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Rounding Third: Week 6 Primer

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).


Week 6 Primer

NFBC Main Event

Team Player Bid Runner-Up
And I'll Go Mine Dee Gordon (SS) 352 306
El Scorchos Marcell Ozuna (RF) 202 126
El Scorchos Andy Dirks (LF) 75 64
Yucca Valley Bombers Michael Pineda (SP) 61 7
Four Headed Monster Justin Maxwell (CF) 47
Full Grown Guppies Eric Stults (SP) 38 31
Big Alameda Machine Ryan Raburn (RF) 32 20
And I'll Go Mine Yasmani Grandal (C) 22
Low Talkers Scott Feldman (SP) 22 5
angry scottish lady-main-rel Scott Kazmir (SP) 21 12
Pollos Hermanos Chris Nelson (3B) 18
Vegas Bandit Marlon Byrd (RF) 12
Team Bouyack Aaron Harang (SP) 7 5
SportsDraftDaily.com Heath Bell (MR) 7
SportsDraftDaily.com Kyle Blanks (LF) 7
SportsDraftDaily.com Daniel Hudson (SP) 7
Pollos Hermanos Todd Helton (1B) 7
Professional Ryan Cook (MR) 6
Big Alameda Machine Jeremy Hefner (SP) 4
Big Alameda Machine J.B. Shuck (RF) 2
|| Zefurs Lv.1 || Dylan Axelrod (SP) 2
angry scottish lady-main-rel Alex Rodriguez (3B) 1


Before delving into my super-awesome purchase of Marcell Ozuna and my inability to purchase Dee Gordon, I just wanted to share that nearly every time I type "Main Event," I instinctively wish to type "Maine Event." Not "Mayne Event" in honor of the awesome but disappearing Kenny Mayne, nor the great state of Maine, but rather in imaginary tribute of a cheesy pun off of mediocre former starter John Maine. Yes, my mind is a muddled mess at times, why do you ask?

Anyhow, I've never had an offense perform as poorly as my Main Event team hit as poorly as this squad over a full month stretch. In my 15-team league, mind you where there's 15 points per category, somehow I have a whopping 7.5 points. Inconceivable! It all stems from a pathetic .227 batting average - it's hard to score in other categories when you're hitting a solid 20 points below the 14th place team in that category. Incredibly, that's 10 points higher than a week ago.

Yet being in that position is liberating in one way - I can't possibly hurt my hitting position. If there's a potential game-changer out there, by all means, go after him! Is a player a batting average risk? Not for me! Could he get sent down in a month or less? Maybe so - but at this point, Bryce Harper circa 2012 isn't walking through that door. "Safe" pick-ups are illusory. So I put in $200+ bids on both Ozuna and Gordon. As luck would have it, I even have an outfield spot to slide Ozuna in right away.

I wrote about the merits of Ozuna in his player update Sunday night:

"He's off to a terrific start since his callup to replace the injured Giancarlo Stanton, but he's not guaranteed a roster spot once Stanton returns. The Marlins have demonstrated that they're not afraid of giving prospects the playing time once those prospects have demonstrated that they're ready, but will they be willing to bench Juan Pierre or Justin Ruggiano in May for him? And the other concern is the defensive arrangement - can Ozuna play center, or will the Marlins go with some sort of platoon between Pierre and Ruggiano in center to accommodate Ozuna?"

The Marlins are in a similar position to my NFBC squad offensively (wow, did I just put myself in the shoes of Jeffrey Loria, minus the destruction of two potential baseball cities?), though - what exactly do they have to lose by playing Ozuna regularly the rest of the season, if he's hitting? I see the minor league strikeout rate, and that's probably going to start kicking in at the major league level. But what if he's truly a special player? The chances of striking gold early enough for it to matter with a hitter are pretty few and far between.

I should have bid more on Gordon, too. Stolen bases are easier to find on the waiver wire than other hitting categories, but a potential five months of Gordon's are worth the batting average and playing time gamble.

RFBOC

Team Player Bid Runner-Up
Fast Ball Dee Gordon (SS) 318 302
Beer & Chicken-VI Mitch Moreland (1B) 79 31
El Scorchos Jeremy Guthrie (SP) 57 51
Fast Ball Russell Martin (C) 41 37
El Scorchos Marcell Ozuna (RF) 35 31
Big Wave Surfer Chris Tillman (SP) 33
Team 317 Jake Westbrook (SP) 21 20
Team 317 Michael Pineda (SP) 21
Reach Colby Lewis (SP) 15
Team 317 Adeiny Hechavarria (SS) 15
Smoke Show 317(2) Zach McAllister (SP) 15
Smoke Show 317(2) Scott Diamond (SP) 9
Reach Stephen Drew (SS) 8
Reach Michael Brantley (LF) 5
Reach Matt Reynolds (MR) 5
Team 317 James Loney (1B) 5
Reach Matt Joyce (RF) 1
RoundTrippers! Justin Grimm (SP) 1
Kostas Krew Kevin Correia (SP) 1



And to demonstrate once again the difference between a 12-team league and a 15-team league, I got Ozuna for my "keep them honest" bid of $35. I bid the same amount on Gordon - I didn't go higher because I'm already in first place in stolen bases. If I could get him at the discounted rate, great, but no need to break the bank when the benefit is security from backsliding in the category, rather than gaining points elsewhere.

Look at the starting pitchers and outfielders available in this league and the number of unopposed bids - again, that's the demonstration of 12 vs. 15.

XFL

The XFL is a 15-team mixed league too - comprised mostly of industry types, but also populated with a few veteran non-Touts - with an emphasis on the word "veteran," as you must be at least 40 years old to play. It's a hybrid dynasty league, with escalating salaries, a November auction and a big March reserve draft. After the conclusion of the reserve draft, each team will have 40-man rosters - the 17 taxied players can be any ratio of major league reserves or minor league prospects. We have monthly free agents, rather than weekly or daily ones. The free agents are selected in a snake draft format, and go as many rounds as there are players drafted, with the caveat that every pick up comes with a drop - there are no DL slots in the league.

A consequence of this format is that you have to decide pretty quickly whether you're going for it this year or building for the future. To wit, many of the veteran players that are useful now but have little keeper value as $10 players next season are worthless to rebuilding teams on the waiver wire. And because we can only keep 15 players, period - major leaguers and prospects combined - those younger players with potentially higher ceilings but limited roles now aren't very valuable pieces on the monthly waiver wire.

With that backdrop in mind, this is the first year of three years in the league that I'm in win-now mode, having inherited a rebuilding last-place team. I've hovered between 5-to-15 points out of first place despite a slew of injuries. I'm down three starting pitchers right now (Johnny Cueto, Brett Anderson and Josh Johnson), so my priority was to find two serviceable starting pitchers to sub-in to help weather the storm, and then a middle infielder to tread water there while waiting for another pair of injured players to return. Selecting tenth, I missed out on Jeremy Guthrie here, as well as Kevin Slowey. I ended up getting Jake Westbrook and Nick Tepesch, who has starts against the Cubs and Astros this week. I went with Tepesch over Barry Zito with some small regrets, but I don't love Zito's upcoming starts (vs. PHI this week, then @ TOR and @ COL the following week). Zito has a decent recent track record at Coors, but I don't trust it to last, especially if the weather heats up there by then.

At middle infield, Brandon Crawford was an early pick that I never had a chance to grab, and I opted for Westbrook over Yuniesky Betancourt, perhaps to my chagrin. I just barely missed out on Ruben Tejada in the third round, and settled for Peter Kozma. Eh, at least he plays most of the time.

AL Tout Wars

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Matthew Berry: pur ACasilla Bal 0
Jeff Erickson: pur ARosales Oak 7
Matthew Berry: pur BChen KC 0
Lawr Michaels: pur CNelson NYY 7
Lawr Michaels: pur CStewart NYY 1
Jason Collette: pur DDeLaRosa LAA 1
Mike Siano: pur FGarcia Bal 1
Ron Shandler: pur HConger LAA 1
Ron Shandler: pur JLyles Hou 1
Andy Behrens: pur JOdorizzi TB 1
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton: pur JShuck LAA 0
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton: pur JWilliams LAA 1
Matthew Berry: pur KGibson Min 1
Matthew Berry: pur PFlorimon Min 1
Larry Schechter: pur RRomero Tor 1
Rick Wolf/Glenn Colton: pur SPearce Bal 0

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Adam Rosales represents my eternal quest to find a shortstop-eligible player that's better than Brendan Ryan at the plate (sorry, Boog) while I wait for Jurickson Profar to get the call. His A's also have seven games to the Mariners' five this week. Chris Nelson, J.B. Shuck and Hank Conger were backup bids for an open utility slot.

Larry Schechter has won AL Tout the last two years. Last year he won despite owning Ricky Romero and keeping him active much longer than his spoiled milk date. Yet he's going back to the well with him this year (it should be noted, I originally drafted Romero then dumped him when the Jays demoted him at the end of spring training).

Once again, Andy Behrens has gone prospecting, grabbing Jake Odorizzi after his combined no-hitter at Triple-A Durham. Only Roberto Hernandez (and Chris Archer) stand in Odorizzi's and Behrens' way of world domination.

NL LABR

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Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Marcell Ozuna awarded to ESPN - Ravitz for $19.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Failed bids for Marcell Ozuna: $4, $6, $8, $6, $15, $13, $19, $19.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Miguel Olivo awarded to DerekCarty.com for $3.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Failed bids for Miguel Olivo: $2, $2.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Jeremy Hefner awarded to Baseball HQ for $3.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Failed bids for Jeremy Hefner: $1.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Ramiro Pena awarded to Sandlot Shrink for $3.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Failed bids for Ramiro Pena: $1.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Daniel Descalso awarded to Colton & The Wolfman for $2.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Failed bids for Daniel Descalso: $1, $1, $1.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Cody Ransom awarded to Colton & The Wolfman for $2.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Failed bids for Cody Ransom: $1, $1.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Jordy Mercer awarded to Colton & The Wolfman for $2.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Eric Stults awarded to Colton & The Wolfman for $2.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Dave Sappelt awarded to RotoWire for $2.
Mon May 06 12:01 AM ET: Carlos E. Martinez awarded to Sandlot Shrink for $2.

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It's somewhat grating that I missed out on Ozuna in a league where I truly needed him, as Giancarlo Stanton's owner. After Saturday's games I was still sitting in second place despite owning Stanton, having Freddie Freeman go on the DL for 15 days, and riding Roy Halladay all this way.

Sunday crushed me, though. LABR's adherence to the original rotisserie rules has crushed me. There is no shuttling players between active and reserve if they haven't been put on the DL or sent to the minors, unless they were originally drafted as a reserve. Suffice to say Halladay was not an original reserve - I bought him at full price the first weekend of March, before his velocity fell off the table. When you're stuck with a lemon, you have three choices - ride it out, trade him at pennies on the dollar, or cut him and let someone else take their chances in free agent bidding. Alas, I rode it out. For three decent starts, it looked like I opted wisely in keeping him over dropping or accepting the weasel low-ball offers of my esteemed colleagues. Then the bottom fell out this week. Oh yeah, I also had Jon Niese and Hyun-Jin Ryu going for me Sunday. Second place has turned into tied for fifth, 10 points worse for the wear.

But wait, there's more! Because the Phillies have only said that they'll probably put him on the DL, and not actually put him on the DL yet, I'm stuck wasting the roster spot for another week! But at least he won't pitch and hurt me further. I think if Halladay goes on the DL on Monday, I could slot in Bryan Morris from my reserves to fill the slot, but then again, I'd have to use Bryan Morris.

But that's not all! I'm still waiting for the Dodgers to bend to the inevitable and put Mark Ellis on the DL. I even have Chase Utley as my utility player, making it super-easy to replace Ellis at 2B and acquire another hitter with a pulse while Ellis is out. But no, the Dodgers will wait until Monday, making it a no-go for me. Good times, good times.

Staff League

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Casale Industries: Pick up Jason Bay ($3), drop J.D. Martinez
(Casale Industries: $3)
(Tokyo Jaegers: $2)
(Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: $1)
Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: Pick up Heath Bell ($1), drop Brian Matusz
(Browns: $3)
(Browns: $3)
(Next Stop Pottersville: $1)
McLovin's Spoonful: Pick up Jared Burton ($1), drop James McDonald
Wheeler in the Sky: Pick up Jeurys Familia ($1), drop David Hernandez
Tuffy's Goats: Pick up Dee Gordon ($37), drop Franklin Gutierrez
(Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: $33)
(Frozen Ropes: $11)
(Wheeler in the Sky: $11)
(Casale Industries: $8)
(Browns: $8)
(Browns: $8)
(Next Stop Pottersville: $7)
(Schin Kickers: $7)
(Tokyo Jaegers: $4)
East Coast Bias: Pick up Jeremy Hefner ($5), drop Jason Motte
(High-A West Madison: $1)
(Casale Industries: $1)
Casale Industries: Pick up Scott Kazmir ($1), drop Mitchell Boggs
(Next Stop Pottersville: $1)
Erickson: Pick up Jose Lobaton ($1), drop Tyler Greene
Browns: Pick up Chris Nelson ($7), drop Wade LeBlanc
Casale Industries: Pick up Ryan Raburn ($14), drop Jose Iglesias
(Bourn to Run: $7)
(Browns: $7)
(Browns: $7)
(East Coast Bias: $6)
(Tuffy's Goats: $4)
(Tokyo Jaegers: $2)
(Tuffy's Goats: $1)
(Erickson: $1)
Casale Industries: Pick up Adam Rosales ($1), drop Eric Sogard
Bourn to Run: Pick up Jordan Schafer ($2), drop Chris Heisey
(Casale Industries: $1)
(Casale Industries: $1)
Tokyo Jaegers: Pick up Luke Scott ($6), drop Felipe Paulino
(Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: $1)
Next Stop Pottersville: Pick up Eric Stults ($1), drop Phil Coke
Liss and Shoe's Dynasty: Pick up Michael Taylor ($2), drop Nate Freiman
Wheeler in the Sky: Pick up Juan Uribe ($1), drop Luis Cruz
Browns: Pick up Jerome Williams ($6), drop Shawn Camp
(Browns: $6)

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My middle infield curse strikes again - Tyler Greene hasn't played in four games. I would have been better off leaving Didi Gregorius in there all week, and getting his homer Sunday in the books. Once again, Dee Gordon goes for over 30 percent of his new owner's FAAB budget.

Ottoneu - Fangraphs Experts League

For the third year in a row, Peter Schoenke and I (ok, I'm solely to blame for this one, as Peter was off gallivanting in Aspen during the draft) botched the salary cap aspect of this league. For those unfamiliar with Ottoneu, instead of the traditional 23-man, $260 auction, you have a $400 budget with 40 roster spots - even though you don't always start 23 active players. Basically, you buy your reserves and your prospects. There's one other catch - there are free agents during the season, which are acquired on a rolling basis via blind bidding once a player is put up. If you don't have the salary cap room to make room for your free agent, you can drop a player, but you take a cap hit at half his salary, and you get punished for any rounding issues - meaning, if you cut a $3 player, you only get $1 back in cap room.

Normally in an auction, leaving "money on the table" is a cardinal sin, but that's not the case here. If you fill out your roster using your full $400, you're at a significant disadvantage when it comes to improving your roster in-season, either via the waiver wire or in trades - that $400 cap is rigid, with the exception that you can trade for others' cap room. But obviously having to do that lessens your leverage. And yet all three years, I/we have used up our full budget at the auction. And this year, disaster struck early with Jose Reyes and Zack Greinke going down early. We did this auction in February, so that "bargain" on Jonathan Broxton as one of the few remaining closers (in a league that puts a heavy emphasis on RP's) went down the drain, too. We keep getting outbid on putative closers and on our middle infield replacements, leaving us to settle for tertiary choices at those spots.

This is yet another demonstration of the importance of knowing the nuances of your league. Fantasy leagues have two major components - knowing the players, and knowing the game that you're playing. In a league with other avid players/experts/industry types (go ahead, use whichever label you prefer, or pick another one if you don't think one of those applies, it's cool), you're delusional if you think you have a significant advantage in the player pool aspect. You might demur from "gaming the system," but will you cringe more when you're not cashing the check at the end of the season?

Scheduling Quirks

This week features one of the least regular schedules outside of the first week and the All-Star break week. Five teams play just five games with Monday and Thursday off, while 11 teams get a full seven games. Here's the breakdown:

- Five games: DET, MIL, SEA, STL, WAS
- Seven games: ATL, AZ, BOS (all home), CLE, KC, MIN, OAK, PHI, SF (all home, vs. NL East teams traveling cross-country the night before), TB (all home), TOR.

NFBC veterans are all pretty hip to this schedule nuance, but with the ability to make changes for the hitters in your lineup on Friday, there's a big opportunity to gain two extra games with your marginal hitting slots.

But this has practical applications in standard weekly-move leagues. How much more valuable is a player with seven games than one with five games? In the XFL, I have the choice between Josh Donaldson and Aramis Ramirez with that seven-to-five gap. My lean is to use Donaldson this week, even though I'd usually go with Ramirez. Donaldson conceivably could sit out one game as part of the A's normal rotation to get everyone in there, but then again, Ramirez is just coming back from an injury and sat out Saturday after returning Friday from the DL. Would it be a shock if he sat out one of the weekend games, giving him just four games for the week? It doesn't hurt that Donaldson has gotten off to a great start.

To that end, you'd do well to trade for Royals and Twins hitters in an even exchange of talent right now. Thanks to a few scheduling quirks and weather postponements, both teams have played a league low 27 games so far. The Indians and Mets have played in 28 games. Meanwhile, the Mariners have played in a league-high 33 games so far - they're craving these two days off this week! A handful of other teams have played 32 games as well. Go hit up that frustrated Billy Butler owner!

Interleague Issues

This is a busier interleague slate. Watch out for the following series:

TEX @ CHC (1 game) - This is a makeup game from an April rainout. The Rangers have suggested that Lance Berkman will only pinch-hit here and in the following two days, when TEX @ MIL (2 games) happens.

CHW @ NYM (2 games) - With Dayan Viciedo on the DL, it's possible that Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko could play both games, rather than force the White Sox to choose between them and Viciedo.

NYY @ COL (3 games) - Travis Hafner is the obvious candidate to sit. There's no truth to the rumor that he'll immediately turn to dust if he puts on a glove, but he could very well turn to stone.

DET @ WAS (2 games) - Victor Martinez has started to come around, but he'll be stuck pinch-hitting the next two games, plus the Tigers have just five games this week.

SEA @ PIT (2 games) - Either Kendrys Morales or Justin Smoak will have to sit - a split seems likely.

SD @ TB (3 games) - The predicted attendance for the three-game series of this heated rivalry? 12. The Rays will throw three right-handers in the series, so there's no obvious candidate for the DH benefit. It could be split among Mark Kotsay, Jesus Guzman and Kyle Blanks.

Patience, Young Skywalker

Howard Bender opined in the MLB Barometer this week that at some point the cries of small sample size no longer apply. He's right in principal, but I'm not sure if I agree yet on the term, or if it applies universally (and to his credit, Howard acknowledges there's nuance needed for his proposition already. But there's a class of player that merits extra patience - the young hitter getting his first taste of action, especially if that player is on a team that will grant him that patience in the form of continued playing time.

A cherry-picked example of this class is Jedd Gyorko, who has demonstrated at least a bigger glimpse of his potential in the last week. Gyorko has 11 extra-base hits, with five of those (and both of his homers) coming in the last week, and now he's up to a .268/.325/.402 line, plus he now qualifies at second base in almost every league after being 3B-only to start. Surely there will be more massive slumps down the road, but he seems, at least to me, to be here to stay in the big leagues. I wanted to use Aaron Hicks as an additional example, because hey, he's raised his OPS 50 points in the last week! But that just moved the needle from .370 to .420, so yeah, never mind. At least he's playing almost every day for another team with nothing to lose! On second thought, he'd be a perfect fit on my NFBC Main team. Why didn't I bid more two weeks ago when he was a free agent? (/sarcasm font)

Now, the type of league that you're in matters a lot with this sort of principle. In a 10-team and maybe even 12-team mixed league with no keeper component, go ahead, cut away - the replacement value is high. You're missing out on current production while riding it out with these young struggling guys, and the cost if he pans out on somebody else's roster later on isn't nearly as high. The player's team matters, as Jackie Bradley Jr. owners found out - a team like the Red Sox can less afford to have guys learn on the job than the Twins or the Padres.

Day-to-Day, But Aren't We All

First pitch this week is 2:10 pm ET, with the Royals and White Sox making up Friday's rainout, so check in on these players before then if you can to set your lineup with full information.

- Andrew Bailey - Getting an MRI on his biceps injury.
- Brandon Phillips - Pulled late Sunday following an earlier collision in the game. The Reds expect he'll play, but watch for concussion symptoms and the like after the Reds travel home. The Reds will also re-examine Johnny Cueto, who's on the DL already, after he had a setback in his rehab.
- Brian McCann - Make sure the Braves actually activate him from the DL as promised.
- Adrian Gonzalez - Scratched for the third consecutive game despite taking batting practice before Sunday's loss to the Giants - has a stiff left trapezius muscle.
- Mark Ellis (Quadriceps) - Will the Dodgers ever put him on the DL? We all wait with baited breath!
- Albert Pujols (Foot) - We might not know anything more until Tuesday, as the Angels are off Monday.
- Jake Peavy (Back) - Scratched again for Monday's start - could a DL trip be in the offing?

For more, check out our revamped Injuries Page, which has recent player news, plus boxes out players according to their various injury category between day-to-day, out, and various DL stints.

Marlins In the Stream

Don't be dissuaded by the torching of Roy Halladay on Sunday - you still want to target the Fish. See also, Jeremy Hefner and Jonathan Pettibone. The Marlins go West this week, with series at San Diego and Los Angeles:

@SD (5/6 - 5/8): Andrew Cashner, Eric Stults, Jason Marquis
@LA (5/9 - 5/11): Matt Magill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano

It's conceivable in some leagues that all but Ryu could be available, depending just how aggressive you and your league competitors are. Does Magill pass the Blake Beavan Replacement Level pitcher test? How about Jason Marquis, in Petco? Chris Capuano was awful in his last start, but it turns out he was pitching hurt. He gets two starts this week, as do Cashner and Stults, as the Padres will use just four starters this week.