We are a fantasy baseball league whose draft is scheduled for April 23. That's a little late, even for us. But given the spate of players going on the DL...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Good News for the BCL

Kenny Rogers to start the season on the DL. That is going to save me some money.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Old Ways Were the Good Ways

Brother Pressman wants to change the way we assign positions, relying on who played what position last year for 15 minutes or so.

I vote against. I vote for taking a look at who is playing what at the start of this season.

The 10/3 method Brother Pressman proposes is useful in leagues *that draft before the season actually starts.*

We do not need to dwell on the past and its mistakes. We live in the now, and in the future.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Black Hole of Time Wasting Ahead

Pull Back!! Pull Back!!

This way lies madness.

As reasonable as it once might have seemed to come up with a mutually agreed upon list for elegible players in advance, it now seems to me that we're spinning off into theoretical realms (How many catchers can dance on the head of a DH?)

Let's just read off the list of players at each position as we draft like we always did.

Maybe this works. Given that the draft is on a Saturday, we'll have a light lunch during the draft and dinner to follow. I'll make something ahead like the house-cured corned beef I made last night (see secretrestaurant.blogspot.com)

Pressman Thunders from the Right Coast

He writes:

Okay, no. The DH thing makes sense but Rule #2 is shit. We don't put a guy where we "need" him most. If V. Martinez played 19 games at IB in 06 and a few this Spring and the Rays say he'll be there from time to time, then he's eligible at both C and 1B no matter what hapens in the 1st ten 07 games -- and let him be drafted at whichever position comes out of the hat first. Our league should mimic the same options available in reality - isn't that Rule #1? And what say we do not post any eligiblity lists at all. Berger's right. All this hand-holding rankles, dulls the edge. The Fantasy World at large uses a simple eligibility criterion: 10 games at a position in 06 qualifies you there in 07, very easy. For rookies, we can add: 3 starts by April 14 and you can play that position in our league. The justification for exempting the DHs from this rule (although we rarely have to) is that, unlike real baseball, we don't actually hire a DH, we do our little leftovers thing at the end; so to give those players anything like their actual value, we need to put them somewhere. As for guys like Figgins used to be, roving guys like Huff, let them be bought and used at any position for which they qualify - exactly what their real team does. jlp

To which the BCL says:

Now just exactly why are we changing the rules we have played under for nearly 25 years? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. We have always settled who is eligible at which positions before the draft, drawing on the obvious "facts on the ground," and that works for maybe 95 percent of the players. Then we fiddle the few that remain. We have never played the "whatever comes out of the hat first" game.

As for working up a list of eligibles beforehand -- whatever the criteria -- that is what we always do. After a position is drawn on draft day itself, we always go through a list of who can be drafted. Not to do so invites chaos, as when someone waits till last and then announces that (let us say) Piazza is a catcher when there has been no previous agreement that he is a catcher.

Brother Tola proposed trying extra hard to disperse any debate about "eligibles" this year in the hope that we won't be sitting in Peter's dining room at midnight. Actually, I like Peter and I like his dining room, so I'm in no hurry. We can slug all this out on draft day. If slugging it out is the prime attraction, let's go whole hog and invite Koppy back!!

But as BCL, this is what I say. Do what we've always done in the past. Rely on who is playing where during the first two weeks of the season. If there are uncertainties, look at last year or at the club's statement of what the future holds Since the league is a democracy, proposals for doing things in a different way are welcome. But if those proposals fail to get 7 votes, then we do it the old way.

If there is deadlock, Koppy is brought in to arbitrate.

BCL: Working for You Today for a Better Draft Tomorrow

from mlb.com

Out from behind his mask and home plate, Victor Martinez doesn't look out of place. In his first start of spring training at first base, Cleveland's regular catcher made three strong defensive plays in the field and hit one of four home runs by the Indians in an 8-1 split-squad win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday. Martinez, who is expected to catch as many as 125 games this season, will be used periodically at first - a position he switched to last year for the first time and where he made 19 starts. "I felt good out there," Martinez said. "I've been doing extra work at first. I signed with the Indians as a shortstop, so I'm always taking ground balls during the season."
(Updated 03/14/2007).

This is Not a Problem

People remain fascinated by the problem of multiple positions, of depth charts that spread a player over all the outfield and half the infield. It's not a problem. The BCL's position is simple.

1) If we can find an excuse to put a DH at a position, we do so. There's always an excuse.

2) We almost always put a position player at the position at which he is playing * most of the time* at the start of the season.

3) But sometimes we make exceptions to Rule 2. For instance, some league members are convinced Victor Martinez is going to become a first basemen this year. It's not what my sources say, but I'm into light preparation. I check to the power. But all this will become clear once play begins. If Martinez is out there at 1b most of the time, then he is a first basemen. But if in the first ten games, he DH's 8 times and has one start each at C and 1b, then I say he's a catcher since we need all the help we can get at that position, at least in terms of quality hitters.

When preparing position charts, you should always go a couple extra deep, so adjusting is no big problem. If Martinez goes to first: Drop Youklis, add Zaun.

Die, Motherfucker, Die

Brother Berger writes:

Was doing a little planning for my winning strategy this year and thought of the one thing that rankles slightly about our league, and that's, during the draft, people sometimes, usually out of frustration, helping others choose players. Which shouldn't be, don't you agree?

The short answer is:

Yes, Kevin, you're right. We need to produce a full list of eligibles *right here on this blog* so there's no excuse for ignorance. But if ignorance rears its head, we need to sit there mouths shut.

Or at least agree to suggest the worst player we can think of.

The problem, of course, is that these delays, these moments when a drafter gets brain lock, usually occur at the end of the draft when camaraderie has turned to mutual loathing.

But, yes, let's try to keep quiet and let people twist in the wind. It's a Saturday draft. I don't have to be home before midnight.

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Old Mailbag

The BCL has one basic principle. The more players are eligible at positions, the better life will be when we have 12 drafting. So what I propose -- unless anyone objects at which point we vote the question -- is this:

1) Clemens is eligible for drafting but, as Mandingo suggested, you are taking a risk in that if he goes NL you get *nothing.*

2) Hafner and Thomas are draftable at 1B. Same thing for Piazza at catcher. In the event of a meteor strike, they could end up having to take the field. We'll call it the "meteor strike" rule.

3) I didn't realize there was about dispute about Martinez at catcher. But if they throw him out there at 1B a couple of times during the first weeks of the season and if he's not listed on the depth chart at catcher, then we'll have to talk. (Late add: My mlb.com depth chart shows him as Cleveland's starting catcher.)

4) Vidro played 107 games at 2B last year. That's good enough for me. I have no idea why the Mariners aren't planning on giving Broussard 400 ABs.

5) I read in the Chron this morning that Papelbon came back to Jesus and wants to be the closer again. That's how he's start the season. End of story.

To reiterate: With 12 drafting, it is definitely going to be the Season of the Bitch at some positions. I don't want to make it any harder than it already is. The Chi-Chi's say that as far they were concerned their draft last year was like one long outtake from "Oz". They've been out in the Yard lifting, rain or shine, and they want revenge.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Maury Wills' boyhood heroes

"Our heroes were these old guys who played on weekends and called themselves semipro. These guys wore argyle socks under their stirrups and they wore mix-and-match uniforms and caps on the side of their heads. And they all had a half-pint of whiskey in their back pockets. If they didn't get too drunk on Saturday night and if enough guys showed up on Sunday, they would have a game. Those guys were our heroes, the guys we wanted to emulate."

Some fine inspirational words from the shortstop who was raised in a Washington, D.C. housing project.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Vorp Power

STAT OF THE DAY
Top 5 2007 AL Starters, by PECOTA Projected WXRL
Player, Team, EqERA, VORP, WXRL
Johan Santana, MIN, 2.94, 65.3, 8.5
Jeremy Bonderman, DET, 3.58, 47.7, 6.6
Roy Halladay, TOR, 3.44, 46.4, 6.4
C.C. Sabathia, CLE, 3.76, 41.1, 6.2
Curt Schilling, BOS, 3.65, 37.6, 6.0

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Piazza Question

ESPN Mag introduced Piazza as the perfect fantasy player: a DH who's eligible at catcher, having played at least 10 games there last year. In our league we've always nailed all the DHs to a position in order to put them in play during the draft. So Giambi, Ortiz, Hafner, Thome, Thomas will be eligible again at 1st, and would that make Piazza available as a catcher? For this year, yes.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Leave Him for Me

The case against Johan Santana
By Ron Shandler
Baseball HQ

There are some players who perform so steadily, and with such worthy skills, that you just assume the future will be a simple extension of the past. That leads us into complacency, which can be dangerous, especially in the early stages of a fantasy draft.

Such is the story of Johan Santana in 2007. In the past three seasons, Santana has posted phenomenal ERAs of 2.61, 2.87 and 2.77 in seasons of 228 IP, 231 IP and 233 IP. A clear first-round pick, right?

Not necessarily. There are several reasons to think twice about spending a first-round pick on Santana.

He has no upside.

Every player projection you see -- at Baseball HQ, in all the magazines and Web sites -- represents an average, or most likely outcome for the upcoming year. In truth, when you draft a player, you own the universe of possible outcomes, good and bad. For most players, one can envision not only scenarios in which the player falls short of expectations (such as by getting hurt) but also scenarios in which the player exceeds expectations. After all, few players are the best at everything -- even a No. 1 pick like Albert Pujols could surprise us with some steals.

Santana, though, is the best at what he does. Last year, he was almost one strikeout per game better than the second-place guy (Jeremy Bonderman) and a full quarter of a run than the next best pitcher in expected ERA, one of Baseball HQ's metrics.

In short, there is Santana, and there is everyone else. The odds of him improving his stats further or playing his way into more starts -- anything to increase his value -- are virtually nil.

So, when you draft Santana in the first round, you're banking on another 230 IP and a sub-3.00 ERA. Yet, given his lack of upside in skill, almost everything out of Santana's control has to break right for this scenario to happen. If Santana has any setback, he won't be able to recover by raising his game any higher than it already is.

He needs help.

In fantasy baseball, even a superstar pitcher like Santana has only so much control over his numbers. Getting 9.4 strikeouts per game means there are 17.6 outs unaccounted for. To land the prized "W," Santana still needs a solid supporting cast.

Fortunately, the Twins' offense is decent, and their bullpen is rock solid. The weak link is the rest of the rotation. The auditions this spring include two youngsters with upside -- Scott Baker (6.37 ERA last year) and Matt Garza (5.76 ERA) -- and two terror-inducing veterans -- Ramon Ortiz (5.57 ERA last year) and Sidney Ponson (6.25 ERA). If those players don't pan out, and Carlos Silva logs another 5.94 ERA, even the Twins' relief corps could break down. The impact on Santana would be more inherited runners scored, a higher ERA, and fewer wins.

He is not invincible.

If you want to know what it is like to be disappointed by Santana, you need only think back to last April. That is when Santana went 1-3 with a 4.45 ERA. It was Santana's first monthly ERA over 4.00 since May 2004. He responded with two months of 1.88 ERA… followed by another uncharacteristic 4.74 ERA in July. These aberrations were not the product of bad luck -- they featured "mortal" levels of 3.0 K/BB, versus Santana's overall 5.2 K/BB for 2006. Clearly, something was awry -- mechanically or psychologically, if not physically. And anything that goes awry once can do so again.

It is possible that these bad months don't spell trouble. after all, Santana recovered from a rough stretch in 2004 to have a terrific 2005. Still, these fits of mediocrity remind us that Santana is not a robot. During 2004-06, Santana had the third-highest IP total among active pitchers (693.1 IP), following Livan Hernandez and Roy Oswalt. When it comes to workload, the human body does have limits.

He is still a pitcher.

Overall, from the pool of players who are drafted in March, some lose a portion of their projected value by October: they get hurt, they grow old, better players come along, etc. However, the pool of pitchers loses about twice as much projected value as the pool of hitters. A main reason for this disparity is the greater risk of injury among pitchers. Not to mention the fact that pitchers play less than hitters, so a few bad outings hurt their stats. Finally, fantasy ball has a structural bias against pitchers: Whereas most every hitter can potentially contribute to every offensive category, pitchers are often shut out from one or more stats -- saves for starting pitchers, wins and strikeouts for relievers.

This bias is even more profound in the first round. Here is where fantasy owners must build their foundation of counting stats. The ratio categories -- ERA, WHIP and batting average -- can be managed at any time during a draft. Since hitters contribute to upward of four counting stats, and pitchers truly only two, you put your foundation at risk by drafting a pitcher that early.

The bottom line is pitchers are less valuable fantasy commodities than hitters, but you probably already know that. A hitter who suffers a power outage can redeem himself by stealing a few bases, batting .300, or just going on a power surge for a month. Pitchers, though, have a slimmer bag of tricks. Santana will never be able to supplement his earnings with a few saves, or make up for a blown win in one start by getting two wins the next time around. All he can do is what he already does: keep facing batters, one by one, trying for strikeouts and ground balls, avoiding walk, and hoping that his offense, defense and bullpen come through.

That's enough wishful thinking to shake us all out of complacency. In snake drafts, let him slide unless you find him in your lap in Round 2. In auctions, cap at $30.

Ron Shandler is the Editor and Publisher of BaseballHQ.com and author of the annual Baseball Forecaster book.

The case for Johan Santana
By Matthew Berry
ESPN.com

Ron Shandler is as good and smart a fantasy baseball guy as I know, which is why we'll forgive the fact that he's bonkers on this one. Ron, being the "good one," wrote his article first, so I get to look at it but he didn't get to look at mine. That isn't fair, but that's life.

Here's something else that is also life. Everything Ron wrote about Santana applies for all pitchers. Pitching is a cruel mistress, we all know that. We're stuck having to use them in fantasy, so why not get the one sure thing that is so dominant that he allows the rest of your staff to be mediocre?

Consider that, while he wins a lot and gets as many strikeouts as anyone in the business, what truly sets Santana apart is that he also packs a serious impact with his ERA and WHIP multiplied by his 230 annual innings. For example, last season, let's say you screwed up your staff and had eight pitchers who threw 1,300 innings with a very ordinary 4.00 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. At best, you're middle-of-the-pack and probably toward the bottom. Add last year's Santana stats to that staff, and now we're looking at a very respectable 3.81 ERA with a 1.25 WHIP. It's that significant a difference.

The other thing to remember is that it's not just the fact that he's the best, it's the fact that he's the best by a lot.

Compare Santana to the consensus No. 2 fantasy starter, Chris Carpenter, who would only wrestle those figures down to a 3.89 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP while giving you 61 fewer strikeouts. Or, compare him to the acknowledged best strikeout man in the National League, Carlos Zambrano, who still came up 35 strikeouts short of Santana and would pull you down only to a 3.92 ERA, with no benefit to your WHIP at all.

Does he need to stay healthy? Of course. But he's spent less time on the DL the past few years than Albert Pujols or Jose Reyes, that's for sure. Does he need his teammates to help him out? Sure, but what player doesn't? If no one is on base, who is Pujols driving in? Or if Carlos Delgado keeps looking at curves instead of swinging, Reyes is stuck on second base a lot, ya know?

It comes back to the principle of multicategoricalicity, which is sort of a word. Those who do well in all categories are inherently more valuable than those who do one thing extremely well. In Santana's case, he combines both those aspects: He can lead the league in wins, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.

Imagine if Pujols could steal bases like Reyes, or Carl Crawford could hit as many home runs as Ryan Howard. You'd draft them No. 1 overall, wouldn't you? Of course you would. So why on earth wouldn't you do it for a guy who can win four out of five pitching categories? Because that's what you get in Santana. And when Shandler and I go head to head in Tout Wars next week and when he bids on Santana (and he will), I will laugh the laugh of a victor ... and then bid one buck more.

Matthew Berry -- The Talented Mr. Roto -- is ESPN's new Senior Director of Fantasy. He was just as surprised as you to find out it's a real job. Read more of his analysis or play your league for free, with free live scoring, at ESPN.com

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sweet


Protrade Market Movers
The Ten Most Volatile Players--Week of March 16, 2007

by Jeff Ma

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Welcome to Market Movers, Protrade's series of reports covering how sports fans from around the world are valuing Major League Baseball stocks in the world's only 24/7 virtual sports stock market.

For those unfamiliar with Protrade, we are a next-generation fantasy sports experience centered around a community of passionate fans who trade players and teams like stocks. Our virtual sports stock market helps capture the wisdom of these sports fans by enabling them to display their reactions and generate a market response to every event in sports news; every at-bat, every rumor, and every injury report can be factored into the value of an athlete or team. Equalized across all sports so that in Protrade Dollars (PT$) the best baseball players are worth roughly the same as the best football and basketball players, our prices are set by market analysts before the beginning of every season with a "season IPO," and then move based on a combination of on-field performance and buy/sell pressure.

For more information on how our market works, check out Protrade's FAQ. You can register for free by clicking here!

And now, Protrade's biggest price movers since March 7, 2007:

MLB Market Movers
Rk Player Ticker Team Price
March 7 Change
1. Mark Prior PRIOR Cubs $102.38
$118.88 13.88%
There's no such thing as a ... How's that go again? On more than a few prominent "Sleeper" lists this winter, traders have recently woken up to the truth about Prior: He's not the same. With a fastball that's topping out in the 80s, the market sees little reason to buy shares of this former USC Trojan, and we can't bring ourselves to disagree.
2. Cole Hamels COLE Phillies $199.76
$179.53 11.27%
Speaking of relatively young pitchers with a history of fragility, Hamels enters 2007 with high expectations, but perhaps more importantly, a guaranteed rotation spot for the first time in his career. Truly dominant in the second half last season (87.2 IP, 10.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 3.39 ERA), PROTRADE investors believe that growth and experience will conflate with the southpaw's raw talent, resulting in one of the best young pitchers in the game.
3. Chris B. Young CYOUNG Diamondbacks $164.10
$147.91 10.94%
As Nate Silver wrote on Thursday, "If you don't like Chris Young, you don't like prospects." Suffice it to say that PROTRADE investors like prospects--and Young--almost as much as teenage boys like big-screen adaptations of Frank Miller comics. The former White Sox farmhard has been shooting up on our market over the last week, and with no one standing between him and a starting spot in center field, that $164 share price is beginning to look conservative.
4. Ben Sheets BSHEE Brewers $207.24
$187.11 10.76%
Sheets' ability to blow the ball past hitters while rarely missing the strike zone has never been in question. He posted a better than 10-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio last season, but that was despite fighting shoulder tendonitis like a nagging cough. As a result, what keeps Brewers fans up at night is Sheets' ability to consistently take the mound every fifth day--something he hasn't done since 2004. Now healthy, the former Olympic hero has looked impressive in a trio of Spring Training starts, and investors are rushing for the buy button faster than you can say: "Schlemiel, schlemazl, Hasenpfeffer Incorporated!"
5. Rodrigo Lopez RLOPE Rockies $83.27
$97.08 10.15%
Expectations were never particularly high for Lopez, who enters the Colorado rotation (or maybe not) with a career winning percentage below .500 and middling peripherals. Nevertheless, the pounding he's taken this spring (12 IP, 19 H, 13 R) isn't inspiring much investor confidence, even if Coors Field continues to play like it's been moved to the farthest reaches of Neptune.
6. Joel Pineiro JPINE Red Sox $89.53
$99.48 10.00%
Originally signed with the intent of making him a closer, Boston has slowly stepped away from that proposition, opting for a low-key, closer-by-you-know-what approach. That the former Mariner so quickly turned back into Joel Pineiro this spring (7.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R) has made Theo & Co.'s decision that much easier.
7. Jhonny Peralta JPERA Indians $130.18
$118.37 9.98%
Aaron Eckart might be the new Two-Face, but this shortstop's turn from down-ballot MVP candidate in 2005 to merely average with the bat in 2006 was difficult to understand. So who will we see in 2007? Protrade investors clearly believe that Jhonny's power spike wasn't some sort of Brady Anderson-style fluke--an opinion shared by PECOTA, which, as we all know, is the cold, calculating Harvey Dent to Nate Silver's secret super-villain persona.
8. Howie Kendrick HOWIE Angels $183.77
$168.36 9.15%
You don't need to be a prospect maven to know about Howie's track record--he's among the most-written-about hitters of the decade, and for good reason. Scouts love him, statheads love him, and Protrade investors can't get enough of his shares. You want a dark horse candidate for AL batting champ? Here's your man.
9. Josh Bard JBARD Padres $90.36
$82.82 9.11%
Bard might not be the second coming of Mike Piazza, but with catching talent generally thin, traders are looking to Bard, who posted an eye-popping .338/.406/.537 line in San Diego last season. Trading at $90.36 per share, he doesn't need to be the best to have some value. He just needs to be himself.
10. Melky Cabrera MCABR.A Yankees $127.51
$140.12 9.00%
He's a nice player to have around--the thing is, there's nowhere to keep him. With Bobby Abreu installed in right and Hideki Matsui healthy in left, the 22-year-old outfielder will have to wait his turn once again. Decreased playing time means a lessened chance of hitting that triple-digit price projection.

Jeff Ma is a co-founder of Protrade.

Hey, I Read the Papers, Too

In case any of you think you are the only person who's noticed all those K's Harden is getting this spring.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Team Depth Charts

This one is found at MLB.com. I don't know if that makes it more reliable. We don't really need to worry about this for another three weeks.

But I like to get a head start.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Is Left Field Left Out?

The BCL was sitting in bed last night looking at his USA Today Fantasy issue and, boy, is it clear that left field is going to be a challenge. When will Podsednik be ready? Shannon Stewart is fragile anyway, and when Kotsay comes back and that return ripples through the A's lineup, even a healthy Stewart will lose at bats. Orioles will have Payton and Huff in left, but Gibbons is listed as "first DH," which means that either Payton or Huff may lose ABs. Unless Huff fills in at first????

Of course, it's too early to worry.

Much.

Spring training will sort most of this out, and then the first two weeks of the season will foul it up again!!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Also, Time to Think about the Last Pitcher Taken

Fourteen AL teams means 70 starters, though some of those will not have started by draft time. That's usual: No problem. But with 12 people drafting five starter starters and one backup starter, that means we will draft *72* starters.

So what about those last two? Leftover relievers? Guys in the minors. Roger Clemens???? Maybe on some teams it still won't be clear who the fifth starter will be, so we have more choice there?

A knotty problem.

Kotsay Got Bad Back *But We Don't Care*

Bradley moves over and if the tentative rosters hold up there will be plenty of bodies eligible in RF, including A. Huff and G. Sheffield. So I'm not worried. But Podsednik's "sports hernia" is a big worry. Erstad starting the season LF for Chicago?

That's terrible, draft-wise.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A Good Place to Start Research

Here's a USA Today link for projected starting lineups.

My Blogger Panel