The Cheap Seats: Is it time for fantasy managers to take a victory lap over Jack Flaherty?


Jack Flaherty #9 of the Detroit Tigers

Jack Flaherty was masterful for fantasy managers on April 30. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

The Cheap Seats will come your way every Tuesday through the heart of the baseball season. Baseball — both fantasy and real-life — questions go to the front of the line, but we can talk about all sports, life, music, food, travel, pets, movies — just about anything. Catch me at @scott_pianowski on X/Twitter, and away we go.

Victory laps aren’t my thing, but I can understand why any Flaherty manager is skipping around town today. Flaherty piled up 14 strikeouts in his Tuesday start against the Cardinals, and that’s the type of outing that flashes the Signature Significance light — when the amplitude of a singular event is this notable, we can ignore that it’s a sample of one; there’s probably meaning behind it. And Flaherty has looked dynamite all year, starting in Spring Training and into his April turns.

Forget Flaherty’s current ERA — all the estimators say he should be in the 2s somewhere — and the glittering K/BB ratio speaks for itself. If Flaherty doesn’t get hurt, he sure looks like one of 2024’s right answers.

It’s no fun saying yes, but the right answer is yes.

For all the skill and pedigree and hype tied to Holliday, he’s still just 20 years old. Baseball is hard. And even if he gets another shot soon, Holliday will surely be parked ninth in the lineup. It could be a while before he’s confident enough to steal bases in the majors. And although 10 games isn’t a verdict on much, he’ll have to wash out the memory of the 18 strikeouts (against just two walks) that he absorbed in his first go-round.

It’s going to happen for Holliday, but I’m not going to proactively chase it this year. If he proves me wrong, I can live with it.

I can’t imagine the Henderson manager isn’t over the moon for his superstar, but I guess you can take his temperature. Maybe start by not mentioning Henderson by name, though. See if he’s eager to acquire Judge and try to coyly get around to Henderson (I still don’t think it will work, but you can try). I suspect that, to get Henderson in this format, it would probably cost more than Judge.

We love post-hype stories like the one Adell is working on, and his playing time is a little more secure now that Mike Trout is hurt again. Plausible upside showed a week or two ago. At this point, it’s probably last call to add Adell in a competitive mixer. He’s still just 25. Player development is not always linear.

Every league is different and you have to play to your situation and context; those disclaimers are out front. But when it comes to free agents and FAB offers, I think it’s important to mind the gap between Fantasy Football and Fantasy Baseball.

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“League Winner” might be an overused term, but 1-2 impactful calls can swing a fantasy football season. You don’t have to be right that often. Fantasy baseball is more about the long haul, with more data points and much deeper rosters. Even if you have the biggest ADP smasher on your squad, you still might have a lousy team. It’s a deeper and more dynamic game. (This is also why I often say that the weakest manager in your league might win at fantasy football, but they have almost no chance to win at fantasy baseball. This is not feature or bug. I don’t mind one game being a little more luck-based and one game more skill-based. It’s just the way things are, baby.)

Back to FAB habits. I try to do my best to be a week or two ahead of market, trying for a speculation play before it blossoms into a more obvious one. I also like Fred Zinkie’s free-agent ethos; I don’t have the exact quote, but he talked about setting offers like you’re trying to come in second among the competitors. If you get the player at your price point, great. If not, the next acquisition period isn’t too far away.

Great question. Two films jump out at me where the music is so perfectly curated, I can’t imagine anything subbing into those slots. Pulp Fiction is the first example, Rushmore the second. So let’s start with those.

The Clueless soundtrack is absurdly loaded, and that’s also a cookie-cute movie, terrific work from writer/director Amy Heckerling. Igby Goes Down has a fabulous soundtrack. Garden State is an engaging-if-flawed movie, but they sure nailed the music. There are also a bunch of TV shows that are fantastic with the music curation — “The Sopranos”, “Mad Men” and “Six Feet Under” quickly come to mind.

Every major sport in America needs to consider a shorter regular season. I realize that’s silly wish-casting with most leagues, but I suspect the NBA might have enough labor/ownership goodwill (and a forward-thinking commissioner) to someday consider this. Perhaps the league will come to realize that they could charge more per ticket if the regular-season inventory were a little less, and the wear-and-tear saved from the players would likely be worth it in the long run. Everyone’s getting rich, anyway. Maybe you trade a tiny amount of compensation for a better quality of life.

So that’s my dream, and I think there’s a slight chance of it happening in our lifetimes. I’d also pull back on the playoff teams in most sports, but we all know that has a 0% chance of going through.

The NFL needs two bye weeks per season, with one of them tied to the sub-optimal Thursday night package. I think that might pass someday. Hockey needs to get the heck out of Arizona; it sounds like that’s happening soon. I’d also like to see the NHL’s playoff teams seeded 1-to-8 in each conference or 1-to-16 overall. I’d scale back on the amount of active pitchers a baseball team can carry on any given day. I’d do a lot of things.

As for college basketball, I wish we could get rid of the one-and-done problem. If someone wants to go to the NBA out of high school, that’s fine. Otherwise, why not make them wait two more years? Baseball has a three-year gap between decision moments, and it seems to work fine.

More daytime baseball wouldn’t hurt. And maybe a cheaper price for that hot dog and beer.





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