What's up everyone ... Haven't posted in a minute because I was visiting my old stomping grounds in NYC. But now I'm back to help people prepare for their second-half drafts and also to help re-tool some squads for the majority of owners in "full-season mode."
Preparing for a New Draft:
I like to call the second-half draft a fantasy owner's mulligan. So much has changed between the start of the season and now, and there are some tough questions to ponder if you're looking you start up a new team. With all the information we now have, the first three rounds will look a lot different than they did in March.
One key to success will be getting players with you're second and third round picks that were definite first-rounders in the preseason. Of course, you'll also have to avoid overrating the guys who look like first-rounders now but who'd never have been picked there a few months ago.
A perfect example of this is Magglio Ordoñez. He's had great years before but now he's leading the Majors in hitting and looking like an M.V.P. front-runner. But is he worthy of a first round pick? I don't think so ... Go ahead and take a shot if he's there in the second round. He is a great player - I just worry about his past injuries resurfacing.
Matt Holliday is also making a case for garnering a first round selection. He was a great third round pick to begin with - maybe even a good second rounder. He's turned into a Top 10 player in many mixed leagues (I'd draft Holliday ahead of Ordoñez).
Here's the point: Breakout seasons from the above two guys and others like Prince Fielder may push some established superstars like Ryan Howard, David Ortiz and dare I say - Johan Santana out of the first round ... and you need to be ready to pounce if any of those guys falls to you in the second round.
You have to take advantage of the people using only the first half of 2007 as a guide to the second half. You must use the big picture to see that some guys who've had disappointing first halves like Howard and Big Papí (still pretty good) - and to a far greater extent Garrett Atkins - will lose some value early in drafts and therefore become far more valuable to you when you pick them up in the second round (or a bit later in Atkins' case).
On the mound, I have a feeeling that a few folks out there may get courageous and make Jake Peavy or Cole Hamels the first pitcher off the board. If this happens, consider yourself very fortunate and take Johan Santana if he somehow falls to you. It won't happen often, but all you need to know about the great lefty is this: since 2004, he's *****32-3 after the All-Star break***** ... 'Nuff said.
For those fantasy owners trudging along through the full MLB season, the actual midpoint (meaning 81 games into it) is a crucial stage as you try to gain ground or solidify a spot at or near the top of your league. If you have some pieces to part with, I almost always advocate chasing a big star who's been strugging, but a couple of these big names are already starting to come around - except for Andruw Jones (what is going on there?).
I think the guy to really go after is Carlos Beltrán. He's starting to come out of his funk and not coincidentally, the Mets are too. Roy Oswalt hasn't thrilled his fantasy owners either this season, but keep your ears to the ground on this guy. If you hear that someone in your league is disenchanted with Oswalt, it's definitely worth making an offer for him. Forget the bullpen struggles in Houston, this guy is a lot better than he's shown and his value probably won't get any lower (7-5, 3.55 ERA, 1.38 WHIP right now).
In closing, I encourage all my fellow owners to just stay with it and know that there is still time to recover if your struggling and there's always room for improvement - even if you're in first place. Tonight I will share my views with the world once again on Beltway Baseball, inside the 10 PM edition of SportsNite on Comcast SportsNet (Ch. 628 on your DirecTV, Ch. 45 if you have local cable in Montgomery County or something else if live someplace else). Hopefully I'll get to talk to Kelli Johnson again.