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Sunday 17th Dec 2017

With a column title like “Articles of Configuration”, it would only stand to reason that I am an individual who tries to closely understand the rules of each league in which I compete. I am not a lawyer, but more than a few of my competitors are.

While keeping on top of everything is an even bigger challenge when playing in varied formats, as many of us do, it still behooves one to be aware as possible. It also provides the opportunity to port the best ideas from one league to another.

When you find loopholes or areas in your league rules that could use clarification or improving, don’t wait until the off-season to take action. Document the issue and ensure it is logged for the period when changes are opened up for the next season.

To that end, I strongly recommend constitution changes be considered at the end of this baseball season, not the start of next. Sure, people are busy with football and the like, but far too often, good update ideas are forgotten months later, only for the root problem to be stumbled upon again the next year.

In Tout Wars, I am currently pushing for two rules changes related to free agent allocation budget (FAAB) reclaim. The basic concept is that when a player is deemed out for the season, his owner can receive a rebate for the price paid for him, whether at draft time or as a free agent, at the rate of 100 percent if injured before the break and 50 percent after. That money can be added to one’s current FAAB balance for use in bidding on free agents.

A problem in past years was the uncertainty of a player supposedly being “out for the year.” At times, players managed to return against the odds late in the season, yet their managers had already received FAAB reclaim and often had already spent the money. This risk was addressed in the Tout constitution two ways.

First, it was decided the player must be placed on the 60-day disabled list to be eligible for FAAB reclaim. Second, when the FAAB request is granted, the player is immediately returned to the free agent pool. If someone else wants to gamble on the chance the player might return to action later, he can bid accordingly.

While the 60-day DL criterion is clear and removes ambiguity, it is also arbitrary and often not used at all. Clubs cannot place a player on the 60-day DL until their 40-man roster is full. As a result, FAAB still cannot be reclaimed for many players despite them clearly being out for the season.

An example is Milwaukee’s Gregg Zaun, out since May following shoulder surgery that is not only season-ending, but also career-threatening. Because the Brewers’ 40-man roster has been and remains below the limit, Zaun has sat on the 15-day DL the entire time. That means no FAAB reclaim for his owner, me.

Further, as I noted above, the way the Tout rules are currently defined, an owner receives full FAAB reimbursement when a player hits the 60-day DL prior to the All-Star break, but only half thereafter. In my example, even though Zaun has been useless for almost the entire season, if he was to be placed on the 60-day tomorrow, I would receive only half my investment.

What I have proposed instead is to make the determination of the amount due based on when the player was first placed on the DL, but still not payable until such time he hits the 60-day DL. Initial feedback from the Tout Wars board has been positive regarding this proposed change.

Back to the arbitrary 60-day DL designation with another example, also close to home. When it became clear that misbehaving Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez injured his hand punching his father-in-law and would require season-ending surgery as a result, the club took immediate action.

Instead of placing K-Rod on the 60-day DL, where he would be paid, the team put him on the restricted list. Just as if he was on the 60-day DL, Rodriguez has been removed from the Mets’ 40-man roster.

Unfortunately for me but not surprisingly, the Tout constitution did not anticipate this odd situation. It states the 60-day DL is mandatory for FAAB reclaim, so I am out of luck getting anything back for losing K-Rod at this time.

I have formally recommended the restricted list be added to the FAAB reclaim wording in the Tout constitution for 2011 and beyond. It has generally been agreed among the Tout board that the K-Rod situation does fall under the original intent of the reclaim process.

It is doubly bad for me in that despite K-Rod clearly being injured and out for the season, I cannot move him to my Tout DL, thereby saving a roster spot. Again, the constitution’s wording is very clear about the disabled list, with no mention of restricted list.

Instead, I have to decide whether to burn one of my four reserve slots on waiting to see if K-Rod asks for an appeal and subsequently loses it. Then he would probably move to the 60-day DL. In that case, I could finally reclaim FAAB. On the other hand, if I waive Rodriguez now, I would lose all rights to potential future FAAB recovery.

To see the Tout Wars constitution, click here.

Remember to get those needed changes locked down now in your leagues and best of luck in your races the rest of the way!

Brian Walton is the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 12-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC last season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com.


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