We have roughly two weeks left to go in the fantasy baseball season. I hope you're still in contention. But of course, some of you aren't and that's OK. I thought this might be a good time to give my thoughts on excuse-making though (I'm sure Gangi has covered this as well).
1. Don't blame injuries. This is just plain annoying. Whose fantasy team hasn't had any injuries? Did you draft known health risks? Are you lousy at making up for injuries with shrewd trades and pickups? Sure, the team with few injuries usually ends up on top. But it's like this in real baseball too.
2. Don't say you didn't have enough time. C'mon. We all have enough time to set our lineups each day and flip through RotoWorld's player blurbs. If you don't have 15 minutes a day available for this, why did you sign up for a fantasy league? This excuse wouldn't fly if you signed up for a class and flunked it.
3. Don't quit on the league at any point. This can be hard to follow, especially in daily non-keeper roto leagues. But you can still play the spoiler. Start spot-starting guys and own the win category. Don't let the leaders get all the great pickups. For the sake of the rest of the league, don't let it lose its competitive edge. Never stop setting your lineups or getting injury replacements. If you won't put in the bare minimum level of effort, don't sign up. You knew it was a six-month season going in. I hate it when people give up on leagues. Consider putting some rules in place to thwart this or make it a keeper league.
On to the pickups... American LeagueYorman Bazardo
, SP/RP, DET – The small 23-year-old righty starts against the Twins on Saturday. Minnesota has a weak offense, but Bazardo has a history of low strikeout rates in the minors. I would pass. AL: No, Mixed: No.Bartolo Colon
, SP, LAA – The hefty veteran is back from his elbow impingement and hopes to prove himself worthy of the Angels' postseason rotation. He also aims to secure a decent free agent contract this winter, so his final starts are doubly important. The White Sox have perhaps the worst offense in the league but it's still a risky move. AL: $4, Mixed: No.Jason Kubel
, OF, MIN – Since the beginning of August, Kubel is hitting .361/.439/.566 in 83 at-bats. It's still a tiny sample, but folks are saying he's swinging the bat the way he was when he was a hot prospect, before the knee problems. Pick him up in deep mixed leagues if you can. AL: $15, Mixed: $3.Mike Mussina
, SP, NYA – Moose had a solid effort Wednesday against the Blue Jays, and it was said that his fastball had its life back. If the Yanks go to a six-man rotation, Mussina could match up with a below-average Baltimore offense next. He might be worth trying in deep mixed leagues. AL: $4, Mixed: $1.Phil Hughes
, SP, NYA – Hughes has his first two-start run of quality starts going. But the scouting-type reports on these efforts have been mediocre. He's still fairly risky against the Orioles on Monday. AL: $5, Mixed: $1.Daric Barton
, 1B, OAK – The A's plan on playing the 22-year-old first baseman fairly regularly to finish out the season. He was inconsistent at Triple A, but ended on a high note. He's 4 for 12 with three walks in the bigs. Over the next few years I don't expect a ton of fantasy value – does he even have Conor Jackson
's power? AL: $8, Mixed: No.David Murphy
, OF, TEX – Murphy is really coming on strong in his Texas debut with a .410/.438/.705 line in 61 at-bats. But again, a tiny sample. Murphy had just a .770 OPS in Triple A this year so let's not get too excited yet. He might have a touch of AL-only value for the rest of the season if the Rangers run him out there five times a week. He'd be more interesting as next year's starter if the Rangers don't sign Torii Hunter
. AL: $5, Mixed: No.Vicente Padilla
, SP, TEX – Padilla's got a 12-inning scoreless streak going after beating the Royals and Tigers. I'd feel comfortable spot-starting him against the A's on Sunday. AL: $12, Mixed: $2.Joaquin Benoit
, RP, TEX – Benoit seems to be the Rangers' closer at the moment, though he hasn't had a save chance since September 7th. If you're making a push in the saves category he might be the best available. AL: $14, Mixed: $4.Russ Adams
, 2B/SS – TOR – Adams might see some extra playing time at third base with Troy Glaus
out for the season. Even with middle infield eligibility, his .734 OPS at Triple A doesn't inspire. Pass. AL: No, Mixed: No.Casey Janssen
, RP, TOR – Janssen was to share closing duties with a fatigued Jeremy Accardo
. However his first attempt on Monday was awful as he blew the save against Detroit. John Gibbons also threw Scott Downs
and Brian Wolfe
into the closing mix for the season's final weeks. In other words, it's a complete crapshoot. Only the truly desperate should get involved here. AL: $5, Mixed: No.National LeagueEdgar Gonzalez
, SP, ARI – Gonzalez had a fine start against the Giants on Monday, though he didn't get the win. And it was the Giants. It looks like Gonzalez will go Sunday against the Dodgers. That's a below-average offense. Gonzalez has good command and just needs to keep the ball in the yard to succeed. He's an OK spot-start. NL: $5, Mixed: $1.
Tony Pena, RP, ARI – Pena snagged a save Monday, but only because Jose Valverde
needed rest. No need to run out and get Pena in mixed leagues. NL: $5, Mixed: No.Bob Wickman
, RP, ARI – Wickman's a D'Back now, but he's way down in the pecking order for saves (fourth, I believe). No fantasy value. NL: No, Mixed: No.Octavio Dotel
, RP, ATL – Dotel hopes to return to the Braves around Sunday. Like Colon, he's got something to prove in a contract year. Rafael Soriano
's last two appearances were non-save situations, but that's only because the Braves haven't had a save chance since September 5th. I think Soriano still gets the ball when the next chance comes up. NL: $2, Mixed: No.Norris Hopper
, OF, CIN – Josh Hamilton
's season-ending injury should make Hopper a regular. He can hit singles, score some runs, and swipe bags as the Reds' leadoff man. He's worth owning in most leagues if you need those categories. NL: $12, Mixed: $2.Franklin Morales
, SP, COL – The talented Morales will pitch next on Sunday against the Marlins. He's coming off his best start of the year against the Phillies. The Fish haven't seen Morales, and their hitters lead the league in strikeouts. It might be the right combination for a spot-start. NL: $4, Mixed: $1.Paul Maholm
, SP, PIT – Maholm returns from a stiff back to face the Astros on Sunday. He hasn't pitched since August 28th. He might be rusty, but I like this matchup. NL: $14, Mixed: $3.Brian Wilson
, RP, SFN – Wilson seems like the go-to guy for saves for the rest of the month, and that makes sense since he's seen as the closer of the future. He should be owned in all leagues right now. NL: $14, Mixed: $4.