Sunday, February 04, 2007

Establishing your borderline

Yesterday, I talked about making lists of your borderline players. Today, I'm going to identify some of those players and give examples of the types of internal debates you should be having with yourself or with your partner(s) during this portion of the winter. Remember this list isn't all inclusive and is not meant to be. What this list is intended to do is spark debate about these types of players and establish a value baseline prior to Spring Training to give you a framework to look at when your fellow owners come a calling.

I've included prices from my American League to give you an additional framework: obviously, your league is going to have some different parameters that you need to adjust for accordingly.

An additional wrinkle here, that you almost never see on other websites, is the addition of inflation to the dialogue. Saying that someone is a freeze without the context of inflation is a waste. If someone is a $20 player who has a salary of $20, he won't be borderline in a league with inflation of 15% of more. I'll post a full discussion of inflation calculation shortly.

I've tried including a cross section of rookies, veterans, and salaries as well.

Kenji Johjima $19. Personally, I thought Johjima went for too much money at my auction last year. I expected a solid catcher who would hit for good average and drive in runs but not for a lot of power. However, Johjima exceeded those expectations, earning 17 Patton $ last year. Given his age, he should be able to duplicate or come close to duplicating his $17 season.

The question for me with Jojhima, then, becomes position scarcity. The American League is thick with catchers, and the only significant move is the addition of Piazza and the subtraction of B. Molina, which is probably a wash. In an open auction, Johjima might slip to $14 or $15 given the depth at the position. In a freeze league, many catchers get kept since a lot of owners want a starter heading into the season. My call: Keep with inflation.

Esteban Loaiza $10 To the uninitiated, it will seem silly that we’re even discussing a pitcher who tossed up a 4.91 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP as a $10 freeze. A couple of factors make Loaiza worth discussing: a thin pitching pool, a good home venue, some solid years in his past, and a lights out August that was hard to forget.

At $10, I would throw him back. Believe it or not, he will go for around that in an A.L. only league, but this is an example of a guy I’d rather see another owner have for $10 or $11. If I get him for $7, that would be OK, but this is someone I don’t want to pay par for. What is worth doing is sniffing around your league to see if someone has a high enough opinion of Loaiza to get something back. Throw back.

Raul Ibanez $24 Like Johjima, I thought that Ibanez went for too much money. And, like Johjima, Raul had an awesome year, earning $26 while hitting 30+ HR and driving in over 120.

However, here’s a guy I’d either trade or throw back if I didn’t get any takers. He’ll turn 35 next season, and has never done anything near what he did last year. Yes, if he mirrors what he did, he’ll turn a modest profit. But I’d rather not freeze players where the best case is only a small profit. Throw back.

Ryan Shealy $15 This is a FAAB price. And, though it might sound radical, I’d keep Shealy at this price.

His numbers last year- 7 HR 37 RBI 1 SB .277 BA in 202 AB – are uninspiring on the surface for a corner infielder. Pumping those numbers up to 600 AB, though, gives him a 21/110/3/.277, which would have been good for $19. Add to this the fact that last year was Shealy’s first significant crack at MLB, and I could see him getting a little better. Keep.

Joel Piniero $10 Here’s a guy you’re solely keeping for the role. A lot could change in Boston between now and Opening Day. But as of right now, he looks like he’s the morning line favorite to be the closer.

My advice right now is Keep. But there are several caveats. Most importantly, you can’t keep too many guys like Piniero. A team of high risk players at $10 is a risky strategy and a surefire way to set up an early exit. There’s nothing wrong with one high risk/high reward guy like Piniero. But don’t fill your team with these guys. Again, remember context.

There are several more examples, but this is just a cursory example of the discussion you should be having now. If you disagree with any of my examples above, that’s great…there are always going to be 12 owners with 12 opinions in a room, and you should be experienced enough to know what your preferences are. The most important thing is beginning the conversation now, not one week before the freeze date, and certainly not after other owners start calling and e-mailing with trade proposals

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