AL Confidential: Taking Advantage Of Quirky Rules

by David Velardo

Sorry for the delay this week. After my auction I took a little vacation (as you may recall, my last article had me preparing for my auction). I had only 147 dollars available needing to purchase 24 players. The auction began approximately at 2:30 PM and I had the least amount of dollars among my league. By 4:30 PM I had purchased only one player, Livan Hernandez for $3 (hey I needed a starting pitcher and I got a little trigger happy).

(You may recall my league has us build two teams, 1 NL/ 1 AL, but stick with me here) By the first break I now had the fourth most dollar. Pretty good right? That means the league wore themselves out. For example here are just some of the prices guys went for in our league: Texeira-$40, Kinsler and Butler-$29, Markakis-$28 Pedroia, Upton and Morneau-$26, Abreu and Granderson-$25. Pitchers were even more inflated: Lester-$40, CC-$33, Weaver-$31, Haren and Rivera-$26, Papelbon and Beckett-$23, Ervin Santana and Lackey $17…

What could I do but continue to throw names out there so the league would continue to exhaust its dollars? By the time the second break rolled around close to 6 PM I now had THE MOST DOLLARS AVAILABLE…Time to get to work. My auction strategy tends to be this: When you don’t have the most dollars, think about the guys you want and wait three more rounds.

You don’t want to chase players when you are out manned in the room. As much as you might love Lester, CC, etc. you have a whole team to purchase so don’t get caught up in one specific player. Target similar players you might get at a discount but gives you somewhat similar production. For the first few rounds when you are down dollars it is better, in my opinion, to play the board (the amount of dollars left in the auction) rather than worry about certain players. Use a lot of restraint and realize there is no need to shoot your load two hours into the auction when you know you will be there for at least six hours.

If you really love Michael Pineda (hint, hint, hint) don’t bring him up during the first few rounds when everyone has lots of money to spend and doesn’t mind being stupid.  I recall thinking of Pineda after the 6 PM break but I still had to wait him out, maybe three or five more rounds. When the time came for me to utter his name I was ready to close in on him. Now I don’t know about you guys, but in my league there are always guys who will bid you up, challenging you to see if you will stand by your convictions on a player. So imagine my surprise when I bagged Pineda for only $8… now you might say “well sure Dave he might not start the year in the bigs, isn’t that a huge risk?” Well everything we’ve read is that he will eventually turn into another King Felix (kept for $33 this year by the way) coupled with the prices that pitchers went for, to me, $8 is a bargain. A huge bargain. I can wait a month or two for him if he doesn’t earn the job out of spring training. I was so over come with joy at my auction I had to take a moment to pause and smile.

When the worm turns and you do have the most dollars available in the room, don’t be afraid to over pay a $1 or 2 more. See if you send up a name for $1, most guys won’t mind screwing with you and saying $2… But if you start a guy out at $2 or $3 some guys, because they have wasted their money earlier spending $40 on Lester and/ or Texeira, won’t screw with you when they still have 14 slots to fill and only $50 to do so. In our league we allow owners to do something very silly. Once a name is thrown out there, Luis Tiant-$1… the bidding continues: 2,3,4,5… when the frenzy slows, one of us will pick up the cadence and say El Tiante-$5 going once, twice,… TIME OUT!

What? What is that you say? Yep, we allow guys to freeze the cadence and go to some fantasy baseball magazine to take one last look at El Tiante before the gavel comes down on him. Sometimes they bid him up, sometimes they don’t. It stinks. It slows the flow of the auction and no, we don’t keep track of how many time outs guys use. Some guys probably call 30 time outs during the auction, some call maybe 3. So much for preparation and knowing who you want going into the auction right? When time outs happen during the Alberto Callaspo bidding (no joke), I want to scream out “WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR…?”

So what I did this year, once I had the most dollars available, was to end those time outs quickly. How? Well if I had the lead bid on a guy say for $3, someone calls time out, pondering whether to bid $4.  Before they had the chance to do so I said you know what, while you think about it I will up my bid to $4. If the guy had doubt at whether to up the bid to 4 from 3, then there is no way he is coming out of the time out going from 4 to 5. Plus, I save myself a buck because if I don’t outbid “myself” here, then the time out ends, he bids $4 now I need to pay $5… I found quickly, upping the bid while someone goes into a time out ends the riff raff quickly.

Believe it or not I did buy more players besides Livan and Pineda. In the AL I found the following players in the later rounds: Hardy-$10, Lowrie-$6, Boesch-$5, Murphy-$11, Dan Johnson-$2, Betances-$3, Capps-$6, Fuentes-$8, Coke-$4, Jenks-$2, Dotel-$4, Slowey-$2. I got some cheap power. I found out during the auction Murphy may supplant Borbon fully for a full time job in Texas. I found a few possible closers in Jenks, Capps, Dotel, Fuentes… My one regret in the AL was not getting another stone cold closer, but with Rivera going for $26 and Papelbon going for $23… Tampa Bay Rookie “alleged co-closer” Mcgee went for $13… I took those $26 and bought Capps, Coke, Dotel, Jenks and Fuentes for a total of $24 instead.

So it’s March! EVERYONE IS IN CONTENTION. All of those pulled oblique injuries aside, isn’t it great that baseball is back? I am curious to learn about any weird or whacky trade rules you have in your leagues. In my league, dumping got out of hand early in the season. We also wanted to stress the importance of the auction. Therefore with an auction two weeks before the start of the season, we didn’t want someone trading Alex Gordon’s hot spring for $50 of real veteran value before the season began. Therefore two years ago we instituted a no trading allowed period from the moment the auction is over until May 1 each year. It drives trade junkies like me wild, but it also allows the dust to settle. You get to learn over the course of the first month of the season where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Good luck and god speed!

One comment

  1. Nick Tenaglia says:

    This isn’t a quirky rule so much as it is a strategy that can be utilized in keeper leagues… “Trade Depth for Quality”

    There are two types of keeper leagues: 1.) Ones where you keep almost all of your players (ie, 30 keepers out of 40 roster spots) – aka Dynasty Leagues; 2.) Ones where you keep half or less than half of your roster (ie, 15 keepers out of 30 roster spots). The concept of trading depth for quality typically only works in the non-Dynasty leagues. This is because you want to make sure that you have at least enough keepers for your Dynasty league and if you are trading 5 players for 1, that will severely lower your number of keepers very quickly.

    Anyways, I am in two leagues this year (a low number. Typically I am in 5 or 6): a Dynasty League and a Keeper League. In my Keeper league, right after the draft ended I sent out a ton of “Depth for Quality” trade offers and I got a couple hits on them…

    First I will go over the principles of how to do this strategy, and then give you a couple examples from this season.
    1. The number 1 most important rule is that you MUST be getting the best player in the deal. If you are giving up the best player plus two other players in order to get 2 mid-level players in return then this is not a “Depth for Quality” trade. The only exception to this rule is if you have a Top-Quality replacement for the player you are giving up (ie, You have Longoria and Zimmerman so you trade Zimmerman away)
    2. During your draft, make sure you stock up on positions of necessity. Its a simple “Supply and Demand” principle. Typically the most needed positions are Outfield and Catcher. So if you have 3 good catchers on your roster after the draft, then you can parlay at least one of them into a quality trade. Outfielders are good to stockpile because every team will need at least 3 or 4. So if you exit the draft with 5 or 6 quality OFs, then you can trade them away for players you want/need to fill holes.
    3. Make sure that the Free Agent pool has a suitable bench player for you to pick up in order to replenish the depth you are losing in the trade. So if you are trading away your last two mid-level 1Bs in order to get Ryan Howard in return, make sure that you can pick up a decent free agent 1B to serve as a backup bench player (ie Matt LaPorta, Brett Wallace or Brandon Belt). Yes you are taking a big risk that Howard might get injured and then you are stuck with the 25th best 1B as your only option, but if you want to win you need to take risks.
    Here are a couple of trades that I have made that fit this philosophy (PS- this is a points league, so I will use those numbers to determine the value of each player):

    ****1. Wright/Nolasco for Alvarez/Swisher/Neftali****
    David Wright is the best player in this deal. He is projected to get 510 pts (2nd most among 3B). This trade was essentially me trading Alvarez/Swisher for Wright. Alvarez is projected to be the 6th best 3B in our league, but I believe that Alvarez is going to have a sophomore slump season (just look at his peripheral numbers). Also, Swisher was my 4th best OF behind Cargo, Pagan and Kemp, meaning that he would either be a UTIL player or just a backup. Furthermore, I also had Logan Morrison and Michael Cuddyer as other OFs. Both players should only get a handful fewer points than Swisher, thus making Swisher expendable. Finally, Neftali is projected to be the #1 RP in our league based on points, but Nolasco is projected to earn more points than Neftali. So I am willing to punt the RP slot in order to earn more points.

    ****2. Howard/Buck for V-Mart/Logan Morrison****
    After the draft my only 1Bs were Mike Napoli and Michael Cuddyer. Napoli is also Catcher-eligible, but most likely will be a part-time player until injuries hit. Cuddyer will see full-time ABs, but is only projected to get about 400 pts, whereas Howard is projected for 500+. This is a tough deal to make because I am giving up the 2nd best catcher for only a minor upgrade at 1B. However, I have a couple things going in my favor: Howard is the better 1B keeper going forward; I have multiple catchers so I can replace V-Mart; there are a lot of decent replacements out on the waiver wire (Jesus Montero once he gets the call-up, Doumit/Snyder, Salty, Conger/Mathis). Lastly, if you add up the projected points for each side, it actually looks like I am on the losing end of this deal, but if I get Howard, then Morrison becomes a 4th or 5th OF for me, meaning that he is expendable.

    Anywyas, I realize this was super long, but when you are making trades in keeper leagues, you want to make sure that you have the best players possible to fill only those keeper spots. So in my league we have 15 keepers, meaning that if I have 20 players that I want to keep, that I should trade away 6 or 7 of them in order to get 2 players in return.

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