I hate to kick a dead horse. In fact, as an animal lover (we have three each of dogs and cats, and holding that line is tough) just the thought of a dead horse, metaphorical or not, makes me sad.
Furthermore, I had planned on writing about working the waiver wire and FAAB this time out here at KFFL, but, as I concocted the words for this week in my head, I kept coming back to Fantasy Sherpa Scott Swanay, and his waiver wire challenge.
Since a lot of what I like to do this time of year is try to be aggressive with my money and roster over the first month, and since I kept falling into "What would I do were I Scott?," I thought I would sort of combine the two and deal with the latter issue for the most part. That is because a most of what I would do in either situation is largely the same.
To refresh -- and you can detail in my piece of last week, "Frank Zappa Says" -- Scott wound up with $61 on the table as he made his last Tout Wars Mixed League purchase. So, he slammed down all $61 on the injured Brandon Beachy, knowing the Atlanta hurler would be out all year. So, taking a cue from Glenn Colton, Scott made the buy knowing he could cash the money in and thus have $161 to the $100 of FAAB the rest of the league would have to start the season.
A couple of caveats are that in Tout owners can trade their FAAB as part of a deal, and that Tout uses Vickrey bidding. Vickrey is a system where the winning bid is awarded to the team that makes the highest bid wins the player, but not necessarily at the bid price, but at the cost of the second highest bid plus a dollar. Note we can also submit $0 bids.
One last reminder: Since the league is mixed, the issue of inter-league swaps goes out the window.
Anyway, were I Scott trying to dig out of a hole, or just a prudent owner trying to insure the interests of my squad, here are some thoughts.
- Play the pool very aggressively through mid-May: Coming out of spring camps, some roles are set, but it doesn't take much over the first month for a cold bat or lack of control to send a prospect packing. Similarly, an older struggling vet can lose a gig to a hot youngster in the wings. So, watch carefully who is playing every day and be prepared to swap out for the surprises, letting go of marginal players over the first six weeks.
Now, this doesn't mean dropping Albert Pujols coming off an awful April, but, it could mean grabbing a Bryan LaHair or Michael Morse over the first month and sitting Albert till he warms up.
It also means if you are sitting on Eric Sogard at second, and Joaquin Arias is playing every day and raking, drop Sogard grabbing Arias. And, later on, if their performance switches, don't feel sheepish about spending a few bucks to reverse the move.
But do remember, the earlier you grab players over the course of the season, the more they will produce for you.
- Grab pitchers for most of your reserve spots and stream: In Tout, barring an injury, we can change our rosters only once a week, Sunday nights for Monday's games. And streaming is the practice of moving pitchers in and out of the rotation, taking maximum advantage of the number of starts as well as favorable match-ups.
As noted above, over the first month-plus rosters spots can be volatile, and no spot experiences more movement than starting pitcher. So, if I had money to spend, I would load my pitching staff and reserve list with as many starters as I could.
I would stream them, using seven starters, getting the most innings I could, and try to grab some counting stats in wins and whiffs, hoping to also get enough innings to stabilize my ERA and WHIP as rapidly as possible.
I would do this at least until June, trying to stockpile, and then ideally trading some of my arms for some bats that can help me pick up extra hitting numbers.
- When trolling the free agent pool for hitters, I would look for speedsters before homers: That is because even a part-time player, like Craig Gentry, might swipe 20-plus bases, and even score some runs, and again steals are generally a commodity that can be bartered.
And, like the pitchers, I would stream these guys, taking advantage so I got as many at-bats as possible week to week.
- Trade the bulk of my post-May FAAB balance for players: Since we can indeed trade FAAB for players, once rosters settled in for the majors, I would willingly swap chunks of my surplus money for players as part of a trade.
That means don't be shy about offering $30-plus for a player who can help your team, and don't worry about conserving your money.
I do think pursuing players in the pool, even if your team is red hot, is a smart move, for if you get complacent, and experience a freefall in the standings, by the time you start to remedy the situation, all the free agents who could help are gone.
Further, I am not sure any of the paths noted above would help the Sherpa out of his pickle, but I do know that in order even to hope for success bereft of any impact players, you first have to have a plan.
Second, I know you cannot be timid about using those FAAB resources, for that reticence is likely what caused the dilemma in the first place.
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.