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Friday 19th Jan 2018

Two weeks ago, I wrote about changes that had been made to the Tout Wars constitution in recent years. These moves were intended to release extra players into the free agent pool, increasing options for all participants.

Previously, I touched on an area to which I’d like to return in more detail. It relates to the size of the reserve portion of our rosters, reduced from six players to four, and specifically actions owners have deployed to leverage those spots.

I am talking about the proactive use of the disabled list. That’s right. At times you can leverage the DL before your players are actually hurt.

When I mentioned a proposal from one Tout warrior to eliminate the DL entirely, I suspect he may have been concerned more about how players get there rather than the unlimited size of the list itself.

In addition to having the ability to move newly-injured players onto the Tout DL any day of the season, having this alternative has led to what may seem like unusual anticipatory moves at times.

For example, on draft day, I selected two players known to be sidelined for at least the initial third of the season in St. Louis ace Chris Carpenter and Philadelphia slugger Ryan Howard. I specifically targeted them as players whose draft-day costs could prove to be a bargain – if I could be patient and fate would be on my side.

As soon as we reached the first transaction period, I was able to bench the two. I had already selected reserve round players with a specific eye toward filling those immediate gaps.

I slid Atlanta’s Matt Diaz into my active lineup and the Mets’ Daniel Murphy into the first base slot for Howard. To backfill Carpenter, I created a choice between the Astros’ Jordan Lyles and the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey. Neither was initially helpful, however. Pelfrey just couldn’t be trusted and was never started by me before his season ended prematurely due to injury. Lyles was assigned to Triple-A to start the season, was recalled for one spot start, then returned to Triple-A.

In fact, Lyles then moved to the second category on my mind, about which I will cover next time – using reserve spots for minor leagues not currently in the majors.

A week into the season, the first FAAB period enabled me to acquire two incremental replacement players. Though the two were considerably lesser quality by definition, it allowed me to speculate on a couple of potential future closers and plug the Carpenter-turned Lyles/Pelfrey gap.

Obviously, this strategy means my team is bound to struggle early with so much salary unavailable. In fact, due to these draft selections and other injured players, I have just $216 of value active. That is the lowest total in the league. I have to hope I can make up the ground later on.

Other National League players drafted by other Tout owners with this thought in mind include Braves pitcher Tim Hudson, Colorado’s Jorge De La Rosa, shortstop Stephen Drew of Arizona, second baseman Chase Utley of Philly and outfielder Allen Craig of St. Louis. Their owners are in line to receive a nice boost as these players come off the disabled list.

This approach isn’t limited to draft day, however. When the Detroit Tigers recently disclosed that catcher/first baseman Victor Martinez’ knee injury may not be season-ending after all, multiple owners in both American League and Mixed Tout were all over V-Mart. Though the winning bidders had to activate Martinez the next week only, these owners can then shift Martinez to the disabled list and wait out his return. There is no further penalty but considerable upside.

A variant on this theme was the owner who spent just $1 for the opportunity to collect Roy Oswalt’s stats – when he signs – or should I more accurately say “if” he signs with a National League club. A similar reserve round gamble on Johnny Damon failed in this league when the outfielder signed with Cleveland.

In reality, the Oswalt/Damon approach is more suitable for next week’s topic, which is speculation that costs a roster spot.

Your league rules will obviously dictate whether or not you can use similar approaches to these. If not this year, think about proposing constitutional changes to liberalize the use of your league’s disabled list starting in 2013.

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 and in-season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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