Articles of Configuration

Making a Trade that Could Not be Made PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 31 August 2013 00:00

I understand how boring it can be to read about others’ teams, but it only makes sense to try to ground lessons in real-life situations. That remains my quest here in Articles of Configuration.

Last time, I shared the reasons why my league mates in National League Tout Wars were disinterested in acquiring starting pitching. Unfortunately, that is what I had to offer.

The lesson to be learned is that in single league formats, the longer the season goes on, the greater value is placed on hitting. So if you do take advantage of pitching bargains on draft day, make sure you make your moves to balance your roster sooner rather than later.

I admitted that one hope, albeit remote, was that by polling my peers for my article, I might be able to open trade dialogue.

It actually worked in two cases. Though only one trade was eventually executed, I felt like I ended up in a far better place than where I had been previously.

The message here is a simple one. It often takes time and persistence to make a deal, but if you keep at it and both sides can see benefit, you can end up with success.

The door opening in this situation was a simple case of clarification. In my initial league-wide e-mail offering of eight starting pitchers for trade, I did not make it clear I would consider moving more than one of them. My prospective trade partner, Mike Gianella, could not tell and was too busy to ask – until my poll.

Another lesson learned. No matter how clear you think you are in your communications, you probably aren’t. Read and re-read and go overboard in explaining. As the old line goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Despite being in the upper half of the league in most hitting categories and in the bottom half in pitching, the latter is what I had to trade. The reason was that I had acquired a number of injured pitchers at bargain prices (usually $1 and a week of no stats) after they had been cashed in by their original owners for FAAB rebates.

Looking ahead to roster expansion in September, I could see a number of my current disabled list pitchers returning. They include names like Jason Grilli, Wandy Rodriguez, Ross Detwiler and James McDonald. Roy Halladay just was activated this past week. While all will likely not make it back this season, even if one or two come through, I would need roster room for them.

My goal was to trade a couple of my incumbent starters for a front-line offensive player. Ideally, it would be a strong performer in batting average, a category in which I was weak but had opportunity to pick up points.

While I do not have a realistic chance of winning the league, my revised goal is to add at least 10 points in the final month and finish in the top five.

As the dialogue began, Gianella was cautious. He seemed to want me to be the first to declare players’ names. As I scanned his roster of hitters, my eye kept returning to the oft-injured Dodgers star, Hanley Ramirez. While I probably could have taken a safer route by going after Hanley’s teammate, Adrian Gonzalez, for example, I decided to go for it.

At this point of the season, taking a little extra risk seemed like a good idea.

After several back and forths that carried across multiple days, Gianella was ready to name names. I assumed he would want my top strikeout arms, Francisco Liriano and Homer Bailey.

Though the wait was painful, Mike did a smart thing to enable the trade. Instead of demanding two names only, he identified four of my starters that would work for him. He didn’t give me carte blanche, however. Mike defined four combinations he would accept.

Three of them included Liriano. After looking at Liriano’s career track record, I worried that his September results could tail off. Bailey and Kyle Lohse were two others named, along with Jorge De La Rosa. The Rockies starter has the built-in risk that goes with his home park to go with a WHIP that is higher than I’d like.

After a bit of thought, I decided on Liriano and De La Rosa for Ramirez.

Before we could close the deal, a complication ensued. Rather than panic, it required a bit of time to understand and solve.

During the multi-day period of our dialogue, the weekly free agent deadline came and went. Gianella had dropped his only potential backfill for Hanley, meaning I had to sweeten the deal a bit so his roster could remain legal.

I had the ideal sacrifice in Miami’s Ed Lucas, a regular who qualifies at first, second and third, but who had been dragging down my batting average (.216 while active on my roster). In a way, it was a double benefit getting Hanley in and Lucas out.

In executing the trade, I needed to fill a couple of pitching spots. Due to the same time crunch, I had only one viable option – the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta, who had perplexed the Cardinals over seven innings during the prior weekend. I would have also had to activate Trevor Cahill, who was hammered in his first start off the DL.

Instead, Mike came to my aid by throwing in Colorado’s Matt Belisle to tide my pitching over for the week.

Here is another example of potential learning. Both of us had come far so far in the trade talks that we were motivated to work out the two throw-ins rather than scuttle the entire deal.

As it turned out, both hurlers were two-start pitchers the first week – and they pitched on the first day they changed teams. Sellers’ remorse immediately set in for me as Liriano threw seven shutout innings while fanning 13 Padres. That same night, De La Rosa went 6 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs on six baserunners. Both starters collected wins.

On the other hand, Hanley went 1-for-9 in his first two contests on my roster. After that, I decided to stop analyzing day-to-day results, reminding myself I am in this for the long haul - or at least the final month.

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 and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 September 2013 07:03
Going Heavy on Hitting Would Have Been a Good Idea PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 24 August 2013 00:00

Remember way back in March?

Before the auction draft in your single league format, you may have been wondering whether to spend a bit more on hitting, with the idea of acquiring pitching later if needed.

In a non-auction format, you may have been considering the ramifications of going heavy on hitting early and making pitching a lower priority in the early rounds.

If the 2013 National League Tout Wars is typical, you were clearly on the right track if you were more focused on hitting.

In a recent article, I shared my in-season strategy of picking up distressed assets at discount prices, hoping to cash in later. Specifically, I purchased injured players who had been cashed out by their original owners in return for a FAAB rebate.

In most cases, the players that fit this profile were pitchers, with Philadelphia’s Ben Revere being the exception. With a number of hurlers currently on my disabled list nearing return, I am facing a potential roster jam.

Trevor Cahill was first to return, with Ross Detwiler, Wandy Rodriguez, Roy Halladay, Jason Grilli and James McDonald among others who are in line to potentially contribute in the final month to six weeks, if healthy.

With six starters already active, including NL wins leader Francisco Liriano and no-hit master Homer Bailey, I needed to create roster room. Others on my roster are Marco Estrada, Jorge De La Rosa, Jacob Turner and Kyle Lohse.

Though sending out mass trade e-mails is rarely the best way to go, with eight starters I could trade – six actives plus Cahill and Jake Arrieta, who one-hit the Cardinals for six innings Saturday - I had no idea which pitchers might interest which owners.

So, I named all my available starters and asked for offense – any offense – in return. I even offered to provide hitting backfill if that would help ease a deal.

Surely there had to be something for everyone – right?

Not exactly. In fact, almost nothing.

From the 11 other Tout owners, I received exactly one reply. It was an offer for a .230-hitting catcher.

Now, I did not take the lack of response personally, nor did I believe my pitching was worthless.

I decided to try to make lemonade from lemons by making this the subject of my column. To make the exercise more meaningful for you, the reader, I polled my peers for their reasons to reject my overture.

To be entirely honest, in addition to getting column fodder, I held a low-odds hope that my second e-mail might generate some actual trade dialogue.

The specifics from many of the NL Tout warriors follow, but the overriding theme is that no one can spare hitting at this point of the season. Many feel they have more leverage in the offensive categories.

For this to be the case universally across the league despite the wide differences between where these owners sit in the category standings signals a clear gulf in perceived player value in favor of hitters.

Keep this in mind for your leagues, even if the lesson cannot be applied until 2014. I know I will.

Todd Zola summarizes the situation well:

“I've got no hitting to spare - in fact need hitting myself. I lead the league in wins and just got McCarthy and now Gallardo back and was hoping to move pitching but it is not a seller's market. Everyone is looking to move pitching.”

Lenny Melnick believes I waited too long:

“I had high hopes for my pitching after the draft. then I lost Beckett early. Gio stumbled early, Burnett went on the DL, Kennedy bombed then got suspended. I fell behind in wins and K's and decided to add Haren via trade. Haren made it even worse."

“I searched for pitchers then and stumbled on Nicasio and a few others to no avail. Adding a pitcher now will be like chasing a tail. Most starters have 8-9 starts remaining and acquiring one won't help, as gaining points is a function of the entire staff at this point. Offensive injuries have dissipated my strengths and made obtaining a pitcher a trade to make a trade."

“To get the best value in return for a pitcher is to deal him early. At this point, unless the stats are very close, one starter may not help, unless the pitchers who got you in trouble also turn it around, which at this point would be extremely lucky.”

At least Scott Wilderman made an offer, but could not quite do it with a straight face.

“Until my injuries heal, I have no offense to offer. The only thing I could part with is perhaps Kimbrel -- Kimbrel and Lombardozzi for Liriano and Estrada?

“I thought not...”

Add Scott Pianowski to the long list of those frustrated in trying and failing to deal arms for bats. In his case, a prime starter was on the block with no interest generated:

“I couldn't give Matt Harvey away all year. I need bats, too.”

Perhaps I should feel better that the league leader and I are on the same wavelength. Then again, Tristan H. Cockcroft cannot find a trade partner, either.

“I was recently looking for nearly the identical thing as you with similar results. The market is poor for pitching-for-hitting deals.”

Peter Kreutzer has been trying to improve his hitting for some time, so he isn’t interested in trading any away.

“My project all summer has been to improve hitting, so trading hitting for pitching didn't fit my objectives.”

Derek Carty is another who sees no advantage in trading.

“Mostly I just don't have any hitting surplus to trade. My team is kind of a mess and I'm happy enough with where my pitching is at right now that I don't think trading for another one would really do me any good. Lincecum is finally pitching well (well, sometimes), and I haven't had Garza, Beachy or Niese the whole year, so if anything I need hitting."

“I mean if the price is right, of course I'd be interested, but I just didn't think I'd be able to make a suitable offer.”

Earlier, Phil Hertz unloaded almost all of his starters in an offense-heavy initiative, so he would not be a good match. I guess Phil previously soaked up what limited pitching-for-hitting interest was out there in the league.

“My main interest in a starter is making sure I get to 950 (innings), and my hitting is in a tenuous situation, so giving up a good hitter is a dubious proposition.”

Steve Gardner is another who had already made his deals. I love his humor, though.

“Not much interest from my perspective, especially since I recently traded several bats (Segura, Rendon) to improve my pitching staff (Samardzija, Wainwright)."

“My hitters are dropping like flies in Starling Marte’s glove. The loss of David Wright, possibly for the rest of the season, really hurts my offense, so I’m scrambling to find some warm bodies to fill out that starting lineup.”

Mike Gianella shares more details on his thought process, but the bottom line is the same.

“As I do with every trade query that I receive, general or specific, I took the time to look at the players that you have on offer and see if they would help my team or not."

“Somewhat unintentionally, I only spent $34 on my pitching staff at the auction. I intended to trade for pitching early, but multiple injuries (Ryan Ludwick, Hanley Ramirez, Lucas Duda, Aaron Hill, Pablo Sandoval) put a crimp in this plan. By the time most of these players came back, I was in a deep strikeout hole. The best case scenario with any trade (with you or any team), involved a one-point gain in Ks that I might make anyway. I could move up in wins, ERA, or WHIP, but strikeouts are the one category when acquiring a pitcher where the gains are the least ephemeral and easiest to measure. It looked like a hitter/pitcher trade was going to be a neutral move for me, at best.”

Thank you to all the aforementioned members of National League Tout Wars for participating. Remember, you can seemingly always trade too much hitting, but not necessarily so with pitching.


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 and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 24 August 2013 09:13
Miller, Rosenthal, Wacha and Martinez PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 17 August 2013 00:23

No, that isn’t the name of a prestigious law firm specializing in corporate litigation.

Fantasy baseball players already know those four individuals as Shelby Miller (age 22), Trevor Rosenthal (23), Michael Wacha (21) and Carlos Martinez (21). The quartet is a major reason the St. Louis Cardinals farm system was rated first in Major League Baseball by a number of national raters this spring.

In my day job covering the Cardinals system, I have often been asked about these young starting pitchers. Sometimes, the questions are immediate – as in who to start the next week. Other times, the queries are more keeper-oriented.

The latter is the subject this week. Of course, to get to the future, we must start with the present.

In this season and for the foreseeable future, the names of two pitchers can be inked into St. Louis’ rotation – a pair of 13-game winners to date in ace Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn.

Actually, a third name should be listed, that of the rookie Miller. If not for the fantastic exploits of Yasiel Puig and the amazing resurgence of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cardinals would have their first National League Rookie of the Year since Albert Pujols in 2001.

Despite making noises that he might be able to pitch at this season’s end, Jaime Garcia is almost certainly done for 2013. While the left-hander will be back in 2014, shoulder injuries are dicey. For that reason, I am not counting on Garcia until he demonstrates he can perform.

Right-hander Joe Kelly made 16 starts last season and once again was moved into the 2013 rotation when other alternatives fell by the wayside. Compared to the other options available to the club, Kelly may be returned to the pen in 2014.

Veteran Jake Westbrook began 2013 strongly, but is currently in serious danger of losing his rotation spot. It would not be the first time, as it previously occurred en route to the Cardinals’ 2011 World Championship. A free agent following the season unless a mutual option is exercised, Westbrook almost certainly will not be back next year.

The same fate likely awaits for former Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter. At 38 years of age, the oft-injured warrior is pondering retirement and is not under contract for 2014.

To summarize, the givens in the Cardinals rotation to open 2014 are Wainwright, Lynn and Miller, with Garcia and Kelly as possibilities.

That leaves at most two openings for three talented youngsters.

Earlier in the season, Martinez seemed to hold the edge, shifting to relief to remain in the bigs, only to return to the rotation in Triple-A, then repeating. After 10 relief appearances with St. Louis, “Baby Pedro” Martinez finally made his first MLB start on August 8. Almost immediately after allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings to the current World Series favorite Dodgers, Martinez was returned to Memphis.

A number of observers have seen Martinez’s 100 mph offerings and slight build and suggest late-inning relief might be his eventual destination.

Speaking of late-inning relief, that is the role Rosenthal has played this season. Specifically, the rookie has solidified his spot as the eighth-inning man for manager Mike Matheny. While Rosenthal has the offerings to start and also possesses upper 90’s velocity, his relief success may work against him.

The club could consider him too valuable in relief to let him out of the pen. Though closer Jason Motte is scheduled to return from Tommy John surgery in 2014, current closer Edward Mujica will be free-agent eligible following this season.

Rosenthal was allowed – at least in theory – to compete against Miller and Kelly for the final rotation spot this spring. In reality, as soon as Rosenthal stumbled a bit, he was returned to relief. That could happen again in 2014.

I haven’t even mentioned the young left-handers, starting with Tyler Lyons. Though the 25-year-old has been uneven in seven starts for the Cardinals, he has been steadily improving and very strong in Triple-A. If Garcia cannot answer the bell in 2014, Lyons may be the only available left-hander to compete - unless John Gast is ready following surgery for a torn lat muscle.

That leaves Wacha. The club’s 2012 first-round draft pick from Texas A&M has made four starts for St. Louis, essentially passing Martinez as the club’s unofficial sixth starter. In fact, Wacha has been kept in St. Louis as Martinez was sent down this past week. The explanation is that the organization wants to use the 21-year-old in late-inning, high-leverage situations. They also intend to manage Wacha’s workload carefully.

Coming into 2014, Wacha should be in the driver’s seat to earn a rotation spot in a comparable position as Miller the year before.

In summary, I see Wacha as being the most likely to open in the Cardinals’ 2014 starting five, with Rosenthal perhaps ahead of Martinez and Lyons to compete with Kelly if another rotation opening occurs.

A final note. The club has open questions at shortstop and center field. If the Cardinals are able to swing a trade or two during the off-season, these young starters should be at or very near the top of every potential trade partner's want list.

That route could very possibly be taken to reduce the number of candidates from what in the best case could be ten legitimate competitors for five starting jobs. 


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 and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Sunday, 18 August 2013 11:11
How Did NL Tout Wars Trades Turn Out? PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 10 August 2013 00:00

As regular readers know, each Monday the Mastersball team recaps the free agent acquisitions from the Tout Wars and LABR leagues. The other way anyone - including the industry types who compete in these leagues - can improve their fantasy team is via trades.

In this piece, we will delve into six player(s)-for-player(s) deals made in National League Tout Wars this season. Excluded were sell-offs, in which only FAAB changed hands on one side of the deal.

The selected trades all occurred over a month ago, allowing for some time to have elapsed before evaluating the deals.

Speaking of evaluation, rather than subjecting you to reading my opinions, I asked the principals in each deal to comment directly. They will discuss what they wanted to accomplish in making the trade and whether or not it has achieved its desired effect.

Special thanks go out to my NL Tout peers Tristan H. Cockcroft, Peter Kreutzer, Todd Zola, Chris Liss, Phil Hertz, Derek Carty, Scott Wilderman and Mike Gianella.

Trade 1 – May 1

Chris Liss gets: Ike Davis NYM from Phil Hertz

Phil Hertz gets: Todd Helton Col, Jeff Samardzija ChC from Chris Liss

Liss: “My objective in trading Jeff Samardzija and Todd Helton for Ike Davis was to destroy my batting average for no good reason and give away a valuable surplus trade chip for nothing. I succeeded resoundingly.”

Hertz: “Chris approached me with this one out of the blue and it made sense -- for both of us -- I was near the top in all hitting categories; Chris was near the top in all the pitching categories. I had a dearth of pitching. I also had I'm not sure what you call it -- a premonition, a fear -- but I had a sense that 2013 was not going to work out the same for Ike. Upon making the trade, Samardzija became my ace and while he was better than Ike, he wasn't an ace. Helton was gravy; indeed, he frequently was on reserve over the next couple of months. BTW, I wrote a column on the trade: In any event, I'm happy I made the trade; sorry I didn't try for a better ‘ace’.”

Trade 2 – May 4

Mike Gianella gets: Welington Castillo ChC from Derek Carty

Derek Carty gets: Matt Garza ChC from Mike Gianella

Gianella: “At the time of the trade, I had a rash of injuries and was middle of the pack in offense. I did not expect big things from Castillo, but was expecting similar numbers to last year. Part of my strategy coming in was maximizing all of my points in runs/RBI/HR, and carrying two back-up catchers all year long was not part of the plan. From a raw value perspective, Castillo for Garza seemed like an overpay, but it fit my needs…or would have if Castillo had done anything at all with his PT. Picking up his much more productive caddy, Dioner Navarro, has offset some of the damage, but this trade did not work out.”

Carty: “I had drafted three catchers and was wasting some value by playing one as my UT, so I knew I wanted to trade one no matter what, but my pitching wasn't as strong as hoped with Lincecum not really bouncing back, Mike Fiers crapping the bed, and Shaun Marcum being out longer than expected.  Garza was still expected to be out like another month, but I think I was gaining a couple bucks on pure value plus it helped me needs-wise (which isn't always a big consideration that early in the year but still something I wanted to address). I'm not in love with Texas as Garza's new home, but the trade definitely accomplished what I wanted and seems like a win in retrospect.”

Trade 3 – May 15

Todd Zola gets: Marco Scutaro SF from Phil Hertz

Phil Hertz gets: Kenley Jansen LAD from Todd Zola

Zola: “I felt I had a competitive pitching staff but with overachievers like Eric Stults and Jeff Locke I didn't have strength from which to trade. On the other hand, I wasn't sitting them either so Kenley Jansen was on my bench most weeks and that was with my using an 11th pitcher as a swingman."

“On the other side of the ledger, I was falling behind in counting stats with Aramis Ramirez being hurt, Josh Rutledge struggling and saying ‘Alex Gonzalez, $1’ instead of ‘Yuniesky Betancourt, $1.’

“At the time, it was fairly certain Jansen would be the closer. He just had not officially been named yet, so I decided to test the market."

“Phil's offer of Scutaro made some sense as it addressed a position of need from a value standpoint. At that time, they were comparable."

“The key is at that time, since Jansen as a closer should fetch more. So I had to balance falling further behind with waiting and getting a better hitter. I went with the bird-in-hand path and accepted Scutaro even up.”

Hertz: “I think Peter nailed this in a write-up at the time. Scutaro was essentially a one-category player -- batting average -- and I had suitable alternatives: Rollins, Walker, DeLemahieu.  Indeed I've got Rendon at UT right now.  Jansen wasn't quite the closer yet, but as Todd put it at the time of the trade: worse case scenario, I was getting a lot of help in ERA and WHIP. From today's vantage point, I got a lot more.”

Trade 4 – June 23  

Peter Kreutzer gets: Jay Bruce Cin from Tristan H. Cockcroft

Tristan H. Cockcroft gets: Cliff Lee Phi from Peter Kreutzer

Kreutzer: “I knew coming out of the draft that I was a little thin in power, but I felt that because I had a strong staff and the potential for some saves points, I would be able to focus on adding offense via FAAB."

“As we moved into summer, injuries to Angel Pagan and Ryan Sweeney undid whatever gains I had been able to make. My closer, Fujikawa, had died an early death. I really needed to add a power hitter. At that point, I wasn't shooting for the big prize, but felt that because I had some extra wins I could trade Cliff Lee and not take too big a hit."

“It just so happened that at the same time Tristan Cockcroft was shopping hitting for pitching. I suggested Lee for Bruce, Lynn for Howard or Capuano for B.J. Upton. He wrote back, 'Let's do Bruce for Lee (fitting).'

“I wrote back, 'Let's do some jujitsu. Game on.'

“My offense still stinks, but it has been better than it was, and while my pitching has taken a hit thus far, since the trade it is performing better overall. And I think it has the potential for some big weeks, at least in my dreams.”

Cockcroft: “Both of my trades were simple sales of power -- I had a healthy HR lead and my projections said I'd maintain it even with the sale of as many as 50 of them -- to address other needs."

“Bruce-for-Lee came first, and that was an attempt to boost my pitching -- wins and K's, specifically -- having seen an opportunity to score some extra points there. Peter came to me with the Lee offer, and it trumped some of the others I had available at the time.”

Trade 5 – June 28

Mike Gianella gets: Jordany Valdespin NYM from Phil Hertz

Phil Hertz gets: Wilmer Flores NYM from Mike Gianella

Gianella: “Like Phil, I did not think that Flores was going to get called up based on multiple notes from a number of beat writers. I wasn't supremely confident in Valdespin getting the call, but liked his power/speed combo, and was hoping to squeeze a point or two out of steals if/when Valdespin got called up. It obviously didn't work out, but I was on the verge of cutting Flores anyway so it's hard to feel too bad about this one.”

Hertz: “I was about to cut Jordany when Mike contacted me. I think he needed a middle infielder (and like many of us, he was hoping for the playing time that never materialized).  I believe he included 2 FAAB dollars, which was why I made the trade. Unfortunately, roster crunches materialized (and I believed the NYC media that indicated he wouldn't be called up) and I eventually decided to cut Flores. As of this morning, I'm not happy I did that.”

Trade 6 – July 5

Tristan H. Cockcroft gets: Ben Revere Phi from Scott Wilderman

Scott Wilderman gets: Ryan Howard Phi from Tristan H. Cockcroft

Cockcroft: “Howard-for-Revere was just a disaster. Scott came to me with that one, and with some worries that Howard might sit a few games now and then -- the Aramis Ramirez early-year treatment -- down the stretch, I decided to trade him, too, for some steals. You know the rest of the story: Howard went on the DL two days later, was headed for surgery a couple days after that, and Revere fouled a ball that broke his foot within the week. Just a nightmare trade all around. Thanks, Phillies!”

Wilderman: “I knew at the draft that I needed to trade speed for power -- I just never got a deal together, and it was getting really, really late. I had Marte, Cabrera and Revere to deal, and was close to having something worked out involving Marte and Cabrera. I was (I thought) about to get Matt Kemp back, and I believed in my struggling pitchers (Cain, Miley and Hudson), so the logical play was Revere for as much power as possible, eating any pretense of speed and also batting average if need be. Tristan was about the only guy with power to spare, and while I knew I was taking a gamble with Howard, that move seemed to have the most possible upside. Didn't work out, did it? Then came the Hudson injury and then the word on Kemp's very slow recovery.  Oh well.”

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 and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Monday, 12 August 2013 12:33
Stretching the FAAB Dollar PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 03 August 2013 07:44

I admit that in recent weeks, I have had free agent allocation budget, or FAAB, on the brain. The reason why is simple. In my most important league, National League Tout Wars – and in fact in most every industry league in which I have ever competed – making trades are extremely time-consuming and difficult.

Given the two primary methods of improving one’s roster is via trade and free agency, if the former is diminished in importance, it stands to reason that the latter becomes even more prominent.

In terms of the basics of FAAB management, there are a variety of theories. Some believe that spending early will provide the greatest benefit. After all, it only makes sense that the longer your team receives the positive benefit of a good acquisition, the better your results in the standings should be.

However, there are several big assumptions inherent in the above statement. One is that the player can be FAABed at a fair value. Another is that he actually delivers on his promise.

One owner in NL Tout, Chris Liss of Rotowire, spent heavily early on pitching and landed a couple of solid performers. Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani ($52) and Jose Fernandez of Miami ($22) joined his roster in April.

In a very common approach, others hold back on using their FAAB, hoping to hold the most money at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Of course, this is only relevant in single-league formats and then, one has to be in the right place at the right time with the most cash.

To date in 2013, most of the early selling across MLB has been from the Chicago Cubs to the American League (Matt Garza to Texas and Alfonso Soriano to the Yankees). National League owners are still waiting for their chance to spend crazily.

In Tout Wars, there is an additional twist that FAAB can be traded. In an initiative to improve in ERA and WHIP, Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ has been dealing off his starting pitchers. In deals big and small (Taylor Jordan for $2, Carlos Martinez for $8), Hertz is also accumulating a considerable war chest of cash.

After dealing Jeff Samardzija ($25 in a multi-player deal) and Julio Teheran ($28) in the last two weeks, Hertz has added $65 of FAAB, catapulting him to the second-highest total in the league.

Hertz also added $9 by turning in Pittsburgh’s Wandy Rodriguez just before the break.

That is where my strategy comes in.

I came into this and every season with the intent to spend early, but wisely. The latter is my personal challenge as I may not have been aggressive enough.

For example, on Cingrani, I outbid five other owners by offering $32, but still came in third. Instead of taking a chance on the unproven but highly promising Fernandez in week one, I placed double-digit bids on mediocrities Kevin Slowey and Tyson Ross.

With just over half my FAAB money remaining in mid-July, I was firmly on the uncomfortable middle ground. I had not spent as much as I hoped, nor did I have enough remaining to be a trade-deadline factor.

This is the regular spot in my column in which I remind you to not be like me. While it is therapeutic to a point to write about one’s missteps, the hope is that you do not fall in the same traps.

Since a key element of my draft day strategy was to focus on reasonable injury risks, it only made sense to continue the approach in-season. Therefore, I decided to grab as many FAAB reclaim players as possible – if they seemed to have a reasonable chance of returning this season.

Along with the aforementioned Wandy Rodriguez, for whom I paid $2 on the rebound, I also added Milwaukee hurler Marco Estrada and Phillies' outfielder Ben Revere for $1 each. I tried to acquire but missed out on the Mets’ Jonathon Niese, when a $1 bid would have been enough to turn the trick.

This past week, I added James McDonald, another of the Pirates injured hurlers, for $1.

Further, perhaps in an attempt to double down on a questionable move on draft day, I kept Roy Halladay instead of reclaiming $15 FAAB. Other injured pitchers on my roster include Trevor Cahill, Ross Detwiler and Chris Carpenter.

The downside is that each of those newly-FAABed-while-injured players had to spend a week on my active roster before being placed on the unlimited-in-size disabled list.

The way I look at it is this. Even if only one or two of these guys make it back, the minimal investment would make it worthwhile. I do not know if I can mount a challenge to the league leaders in the final two months, but I expect to continue to improve in the pitching categories.

If this approach of digging through other owners’ rejects does not sicken you (and it is possible within your league rules, of course), consider it as a viable way to stretch your FAAB to the max.

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 and Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 August 2013 08:17
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