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 FantasyPros911.com 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] PhilMackey.com'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] FantasyPros911.com 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 FantasyBaseballSherpa.com -- 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] MVN.com 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: FantasyPros911.com 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: FantasyPros911.com JerseyHitmen -- Joe Lano

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