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Friday 15th Dec 2017

One thing about playing in industry leagues like Tout Wars - in which I compete in the National League variety - is that one’s competitors do not miss a trick.

I mean that in the most positive way from the perspective that when an opportunity is presented, someone is all over it. If you don’t react quickly, the door will be closed by a competitor.

Such was the case this past week in NL Tout and unfortunately, I was one of the group left on the outside.

With no assurance that high-quality players will be entering the league this year at the trade deadline, consistent winning pitchers like the Dodgers’ Ted Lilly are rarely found on the waiver wire.

Yet that is what happened this week. Roto Think Tank’s Mike Gianella was one of four Tout owners to bid on the still-disabled LA lefty. Though shoulder problems are always concerning, Gianella’s $10 investment could pay off handsomely.

It pains me to admit that I did not know Lilly was an eligible free agent, so obviously, I was not among the bidders. My team is in serious need of the kind of pitching a healthy Lilly would deliver.

I am not sure I would have gone $10 of my remaining $14, but perhaps I should have. After all, Gianella didn’t worry about that. He withdrew his entire FAAB balance on his Lilly gambit.

My missing out exposed a flaw in my weekly free agent analysis process. Tout’s stats provider, OnRoto, is excellent. It is the most comprehensive system I have seen. However, it also has some quirks. All the information one needs is probably available – if one knows where to look.

I check available free agents, sorted by at-bats or innings-pitched for the week. That does not take into account minor leaguers and those players currently out of action. Both of the latter groups are FAAB-eligible.

To see players waived the week before, I had referred to the league’s bidding report. The loophole I missed was that dropped players do not have to be identified at the time bids are placed. They can be released after bidding and before the first game of the week. Those players do not show on the bidding report.

That is how I overlooked Lilly. He wasn’t appearing in either of the places I regularly look for free agents. Now I know I need to consume the detailed transaction logs as well.

The left-hander had been selected on draft day by Phil Hertz of BaseballHQ with a winning bid of $16. Lilly has been on the Dodgers’ 15-day disabled list since May 28 with shoulder irritation. Last week, Hertz took advantage of a rules change in 2012 which allows an owner to reclaim FAAB for any player on the 15-day DL and return him to the free agent pool.

In the past, only 60-day DL players were eligible for this capability. It was a frustrating problem when a club with a player who may have been out for the year didn’t need the 40-man roster space so didn’t put their injured player on the 60-day. That unfairly tied up the salary paid by his Tout owner, so the new rules change is good. I just missed out on an opportunity to benefit.

Hertz’ view in cashing out versus waiting for Lilly to return was that the pitcher remains a major unknown. After all, shoulders are dicey and at the point Lilly was returned to the pool, he had yet to throw a baseball.

Further, Hertz had a plan. He used that $16 to vault over two competitors to the top of the League’s FAAB balance list at $88. Hertz acknowledged that the potential of a Kevin Youkilis trade into the NL was in the back of his mind.

Though Youk went to the White Sox, remaining in the American League, another month remains for Hertz to bag his choice of players entering the NL. Gianella at worst risked $10 on a shot at getting a lot more from Lilly.

The bottom line for you is to make sure you are considering every angle, the ramifications of every transaction and every rules change. In other words, do as I say instead of as I do!


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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