Friday, April 30, 2010

FAAB Bidding

It's been a while since I posted, so I'll give a quick update on my teams.

The slow draft team ('The Waiver Wire') has been awful. It's firmly planted in last place. Surprisingly, the problem hasn't been the pitching (yet), but my offense is near last in all categories. There's not a lot to say about the team other than this...they say that if you sit down at the poker table and don't know who the sucker is within five minutes, then it's you. What they forget to tell you is that sometimes even when you think that you DO know who the sucker is, you're wrong...and it's you.

The first NFBC Double Play team that I drafted ('') has had a good week, and had moved up to 3rd place in it's league this morning. This league is pretty evenly matched at this point, so much so that the team that was leading yesterday is in 5th today. What's particularly encouraging about my move up is that it's happened despite Cruz and Anderson joining Mike Gonzalez on the DL. The only bad news is that this is the team I didn't think had enough pitching going into the season. My rotation is now Lester, Anderson (DL), Slowey, C.J. Wilson, Hughes, and Romero. That's not awful, but unlikely to score well enough to put me into the running for the top overall teams. I'm also thin at closer, where Qualls and Dotel are my only healthy options...and both look like performance (and health) risks at this point.

The second NFBC Double Play team that I drafted ('') has had a decent weak too, finally moving out of the cellar and up to 10th place. While the team's performance has been disappointing so far, I think it's too early to completely write it off.

One of the features of NFBC that's a new experience for me has been Free Agent Acquisition (FAAB) bidding. Each team gets a budget of $1,000 to bid on players every Sunday night. There are such a wide variety of strategies being used that all sorts of weird situations come up. Several players in my leagues have already gone for more than $100 higher than the next highest bid. One owner in each league has already exhausted more than $700 of their $1,000 budget. For the most part, I'm making frequent small bids, and trying not to treat any one player as a 'must have'. I anticipate using my budget gradually throughout the season to patch lineup holes, and pick up players with favorable schedules. I want to try to avoid filling up my bench with lots of speculative players who may or may not ever have a use...although with my closers struggling I'm finding the that temptation to pick up potential future closers is getting the best of me in some cases.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is It Time To Worry Yet?

A common question for fantasy baseball players to ask at this time of year is "Is it time to worry yet?". The correct answer is "it depends". Some situations where poor performance might be reason to worry:

1. There are concerns that an injury is contributing to the player's poor performance.

2. The player is in danger of losing playing time due to the poor performance.

3. The player is old enough that the poor performance may indicate that they've reached the steep part of the aging curve.

4. A pitcher has poor peripheral stats (K/9 and BB/9) AND is showing reduced velocity on their fastball.

If none of those conditions are present, then it's much too early to worry. On one popular baseball forum, a number of people said that they were worried about Hunter Pence. Why? This is a player who has a fairly established performance level. He just turned 27 years old. As far as a I know, there are no injury concerns and there's no risk of him losing playing time. If you're playing in a league where he may be available at a discount, he's exactly the type of player you should be targeting.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

'Draft Champions' Strategy

One thing that became clear on Opening Day is that the key to strategy in the format that my slow draft team uses (which is called 'Draft Champions') is getting enough depth. Not only is there no trading (like all NFBC contests), but there’s no free agent pool either. You play the whole season with the original 45 players you drafted. I was aware of the hitting depth I’d need, but definitely underestimated what I’d want for starting pitchers. I think that drafting 8 or 9 pitchers would be more than enough, and I’d even be able to rotate some of them out of my lineup on weeks when they had an unfavorable start. Things haven’t worked out that way. Smoltz retired rather than finding a team to sign with. McDonald and Miller were sent down to the minors, as their teams apparently weren’t as high on their potential as I was. And Rzepzynski was injured…leaving me with only five starting pitchers. Not good…and lesson learned for next year.

Speaking of which, there’s talk of NFBC organizing next year’s slow draft/draft champions leagues into a larger overall contest with a prize pool for overall standings. That’s a GREAT idea, and terrific news for people without a lot of time to participate in a normal draft and plan FAAB acquisitions all season. All you’d do is participate in the slow draft, and then set your lineup (among only 45 players) each week. Count me in!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Catching Up

It's been tough keeping up posting with all of the excitement over Opening Day. Over the next few days, I'll see if I can get caught up. I'll start today by sharing my thoughts on my second NFBC Online Double Play draft. Going into it, I wanted to make a few changes from my strategy in the first one:

1. Get at least one more very strong starting pitcher.
2. Try to 'reach' on less of my favorite players, and I see if could make more 'value' picks.
3. Where possible, diversify by not picking players I had on the first team. I don't want an injury to kill the chances of both teams, so especially in the first five or six rounds I didn't want to repeat picks.
4. Use my bench to take advantage of the one game 'week 0' scoring period.
5. Get Matt Wieters and Francisco Liriano.

I definitely think I succeeded on the first count. My top three of Johnson, Hamels, and Anderson is a little strong than my other team (which has Lester, Anderson, and Slowey).

Hard to say whether I did a good job of getting value picks overall. Speed was definitely undervalued in this draft, so I think Reyes at 32 and Morgan at 185 were good value. Also, I think McLouth at 137 was good, and he certainly wasn't someone on my radar.

No repeats until C. Gonzalez at 89, so that part of my plan was successful.

Gardner and Okajima made sure that my 'week 0' strategy was worthwhile.

I reached a bit for Wieters at 56. Liriano was gone before 152, where I had planned to take him. I really think I'm going to regret not getting him on either team.

One other pick I'm questioning is Jason Werth at 41. Based on ADP, this represents good value. The reason I don't like it, is that I think really think Nelson Cruz is a superior player who fits the same profile. I didn't pick Cruz, because I thought there was a chance he'd make it back to me at which case I would have tried to wait until 65 for Wieters. It didn't work out that way, since Cruz went before my next pick.

My other mistake was not realizing that Rauch was still available when I took Madson. That could really cost me, if Lidge comes back relatively soon.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Another NFBC Double Play Online Draft

At the last minute I decided to do another NFBC Double Play Online. I'll list my full draft results here, and post some discussion in the next few days:

1 8 Miguel Cabrera 1B
2 17 Troy Tulowitzki SS
3 32 Jose Reyes SS
4 41 Jayson Werth OF
5 56 Matt Wieters C
6 65 Josh Johnson P
7 80 Cole Hamels P
8 89 Carlos Gonzalez OF
9 104 Jose Lopez 3B
10 113 Carlos Quentin OF
11 128 Brett Anderson P
12 137 Nate McLouth OF
13 152 A.J. Pierzynski C
14 161 Chad Qualls P
15 176 Mike Gonzalez P
16 185 Nyjer Morgan OF
17 200 Matt Lindstrom P
18 209 Ryan Madson P
19 224 Travis Snider OF
20 233 Justin Masterson P
21 248 Casey Blake 3B
22 257 Aaron Harang P
23 272 Aubrey Huff 1B
24 281 J.D. Drew OF
25 296 Brett Gardner OF
26 305 Daniel Bard P
27 320 Paul Maholm P
28 329 Hideki Okajima P
29 344 Felipe Paulino P
30 353 Damaso Marte P