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Marmolled? – Never Again! PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 29 June 2013 00:00

Heading into National League Tout Wars this season, I faced a decision on the saves category. I did not want to punt the category out of the gate, nor did I want to burn a lot of money and roster spots chasing uncertainties.

The latter approach is one I tried to follow last season with minimal success. There were closers in waiting in which to invest, but they typically cost in the $4-$8 vicinity each and took up several of my precious four reserve spots.

As I packed for the 2013 draft in New York, I decided to get one of the top closers and go from there. Beyond Craig Kimbrel, who I knew would out of my price range, I had three names in mind as the next closest to sure things in the league.

They were Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Motte and Sergio Romo. Yet, being honest, I was somewhat worried that Romo’s high strand rate and low BABIP in 2012 would not be repeatable this season. Then, when Motte went down with an elbow injury the day before the draft, Papelbon became my last man standing.

To get him, all I had to say was the magic words, “twenty dollars.” I did.

With 12 teams in NL Tout and just 15 teams’ worth of saves for which to compete, I thought I would be in good enough shape if I added an interim guy down the road to complement the Phils’ ninth-inning man.

On draft day, I stayed away from possibilities like I chased last year such as Trevor Rosenthal ($2) and red flag wavers like Carlos Marmol ($8).

Fast forward 90 days and we see that Papelbon is not one of the elite closers this season, after all. Not only is his Phillies squad showing increased age, Papelbon has blown four of his last five opportunities.

With him, my club is second from last in saves.

In fairness, that has as much to do with my own early-season blunders trying to get another closer as anything. Here comes this week’s lesson. Do not underestimate the importance of early week FAAB bidding, especially on ninth inning men.

I had the best of intentions, but failed to execute my play. Before the first FAAB period, I had sat down and looked at every NL team’s closing situation one by one.

The only obvious candidate still unowned was Milwaukee’s Jim Henderson. I was all set to make a strong bid (in hindsight, all it would have taken was $4), but I made a big mistake. I asked a friend whose opinion I respect his feelings about Henderson. My pal threw up all over poor Jim and my plan.

As a result, while I cleaned up the mess, I dropped my Henderson bid to $0 behind what was a “winning” $1 offer for Tyson Ross. Of course, now it is quite clear who won and who lost.

The next week, I was simply caught napping and missed Motte’s replacement on the very team I cover for a living. Edward Mujica had been undrafted and left on the table after the reserve rounds, too.

Late Sunday night just before the third FAAB period deadline, Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus heard the news that Mujica was going to be given a shot at closing for the Cardinals.

Mike bid a strong $46, but had almost no competition. He snapped up Mujica for just $3. That is precisely the kind of move that makes (or non-move that loses) championships.

Mujica is currently 21-for-21 in save opps, carries a 2.20 ERA and a ridiculous 0.735 WHIP.

Getting more and more worried about my club as it sunk in the standings, I took more risks on relievers. Specifically, one big risk failed miserably.

In May, Marmol’s original owner had enough and cut the ex-Cubs closer. With Kevin Gregg a prime trade candidate and Kyuji Fujikawa injured again, I decided to take a shot at Marmol getting another chance.

I figured all it would cost me was $1, but I was wrong.

After his early season meltdown and removal from ninth-inning duties, Marmol had actually pitched well during May. He allowed one run and just two walks in 9 1/3 innings in his last nine appearances leading up to my addition of him to my squad.

Tout rules are such that every FAABed player must remain active during the week in which he was purchased. You guessed it – that is when Marmol cratered for what became his last time as a Cub.

Marmol was given the ball with a three-run lead to open the ninth on June 16 against the Mets. Just one out was secured, on a sac bunt, while a solo home run and a three-run blast served up by Carlos sent the Mets home as winners. Overall, I was left to stare at an ERA of 13.50 and an even 3.00 WHIP for his time on my active roster.

Though I had the slight satisfaction of releasing Marmol a day before Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein designated Marmol for assignment in the real world, it was of small consolation.

I pushed too hard to cover for past sins and wound up getting Marmolled. Though it probably won’t be Carlos the next time, the opportunity will be presented again this season by another marginal closer. Don’t let it happen to you!

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 29 June 2013 17:28
 
CYA on ADP PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 22 June 2013 00:00

No, I am not talking about covering ones’ behind. As a follow on to last week’s MVP analysis, in this week’s article, we will look at the Cy Young Award races from several perspectives.

First, we have the June odds for the American League and National League Cy Young Awards as seen by the oddsmakers at bovada.lv. A second view with fewer competitors named (the top ten, specifically) comes from ESPN’s handy Cy Young Award Predictor.

To sober us up a bit, the third column lists the average draft position of the Cy Young Award odds leaders. I used the March 28 ADP results from Mock Draft Central for mixed leagues.

AL


June ESPN March
Odds to win the 2013 AL Cy Young Odds Pred ADP
Clay Buchholz (BOS) 7/4 1 275
Yu Darvish (TEX) 4/1 7 55
Justin Masterson (CLE) 7/1
321
Matt Moore (TB) 10/1
136
Justin Verlander (DET) 10/1 6 21
Felix Hernandez (SEA) 12/1 4 44
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) 12/1 5 211
Max Scherzer (DET) 12/1 2 93
Jon Lester (BOS) 20/1
167
C.C. Sabathia (NYY) 20/1
94
Anibal Sanchez (DET) 20/1
193
Chris Sale (CWS) 20/1
85
Alex Cobb (TB) 25/1
261
Derek Holland (TEX) 25/1
209
Mariano Rivera (NYY) 25/1
103
Doug Fister (DET) 33/1
173
Hiroki Kuroda (NYY) 33/1
156
Joe Nathan (TEX) 33/1 10 101
Ervin Santana (KC) 50/1
281
Bud Norris (HOU) 100/1
379
R.A. Dickey (TOR) 250/1
83
Bartolo Colon (OAK) NL 3 NR
Addison Reed (CWS) NL 8 180
Jim Johnson (BAL) NL 9 127

Justin Masterson and Matt Moore would seem very bad bets. Despite being among the oddsmakers’ and bettors’ favorites, the two do not place in the top ten statistically as measured by the ESPN predictor.

At the other end of the spectrum, three of ESPN’s top ten do not even have betting lines established – Bartolo Colon, Addison Reed and Jim Johnson. Colon, who ranks third on the Cy Young Predictor, did not appear on spring ADP lists, likely due to concern about his age and health.

NL


June ESPN March
Odds to win the 2013 NL Cy Young Odds Pred ADP
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 4/1
17
Patrick Corbin (ARI) 5/1 2 382
Adam Wainwright (STL) 5/1 1 62
Jordan Zimmerman (WAS) 7/1 6 113
Shelby Miller (STL) 15/2 3 254
Lance Lynn (STL) 9/1 5 223
Cliff Lee (PHI) 10/1 8 36
Matt Harvey (NYM) 12/1
201
Mike Minor (ATL) 12/1 4 175
Madison Bumgarner (SF) 15/1
67
Mat Latos (CIN) 18/1
118
Craig Kimbrel (ATL) 20/1 7 28
Hyun-jin Ryu (LAD) 20/1
270
Stephen Strasburg (WAS) 20/1
33
A.J. Burnett (PIT) 33/1
169
Jaime Garcia (STL) 33/1
327
Jason Grilli (PIT) 33/1 9 170
Tim Hudson (ATL) 50/1
168
Sergio Romo (SF) 100/1
115
Edward Mujica (STL) NL 10 NR

The Senior Circuit looks more like one would expect.- perhaps with the exception of Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers’ star is tops with 4/1 odds and had the best ADP of any NL hurler, yet the Cy Young Predictor reflects his bumpy first half ride.

The unexpected success of Cardinals' closer Edward Mujica (resulting from Jason Motte’s Tommy John surgery) was not anticipated by fantasy drafters and even now has not caught the oddsmakers’ attention. Yet the right-hander has squeaked into ESPN’s top ten.

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 22 June 2013 08:51
 
ADP Does Not Equal MVP PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 15 June 2013 00:22
As part of another project I am working on, I reviewed the current odds for the Most Valuable Player Awards as seen by the oddsmakers at bovada.lv.

In seeing some names historically connected to excellence such as Albert Pujols, still listed despite having rough seasons, I thought it would be interesting to put alongside the average draft position of the MVP odds leaders. I used the March 28 ADP results from Mock Draft Central for mixed leagues.


June March
2013 AL MVP Odds ADP
Miguel Cabrera (DET) 1/1 2
Chris Davis (BAL) 3/1 89
Mike Trout (LAA) 7/1 3
Clay Buchholz (BOS) 10/1 275
Robinson Cano (NYY) 10/1 7
Adam Jones (BAL) 15/1 21
Prince Fielder (DET) 25/1 14
Evan Longoria (TB) 25/1 32
Joe Mauer (MIN) 25/1 52
Mike Napoli (BOS) 25/1 64
Adrian Beltre (TEX) 33/1 16
Yu Darvish (TEX) 33/1 55
Albert Pujols (LAA) 33/1 6

Certainly, we already knew that Chris Davis and Clay Buchholz are exceeding most everyone’s expectations in the American League this season. Red Sox fans and Buchholz owners are holding their collective breath that the pitcher’s neck injury subsides quickly.


June March
2013 NL MVP Odds ADP
Paul Goldschmidt (ARI) 5/1 20
Carlos Gonzalez (COL) 6/1 9
Troy Tulowitzki (COL) 6/1 18
Joey Votto (CIN) 7/1 11
Bryce Harper (WSH) 10/1 15
Jean Segura (MIL) 10/1 269
Justin Upton (ATL) 10/1 10
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD) 12/1 29
Andrew McCutchen (PIT) 12/1 5
Buster Posey (SF) 14/1 12
Ryan Braun (MIL) 15/1 1
Domonic Brown (PHI) 18/1 220
Carlos Gomez (MIL) 18/1 183
Yadier Molina (STL) 18/1 39
Carlos Beltran (STL) 25/1 107
Dexter Fowler (COL) 25/1 225
Carl Crawford (LAD) 33/1 181
Starling Marte (PIT) 33/1 179
Pablo Sandoval (SF) 33/1 132
Shin-Soo Choo (CIN) 33/1 81
David Wright (NYM) 33/1 26

Over in the Senior Circuit, the injury bug has become a pervasive problem. At least five of the named MVP candidates have recently encountered physical problems serious enough to be placed on the disabled list. They include Troy Tulowitzki, Bryce Harper, Ryan Braun, Carl Crawford and Pablo Sandoval.

In terms of major surprises compared to draft positions, Jean Segura and Domonic Brown are most prominent in the NL, with Segura’s 10/1 odds the same as Buchholz.

I also found it very interesting that not a single pitcher is among the top 21 NL MVP favorites while two are on the AL list.

My final view for this week is the players who were in the top-25 in ADP on March 28 but as of June are each worse than 33/1 odds to win their respective league MVP awards.


March
Top 25 ADP not listed MVP
ADP
Matt Kemp (LAD) 4
Jose Bautista (TOR) 8
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) 13
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 17
Jason Heyward (ATL) 19
Justin Verlander (DET) 21
Josh Hamilton (LAA) 23
B.J. Upton (ATL) 24
Edwin Encarnacion (TOR) 25

Sure, B.J. Upton and Josh Hamilton may be the favorite whipping boys in each league, but the reality is that Matt Kemp and Joey Bats had been placed on a much loftier perch from which to fall.

 

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 15 June 2013 11:46
 
When Lightning Strikes Twice, Be Ready PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 08 June 2013 00:00

Rarely does lightning strike anywhere, let alone the same place twice in a two-week time period. Yet, that is what happened to me recently.

However, the story is not about burn injuries. It is a positive one in which the messages are to understand your league constitution well, pay attention to potential daily moves even in weekly transaction leagues and be persistent when you think you are right.

The essence of the situation is with how in-week replacements are to be handled in one of my weekly transaction leagues.

Originally, replacements were allowed without stipulations for a player who was on his major league’s disabled list, whether the replacement player was active in MLB currently or not.

That had to be altered when a few bad boys used this to stream pitchers contrary to the intent of the original rule. Unfortunately, that fix led to some potentially ambiguous or even conflicting wording between the original intent and the modified intent in the league constitution.

Currently struggling in this league, I preferred to not lose a day of stats from one of my better players, Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer. However, because the first baseman-outfielder was scheduled to come off the disabled list on Friday, May 24, I was going to miss his weekend play - until the Monday transaction deadline would enable me to activate him.

That was before I lost the services of second baseman Chase Utley. The Phillies star was placed on the DL on Thursday, May 23. It seemed to me that I could then swap the two players at my utility position immediately, effective Friday. Even so, it would not have fully neutralized the loss of another top player on my already-thin roster.

What I did not know at the time is that our league software, OnRoto, allows such a pair of moves – but only if executed before first pitch on the day after the official DL transaction.

I had tried to do it the night before, but Utley’s DL move was not yet reflected. Because I thought this transaction would require special handling, I contacted the league SWAT on Thursday to give him a heads up.

His interpretation of the constitution was that I could not activate Cuddyer until Saturday, the day after his real-life activation. I understood what he was reading, but did not agree.

The section I quoted seemed in conflict. I read it to allow Cuddyer to be moved into my active lineup to replace a DLed player at any time – even before Cuddyer was activated by his MLB team.

Ultimately, I escalated the impasse with the agreement of the SWAT. I felt good when the SWAT acknowledged that he could see my point, with his only complaint that my explanation e-mail was too wordy.

My take is that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. To that end, I provided a detailed explanation, including the two areas of potential conflict in the constitution. I explained both sides, but my bottom line focus was on why I believed I was right.

The ruling was made in my favor – but only after the league leaders checked to see if past implementations of similar situations had been consistent. Fortunately, they were. Otherwise, my argument would have shifted to not equating two wrongs to a right.

Further, the league leaders agreed to review the constitution in light of the earlier changes, and differing views of the wording. This would be done in the context of the intent of the league to still prohibit streaming but not penalize owners wanting to make DL moves such as I requested.

It was great news for me. In his first night back, Cuddyer went 2-for-4 with a home run, double, three RBI and two runs scored. Had I accepted the original ruling, I would have taken a night of zero stats from the disabled Utley instead.

Though the occurrence of these types of consecutive-day DL moves on and off seems rare, perhaps they are not, after all. This past Monday, after I had set my lineup for the week, the Dodgers decided Carl Crawford’s hamstring injury was bad enough to DL him.

I knew Washington’s Jayson Werth had been playing in minor league rehab games and was scheduled to be activated by the major league club on Tuesday. That is precisely what happened.

This time, I knew I could simply make the DL-to-DL change myself on Tuesday morning once the status of Crawford was changed to reflect his DL move. The fact that Werth was not reflected as active at that point did not matter. I would receive his six days of his stats starting on Tuesday, rather than five starting on Wednesday.

Still, to be safe, I gave my league SWAT a heads up about what I planned to do. That way, in case of any problem, there was advance proof of my intent. That protected everyone.

Alas, Werth’s return was far less exciting than Cuddyer’s as the Nats’ right fielder went just 1-for-4 with a single on Tuesday. Sadly enough, his .250 batting average is only two points below my team mark to date - but that is a story for another day.

Again, the bottom line is to know your rules, especially in the area of mid-week injury replacements, and stick to your guns if you believe you have a good case. Document your case clearly, as you get only one chance to make your first argument.

If you are like me, you will also make a note to follow up later to ensure constitutional ambiguity is cleared up after the season.

As always, all the best to you in your leagues this season and make sure you use your rules to your advantage.

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 08 June 2013 08:46
 
Even the Least Important Position Can Be Important PDF Print E-mail
Articles of Configuration
Written by Brian Walton   
Saturday, 01 June 2013 00:00

What is the least important roster spot on a fantasy baseball team? While I have no definitive proof at hand, my guess is the second catcher in two-catcher leagues.

That is especially the case in single-league formats. With 15 teams now in the American and National Leagues, in a 12-team fantasy league, nine owners on the average would possess only one catcher who starts for his MLB club.

Not willing to pay for two starter-class catchers in National League Tout Wars this year, I chose to buy the two backstops from the same NL team. It wasn’t any club, however. I selected the one with the best record in the NL last season, the Washington Nationals. Of course, the Nats’ catching personnel made my decision clearer.

Washington’s catching situation coming into the season looked somewhat favorable to the possibility of the second catcher being given a decent quantity of at-bats. With Jesus Flores out of the picture after being non-tendered during the off-season, former Twins prospect Wilson Ramos and ex-A’s starting backstop Kurt Suzuki were expected to be the starter and reserve, respectively.

Having started for much of six seasons in Oakland, Suzuki seemed a step above the standard NL catcher reserve. A career average at .260 and three double-digit home run seasons in the past - with Suzuki still just 29 years of age - gave me enough confidence to post a winning bid of $2.

I paired Suzuki with Ramos, whom I had drafted earlier for the premium price of $10. Back in March, I felt Ramos had the potential of becoming a breakthrough player this season. Two Ramos disabled stints later, I am less confident.

After playing in just 14 games, Ramos’ second injury timeout may drag through June. Given the source is his hamstrings, the problem might be back. Last season, he was limited to 25 games due to a knee injury. At age 25, it is too early to label Ramos as injury-prone, yet one has to be concerned about his inability to remain healthy.

Needing a new Tout lineup partner for Suzuki was the starting point for my string of misfortunes.

The first week, I selected Tim Federowicz of the Dodgers, not knowing he was sent down to Triple-A earlier that day. As a result, I received no stats that week.

The following Sunday, I dumped Federowicz and made three $0 bids. First was Jeff Mathis, back from the Marlins’ DL. He hasn’t been much of a hitter in his MLB career, but I thought Mathis might see a few stray at-bats for a terrible Miami club.

My second and third options were Wil Nieves of Arizona and Dioner Navarro of the Cubs.

I had no competition, getting my first choice. With the benefit of five days of hindsight, I now know that was unfortunate. I should have reversed my priority order.

My mistake was that I did not look into the reserve catchers’ stats in enough detail. If I had, I would have noticed that Navarro had three home runs in just 55 at-bats this season as of last weekend.

Instead, I just threw three names down without enough investigation. As a result, I paid dearly.

On Wednesday, Navarro blasted three home runs, connecting from both sides of the plate for the Cubs against the White Sox. It was his first multiple home run game in his 10 years in the Majors. Further, Navarro drove in a career-high six runs and scored four times.

It isn’t like Navarro has been a desirable commodity this season. Even after the big home run day, he is rostered in just one percent of Yahoo leagues. It has been a long time since the 29-year-old was a highly-touted Yankees prospect.

Despite Navarro’s big day, regular Cubs catcher Welington Castillo need not fear for his job. Chances are pretty good that Navarro experienced his 15 minutes of 2013 fame on Wednesday - and I missed it. At least Navarro had his 15 minutes. Mathis is 0-for-6 this week.

I’ll stop there before I get into Friday’s news. In the same game Stephen Strasburg had to leave, Suzuki was stung when he took a foul ball off his collarbone.

Most every fantasy owner I know obsesses about decisions made that he wishes he could reverse, or in this case, one he should not have made.

Don’t be like me and pay too little attention to even what may be the least important spot on your fantasy roster. On any given day, it could end up being the most significant. If you miss the opportunity, it will be gone forever.

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. Follow Brian on Twitter.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 June 2013 09:49
 
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