This article was originally published in an older blog of mine. It still makes a ton of sense.
One of the factors that annually separate the champions from the also-rans is off-season preparation. There are two types of Fantasy Owners, the first kind spends the winter playing Texas Hold-em and watching World Series of Poker re-runs. Many of the other owners mistake time spent during the winter tracking every trade rumor and constantly updating their player rankings as good preparation but it is not. Below I present you with five ways to can ensure that your Hot Stove season is a productive one without abandoning your spouse and children in favor of re-reading last season’s fantasy baseball magazines.
Reflect on last season
This very valuable step is often missed, especially when your fantasy baseball season ended in frustration. By looking back we can uncover where we went wrong. Did we take too many chances at the draft? Have you become predictable? Was that drunken Fourth of July trade you made with your weasel of a cousin a bad idea? Did you dump CC Sabathia on some “sucker” after his second terrible start in April? Making these self-evaluations, we can stop ourselves from making the same mistakes again.
We should also take the time to study our rivals. How did your league champion win? Does he make amazing trades? Did he rebuild for two years? Maybe your rival has a weakness for players on the Boston Red Sox that you can exploit. Does he have what looks like an unbeatable collection of young stars he can keep? Perhaps he exploited a loophole in the rules. We need to know our rivals as well as ourselves.
Set some goals for next season
Now that you have a better appreciation of what you did last season, you can decide what you need to do in the next one. This is more than just deciding to win a championship. Perhaps you want a more fruitful farm system. Maybe you want to improve your selection of pitchers or refine your draft strategy. It could be you just want to come up with all new strategy. By setting your goals early, you give yourself more time to achieve them.
You can also set goals you want your rivals to achieve. You can see to it that your chief rival pays full price for those older veterans he always acquires cheaply. You might need to stay in better touch with the other members of your league so your rival is not the only one involved in trade talks with the quiet guy in your league. Whenever you can make your rival change direction, pay more, or work harder you’ve done something valuable.You may want to check your poker deposit options because you should plenty of disposable income coming your way (along with a championship trophy).
Separate the noise from the knowledge
I am a true Hot Stove Junkie so I understand the temptation to read everything.
But it just isn’t necessary. The trade rumors and the speculation can be fun but most of it is noise that means very little in the long term. A far more effective course would be to discover a few good sources that report the facts that you need to know. Check in with those sources once or twice a week and you will save yourself a lot of time and effort. Rotoexperts.com is one great source.
Be careful not to put too much importance on what teams and their managers and general managers say. Lou Pinella just said that his Chicago Cubs do not need any more pitching. How long will it be before you hear him say you can never have enough pitching? The Boston Red Sox are already committed to Jed Lowrie as their starting shortstop. Does it seem likely that a team that has had five shortstops since 2004 would never consider an upgrade? If we can avoid giving too much importance to the noise, we can develop a much clearer picture of the truth.
Put moves into context
To evaluate events we need to put that event into the proper context. If the Yankees were to actually sign CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Derek Lowe as they have been rumored we would learn much more than who fills the spot that retired (and should be Hall-of-Fame) starter Mike Mussina left open. We also learn that the Yankees have more questions about their starting pitching than they might be willing to admit. Is Chin-Ming Wang going to be ready to start the season? Are they worried about Joba Chamberlain’s durability as a starter? What happened to the so-called youth movement? Are they giving up on Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy after just one injury plagued season?
Understanding why a team makes the moves that it does makes our fantasy predictions and projections a lot more accurate. In the above scenario, you might not want to buy low on Phil Hughes. You might also decide that even though you own a cheap Joba Chamberlain it might be wise to see what the obsessive Yankees fan in your league is willing to offer. If Sabathia becomes a Yankee, LeBron James to the New York Knicks is a lock, right?
Do not obsess
Relax. Take time to breathe and enjoy the holidays. So you let a few news items get past you. You will catch up with them the next time you check in with your trusted sources. Fantasy Baseball is supposed to be fun. If you are pulling the hair from your scalp and losing sleep so you can scour the internet all night you are not having fun – you’re obsessed.