July 5, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Thome Trade Tests AL-Only Managers
The calendar has flipped to July, and that means we’ve reached the point of the season when players will start getting traded and -- piquing the interest of those who play in AL- and NL-only leagues -- switching circuits. The trade of Jim Thome to the Orioles this weekend marked the first of these trades and forced fantasy owners to make some interesting decisions when it came time to claim players. This year, I’m playing in two AL-only leagues, but despite this bit of uniformity, the decision-making that went into my Thome bids was quite different between them.
My two AL-only leagues are the CBS Analysts Expert League and the DraftDay Experts League (formerly CardRunners). In DraftDay, owners begin with a FAAB budget of $260, FAAB can be traded, and players from the National League can be claimed and stashed based on speculation that they might be traded to the AL. In CBS, owners get a fixed budget of $100 dollars, FAAB cannot be traded, and NL players cannot be claimed.
These three differences steered me toward a $52 bid in DraftDay (63 percent of my remaining budget) and a $17 bid in CBS (24 percent of my remaining budget). I’ve talked before about my philosophy on spending FAAB: essentially, be aggressive. I felt both of these bids were aggressive given the circumstances, but DraftDay was obviously more so. In DraftDay, 12 National League players have already been stashed. Pretty much all of the elite (Zach Greinke, Cole Hamels, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Shane Victorino) and not-so-elite (Alfonso Soriano, Chase Headley, Wandy Rodriguez) performers with a chance of crossing over are gone. Thome, for whatever reason, wasn’t owned.
While not at the level of a Victorino, Thome has great power, is entering a good ballpark, and has plenty of experience against American League pitching, making him a guy I’d certainly want on my team. And because so many players are already owned, the opportunities to snag a league-crosser are going to be limited as the month progresses. Even if Dempster comes over, I have no shot at him. As a result, a relatively big bid on Thome (20 percent of my total allocation for the year) seemed warranted. Were I to win, I’d be left with just $31 to spend over the rest of the season, but I have a very good roster and could easily trade for some FAAB if the need to arises. I’m overloaded with power (and would be even more so with Thome) and will likely be dealing some anyway, so asking for a little FAAB in return shouldn’t be a problem.
In CBS, I was a little more timid with my bid, although bids in general are more timid in that league. The most anyone has gone for is $17 (Adam Warren last week), followed by $16 for Marlon Byrd when he crossed and $14 for Josh Donaldson when he was named Oakland’s starting third baseman at the start of the year. Even Derek Norris went for only $11 in a league where guys like Bobby Wilson and Anthony Recker are occupying starting spots. Looking back, I probably would been warranted in making a larger bid on Thome, since he figures to be better than a Byrd or Donaldson, but knowing that guys like Greinke or Hamels could come over made me hold back on the reins a little bit. Only four teams have more money than I do at the moment, and with so many big names in the rumor mill this year (and none of them stashed, as in DraftDay), I decided to put in a more modest bid.
So how did things turn out? Take a look at the high bids in each league among participants who weren’t named Derek Carty:
Can you guess which is which? Given what I told you about the league rules, you’d think that the 77 percent bid came from an owner in DraftDay. You’d be wrong. Scott Pianowski of Yahoo! was the high bidder in CBS, spending all of his remaining FAAB to acquire Thome. In DraftDay, I won the bidding with my $52 bid, followed by Razzball at $40. Surprisingly, though, the next-high bid was just $18, followed by $7.
So I guess the moral of the story is that not everyone views things the way you do, and not every FAAB market is efficient. All it takes is one bidder who wants a guy more than you, but if you make the best play you can based on all the information at your disposal, that’s all you can do. In my case, I acquired a reasonable-enough Thome in DraftDay without overbidding too much. And in CBS, I’m at least left with some bullets should there be additional league-crossers, and I will have one fewer competitor for them.