF), Jon Lester (SP), and Brian Wilson (RP). Basically, I hit the jackpot on nearly every choice. While I would’ve done better if I’d swapped out Carlos Santana, Lance Berkman, and CC Sabathia, my team was good enough to put in a dominant showing, and before the last game of the night finished up, I had a cool 100+ points, and was sitting pretty in first place. There was one other player lurking (called Chok), and he still had Lance Berkman and Miguel Montero with one AB each to go.

Basically, all I needed to win, was for Lance Berkman NOT to hit his second home run of the game in the 9th inning.

Of course, he did, and I had to settle for 2nd place. Oh well.

At any rate, it was nice to have some immediate success in picksix, and I intend to keep playing it for a while, and we’ll see if it gets boring. But now I hate Lance Berkman for two reasons…the other being that he is/was blocking Mark Hamilton (a friend of a friend…of a friend) from getting more playing time in St. Louis.

Anyways, that’s partially what the title of this post is about – how Berkman wrecked my picksix in the ninth. But there’s another “ninth” topic I have to address: and that’s in my 4×4 ottoneu league.

Last week, I made three bad decisions, all related to my starting pitching:

  1. I sat Zach Britton against the Red Sox, worried that they’d hit him. I was wrong.
  2. I sat Bud Norris against the Cardinals, worried that they’d hit him. I was wrong.
  3. I played Francisco Liriano, assuming that he’d eventually fix what was bothering him. I was WAY wrong.

I plan on rectifying some of these mistakes over the rest of the year. For example, maybe over-considering matchups is dangerous with young starters like Britton and Norris, each of whom has seemed to make strides in the short start to this season. Norris’s control is improved, and Britton is proving he can get hitters out at the ML level. Unless either hits a serious cold streak (or pitches in Yankee Stadium), I’ll probably let them ride for the rest of the season.

Liriano, on the other hand, is the fourth-highest paid player on my roster, behind Pujols, Halladay, and Starlin Castro. Both he and Castro were overpays, yet one has paid off, and one hasn’t. I’ve already tinkered with my young ottoneu team quite a bit, having jettisoned relievers, cut overpays that certainly won’t help as the season goes on (Jack Cust, Tsuyoshi Nishioka), and find myself with a large deficit to make up, despite being in 6th place in my league.

In addition, my league doesn’t appear to be very trade-friendly, which hampers any ability to foist Liriano off on another team. I thought about it critically, and unless Liriano pitches like a Cy contender in the back half of the season, there’s no way I could keep a player like him in the offseason at a cost of $30. It just isn’t feasible with other contracts piling up.

So, instead of trying to wait him out, I went ahead and cut Francisco Liriano, incurring a $14 penalty for the rest of the season and opening up a roster spot. It’s definitely the biggest move of the season for me, but it does two things.

#1 – I now have a great deal more financial flexibility. I need a place-holder 2B for my team, and was working with a budget of about $4 before the cut. They guy I wanted to fill that slot was Michael Cuddyer, who has availability across the diamond, and will still be a valuable piece once Chase Utley comes back – but I couldn’t mortgage all my cap space to go get him or someone comparable. Now I can – and I have the roster space to snag him. Also, since many of the other teams in the league have virtually no cap space, if a trade opportunity presents itself, I can take back contracts or sweeten a deal with a loan. That’s big.

#2 – I can look towards 2012 with more confidence. My team is very prospect-heavy. If you count Dom Brown as a prospect (I do, still), nearly every non-starting position on my team is filled with a prospect: I’ve got seven hitters and six pitchers. Basically, I have a team with a ton of keeper value, and in ottoneu, ML players appreciate by $2 in the offseason, and MiLB players appreciate by $1. With the cut of Liriano, I’ll be saving $28 over the offseason, which gives me both room to deal with appreciation, as well as to target a free agent or two who will be loosened from the re-draft process. My real goal is to hopefully see a player like Jason Heyward, Ryan Braun, or Colby Rasmus get free, and then be able to use my financial pull to sign them away from a competitor to improve my outfield.

I can certainly see how some might say that dumping Liriano for virtually nothing is a bad move – especially when his value may be at its lowest. I hear that, and I do worry that I made the wrong decision. But in the end, I went with my gut (and my wallet), and right now I feel like this decision gave me a slightly better chance to win now. Especially considering that over the offseason I was unlikely to keep him at that price anyway. Despite this, I hope he recovers and pitches up to his usual standard of excellence this year – when he’s on, he’s a fun pitcher to watch.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The 9th Cut Is The Deepest

  1. Pingback: The 9th Cut Is The Deepest (and More) « Big Waves Of Light

  2. Pingback: Timing Is Everything, Francisco | The Extra Base

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