One More Day, One More Chance

We’ve been saying for the past month that the Mixed League battle is a three-way one (most of the good jokes have in that area have been exhausted by now so I’ll move on) between myself, Nick Minnix and Tim Heaney.  But, I’m sure that Tim and I will be united today, as we both use our Minnix voodoo dolls to try to come from behind (OK, just one more joke) and sneak through for the title.

Yes, it’s TIME for TIM&ME to put down our petty differences and focus on one thing we agree on – Minnix needs to have a bad day.  Nick leads my squad by two points and Heaney’s by 2.5.  Here’s a snapshot of what Tim and I will collectively pray for today:

2:10 – Brandon Morrow has been up and down all season and has been one of Nick’s most frustrating players.  He’s been up lately (15 scoreless IP in his last two starts) but he needs to come crashing down today against the White Sox.  If that happens, Nick may lose his .016 ERA lead on Dave Feldman in ERA and his .0009 lead on Tim in WHIP.  It also would help my chances since I roll out four White Sox hitters (how am I in this race?) and could use some BA and homers.

3:35 – Time for the Rockies-Giants barn-burner to start.  It’s the first of two games that needs to go the right way so that Nick doesn’t get a save and pick up another half point on Gene McCaffrey.  Thanks to Chris Sale’s Tuesday effort, Gene pulled even with Nick.  Minnix owns Rafael Betancourt and Santiago Casilla.  If this game doesn’t finish within three runs he will be down to just Joe Nathan (who pitched yesterday and may not be used today) at 8:10 against the Royals.

7:00 – This is when the long-running batting average battles will finally settle themselves.  Nick leads Eric Mack by .0002 and myself by .0006.  Tim will be hoping to make up .0002 on Derek Carty.  Major League lineups will likely be missing several regulars on the season’s final day and no category will be driven more by luck over the next 6 hours than this one.
It would also help Tim and I a lot if the Tigers were to lose to the Indians.  I know, it doesn’t seem possible for the Tigers to lose right now but if that were to happen it would lock up the second place seed in the AL for the Rangers, and manager Ron Washington would likely shorten the start of Matt Harrison later in the evening.   Nick trails Nando DiFino by 12 in punchouts, and a short start by Harrison would hurt his chances of catching up and earning another point.
Tim and I will be cheering hard for the Red Sox and Marlins tonight.  If Jon Lester and Chris Volstad can win their games, it would pull J.P. Kastner into a tie with Nick for wins at 89 and cost him a half-point.

10:10 – The race could be over when my bed time time arrives but if not, I’ll be staying up for the late games while Tim and I collectively root for Gio Gonzalez.  The hard-throwing lefty facing the Mariners and is Dave Feldman’s last starter of the season.  If the ERA battle with Nick is still close after Morrow and Harrison leaves their respective games it will be up to Gonzalez to throw a few shutout innings in Safeco and bring it home.

Of course, Tim and I will also be worried about our own races in batting average, steals (Tim), homers and strikeouts (me) but none of those things will matter if Minnix is satisfied with his team’s Wednesday’s performance.

I’d like to finish things off by offering a giant “thanks for nothing” to Angels manager Mike Scioscia.  Apparently screwing over the Rangers’ home-field hopes wasn’t enough of a reason to roll Ervin Santana and Jered Weaver onto the hill for at least five innings this week.  When Scioscia decided to throw in the towel and deny disappointed Angels fans two more chances to see their stars in action he also may have cost me two points in my pursuit of Minnix.  A Tuesday start by Santana likely would have resulted in the four K’s I needed last night to push past Gene, while Weaver’s expected punchouts on Wednesday would have certainly kept Nando ahead of Nick.  My Christmas card list just got one name shorter!

A Costly FAAB Mistake

When you’re sitting in front of the computer on A Sunday night trying to figure out if Brent Morel will get more hits over a three-game stretch than Chris Johnson, you know it’s time to call it a year and start your 2012 rankings!

As I said seven days ago, the Mixed League Championship is still Nick Minnix’s to lose.  While Team Zinkie was in first on Sunday morning, Nick has moved back into top spot at the moment and carries a two-point lead over my squad and a three-point lead over Tim Heaney.  

If Nick seals the deal this week he may need to take Tim out for dinner by the weekend!  Tim’s smart strategy and my poor planning resulted in me missing out on a few players I had hoped to add for the final stretch.  

Going into the final full week, Tim didn’t have any FAAB units remaining while I still owned $6.  I mistakenly thought that someone else would want Randall Delgado and Kevin Millwood and I wasted $3 on each of them.  In hindsight I should have bid $1 on both starters while saving $4 for the final FAAB period.  That would have allowed me to block Tim from adding Greg Holland and Manny Acosta last night.  Since we are tied in saves, grabbing those two pitchers would have likely netted me an extra point in the final standings.  Now, Tim owns both temporary closers along with Brandon League and Craig Kimbrel and I’ll need some good fortune to hang with him by using John Axford and Jordan Walden. Walden dealt me a big blow on Sunday when he misfired on his throw to second, costing me a valuable save and adding a couple earned runs to my season total.  

Tim was also able to block my claims on Lorenzo Cain and Robert Andino, two players who I expect to get something done over the final three games.  Needing runs scored and batting average help, I was hopeful to end up with at least one of them.  

So, my Tout Wars hopes are now pinned on the likes of Ruben Tejada, Willie Harris, Brent Morel, Sean Marshall, Henderson Alvarez and Alfredo Aceves.  I added all seven in the final FAAB run but it’s hard to imagine any of them having blazing finishes to the season.  

My dilemma to solve by 7pm today – to start Jayson Werth or Melky Cabrera.  Royals manager Ned Yost has already said that Cabrera will play until he gets his 200th hit (he’s at 199) and then won’t start another game this season.  That presents a catch-22.  If Cabrera plays in two or more games this week then it will mean that he didn’t hit well on Monday.  If he walks up to bat tonight and singles in his first plate appearance, will Mitch Maier be in center field to start the second inning?  Werth situation is the exact opposite.  Washington’s biggest disappointment is going to play but would anyone want to use him?  He owns a sub-.150 lieftime batting average against all three opposing starters this week.  In a tight batting average race, I can’t afford a 2-for-12 week from Werth or anyone else.  Do you see why I said it’s time to put 2011 behind us and look forward to 2012??!!

The Orioles are killing me!

MLB.com’s Fred Zinkie reflects on his frustration in a certain category as he struggles to stay in the Mixed League race….

The Baltimore Orioles are killing me!

That phrase has rarely been uttered in recent years by anyone other than long-suffering Orioles fans but at the moment the Orioles and their late season hot streak are ruining my chances of picking up a Mixed League Championship.

Entering the final full week of action I had 13 points in saves. I led Dave Feldman by a pair of saves and Tim Heaney by three. I sent John Axford and Jordan Walden out to keep my lead. Tim countered with Craig Kimbrel, Brandon League and newly-acquired Jim Johnson while Dave threw out Mark Melancon and former closers Fernando Salas and Kevin Gregg. I felt pretty safe that I would stay in front of Dave, who really only owns one closer at the moment but I knew that the race with Tim would be close.

Heading into the weekend, I have no saves this week. The Angels managed to fritter away some late-inning leads and extra-inning games (and their playoff hopes for that matter), giving Walden no chances. The Brewers also didn’t get a chance to put their fireman on the mound.

But the Orioles produced saves and plenty of them! In fact, a Baltimore reliever has earned a save all four days so far this week. First, Johnson secured three wins over Boston, pushing Tim past me and then just for good measure, Buck Showalter decided to rest Johnson and put in Gregg on Thursday, moving Feldman ahead of me. Dave has also got a pair of saves from Melancon this week.

Saves are a fickle stat week-to-week but they usually even out over the course of a full season. Well, I don’t have time for them to even out! I need the Orioles and Astros to get back to playing like last place teams and I need the Brewers and Angels to win some close games this weekend.

My plan to catch Nick Minnix heading into the final full week was…..
1. Catch him in BA
2. Catch him in ERA
3. Hold my lead over Tim and Dave in saves

So far, I’m 0-for-3. But, all of these things could happen over the final six days of the season.

Mixed League FAAB – August 22

A disappointing rookie showed signs of life over the past seven days and earned this week’s top bid.  In a tight race, several contending teams used small bids to bolster their rosters for the coming week – this race is going to be close all the way to the finish!