Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Introducing, Trey's Triggermen

Most of you would have a hard time believing this, but your's truly is about to embark on my very first season -- yes, I said first -- of fantasy baseball. There. I said it, and it feels good. I admitted the fact that I am a complete fantasy baseball virgin. Not even an almost, as in, "I started to play a season, but withdrew before the season ended." No, this is my first-ever foray as a baseball GM.

I'm going to be taking part in a Yahoo! Sports league called Reversible Nines, with 19 other die-hard Kansas City Royals fanatics like myself. My team? Trey's Triggermen, of course, named after the Royals' fearless new manager, Trey Hillman. My team came into being last Thursday night, in a draft that I was so psyched and ready for. I was incredibly anxious to take part in the draft, and to be able to select my players, round-by-round, and put together an unbelievable lineup. My team would be unstoppable.

Then, Java ruined my night.

About 45 minutes before the draft, I started trying to click on the draft application button in order to open the window that would allow me to make my selections, and watch as all the other managers made theirs. I clicked. Nothing appeared but a window with the Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball '08 banner, and a few question marks. Click again. Nothing.

So I ran a test to see if my computer needed updated software in order to have the draft application work. The test said I needed the most recent Java Plug-In, and directed me to the Java website. Once there, however, it ran a test to see if I had the correct version, and informed me that I was all set. Great!

So I restarted my computer, and went back to the Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball site. I tried again. It failed again. Same blank window. Same message telling me that I need the latest Java Plug-In. Ugh!

I deduced that it must be something with my Firewall and security software, so I temporarily shut off the firewall. Still nothing. This was really starting to irk me. And it's about 10 minutes until the draft is slated to start. The pressure was mounting by the second, and I was stressed out and ready to hurl something at my computer screen.

I shot off a couple frantic messages to Antonio, the league's commissioner, but he really couldn't be expected to help me 10 minutes before the draft, with all the other things he had going on that night. I can't blame him. It was my fault for not having checked out the Yahoo! draft site well before the night of the event.

The only thing that made me feel even remotely comfortable was that I had taken the time to pre-rank my player list, using ESPN.com's fantasy expert recommendations. But I had only done a little over 200 players, and this is a 20-team league with 25-man rosters, meaning the draft would involve 500 players. So, after those initial 200 players were exhausted, who knows what I'd end up with.

To his credit, Antonio updated me through the first few rounds to let me know who I was getting with my selections, but I was just so angry at this snafu, and the fact that I wasn't clever enough to figure it out and join the rest of my new league online for my first-ever fantasy baseball draft.

Well, I bet you're wondering, how did Trey's Triggermen fare? All in all, not too bad for having been on autodraft all night long. I had the second pick, and it was a snake format, so I'd have to wait for it to go all the way down to the 20th pick, and then all the way back to me. But that meant that, every other round, I'd get two picks within four spots of each other. Here is the initial draft for the 2008 Triggermen:

Round 1: (2nd Pick) Hanley Ramirez (FLA), SS; Round 2: (39) C.C. Sabathia (CLE), SP; Round 3: (42) Aramis Ramirez (CHC), 3B; Round 4: (79) Aaron Harang (CIN), SP; Round 5: (82) John Smoltz (ATL), SP; Round 6: (119) Fausto Carmona (CLE), SP; Round 7: (122) Adrian Beltre (SEA), 3B; Round 8: (159) Ryan Garko (CLE), 1B; Round 9: (162) Ian Snell (PIT), SP; Round 10: (199) Jeff Kent (LAD), 2B; Round 11: (202) Zack Greinke (KC), SP, RP; Round 12: (239) Michael Bourn (HOU), CF; Round 13: (242) Ramon Hernandez (BAL), C; Round 14: (279) Greg Maddux (SD), SP; Round 15: (282) Joey Votto (CIN), 1B, OF; Round 16: (319) Moises Alou (NYM), OF; Round 17: (322) Jon Rauch (WAS), RP; Round 18: (359) Juan Cruz (ARI), RP; Round 19: (362) Edinson Volquez (CIN), SP; Round 20: (399) Ryan Doumit (PIT), C, OF; Round 21: (402) Jacque Jones (DET), CF; Round 22: (439) Philip Humber (MIN), P; Round 23: (442) Juan Lara (CLE), RP; Round 24: (479) Brandon Backe (HOU), SP; and Round 25: (482) Marlon Byrd (TEX), CF

I've already made some changes to my roster, which was top-heavy with pitchers. Three players -- Humber, Lara, and Byrd -- are no longer members of the Triggermen, while Carlos Gomez, Marco Scutaro, and Cla Meredith have been added.

I'm also in the process of adding Skip Schumaker, even though he's a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, and that goes against every fundamental bone in my body. However, I was desperate for a corner outfielder with a bit of power, and it came down to Schumaker or Carlos Quentin, and Schumaker's spring numbers -- 21 G, 24-for-64, .375/.412/.563, 15 R, 10 RBI, four doubles, one triple, two home runs, and three stolen bases -- made the decision easy. I'm also working like crazy to swing a trade or two.

I want to be the Dayton Moore of Reversible Nines, scouring the waiver wires and free agent market for undervalued or unnoticed talent that can be a surprise help to my lineup. Scutaro is likely going to have to start the year for me at second base, since Jeff Kent has a bad hamstring that has kept him from playing at all this spring. But Scutaro was a great choice, because he'll start the season in the Blue Jays' starting lineup after Scott Rolen broke his finger.

Yes, this is my first venture into the world of fantasy baseball, but I plan to learn the intricacies of the game quickly, and try to beat other team's managers to the punch. The fact that I'm coming off my first fantasy football championship (in my third year in my league) gives me hope, and confidence. But, just like I'll do with the 2008 Royals, I think I'll try to keep my confidence in check for awhile and see how the start of the season goes.

But come 2010, in my third year in the league (at least, I hope so), I'll be expecting a championship, baby! As long as Java doesn't mess with my draft again.

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