Commentary

Fantasy trade a nightmare

Sox third baseman Beckham exceeding expectations

Originally Published: August 5, 2009
By Wayne Drehs | ESPNChicago.com

CHICAGO -- I made a mistake. A big mistake. And it's one of those things that I don't know if I'll ever fully get over. I can't sleep. I can't eat. Each day it's a struggle to even get out of bed, take a shower and get dressed. I'm mired in misery.

It has nothing to do with my wife, my family or my job. I didn't wrap my car around a light pole or burn down my house. Depending on your perspective, it's worse.

[+] EnlargeGordon Beckham
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesFor those fantasy baseball managers who sold Gordon Beckham, Wayne Drehs sympathizes.
I traded White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham.

I did it a month ago, back when his batting average was around .220 and the kid looked overmatched. Sure, I thought he'd eventually be good -- but not this season. I figured Beckham would bat .260, and knock out 10 homers and 40 RBIs at best.

And so, like I did last year in my fantasy baseball league with Padres left fielder Chase Headley and the year before with Cubs relief pitcher Carlos Marmol, I packaged the hotshot rookie to a team beneath me in the standings in exchange for a few high-priced superstars I thought could carry me to the top of the standings.

In a 10-team, 5X5 keeper league, the overall deal was this: Beckham ($1), Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez ($31), Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart ($1), Blue Jays relief pitcher Jason Frasor ($17) and Marlins right fielder Jeremy Hermida ($1) for Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder ($33), Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp ($8), Mariners relief pitcher David Aardsma ($10) and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko ($1).

At the time, pretty much everyone in the league agreed it was robbery. One owner in our league had quite the colorful, not-so-family-friendly reaction while congratulating me on my imminent climb up the standings.

But over the course of the past month, a funny thing has happened. The guy below me in the standings? The guy who tanked his season and traded two of his best players with an eye toward next year? He's now in third place, where I used to be. And my team is in a free fall, plummeting to sixth with no bottom in sight.

The reason? Ramirez, who hit .333 in July with five homers and 14 RBIs and of course Beckham, who went .330 with three homers, 18 RBIs and three stolen bases during the month. The Ramirez thing I don't mind. I didn't believe he'd be the same with the bum shoulder, I thought the Cubs were rushing him back and I'm still not sure he'll stay healthy for the rest of the season.

But Beckham? That's the one that keeps me awake at night. That's the reason I've lost interest in deep-dish pizza. Not only did the trade send my team spiraling down the standings this year, but I could have owned Beckham below his rotisserie market value for at least the next four seasons. He could have been one of those fantasy cornerstones, like the team in our league that has Rays third baseman Evan Longoria for $5. Instead, Beckham gets to star for someone else.

In retrospect, I should have consulted with friend and ESPN fantasy guru Eric Karabell. I should have followed the lead of Sam Walker, the Wall Street Journal writer who interviewed players for fantasy advice while writing the book "Fantasyland." I could have asked Beckham if something like this was coming. I could have asked manager Ozzie Guillen or general manager Kenny Williams what the kid's ceiling truly was. But I didn't.

And now, everywhere I turn, I'm reminded of the mistake I made. Over the weekend it was Tim McCarver talking about Beckham's poise and ability to hit the ball where it's pitched. On Monday, it was a front-page story in the Chicago Tribune, comparing Beckham's first 52 games with Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, Longoria and five other former first-round draft picks. Then it was hearing ESPN1000 baseball reporter Bruce Levine tell the guys on the "Afternoon Saloon" that he spoke to Yankees third-baseman Alex Rodriguez and said Beckham reminds A-Rod of a "young Paul Molitor."

Tuesday came word that Beckham had been named AL Rookie of the Month for July. And on Wednesday, ESPNChicago colleague Jon Greenberg told me he was profiling Beckham and, after meeting the kid, Greenberg came away impressed.

Every day there is something. Every ounce of giddy excitement that Sox fans feel equates to another fist-in-the-gut for me. I try to tell myself that this, too, shall pass. Next year there will be another rookie, another can't-miss prospect. But I can't go there. Not yet. For now, Beckham is the one who got away.

So until my appetite returns and I remember how to fall asleep, I'm on a Sox strike. No games, no articles, no message boards, no nothing. It's a Sox-free life. Now excuse me. I need to go take a shower.

Wayne Drehs is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPNChicago.com. He can be reached at wayne.drehs@espn3.com.

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