Kicking Rocks: Your Team Is Like A Good Steak

Come on, people. Take a moment here. Take a breath. Take a Xanax for all I care. You need to relax. We’re not even a week into the season and I’ve already seen more panic here than I did when Phish announced they were breaking up and the dirty, spun hippies woke up and  realized they had no place to go. I’ve seen roster moves galore, bad impulse trades, people giving up on some players already and far too much faith being put into others who are undeserving. I truly wish this was just some strawman I decided to make up and treat like a punching bag for a while, but this is truth I’m speaking here and those of you who are guilty of this early obsession with the panic button need to pay attention.

You need to think of yourself as a premier barbecue chef and your fantasy baseball team is a steak. You don’t just go to the store, buy a package of meat, come home and throw it onto the grill do you? Hell no. You go to the deli counter and you talk to the butcher. You look at a few choice cuts of meat, ask him (or her) what’s freshest, what looks the best, and what’s going to grill up real nice for you. You then take that meat home and you prepare it with the utmost of care. You tenderize it, rub in some spices and then you prepare a marinade so bleepin’ tasty that just the thought of one bite, one delectable taste with the juices dripping down your chin, makes you want to head to the bathroom for a little private time.

You then bag that steak up with the marinade and you let it sit. An hour? Two hours? Three? No. You let that bad boy soak in that marinade overnight; maybe even a full 24 hrs. You’re like a scientist studying the properties of osmosis and all you want to see is that steak soaking up those juices like a giant sponge. You want this sh*t to blow your mind.

When the prep work is finally complete, you heat up that grill. You let it get nice and hot and make sure the flames on the briquettes are spread evenly. Once it’s ready, you drop your steak on it and begin to cook. But you don’t sit there and tinker with it constantly. You don’t slap it on the grill and flip it a dozen times in five minutes, do you? Hell no. You set it down and you close the grill top. You let it cook on one side for a few minutes before making adjustments. When that time is right, you then flip it, close the top and wait again. And when that time passes, then you start making your tweaks.

You make a little cut to see what needs to happen. Maybe it’s perfect and you’ve done enough. Maybe you like it a little more well done and you move it to a different hot-spot on the grill. Maybe you pour a little extra marinade on top. Whatever it is that makes you happiest, you do the necessary tweaking but not so much that you ruin what you’ve started. Once it’s complete, you can take it off the grill, throw it on a plate and have at it. All of that work, from prepping to eating, is pure satisfaction.

And that, my friends is how you need to treat your fantasy baseball team. You didn’t just blindly pick players and draft them, did you? Hell no. You took the time to do some research. You asked questions of those who have opinions you trust and respect. You hand-picked this group of players and cultivated them into this formidable roster of fantasy deliciousness. So now that the season has begun you feel like you’re ready to cook, right? Wrong! This is just the marinating time that you’re in right now. You need to just let them play; get a decent number of at-bats or innings logged. Let it soak in for a while and see where you are in the standings. Only then will you be ready to cook.

Put that team on the proverbial grill, close the lid and evaluate where you need the help most. If a waiver move is necessary, then so be it, but do it because it makes the most sense. Don’t drop an established closer who had a crappy spring for Kyuji Fujikawa because he got the save on the first day and everyone expects him to eventually take over the role. Don’t drop a veteran talent in the outfield because Collin Cowgill had one beastly day in the limelight. Be smart. Make calculated moves that make sense.

Then open up that grill top, flip your team over and close the lid again. Evaluate your needs again, accept the fact that the waiver wire won’t solve all your problems, and set yourself up some decent trade possibilities. Trade from strength and get back what you need. That should be your focus. It doesn’t have to be some big, mammoth-sized roster overhaul, you know. You can do something small that still gets the job done. Some of these ridiculously inane six for six deals just put you behind the eight-ball somewhere else because you’re trying to do far too much at once. Of course everyone loves to trade. It’s exciting stuff. But do it with purpose and intelligence. Any fool can make a trade, but it’s the savvy GM who makes the right ones.

And once you’ve made yourself a nice deal or two, close that grill top again and let it cook. Give it some time. It takes at least two weeks for you to start seeing the effects of a deal in most roto leagues. There’s no sense in making a deal only to turn over your roster again because you haven’t gotten instant gratification. That’s just flipping your steak too soon and not letting one side cook at all.

When that’s all said and done, then you can cut into your team and see what’s left to be done. Maybe it’s perfect and you can hang back and relax. Maybe another waiver move is in order; possibly even one more tweak deal. Whatever the case may be, you have at least given your players enough time to show you what they can do. Some will blossom, some will wither. But you’ve taken your time and hopefully made the right decisions. You have prepared your team like an expert chef prepares a good steak.

Now all that’s left to do is eat.

Welcome to the fantasy baseball dining room. Your championship table is right this way…

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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

38 Responses to “Kicking Rocks: Your Team Is Like A Good Steak”

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  1. Sandlot Scrub says:

    Geez….now I’m hungry! Seriously though, thanks for talking me down from the ledge of the Panic Roster Moves Hotel.

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  2. MrThell says:

    So wait, *don’t* make rash decisions based on extremely limited data? That sounds crazy to me, but I’ll give it a shot.

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  3. asaw780 says:

    A well done article. Now I need some well done steak, I’m starving.

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  4. Roto Von Bismarck says:

    I disagree somehwat. While you don’t want to override all of the preparation that you did for your draft, in the first 3 weeks of the season you absolutely DO want to be willing to churn through the bottom 2-3 spots on your roster. E.G. last year many leagues were won by people who scooped up Rodney, Casilla, Trout etc at this time of year.

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    • TheTheory says:

      And Encarnacion. Sale. Etc, etc.

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    • Cidron says:

      Keeping with his steak dinner analogy, the bottom two on the roster would merely be choosing which apron to wear while at the grille. Not that important, but may reward you. (or in the case of the dinner, may add flavor. someone catch a pic of you in “just the right” apron)

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  5. Auctions inevitably result in accidentally purchased players (Carl Crawford $18?) that annoy my opening day exhilaration with their evil qualities. These “WTF players”, if you will, are like excessive biles, unbalancing my humours, producing belligerence and melancholy, and require immediate emetics and phlebotomony (hello, Asdrubal). Ask Enus the price-enforcer about this phenomena.

    Only after that, can I enjoy a lightly rubbed rib-eye. (You marinate steak? I used to trust your counsel.)

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    • Howard Bender says:

      Well played, sir. It obviously depends on the steak. But for the sake of the article, I figured marinate worked best. Discussing a “lightly-rubbed ribeye” would have had too many people focusing on the bathroom private time part…

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      • RC says:

        I also think it’s worth noting that you knew you didn’t want those players as soon as the auction ended…it didn’t take 3 games worth of performance for you to make that determination. I agree with correcting what you view as “mistakes” at the auction/draft, but just make sure it’s based on a broader valuation of the player in question, not a series or two worth of stats.

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      • You better update your post, the Steak Mafia is assembling to impale your head on a rotisserie.

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  6. Garys of Olde says:

    But Axford was the grayish, clearance-priced last remaining chuck, and the shelves are better stocked now…

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  7. phaddix says:

    I disagree somewhat as well…the best way to cook a steak. Sea Salt, Black Pepper, Olive Oil – throw it on the grill for 4 minutes per side, pull it off, throw some butter on top, let it sit for 5 minutes and dig in. Never cut a steak to check how done it is, trust the process.

    But I agree with your general premise – your team is like a good steak…don’t overcook it.

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    • RC says:

      This is exactly the right way to cook a steak. If you want to be fancy you can even rotate it 90 degrees after the first 2 minutes on each side to create some cool looking crosshatch marks, but the flavor isn’t really affected by that.

      I actually leave the butter out, but glad to see someone else keeps it basic.

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      • Bogey says:

        Man, I’m so glad someone else said it. ESPECIALLY if you are asking the butcher for the freshest cut and choosing carefully, you should not be marinating that shizz.

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  8. Micah says:

    Very little benefit is gained from marinating meat longer than 12 hours, and, in fact, if your marinade is acidic or enzymatic (never use papaya juice, people, and pineapple sparingly), you end up pre-cooking your steak and turning that wonderful cut of meat into some mealy mush.

    This relates to fantasy baseball because…uhh…Bronson Arroyo is the acidic, enzymatic marinade of your fantasy team. Stream him if you must, but after that start, damn, get him back to waivers ASAP!

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  9. shibboleth says:

    Last year I panicked on Altuve in a keeper league. Dropped him mid-April and regretted it ever since.

    My resolution this year is to not drop anyone until May. If I pick up a Jose Fernandez or other potential stud it’s only because I have too many NA prospects or marginal players on the DL.

    Grilled steak with sea salt, cracked pepper and olive oil = bliss.

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  10. JtheExploder says:

    Not to beat a dead horse but marinating a good cut of steak = overpaying for a player. Salt & Pepper my good man. Leave the A-1 sauce for the beforementioned horse meat.

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  11. Steak Police says:

    Who marinates a good steak? What’s wrong with you???

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  12. Corey says:

    I basically agree with this, but what do you have against Kyuji Fujikawa? I lost a bidding war for Kyuji Fujikawa in my draft last week.

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  13. Ruki Motomiya says:

    I agree with this to an extent, but I do think you need to be flexible and consider one or two drops early on, or a trade if you notice something bad. I like having a roster spot with someone I’m not afraid to drop so I can stream starters or pick up people who look good early on.

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  14. Sarge says:

    Marinate thinner cuts like flank, skirt and carne asada (flap?), but you don’t to marinate a ribeye, strip, filet, etc. Salt your steak, liberally, a good hour before you want to cook it, and set it out at room temp! This will draw protein rich moisture to the surface, and the long rest time will help evaporate that excess water that isn’t re-absorbed back into the meat. The early salting will help create that beautiful, brown crust you want to see/taste on your beef, and the meat will cook faster because the steak is closer to room temp. Then pepper, sear, flip, sear, rest, butter, baked potato.

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  15. MustBunique says:

    Told my buddy he needed to read this article, said he started it but didn’t have the patience to finish it. My point was made.

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  16. Jason says:

    Last year I didn’t make too many moves until the end of April, when I was in last place by a good margin and no relief was on the horizon.

    I subsequently entirely dismantled my team and put it back together from the wire. Wound up in 3rd (thank you Mike Trout).

    Sometimes your draft is just full of holes. By the end of the season I’d dropped 13 of the 21 players I’d drafted, including Hosmer as high as round 6 and everyone from round 12 on down. I did wind up sticking with Justin Upton and Ryan Zimmerman all season long (and it paid off well enough), couldn’t stomach dropping anyone that high and had *no* takers for trades.

    Admittedly, last year was an extremely bad year for my draft. But I always have 2 or 4 guys at the end of my draft I’m not too committed to. My experience last year basically puts the rest of the guys on a sliding scale… At the beginning of April, I’m willing to drop my last 3 or 4 guys. At the end, maybe up that to 5 or 6 guys (if they aren’t performing). By the after the all-star break, be willing to call a pig a pig, even if he was in your top 10.

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  17. gareth says:

    Steak porn.

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  18. Andrew says:

    I find it a bit difficult to be patient, especially when everyone else in your league is so jumpy…Obviously there are players that start off with a few lucky games that luck better than they actually are, but if you do nothing during the first month of waivers you miss out on a ton of closers and emerging starters, and last year batters like reddick, Trout, Trumbo, etc. You just gotta make sure whoever you pick up is legit, and whoever your dropping is expendable, which is the hard part

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  19. bdy says:

    A team is not a peice of meat. It’s not even soup; you don’t have to leave ingredients in.

    Usually the best guy on the wire is better than the worst on your roster. Go get him. Especially in keeper/auctions, where Jose Fernandez is going for $15 but $1 wire pickups can turn into Kris Medlen so long as you’re willing to cut bait on those “trade sweetener” types.

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  20. Jeff H. says:

    I should show this article to my fellow owner who cut Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier after Thursday’s game. But I’m sure as the dog days of summer descend he’ll be really glad he has Daniel Descalso and Chris Ianetta.

    On second thought, I think I’ll just say thanks to Howard for the friendly reminder.

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    • Jason B says:

      If you’re in a league where someone really dropped Matt freakin Kemp, you’ve got to get in a more competitive league. There’s no glory in beating incompetents, or 11-year-olds!

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      • Shallow Hal says:

        Hey now, 6 team leagues with 3 bench spots need advice too!

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      • Jeff H. says:

        Ah well. It’s a work league and purely for fun. (But not cut Matt Kemp and Andre Either fun for most of the other owners, who quickly submitted waiver claims.)

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  21. Cidron says:

    Of course, if you find your roster has a flaw in it, due to the unforeseen, then change. If player A got injured, and now is headed to the 60day dl, gone for season. By all means change that steak marinade. Other circumstances are more the negligent (I forgot he got traded, I forgot he is hitting 8th in NL now, oh, he is now in a platoon – bad side of it, etc etc). You can still have a decent steak and forget a component of the formula, if you adapt around it.

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