Captain's Log

Rookie Drafts in 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
One of the best things about keeper or dynasty fantasy football leagues is the draft of the new kids on the block – last year’s college football stars who were drafted in May.

ADP from mock drafts is largely irrelevant in my opinion, so I thought I would give you the results of one from this week. Now I know that many of you who play in these leagues have already done yours. But I also know that several people have drafts coming up.

This is a 12-team, PPR league with starting lineups of QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, Flex, K, and DST.

1.01 Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo
1.02 Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay
1.03 Brandin Cooks, WR, New Orleans
1.04 Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco
1.05 Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Carolina
1.06 Bishop Sankey, RB, Tennessee
1.07 Jordan Matthews, WR, Philadelphia
1.08 Terrance West, RB, Cleveland
1.09 Odell Beckham, WR, New York Giants
1.10 Devonta Freeman, RB, Atlanta
1.11 Tre Mason, RB, St. Louis
1.12 Eric Ebron, TE, Detroit
2.01 Davante Adams, WR, Green Bay
2.02 Cody Latimer, WR, Denver
2.03 Marqise Lee, WR, Jacksonville
2.04 Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Minnesota
2.05 Jeremy Hill, RB, Cincinnati
2.06 Johnny Manziel, QB, Cleveland
2.07 Allen Robinson, WR, Jacksonville
2.08 Andre Williams, RB, New York Giants
2.09 Donte Moncrief, WR, Indianapolis
2.10 Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay
2.11 Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Tampa Bay
2.12 Blake Bortles, QB, Jacksonville
3.01 Jace Amaro, TE, New York Jets
3.02 Khiry Robinson, RB, New Orleans (free agents included)
3.03 Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City
3.04 James White, New England
3.05 Troy Niklas, TE, Arizona
3.06 John Brown, WR, Arizona
3.07 Jerick McKinnon, RB, Minnesota
3.08 Lache Seastrunk, RB, Washington
3.09 Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland
3.10 Paul Richardson, WR, Seattle
3.11 Martavis Bryant, WR, Pittsburgh
3.12 Dexter McCluster, RB, Tennessee

Last Updated on Friday, 15 August 2014 08:15
August & September - The Final Push PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 00:00

At least in AL and NL-only leagues, trade deadlines either should have come or gone or perhaps have one more week before they are done.

Not only does that parallel the MLB non-waiver trade deadline but it gets us to the final third of the season on a level playing field – you won’t have a competitor able to make another deal to surprise you. On the other hand, you won’t be able to surprise them. Everyone can duke it out with the rosters they have now and the few free agents that might be available.

And that is the way it should be, having most of two months without outside influences. Those leagues that have an August 31 or September 1 trade deadline should really rethink this and move it back a month.

Now we are down to the pennant races.

Or if you aren’t competing to win the league, you are hopefully finishing in the money.

August, even with some tired players, at least continues with pretty much the same players we have seen all year. Yes, the Cubs just called up Javier Baez, who will likely man second base with Starlin Castro having a good year. This will push Arismendy Alcantara to the outfield – likely centerfield – but both should be in the Chicago lineup every day…and if you are lucky, in yours.

As the month goes on, you need to be very careful to see which teams are conducting “tryouts.” All well and good for their organization but not good for your fantasy teams if you are counting on those players being in the lineup in September.

Roster expansion in the major leagues on September 1 can be a land mine for your existing warriors, but it can also provide some players to help if you have lost some at-bats.

Most pitchers coming up in September won’t affect rotations. Rather, they will be extra arms in the bullpen. Whether long or short assignments, they shouldn’t affect your closers or good starters. But be very careful to watch each pitcher’s team so you aren’t surprised.

Many fantasy baseball leagues have September Roster Expansion, where teams who are competing pay $50 into the league prize pool and can add a 24th player, usually by just activating one of their reserves, but of course it could be a free agent pickup. This could be a tenth pitcher or a second UT as a 15th hitter, and teams can vary that in their weekly lineup. This is particularly helpful in leagues with a salary cap (which all auction leagues should have), as that extra player won’t count against the cap.

My AL-only league, like many mono leagues, has some rules in place to prevent teams in the second division from sneaking minor league players onto their rosters when they really should be in the minor league draft next March. While normal free agents have a 10F14 contract, we change that in September to 25F14 so that we maintain the integrity of the minor league pricing structure.

Maybe something your league should look at.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:50
Early Fantasy Football Draft Thoughts PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 30 July 2014 00:00

Drafting before training camps are into their second week and before any pre-season games is not exactly going off half-cocked, but you are without a lot of information you want in your head or on paper before your high stakes draft.

While mock drafts can be very helpful for introductory prep, they are worthless for high stakes players unless you have a dedicated group of like-minded players, have exactly the right number, and can do it pretty much in real time or perhaps by e-mail with commentary. That is hard to find. I did it for baseball and it was excellent but there is a much smaller number of quality fantasy football drafters and they are harder to corral and less likely to willingly share. Far more important for the better players are the affordable leagues with real opponents where you have the opportunity to hone your draft strategy and learn what others are thinking at the same time.

I have done and seen a number of these but most of the observations I am sharing today are coming from a current Rotobowl slow draft league. This contest has a reasonably low entry ($279) with a very high grand prize lure ($50,000). Sort of like the FBGPC in football or the Rotowire Online Championship in both baseball and football. The key would be that it is a 12-team league that is using the exact same lineup and scoring parameters as the Fantasy Football World Championships (FFWC) which Greg Morgan and I will be in Las Vegas to compete in the first week of the NFL season.

So we decided to do a “slow” Rotobowl league online so we could discuss players and draft strategy in a real context with plenty of time. The slow drafts in most contests are an eight hour clock. Most of these drafts finish within two weeks, although this group is already in Round 12 and we started on Saturday, July 26.

I am not going to go through every draft pick (I can if you want – leave a comment and I can set it up in the FF Forum) as the point of this column is just to give you my observations for you to incorporate into your draft prep. But here is the first round:

1.01 LeSean McCoy, RB, PHI

1.02 Jamaal Charles, RB, KC

1.03 Calvin Johnson, WR, DET

1.04 Matt Forte, RB, CHI

1.05 Adrian Peterson, RB, MIN

1.06 Eddie Lacy, RB, GB

1.07 Dez Bryant, WR, DAL

1.08 Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN

1.09 Brandon Marshall, WR, CHI

1.10 A.J. Green, WR, CIN

1.11 Jimmy Graham, TE, NO

1.12 Montee Ball, RB, DEN

The first five picks in some order are pretty much standard in current drafts and will be the first five in high stakes leagues in September absent injury.  The six hole is where drafts diverge, and I wouldn’t argue with any of the basic draft strategies:

6a – Take the best RB

6b – Take Jimmy Graham

6c – Take the best WR (usually Thomas but that is why they have 31 flavors)

Greg and I, while loving the edge at TE of Graham, who helped us win our FFWC league last year, opted to start with Lacy to get a strong RB1 for better roster construction.

So here are five observations from this live money draft and several others I have seen and done (note – you can see the first six rounds of early NFFC drafts on their message boards, both 12-team DM and 10-team Cutline leagues but don’t forget the third round reversal when trying to see who teams got).

FIRST – There is no right or wrong in the second half of the first round. It is a personal preference (sometimes based on who you think you can pair that pick with in the second round). In fact, Ball was paired with Julio Jones, Graham with Jordy Nelson and Green, who is normally a second round pick, with Arian Foster.

SECOND – I think TEs 2 and 3, Rob Gronkowski and Julius Thomas, are being drafted slightly higher than their true value given the huge questions – Gronk with health and Orange Julius with an inflated 2013 value based on the TDs.

THIRD – There is in the high stakes community a strong tendency to wait on drafting your first quarterback unless you think there is tremendous value in where Rodgers or Brees fall in a draft full of “waiters.” Anecdotally, I can tell you that in the early WCOFF days, I was already convinced that was the best way to build a roster and many times I did not have a quarterback on my team when they took the first break after ten rounds. As a shout out to some legendary former competitors, both Lou Tranquilli (3INTboy and BFD FF) and Ian Millman (FF Champs) were often in a stare down or comparison with me to see who took a quarterback first.

In this Rotobowl draft, Peyton Manning went at a normal 3.02. Rodgers was the next off the board at 3.09 (obviously we passed on him in the third, not wanting to be the Captain Morgan Packers). We would have had to really think hard about Drew Brees at 4.07 but ultimately didn’t have the choice as he went two picks before us. Only four QBs were drafted in the next six rounds – Matthew Stafford (5.03), Robert Griffin (6.05), Andrew Luck (8.02) and then Nick Foles (10.03) before most of the field broke down and tried to grab their guys of the remainders after the Top 7 projected quarterbacks. Good drafting by the five teams that waited and I have no problem with the other drafters if they felt they got value with their guy.

FOURTH - However, some of the early quarterback drafters fell from grace when the Manning, Rodgers and Stafford owners drafted a second quarterback in Round 11. If you draft a stud, when are you going to play your second quarterback other than in a bye week? And they missed the opportunity to strengthen their teams with available RB/WR/TE. Frankly, in 12-team leagues like the FFWC, NFFC, FFPC or WCOFF, if I had a strong quarterback (no matter what round I drafted him in), I would leave the draft with just that QB on my roster. The other draft picks are far too valuable even if they happen to be the player you drop for your bye week QB. And there are still several playable quarterbacks in the free agent pile. Those waiting to draft their quarterbacks may obviously be looking at going QBBC (quarterback by committee) or having a pair based on schedule matchups.

FIFTH – Even high stakes drafters are still drafting their DST too early. Yes, I know you love the Seahawks, and yes, I know they were good last year and still have strong units. But almost every year, half the teams that were among the Top 10 scoring DSTs from one year are not in the following year’s Top 10. And your two points per game or whatever you actually get are not worth the opportunity cost to get more bullets – chances at finding a running back or wide receiver who quickly becomes a flex play or starter. Take more of those, and if they don’t work out, you can easily replace them. Every year, there are some key players not drafted who go for hundreds of FAAB bucks who you could have rostered on draft day.

More later. I have to go work on our QBBC.

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 July 2014 00:10
NL Has Short Straw in Crossover Players PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 23 July 2014 00:00

Well, at least so far. While American League fantasy players were in FAAB wars for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel two weeks ago and Huston Street either last or next weekend (depending on which stat service your league uses), there just haven’t been comparable players for National League owners to add to their teams.

And that won’t change much this coming weekend following the Chase Headley trade because Yangervis Solarte, while a great story in April for the Yankees, doesn’t rate to help the Padres as much. Yes, if they let him play third base right away, he might have some appeal in deeper NL-only leagues, but it is more likely that he will have the same limited appeal as Jordany Valdespin did this week after he was called up by the Marlins.

Valdespin was an interesting case for many leagues this week. While he will be playing second base for the Marlins, he was primarily an outfielder for the Mets last year and thus only qualifies there this year for leagues with 20+ games played eligibility rules. Thus Monday, I had to field a question from an NL Tout player about his eligibility, which would normally give a player called up from the Minors only the eligibility for the position played the most times in the Minors this year, but goes by games played last year if the player was in the big leagues for more than five games.

However, old school leagues that still play “book rules” (as defined by the original Rotisserie League Baseball written by Peter Golenbock in 1984) get to switch a player after just his first game played and thus have Valdespin at 2B/OF if they added him in FAAB this weekend.

By the way, there is a distinction that younger rotisserie players need to be aware of because while FAAB is used by most fantasy leagues to award free agents each week, including LABR and Tout as illustrated in our weekly reports in Mastersblog, the old school leagues have weekly “call ups” to fill holes and don’t use FAAB until there are players traded from the other league. Then, after the All-Star break, open FAAB allows bidding on both crossover players and players called up in that league, which is followed by free callups if there are players left who didn’t get bids.

If your AL league was allowed to bid on Street last weekend, you know what he went for – and you aren’t using CBS where his bids weren’t processed but pushed to the following week just as Samardzija and Hammel were previously. Apparently, one day to get a player’s new team listed doesn’t also register with their FAAB mechanism. If you haven’t bid on Street yet, you noted that in our LABR AL report, he went for $57 while in Tout AL, the winning bid was $36 reduced by Vickrey from the $74 bid he got.

It will be interesting to see if there are believers in a Headley turnaround in pinstripes or whether there are teams that desperate at 3B/CI to bid more than he will likely be worth.

But those NL players will likely still be waiting.

Well, unless Solarte plays every day for the Padres this week…and is as hot as he was in April.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 July 2014 02:16
Are You Ready for the Second Half? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 00:00

Yes. I know most MLB teams have played over 90 games, so the All-Star break is two weeks after the real halfway point. But it is the time when you have four days with no games to watch, no league standings that change, and when you can really spend a few hours looking at the standings in each category for any/all of your teams.

Your team’s total is not the key this week. Where you stand in each category and how many points you can win – and lose in each category is the way to figure out what moves to make this week to get your team into contention.

If you are already near the top of your league, you should still be doing this to make sure you stay there or improve or protect your position in the standings.

Start by looking at the distribution in each category. How many home runs you need to pick up one point, two points or more is more important than the fact you only have three points right now. You also need to factor in the status of your players. Do you have a player on the DL who is coming back this week or at the end of the month? Look at this HR category:

Splendid Splinter League HR

Pickpockets 130 11
Church of Baseball 126 10
Red Raiders 118 9
Speed Turtles 107 8
Hopping Corndogs 105 7
Travisties 100 6
Triple Play 97 5
Barking Spiders 84 4
Hook, Line & Sinker 83 2.5
Here Come Da Judge 83 2.5
Dballs 81 1

That is through Sunday, July 13, but I have Mark Trumbo coming back from the DL this week, so that automatically adds 1.5 points. More importantly is can I overtake Triple Play and gain two and a half points without making a trade? Just as important is realizing that both Judge and DBalls have traded out already so if based on other categories I needed to consider trading Trumbo or another power hitter I have only one and a half points of downside at the worst and I can likely pick up half a point without him.

Do that with each category and see what you think your potential is. Then if you are in a trading league, you can better see what your options are. If you are not in a trading league – take all the NFBC style leagues, you will still have a better idea as to what type of players to look for on the free agent list or which players you can sit in certain weeks.

The other thing to take a careful look at is your current rate of HR or SB or SV per week. Are you already gaining in certain categories? In one of my NFBC leagues, I drafted Aroldis Chapman, Steve Cishek and Jose Veras as my closers. Obviously, for the first month and a half of the season, I had just Cishek and his seven saves, which put me severely behind in the category. Today, here is what the saves category looks like:

Team 1 71 12
Team 2 70 11
Team 3 62 10
Team 4 57 8.5
Team 5 57 8.5
Team 6 49 7
Team 7 43 6
Captains 42 5
Team 9 40 4
Team 10 37 3
Team 11 30 2
Team 12 14 1

Slowly, I have made up ground and starting a few weeks ago the saves each week got me closer to the teams ahead of me or gained a point. This weekend or next week, I will pass the team ahead of me, and next up, the team with 49 has David Robertson and Zach Britton and could start to lose points if Britton were to be replaced. By the same token, I could overtake him if that didn’t happen but the Rangers trade Joakim Soria, as I recently added Neftali Feliz. To get more than two points, I would need the teams tied at 57 to lose a closer. The point in a no-trade league is to find another closer or maybe (given roster space) to add the next in line of one of those teams.

That may seem difficult, but what is the alternative?

You need to put in some real work to improve your chances of cashing. Yes, I need 15 or 20 points to cash in those two leagues.

But that is well worth playing for, and gaining a point or two or more in each category is possible.

But only if you try.

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 July 2014 08:49
AL-Only Leagues First FAABonanza PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 09 July 2014 00:00

The trade last Friday that sent Cubs pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the AL West leading Oakland Athletics did a lot more than make the A’s clear favorites to win the division and increase their chances of getting to the World Series.

It also created huge bidding in AL-only leagues where competing teams had a chance to dramatically improve their pitching staffs without trading away any players.

Here are two AL-only keeper league examples where the difference in price is determined by league rules which may be very similar to your league. If you play in an AL-only redraft league, you may want to look at the bidding in LABR’s AL league and the Tout AL league posted in MastersBlog.

In my 11-team AL keeper league, we did have lower FAAB balances than we normally do when several of the teams tend to save their FAAB dollars for interleague trades which might deliver stud crossover players from the NL. There were only three teams that had more than $63 available last Saturday, two of those being contending teams this year and one being a team that has already sold off expiring players and rebuilding who would have no interest in a crossover player who couldn’t be traded or kept for next season. There would have been a third team, a contender that normally hoards FAAB, but they had spent $68 to acquire Kendrys Morales when he was signed by Minnesota.

There was also a contender who had $59 left, so the two contending teams both correctly bid $60 on both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. The funny thing was that one has Samardzija first while the other preferred Hammel, so they both got the pitcher they wanted.

Now in this league, players traded from the NL as well as players like Morales or Stephen Drew, or even Tony Sipp, who weren’t available in either the auction or minor league draft are not eligible to be kept next year or to be traded within the league for the balance of this year.

Crossover players don’t have the typical free agent salary against our in season $300 cap of $5 but are assigned a salary based on their FAAB price as shown below:

a. FA Bids $1-5 $5 (like normal Free Agents) 
b. FA Bids $6-19 $X (the bid amount) 
c. FA Bids $20+ $20 against the cap

But some leagues like Don Drooker’s AL Bowling League use the original “Rotisserie League Handbook” rules where the crossover player’s FAAB amount is their salary (against a $310 cap) and their contract for 2015 if they are kept. In addition, winning bids over ten dollars guarantee a two-year contract at that price (unless bought out).

In that league, the winning bid for Samardzija was $29, with underbids of 26, 23, 19, 15 and 10. The winning bid for Hammel was $20 with underbids of 19, 15, 13, 10, 10 and 7. Also in that league, normal free agents are $10 against the cap instead of the $5 my league uses and are acquired as weekly callups, so FAAB is only used for crossover bids or players like Morales.

Hopefully, this helps you judge prices in your league, whether for the new Oakland pitchers or for future players traded from the National League.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 01:17
Activating Minor Leaguers From the Farm PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 02 July 2014 00:00

This is another area of roster management that can present fantasy owners with tough decisions.

We looked earlier at setting up minor league drafts to acquire your “Farm” players. But each league is different about how and when you can or have to activate them if they are called up to their major league team.

I strongly favor activation rules that give the fantasy owner a long enough time period to decide whether the player might have enough impact to help them this year, but I would not allow owners to keep the player as a minor leaguer if he is up most of the year.

In my AL keeper league, teams can activate called up minor leaguers as soon as possible (immediately if they have a natural opening – player on the DL or sent to the Minors even if that is a midweek move or on the next Monday when lineups are set for the week) or they can wait a reasonable period of time to make sure the minor leaguer is going to stick with the big club and not just sent down with the next set of roster moves.

We used to use 30 days of continuous major league service (before September) as the trigger for a required decision on activating the player to your active or reserve roster or releasing them to the free agent pool. Last year, we unanimously agreed to change the 30-day rule to the first half of the season, so if a Farm player was activated by his major league club after the All-Star break, our owners could still activate them if they wanted to but no longer had to activate the minor league for that season.

The danger if there is a quick activation rule is that the player may be sent back down to the minor leagues when you had to activate him. The following year, he would then be in his second year and have to be frozen as a minor leaguer whether he made the opening day roster or not. Our new rules offer teams the best balance.

In the NL keeper league in Los Angeles that I play in, the activation rule is more lenient. If a player is activated in April, the 30-day rule applies, but if activated after May 1, the team does not have to activate him for the rest of the year – but of course may do so if they choose. In that league, I have a good shot to finish in 5th place, which would be the first minor league draft pick next year. But if one of the top four teams were to have enough misfortune to fall, I could conceivably still cash. So this April, one of my minor league draft picks was San Diego RHP Jesse Hahn, who I had planned on drafting in the AL until Tampa Bay traded him to San Diego in the Logan Forsythe deal. With such a thin chance to cash, it doesn’t pay for me to activate Hahn to a strong pitching staff led by Jeff Samardzija, Hyun-Jin Ryu and my best buy of the auction, a $3 Josh Beckett.

But you never know when there are decisions to be made. Yesterday in the AL league, I had Houston outfielder Domingo Santana brought up from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where in 319 at-bats, he hit .304 with 13 home runs, 52 RBI and five stolen bases. The 21-year-old fly chaser from the Dominican Republic was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008, but he came to the Astros in 2011 as part of the Hunter Pence trade. Santana does strike out a fair amount – 99 times this year with 40 walks – and as a result has been compared to fellow Astros rookie George Springer.

But if he looks like he will be even close to as productive as Springer and stay in left field in Houston, I will have an extra hitter for my attempt to be in the money this year. Actually, like my trade for Ellsbury, it may give me multiple options – simply replace Endy Chavez as my sixth outfielder/UT or allow me to trade Adam Jones, who has an expiring contract this year, for some pitching or middle infield help.

First, let’s see if he can stick with the Astros.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 July 2014 09:18
Should You Stay or Should You Go? PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 25 June 2014 00:00

It is almost halfway through the season and in many leagues it is decision time for fantasy baseball teams. Make a trade to try and cash this year or sell off an expiring contract or overvalued player for a good young player, or minor league prospects, and/or a higher minor league draft pick next spring?

I had this decision with my AL-only league over the last few weeks and finally made a trade to try and improve my chances this year but with a plan that might well be viable for your fantasy teams as well.

In the 11-team Great American Rotisseleague, I just moved into 6th place last week with 57 points. As of Monday, that is five points behind the 5th place team, 11.5 points behind the 4th place team and 13 points behind the current 2nd place team. The current league leader – not entirely but largely because he won the bid for Masahiro Tanaka at $31 on draft day – is now well clear of the pack with 85.5 points.

So why would I give up my 2nd round pick in the 2015 minor league draft and Tommy Milone, won at auction this spring, for just $3 when I could stand pat and be the favorite to stay in sixth and get the second pick in the first round of next year’s minor league draft?

First, I think acquiring Jacoby Ellsbury for Milone and the draft pick swap (2nd for 4th) gives me the potential to pick up enough points to compete for 4th place or better. Todd’s ROS projections for Ellsbury – 48 R, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 25 SB and a .289 BA would give him the third highest value amongst American League hitters – conveniently right between two of my other outfielders, Mike Trout and Adam Jones.

Conservatively, my team should gain 9-10 points if Ellsbury stays healthy (BA+2, R+2, HR+1, RBI+1-2, SB+3), so you can see why I think I have that upside. Also, Ellsbury is replacing an empty Ichiro slot in my outfield. I should also get a boost to the offense if/when Trevor Plouffe gets back to work and maybe if Justin Smoak can return and crack my lineup.

I could also get a boost on the pitching side of the ledger if James Paxton ever gets back or if the Tigers need to recall Robbie Ray.

But there is another possibility with making this trade now.

I don’t doubt that some of my competitors ahead of me will make a trade to improve (the team in 5th place traded for Robinson Cano this weekend while I was getting Ellsbury). So if in late July I am not on target to move up in the standings, I will have put some additional points between my team and the group behind me and would be able to trade Adam Jones, who is in the last year of his contract, and/or Plouffe, who is also headed back into the auction pool next year, to a contender looking for some offensive help. I should have little downside at that point – at worst a drop from fifth to sixth, which translates into the first or second minor league pick next year. I also have an expiring contract on Fernando Rodney and could move him for assets for next year or beyond. Heck I could also deal Ellsbury if I got the right offer.

Billy Beane once said the season is divided into three parts, and while he was talking about his major league club, it is not much different for your fantasy team.

Part I is April and May, where you find out exactly what you have and what your expectations should be.

Part II is June and July, when you make the moves to improve where you need to for a run at the pennant (or get an early start on rebuilding).

Part III is August and September, where your decisions allow your roster to compete, perhaps adding a player in September – my league does allow roster expansion, adding a 24th active player.

Part III is also where final trades are made for the finishing run.

Or for restocking the cupboard.

But making a solid trade now, even if you are not yet contending, can give you two ways to improve – get to a spot to contend/cash this year or create the need for the contending teams to try and improve their rosters, giving you more trading partners in July/August.

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 June 2014 08:22
Trading Minor League Draft Picks PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 00:00

One caveat in talking about any kind of trades is the need for clear cut trade regulations for the league. Without those, there will always be problems – some big enough to destroy a league.

FARM players, minor league prospects, require additional rules for the draft/activations/salaries etc. We looked at some of those last week, but one additional rule is that each team gets a specified number of minor league draft picks each year. So a team can’t just trade for an extra draft pick. There always needs to be an even exchange of draft picks in any trade.

While any individual league can use whatever system its members agree to, there are two formats used in the majority of keeper leagues.

The first is as discussed last week where each team gets a specified number of minor league draft picks each year – whether that is five, as I discussed in my league, or three or any other number.

Tied to that is whatever limit on total minor league players your league does or does not specify. Again, in my AL keeper league, we draft five each year but can keep as many as we want (to pay for as each frozen minor leaguer from last year is five dollars to the prize fun). But in the NL keeper league I play in, you can retain a maximum of eight minor league players (and have to pay ten dollars for each one).

There are also some leagues that have only three minor league slots. So if next year you have two you want to keep, you can only make one draft pick. On the other hand, you may have promoted or traded or released all three of last year’s minor leaguers and thus get three new players.

In keeper leagues with FARM players, it is not only the current minor league players but next year’s draft picks that are the currency of the realm in most trades. That makes perfect sense since a team that is in contention this year probably can’t afford to trade good players from its roster – it needs them to compete. If they are light on minor leaguers or don’t have FARM players the rest of the league values, then they are going to have to pay with next year’s 1st or maybe 2nd round ML draft pick.

Here is an example from an AL league last year – Team A trades its 2014 1st round ML draft pick to Team B for Prince Fielder (51D12) and its 2014 5th round ML draft pick. Obviously, Team B wasn’t going to keep Fielder at that price and turned the acquired pick into Texas second baseman Rougned Odor at April’s minor league draft this year.

Sometimes, the draft pick upgrade is not as great but needed to satisfy both teams with the final trade, as seen by another 2013 trade – Team C trading Jose Bautista (13C14), Jon Lester (25D12), Addison Reed (7D12) and a 2014 4th round ML draft pick to Team D for Manny Machado (5D13), Brian Matusz (5F13), ML player Nick Franklin and 2014’s 3rd round ML draft pick.

And it doesn’t always have to be the competing team that gives up the higher draft pick. Here is an example of that this year with both teams getting creative to achieve their objectives – Team E traded Hiroki Kuroda (7D12), Sean Rodriguez (10F14) and their 2015 1st round ML pick to Team F for Matt Wieters (21D14), Aaron Crow (10F14) and their 2015 3rd round ML draft pick. This allowed Team F to add another serviceable SP and get a two round draft upgrade next year while Team E bet on the fact that Wieters will be ready to go as the Orioles DH next year but still qualify at catcher (22 games this year before leaving).

I mentioned earlier the teams with only three minor league player slots. Our sports memorabilia columnist and expert Don Drooker plays in an old school NL-only league with that format. As a result of earlier trades, Don had picks #3 and #15 in his minor league draft this spring. In March, he traded Brandon Beachy and those two picks for the #1 pick in the draft with which he selected Cubs prospect Kris Bryant.

My league also allows trading multiple draft picks (although as I said an equal number) and often times it is both upgrades that allow teams to agree on a deal. The only thing we don’t allow is the trading of draft picks for more than the following year.

All of these aspects of having a minor league draft and being able to trade draft picks as well as players allows more fun and strategies in building your franchise.

I think your league would really like it, and here or on the message boards, I will be glad to answer any questions or help craft the rules your league will need.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 18 June 2014 10:05
Setting Up a Minor League Draft PDF Print E-mail
Captain's Log
Written by Perry Van Hook   
Wednesday, 11 June 2014 00:00

I had several questions about last week’s log about draft picks with people wanting to know how to set up a minor league draft for their league. So let’s get to work.

While these suggestions are mainly for AL, NL or even mixed keeper leagues, you can certainly use them for a redraft league with easy modifications.

First, the salaries for your “FARM” must complement your auction and free agent salaries. In “normal” $260 auction leagues, I strongly maintain that all free agents (and reserve picks if you use those at the draft) should have a $10 retention salary, which in my shorthand would be 10F14 – a ten dollar free agent acquired in 2014. In keeper leagues where a drafted or free agent player is kept for three years at the same price, you want your minor league players to have a lower salary than a major league player you are acquiring via either FAAB or waivers or whatever your league uses.

Speaking of FAAB, I am strongly against using the FAAB acquisition price to determine a player's retention salary. It just makes no sense – if the player is keepable (in my league that would mean being on an AL roster or on an AL team’s minor league roster), then if you spend $100 in desperation, that player couldn’t possibly be retained. By the same token, teams lower in the standings can’t be adding players for one dollar and carrying those salaries forward. Just use $10 like the founding fathers did.

Another note for keeper leagues is the difference between the player’s retention salary (price he would be kept for next year) and his salary against the salary cap, which all auction keeper leagues should have. I am old school there, using a $300 cap for a $260 league. Yes, you can use $325 or even $350 but that much room is just asking for problems with dump trades that you mitigate with a tighter salary cap. Free agents should count $5 this year against the salary cap but have a $10 salary if kept for next year.

The AL and NL keeper leagues that I have played in for over 25 years both use a $5 salary for drafted minor leaguers. Actually, my GAR AL league splits that to $5 for hitters and $3 for pitchers, which helps balance the minor league drafts.

Most leagues I am familiar with restrict the minor league pool to players who are under a minor league contract. Some specify they must still have Rookie of the Year eligibility. Personally, I favor a wide open policy there, especially if you are going to allow an unlimited number of FARM players, which really gives teams the ability to build a good franchise. Your league will have to define those parameters when you codify all of this to add to your league rules.

Again, I favor excluding all players from foreign leagues (there is one exception as some players in the Mexican League are allowed to play there even though they are under contract to minor league teams in the US). Your mileage may vary – have to keep the lawyers happy especially as I bury a Happy 17th Birthday greeting to my granddaughter Raven Nicole Mills in Bothell, Washington.

Okay, you have defined the player pool for your minor league draft and the salaries they will have once they are activated in your league. In my league, if they are still FARM players, I try and use a M13 designation which would mean they were drafted as a minor leaguer in 2013, for example. Once they are activated, that would be changed to 5DYr for drafted in that year at a five dollar salary. Most of the stat services have an easy way to establish and amend those designations just like auction/free agent salaries. To go back a minute to free agent salaries, you don’t want those cheaper FAAB bids to subvert the pricing of your minor league players, thus the $10 retention salary.

Activation rules differ widely. Obviously, if a FARM player makes an opening day roster, he must be activated to a team’s freeze list at the auction. If they are activated after opening day, here are two suggestions:

    1. If the player is activated to the major leagues prior to the All-Star break, they must be transacted (activated, reserved or waived) the transaction (Monday) day after 30 consecutive days on a ML roster. If they are brought up any time after the beginning of the break, they can be held as a FARM player but of course could be activated if their owner wanted to start their salary clock.

    2. If the player is activated in April, the same 30 days (you don’t want to have to activate a player if he is only up for a week or two and then sent down) applies. But if they are activated in May or any time later in the year, they can be retained as a FARM player until the following year.

    September roster expansion must be dealt with because you don’t want unowned minor leaguers up for just a month to be added as free agents when they should be in the minor league draft the following April. We assign all September free agents a $25 retention salary (25S13) which keeps that from happening.

    Okay, we have everything now except the procedures to get your draft order. What I do not want to use is the lazy worst-to-first route. You want all the teams in your league to manage their roster as best they can. Sure, they may be in rebuilding mode, but they should still have an “active” roster, because if even one team's roster is filled with DL and ML players and not accumulating stats, they are distorting the stats in categories where the teams fighting to cash are trying for more points. You don’t want that to affect your league's pennant race.

    What you should do is give the first pick in next year’s minor league draft (always held after opening day, which hopefully your auction is as well but a player must be clearly defined as to whether he is actually in the major leagues or in the minors) to the team that is the first team not to cash in your league. So if you pay four places, that would be the team that finishes in fifth place.

    In a 12-team league, then your draft order would be 5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-4-3-2-1.

    Next week, we will look at trading minor league draft picks.

    Last Updated on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 02:21
    Does Your League Have Minor League Draft Picks? PDF Print E-mail
    Captain's Log
    Written by Perry Van Hook   
    Wednesday, 04 June 2014 00:00

    While most of the people interested in minor league prospects are in AL or NL-only keeper leagues, there are some redraft leagues that allow teams to pick three minor league players after their auction and then if those players are not activated, they can carry them over to the next season.

    This is a nice idea to blend in a little forward looking twist for team management and it also gives some rationale for trades which are often hard to make in redraft leagues. You should broach it to your league mates if you feel your redraft league is getting a little stale.

    Another idea to help keep people interested in the top minor league prospects or even a non-prospect at the beginning of the year that might soon be able to help your fantasy team is to allow teams to acquire minor leaguers via FAAB. This is best saved for larger leagues with very short benches because then there is so much value for the roster slot that teams at the top of the league will have a hard time adding a Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Dylan Bundy or Micah Johnson. But the teams lower in the standings might take a shot on one of them, hoping that if they come up soon they could help them move up in the standings.

    But keeper leagues are where minor leaguers have the most value, and I thought as we are now in Super 2 days with Oscar Taveras, the Cardinals young outfielder, and Houston first baseman Jon Singleton recently called up, I would look at the last two seasons of first-round draft picks in an AL-only league.

    Mind you, this league has very deep FARM rosters with teams able to keep minor league prospects previously acquired for five dollars each year and then drafting five new players each year. So it is not unusual for a team to have a stable of 20 American League prospects (although the average is probably 10-12). Teams in this league can and often do draft top college and high school prospects, hoping to catch a Carlos Correa in the process but knowing they lose the player if drafted by an NL team.

    In 2013, here was the first round:

    1.01  Addison Russell, SS, Oakland

    1.02  Jonathan Singleton, 1B, Houston

    1.03  George Springer, OF, Houston

    1.04  Trevor Bauer, P, Cleveland

    1.05  Courtney Hawkins, OF, Chicago

    1.06  Delino Deshields, 2B, Houston

    1.07  Austin Wilson, OF, College

    1.08  Bruce Rondon, P, Detroit

    1.09  Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto

    1.10  Kyle Zimmer, P, Kansas City

    1.11  Adalberto Raul Mondesi, SS, Kansas City

    Bauer, Springer and Gose were already activated by their teams in this league and Singleton (if not traded this week) likely will be activated next week.


    Here are the minor league picks from this April:

    1.01  Rougned Odor, 2B, Texas

    1.02  Trea Turner, SS, College

    1.03  Johan Santana, P, MIN (>BAL)

    1.04  Colby Lewis, P, Texas

    1.05  Matt Davidson, 3B, Chicago

    1.06  D.J. Peterson, 3B, Seattle

    1.07  Alex Jackson, OF, High School

    1.08  Henry Owens, P, Boston

    1.09  Kohl Stewart, P, Minnesota

    1.10  Scott Diamond, P, Minnesota

    1.11  Devon Travis, 2B, Detroit

    Yes, you read some of those older names right – the flip side to those looking younger are owners who are specifically looking for help this year and hoping a veteran pitcher who is on a minor league contract (not on DL or in extended spring training without a contract) will be brought up and bolster a roster or be a nice keeper for next year.

    As the Trea Turner and Alex Jackson owners can attest, it will also make this Thursday a bit like Christmas morning – well as long as their player doesn’t wind up being an NLump of coal. 


    Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 June 2014 02:12
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