Dear Matty: Some heartfelt advice
Matthew Berry [ARCHIVE]
May 10, 2012
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"Trust me," I tell her. But she won't listen.

I continue. "I know what I am talking about. Ask any guy," I insist. "They'll back me up."

"You don't understand," she counters. "I know him, you don't," she continues, "and he understands."

She is wrong.

The story starts before that conversation, a few months prior. It was the week before a party and I was texting with a female friend of my wife and mine. We'll call her "Kelly" because that's her real name.

Me: Will we see you Sat.?

Kelly: Yes! Can't wait!

Me: Do we finally get to meet the boyfriend?

Kelly: Not back yet. Bringing a good friend.

And bring a friend she did, a nice guy whom I met briefly. The following week, I ran into Kelly and we were talking about the party.

Me: So, what's the deal with that guy?

Kelly: What guy? Fred?

Me: Yeah.

Kelly: Just a friend, why?

Me: Because he's in love with you.

Kelly: No he's not.

Me: I saw how that guy looked at you. He's in love with you.

Kelly: We're just good friends.

Me: Does he know that?

Kelly: Yes. We've talked about it.

Me: Meaning what? He's asked you out?

Kelly: Yes. Multiple times.

Me: And what have you said?

Kelly: No, obviously.

Me: That's not enough. Have you said 'No, I don't have romantic feelings? I have no interest in you in that way?' What?

Kelly: I told him I had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn't there yet.

Me: Exactly. He thinks he has a chance.

Kelly: No he doesn't.

Me: Yes he does.

Kelly: How could he? I've turned him down a lot. Eventually it sinks in.

Me: Have you told him you have a boyfriend?

Kelly: Well, no …

Me: Why not?

Kelly: Well …

Me: Exactly! Because you know he likes you. You just ignore it because you like him as a friend and don't want to lose his friendship. But you are being unfair to him. You are leading him on.

Kelly: No I'm not. I've told him no …

Me: He's not hearing that. Trust me. Guys don't give up. You're inviting him to parties, doing things with him, giving vague answers as to why you can't date … he thinks it's gonna happen, he just has to wait it out.

Kelly: You don't understand.

Me: No, you don't understand guys. Ask any guy. Sad as it is, guys will hang in there 'til the very bitter end, clinging to any last strand of hope. We are a stupid, desperate lot when it comes to women we like. Any shred of positive reinforcement, we hold on to and grip tightly, replaying it over and over like "Just Go With It" on HBO. The fact you invited him to this party? He'll hold on to that for three months. 'Well, she did invite me to this party with her friends ' Deep down, you know I'm right.

Kelly: But I don't want to hurt his feelings!

Me: Yeah, but here's the thing. You're gonna hurt them. He likes you romantically. You don't feel the same way. Unless one of those things changes, there's gonna be hurt feelings. So the sooner he knows the truth, the sooner he can get over it and start opening himself up to other people. If you were really just friends, you would tell him you have a boyfriend, you would tell him the reason you aren't dating isn't because 'you're not ready' but because you're not into it. Rip the Band-Aid off. The longer it goes, the more upset he's gonna be. So let him know where he stands before it's too late.

Ah. Before it's too late. I can't help Kelly's forever platonic friend (she's never gonna tell him; they never tell) but I'm gonna tell you some awkward truths about your fantasy team before it's too late.

I asked the great Mike Polikoff, who oversees our League Manager products, to pull a bunch of data from last season. Mike used a sample from our prize-eligible leagues and an active 10 percent of our standard leagues; these are all active leagues that play out the season, you see, so as to not skew the data. It's also how we calculate ownership percentages so as to purge the dead leagues.

One of the first things he did was pull the standings through May 1 of last year to see where the average team finished in relation to its position that day. So this is a table that shows what place a team was in on May 1 of last year and the percentage of those teams that finished in a certain place.

May 1 2011 Fantasy Rankings versus Finish

So it's just one year, but it's instructive for our purposes. Because everywhere you read the take is the same, right? "It's early. Don't panic. Lotta baseball still to play." To which I say … well, that's true, but often, once in a friend zone, always in the friend zone.

On May 1 of last year, 67.1 percent of the teams that were in first, second or third ended up winning the league. Add in fourth place, and it's more than 77 percent. Think about that. More than three-quarters of the winners from last year were already in the top four by May 1.

Not every winner, of course. If you are not in the top four, you still have a chance of winning. So it's not all doom and gloom if you are out of the top spots. But it also means you can't just sit around.

You need to start making moves now. And not just small moves. Big moves. You need to trade for underperforming guys (so they are cheaper to acquire) and then hope they turn it around. You are the best judge of your team, so you know where your holes are, how far away you are from really competing and what guys of yours are more expendable than others.

In addition, you know best if your league has start limits or anything like that. Often, teams will rush ahead in strikeouts and wins only to ultimately fall short because they run out of starts, so be sure to be aware of where other teams are in terms of their limits.

With all that in mind, here are 10 guys I'd trade for right now.

Five pitchers to trade for:

Max Scherzer, Tigers: I am a sucker for Max Scherzer. I admit it. I mentioned him as a buy-low last week in my Star Wars column and I am back again. Still striking out 10.34 guys per 9 innings, he's just currently being killed by a .416 batting average against on balls in play. (It was .314 last season, career .312.) An xFIP of 3.84 shows you that he's been a lot better than his ERA and WHIP might indicate.

Ervin Santana, Angels: 25 percent of his fly balls have been home runs this season. The league average is 9.1 and it was 10.0 for Santana last season. His well-hit average is tiny (.152), just behind Roy Halladay (.151) and ahead of Yu Darvish (.153). He's now quietly put together three straight good starts. Last chance to buy below market value.

Josh Johnson, Marlins: Don't dismiss Wednesday night's start...
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