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Panic Mode – Early Season Management

Yes, we’re all hoping we found this year’s Cliff Lee and Carlos Quentin. We also want to avoid this year’s Eric Byrnes and Erik Bedard. However, most of the guys many are dropping quality options for will have their hot streaks come to an end soon and most of the guys causing their current owners to consider a new hobby will right the ship. We’ve all heard the old cliche, baseball’s a marathon not a sprint, but it never hurts to be reminded … before you do something stupid.

Below are some early-season management strategies I have had past success with:

1) Trust your projections. It’s been two weeks, your projections were likely constructed based off two or three years of data. Sample size seems to be a term we all hear too often, but then why do so many forget about it when managing their roster?

2) Know your replaceable players. From past experience I have noticed this may be more of an issue of roster construction, i.e. owners saving roster spots for potential breakouts (I’ll get into this later), but too often owners get antsy and drop a slow starter instead of the guy truly on the end of their bench. I remember last April when C.C. Sabathia got off to that horrendous start, I logged onto Yahoo one day to set my lineup and saw Sabathia got dropped in thousands of league that day alone! I’m not saying don’t make that mistake; I’ll assume if you’re reading this you know better, but just think about who you’re dropping and why before doing it. I know Jay Bruce is pissing you off right now, but there’s a reason Marco Scutaro was your last-round pick. You can’t get yesterday’s stats, when in doubt refer to rule No. 1.

3) Do not get married to players. I alluded to this previously; I know you want to be the guy to find the next breakout, but that’s not going to happen when said player’s current role is that of a utility player, a fourth outfielder or a AAA player. Let someone else roster Matt Weiters, Clay Buchholz, Delmon Young, etc. Be the owner that’s using their roster spot on someone providing current value that has their eye on the Tier 2 minor league and utility/fourth OF player talent and will be prepared to pick them of waivers when the time comes. For every day you have Weiters eating a roster spot you’re missing out on opportunities like Marlon Byrd’s big night vs. the Orioles last week.

4) Batting order is important. Nate McLouth’s slow start isn’t bothering me. He started the year batting in the three hole, he’s still in batting there and he isn’t being given any time off. If I were an Alexei Ramirez or

Chris Davis owner, I would be concerned. They started the year batting in the bottom third of the lineup and have played horrendously. Playing time is already being taken away from

Davis. Players at the top of the order usually get somewhere north of 100 more AB’s than those at the bottom, and they’re also less likely to be replaced in the lineup. If your guy is batting near the top of the order I wouldn’t expect anything worse than a lineup demotion until they get well, although in cases like Bonifacio and Daniel Murphy a move to the bottom basically kills their value. If they’re already at the bottom of the order though …

5) Lastly, take advantage of owners that don’t subscribe to rules one through four! They’re out there in every league, drop a few buy- low trade proposals and you can probably find the sucker.

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