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March 10, 1999

Rotisserie Turns

March 1-7

by Keith Law

The way I see it, the husband must have come home about 30 minutes into the LABR-NL draft on Saturday.

The only logical explanation for what happened is this: My strategy was apparently sleeping with another man's wife. While they were together, she heard the door open and realized her husband was home. At that point, my strategy did the natural thing.

It went out the window.

That just about sums up what happened to me on Saturday night at the LABR-NL draft in Tampa. About 15 players into the draft, I realized I was sitting there with a list of values that bore little resemblance to what was happening around me - which, in turn, bore little resemblance to what had happened the previous night in the AL auction. Closers were going for roughly 10% less than I had forecasted. No player went for over $38. And many trendy young players - like Scott Elarton ($13) and Darren Dreifort ($12) - were going at nearly double the risk-adjusted values I had pegged for them.

As a result, most of the values I had placed on remaining players were going to be way off, and my usual strategy - punt wins, focus on young talent, load up on setup men and emerging starters - wasn't going to hold. So for the first time in my roto history, I had to forget 90% of my usual shopping habits, and ended having to pursue these strategies:

  1. Increased spending on starting pitching. With money going toward younger, emerging starting pitchers, some reliable veterans went below forecasted values. I wound up with Ismael Valdes and Rick Reed at $16 apiece, both $2-4 below where I had priced them. Mike Hampton went to Greg Ambrosius for $11; Andy Ashby went to Chris Colston for $15; and John Hunt landed Pete Harnisch and Brett Tomko for $12 apiece.

  2. Shift focus toward more playing time and less-risky players. Increasing my budget on starting pitching meant reducing my budget for hitting, and thus trying to reduce my risk. Of my 14 hitters, 9 have starting positions lined up already, and two are in races to be decided either by spring performances (Warren Morris) or the health of others (Angel Pena). One trick I used to try to impose some discipline on myself was to use separate hitting and pitching budgets after I had spent half of my $260, ensuring that I'd have the cash I needed at the end, when I'd have to fill out the pitching slots.

  3. Avoid setup men. My LABR victory last year came because of some good fortune around my setup men - Bob Wickman, Ricardo Rincon, Juan Acevedo, and Danny Graves all wound up getting a few saves, and only Wickman ($9) had cost more than $4. This year, the pendulum swung the other way: Three setup men went for double digits, and several went for more than I had forecasted. I did manage to sneak Wayne Gomes through at $5 and Jay Powell at $3, but I definitely envy Roger Anderson's pickup of Antonio Osuna at $7.

All that these adjustments bought me was a second chance. The league seems extremely balanced, and the draft as a whole was very tough, with many owners clearly realizing what was going on and making the necessary shift in pricing. This incident just underlines a point made here earlier: that you have to be flexible and constantly aware of sea changes in the market just to stay in the game.

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