I am a firm believer that most people see themselves as rational. They go through their lives, making decisions, and taking due consideration of what reasonably should be done.
In which some trades are completed and a demon awakened.
This is a very different thing from saying 'people are rational'.
I believe that, as people go through life acting rationally, there's a small part of them that awakens. At first, it simply suggests irrational alternatives to rational actions. Ignore that still, small voice -- call it a demon, if you like -- and it grows more powerful, suggesting stranger and stranger actions and growing more and more difficult to resist.
This is why, I believe, that people who climb clock towers with high-powered rifles or are discovered with multiple human heads in their freezer are described in news segments by neighbors as 'normal'. In public, these people obey the demand that people act rationally. In private, however, their inner demons rage and take over, driving them to deeply irrational behavior. I think this is normal, human experience -- I don't think there's any particular class of people, from scientists to sabermetricians, who are immune to this.
I know I'm not immune -- it's how I ended up starting Nick Punto for most of the opening week.
It started innocently enough. Following the draft, I set up my initial active roster, with Met's shortstop Jose Reyes in the shortstop slot. Then, just before opening day, the bulletin went out that Reyes was starting the season on the DL, retroactive so that he'd be eligible to return on April 10. That pretty much eliminated any chance of him being useful to me in the opening week, and it turned out I hadn't managed to land anybody else eligible at shortstop.
That leaves three options:
1) Leave the shortstop position empty.
Yeah, like I want to let the other owners in the league know I'm incompetent even before Day 1. They'll find out on their own quickly enough.
2) Put together a trade.
I hadn't had high hopes this would work out. I mentioned in the first report that I'd run a fantasy baseball league some years ago, and participated in it as well. In that league, trade offers were, to put it diplomatically, 'non-serious'. I can remember one particular owner who'd send messages saying, "Hey, I'll trade you this third baseman I'm not using for your #2 starting pitcher. Sound good?" My assumption was that any trading would begin from a premise of 'give away nothing, get as much as possible in return', and thus that I wouldn't be taking part in much of it.
3) Grab a free agent.
This was made more complicated at the start because, until a couple of days prior to the opener, putting players on the injured list didn't actually open up any space on your roster. Once the commissioner got that issue repaired, however, I was able to look closely at the SS options that hadn't already been drafted.
They didn't look good.
Hey, look. Nick Punto is still out there.
You need a shortstop. Punto qualifies. And you know he's going to get playing time; he's Gardy's bobo.
My demon had awakened.
Hey, you wrote yourself that Punto is merely the most unpredictable player in the majors.
Actually, I believe I wrote that he was the most inconsistent offensive player in the majors. And in a fantasy league, that's all that matters.
Unpredictable, inconsistent, that's just semantics. He could be great!
Yeah, but I thought the idea was not to reveal myself as incompetent until later in the season.
Oh, come on, you don't have to keep him on the active roster all year. You just need someone to fill the slot until Reyes comes back.
Well, there is that...
"Golden Thieves add 2B Nick Punto"
Great. There goes my rep.
I'd also updated my 'on the block' notifications showing that I was looking for a shortstop as well as a closer, and that I had a few players I was looking to get rid of. And it didn't take long until I had my first trade offer. Remembering my experience from my last league, I was prepared to be upset.
Actually that was a pretty interesting trade suggestion. The two players' projections were pretty similar, with Cameron getting more runs and Delmon getting more RBI based solely on their batting order positions. Cameron's batting average was expected to be lower (which we're not scoring), but he'd make up for it with walks and power so that the OBP/SLG stats (which we do score) looked really similar.
The biggest reason to offer the deal is if you thought that Young was likely to exceed his projections. Unfortunately for the guy who proposed this trade, there's probably no bigger Delmon booster on TwinkieTown than me. I turned down the offer, but made a counter-offer: Jason Kubel for Nick Swisher.
I thought the counter-offer was also reasonable. Again, Kubel is slated to have a better batting average, but Swisher's ability to draw walks actually had him polling the higher OBP in projections. Both were expected to hit for power, but I figured Swisher had a chance to break out in his new park and for his new club and exceed his expectations in both homers and RBI and was willing to take a chance to find out.
The owner rejected my counter-offer and proposed a counter-offer of his own: Paul Konerko for Delmon Young. No thanks.
I did eventually end up dealing Kubel, by the way, for Cleveland shortstop and leadoff man Asdrubal Cabrera. I'm pretty happy with this trade, though I think the other owner got a slightly better deal. I also finally landed a closer, dealing Rickie Weeks (who I no longer needed as a generic MI after landing Cabrera) to get Arizona closer Chad Qualls.
And of course, any enthusiasm over those deals was tempered by the news that, as of the end of Week 1, the illustrious Golden Thieves were sitting in 12th place out of 14 teams. And that my #1 catcher, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, was heading to the DL with back problems, which will more than likely eliminate him from having any shot at a great offensive season as a catcher. And Nick Punto, in his one week as a Golden Thief, finished 2-15 with a triple, a .267 SLG, and a .176 OBP, which in a number of ways is worse than if I'd just left the slot open.
All they offered me was a chance to play. The chance to dwell in the cellar all year was my own, and my demon's, idea.