[MLB] Riding the Pine


Welcome back. This week we are going into Fantasy Baseball 101. We will look at the basics of playing. But first, the rumors:

– Carlos Delgado is still looking for a home. The Mets and their open pocketbook are currently the front runners, willing to spend up to $45 million over 4 years. To help lure him, the Mets have had Carlos Beltran and Pedro Martinez call him. Texas is meeting with Delgado this week. While many thought that he would be out fo their price range, the Rangers feel they really need him. The Marlins, the first to make Delgado an offer, would like to land him to remain competitive in the strong NL East. The final team in the sweepstakes is the Baltimore Orioles. After failing to land other free agents this off season, the Orioles feel this is their guy.

– Other rumblings out of New York come from the Mets disgruntled former centerfielder. Mike Cameron, who everyone thought didn’t want to move to right field, has said that he would make that move. He agreed to the move after making a little stink for 2 reasons: to show his teammates he wants to be there, and to show other teams that he is a team player. His name has been mentioned by a few team. Oakland has offered OF Eric Byrnes and RP Chad Bradford for him. Baltimore, realizing their hopes for Delgado are fading, have show interest along with Arizona. Cameron is coming off of knee surgery, but should only miss 2-3 weeks of spring training.

– Once Delgado signs, look for the defending champs to exploit one of the teams that is left out. With Doug Mientkiewicz and Kevin Millar both on the roster at first base (with David Ortiz, who will play first in inter-league games), the Sox have said they will move one. Millar would be the better choice to keep (better offensively while being an equal on defense) due to his ability to attempt to play the outfield.

– The Astros have said that they would split the difference in the amount that separates them from bringing back Roger Clemens. Clemens has requested $22 million from the Astros, the highest amount requested in the history of free agent arbitration, while not saying whether he will be back or not. The Astros offered $13.5 million, but have said they would go as high as $17.5 to sign him now.

– The press has recently been stating that Albert Pujol’s heel is not at 100%, but he feels the problem is no big deal. He said that it is a little sore, and that the whole thing has been blown out of proportion. His injury last season did not hurt his number, and if the problem does reoccur, it shouldn’t affect them this year.

I finally found out if anyone is reading this column. Joe asks:

I’ve never played fantasy baseball before. The only fantasy sport I’ve ever played up till now has been fantasy football. I actually consider myself a bigger baseball fan than football fan though. My little brother and myself have talked about maybe getting into fantasy baseball this year. I was wondering if you could give me a basic rundown of how the scoring works so that I have a basic idea of what kind of players I need to be looking at. Thanks.

Thanks for reading the article (you and the other 2 people).

A normal fantasy roster will contain between 25-30 players. Leagues I’ve played in will have the 8 fielding positions (C, 1B, etc), anywhere from 1 to 3 utility players (normally they are just utility, but sometimes the are specific to OF, corner infield, and middle infield). Most teams will also have 7 active pitchers. Some leagues will have 4-5 starters and 2-3 relievers starting. Other times there are 3 starters, 2 relievers, and 2 general pitching spots. The remaining spots are yours to choose.

Fantasy baseball is played one of 3 ways. My favorite is head to head (much like fantasy football). Your team gets points for singles, doubles, triples, home runs, rbis, runs, and stolen bases for hitter. For pitchers, you get points for innings (or outs), wins, saves, and strikeouts. More in depth leagues will add other stats. Each week your team will be matched up against another team in the league. Your points will accumulate all week, and the team with most points wins. At the end of the season, the 4 teams with the best records will go to the playoffs (or the top 2 in each division depending on how the league is set up). Two weeks before the regular baseball season ends, fantasy playoffs will start.Most head to head teams will have a weekly deadline to have your roster set, and it will be frozen for the rest of the week. The only draw back is if a player gets hurt early in the week, he has to stay in your line up. When you draft players, you generally want the guy that will get you the most points at their position (i.e. Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols).

The second way to play is just a basic point system. At the end of the season, the team with the most points will win. One of the benefits of a points league is you can change your roster everyday. If a player gets injured, you can bench him the next day. The main draw back is you have to follow your team really closely. Again, draft they guys that will get you the most points.

The thrid type of leage is a roto league. These leagues will have 5 offensive catagories and 5 pitching catagories. Your goal is to rank the highest in each stat. The basic stats for these leagues are Batting average, Home Runs, RBIs, Runs, stolen bases for hitters and ERA, WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), Wins, Saves, and strike outs for pithcers. These leagues tend to be more difficult. In the other 2 types, you can have a guy with a real low batting average who will hit home runs (i.e. Sammy Sosa) and he will benefit your team because home runs are worth more points. In these leagues, he will help your team in home runs, but hurt you in average. When drafting a roto team, you will have to look at the bigger picture (for every Sosa you draft, you will need a Mark Loretta for average and Carl Crawford for stolen bases).

The easiest leagues for new players will be either the head to head leagues or the points leagues.

One more note for newbies – do not join a league and stop checking. There is nothing more frustrating than playing in a league with dead team.

No time to get links for you…read the other sections. Feel free to e-mail me questions or feedback.

Eugene Tierney