Awhile back I wrote about “The Extra 2%” by Jonah Keri, in which he outlines many little strategies implemented by the Tampa Bay Rays that helped the team gain a competitive advantage and allowed them to turn around the struggling franchise.
The key in that sentence is the phrase “little strategies”. “Big strategies” are obvious. They work for a short period of time and soon enough everyone catches on. But a conglomeration of “little strategies”, unlikely to be noticed or deemed worthwhile, can also make a tangible difference over time.
Enter a very simple tactic I always try to employ, but rarely see others use. In a league with a specified number of DL spots, I always keep my DL spots filled. This means actively monitoring free agents on the disabled list (ESPN has a handy feature that lets you see free agents on the DL).
Who To Carry
There are almost always interesting names available. This could be a struggling player off to an extremely slow start that went on the DL or a pitcher not expected to return from Tommy John surgery until August. It doesn’t matter.
Try to target someone with potential. Or someone who might be able to be traded later. Or someone that fits a specific need on your team. And if another more intriguing injured player comes along, grab that flavor of the month and stash him.
Why not? If you’ve got a DL spot you might as well use it. You can often hold a player in the DL spot even after they’ve returned from their injury, until you need to make another acquisition. This can give you a week or so to monitor the player’s performance upon returning from the DL and weighing if they’re worth hanging onto.
It might not pan out. You may simply end up cutting them in the end. Or a legitimate player on your roster may end up needing to occupy the DL spot. But this will give you the first chance to acquire the player. You won’t be battling with others in the league, using waiver priority, or using FAAB to acquire someone.
It’s worth the risk. There’s nothing to lose.
Go Check Your Waiver Wire
You might see names like Paul Konerko, Mike Morse, Lance Berkman, Brandon Morrow, Scott Baker, Colby Lewis, or Cory Luebke. Stash them and see what happens.