The Commish Online                                                                                
Free Agents:  Bust and Bonanza
July 19, 2004

Even in a 12-team league with 7 reserve spots and 4 more for injuries, free agents play a huge part in MRLB.  A free agent pickup doesn't become a good one until the player actually starts for your fantasy team, however (or is traded for some value).  The same is true for the bad picks - adding Todd Van Poppel to your roster does no damage until you actually start him, such as the pitching desperate Flux Capacitors were willing to do a month ago.

So who has made the most with their free agents?  Who has fared the least?  Who has hardly participated?  Let's take a look at the best and the worst free agent moves in MRLB based on how the owner has played them (stats are fantasy, not MLB):

Bartman's #1 Fan
Best:  Travis Hafner (248 AB, .311, 51 R, 8 HR, 54 RBI, 3 SB)
Worst:  Mike Maroth (31.3 IP, 4.596 ERA, 1.500 WHIP)

Comment:  There are many worse FA moves than Maroth in this league, but he was B1F's least successful pick.  Hafner's stats are worthy of a draft pick north of the 15th round, but Towns picked him up, started him, and never looked back.

Big League Chew
Best:  Ryan Freel (76 AB, .276, 8 SB)
Worst:  Henry Blanco (118 AB, .203)

Comment:  Several teams have picked up and dropped Freel this year, but BLC made it work with 8 SBs in just 76 ABs.  On the flip side, taking a shot at Blanco while Mauer was out did nothing but drop BLC's team batting average.

Best:  Lyle Overbay (247 AB, .356, 39 R, 8 HR, 42 RBI), Jack Wilson (321 AB, .324, 40 R), Jake Westbrook (49 IP, 3.306 ERA, 1.184 WHIP)
Worst:  Claudio Vargas (11.7 IP, 8.486 ERA, 2.057 WHIP)

Comment:  Draft be damned with Camerano, he hit the free agent jackpot right away with Overbay and Wilson, two of the better offensive players this year, drafted or undrafted.  Westbrook, while not even the best "Jake" in baseball (that claim goes to Peavy, of course), was a nice addition to his staff.  Trying to spot start Vargas a couple times was a mistake, however, but the 11+ innings didn't do much damage.

Flux Capacitors
Best:  Oliver Perez (44.3 IP, 3.045 ERA, 1.038 WHIP, 62 K)
Worst:  Luis Rivas (15 AB, .000)

Comment:  Acquired via trade, Oliver Perez has been striking out hitters non-stop since putting on a Flux uniform.  Unfortunately for Marcinkus, however, wins are still hard to come by.  On the offensive side, trying to exploit a favorable matchup for Luis Rivas one week ended in disaster, with Luis posting a big 0 for 15 for the week.  Oops.

Krazee-Eyez Killaz
Best:  Guillermo Mota (22.7 IP, 1.985 ERA, 5 W, 1.147 WHIP)
Worst:  Rodrigo Lopez (55.3 IP, 5.530 ERA, 1.627 WHIP)

Comment:  Killaz has received major production from Mota since his acquisition, with the 5 wins a bonus to the other stellar numbers.  Sticking around a little too long was Lopez, helping drag down Krazee's ERA and WHIP in the first half.

North Siders
Best:  Shingo Takatsu (7.7 IP, 2.348 ERA, 1.036 WHIP, 2 S)
Worst:  Cesar Izturis (100 AB, .240, 0 HR, 8 RBI, 2 SB)

Comment:  The North Siders haven't dipped into the FA market much, but Takatsu was a nice choice.  The early returns have been modest, but Shingo should rack up plenty of second half saves.  Trying to plug Izturis in as a middle infield option has given Kamienski and Mandarino nothing but a punchless 100 ABs.

Slim Shady
Best:  Chad Tracy (137 AB, .270, 17 RBI)
Worst:  Todd Zeile (37 AB, .162, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 3 R)

Comment:  Slim only hit the market as a necessity when Glaus went down, and the results were pretty uneventful.  Tracy has been Slim's best by default, hitting .270 and not killing the club.  Zeile, on the other hand, did just about nothing with his 37 ABs while manning the hot corner.

Team Erickson
Best:  Carlos Guillen (279 AB, .333, 53 R, 11 HR, 54 RBI, 5 SB), Casey Blake (171 AB, .304, 31 R, 9 HR, 27 RBI), Brad Lidge (26.3 IP, 1.709 ERA, 0.873 WHIP, 7 S)
Worst:  Rod Barajas (86 AB, .209, 8 RBI)

Comment:  Where to begin?  Team Erickson has started 15 different FA hitters and 7 different FA pitchers for a total of 22 free agents!  With that volume, as expected, some of his endeavors have been good (Guillen, Blake, Lidge, Chone "Shawn" Figgins, Doug Davis) while others not so good (Barajas, Tino Martinez, Brian Jordan, Dan Wilson).

The Phat Alberts
Best:  Omar Vizquel (141 AB, .298, 21 R, 20 RBI, 5 SB)
Worst:  Cory Lidle (9 IP, 15.00 ERA, 2.556 WHIP)

Comment:  The always overlooked Vizquel was remembered by Pawlak, and Omar has been paying steady dividends for The Phat Alberts when called into action.  A short stint for Lidle ended poorly with 15 earned runs in just 9 innings and more men on base than at a military zone.

Unlimited Access
Best:  Rob Mackowiak (169 AB, .266, 24 R, 5 HR, 26 RBI, 6 SB), Oliver Perez (25 IP, 3.96 ERA, 27 K)
Worst:  Chase Utley (36 AB, .111, 1 HR)

Comment:  Originally picked up by Unlimited Access, Oliver Perez helped his squad before heading to the Flux Capacitors.  Mackowiak has also posted some well rounded numbers for an undrafted player.  One failed experiment for Meyers, however, was middle infielder Chase Utley, who managed just 4 hits in 36 ABs while starting for UA.

Best:  Matt Lawton (311 AB, .299, 59 R, 12 HR, 38 RBI, 15 SB)
Worst:  Aaron Sele (11 IP, 6.545 ERA, 1.727 WHIP), Jose Jimenez (9.7 IP, 15.828 ERA, 1.744 WHIP, 5 S)

Comment:  While trying to stockpile the #1 draft picks, Vavster was lucky enough to have snagged undrafted Matt Lawton early, providing him with stellar numbers at all 5 positions.  Pitching has been a different story for Vavrek.  Jimenez's 5 saves are nice, but not worth the double digit ERA and skyhigh WHIP.  Sele provided nothing but trouble in a starting role.

Z Money
Best:  Eric Byrnes (246 AB, .264, 44 R, 9 HR, 28 RBI, 7 SB)
Worst:  R.A. Dickey (35.3 IP, 7.641 ERA, 1.896 WHIP, 0 W)

Comment:  Byrnes has been steady as an undrafted outfielder, and free agent second baseman Ron Belliard has posted slightly less impressive but consistent stats.  Zaleski's pitching choices, however, are not Hall of Fame bound.  Dickey (insert joke here) has been given way too many chances, posted horrid numbers over more than just a couple starts.  Schoensweis and Valdez haven't fared much better and have logged a combined 113 IP, but they at least have 3 wins each for Z Money.

Is there still a free agent phenom lying in the weeds?  Will Team Erickson have any original players left by year's end?  Will the baseball world stand up and take notice of wunderkinds Jake Peavy and Oliver Perez?  These questions and more will be answered as the second half rolls on.  Good luck!