Kill Your Babies: McCann, Beltran

I can’t claim “killing your babies,” although I really wish I could. And before you go marching off with a fungo bat looking for your first born, please, put the bat down. ‘Killing your babies’ is a term/phrase/philosophy I’m stealing from an editor I worked with who used it to describe something difficult in writing. That is, sometimes you just have to get rid of entire chapters of your book, despite the fact that you think they’re brilliant — because they really just don’t work anymore. I like to apply this principle to fantasy baseball.

Admit it — you fall in love with players. To see certain names on your roster just warms the cockles of your heart. Even the sub-cockles. But there’s a point at which carrying your favorite beau is actually hurting your chances at winning. And although I actually know some managers who would rather lose with players they like (because, they say, they enjoy “rooting for them” – BAH!) — I refuse to believe that the good readers here want anything other than the final prize. If a player isn’t bringing your team closer to a championship, it’s high time to get out the hatchet. Kill your babies.

Brian McCann

McCann has dealt with a sore shoulder just about all season long, but he was playing well enough to handle the occasional day off if he was your regular backstop. In fact, as recently as July, McCann had a monstrous month — hitting .296/.354/.704 with nine home runs, 15 runs, and 21 RBI. And then the wheels fell off. Since August 1, he has hit .155/.245/.155 with just 13 hits over 94 plate appearances. All 13 hits are singles. Whether it was a cyst on his shoulder or a subluxation as the team has suggested — or both, the fact is Brian McCann’s offense has been offensive.

He hasn’t been particularly lucky as his BABIP over the course of the last 23 games has sat right around .200 while his hit trajectory would suggest something closer to .280. But even if you want to make a regression argument, he’s been difficult to manage because he always seems like a game-time decision, and right now, with leagues on the line and a few short weeks left to play — the last thing you need to be doing is leaving games played on the table.

I like McCann, I like him a lot. In fact, I traded for McCann in May. But due to the questions about his health, his playing time, and his recent performance, I’m moving on and going with someone that is going to play regularly. Based on the cast of characters I have to choose from, I’m either going to go with someone who hits close to the middle of the order, making a play for RBI, or I’ll just go with someone who has as much pop as possible and gamble for a home run boost.

Carlos Beltran

I’m the guy who hypothesized that this might be Carlos Beltran’s finest season, so for me to suggest that you dump him on the scrap heap seems a bit ironic. But in the midst of praising his performance to that point, I did caution that he’d have to stay healthy, and his health is precisely why I’m suggesting the previously unthinkable.

His knee has been balky since about mid-May, but it didn’t stop him from cruising through June with a slash line of .310/.396/.576 with 20 home runs, 61 RBI, 48 runs scored and even seven swipes. Since the end of June, however, Beltran’s knee issue was joined by a hand issue, culminating in a .202/.248/.384 line, striking out almost 25% of the time. In his career, Beltran has historically been a second half player — having some particularly memorable finishes. But this season has been the exact opposite. Looking specifically at August, the month in which he historically rakes (.282/.369/.510), he hit just .211/.271/.394 — good for 79 wRC+, which put him a notch ahead of, ahem, Trayvon Robinson.

Even during this slump, he’s still been hitting for decent power with eight home runs and 13 doubles over 218 plate appearances, but that’s production that you can probably find in a player that will be on the field every day and isn’t having such contact issues. If there aren’t some decent replacements on the waiver wire, just stick with him because, well, he’s Carlos Beltran. But there’s a lot of dead teams out there right now, which tends to make the waiver wire a little more robust. Again, with such a short window, you don’t need to be burning a roster spot with a guy that becomes a high profile pinch hitter twice a week.

Win at all cost.

Kill. Kill. Kill.




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Michael was born in Massachusetts and grew up in the Seattle area but had nothing to do with the Heathcliff Slocumb trade although Boston fans are welcome to thank him. You can find him on twitter at @michaelcbarr.


11 Responses to “Kill Your Babies: McCann, Beltran”

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  1. Pat G says:

    along this line, would you drop asdrubal cabrera for someone like rutledge or seager?

    or does this only apply for guys dealing with injury

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  2. Dunston says:

    It’s originally a William Faulkner quote – “In writing, you must kill all your darlings.”

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    • Michael Barr says:

      Indeed. She liked to say babies for some reason, and I find it rather wonderfully illustrative.

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  3. SteveJobs says:

    Sigh. Yeah I’ve been debating dropping Mccan for the past week. It’s a bit more complicated for me though because whoever grabs him (and someone surely will) will be able to keep him in the 25th round for the next 2 years. But I’m in first and playoffs start next week (I’ll have a bye) so I think I do have to lose Mccan. League counts walks in addition to the traditional 5 cats, so I think I might go with Grandal. I’d go with Jesus Montero, but that guy cannot take a walk for the life of him. Sigh.

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  4. exxrox says:

    I have both of these guys on a dynasty team and they are the two men sitting on my bench right now. Replaced by Salty (a FA pickup midsummer who I benched, violating the “never have 2 Cs” rule) and Aoki who is filling in just fine for me.

    I had platooned McCann throughout his slump trying to get the matchups right, but it took me far too long that Beltran had to leave my lineup.

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  5. Grant says:

    I will always have a man crush on Torii. I almost always draft him mid draft, drop him at some point, then pick him up for a few more weeks

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    • Michael Barr says:

      in the last week of the season, I almost always picked up Rich Amaral, because it actually made us both feel good.

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  6. only the good die young says:

    I like the phrase. Naturally though, McCann goes out 4/5 with a bomb and 4 RBI right on cue

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  7. Kevin says:

    Thanks Michael. Been thinking about amputating that necrotic limb for some time now. You gave me the courage to finally gnaw through that sinew and set myself free.

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  8. Sam says:

    I drafted McCann AND Posey, figuring I would have two elite catchers, one to use as a trade piece. Well, I’ve ended up using them as a 3-way platoon with Michael Morse at first, with McCann being the oft-seated one. At least I have a deep team, if not as good a one as I would have expected

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