We have now passed the two-week marker on the season.
At this point no team should be quitting on the year. Despite that universally accepted admonition, I still like to examine the results so far.
At this juncture, I look at the various spreads in points between first and last, first and second, last and second-to-last and so on to see if anything stands out.
After 12 games or so, 20 point spreads are flagged and the team(s) lagging/ahead by that much are looked at in more depth.
Typically, the team that is ahead by 20 points has hit on all cylinders in the first two weeks with the exceptional performances of a handful or two of their players. The ones behind that type of team usually have a few players not performing up to expectations but with no reason to worry a la Ryan Howards' RBI totals. The team that raced out to a big lead will typically fall back as its players begin to cool off and/or perform at expected levels.
For the last place team lagging the one ahead of it by 20 points, there are more serious causes for concern. This team typically failed at the draft to address the the major hitting categories of HR & RBI and has failed in the pitching ratios.
The pitching ratios are easy to fix. Either the team has just had some bad luck or bad pitchers can be shed. The number of innings pitched to date is not big enough to weigh down the ratios.
It is the hitting categories that are much harder to address. Everyone is looking for that pool pick-up that will hit 20 HR over the remaining 24 weeks of the season, so the lagging team has to compete against every other team in the league for those few players that will arise.
2nd, improving hitting via trade can be done but the team must be focused on dealing a zero on offense because dealing a Eric Hinske for Craig Monroe will only improve the team on a net basis - the difference between Monroe's 20/75 and Hinske's 12/50. Or a net 8 HR & 25 RBI. That is not enough to improve the team.
What needs be done is to deal Bubba Crosby for Craig Monroe on the hitting side and either a pitcher for pitcher or minor leaguers/reserved players to make-up the difference in value. This is easier said than done because the lagging team is also lagging in pitching and may not find a team willing to take Kevin Millwood because of his bad ratios right now.
Regardless of the hurdles in trading back into the pack, the serious laggard must be aggressive and unafraid to take chances with pool pick-ups and/or FAAB.