Sunday, November 1, 2009

Murderers' Row league -- now with more Cowbell

The Murderers' Row league manager roster is now complete with BWB and Robot baseball veteran Chris "Cowbell" Bellina capping the field of 16 for 2010.

I have asked Jon to randomize the teams into the four divisions.

Please expect a list draft (regular-way BWB draft) deadline of December 15th.

Any suggestions on any aspects of the league are welcome.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Murderers' Row Manager Update

We have 2 more managers on board since the last update:

1. Don Kruse -- 2 time division winner this year
2. Joe Lano -- Experts League champion

That makes 15 slots filled with one left open. Please let me know if you want to participate.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New BWB Payout League for 2010: Murderers' Row League

Starting in 2010 there will be another "money" league in the BWB fold (much like the Beer League) called the Murderers' Row league. All the managers pay their usual team fee (although it's discounted in this case) plus pay some additional prize-money cash which is aggregated into the payout pool. Payouts are distributed according to finishing results at the end of the season. The all-in payment for each manager will be $75. With 16 teams, that would make $1,200 in pay-ins, and subtracting out the $550 league fee, $650 remains for year-end cash payouts.

The payouts will be as follows:

Division winners: $50 each ($200 total)
League Runner-up: $150 more
League Champion : $300 more

This league has been constructed to include the most experienced, active, and dominant BWB managers from all the existing leagues: a Murderers' Row. Of the 16 slots available, 13 are already spoken for:

1 Andy Marquis
2 Dave Regan
3 Jacob Vass
4 Jerry King
5 Leif Jonson/Scott Campbell
6 Mike Prohaska
7 Phil Dang
8 Sherman Wan
9 Tom Twomey
10 Adam Wilson
11 Jesse Roche
12 Anthony Citarella
13 Matt Strawbridge

I am now opening up the last 3 slots for anyone else who may be interested in joining. The selection process will not be strictly first-come, first-served, as I will additionally be considering number of years played in BWB and past performances, but being amongst the first to respond certainly won't hurt. I would like to finalize the manager lineup by Halloween.

If you are interested, please leave a comment or even better, e-mail me here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Free Benchwarmer Baseball team for 2010

If you have been thinking about joining Benchwarmer Baseball for 2010 as a first-time owner, here is a great reason to join up before October 31st: you get your team for free.

From the Benchwarmer Baseball blog:

New Owner Specials - For brand new people who have never played Benchwarmer before, we're currently running a special through the end of October. They can sign up and get their first team in new leagues for free (normal prices apply for teams beyond the first). This is being advertised currently in USA Today Sports Weekly. Tell your friends - this is a great opportunity for them to try out Benchwarmer for a year at no risk!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Lenny Dykstra: Master of the Universe

A chronological walk through Lenny Dykstra's days as a financial guru.

Video: The World According to Lenny

Link: The "Lenny Dykstra will explain his deep-in-the-money call options (now 76-0 for the year) at Investment Conference on Saturday, Oct. 25. Limited seating. Act now."

Video: Cramer praises Dykstra -- Stock Picking Genius "One of the great ones."

Video: Mike Francesa dismisses Bryant Gumbel's skepticism

GQ Article: Working for the devil ... one man's tale of working for Lenny Dykstra

ESPN Article: Dykstra's business: a bed of 'Nails'
Even members of Dykstra's family are lined up on the list of those to whom he owes money. His older brother, Brian, has yet to collect a $12,000 judgment awarded by the California Labor Relations Board. His younger brother, Kevin, alleges Dykstra cheated him out of $4 million on the sale of the family-run car washes, though Kevin hasn't filed suit.

On April 16, Terri, Dykstra's wife of more than 20 years and the mother of their three boys, filed for divorce. Through her attorney, she declined to comment for this story.

The family rift runs so deep that until recently, Dykstra had spoken to his mother only once in the past three years, according to his brothers, and wasn't allowing her any contact with his sons, her grand children.

Last month, though, on March 23, Dykstra picked up the phone and woke up his mother with a call at around 6 in the morning, according to Kevin Dykstra, his younger brother. Lenny was stranded in Cleveland. He wanted to charter a jet so he could get to a business meeting on the West Coast, and his credit cards were maxed out. He needed nearly $23,000 and asked his mother for it, Kevin says.

His mother agreed to let him use her credit card.

Video: HBO Real Sports revisits the Dykstra story in 2009

Video: CNBC after-math interview His story about dealings with someone with a speech impediment (and his bankruptcy, of course).

What I would like to know is: was the Player's Club annuity a planned Ponzi scheme? It's seems like it.


August 2009 update on Dykstra saga -- Lenny living in his car

Friday, July 24, 2009

Baseball's Best TV Broadcast Team?

Although I am a Yankee fan, I wind up watching these guys at least 80 times a year.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

2nd Annual Draft Bug Blogger Invitational Results

The results are in for the 2nd Annual Draft Bug Blogger Invitational and I finished 5th of 10. [Or put another way, I beat 5 teams and lost to 4. A 5-4 record just sounds better to me.] Not so bad I guess considering I never played before. At least I did not embarass myself.

I had a solid pick with my starting pitcher -- Ubaldo Jiminez -- who racked up 31 of my 53 total points. Lester's Legends finished 1st with 68 points thanks to a bunch of his players hitting home runs (including Franklin Gutierrez). Congrats to Ryan of

My team results are here:

OF Nelson Cruz TEX
1 K -1pts

OF Melky Cabrera NYY
1 1B 1pts

OF Jermaine Dye CWS
1 2B, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K 5pts

1B Joey Votto CIN
1 R, 2 BB 3pts

2B Chase Utley PHI
1 1B, 1 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 K 8pts

3B Pablo Sandoval SFG
2 1B 2pts

SS Marco Scutaro TOR
2 BB, 1 K 1pts

C Jorge Posada NYY
1 2B, 1 BB 3pts

SP Ubaldo Jimenez COL
1 W, 7 IP, 3 H, 10 K, 3 ER, 4 BB 31pts

This event had no entry fee, but offered some nominal prizes (credits for additional Draft Bug games). However Draft Bug participants can play for each day real money. If I could find an easier way to create a database of player stats and Draft Bug salaries in order to run my models, I would consider playing more games. If you like daily action, Draft Bug may be of interest to you. If it sounds like too much work, then Benchwarmer Baseball probably continues to be a better fit.

Thanks to Alex Zelvin at Draft Bug for the invite and I hope to participate more in the future.

For those who may be curious, all of the participants were as follows:

Alex -
Sean -
Dave H. -
Dave R. -
Charlie -
Josh -
Jay -
Ryan -
Mark -
Tim -
Troy -
Carl -

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

5 Differences between Draft Bug and Benchwarmer Baseball

I will be participating in the 2nd Draftbug Blogger Invitational on this Friday, July 17th. For those of you that may not be familiar with Draft Bug, I wanted to lay out the main differences between the play styles for that game versus the format generally discussed on this blog: Benchwarmer Baseball.

The styles are drastically different, with these aspects being the most significant:

1. Lineups: Daily v. Weekly

In Draft Bug, a manager purchases players for that day's games, and that's it. The focus is on maximizing expected points per salary dollar. In Benchwarmer, players are also purchased based on their salaries, but are kept for the whole year on a 40-man roster.

2. Scoring

Draftbug is scored using a point system as follows:

1B = 1 pt
2B = 2 pt
3B = 3 pt
HR = 4 pt
R = 1 pt
RBI = 1 pt
BB = 1 pt
SB = 2 pt
K = -1 pt
W = 10 pt
L = -3 pt
SV = 7 pt
IP = 3 pt
H = -1 pt
K = 1 pt
ER = -1 pt
BB = -1 pt

Benchwarmer is scored using a model that incorporates not only all of these same counting statistics for a team's players for a given game, but also those of the head-to-head opponent for that given game. Additionally, Benchwarmer lineups are built like in real baseball. The lineup order is critical in the scoring calculation as a Run scored in a MLB game will not count in the BWB game unless someone has an RBI lower down in the order.

3. Salaries

Draft Bug player salaries are driven off of supply and demand as in a secondary securities market, and change on a daily basis. This would be similar to having a daily auction draft in order to determine prices. Benchwarmer player salaries are generated once a year and are based on the past 2 years' performance.

4. Rosters

In Draft Bug, a team consists of 9 position players with 1 starting pitcher and 1 closer. In Benchwarmer, a team consists of a starting lineup, bench, full starting rotation, bullpen, and minor leagues.

5. Transactions

There are no add/drops or trades in Draft Bug as each team is dissolved after each day. Players can stay on teams for years in Benchwarmer Baseball as 28 keepers are allowed and transactions run during both during the season and in the off-season as well.


The biggest take-away from this is that over a whole season, a given MLB ballplayer will perform within a reasonable range of expectations. However, in one given day, the player will either: 1. not play at all (bad outcome), or 2. perform within a very wide range of potential outcomes (not very helpful). This means that luck is a much greater factor for any given daily contest. We can be fairly confident that Prince Fielder will hit more home runs than Mike Napoli over a full season, but for a daily match-up, confidence drops precipitously.

The strongest of the Draft Bug players utilize forecasting models in order to determine which daily match-ups in the MLB games for that day are the most attractive, and then build a team within the salary constraints. Given the large luck factor, the utility of these models is diminished over a one-game period, but should provide an edge over many games played during an entire season. Much like a game of poker, a player with skill has very little advantage in any one hand, but an increasingly larger advantage over longer and longer time periods. In order to play this many hands, a systematic approach becomes a necessity.

Since I am only playing one game, building a team using models is probably not completely necessary, as it probably cannot overcome the luck factor. However, I did go through the effort of building my own model as the information will provide me with a window into what the model-driven players' preferences. Armed with this intelligence, one can (hopefully) build a differentiated (and winning) team.

I will be posting my final lineup at 7:00pm Friday July 17th.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pittsburgh Baseball: Bad team, Great ballpark

Twelve voters have cast their ballots to date in the "Ballpark Poll" on this site, and PNC Park is the clear leader so far with 7 votes. As a lot of the visitors to this site hail from the east coast and lake region/midwest, it is not overly surprising that there have been more than a few visits to PNC. Over 50% of the voters chose PNC as one of their top three selections (me included).

I saw a game at PNC Park last year against the Mets in August with Pedro on the mound. The stadium was pretty near capacity and had a great atmosphere. My favorite things about PNC Park were:

1. Great bars outside. There are a few nice bars right outside the ball park entrance with outdoor seating. Compare this to Yankee Stadium (my local park), where all the bars are dark, dingy, and under the elevated subway train tracks, and Pittsburgh suddenly looks like Nirvana.

2. Souvenir ball chances. It is really easy at PNC to wander into the left field outfield stands during BP and maybe grab a fly ball. At Yankee Stadium, they have ticket-checkers at every possible junction and aisle to make sure your papers are in order and prevent seat-hopping. Phooey.

3. Great food. Primanti Brothers' Pittsburgh Style Pastrami Sandwich: fries right on your sandwich! A heart-attack special, but totally delicious. I understand you can also get some Polish specialties -- pierogies!, kielbasa! -- but I don't remember seeing them when I was there. (There's always next time...)

4. Local beers. Whether local beers are tasty or not does not really matter to me. I just drink them regardless to add to the local experience. There was plenty of Iron City Beer to be had, and a few other kinds that I didn't get to try last visit. Much better than places that sell primarily Budweiser and Bud Light. (Yes, I'm looking at you Yankee Stadium!)

5. It's not really crowded. The NYC ballparks are often times sold-out so seats are hard to come by, and they're really expensive anyways. Seats behind home plate in Pittsburgh are reasonably available and you don't need to sell a kidney to buy a pair.

6. PNC has great views. The city views over the outfield walls are fantastic with those terrific yellow bridges. Also, the open stairway connecting the lower and upper decks in left field makes for a great viewing vantage point from the outfield.

NEXT VISIT >> I am glad to see Citizens Bank Ballpark ranking high (3rd) in the poll, as that is my next planned out-of-town ballgame destination. Either this year or next, I hope to also visit Miller Park (no votes yet?!?) and Kauffman Stadium. Kauffman is 5th on the poll currently, so the stadium must be offering more than mediocre baseball (and I hope it's ribs!!).

Sunday, July 12, 2009

All-Star Break Baseball Recommended Reading

Here are some recent baseball articles I have come across that have been pretty fun reading:

Earl Weaver: A Mind For The Game
from Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated. Weaver was always fiery and I remember him getting tossed out of so many games against the Yankees. But he was money well before Moneyball.

This Rickey Henderson Sports Illustrated article isn't new, but it's another Tom Verducci classic. Also, Rickey wants to remind GM's to not forget about him just because he's going into the Hall of Fame this year.

Today marks the 30th year anniversary of Disco Demolition Night at the old Comiskey Park. Here is the New York Times retrospective and the old local news coverage (h/t for the video: 1980 Topps).

Good-bye Sister Disco.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Newbie School: Time to Cut Bait

An extremely important date is on the horizon for Benchwarmer Baseball: The Final Day for Salary Rebates. This year the deadline is July 15th -- a Wednesday, and just 10 days away.

Any player that you release by that day, you will receive back 40% of their salary. Release the player after that... you get stugots. It's like going to the Salvation Army with your old lava lamp, double-breasted suits, and Van Halen CD collection... and getting a tax receipt in return! It's junk you didn't want anyways, so why not monetize it?

I look through my roster and put to each player "The Questions": 1) is this player helping me this year to win a championship, and 2) will I keep this player for next year? If you have two "No" answers, either try to trade the dead-weight for a player that gives you a "Yes", or else just make an outright release. That's good money you can use to extend contracts or use in the off-season.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

1987 Giveaway

If there are any card collectors in the audience, the Collective Troll is giving away team sets from 1987 Donruss Opening Day. I took the Royals, but there still lots of teams left. Good luck!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

BWB Newbie School: Starting Pitching, a Case Study

The New Fairfield Neanderthals were taken over this year as an orphan team after having a dismal year last season at the hands of The Notorious Kelly Smith. My early season prediction for the Neanderthals was at best a .500 record considering the many weaknesses of the team at that time. Team owner Russ has managed to guide the team to a 36-30 (.545) record to date, which stands at 4th best in the entire league! In looking at their roster, one would not think this would be possible: the lineup features Russell Martin, Adam LaRoche, and Chris B. Young as the 3-4-5 hitters! So what gives?

It comes down to one thing: starting pitching, period. New Fairfield has allowed the least amount of runs per game in the entire league (4.2) despite having only one closer and carrying an injured Hong-Chih Kuo.

Let's take a look:

P1 Josh Beckett 4171
P2 Carlos Zambrano 4220
P3 Edwin Jackson 2346
P4 Aaron Harang 4016
P5 Zach Duke 2062

S1 Ross Ohlendorf 267
S2 Jason Hammel 545

Although none of the starters were ranked in the Top 5 at the beginning of the season, they are mostly solid veteran pitchers (with the exception being Edwin Jackson's shorter career), and the rotation is dependable from 1 through 5. Additionally, Harang and Beckett came off of down years, so their contracts were reasonably priced. The spot starters are nothing to get excited about, but Ohlendorf has been healthy all year and can be relied on in case a starter misses a start or two. Basically, New Fairfield ranks very highly in the Starting Pitching ERA category -- simple as that.

It has been suggested in the past (by Andy, I do believe) that Benchwarmer Baseball comes down to pitching, and I am not sure I am a convert, but it is clear that having 5 strong pitchers in the rotation can turn a weak team into a contender fairly quickly.

Hey Russ! If you actually take Coco out of the lineup, replace Kuo and Howie Kendrick, you may even take a run for the division. (But since I'm first in the division right now, I hope you're not reading this!)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Experts League To-Date: Top 3 Positive Surprises

In my Benchwarmer Baseball Experts League season preview, I detailed my brief analysis for the outlooks for all of the Experts' teams.

After comparing my review with the current standings, these are my top 3 positive surprises in the league to date:

1. Jerry King's Rock Ridge Specials standing in first place in their division by 2 games (I picked them 2nd) despite losing Manny to suspension, suffering through Fatty Kruk's slow start, and having Carlos Quentin playing injured.

2. Tom Harms' Heat Wave Hot being 1 GB in a closely fought division. Honestly, the team still doesn't look that strong to me and may be susceptible to fading in the standings. If Tom can make some roster adjustments to sure-up a depleted starting pitching staff, perhaps he can hang around.

3. Brad Berreman's Fantasy Outsiders having the overall best record in the league with a winning percentage of .682. Of course, it helps to play in the same division as the single worst team in the league, Collin Hager's Erie Warriors, who is mired at 13-31. Regardless, I figured the Fantasy Outsiders for 3rd in the division at the beginning of the season. Powered by A-Gone and A-Rod, the team is currently injury free and should put up a good battle versus Howard Bender's 2nd place RotoBuzz Boyzz (tied for the 2nd best record in the league).

The races are all fairly close and roster management very well may be the deciding factor in determining the division leaders at the end of the season.

Vote in the sidebar poll for (up to) 3 experts you think have the best chance of winning it all this year.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dismantling a First Place Team

It's about that time of year when you have a pretty good idea if you should be a buyer or seller in thinking about a year-end game plan. Although my Jundland Wastes are tied for first place in the division in the Shadowball League, it seems unlikely that this team will be able to win the Championship this year due to injuries to Brandon Webb, off-season acquisition Aramis Ramirez, and recent DL tripper Grady Sizeless. In thinking about 2010 and beyond, the Wastes do have some fine young players to build around, so contention for next year is the goal of this rebuilding project. To that end, I look to be very active in the trading market over the next few months to hopefully acquire players to help the team next year and beyond.

Here is a quick overview of my team and forward-looking plan for each player:

Name ML Team Pos Salary Contract
Brandon Webb Ari SP 7205
>On the DL so I do not expect a lot of interest for this year. Very happy to keep him for 2010 when he'll have a lower salary.

Tim Lincecum SF SP 6491 2011
>It is my estimation that this signing is the most valuable in the league as no player with as high a productivity value as measured by salary is under a contract for as long as 2011. Lincecum offers about $16mm in value free and clear thanks to the long contract (all else equal). It would take a nice package for me to move him.

Grady Sizemore Cle OF 5920
>On the DL currently; may need elbow surgery. Will hold for next year.

Brad Lidge Phi RP 5730 2009
>Signed for this year, so despite the slow start to the season, could be a valuable piece for another team and a chip I would consider trading at the right price.

Aramis Ramirez ChC 3B 4624
>Biggest disappointment for me this year. On the DL. Will hold for next year but would entertain offers in a month or so after he's back from the DL.

Garrett Atkins Col 1B, 3B 4190
>Let's be realistic: No trade value.

Kevin Youkilis Bos 1B, 3B 3855
>Lots of value here with the productivity and position flexibility. Would entertain offers, but they would have to be very strong. Figures into 2010 roster.

Brian Roberts Bal 2B 3757
>Figures into 2010 roster. Great top-of-the-lineup guy.

David Bush Mil SP 3063
>Decent P4-P5.

Corey Hart Mil OF 3003 2010
>Signed through 2010, so he can play in the starting lineup or the bench and save a team some money. Figures into 2010 roster but would entertain offers.

Wandy Rodriguez Hou SP 2930
>I'll probably look to sign Wandy to an extension.

Heath Bell SD RP 1751
>Looking like an extension here too.

Jack Cust Oak OF 1724
>Decent player and not very expensive. Not as attractive as Corey Hart.

Marco Scutaro Tor 2B, 3B, SS 1467
>I have Scutaro in a few leagues. Great year so far with great positional flexibility. Figures into 2010 roster plans but would talk trade here.

Alexei Ramirez CWS 2B, SS, OF 1289
>Great flexibility, but underperforming high expectations. Good bench player.

Rick Ankiel StL OF 1147 2010
>Just traded Beau Mills for Ankiel. Having a slow year (lost his HGH?) but I like that he's under contract. Figures into 2010 roster.

Mark Loretta LAD 2B, 3B, SS 910
>Good bench player.

Daric Barton Oak 1B 853 2009
>He's still on my squad?? Need to remedy that.

Clayton Kershaw LAD SP 719 2011
>Nice signing here. Figures into 2010 roster.

Carlos Ruiz Phi C 713
>Nothing to get excited about here. Would look to upgrade for 2010.

Elijah Dukes Was OF 629
>Could be a starter or bench player. DL stint and crowded outfield has taken away some early-season playing time. Definate 20/20 potential.

Frank Francisco Tex RP 603
>Doing a great job in TEX and will be extended. Figures into 2010 roster.

Willy Aybar TB 3B, 1B, 2B 560
>Nice bench player. Figures to get more playing time with Aki gone for the season.

Santiago Casilla Oak RP 446 2009
>Free player for this year with good numbers. Could be a trade piece to upgrade a bullpen at no dollar cost.

Chris Coste Phi C 406
>No comment.

Leo Nunez Fla RP 272
>Closer in waiting? I'm waiting. Figures into 2010 roster.

Rick VandenHurk Fla SP 216
>So injured, so often.

Homer Bailey Cin SP 127 2010
>AAAA pitcher? No one knows for sure.

Josh Outman Oak SP 106
>Nice start to season so far. Figures into 2010 roster.

Brett Anderson Oak SP 100
>More heralded than Outman, but making less outs, man. (That was bad... sorry) Figures into 2010 roster.

Andrew Bailey Oak RP 100
>Extending. Figures into 2010 roster.

So, there are some attractive players for other teams, most of which are under contract for this year. So for teams making the run in 2009, I should see some interest.

I will be posting finalized trades as the season progresses. If you're in Shadowball and have some prospects or other useful players to deal, please feel free to drop me an e-mail or trade offer and we can try to work something out to help each of us.

Monday, May 4, 2009

BWB Newbie School: Setting Lineups

I recently had an e-mail exchange with one of the new players to Benchwarmer Baseball for this year regarding the timing of setting lineups. I thought it would be helpful to post my thoughts from that exchange here, and ask for any additional thoughts from the experienced BWB players (as I may be wrong!):

Q: Our roster is illegal but the site is not allowing line-up changes.

A: In looking at the Transaction Schedule, the past set of add/drops were during Week 4, which means those players will be available for the Week 5 games. Although it currently says your lineup is illegal, you will have an opportunity to set your Week 5 lineups before that week starts, so you will not have an illegal lineup for any weeks.

In a sense, you are setting your lineups for a week in advance, so perfect timing is very tricky with BWB. I take an approach whereby I set a lineup that is fairly all-weather (one that can endure 1 or 2 players being injured) to avoid this difficulty.

So, don't sweat it like you would a regular ROTO league where you set lineups every Monday. The deadlines will be fluid over the season due to the nature of the real MLB games having rain-outs, so I just check-in when Jon sends out an e-mail, and when it says you can make changes to your team, that's when I do it. That approach has served me well.

Jon and others: any additional advice that you can impart on this topic?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Experts League Massacres

It looks like some of the experts in the Experts League are off to slow starts in Benchwarmer Baseball. Certainly, the talent evaluation was strong all around, but proper roster management is severely lacking in many cases.

When in doubt about how to structure a BWB roster, a manager should simply consider: How would I set the lineup/rotation/bullpen on a real MLB team?

Here is some helpful guidance for those team off to slow starts in the form of some practical applications (you know who you are):

1. Drop non-useful players off your Taxi Squad if you need to stash players on long-term DL stints.

Application: It's time to drop Brandon Backe from the Taxi Squad to make room for both Alex Gordon and Ryan Doumit in his place. Don't worry, Backe will still be a free agent when you want to sign him again. After Gordon and Doumit are on the Taxi Squad and off the bench, add 2 bench players that will actually play.

2. Put minor league players... in the Minors. You can stash 12 of them there (and even major leaguers making 250 or less), so don't take up a spot on your active roster.

Application: Neither Joe Mather nor Homer Bailey made their big clubs, but each make 250 or less, so it's time to shuttle them down to the minors and pick up some major leaguers.

Application: News flash! Dayan Viciedo is not the starting 3rd baseman for the ChiSox; time for Plan B.

3. Have a back-up catcher. Catchers are the starting players that get the most days off during the season; you don't need to be an expert to know this. Therefore, a backup catcher will be used a lot on your Benchwarmer team.

Application: If your starting catcher is Joe Mauer and your back-up catcher is Matt Weiters, you are actually currently playing with NO catchers on your team. Any catcher is better than no catchers. A ghost-player (a Benchwarmer Batter) will be used when no one is available, and will go 0-for-5 with 2 Errors *every game*. Even Matt Treanor is better than that.

4. Your bullpen should have 2 MLB closers in R1 and R2.

Application: Even though your current R2 reliever may be a better major-league pitcher than your 2nd best closer (let's say Brad Ziegler), your pitching score will be optimized with Zielger's saves being counted in the R2 spot rather than discarded in the R5 spot.

Parting thought:

At the beginning of the season, I marked Joe Lano's JerseyHitmen as the "Best in League" due to player quality. In order to win the championship this year, however, the Experts will need to show a large amount of roster-management savvy. My suspicion that experience may prove the difference in the long-run -- specifically with Leif Jonson and his Hogan's Heroes -- is looking to be an even larger difference maker than I had originally thought. Benchwarmer Baseball is much more like running a real team and organization than is traditional Roto or Head-to-Head. We shall see over the season which experts have merely a collection of players like a Roto squad, and which ones have assembled cohesive, winning teams.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Benchwarmer Experts League: 2009 Season Preview

Here is a quick preview of the Benchwarmer Baseball Experts League from my perspective based on the lineups as they stand currently:

=== 20th Century Conference ===

PRINT DIVISION: Predicted Final Standings

1] Men Injecting Men - Fantasy on Roids -- Christian Ingram

The Frankie and Johnny bullpen with K-Rod and Papelbon; it doesn't get much stronger at the top. However with Joba looking like a starter, bullpen slots 3 through 5 look so polluted. Lineup is quite strong as well, with the starting rotation showing quality with Francisco Liriano and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

2] Rock Ridge Specials -- Jerry King

It's nice to see Manny and The Big Puma (aka Fatty Kruk) back together again. This duo helped power my Boar's Nest lineup for many years. Bullpen needs a few things to fall their way to ensure at least 2 closers are on staff, but starting rotation is solid.

3] Colter's BeanStalks -- Craig Bennett

Offense has good speed and power combo with Jimmy Rollins, Denard Span, Lastings Milledge, Aramis Ramirez, Jermaine Dye, and Derrek Lee. Perhaps the strongest starting rotation 1 through 5 with Johan Santana, Chad Billingsley, Adam Wainwright, Josh Johnson, and Ryan Dempster.

4] Lancaster Massacres -- Dan Massey

With only 53 Benchwarmer Bucks left, Lancaster looks like a team that ran out of cash before the finishing touches were completed. Fortunately the roster has lots of great players as a foundation and some more money coming for week one. The lineup features Sizemore, Jeter, Uggla, Mauer, and Delgado. This team has a very AL-centric vibe to me with 19 of 27 players coming from the junior circuit.

AIRWAVES DIVISION: Predicted Final Standings

1] Hogan's Heroes -- Leif Jonson

Benchwarmer's reigning BASH CHAMP has perhaps the best pitching staff in the Experts League with Felix Hernandez, Roy Oswalt, Anibal Sanchez, Cliff Lee, and Brett Myers with Kerry Wood, Heath Bell, Brandon Morrow, Francisco Cordero, and Justin Masterson. Good morning, good afternoon, and good night. The lineup looks like it needs an upgrade somewhere to be considered well above average, but as an experienced BWB'er, I'm sure Leif will tweak this team just right. Fun fact: the only team with 5(!) catchers in the lineup/bench.

2]'s Doctors of Don Juan -- Phil Mackey

This team looks very strong and balanced except for one glaring hole: a #2 closer. The lineup looks like it will produce runs with Chase Utley and Kevin Youkilis in the middle, and the starting rotation is strong with Scott Kazmir, Rich Harden, and Matt Cain, but Brad Lidge needs some support.

3] Benchwarmer Mendoza Liners -- Jon Swanson

Starting rotation is the strong suit here, with an effective bullpen if Troy Percival can hold onto the closer's job for the entire season. The Commish will need to shore up the offense a bit as the lineup lacks legitimate run scorers at the top.

4] NY/NJ Fantasy Phenoms -- Jason Sarney

This team is incomplete and in a little disarray currently. There are some great players in Hanley Ramirez, Matt Holliday, Nick Markakis, Carlos Beltran, and Josh Beckett, amongst others, but this teams needs to be completed with some everyday players in starting roles.

Best in Conference: Men Injecting Men - Fantasy on Roids -- Christian Ingram

Christian has the best team right now, but Leif's experience may prove the difference-maker between his winning the conference title or not.

=== 21st Century Conference ===

WEB DIVISION: Predicted Final Standings

1] JerseyHitmen -- Joe Lano

Best team balance between offense, starting pitching, and bullpen. No real shortcomings on this team. Highlights include Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, and Evan Longoria hitting 3,4,5, and a rotation topped with Tim Lincecum.

2] RotoExperts Renegades -- Doug Anderson

Close second, but a question mark in the bullpen with Jason Motte. If he can be effective, Renegades will stay in the hunt. Also need Ryan Theriot and Vernon Wells to set the table well for Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard.

3] NYC -- Scott Swanay

Close battle between #3 and #4 in the division. NYC gets a small edge for deeper starting rotation. Run production will rely on a healthy season from David Ortiz.

4] Heat Wave Hot -- Tom Harms

Good offense, but back-end of rotation containing John Lannan, Cha Seung Baek, and Russ Ohlendorf may easily struggle.

BLOGS DIVISION: Predicted Final Standings

1] FB Buzz Boyzz -- Howard Bender

A mix of young and old, David Wright and Jason Bay look for support from Raul Ibanez and Paul Korenko. Starting pitching and bullpen are very solid as a staff, if not individually spectacular.

2] Erie Warriors -- Collin Hager

Offense is relying on Diamondbacks to come through: Steven Drew, Conor Jackson, and Chris B. Young. Starting rotation solid, but bullpen only has one closer.

3] Fantasy Outsiders -- Brad Berreman

Solid starting lineup and very deep bullpen. Bench has 4 backup outfielders and Nick Swisher (OF/1B), just in case none of them are available. This type of bench worked for the Milford Mohawks in their Hall of Fame League Championship year.

4] Fantasy Bullpen -- Alex Geshwind

Very solid starting rotation with Brandon Webb, Justin Verlander, Manny Parra, Andy Pettite, and Scott Baker. The team however is currently incomplete, so the outlook is not great.

Best in conference: JerseyHitmen -- Joe Lano

Joe did a tremendous job drafting a team that is well balanced to compete for this year, but also looks like it has longevity with quality prospects.

Best in League: JerseyHitmen -- Joe Lano

Good luck to all -- we'll be watching closely and look forward to reading about your thoughts along the way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

George Brett 1976 Topps featured

By the way, I need this 1976 card to complete my George Brett Topps series collection. If anyone has it and wants to deal it to me, please let me know.

Triple Crown League: 1st Round Draft Done

My strategy going into the draft was to try for only 1 or 2 highly-competed-after picks like these guys, and then try for players who I thought would go uncontested. Overall, the strategy worked okay. I did not acquire any of the high-consensus picks, but landed Joba. I missed a few lower-consensus picks that I really wanted, but did wind-up with a lot of uncontested players. In fact, I have 24 players already when most teams have about 12-14. This should give me an advantage in the later stage drafts because I can focus on a few areas. My team is fairly strong so far:

Chase Utley Phi 2B
Mark Teixeira NYY 1B
Jack Cust Oak OF

Adam Jones Bal OF
Mike Aviles KC 2B, SS 3B
Willy Aybar TB 3B 1B, 2B
Ryan Freel Bal OF 2B, 3B

Chien-Ming Wang NYY SP
Andy Sonnanstine TB SP
Joba Chamberlain NYY RP

Spot Starters:
Carl Pavano Cle SP
Gio Gonzalez Oak SP

Joel Hanrahan Was RP
Jeff Samardzija ChC RP

Minor leagues:
Wade Davis TB SP
Yonder Alonso Cin 1B
Rick Porcello Det SP
Alcides Escobar Mil SS
Jason Heyward Atl OF
Nick Adenhart LAA SP
Ryan Perry Det RP
Christian Friedrich Col SP
Daniel Schlereth Ari RP
Carlos Santana Cle C

So far I have a good power core, flexible bench, middle to back-end of my rotation, not much in the bullpen yet, and a very strong minor league crop containing a few top 50 prospects. With $30 million left to spend, I can go after some high-priced players to round out the roster.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Casey at the Bat

Baseball season is only about a week away, so as tradition has it, it is again time to read Ernest Thayer's epic poem "Casey at the Bat". The Baseball Card Blog has a particularly special take on the time-honored classic. Enjoy.

Free Benchwarmer Baseball Teams for New Players

Alert! Benchwarmer Baseball is offering an extra-ordinary opportunity to join the league at no cost to new players. This is limited, however, to only the 6 teams that were left as orphans after the drafting phase in the Commissioner's League. A quick perusal of the teams finds that perhaps the Hamburg Kaiserkellers (Jay Bruce, Tim Lincecum, Mariano Rivera) and the St. Vincent Fays (C.C. Sabathia, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Beltran) offer the most exciting rosters.

If you like baseball simulation games along the lines of Strat-O-Matic, learning about Benchwarmer Baseball should be worth your while. For a very good description of Benchwarmer Baseball, see contributor Joe Lano's account of his Benchwarmer Baseball draft. Joe is competing in a special Expert's League against other fantasy baseball gurus. Also, check out the BWB Tour.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Benchwarmer Baseball 16 Most Contested Draft Players

There has been 3 drafts so far this off season in Benchwarmer Baseball that have been strictly list-style: Blue and Gray League, Experts League, and Bleed Dodger Blue League. The information contained in the contested picks is quite interesting and valuable when considering the development of one's own draft sheet. Additionally, the information is also value for non-drafters, as it can be viewed as a general ranking of which players are deemed most desirable and valuable. By taking the three lists of contested players, the number of times each player was chosen by a team, and then summing them, we can derive an overall ranking of the 16 most contested players in Benchwarmer Baseball:

1. Francisco Liriano / 751 salary (31 times chosen over 3 drafts)
2. Yovani Gallardo / 508 (29)
3. Cameron Maybin / 100 (26)
4. Matt Wieters / 100 (26)
5. Clayton Kershaw / 719 (23)
6. Alexei Ramirez / 1289 (22)
7. Ian Kinsler / 2276 (22)
8. David Price / 100 (21)
9. Max Scherzer / 609 (21)
10. Francisco Liriano / 751 (20)
11. Cameron Maybin / 100 (19)
12. Chris Davis / 698 (19)
13. Pablo Sandoval / 200 (19)
14. Matt Wieters / 100 (18)
15. Yovani Gallardo / 508 (17)
16. 4 players tied (16)

This differs quite meaningfully from my previous list of the Top 16 Draft Targets for Benchwarmer Baseball primarily because this player list above tends to contain more prospective picks on a relative basis. Both lists, however, are loaded with great talent, with the list above displaying the league's view of most attractive contracts in Benchwarmer.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Bizarro League: Open Slots Available

The bizarro fantasy baseball league "Worst League Ever" -- where poor play is rewarded -- is set to begin its draft in the coming week. If you missed the previous post of this league, you can find it here. Simply put, you seek to roster a team with the weakest everyday players such as Julio Lugo and Jason Varitek (no, the fact that they are both Red Sox is not a coincidence) score the most points. Cheer along as Carlos Silva gives up a homer, Huston Street blows another saves, and Derek Jeter boots a ball,then hits into a double play. (How's that for even-handed blogging?) Let me know if you would like to join this low-stakes, high-fun league.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kelly Smith Reign of Terror Over

One cannot start to discuss the New Fairfield Neanderthals, one of the Original 12 teams in Benchwarmer Baseball, without first discussing its heritage. Originally known as the Estes Park Jigglypuffs in 2000 and 2001, the franchise won their division in 2001 and competed in the championship series (but lost to Springfield). The team was then taken over by Russ D in 2002 and renamed the Brewster Birdmen. Under Russ' skilled guidance, the franchise took the division title again in 2002, this time by a narrow margin of 1 game. After consecutive 2nd place finishes in 2005 and 2006, in a surprising event, Russ stepped away from Benchwarmer Baseball, leaving the team in the hands of two different owners in 2007 and 2008. (If I were to mention that Kelly Smith was at the helm in 2008 and left the team in utter disrepair, this would not send shock-waves through the greater Benchwarmer community. From 2000 to 2003, Kelly managed to turn the Norwalk franchise into also-rans, posting a .363 winning record in his last season. However, the league had a lot of fun times with Kelly in it, laughing with and at him as he wheeled-and-dealed in order to find that winning combination that could capture the league pennant... he never did.)

Fast forwarding to today, Russ D has returned to the Benchwarmer fold to bring this venerable franchise that went to the Hall of Fame League Championship Series in back-to-back years of 2001 and 2002 back to its previous glory. Assessing the Kelly-damage, the Neanderthals look as follows:


A few star positional players in Russell Martin and Carl Crawford; a strong bullpen featuring Huston Street, Hong-Chih Kuo, Manny Delcarmen, Octavio Dotel, and Joel Zumaya; a starting rotation anchored by Josh Beckett and Carlos Zambrano; and lots of cash: 12475 BW bucks


Not a single player in the minors leagues -- obviously scouting and player development was not a primary focus under the Smith administration; Russ has started to address this area already

It's great to have some of the old Benchwarmer Baseball veterans back in the Hall of Fame league (and in my division) and I look forward to some intense rivalries over the coming seasons.

Bizarro fantasy league: Worst League Ever

No, this is not a Benchwarmer Baseball post, but instead a post about a bizarro fantasy baseball league that I run called "Worst League Ever". Last year was the inaugural season of WLE and was run on the Yahoo site as a points league with 9 teams. Points are awarded for futility, with the following values:

Offensive categories:

GIDP / 10 points
Caught Stealing / 5 points
Error / 3 points
Strike Out / 1 point
Total bases / -1 point (this filters players that are actually productive sluggers)

Pitching catergories:

Blown Save / 10 points
Loss / 5 points
Home Run issued / 3 points
BB issued / 1 point
Strike out / -1 point

David Schaffer was the 2008 champion, employing a strategy that rostered players named in the Mitchell Report, rather than statistical analysis. It worked. Eric Gagne was particularly valuable as he blew saves by the bunches while he held the closer position in Milwaukee. After losing that role, his value plummeted. The ideal players are those that are not very productive (or, even better, counter-productive), but still manage to hold a major league starting role.

We are now signing up teams for the 2009 season and expect most of the original 9 back for another fun year. Let me know if you want to join.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Bailout Needed: Michigan Malibus

Like an abandoned car left on the side of road, the Michigan Malibus were found stripped-down and rusting out after a dismal 59-91 season. Under previous management, the Michigan franchise had not won the division since 2000, which dates back to pre-expansion, so let the rebuilding begin. Michigan's new manager just happens to be a veteran of Benchwarmer Baseball and guided the Milford Mohawks (now Oklahoma Rufneks) to the Hall of Fame League Championship in 2006 (before taking a hiatus).

Strengths: minor league system, featuring most prominently top prospects Madison Bumgarner, Josh Vitters, and Dexter Fowler. Also, Michigan has a considerable amount of cash in the coffers, which will be needed to complete a starting rotation, add spot starters, and acquire one more reliever for the bullpen.

Weaknesses: outfield, consisting of Frederick Lewis, Ty Wiggington, and Ryan Spilborghs

Fortunately for Michigan, they are not decidedly the worst team in the division as the similarly miserable New Fairfield Neanderthals (48-102 last year) make good company. Both Michigan and New Fairfield will be fighting eachother to stay out of last place in the division and hoping a .500 season is within reach.

Hall of Fame League Table: Most SP Wins

One counting statistic that does not get as much notice in Benchwarmer Baseball as it does in MLB is wins by the starting pitchers. Everyone who watches baseball can probably tell you how may wins Cliff Lee had last year (22), but Benchwarmer Baseball managers assuredly cannot recount who had the most BWB Wins in 2008. It is interesting to see the differences in wins for pitchers when they are playing for a Benchwarmer team:

Name / Team / W
Johan Santana / Oaxaca / 21
Edinson Volquez / Springfield / 19
C.C. Sabathia / Las Vegas / 18
Tim Lincecum / Seattle / 18
Danny Haren / Seattle / 17
Cole Hamels / Oaxaca / 17
Jacob Peavy / Boar's / 16
Roy Oswalt / Boar's / 15
Josh Beckett / Las Vegas / 15
Cliff Lee / Oklahoma / 15
Jon Lester / Seattle / 15
Mark Buehrle / Las Vegas / 15
Ervin Santana / San Diego / 15
Roy Halladay / San Francisco / 14
Jered Weaver / Nordeast / 14
Ryan Dempster / Nordeast / 13
Chad Billingsley / Oklahoma / 13
Rich Harden / Boar's / 13
Javier Vazquez / New Orleans / 13
Brandon Webb / Leucadia / 13

The pitcher that stands out the most to me is Cliff Lee at only 15 wins. Run support in Cleveland must have been significantly better than what he received for Oklahoma (not that 15 wins is anything to sneeze at).

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Joining New Benchwarmer Baseball League: Triple Crown League

I was awarded a free new team for this season since a was a division winner in the Hall of Fame League. I have decided to help complete another new Benchwarmer Baseball league: the Triple Crown League. Two of the main reasons I was so compelled were that 1) I like to help Benchwarmer Baseball out as much as possible to help it grow, and 2) I liked the name of the league. Another league recently was formed which was called Bleed Dodger Blue, but I dislike the Dodgers, so there was no way I was joining that one. I wonder if anyone else has had similar aversions to some leagues for reasons of the name.

It's been a while since I have done a start-up draft, but fortunately, I have already given extensive thought to who the top targets should be and previously wrote about it here. Since there is a 44000 Benchwarmer Buck salary cap for the first round of player selections, selecting all of the players on my 16 Top Draft Targets would not leave much room for additional players, so one must be selective. I will be refining my Triple Crown draft selections this weekend, and will definately be applying the two guiding draft principles from that post: maximizing roster productivity and acquiring controllable assets. My goal is to win the Triple Crown League this year. I am looking forward to an exciting and challenging year.

Last Benchwarmer Baseball Beer League Orphan Team Taken

Great news for the Beer League as the final orphan team has been taken by one of the Original 12 Benchwarmer Baseball managers: Andy "The Bank" Marquis. Andy will be running 6(!) teams this year and his wealth of BWB experience should make his Duff Duffmen a perennial favorite for the division crown.

The Duffmen have a good amount of talent (Prince Fielder, Dan Uggla, Michael Young, Joey Votto, Nick Markakis, Brian McCann, Josh Beckett), but previous ownership did not manage the finances well, so only Joey Votto is under contract (and only through 2009) and cash on hand is a mere 1006 Benchwarmer Bucks. It will be interesting to see how Andy reshapes the team.

The Beer League is the only (to my knowledge) money league in BWB. It is stocked with BWB veterans and is rather competitive. Best of Luck to all the fellow Beer Leaguers this year; I'm looking forward to another fun year. Thanks for joining Andy!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Benchwarmer Baseball Top 16 Draft Targets

Despite not having participated in a Benchwarmer Baseball league from the start-up draft stage since the Beatleball League was added as the 2nd BWB league in 2004, I have been giving a lot of thought to who I would select in the first round of a new league in 2009 if I were drafting. Here a my thoughts on the Top 16 players given the assumptions that:
1) the primary goal is to win the championship this year; and
2) the secondary goal is to lay the groundwork for a dynasty that can win each and every year.

To reach goal #1, one needs to maximize roster productivity by acquiring the players with the most expected BWB utility. Many of these players will be "established" players (ie. not prospects). Established players' salaries should be reasonably expected to already fully reflect such utility (or even be at a premium due to the fact that MLB awards earned by players further increase BWB salaries), so few discounts will generally found here.

To reach goal #2, one needs to acquire longer-term productivity at a discount. This is achieved by drafting prospects and younger stars and sign them to multi-year contracts before their salaries as established players trade at par or a premium to their productivity.

An optimal mix of "premium established", "par established", and "discounted" players is the key to winning now (maximizing productivity), and later (paying the least amount for that productivity).

With that framework established, these would be my Top 16 targets in a new league:

1. Evan Longoria 1437 -- could be your #3-hitter for a long time
2. Ian Kinsler 2276 -- only behind Utley at 2nd but at a fraction of the cost
3. Carlos Quentin 2325 -- see Evan Longoria
4. Carlos Lee 3220 -- star player, but at deeply discounted price
5. Joey Votto 1569 -- rising star; salary low enough to extend several years
6. Chris Davis 698 -- not sure if he's a star yet, but salary is sooo low
7. B.J. Upton 2485 -- if the playoff power is here to stay, major bargain
8. Chase Utley 5738 -- par established player in scarce position
9. Mark Teixeira 5104 -- star player at small discount
10. Ryan Braun 4612 -- could be going for 1500 more after this season
11. Matt Kemp 2727 -- see Joey Votto
12. Jay Bruce 918 -- see Chris Davis
13. Jonathan Broxton 1794 -- blown saves in 08, but could dominate
14. Francisco Liriano 751 -- if he regains old form, CY Young for pennies
15. Ryan Ludwick 2733 -- can he repeat? salary worth finding out
16. David Price 100 -- hasn't proven himself yet, but can't get any cheaper

The more of these 16 players you can get into your roster, the better chance you have of achieving both objectives:
1) winning this year by adding discounted utility which further results in having more funds to spend on the better established players in later rounds; and
2) building a dynasty by securing controllable assets.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reviewed: Commissioner's League Draft Rounds 4-6

I previously reviewed rounds 1 and 2 of the Commissioner's League live draft here. Round 3 was explained by the Commish himself in the Comments section of that post. I felt it did not bear reviewing due to its idiosyncrasies.

On to the next rounds:

Round 4
Overall Pick Round Pick Team Player ML Team Salary Position
49 1 Turley Scott Kazmir TB 4052 SP
50 2 South Park Kevin Youkilis Bos 3855 1B, 3B
51 3 Budapest Brad Lidge Phi 5730 RP
52 4 Rusty Danny Haren Ari 5793 SP
53 5 Humpback Chien-Ming Wang NYY 1784 SP
54 6 Elbow Deep Joakim Soria KC 5424 RP
55 7 St. Nido Jose Valverde Hou 3556 RP
56 8 Sara's Brian Fuentes LAA 2845 RP
57 9 Benchwarmer Joe Mauer Min 4001 C
58 10 California Alfonso Soriano ChC 3038 OF
59 11 Shadow Ridge Jimmy Rollins Phi 4870 SS
60 12 Airborne Cliff Lee Cle 5670 SP
61 13 Andy Dan Uggla Fla 3853 2B
62 14 Greenville Carlos Marmol ChC 3138 RP
63 15 Alfalfa Francisco Cordero Cin 3113 RP
64 16 Bellerose Troy Tulowitzki Col 1748 SS

This was an interesting round in that 6 closers were taken to make 10 taken in total for the draft so far. A minimum of two closers is ideal in BWB due to the scoring methodology, so a run this early could make sense. Saves should not be punted in BWB like they can in other fantasy formats.

Best Pick: Even though it was an auto-pick, Jimmy Rollins is nice addition to a roster as he can provides lots of runs at the top of the order at a position that is not overly deep. Shadow Ridge is paying full price for Rollins' expected production, but it should be money well spent.

Honorable Mention: C-M Wang for 1784 looks like a good value pick. Wang should approach 200 IP with a competent ERA.

Round 5
Overall Pick Round Pick Team Player ML Team Salary Position
65 1 Bellerose Bobby Jenks CWS 2195 RP
66 2 Alfalfa Carlos Beltran NYM 5785 OF
67 3 Greenville Cole Hamels Phi 5662 SP
68 4 Andy Matt Garza TB 2674 SP
69 5 Airborne Roy Oswalt Hou 5165 SP
70 6 Shadow Ridge Vladimir Guerrero LAA 4250 OF
71 7 California Victor Martinez Cle 1809 C, 1B
72 8 Benchwarmer Jered Weaver LAA 2976 SP
73 9 Sara's Carlos Lee Hou 3220 OF
74 10 St. Nido Magglio Ordonez Det 5025 OF
75 11 Elbow Deep Derek Lowe Atl 4713 SP
76 12 Humpback Jonathan Broxton LAD 1794 RP
77 13 Rusty Prince Fielder Mil 4674 1B
78 14 Budapest Nate McLouth Pit 3540 OF
79 15 South Park Alexei Ramirez CWS 1289 2B, SS, OF
80 16 Turley Aramis Ramirez ChC 4624 3B

Best Pick: Carlos Lee. After spending considerable time out of the lineup in 2008 due to injury, El Caballo can provide 3-slot power production at a discount.

Round 6
Overall Pick Round Pick Team Player ML Team Salary Position
81 1 Turley Shaun Marcum Tor 2989 SP
82 2 South Park Jacoby Ellsbury Bos 1404 OF
83 3 Budapest Matt Kemp LAD 2727 OF
84 4 Rusty Scott Olsen Was 2981 SP
85 5 Humpback Josh Johnson Fla 818 SP
86 6 Elbow Deep Wandy Rodriguez Hou 2930 SP
87 7 St. Nido Takashi Saito Bos 2948 RP
88 8 Sara's Brian McCann Atl 2176 C
89 9 Benchwarmer Derrek Lee ChC 4034 1B
90 10 California Adam Wainwright StL 2145 SP
91 11 Shadow Ridge Jon Garland Ari 2926 SP
92 12 Airborne Brian Giles SD 2911 OF
93 13 Andy B.J. Upton TB 2485 OF
94 14 Greenville Barry Zito SF 2898 SP
95 15 Alfalfa Doug Davis Ari 2888 SP
96 16 Bellerose Kerry Wood Cle 1997 RP

Wow! Lots of great value taken in this round. If BJ Upton can continue to show power, that's going to be a great pick, but certainly there's no guarantee of that happening. Kerry Wood is also a nice deal for a closer at 1997 when other closers went off the board for 5000.

Best Pick: However, the best pick in my mind is Brian McCann. McCann is one of the top catchers in the league and costs half of Joe Mauer. Victor Martinez is similarly priced with comparable upside, but was taken in an earlier round.

Building a Benchwarmer Baseball Champion

There are lots of new leagues forming this time of the year and I look forward to seeing what the results of the EXPERTS League are over the coming weeks.

For established teams, such as the 3 teams I manage, there are a few different stages of development. I have 2 teams that are positioned to make a run for their respective league divisions and hopefully championships, and 1 team that is in rebuilding mode. Determining which mode your team is in is a critical component of building a winning organization.

The elucidative Baseball Prospectus article written by Jonah Keri entitled "The Success Cycle" uses the 2002 Pittsburgh Pirates as a case study in team development. It is a very constructive read when thinking about where your BWB teams stand.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Benchwarmer Baseball Players with "At Bat" Upsides

Here is a list of players that had limited At Bats in the 2008 season (and therefore should be priced at a discount in Benchwarmer Baseball), but could be looking at considerably more playing time in 2009:

100-199 At Bats

Russell Branyan (previously featured here)
Chris Dickerson
Miguel Montero
J.R. Towles

200-299 At Bats

Hank Blalock
Jeff Clement
Elijah Dukes (previously featured here)
Jerry Hairston Jr.
Brandon Moss
Juan Rivera
Ryan Spilborghs
Eugenio Velez

300-399 At Bats

Ryan Church
Coco Crisp (previously featured here)
Blake DeWitt
J.D. Drew
Franklin Gutierrez
Dernard Span
Howie Kendrick
Justin Upton

I've probably missed a bunch, but these stood out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Reviewed: Commissioner's League Draft -- Rounds 1-2

Here is my review of the Commissioner's League Draft, which I understand to be a live, fully-transparent, snake-style draft for the initial rounds (someone please correct me if I am wrong):

Round 1
Overall Pick Round Pick Team Player ML Team Salary Position
1 1 Bellerose Alex Rodriguez NYY 6500 3B
2 2 Alfalfa C.C. Sabathia NYY 9596 SP
3 3 Greenville Johan Santana NYM 9252 SP
4 4 Andy Hanley Ramirez Fla 5502 SS
5 5 Airborne Albert Pujols StL 8190 1B
6 6 Shadow Ridge Ryan Howard Phi 7363 1B
7 7 California Jose Reyes NYM 5036 SS
8 8 Benchwarmer David Wright NYM 8142 3B
9 9 Sara's Evan Longoria TB 1437 3B
10 10 St. Nido Roy Halladay Tor 7595 SP
11 11 Elbow Deep Mariano Rivera NYY 7508 RP
12 12 Humpback Franco Liriano Min 751 SP
13 13 Rusty Joe Nathan Min 7221 RP
14 14 Budapest Brandon Webb Ari 7205 SP
15 15 South Park Jacob Peavy SD 6528 SP
16 16 Turley Derek Jeter NYY 4330 SS

Best Pick: No contest: Evan Longoria -- With a salary of 1437, Longoria is controllable and extremely productive. Longoria should be one of the top 3B in the game and can also be put under 2-yr contract for 1911 (2010) + 2500 (2011) = 4411, for a 3-yr total payout of 5848. Compare that to only 1 year of A-Rod (6500) or David Wright (8142!). Great Pick.

Honorable mention: Francisco Liriano may prove to be a steal at only 751. He has ace stuff, so if he can remain healthy (he was babied last year recovering from his elbow injury) and can find his 2006 form, he will be in the running for the AL Cy Young Award.

Round 2
Overall Pick Round Pick Team Player ML Team Salary Position
17 1 Turley Johnny Damon NYY 3294 OF
18 2 South Park Chad Billingsly LAD 3968 SP
19 3 Budapest Chase Utley Phi 5738 2B
20 4 Rusty F Rodriguez NYM 6684 RP
21 5 Humpback Mark Teixeira NYY 5104 1B
22 6 Elbow Deep Tim Lincecum SF 6491 SP
23 7 St. Nido Justin Morneau Min 6479 1B
24 8 Sara's Ian Kinsler Tex 2276 2B
25 9 Benchwarmer Matt Holliday Oak 6234 OF
26 10 California Dustin Pedroia Bos 5130 2B
27 11 Shadow Ridge Manny Ramirez FA 5789 OF
28 12 Airborne Lance Berkman Hou 6198 1B
29 13 Andy Jo Papelbon Bos 4538 RP
30 14 Greenville Miguel Cabrera Det 5980 1B, 3B
31 15 Alfalfa Grady Sizemore Cle 5920 OF
32 16 Bellerose Josh Hamilton Tex 4696 OF

Best Pick: Ian Kinsler -- a top 2B, 2276 -- what's not to like? Phil Dang strikes again!

Honorable mention: Mark Teixeira may very well be worth considerably more than 5104 playing in NY's lineup. He'll definately outperform Dustin Pedroia (5130) next year. Bank on it.

I took a look at Round 3, but it looks odd: Dayan Viciedo, Junichi Tazawa, Greg Halman, Jose Tabata, and Carlos Santana were all drafted. Was there a rule about having to select at least one mid-tier prospect?

Benchwarmer Baseball Bargain Bin: Elijah Dukes

Elijah Dukes has some issues, but who doesn't? I like Benchwarmer Baseball way too much; it's my cross to bear. According to Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus, Dukes attended the same high school as Dwight Gooden (drugs), Carl Everett (dinosaurs) and Gary Sheffield (twitchy bat), so that school must offer a Crazy 101 class in the curriculum.

So, in an injury-plagued 2008, Dukes posted: 276 AB, 48 R, 13 HR, 44 RBI, .264. Forget the projections for 2009 and let's assume Dukes can stay healthy this year and manages 500 AB, sharing time with Josh Willingham, Lastings Milledge, Austin Kearns, and Wily Mo Pena. Dukes is the best of that bunch, so 500 AB is highly possible, especially considering he can play CF. Roughly doubling 2008 stats give about 85 R, 22 HR, 85 RBI. Not bad.

Weren't able to get Corey Hart's projected: 77 R, 20 HR, 83 RBI for 3003 BWB bucks? No problem, Elijah Dukes only goes for 629.

Now that's a bargain!

Benchwarmer Baseball Bargain Bin: Russell Branyan

Russell Branyan?!? Pshaw! No, really, Russell Branyan. In BWB, Branyan is eligible at 1B and 3B, and is currently slated to see most of the At Bats at first in Seattle. What can Branyan do in a full season?

Bill James projects: 122 AB, 17 R, 8 HR, 20 RBI, .238

But given the playing time offered in 2009, Branyan could post 400 AB and these prorated stats:

400 AB, 56 R, 26 HR, 66 RBI, .238

Compare against these James projections:
Aubrey Huff 533 AB, 72 R, 23 HR, 83 RBI, .283, BWB salary 4371
Jorge Cantu 585 AB, 76 R, 24 HR, 92 RBI, .268, BWB salary 3045
Casey Blake 336 AB, 45 R, 12 HR, 44 RBI, .259, BWB salary 2371

Oh yeah, Branyan's salary? 267

Now that's a bargain!

Benchwarmer Baseball Bargain Bin: Coco Crisp

Coco Crisp is once again being given the opportunity to play full time with his departure from Boston. Crisp has shown the ability to stay healthy and rack up At Bats: 491 in 2004, 594 in 2005, and 526 in 2007. There is a fairly high probability that Coco posts 550+ ABs as the Royal's everyday leadoff hitter and center fielder.

Bill James' projects Coco at 494 AB, 74 R, 9 HR, 53 RBI, .279 AVE

Compare this to Carl Crawford:
2008: 443 AB, 69 R, 8 HR, 57 RBI, .269 AVE

Bill James 2009 projection: 485 AB, 74 R, 10 HR, 59 RBI, .295 AVE

Carl Crawford's 2009 BWB salary is 2353. Since Coco was only given 361 ABs in part time play last year, you can pick up Crawford-like stats for Coco's salary of only 1297.

Now that's a bargain!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Joba going to jail?

Summer frat-party town Belmar NJ taking this menace off the streets.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Citi Field: Even more pitcher-friendly than Shea?

Blogger Eric Simon investigates the expected impact on scoring at the new Citi Field here.

Benchwarmer Baseball Bargain Bin feature

One meaningful part of the Benchwarmer Baseball salary calculation formula is the number of At-Bats a players tallies in the previous year. Identifying those players that had few At-Bats in the previous year (due to injuries, time in the minors, playing secondary role), but are expected to take a leap in At-Bats in the next year can be a good way to save a few BWB bucks while still yielding strong fantasy value. All else equal, it's more cost-effective to roster a player who had 100 ABs last year and is expected to have 400 ABs this year than to roster a player that had 400 ABs last year with the same expectations going forward.

The largest amount of expected value for money is typically produced by minor leaguers (salary 100) who go from zero to few major league At-Bats to being given an everyday job in the Bigs. Everyone knows this and that is why prospects are stashed away until it's their time to (hopefully) shine. It is also understood that with the higher value-for-money potential offered by prospects comes higher risk that the player will not deliver the major-league level stats needed to help a BWB team (maybe this year is your year Homer Bailey).

A lower-risk play is to look for proven major-league talent that will be afforded a greater opportunity to play in the next year, who I will dub the Bargain Bin players. Given their longer major-league track records, upside potential is easier to estimate and therefore the approach should be less risky. These types of players should not be confused with Comeback Player of the Year candidates. Come-Back players are widely analyzed and well followed. An example for 2009 would be Travis Hafner. The Boston Red Sox, to use a real-world example, have trafficked heavily in this space this off-season. The signing of such reclamation projects as John Smoltz, Takashi Saito, and Rocco Baldelli to short-term, incentive laden contracts makes clear sense and provides a lot of potential value. The upside return from Come-Back players should be better than the Bargain Bin players, but they will rarely be available in the free agent market. I doubt anyone can find Travis Hafner available in their league currently.

So, who are the Bargain Bin players then? They are the cheap players that can potentially add very good value to your roster and are probably still sitting in the free agent pool in your league. To help bring these bargains to light, I will run a feature this off-season called the Bargain Bin (naturally), to highlight these overlooked players for your BWB consideration.