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Using FAAB Reclaim to a Secondary Advantage PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 20 July 2013 00:00

One of the most interesting features in the Tout Wars leagues is in the area of reclaiming FAAB.

The rule was once tied to a 60-day disabled list stint for an injured player. This caused great frustration for owners who had a player that was clearly out for the year but whose major league team did not qualify for the use of a 60-day DL slot.

Fortunately, the rule was changed (the mark of a good league is to adapt). Now, any player on any disabled list – seven-day, 15-day or 60-day – can be dropped. If the FAAB reclaim request is made before the All-Star break, 100 percent of the amount originally paid can be recouped. If the request is made in the second half, only 50 percent of the original spend can be recovered.

Of course, that money can then be re-used to acquire a replacement – after a one-week wait.

To be honest, I think 100 percent is too rich. Getting the benefit of up to a half-season of stats from a player, then getting back all of the money initially paid – still in time for the non-waiver trade deadline flurry – seems an over-compensation.

If I was setting up the league, I might consider 2/3 reimbursement prior to the break and 1/3 after, or something like that.

At any rate, this inflection point of the All-Star break led to some interesting strategy decisions for Tout warriors.

Many of us asked ourselves, “Should I wait for an injured player to return during the second half or should I take the full 100 percent reimbursement while I can?”

A variety of different approaches were taken.

As the placer of an ill-advised, successful $15 bid for Roy Halladay on draft day, I was among this group. Perhaps it was an emotional position, but I could envision Doc riding back out of the sunset to contribute before the season is out.

Just to increase my odds, I also have his friend and former Blue Jays teammate Chris Carpenter sitting on my DL. Perhaps one of the two might come through, but I paid just $1 for Carp.

To be completely honest, I didn’t value that $15 FAAB very much. I still have $52 FAAB remaining from my initial $100. That is enough to buy what I will probably need, while $67 wouldn’t be enough to win any of the big names that might come across from the American League at the deadline, anyway.

Currently, even without the most recent FAAB reclaims credited, half the league – six owners to be exact – have 75 or more dollars remaining. Some of them are almost surely going to spend more than me while the others will either leave money on the table or be forced to overspend for marginal talent.

BaseballHQ’s Phil Hertz was another owner who had a FAAB reclaim decision to make. He could have recouped $9 for injured Pirates starter Wandy Rodriguez. Always the creative thinker, Hertz dangled Rodriguez to the league, explaining his dilemma.

Hertz received no takers, perhaps because his price for Wandy was perceived to be too high. He asked for “a combination of FAAB and a good middle reliever as well as more than the $9 FAAB; or a hitting upgrade from one of my ‘adequate’ guys.”

What Phil failed to take into account, in my opinion, is the reality that if he returned Wandy to the pool, only he would have to spend as much as $9 to purchase the player as a free agent.

The rules are correctly set up to ensure an owner cannot game the system by reclaiming the full FAAB, only to re-acquire the player as a free agent the next week for $1.

However, the rest of the owners could do just that.

That is exactly what happened with Marco Estrada of the Brewers and Jon Niese of the Mets. Their original owners took the FAAB reclaim, $11 and $14, respectively.

With Estrada then sitting on the waiver wire, I placed a $1 claim, with Niese as my contingency. I made two mistakes. First of all, I should have bid more. Second of all, I should have tried to get both pitchers.

As it was, I scored Estrada with Derek Carty adding Niese. The only cost to me beyond the $1 is that I have to carry Estrada on my active roster for three days – this Friday through Sunday. Then I can place him on the DL and pick up another pitcher next week.

It is an extremely small price to pay for considerable potential upside. And if Estrada cannot make it back, then the loss was minimal. More on that next week.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 July 2013 10:05
 
International League All-Star Names to Know PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 13 July 2013 00:00

Last week, we looked at some of the 2013 Pacific Coast League All-Stars. This time around, their opponents from the International League will be the target. The two circuits will face off in the annual Triple-A All-Star Game in Reno on Wednesday, July 17.

Since the event began a quarter century ago, 77 Triple-A All-Stars have gone on to play in the Major League All-Star Game, or an average of just over three from each year’s teams.

The reality here is that our sights are set much lower, but also more immediate. We are looking for International League stars that may be able to contribute in the Majors during the second half of this season.

The IL player with perhaps the highest profile is Louisville (Reds) outfielder Billy Hamilton. After all, setting the all-time minor league record last season with 155 stolen bases will do that. This season, “all” Hamilton has accomplished is 50 swipes in 61 attempts. Still, a .640 OPS indicates more time in the Minors may be best.

The premier offensive player in the league during the first half is undoubtedly Chris Colabello of Rochester (Twins). The first baseman leads the league in batting (.357), slugging (.650), OPS (1.086) and RBI (69) and is second in OBP (.436) and home runs (22).

Colabello is an interesting story. Already 29 years of age, he spent seven years in the Can-Am Association before signing with Minnesota prior to last season. In 2012, the right-handed hitter led the Double-A Eastern League in doubles (37), was second in RBI (98), fourth in runs scored (78) and tied for fourth in home runs (19). It is not as if the Twins have an excess of offense, so why not give Colabello an extended look? (He went 2-for-15 in a brief trial earlier in the season).

Though he is listed as the starter at third base, Durham’s (Rays) Vince Belnome also has experience at second and first. That is good for the IL’s on-base leader (at .444) given the hot corner in Tampa should be manned by Evan Longoria for many years to come. Belnome, a 25-year-old left-handed hitter, is third in the league in runs scored (55), but is also in the top-10 in RBI (54 – T7th).

The IL leader in long balls with 24 is first baseman Mauro Gomez of Buffalo (Blue Jays). The starting designated hitter in the All-Star Game is batting just .239, however, and has just 13 doubles. Gomez, 28, is a former Red Sox prospect claimed off waivers in April.

Catcher Tony Sanchez of Indianapolis had a very brief stint with Pittsburgh last month and has a solid line of .294/.378/.526/.904 with the Indians. However, as long as Russell Martin remains healthy, the 25-year-old seems destined to pad his IL numbers in the second half.

Outfielder/third baseman Nick Castellanos of Toledo (Tigers) was named to the squad, but will not be playing in Reno. He will be returning home to be with his wife, who is expecting the couple's first child. Castellanos is tied for second in the league with 105 hits and 28 doubles. The 21-year-old may not have a clear job in Detroit, but could be traded as the Tigers try to improve elsewhere.

The announced starting pitcher for the IL is a familiar name. The second overall pick by Colorado in 2006, Greg Reynolds, had an undistinguished MLB introduction with the 2011 Rockies. The 28-year-old signed a minor league deal with Cincinnati this spring and had an opt-out clause last month that he decided not to exercise.

The right-hander has posted a league-leading 10 wins and an IL-best 2.62 ERA. His 1.12 WHIP and 76/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 120 1/3 innings at Louisville indicates promise – if the Reds eventually make the call.

Not this season, but 25-year-old reliever Vic Black of Indianapolis (Pirates) could one day take the job of a National League All-Star, Jason Grilli. A hard-throwing 6-foot-4 right-hander, Black has fanned 44 and walked just 11 in 32 innings. He is holding IL batters to a collective .152 average and has a 1.97 ERA.

To watch all 60 Triple-A All-Stars in live action, be sure to catch the game, televised nationally on MLB Network on Wednesday evening, July 17.

 

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 July 2013 07:40
 
Checking the PCL All-Star Roster for Second Half Help PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 06 July 2013 00:00

As writers, we typically select column subjects for a limited number of reasons. Perhaps we want to get mistakes off our chests (a regular of mine), we have theory to impart or as in this case, information to share.

Always on the lookout for potential pickups before they reach the Majors, this week I perused the roster of the Pacific Coast League All-Star Team. My mission was to identify a few players - whether prospects or non-prospects - who might sneak onto a major league roster during the second half.

The 30-man PCL All-Star squad is made up of 13 players voted in by coaches, front office officials, media and fans plus 17 others selected by the league office.

Starting at first base is an interesting power bat in Brock Peterson. The 29-year-old has hit safely in 34 of his last 47 games at a .345 clip (61-for-177) and leads the Memphis Redbirds with 29 multi-hit games. Peterson leads the PCL in home runs (20) and extra-base hits (42), ranks third in total bases (175), RBI (61), and OPS (.972), fourth in slugging (.583) and is tied for seventh in doubles (22).

The downside is that Peterson is a first base-only player in a Cardinals organization that cannot use a designated hitter and has another, better prospect in his way in Matt Adams. As a result, it is hard to see how Peterson could fit in the Cardinals’ picture this season without help.

Mets prospect Wilmer Flores is another interesting PCL All-Star. Having seemingly been around forever, yet still just 21 years of age, the right-handed hitter has rocketed ahead in the last 12 months after his career had seemed stalled. This time last year, Flores was still in high-A, where he had been for two years.

Now, the Venezuelan leads the PCL in RBI with 64 in his first 82 games at Triple-A. Flores began as a shortstop, was moved to third and is now playing second base. It would seem there is little to block Flores from making his way to Citi Field in the second half.

Another 21-year-old is shortstop Chris Owings of Reno. The Diamondbacks’ first-rounder in 2009 is leading the PCL in hits with 131 and runs scored with 70. Alongside Owings on the Aces and with the PCL All-Stars is third baseman Matt Davidson, taken six picks ahead of Owings in the same draft.

Even though there appears no room for either in Arizona, one or both could be packaged as part of a deal for a front-line starting pitcher. Major league opportunity could immediately open up with a new organization.

Another former first-rounder (2010) yet to make his MLB debut is Michael Choice of Sacramento. In his first taste of Triple-A, the centerfielder has 11 home runs and 53 RBI for the River Cats. Yet unless something happens to Coco Crisp, Choice currently appears to be blocked in Oakland.

With a very young (Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily all from 24 to 26 years of age) and very old (40-year-old Bartolo Colon) rotation, the first-place A’s don’t seem to have immediate room for the PCL’s starting pitcher, Sonny Gray, either. The right-hander is 7-5 with a 3.02 ERA for the River Cats and leads the league with 98 strikeouts.

Among other PCL All-Stars to watch include designated hitter Brett Pill of Fresno (Giants), Oklahoma City (Astros) pitcher Jarred Cosart, outfielder Carlos Peguero of Tacoma (Mariners) and Memphis pitcher Michael Wacha (Cardinals).

All of these players and many more would likely say that they can only do what is within their power – to influence their own play. An All-Star berth is indication of a job well done to date. What might happen around them is out of their control, but excelling is necessary - even if not sufficient - to secure that break in the Majors.


Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Monday, 08 July 2013 06:52
 
Marmolled? – Never Again! PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 29 June 2013 00:00

Heading into National League Tout Wars this season, I faced a decision on the saves category. I did not want to punt the category out of the gate, nor did I want to burn a lot of money and roster spots chasing uncertainties.

The latter approach is one I tried to follow last season with minimal success. There were closers in waiting in which to invest, but they typically cost in the $4-$8 vicinity each and took up several of my precious four reserve spots.

As I packed for the 2013 draft in New York, I decided to get one of the top closers and go from there. Beyond Craig Kimbrel, who I knew would out of my price range, I had three names in mind as the next closest to sure things in the league.

They were Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Motte and Sergio Romo. Yet, being honest, I was somewhat worried that Romo’s high strand rate and low BABIP in 2012 would not be repeatable this season. Then, when Motte went down with an elbow injury the day before the draft, Papelbon became my last man standing.

To get him, all I had to say was the magic words, “twenty dollars.” I did.

With 12 teams in NL Tout and just 15 teams’ worth of saves for which to compete, I thought I would be in good enough shape if I added an interim guy down the road to complement the Phils’ ninth-inning man.

On draft day, I stayed away from possibilities like I chased last year such as Trevor Rosenthal ($2) and red flag wavers like Carlos Marmol ($8).

Fast forward 90 days and we see that Papelbon is not one of the elite closers this season, after all. Not only is his Phillies squad showing increased age, Papelbon has blown four of his last five opportunities.

With him, my club is second from last in saves.

In fairness, that has as much to do with my own early-season blunders trying to get another closer as anything. Here comes this week’s lesson. Do not underestimate the importance of early week FAAB bidding, especially on ninth inning men.

I had the best of intentions, but failed to execute my play. Before the first FAAB period, I had sat down and looked at every NL team’s closing situation one by one.

The only obvious candidate still unowned was Milwaukee’s Jim Henderson. I was all set to make a strong bid (in hindsight, all it would have taken was $4), but I made a big mistake. I asked a friend whose opinion I respect his feelings about Henderson. My pal threw up all over poor Jim and my plan.

As a result, while I cleaned up the mess, I dropped my Henderson bid to $0 behind what was a “winning” $1 offer for Tyson Ross. Of course, now it is quite clear who won and who lost.

The next week, I was simply caught napping and missed Motte’s replacement on the very team I cover for a living. Edward Mujica had been undrafted and left on the table after the reserve rounds, too.

Late Sunday night just before the third FAAB period deadline, Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus heard the news that Mujica was going to be given a shot at closing for the Cardinals.

Mike bid a strong $46, but had almost no competition. He snapped up Mujica for just $3. That is precisely the kind of move that makes (or non-move that loses) championships.

Mujica is currently 21-for-21 in save opps, carries a 2.20 ERA and a ridiculous 0.735 WHIP.

Getting more and more worried about my club as it sunk in the standings, I took more risks on relievers. Specifically, one big risk failed miserably.

In May, Marmol’s original owner had enough and cut the ex-Cubs closer. With Kevin Gregg a prime trade candidate and Kyuji Fujikawa injured again, I decided to take a shot at Marmol getting another chance.

I figured all it would cost me was $1, but I was wrong.

After his early season meltdown and removal from ninth-inning duties, Marmol had actually pitched well during May. He allowed one run and just two walks in 9 1/3 innings in his last nine appearances leading up to my addition of him to my squad.

Tout rules are such that every FAABed player must remain active during the week in which he was purchased. You guessed it – that is when Marmol cratered for what became his last time as a Cub.

Marmol was given the ball with a three-run lead to open the ninth on June 16 against the Mets. Just one out was secured, on a sac bunt, while a solo home run and a three-run blast served up by Carlos sent the Mets home as winners. Overall, I was left to stare at an ERA of 13.50 and an even 3.00 WHIP for his time on my active roster.

Though I had the slight satisfaction of releasing Marmol a day before Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein designated Marmol for assignment in the real world, it was of small consolation.

I pushed too hard to cover for past sins and wound up getting Marmolled. Though it probably won’t be Carlos the next time, the opportunity will be presented again this season by another marginal closer. Don’t let it happen to you!

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 June 2013 17:28
 
CYA on ADP PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 22 June 2013 00:00

No, I am not talking about covering ones’ behind. As a follow on to last week’s MVP analysis, in this week’s article, we will look at the Cy Young Award races from several perspectives.

First, we have the June odds for the American League and National League Cy Young Awards as seen by the oddsmakers at bovada.lv. A second view with fewer competitors named (the top ten, specifically) comes from ESPN’s handy Cy Young Award Predictor.

To sober us up a bit, the third column lists the average draft position of the Cy Young Award odds leaders. I used the March 28 ADP results from Mock Draft Central for mixed leagues.

AL


June ESPN March
Odds to win the 2013 AL Cy Young Odds Pred ADP
Clay Buchholz (BOS) 7/4 1 275
Yu Darvish (TEX) 4/1 7 55
Justin Masterson (CLE) 7/1
321
Matt Moore (TB) 10/1
136
Justin Verlander (DET) 10/1 6 21
Felix Hernandez (SEA) 12/1 4 44
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) 12/1 5 211
Max Scherzer (DET) 12/1 2 93
Jon Lester (BOS) 20/1
167
C.C. Sabathia (NYY) 20/1
94
Anibal Sanchez (DET) 20/1
193
Chris Sale (CWS) 20/1
85
Alex Cobb (TB) 25/1
261
Derek Holland (TEX) 25/1
209
Mariano Rivera (NYY) 25/1
103
Doug Fister (DET) 33/1
173
Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) 33/1
156
Joe Nathan (TEX) 33/1 10 101
Ervin Santana (KC) 50/1
281
Bud Norris (HOU) 100/1
379
R.A. Dickey (TOR) 250/1
83
Bartolo Colon (OAK) NL 3 NR
Addison Reed (CWS) NL 8 180
Jim Johnson (BAL) NL 9 127

Justin Masterson and Matt Moore would seem very bad bets. Despite being among the oddsmakers’ and bettors’ favorites, the two do not place in the top ten statistically as measured by the ESPN predictor.

At the other end of the spectrum, three of ESPN’s top ten do not even have betting lines established – Bartolo Colon, Addison Reed and Jim Johnson. Colon, who ranks third on the Cy Young Predictor, did not appear on spring ADP lists, likely due to concern about his age and health.

NL


June ESPN March
Odds to win the 2013 NL Cy Young Odds Pred ADP
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 4/1
17
Patrick Corbin (ARI) 5/1 2 382
Adam Wainwright (STL) 5/1 1 62
Jordan Zimmerman (WAS) 7/1 6 113
Shelby Miller (STL) 15/2 3 254
Lance Lynn (STL) 9/1 5 223
Cliff Lee (PHI) 10/1 8 36
Matt Harvey (NYM) 12/1
201
Mike Minor (ATL) 12/1 4 175
Madison Bumgarner (SF) 15/1
67
Mat Latos (CIN) 18/1
118
Craig Kimbrel (ATL) 20/1 7 28
Hyun-jin Ryu (LAD) 20/1
270
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) 20/1
33
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 33/1
169
Jaime Garcia (STL) 33/1
327
Jason Grilli (PIT) 33/1 9 170
Tim Hudson (ATL) 50/1
168
Sergio Romo (SF) 100/1
115
Edward Mujica (STL) NL 10 NR

The Senior Circuit looks more like one would expect.- perhaps with the exception of Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers’ star is tops with 4/1 odds and had the best ADP of any NL hurler, yet the Cy Young Predictor reflects his bumpy first half ride.

The unexpected success of Cardinals' closer Edward Mujica (resulting from Jason Motte’s Tommy John surgery) was not anticipated by fantasy drafters and even now has not caught the oddsmakers’ attention. Yet the right-hander has squeaked into ESPN’s top ten.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 14-year history. Though he is the only one to remember or care, he also finished second in each of the two subsequent seasons. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 June 2013 08:51
 
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