The Cheap Seats: Fantasy baseball mailbag (with one key fantasy football question)

The Cheap Seats mail bag. (Banner by Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)
The Cheap Seats mail bag. (Banner by Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

The Cheap Seats will come your way weekly 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.

I know this is primarily a baseball column but this is too good a question to ignore, and it spills into any fantasy league. When we walk into a Salary Cap Draft (also called an Auction Draft) it's the timeless question: should you chase your guys no matter the flow, or just take what the room gives you? Is it better to be a genius drafter ("I know the right answers") or an agnostic drafter ("I'll assume the room is wrong")?

One of my longtime football leagues is a Salary Cap Draft that runs 2-3 days before the season starts. At that point in the year my cronies have heard all my ranks and picks and touts and they know exactly who I want (for whatever that might be worth), and I usually just accept that I won't get my guys in that room. Perhaps it's stubbornness on my part. Agnostic teams can feel a little weird off the club.

One thing I know for sure, if you're going to "overpay" for anything in a Salary Cap Draft, do it on a star or a player you absolutely believe in. Hall, Wilson — they would qualify on my clipboard. If you overpay a little for Christian McCaffrey or Tyreek Hill (or Mookie or Shohei), so what? It's a lot better than overpaying for the last legitimate WR3 type in the endgame because you waited too long to engage and someone else has the same need you do.

I think it's probably tied to the baseball itself. My friend Joe Sheehan recently discussed the lack of offense in his essential Baseball Newsletter; here's part of what Sheehan wrote on May 5:

As with why pitchers are getting hurt, this drop in offense likely has a number of factors. With each passing day, though, it’s hard to not think some combination of the baseball’s construction and storage is making it hard for batters to put runs on the board. Whatever the reasons, we’re through about 20% of the season with some truly wretched offensive numbers, and last week’s uptick looks more like a blip than a trend.

If Joe tells you it's raining, get your umbrella.

I don't think so. My rule of thumb on trade-evals: if one side doesn't jump up and screen "right side," it's probably fair. Bichette is obviously younger and likely has his best season ahead of him. Swanson might be a little safer, and I like the Cubs lineup more. (And now Swanson is on the IL, as of Friday afternoon. So this was a fun thought exercise. At least Chicago gets Seiya Suzuki back.)

Neither is hitting right now, though. It's a challenge trade, and I like challenge trades.

There's no universal answer to this, it's one of those "you know it when you see it" things, but I want to remind you of two general concepts. One, while player development isn't always linear, player decline usually is. Two, being afraid to make a fantasy mistake is the mistake — you can't play scared. If you go through the season never making a regretful decision, you're probably playing far too conservatively.

Don't cut players just to cut them, but if your instincts draw you to something fresh, we're deep enough into 2024 to trust those instincts.

Pitchers are hard enough to evaluate when they're healthy. The injured and rehabbing guys, we're all flying blind on those cases. If I rostered Cole, I would probably hold him until right before his New York debut, and then I would see if anyone in my league wanted to chase the best-case scenario. That's never going to be me, by the way, but Christmas presents are never more exciting than they are on Christmas Eve.

If Cole is able to pitch half the season and return SP3 slot value, that goes down as a win. He's somewhere around SP 25-35 on my current board.

The Mount Rushmore is pretty standard, something like Jagger, Mercury, Plant, Nicks. Bono isn't far from that list. Others that popped into my head rather quickly: Chrissie Hynde, David Lee Roth, Roger Daltrey, Paul Westerberg, Karen O, Jeff Bebe, Debbie Harry, Steven Tyler, David Byrne, David St. Hubbins. Thom Yorke is a different kind of frontman but the perfect man leading Radiohead. Janis. Gwen. Sammy. Eddie. Amy.

Please let this series go seven. That's all I care about. Hockey as it oughta be.

Connor McDavid has been the best player in the league for a while; he probably won't win the Hart Trophy this year (and I'm fine with Nathan McKinnon getting his first), but he would never be a wrong pick. I saw a McDavid game in person for the first time about three months ago, and I just watched him all night. You can only judge players in their own era, but this is the best offensive hockey player I've ever seen.

Vancouver's such a fun team. Quinn Hughes is a lock for his first Norris Trophy, and is the start-of-a-team defenseman I'd pick if Cale Makar were not available. Hughes almost never makes a bad decision, no matter the speed of the game. How can one family have this much talent?