by Howard Bender
Time to leave your pleasantries at the door for this one, folks. We're getting closer and closer to finishing up the first half and it's time to start the grumbling and complaining about what kind of garbage totals some of our highest picks are throwing our way. Let's face it. People in the real world don't want to hear you bellyache about how your #1 draft pick has taken you and his stats to Sh*tsville, USA, and you can't whine to your baseball buddies about it because all they want to do is yammer about their own troubles.
So with that, I'm going to do a little lamenting of my own, but just about the busts in general. My teams have their own problems and perhaps a guy or two that makes the list below could be found on one (or several) of my rosters, but this one's for all of you. I'm going to open up a Complaint Department on RotoBuzz.com in the next day or so, so I'd love for you to share some of your issues as well. Who knows? Maybe it really is good to vent; to get it all out. We'll see how I feel after a few sessions.
In the meantime, it is with total displeasure that I present to you my 2009 First Half All Bust Team...
Catcher -- This was a bit of a tough decision for me, but I certainly don't want to make it a tie. On one hand, you've got Russell Martin and his meek little .241 average, one home run, 21 RBI, and only 7 stolen bases. On the other, we've got Geovany Soto with his joke of a .237 average, 7 HR, 25 RBI, and one solitary swipe. Both are making owners wish they invested more elsewhere and settled for Kurt Suzuki or something. Both players were drafted right about the same time, Martin for his speed, Soto for his power and both are equally disappointing. But Soto's month of June gives the illusion of promise, so the award goes to Martin....utterly disappointing in almost every way.
1st Base -- This one was one of the easiest decisions for me as, if you look closely, you can see the scorch marks on my fantasy caboose for investing in this clown. You know who I'm talking about, and don't give me any of this "but he's got 15 HR" crap. Because to go along with those...yaaaawn....15 HR, you've got a .203 batting average, only 33 RBI and a WHOPPING 111 strikeouts! Yup. You guessed it. Thanks for nothing, Chris Davis. I mean, we knew you had whiff potential, but this is ridiculous. We all shoul dhave skipped you and gone with a much more proven pick.
2nd Base -- It was so tempting here to take the cheap shot and go with Rickie Weeks here, but if you drafted him, then you knew there was atleast an 80% chance you would have lost him for the season at an inopportune time anyway. So I'm not going to go with him. And for the same token, I won't go with Mr. Empty Batting Average, Howie Kendrick, either despite the fact that his only real asset is now floundering somewhere in the low .230's. Nope, for here, we're going to go with a guy who was drafted anywhere from the 9th to the 12th overall second baseman and has given you a lousy .215 average with just 5 HR and 4 SB. There was plenty of promise after lookign at last year's totals, but now he's about to lose his job to some kid named Martin Prado. So congrats to you Kelly Johnson. What a stinker!
Shortstop -- Now normally, I don't like to give out this award to someone who is hurt, but considering he wasn't doing much of anything before he got hurt, it's really a no-brainer pick. Costing owners huge bid money and a top first round pick all over the place, he gave you only 2 HR and, for him, a measley 11 SB before he went down. He's been on the DL for almost 6 weeks now, and after a setback last month, owners are still waiting to hear a target date for his return. I think we all know who I'm talking about so a big "thanks for nothing" to Jose Reyes.
3rd Base -- To be honest, I really just wanted to throw Chris Davis over here again, that bum! But I don't want to hurt his feeling too bad. Then I thought about throwing Aramis Ramirez under the bus, but again, I don't like to put guys here because of injuries. But then the clouds parted and I saw the light....and by light I mean a very dim bulb illuminating the disgusting stats this guy is feeding his owners. As a matter of fact, it's gotten so bad that he's been replaced and is playing as a part-timer. Yup. That nauseating .224 average with just a half dozen home runs and a paltry 25 RBI has allowed me to give the Bust Award to Colorado's own, Garrett Atkins. What a maroon!
Outfield -- Now this was a tough one. Sadly, I had a HUGE list of guys that fit the bill here, but I'm only going with the top 3. Still, some very tough choices to make. If I go with my "can't give it due to injury" standard, then that eliminates Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quentin, Vladimir Guerrero, Pat Burrell, and even Josh Hamilton from contention. All high draft picks; all screwed their owners with injuries. So after that, my job came a little easier. I thought about average draft position, previous year's totals, and 2009 projections/expectations and came up with a viable top 3 busts. So here they are in no particular order -- Magglio Ordonez (.260-3-24-3), Corey Hart (.251-9-31-5) and Ryan Ludwick (.234-11-39-3). Terrible batting averages and they are certainly off pace for even close to last year's totals, let alone this year's expectations. Can they rebound? Who knows? But each one is making it harder and harder to believe in, let alone to be able to trade. Dishonorable Mention: Vernon Wells, Chris Young.
Starting Pitcher -- The "no injury" clause really hinders me here, since there are way too many starting pitchers that were drafted at way too high a position, and have screwed their owners royally with major injuries. Case in point, Brandon Webb and Jake Peavy. So I took an 80 IP minimum for starters and found one very clear cut choice. Drafted in the top 10 amongst starting pitchers, this former playoff MVP is now sporting a 4-5 record with an atrocious 4.98 ERA and a hidesous 1.47 WHIP. He may have 77 Ks to his name right now, but there were plenty of other options, at a much lower price, that coul dhave given you numbers that bad. So on behalf of fantasy owners everywhere, I'd like to give this award to Cole Hamels and say "Hey buddy! Thanks for the kick in the groin!"
Relief Pitcher -- A major toss up here, and I'm really quite torn. Just like the catcher position, I've got two very viable candidates. But one guy gets a little slack from me because he was terrible this season after still working his way back from a major surgery. So i'm going to be gentle here and leave B.J. Ryan and his newfound set-up duties alone. Instead, I'm going to focus on a guy who was, literally, lights out last year. Absolutely unhittable. This year? Not so much. Sporting a disgusting 7.57 ERA and an equally abyssmal 1.94 WHIP (yep...those numbers are correct) I give the award to Brad Lidge. And what's worse was that he almost got busted blaming his issues on his teammates who dogpiled him after they won the World Series. Such a tool.
So there are the awards, folks. These are the guys to start blaming for your current 11th place in the standings. These are the guys that you thought so highly of, only to watch them rip your heart out with every strikeout, caught stealing and earned run. These may also be the guys to consider buying low on, but really....what promise do they give us for improvement? None. None whatsoever. If you're thinking about making a run at one or more of them, good luck. Just be cautious and don't go overspending to owners that will promise you big second half totals. Now is not the time to fall for hype.
For more advice, insights, and a chance to vent your own complaints, come check out what's going on over at RotoBuzz.com.
Good luck and I'll see you all in the money this year.....unless I just named your whole team above. Doh!!!
Howard Bender is a freelance fantasy sports writer and champion in both rotisserie and head to head leagues. For questions, thoughts or comments, you can email him at Howard.firstname.lastname@example.org.