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Captain's Log


NL Has Short Straw in Crossover Players PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 00:00

Well, at least so far. While American League fantasy players were in FAAB wars for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel two weeks ago and Huston Street either last or next weekend (depending on which stat service your league uses), there just haven’t been comparable players for National League owners to add to their teams.

And that won’t change much this coming weekend following the Chase Headley trade because Yangervis Solarte, while a great story in April for the Yankees, doesn’t rate to help the Padres as much. Yes, if they let him play third base right away, he might have some appeal in deeper NL-only leagues, but it is more likely that he will have the same limited appeal as Jordany Valdespin did this week after he was called up by the Marlins.

Valdespin was an interesting case for many leagues this week. While he will be playing second base for the Marlins, he was primarily an outfielder for the Mets last year and thus only qualifies there this year for leagues with 20+ games played eligibility rules. Thus Monday, I had to field a question from an NL Tout player about his eligibility, which would normally give a player called up from the Minors only the eligibility for the position played the most times in the Minors this year, but goes by games played last year if the player was in the big leagues for more than five games.

However, old school leagues that still play “book rules” (as defined by the original Rotisserie League Baseball written by Peter Golenbock in 1984) get to switch a player after just his first game played and thus have Valdespin at 2B/OF if they added him in FAAB this weekend.

By the way, there is a distinction that younger rotisserie players need to be aware of because while FAAB is used by most fantasy leagues to award free agents each week, including LABR and Tout as illustrated in our weekly reports in Mastersblog, the old school leagues have weekly “call ups” to fill holes and don’t use FAAB until there are players traded from the other league. Then, after the All-Star break, open FAAB allows bidding on both crossover players and players called up in that league, which is followed by free callups if there are players left who didn’t get bids.

If your AL league was allowed to bid on Street last weekend, you know what he went for – and you aren’t using CBS where his bids weren’t processed but pushed to the following week just as Samardzija and Hammel were previously. Apparently, one day to get a player’s new team listed doesn’t also register with their FAAB mechanism. If you haven’t bid on Street yet, you noted that in our LABR AL report, he went for $57 while in Tout AL, the winning bid was $36 reduced by Vickrey from the $74 bid he got.

It will be interesting to see if there are believers in a Headley turnaround in pinstripes or whether there are teams that desperate at 3B/CI to bid more than he will likely be worth.

But those NL players will likely still be waiting.

Well, unless Solarte plays every day for the Padres this week…and is as hot as he was in April.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 02:16
 
Are You Ready for the Second Half? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 00:00

Yes. I know most MLB teams have played over 90 games, so the All-Star break is two weeks after the real halfway point. But it is the time when you have four days with no games to watch, no league standings that change, and when you can really spend a few hours looking at the standings in each category for any/all of your teams.

Your team’s total is not the key this week. Where you stand in each category and how many points you can win – and lose in each category is the way to figure out what moves to make this week to get your team into contention.

If you are already near the top of your league, you should still be doing this to make sure you stay there or improve or protect your position in the standings.

Start by looking at the distribution in each category. How many home runs you need to pick up one point, two points or more is more important than the fact you only have three points right now. You also need to factor in the status of your players. Do you have a player on the DL who is coming back this week or at the end of the month? Look at this HR category:

Splendid Splinter League HR

Pickpockets 130 11
Church of Baseball 126 10
Red Raiders 118 9
Speed Turtles 107 8
Hopping Corndogs 105 7
Travisties 100 6
Triple Play 97 5
Barking Spiders 84 4
Hook, Line & Sinker 83 2.5
Here Come Da Judge 83 2.5
Dballs 81 1

That is through Sunday, July 13, but I have Mark Trumbo coming back from the DL this week, so that automatically adds 1.5 points. More importantly is can I overtake Triple Play and gain two and a half points without making a trade? Just as important is realizing that both Judge and DBalls have traded out already so if based on other categories I needed to consider trading Trumbo or another power hitter I have only one and a half points of downside at the worst and I can likely pick up half a point without him.

Do that with each category and see what you think your potential is. Then if you are in a trading league, you can better see what your options are. If you are not in a trading league – take all the NFBC style leagues, you will still have a better idea as to what type of players to look for on the free agent list or which players you can sit in certain weeks.

The other thing to take a careful look at is your current rate of HR or SB or SV per week. Are you already gaining in certain categories? In one of my NFBC leagues, I drafted Aroldis Chapman, Steve Cishek and Jose Veras as my closers. Obviously, for the first month and a half of the season, I had just Cishek and his seven saves, which put me severely behind in the category. Today, here is what the saves category looks like:

Team 1 71 12
Team 2 70 11
Team 3 62 10
Team 4 57 8.5
Team 5 57 8.5
Team 6 49 7
Team 7 43 6
Captains 42 5
Team 9 40 4
Team 10 37 3
Team 11 30 2
Team 12 14 1

Slowly, I have made up ground and starting a few weeks ago the saves each week got me closer to the teams ahead of me or gained a point. This weekend or next week, I will pass the team ahead of me, and next up, the team with 49 has David Robertson and Zach Britton and could start to lose points if Britton were to be replaced. By the same token, I could overtake him if that didn’t happen but the Rangers trade Joakim Soria, as I recently added Neftali Feliz. To get more than two points, I would need the teams tied at 57 to lose a closer. The point in a no-trade league is to find another closer or maybe (given roster space) to add the next in line of one of those teams.

That may seem difficult, but what is the alternative?

You need to put in some real work to improve your chances of cashing. Yes, I need 15 or 20 points to cash in those two leagues.

But that is well worth playing for, and gaining a point or two or more in each category is possible.

But only if you try.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 08:49
 
AL-Only Leagues First FAABonanza PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 00:00

The trade last Friday that sent Cubs pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the AL West leading Oakland Athletics did a lot more than make the A’s clear favorites to win the division and increase their chances of getting to the World Series.

It also created huge bidding in AL-only leagues where competing teams had a chance to dramatically improve their pitching staffs without trading away any players.

Here are two AL-only keeper league examples where the difference in price is determined by league rules which may be very similar to your league. If you play in an AL-only redraft league, you may want to look at the bidding in LABR’s AL league and the Tout AL league posted in MastersBlog.

In my 11-team AL keeper league, we did have lower FAAB balances than we normally do when several of the teams tend to save their FAAB dollars for interleague trades which might deliver stud crossover players from the NL. There were only three teams that had more than $63 available last Saturday, two of those being contending teams this year and one being a team that has already sold off expiring players and rebuilding who would have no interest in a crossover player who couldn’t be traded or kept for next season. There would have been a third team, a contender that normally hoards FAAB, but they had spent $68 to acquire Kendrys Morales when he was signed by Minnesota.

There was also a contender who had $59 left, so the two contending teams both correctly bid $60 on both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The funny thing was that one has Samardzija first while the other preferred Hammel, so they both got the pitcher they wanted.

Now in this league, players traded from the NL as well as players like Morales or Stephen Drew, or even Tony Sipp, who weren’t available in either the auction or minor league draft are not eligible to be kept next year or to be traded within the league for the balance of this year.

Crossover players don’t have the typical free agent salary against our in season $300 cap of $5 but are assigned a salary based on their FAAB price as shown below:

a. FA Bids $1-5 $5 (like normal Free Agents) 
b. FA Bids $6-19 $X (the bid amount) 
c. FA Bids $20+ $20 against the cap

But some leagues like Don Drooker’s AL Bowling League use the original “Rotisserie League Handbook” rules where the crossover player’s FAAB amount is their salary (against a $310 cap) and their contract for 2015 if they are kept. In addition, winning bids over ten dollars guarantee a two-year contract at that price (unless bought out).

In that league, the winning bid for Samardzija was $29, with underbids of 26, 23, 19, 15 and 10. The winning bid for Hammel was $20 with underbids of 19, 15, 13, 10, 10 and 7. Also in that league, normal free agents are $10 against the cap instead of the $5 my league uses and are acquired as weekly callups, so FAAB is only used for crossover bids or players like Morales.

Hopefully, this helps you judge prices in your league, whether for the new Oakland pitchers or for future players traded from the National League.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 01:17
 
Activating Minor Leaguers From the Farm PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 00:00

This is another area of roster management that can present fantasy owners with tough decisions.

We looked earlier at setting up minor league drafts to acquire your “Farm” players. But each league is different about how and when you can or have to activate them if they are called up to their major league team.

I strongly favor activation rules that give the fantasy owner a long enough time period to decide whether the player might have enough impact to help them this year, but I would not allow owners to keep the player as a minor leaguer if he is up most of the year.

In my AL keeper league, teams can activate called up minor leaguers as soon as possible (immediately if they have a natural opening – player on the DL or sent to the Minors even if that is a midweek move or on the next Monday when lineups are set for the week) or they can wait a reasonable period of time to make sure the minor leaguer is going to stick with the big club and not just sent down with the next set of roster moves.

We used to use 30 days of continuous major league service (before September) as the trigger for a required decision on activating the player to your active or reserve roster or releasing them to the free agent pool. Last year, we unanimously agreed to change the 30-day rule to the first half of the season, so if a Farm player was activated by his major league club after the All-Star break, our owners could still activate them if they wanted to but no longer had to activate the minor league for that season.

The danger if there is a quick activation rule is that the player may be sent back down to the minor leagues when you had to activate him. The following year, he would then be in his second year and have to be frozen as a minor leaguer whether he made the opening day roster or not. Our new rules offer teams the best balance.

In the NL keeper league in Los Angeles that I play in, the activation rule is more lenient. If a player is activated in April, the 30-day rule applies, but if activated after May 1, the team does not have to activate him for the rest of the year – but of course may do so if they choose. In that league, I have a good shot to finish in 5th place, which would be the first minor league draft pick next year. But if one of the top four teams were to have enough misfortune to fall, I could conceivably still cash. So this April, one of my minor league draft picks was San Diego RHP Jesse Hahn, who I had planned on drafting in the AL until Tampa Bay traded him to San Diego in the Logan Forsythe deal. With such a thin chance to cash, it doesn’t pay for me to activate Hahn to a strong pitching staff led by Jeff Samardzija, Hyun-Jin Ryu and my best buy of the auction, a $3 Josh Beckett.

But you never know when there are decisions to be made. Yesterday in the AL league, I had Houston outfielder Domingo Santana brought up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where in 319 at-bats, he hit .304 with 13 home runs, 52 RBI and five stolen bases. The 21-year-old fly chaser from the Dominican Republic was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, but he came to the Astros in 2011 as part of the Hunter Pence trade. Santana does strike out a fair amount – 99 times this year with 40 walks – and as a result has been compared to fellow Astros rookie George Springer.

But if he looks like he will be even close to as productive as Springer and stay in left field in Houston, I will have an extra hitter for my attempt to be in the money this year. Actually, like my trade for Ellsbury, it may give me multiple options – simply replace Endy Chavez as my sixth outfielder/UT or allow me to trade Adam Jones, who has an expiring contract this year, for some pitching or middle infield help.

First, let’s see if he can stick with the Astros.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 09:18
 
Should You Stay or Should You Go? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 00:00

It is almost halfway through the season and in many leagues it is decision time for fantasy baseball teams. Make a trade to try and cash this year or sell off an expiring contract or overvalued player for a good young player, or minor league prospects, and/or a higher minor league draft pick next spring?

I had this decision with my AL-only league over the last few weeks and finally made a trade to try and improve my chances this year but with a plan that might well be viable for your fantasy teams as well.

In the 11-team Great American Rotisseleague, I just moved into 6th place last week with 57 points. As of Monday, that is five points behind the 5th place team, 11.5 points behind the 4th place team and 13 points behind the current 2nd place team. The current league leader – not entirely but largely because he won the bid for Masahiro Tanaka at $31 on draft day – is now well clear of the pack with 85.5 points.

So why would I give up my 2nd round pick in the 2015 minor league draft and Tommy Milone, won at auction this spring, for just $3 when I could stand pat and be the favorite to stay in sixth and get the second pick in the first round of next year’s minor league draft?

First, I think acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury for Milone and the draft pick swap (2nd for 4th) gives me the potential to pick up enough points to compete for 4th place or better. Todd’s ROS projections for Ellsbury – 48 R, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 25 SB and a .289 BA would give him the third highest value amongst American League hitters – conveniently right between two of my other outfielders, Mike Trout and Adam Jones.

Conservatively, my team should gain 9-10 points if Ellsbury stays healthy (BA+2, R+2, HR+1, RBI+1-2, SB+3), so you can see why I think I have that upside. Also, Ellsbury is replacing an empty Ichiro slot in my outfield. I should also get a boost to the offense if/when Trevor Plouffe gets back to work and maybe if Justin Smoak can return and crack my lineup.

I could also get a boost on the pitching side of the ledger if James Paxton ever gets back or if the Tigers need to recall Robbie Ray.

But there is another possibility with making this trade now.

I don’t doubt that some of my competitors ahead of me will make a trade to improve (the team in 5th place traded for Robinson Cano this weekend while I was getting Ellsbury). So if in late July I am not on target to move up in the standings, I will have put some additional points between my team and the group behind me and would be able to trade Adam Jones, who is in the last year of his contract, and/or Plouffe, who is also headed back into the auction pool next year, to a contender looking for some offensive help. I should have little downside at that point – at worst a drop from fifth to sixth, which translates into the first or second minor league pick next year. I also have an expiring contract on Fernando Rodney and could move him for assets for next year or beyond. Heck I could also deal Ellsbury if I got the right offer.

Billy Beane once said the season is divided into three parts, and while he was talking about his major league club, it is not much different for your fantasy team.

Part I is April and May, where you find out exactly what you have and what your expectations should be.

Part II is June and July, when you make the moves to improve where you need to for a run at the pennant (or get an early start on rebuilding).

Part III is August and September, where your decisions allow your roster to compete, perhaps adding a player in September – my league does allow roster expansion, adding a 24th active player.

Part III is also where final trades are made for the finishing run.

Or for restocking the cupboard.

But making a solid trade now, even if you are not yet contending, can give you two ways to improve – get to a spot to contend/cash this year or create the need for the contending teams to try and improve their rosters, giving you more trading partners in July/August.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 08:22
 
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