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Charging the Mound: Selling Low on Harper

Chris Liss

Chris Liss

Chris Liss is RotoWire's Managing Editor and Host of RotoWIre Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio.

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).




-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Thursday, May 1, 2014 12:55am
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Charging


First off, I think it's great we pulled off an on-camera trade today (see above). I dealt you Anthony Rizzo and Wily Peralta for Bryce Harper and Joe Nathan. From my side, I DL'd Harper (didn't have anyone there), and gained a roster spot to play with. First thing I did was pick up David Lough, who has a double-header, on a short slate. It also helps with my positional flexibility. I had four first basemen (Rizzo, Jose Abreu, David Ortiz and Justin Morneau). I could play them all given the two utility spots, but that meant I had no room for anyone else there if someone's status was uncertain. Essentially, if you're waiting on a lineup call, you want to have that player in your UT spot, so your sub can come from anywhere if he's scratched. I probably lost 2-3 games so far with both UT spots constantly clogged. Plus I picked up a third closer which is the difference between middle and top of the pack, and in this innings-cap format, going with three closers doesn't cost me wins or Ks like it would in a regular league.

What's cool about the video is the entire evolution of the trade negotiations is in it, and neither of us had any idea we were going to agree on something until we did.

Moving on from that, I'm finding some of my early luck is fading. Martin Perez always seemed to get the double-play when he needed it the first few starts, but yesterday, he loaded the bases down 4-1 and walked the next hitter. Then the Rangers brought in a reliever who walked the next guy and gave up a single for two more runs. What could have been four earned runs quickly became eight. Those are the battles of which you need to win more than your fair share to take down the overall Main Event in NFBC. Today, I had Tony Cingrani, and while I probably should consider myself lucky he gave up only three runs - he was behind all day and had no command of his fastball - it's scary he's my No. 2 starter behind Justin Verlander who has yet to show him dominant form.

I also lost Kolten Wong to Triple-A, about an hour after the free-agent moves locked, so I'm getting a zero from my middle infield slot this week. I think one hole in my game is I'm too optimistic about younger, unproven players at the expense of boring proven ones. I took Wong over Neil Walker, for example, and A.J. Pollock over Melky Cabrera and Mike Morse. It's not that the young guys don't sometimes pan out - I also took Anthony Rendon over Walker on that same turn - but that I view them a bit more optimistically than I sometimes should. And it might not even be a bias for the young guys as much as one toward volatile players with the biggest upside. I also drafted Chase Headley, Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp because I can see them earning so much profit from their draft slots. So maybe it's not a hole in my game so much as a style, but you can see where it's a fine line between the two if the results go against you on a few picks.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Erickson
Sent: Thursday, May 1, 2014 9:36pm
To: Christopher Liss
Subject: RE: Charging


In fact, I thought that we weren't going to get anywhere close in those trade talks. But that's also why you talk - instead of just sending e-mails back-and-forth (and yes, I know the irony in saying that given the format of this article) or, even worse, just sending trade offers and counters past each other, we were able to get a feel for both points of view, and to also get a sense of whether we were close or not. I know that it's not always possible to call someone up to do a trade, but the more direct the contact, the more likely it is that you're going to get something done.

Where all have you pulled off trades? Without turning this into a Sam Walker or Matthew Berry book excerpt, I always like hearing the circumstances in which people have made trades. You and I have done them now both on video and also on the radio - at least, I think we've done trades on the radio. I know I have pulled off a couple during the show, including one bad NFL trade in the Stopa Law Firm League with Kevin Payne two years ago. I've also traded with Peter Schoenke at a Cubs game, in the bleachers no less where we each probably had a couple of beers in us. Forget the trade, but I'm sure I smoked Pete on it. If it were football, it would have been the opposite result. No wedding or hospital trades, however.

The funny thing is that despite all of my injuries, I've hustled enough to be up near the games limit on all but catcher I think so far this year, and I'm not far off there. Pianow's "no-starter, ok, maybe two starters" strategy inspired me to stay on it even more than I usually do. Then again, it's early - the dog days and the cumulative effect of those injuries hasn't settled in yet.

But I *had* to trade either Harper or Trumbo - can't have them out clogging up my DL spots for two months, and just getting by on replacement-level talent when all of the league is so active at this point. By getting Rizzo at 1B, at least I'm getting a plus player there, at a position that I don't think is as deep as it's been in previous years. I really don't want to try to get by starting the Garrett Jones's of the world at the position for three months. You and I both love Wily Peralta, too - happy to at least get some upside, though punting saves in a league like this always hurts. Maybe I'll find a Tigers reliever and get out my Joe Nathan voodoo dolls.

Once the bad luck starts, it seems like it's a new hit each day. You lost Cingrani today after the reports of his velocity was down last night, and I just lost Billy Hamilton to a wrist injury in the NFBC - on a diving catch no less. I don't even get credit for him being on-base somehow. Aargh. You know, when we did the Billy Hamilton profit/loss speculation at the beginning of the season, I didn't really think that much about what an injury would do to him. What if he has to start sliding feet-first all the time? Is that going to discourage him from running as often? Or should I not fret over contemplating every single possibility. I'm just sick of losing players to thumb and wrist injuries involving dives of some sort.

I think it's good that you're auditing yourself, to see if there's a consistent weakness or blind spot. You might even find that it's not there, but better to be constantly vigilant. Last year I took too many chances, between already-injured guys or prospects, and had too many of my roster spots tied up in the NFBC. I compounded that by taking too many batting average risks - and perhaps I'm still doing that. And I've frequently struggled to time the closers runs in that draft properly. It's no coincidence that my best year in that format featured a season where I had 2.5 closers - with Kenley Jansen grabbing the job early in the season. What's funny is that I only struggle with this in the 15-team Main - in the 12-team Online and in the Draft Champions leagues, I've been fine.

That leads to my final point. Even though we preach all the time about how important it is on Draft Day to dig into the format of the league, we probably don't remember that lesson enough during the season. That's more evident when we have to answer questions on air, because we're always having to clarify the formats with our listeners. But take our Harper trade - you stressed the point on-air and here that in this format, that trade more sense in that league because of the games played limit, the daily moves and the limited DL spots than it would in a standard redraft league, let alone in a keeper league.

I'll leave you with a fresh topic. Now that our Daily Lineups Page has been revamped to add weather, handedness, odds and  totals, giving you the chance to do more one-stop shopping, are you more inclined to start playing more Daily Fantasy Sports? I've been doing a lot more this year (though I took the day off from that today), but one of the great impediments was that it took so long to do the research. I had to go to one page to check the over/unders (that to me is the most important thing to look at as you're going through the lineups and the projected starters), another on the weather, and then another on the matchups. *Then* you have to go and look at the prices and how to make it work. It's a lot easier for me now.

-----Original Message-----
From: Christopher Liss
Sent: Friday, May 2, 2014 12:16am
To: Jeff Erickson
Subject: Re: Charging


The last time I remember doing a live on-air trade was with Jason Grey on our show. I gave him a washed-up Carlos Guillen for a worthless Brian Matusz, I think. Pretty sure it had no impact on the standings at all. 

You had to trade Harper. No one was going to give you anything for an injured Trumbo, especially when that injury cost him a whole season last time. 

I think Hamilton's injury sounds minor. Cingrani, who knows? I almost think it's the best-case scenario when your pitcher can't find the strike zone and has lost velocity that he goes on the DL. That way, he won't be in your lineup getting shelled, and he won't aggravate the injury causing him to miss the season. But if the news is at all bad on Cingrani, say 10 days from now, I'll probably cut him rather than wait a month with an uncertain prognosis. Right now, I've got him, Aroldis Chapman, Josh Hamilton and Chase Headley on the DL in NFBC Main and Andrew Heaney in the minors. I'm hoping the Twins activate Oswaldo Arcia (for whom I paid $187 when the next highest bid was $4) this weekend, and I'll probably drop Abraham Almonte. I like Almonte still, but not sure I can wait for him to come around. I think I also have to drop Kolten Wong even though I won't be surprised if he's back up in three weeks. I just don't have the roster room for an extra MI right now. 

The Daily Lineups Page certainly makes it easier. It's tempting, but honestly until the NFL magazine is done in mid-June, I've got my hands full just managing the season-long ones. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Jeff Erickson
Sent: Friday, May 2, 2014 9:35am
To: Christopher Liss
Subject: Re: Charging


Yeah, I'm glad that the Reds stuck Cingrani on the DL right away, too. They didn't mess around with even trying to get through a couple more innings to "save the bullpen" or any other dumb things either. They realized that he was the asset worth saving. At least the news on Chapman is good and Headley isn't that far behind either.

And you're right, I knew that Harper was the guy to trade. I wish I would have given people direct offers to see if there was a greater market, but given that you were the only one to make any sort of offer and only one other owner even replied to me at all otherwise, I felt it was probably going to be a fruitless effort. Despite all that, I'm happy that we got the deal done.

The NFBC can get nasty with the lack of DL once all the hits keep coming. I agree, both Almonte and Wong are drops if you can find viable guys out there. It's just so hard to keep playing the waiting game when there are two-start pitchers or emerging hitters. Because these leagues are so efficient, you almost need to deny the rest of the league these free agents just as much as you need to add them yourself.