The team I bought in early February was pretty much the team I thought I had purchased. My batting average wasn't quite as good as projected, but my offense was a light on power squad that was strong everywhere else due to the fact that I was carrying a team of everyday players and Gregg Zaun. Even with injuries, the only player I had besides Zaun who didn't crack 300 at bats was Carlos Beltran.
My pitching was a mixed bag. The projections were more or less right about the point total, but wrong about most of the categories. I was a little better in wins and strikeouts than I would have guessed, but did not have a top team in ERA and WHIP. Juan Gutierrez gave me that half of a closer I was hoping to grab when I went trolling in the bargain bin and more points there as well.
I wound up benching Gutierrez in mid-May and cutting him outright in early June. He had a 10.31 ERA in early June with no saves. I should have probably reserved him, but at the time he looked irrelevant.
However, not much else went wrong for me in CBS. Here the moves I made that were key to my season.
1) April 7: FAAB Carlos Silva $0.
Silva was a joke in Seattle from 2008-2009 but I figured I had nothing to lose by stashing him on reserve. Sure enough, Silva put up a more than solid year...and while his last start before he hit the disabled list was a disaster, I couldn't complain about the overall results.
2) April 26: Traded Rafael Furcal for Tim Hudson.
I was off to an OK start, but knew that I needed additional pitching depth. With Ted Lilly missing all of April, I was digging a hole in strikeouts. Hudson isn't a strikeout guy, but I figured he'd strike out more batters than any non-Carlos Marmol reliever. Furcal was off to a good start, but I figured I'd lose a point at most in steals if I moved him. It turned out that Furcal got hurt days after I made the trade, Hudson continued to pitch great most of the year, and the trade solidified my staff. My Hudson/Johan Santana combination allowed me to stream starting pitchers for match-ups and make the wins/strikeout plays I needed to make to move up in both categories.
3) July 2: FAAB Travis Wood $11.
I had been tracking Wood since Spring Training and thought he would play a role with the Reds at some point in 2010. Mike Leake's promotion made Wood an afterthought in many leagues, but I put in an aggressive bid for Wood after his July 1 debut. Wood added to my growing stable of solid arms and kept pushing me up in the pitching categories.
Meanwhile, the owner to beat turned out to be neither Charlie Wiegert nor Scott White but another CBS Sports entry: Eric Mack's team.
At the end of play on June 20, Mack had a 100 points (out of a possible 120) and an 18.5 point lead on Rotowire's Derek Van Riper. I was mired in 6th place, 32 points out of first. My problem categories were batting average (where I was 11th) and home runs (10th). I thought my average would improve, but power was starting to look like the ball game. If I didn't make a move in power, even second place was a rosy, cockeyed scenario.
But then Scott White came calling.
4) July 19: Traded Carlos Marmol and Placido Polanco for Pedro Alvarez, Edward Mujica and Dan Uggla.
White had power to burn. I had only one point to lose in saves if I traded Marmol (two teams behind me had no closer). I might lose some points in strikeouts, but figured I was dead in batting average anyway. Alvarez looked like a risk - he had a 300 OBP and 684 OPS the day I made the deal - but I had to roll the dice that he wouldn't slump enough to get optioned.
That was the deal that gave me a real shot at winning. Alvarez smacked four home runs the first two days he was on my roster, Uggla hit two that week and I was off to the races.
The table above shows the week by week point totals over the course of two months. I moved into second place for good the week ending August 15.
The progression toward first place shown above is a fairly typical one for a non-dump, non-carryover league. Uggla and Alvarez helped, but what really helped was having an offense with everyday players at almost every position. Brendan Ryan and David Eckstein are far from exciting, but they move the chains, as I like to say.
Finally, at the end of the day on September 26, I was in first place at the end of a scoring period for the first time all season: 90-88, with one week left! Three and a half of those points were in home runs. A big 11 HR week led by Beltran (3), Alvarez (2), and Corey Hart (2) pushed me out of a tight clump in the category and gave me a small cushion I wouldn't relinquish.
The last week of the season started off wonderfully and ended with me biting my nails. In the middle of the week, I had an 8 1/2 point lead on Mack and had reached my category ceiling of 93 points. Then J.A. Happ went out on the next to last day of the season and gave up 13 base runners and seven earned runs in three innings. I lost two WHIP points I thought were safe and suddenly had to sit there on the last day and nervously watch the boxes. Fortunately for me, Mack needed a win and some quality innings to get back into first but Cole Hamels was pulled early. By 3 p.m. on the last day of the season, it was apparent I had the title in my hands.
It was my third title in the seven years I've played in the CBS league, and my second in a row (I won the A.L. pool in 2009). While the CBS league isn't as high profile as LABR or Tout Wars, beating this tough group of competitors was still something for me to be proud of at the end of the season.