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May 28, 2003

June is approaching and you are stuck in the middle of the pack in your fantasy league.  You know you need to make a deal.  The problem:  you have a life, complete with a job, family, and other activities, and the last thing you plan on doing is researching baseball players for your fantasy team.  When it's 75 and sunny, no one wants to drag their eyeballs over the computer all day, searching for a diamond in the rough.
Say no more.  I feel your pain.  You don't want to be surfing the baseball websites when you can be surfing the waves.  At the same time, you don't want to fall behind in your league just because you have better things to do than calculate John Smoltz's FPS.  For the casual baseball fan, I have the perfect solution.  First, read all the articles at The Commish Online and visit the sponsors repeatedly.  Then, shut off the computer, head outside, and pick up your daily newspaper.  Besides the wealth of baseball information a newspaper provides, you can also read today's headlines, check out tonight's TV listings, and laugh at the latest antics of Dagwood (never has a human eaten and slept so much yet remained so sickly thin).

Now that you're settled under a tree with your cup of joe in hand, open to the sports section and find the page with baseball's league leaders.  You won't need any cords, wires, or PDAs, and you don't need to connect anything.  Newspapers are wireless and extremely mobile.  Most papers list the top ten in several categories almost daily.  Being in a fantasy baseball league, you have at least a decent knowledge of the players.  If you find one of your players on a leaderboard when you know he has no business performing that well, then it's time to trade.  Conversely, avoid trading for those players when other teams try to hype them up.

For example, a simple perusal of home run leaders will reveal that Mike Lowell is 2nd in the NL with 16 home runs.  Lowell may be heading into his prime, but he certainly will not be winning any home run titles any time soon.  In other words, if you own him, don't get too attached, trade him, and get the maximum value for this Florida third baseman.  Another guy who stands out is Preston Wilson.  He's leading the NL in RBIs.  Wilson is playing for Colorado now, but he's always had trouble maintaining a high batting average and RBI production over a whole season.  If you glance over to the latest Rockies' box score, you will see that Wilson is hitting .305.  Yes, his numbers will surely surpass his career averages thanks to Colorado, but he won't finish the year leading the league in RBIs while hitting over .300.  Trade him now and get some talent back in return.

Other players that stand out in the leaderboards as overachieving:  Blalock and Baldelli (AL BA), Loaiza (AL ERA, Wins), and W. Williams (NL ERA, Wins).  That's not to say players like Woody Williams aren't good.  But is Williams as good as his 7-0 record and 2.19 ERA indicate?  Heck no, so trade him for another seasoned pitcher and watch someone else accrue Williams' stats as he heads toward a more reasonable record and an ERA somewhere in the low 3's.

Another helpful tool the newspaper provides is the players that are struggling.  Usually on Sundays, the paper puts out a list of the worst of the week.  Take a close look at that list.  There are usually a few talented players on that list whose owners will be down on them.  When a guy who puts up consistent yearly numbers pops up on that list (ex. Ray Durham, Manny Ramirez, Jeff Bagwell), make sure he doesn't have any nagging injuries, then inquire for his services, offering your overachieving player.  The next thing you know, you've traded Mike Lowell for Jeff Bagwell, all while finishing up a crossword.  Anyone know a nine letter word for "information provider?"  Maybe you can read about it in your local newspaper.
Pick up a copy today!