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April for Showers, not White Flags
April 9, 2003

It's one week into the season and you're already in last place.  Is it time to trade your first round draft pick for a couple average players who can help you in several categories?  Not a chance.  Step back, take a deep breath, and take a second look and your roster.  Don't worry about the first week stats.  Concentrate on what you need and what you're willing to give up.  Don't make a deal to bolster one category if it means giving up too much in other categories.  Just because your leading everyone by 4 HRs doesn't necessarily mean you have an abundant supply of power, just as being last in ERA after one week doesn't mean you have the worst staff.

Here are a few tips and players that might help ease the pain until your team hits its stride:

Do not abandon the saves category under any circumstances.  Even if you don't have a save yet, it's too early to do anything drastic.  More than half of the teams will not stick with one closer throughout the entire year, whether it's from injury of ineffectiveness.  Comb the free agent market and read the team pages to find out who might be in line to replace a struggling reliever.  If you have a free roster spot, pick him up.  Some early choices to store on your bench are Rocky Biddle, Felix Rodriguez, and Tim Spooneybarger.

As for the starting pitching, it really depends on the size of your league.  If you're in a mixed league with only 8 or 9 owners, you should be able to sweep up some unproven but talented youngsters like Jake Peavy, Runelvys Hernandez, and Jeremy Affeldt.  Another option is to trade some veterans with big names (Mussina, Chan Ho Park, etc.) whose stats are on the decline for a young pitcher before he becomes too well known.  You should be able to score a good deal with this strategy if your fellow owners are biased toward players they know rather than players they should know.

If it's power you're looking for, there should be quite a few guys available who can hit it out of the park.  My choices would be Brad Fullmer, Randall Simon, and Mark Quinn.  They might be available and can flat out hit.  Simon is reportedly in a platoon situation, but he faces the righties, so he'll get the majority of the at bats.  Fullmer is at a position filled with power hitters, but if you can fit him in at DH or Utility, he should give you good power numbers without killing your average.  Quinn can help you, but only if you have a glaring need in the outfield.  He could put up 20+ HRs if he stays healthy.

Perhaps speed is your need.  Look no further that the 2 leadoff hitters on forgotten teams.  Endy Chavez of Montreal will get the bulk of the playing time in center field and should give you some SBs, but the better choice is Carl Crawford from Tampa Bay.  Crawford already has 4 steals and has 2 guys behind him capable of driving him in (Baldelli and Huff).  Rocco Baldelli, in his own right, could put up some quality numbers across all categories if given a chance to play all year.

If you're looking to boost your batting average, make sure you don't sacrifice HRs and RBIs.  Guys like McCracken, Spiezio, Wooten, and Mueller should solidify your average but may not get enough at bats to warrant a starting position in your lineup.

Whatever your needs, if you were happy with your team coming home from the draft, then don't make changes just because things aren't going your way yet.  If you weren't happy with your draft, then adjust, but don't throw away the talent you do have.