Thursday, March 31, 2005


With final protects due this weekend, I want to address two issues. The first is protecting a fully-valued star, and the second is the psychological barrier imposed upon pool pick-ups.

With a fully-priced (actual value + inflation premium) player, a team needs to determine what their individual margin-of-error is for their valuation method i.e. I have Derek Lee for $33 and think he could go for $29 to $35. If the player is within this range, then protecting him should not be in question. (Whether another team would trade for him is a different subject. While I wouldn't protect a $28 Marcus Giles, someone else may. While I would protect a $38 Schilling, other may not.)

The facts to remember is almost all superstar players always go for full value, and, in every draft, there are a couple who go for slightly less. The key though is recognizing the difficulty in determining beforehand which ones they will be. Knowing this this allows you to rest easier than you would if you spent the time prior to the draft feeling uninformed because some magazine says ARod is worth $28 when you want to protect him at $41. (Also keep in mind, most Roto mags are non-keeper,mixed-league and 5X5.)

Pool pick-ups carry a salary of $10. When protect time comes along, many teams look at that $10 salary and think, "I plucked him from the pool and could get someone like him again this year, so I can't protect him."

This mental rule needs to be broken despite its ingrainment in our psyche from lifetimes of $1.99 being a much better deal than $2.00. In order to break through this ask your self if the $10 player was $9 or $8 or $11 or $12 would he be more attractive. If "yes", then keep him.

Is Dontrelle Willis less attractive at $10 than Al Leiter at $8? Is JT Snow less attractive at $10 than Adam LaRoche is at $13? Is Jesus Colome less attractive at $10 than Huston Street is at $9? And so on.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Milwaukee Brewers

Yesterday, Manager Ned Yost said David Krynzel would be going to AAA no matter how well or poorly he does this Spring.

This brings up an interesting question. Who is the back-up CF now?

As no quick answer comes to anyone's mind, this should be a clear indicator that Brady Clark is poised for a breakout season if only because there is no one to take the job. A simple projection would be to combine his past two years (742 plate appearances) to figure his maximun 2005 production (13/86/28).

I believe this is high as regular playing time vs picking the most favorable match-ups will expose Clark's weaknesses. That said, 20 SB seems reasonable.

The player who will differentiate Roto teams from the rest of the pack is Bill Hall. He contributed 9 HR and 12 SB last season while playing 2B, SS and 3B (of which he carries 2B & SS qualifications into this season.)

One may think 9 HR and 12 SB won't differentiate any team, but I disagree. Those numbers are top of the line for teams 12th, 13th or 14th hitter, and it is here that Roto championships are decided. Every team knows who the good players are, and every team has them. What every team doesn't have is the Bill Halls at the end of their roster. His contributions at the margin are valuable.

He contributes depth to a Roto team. When looking at the winning squad, one is struck by how many players contribute. Look at the losers are the likes of Dave Hanson, Chad Curtis, Lenny Harris and Vance Wilson are prevalent.

The point has been demostrated that BH is a good Roto player, but the key to his 2005 contribution is the desire to play him as the back-up CF, and this is why I believe he will contribute even more than in 2004. The added roster flexibility combined wthe low double digit HR and SB potential makes him more attractive than your typical utilty player.

Now if only Ned Yost had seen Neifi Perez make an appearance at C a few years ago and tried Hall there.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Rotisserie Baseball Musing: New York Yankees

Rotisserie Baseball Musing: New York Yankees

So Mo comes up with bursitus after not throwing all winter long and not appearing in Spring Training games during the first week.

Why would he not throw at all in the off-season?

Could there be something there? Was I right about overuse and the possibilities this gives Tom Gordon?

Los Angelos Angels of Anaheim

(What an awkward name.)

That out of the way, there are two players who had excellent Roto seasons in 2004 who are in line to disappoint - Jeff Davanon and Chone Figgins.

Both players relied upon injuries to garner lots of playing time. Figgins made over 600 plate appearances while Davanon's plate appearances were close to his 2003 ones (Technically, about 10% fewer in 2004).

In the off-season, LAA signed Orlando Cabrera to a big contract to play SS and Steve Finley to play CF. The club also decided to give Dallas MacPherson 3B. These were the three positions that Figgins garnered the overwhelming majority of his ABs. (He made 13 appearances at SS.) Fortunately, Adam Kennedy blew out his knee last September, so Figgins begins the season as the starting 2B.

This will not last, and when Kennedy returns, Figgins will be without a regular gig. He may get half the ABs he did last season. As a result, I suggest trading him now because once the season begins, Roto teams will be more cognizant of Kennedy's return and this will diminish Figgins value.

Davanon garnered 80% of his ABs in the OF. With GLove, Finley and Vlad, there won't be but a couple starts per week available in the OF, and the Angels acquired Juan Rivera to be the 4th OF/injury replacement.

So Davanon is pushed into the DH role for regular ABs. That is until MacPherson's temporary replacement, Robb Quinlan, returns to the bench after filling-in for DMac. If Quinlan produces, as he has in his brief stints, he'd be given some of the DH ABs.

And when Kennedy returns, where is Figgins going to get ABs? DH! And none of this accounts for PT that Casey Kotchman could receive if he makes the team especially if Erstad comes up lame (Impossible!)

Little more needs to be elucidated. Figgins and Davanon were clutch members of successful 2004 Roto teams, but that is where their value ends. 2005 is a whole new ballgame and new Davanons and Figgins need to be uncovered.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Toronto Blue Jays - Jays shift Batista to bullpen as closer

Wow! Speier didn't even get a chance to fail and JP has moved Batista back to closer.

As I have already stated, do not go wild on any Toronto closer. The GM is clearly making the decisions, and I can't help but say, making things worse.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Pittsburgh Pirates

Oliver Perez exploded on to the scene in 2004. While there were certainly those Roto owners who took flyers on him in hopes of him realizing some potential, no one predicted his actual performance (2.99 ERA/1.15 WHIP/239 K).

As a result, OP was either drafted for a near minimum bid last year or plucked from the pool at the default salary of the free agent pool player ($10). As long as he remains healthy, no one will know what he would fetch at a keeper-league auction draft for several years (the typical three-year contract plus a couple/three years of additionals years for long-term contracts.)

Is he worth $30+ that his IP and ratios, along with his age, would merit? Would the inability of his team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, to compete over a 162-game schedule suppress that value based on the likelihood of fewer Ws than a SP of similar aptitude on a more competitive club? (A similar SP would be Jason Schmidt - 3.20 ERA/1.08 WHIP/251 K)

To both questions, the answer is clearly "Yes." Using this, one can safely conclude a team will come out of the draft with OP at full market price but still realize several dollars of value. Oxymoronic, but true nonetheless

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Jason Giambi

Yesterday, the Atlas of Steroids (bearing the entire sports world's problem on his shoulders), Jason Giambi, hit his first Spring Training homerun against the Red Sox in a media-fueled match-up that was hoped to be filled with lots and lots of taunting.

In previous spring games, he has received generally positive assessments.

These two pieces of information is enough for me to declare that Giambi will be able to hit. I do not expect him to ever hit .300 again, but do expect him to knock 40 dongs with an OBP near .400.

As a result, I no longer believe he will go cheap in an auction draft and expect him to hit the mid-$20s.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Scott Kazmir, Baseball America's #7 prospect, made his first Spring appearance and departed after 1 1/3 innings. He reached his pitch count so quickly because he walked 3 batters.

This points to the most obvious flaw, and the one the removes the luster from the hype surrounding him for Roto purposes in 2005 - he can't throw strikes. As a result, his pitch counts will be high, and he will be removed early in his starts.

As his walk rate will be high (as will his K rate), his WHIP will suffer. As he pitches for a horrible team, he will not be in a position to win many games. The combination of a SP who has a high WHIP along with low wins makes him Roto ebola virus - stay away at all costs!

This is easier to say, though. The hype machine will be very difficult to ignore by the typical Roto player (as it will be for jeff Francis in Colorado), but ignored it must be.

The AL does not possess enough quality SP to offset 150 innings of 5.00/1.50 ratios. If you already have Santana, Schilling and/or Johnson, then you could gamble that Kazmir will learn how to throw strikes. If not, stay away.

A point to remember is Kazmir is a young strikeout pitcher. This mitigates his ability to let hitters put the ball in play. He will want to challenge each hitter. If he falls behind, then the batter will be at an advantage when Kazmir tries to avoid the walk.

There is nothing good happening here for 2005. (See 1997, 1998, and 1999 for Jaime Navarro.)

Friday, March 04, 2005

New York Yankees

Every Roto player enters the draft beleiving they are the only ones looking at sleeper closing candidates, and they tend to look at teams where the present closer has a tenuous grasp or doesn't deserve it based on his ratios. This year those teams will be Toronto, Colorado, Oakland (all of which I've discussed here and here and here), Milwaukee, Seattle, Chicago NL, and Arizona.

When there are obvious places to look, the practice of detemining the bulpens with opportunities necessarily leads Roto teams to label the others as the opposite, "without opportunities", and move on.

It is here where the smart Roto owner spends some time, and why this post is titled "New York Yankees".

Mariano Rivera has been great, Hall-of-Fame great. He is in no risk, we are talking US government bond no risk, of losing his job. But what leads me here is the presence of Tom Gordon, a reliever who was superb last season and is better than most AL starting pitchers.

Most Roto teams would see Big Mo' and move on, although the smart ones know Gordon is better for a Roto team than the back end of most AL rotations.

What people should remember is Yankees manager Joe Torre falls in love with certain pitchers and rides then into the ground. He did it with Mike Stanton, Jeff Nelson, Ramiro Mendoza, briefly with Steve Karsay (man was that a stupid signing!) and last season with Paul Quantril.

It seems like Mo' should be next, and if this is the year (after all, Yankee brass did sign Gordon for two years when he could have closed elsewhere), then having Tom Gordon means you have a sub-$10 ready to become one of the elite AL closers.

And all because other teams become fixated on the Juan Cruzs, Huston Streets, Brandon Leagues, and JJ Putzs of the world.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Toronto Blue Jays

Justin Speier was named the closer by manager John Gibbons.

This should be taken with a grain of salt, though as Toronto GM JP Ricciardi said Speier and last year's closer (for a time), Jason Frasor, would compete for the job. He also mentioned everyone's closer sleeper, Brandon League, would also see some opportunites.

And to make the situation more convoluted, the GM also includes Billy Koch, who successfully held the job in 2001, and was traded following that season for Ted Lilly.

Clearly, the Blue Jay's closer role is up for grabs. Every team will be hoping to land the Jays reliever who grabs hold of the job and runs with it. History, though, it not on any Jays reliever's side.

In 2003, Aquilino Lopez finished the year as the closer and racked-up 16 Saves. He took the job from Cliff Pollitte (12 Saves) who took it from Juan Acevedo (6 Saves) who was given it after Kelvim Escobar had a few bad outings and was converted to the starting rotation (after racking-up 38 saves in 2002.)

While hindsight allows one to see that two successive closers (Lopez & Escobar) did not make it through the following season with the same role on the same team, A-Lo owners entered the 2004 draft feeling great - a $30 closer in a $10 salary. (Any closer should be expected to fetch $30 in a standard AL-only 4X4 keeper league. In the NL? See this.)

Unfortunately, he got off to a slow start, and the role was taken away from him and given to Kerry Ligtenburg (5 Saves) and then to Jason Frasor (17 Saves). He ran into trouble and lost the job to Justin Speier (7 Saves) who lost it to Miguel Batista who accumulated 5 Saves in September. He was then moved back into the rotation this past off-season.

No one should be left with any impression except that closers change a lot in Toronto and that this season looks to be no different. (One only needs only recall the opening paragraphs of this post.)

With this established pattern of behavior, Roto players should not expect any Toronto closer to hold the job for the season. At the first signs of trouble, the job will be given to someone else.

This information should be used when bidding at the draft. Don't go more than $10 on any Jays reliever.

More importantly, during the season, you should not be hesitant to trade the closer du jour if he resides on your team as he will likely lose the job and you the quality players a closer would fetch in return. Also, trade for those Jays relievers who have not had the job yet as they will likely get an opportunity.

And finally, if a veteran ends the season with the job expect him to lose it the folowing year or be traded!

(Guess who is a deep, deep sleeper in NL-only leagues?)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

St Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals closer, Jason Isringhausen, just reworked his contract to keep him in St. Louis, and, at $8 million per, he will be closing.

This commitment can be used wisely in keeper leagues if Izzy is entering the final year of his Roto contract. What a team does is to consider signing him to a Roto contract if his current salary is $30 or less. An additional year would pushes his 2005 salary to $35.

This is not undervalued by any non-keeper metrics, but in keeper leagues with typical inflation, Izzy could be expected to go for this much in an auction. In this scenario, he would be kept at $35 and likely pursued in the following off-season by those teams without a closer.

It is for that reason - as future trade bait- that he could be signed. No matter what Rotosites, magazines, and/or fellow teams say about Izzy at $35, he will be kept and pursued - but only if he is signed to a contract.

The extra money spent on the contract will also pay-off during in-season trading as teams acquiring him know he can be kept the following year versus him being a partial-season rental. This consideration will lead to better offered players.

And if you happen to do poorly in 2005 and want to prepare for the 2006 season, you can pair Izzy with an expiring contract to land a cheaper closer. The acquiring team will net the expiring contract while holding steady in Saves while you have a cheaper keeper the for next year's draft.

The future benefits outweigh the $5. The most difficult part will be the mental dissonance a team owner will experience as he or she constantly reads that the value of Jason Isringhausen is not $35.

It is difficult, but one must always remember that sites and forums are usually focused on 5X5 leagues and mixed leagues.