It’s not wise to walk into your auction without a specific game plan.

Jason Grey passes along a handful of different methods fantasy owners could use on auction day. – ESPN
This is a really sound introduction to approaches to the auction. If you haven’t played in an auction league, or if you haven’t had success in an auction league, Jason lays out some solid approaches. Forget about Labadini, however. It was kooky but not sustainable.

Top Earning Pitchers with No Bid Price

I’m working on this week’s update for the Patton $ Software and Data and found a category that might be of interest. These are the pitchers that neither Alex nor Michael have put bid prices on, who I have given the highest valued projections. I guess this is really a reflection of my prejudices this year filtered by Alex and Mike’s bids. If they think they’ll be around on draft day they aren’t on this list:

  • Tommy Hunter, TEX
  • Ben Sheets, FA (Texas likely)
  • Wade Davis, TB
  • Jeff Neimann, TB
  • Daryl Thompson, CIN
  • Ian Kenneday, NYA
  • Kevin Mulvey, MIN
  • Jon Niese, NYN
  • Tommy Hanson, ATL
  • Anthony Swarzak, MIN
  • Kyle McClellan, STL
  • Casey Janssen, TOR
  • Dustin Mosely, ANA
  • Eduardo Morlan, TB

Make of this what you will. Or can.

BP NL LABR Team

 FakeTeams

This is kind of an odd post, since it’s a faketeams.com listing of Clay Davenport’s LABR draft. The big Fantasmagoria issue of Sports Weekly is coming this week, with all the LABR prices, but until then it’s interesting watching the individual teams dribble out.

My only question (and the reason I post this) is why Fake Teams would stop buying catchers at par (no bump up for position scarcity) if they got one?

The beauty of what Clay did here lies in the demonstration of  what happens when you spend you money on Catchers and Corners. It isn’t obvious that this team is a winner, in large part because the pitching needs help every which way, but it isn’t obvious that going to the extreme screwed things up, either.

There are lots of reasons this won’t end the argument. Try small sample size, for one. But it is a mock-draft-like demonstration of the benefits and costs of approaching the game a certain way.

Fantasy Baseball internet radio by Jeff Erickson

BlogTalkRadio

In about 45 minutes I’ll be on Jeff Erickson’s Fantasy Focus radio show, on blogtalkradio.com. I’ll let you guess what we’re going to talk about. If you get here late, the program is also a podcast, which should live on forever. Classic.

Here’s the show:

We had decided to talk about wonky subjects, which was fine by me. I’m resistent to the whole “who’s your best sleeper” approach to the radio. I have a few elaborations.

In NL and AL only leagues position scarcity gets figured in if you properly price your players using the proper pool. That is, you give everyone their relative price and you find that you only have 10 positive values for catchers, and you need 24/26. You delete all the other players with positive and negative values who aren’t catchers, until the 24/26 catchers are in your pool, and then reallocate the money, making the last catcher worth a buck. Catchers alone don’t get all the benefit of scarcity.

The same holds true in Mixed Leagues, but there are two differences. It’s much harder to draw the line at the bottom, so it’s a little haphazard who makes the draft list and who doesn’t when the catchers are added. And, mixed league prices aren’t linear, so the best players get paid more for being reliable and better than the abundantly replaceable players in the middle and bottom. So the best catchers’ prices go up because they’re the best, period, as well as because they’re catchers. I’m not sure how you would go about quantifying this. I guess aggregated real world results compared to linear prices would get you part way.

As to rules, I don’t have a dog in any rules fight. I think players should play a game that satisfies them and makes them happy. It’s fine if you want to promote dump trading, and it is equally fine to squelch it. I discuss different rules and wrinkles with an eye to solving problems people are having in their leagues, which doesn’t make them happy.

The sleepers I wrote down before the show were Cincinnati’s Ramon Ramirez and the Cardinals’ Joe Mather. You can find more at pattonandco.com.

Rotisserie Concepts Done Right!

Roto Think Tank

Mike Gianella knows a lot about rotisserie baseball and the way it should be played. He’s kind of like one of those old timey coaches, with a chaw in his jaw, a calculator in his pocket, and the good sense not to contradict either. I’ve written about Roto Think Tank before, but reading some recent posts today reminds me about just how sensible Mike is.

He doesn’t think much of position scarcity, but when he’s allocating bid prices he tends to favor the catchers and shortstops of similar value, since they’re harder to replace. That sort of thing.

I wouldn’t say that Mike is breaking much new ground, but in a world where the old ground is continually being ploughed under, there is a great virtue to clear writing and solid ideas, well explicated. (Note: Mike writes for The Fantasy Guide, too.)

This Year, Patton $ in Cheaper Data Only Format, Available Now!

The Patton $ 2009 page

The link takes you to the information and ordering page for Patton $ Software and this year’s new product: The Data Only for Less!

For the many who use the software to prepare their own projections and prices, make their bid lists, and run their auction or draft, the price remains the same: $30. Click the buttons on the left side of the page, if you want to buy.

For the others, who have paid the $30 for the data only, in text and Excel formats, this year we’re offering the projections and bid prices for $15. Click the buttons on the right side of the page, if you want to buy.

Software owners will be able to access the data files from the software download page.

For those unfamiliar with the product, a visit to the Patton $ Software and Data information and ordering page, will answer many questions. Or ask a question here in the comments.

The Myth of Buy Low, Sell High by Peter O’Neil

(Peter O’Neil will be contributing fantasy baseball columns from time to time.)

In early May fantasy guru Ron Shandler published a list of 10 hot starters, among them Fred Lewis and Kyle Lohse, and proposed trading them for another 10 out-of-the-gate stumblers. That list included fantasy favorites Robinson Cano and Roy Oswalt.

“I am trading away 28 HRs and a .355 batting average for 8 HRs and a .172 batting average. Heading out is a 1.94 ERA; coming in is a 5.61 ERA. I’d have to be completely out of my mind, right?” Shandler wrote on his baseballhq.com site.

“We’ll check back in October.”

The point of this column was to wisely and usefully stress the importance of being patient with slow starters. He was also urging subscribers to follow the old stock market adage: Buy low, sell high, which he said is not something “that fantasy leaguers do easily.”

Really? As an owner of red-hot Fred Lewis at the time, I began a thread on his website¹s forum under the title of this column ­ The Myth of Buy Low, Sell High.

“I can’t count how many times in the last two weeks I’ve floated Lewis’s name in trade talks. Zero interest. If anyone took him it would be as a throw-in,” I wrote.

“You regularly see on this and other sites a reference to a player: Sell high; to another, Buy low.
But where are all the guys doing these deals? It reminds me of a saying from high school I once heard: Everyone is getting laid except the girls. In my experience these trades almost never happen. And when they do, and the results are as predicted, that newby has learned his lesson and never does it again. The shark who pulled off the heist gets a bad reputation and it
becomes harder and harder for him to make deals.

“So in fact I suspect that at minimum nine owners out of 10 would take the team of established stars, like Oswalt and Cano, over the other list.”

The debate began with someone helpfully explaining that curious imbalance I noted involving high school boys and girls: “Guys were getting sex hand over fist.”

As the debate turned more serious, several agreed with my point. The classic buy-low, sell-high trade “still doesn’t happen in my league. Ever,” one poster wrote.

“Candidates you think you can ‘sell high’ are perceived by everyone else as players that will revert to their original projections. Candidates you think you can ‘buy low’ are held by their owners because they’re just slumping.”

Another poster was one of several who argued that my basic “myth” argument was flawed.
“Nearly every day, I read of a lopsided trade completed by a poster on these forums that provides a counter-example to the notion that buy low, sell high trades are only a myth. Some of us say it isn’t happening in our leagues, but clearly it happens in many leagues.”

The last post I’ll cite came from someone who also challenged my argument, but also made the point that is fundamental in this debate. “With the internet making all sorts of secondary stats easily available as well as tons of expert analyses, owners are smarter than they have been in
the past. And most of us are hardcore-type rotogeeks who choose not to play in leagues with unsophisticated owners, anyway.”

So I considered these responses in early May as I started crafting an earlier draft of this column which led to the final product you¹re reading now. I made the point that one might have to start being counter-intuitive and contemplate taking advantage of the fact that hot starters’ values are
discounted, while the slow-starting superstars like Miguel Cabrera are always assumed to be on the verge of a huge breakout.

“If your player has started slowly, and you see a valid reason to question whether touts were right to hand him such lofty projections, it might not hurt to put feelers out that you’re ready to trade,” I wrote.

“You should have absolute faith that with quality players, the sharks will smell blood when think they have a shot at getting these players at 50 cents on the dollar. You shouldn’t sell them that low, but it may indeed be a wise move to trade at a slight discount or even no discount at all ­ particularly if it means getting back break-out player who might not turn out to be a
flop after all.”

Early in the 2007 season, when Michael Young was off to a miserable start and I was desperate for a shortstop, I offered to the owner my recently-acquired free agents who had started strong ­ Josh Hamilton and closer Al Reyes. I also gave him Juan Uribe, but he could have easily
received my struggling Troy Tulowitzki had he just asked. I was going to waive Tulo but instead, after the Young trade, dealt him for a useless middle reliever.

This was a classic buy-low (Young’s price presumably being deflated) and sell-high (I paid next to nothing for these three players). In fact, it turned out that I gave away a closer and an emerging stud OF in exchange for a modest downgrade at SS. Even then I had to twist the guy’s arm to give up Young, his third-round pick.

My point here is that even when you get someone to agree to a deal like this, you always have to discount severely the current value and future potential of your hot starters in order to overcome the overwhelming skepticism about April surprises. Everyone recognizes a buy-low, sell-high
deal and the last thing anyone wants is to be fingered by leaguemates as the Nervous Nellie who panicked and sold a costly pick to the league shark.

So you have to seriously wonder if it’s better to be on the sell-low side of the ledger sometimes. More recently I read of a sell low trade in which someone dealt slow-starting Corey Hart in early May for Casey Kotchman and George Sherrill. But did he really sell low? Hart started slowly in the power department, raising doubts about pre-season projections of a 25-25 or 30-30
season, though has recently picked up the pace. Still, I think the Hart owner got close to full value: ­ a closer and a solid emerging first baseman. Hart has only had one great season in the bigs, and the 2007 year was powered by two huge months.

Then in mid-May baseballhq.com managing editor Ray Murphy produced a column titled: Buy High, Sell Low.

“The advice is ubiquitous at this time of year, both here and at other sites: ‘He’s a good buy-low candidate.’ ‘Sell high while you can,’ Murphy wrote.

“Some would say the words have lost all meaning, as executing this strategy is now impossible in all but the most elementary of leagues,” he said, citing the thread I started.

Murphy, who had never been exposed to my unpublished argument about the potential wisdom of selling low, suggested that owners consider turning the strategy “on its ear” and went on to identify “buy high” candidates whose fast starts were indeed legitimate, including Kerry Wood. (Potentially, and this is my point rather than his, these buy-high candidates could come at a
slight discount because owners might have their own doubts about the players’ ability to sustain their current performance level.)

Murphy’s readers were also advised to consider “selling low” on some slow starters that he didn’t think have either the skills or opportunity to turn it around, like HQ spring training favorite Jason Kubel.

So is buy low, sell high really a myth? Not completely. We¹re all human, so many of us are prone to eventually getting impatient with an underperformer, making us more inclined to sell. And it’s natural to become euphoric when a sleeper pick emerges as an April-May all-star. These emotions remain dynamics in any trade considerations, just as fear and greed will always be
factors in the stock market.

But I think it’s important not to beat yourself up because a fantasy expert declares smugly that it’s too late, you¹ve missed a golden opportunity to sell high on or buy low on a particular player. Because increasingly that opportunity isn’t really there, or isn’t particularly golden if it is.

-30-

(Peter O¹Neil, who covers Europe from Paris for a Canadian news agency, is a
former stock market columnist for the Financial Times of Canada. He won the
2007 Rotoman¹s Regulars non-keeper title and is multiple winner of the Brian
Baskin¹s Fantasy Baseball Pool based in Ottawa.)

Zola has little patience in mixed leagues

Tout Wars: CBSSports.comMany Tout Wars players are writing weekly columns this year, which are published at CBS Sportsline. Todd Zola’s gem this week has the best definition of deep and shallow leagues you are ever likely to read. He also does a good job explaining how to differentiate between a slump and bad luck, and why that matters in a shallow mixed league. 

Walt Jocketty and the Search for Golden Arms

Squawking Baseball

This somewhat rambling analysis of how to stock your pitching staff (if you’re a major league GM) strikes me as very smart. Don’t pay a lot because you need a lot. Pay a little because if you take enough small chances you can find a lot in the pool.

I think we need some real studies of what happens (namely, where the good pitchers on good teams came from) to buy into this fully, but given Rany’s survey of drafts it makes total sense to me that the best investment is in hitters.

And certainly major league teams are going this way now.

Play Like the Pros: And in the end… – Fantasy Baseball

ESPN

One of the roto writing highlights this year was Nando DiFino’s Play Like the Pros column at ESPN. Given the task of covering the stultifying business of expert league waiver claims he found wit and insight by the barrelfuls. The season’s last entry is a compilation of what the rest of us had to say about our mostly miserable seasons.  Not as witty or insightful perhaps, but a measure of what some of us think made or broke our teams this year.