The weather is cold, the cocoa is hot and my chestnuts are roasting on the fire. It sounds like it is time for the annual Hot Stove League. If your fantasy football team has tanked (like mine did about Week Five), you have probably turned your attention to baseball and the latest goings on.
The Winter Meetings in Indianapolis produced little drama outside the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson grab, but things are getting hot. John Lackey signed with Boston and the Phillies, Mariners and Blue Jays completed a blockbuster deal sending Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay to new homes. So what does this mean for your team?
First of all, Granderson just landed in a much better situation. He now hits in a better lineup in a ballpark that plays smaller, especially for lefties. Look for better power numbers and more runs for the speedy Granderson. I wouldn’t expect much on an uptick on his batting average or stolen bases, but his overall value just got a lot better.
Halladay is probably the best pitcher in baseball right now. He has an injury history, but he is still an upgrade over Cliff Lee, who is a stud in his own right. His age is a little bit of a concern, but he should be good for a couple of huge years in Philly.
The Mariners got Cliff Lee for a lot of good prospects. They had to give up a serious part of their future for a guy who can give them a nice chance to win right now. The risk is if they cannot sign him to a long-term contract, but they seem willing to take that chance.
The Blue Jays got a lot of good young talent for the best pitcher in the game. The Jays are not going to compete in 2010 or 2011, so they might as well sell high on a guy who could replenish a minor league system devoid of much top level talent. So who won?
They all did and they all provided a great lesson for fantasy GMs. The Phillies traded a great pitcher and a big-time prospect for the best pitcher in the game. The Mariners traded a lot of potential talent for a guy who will deliver for them right now. Both of these teams got a player back who was better than any they were giving up.
Getting the best player in any deal is often the best strategy, but builds few friends with your league mates. If you constantly insist on the best player in all deals, your fellow competitors will start to avoid your trade offers.
How can you learn from the Jays’ end of the deal? Only if you are in a dynasty league could a fair comparison be made where your team is hopelessly low on talent and need to cash in your one big chip for a chance to rebuild. If you are in this situation, getting a huge return is a must, just as the Jays did.
So what about the Red Sox new acquisition? John Lackey will slide right into an already formidable BoSox rotation and once again make the American League a Yankees-Red Sox competition, with all others hoping just to beat out one of the big boys. Their new fireballer gives the Sox a sixth pitcher and, more importantly, a trading chip to help find an offensive weapon.
Most fantasy GMs are looking for pitchers during the season as arms blow up or flame out. Having an extra around to boost your offense is always a good strategy. With this signing, the best available pitcher is now whichever one the Red Sox want to trade away, putting them in the driver’s seat for the next big HSL move.