Saturday, February 03, 2007

Preparing for your freeze date

It is definitely important to know your league. But the first thing you want to do at this point is evaluate, or perhaps re-evaluate, your team.

I generally break my roster down into three classes of players:

1) Definite freezes. These are the no-brainers, and the guys who are going to form the core of your value going into your auction.

2) Definite drops. These are guys who are no-brainers the other way and you're not even thinking about keeping.

3) Borderline guys. This camp can be broken down into more than a few types of players. Some of them are veterans who have been around for a while. Their status won't change much between now and Opening Day, so it's just a matter of deciding if they'll fit on your roster. Others are rookies or players whose roles are undefined, or players returning from an injury. It's impossible to say now whether or not these players will be freezes, since Spring Training tends to sort these jobs out.

Category #1 is the easiest one to define. There aren't going to be too many guys in this group that you have to give much thought to, unless someone makes an enticing trade offer.

One of the tricks, though, is identifying which guys you might think are definite drops that your opponent thinks are borderline or even definite freezes. This is how trades are created.

Going back to John's example from Wednesday, I tend to be conservative with my freezes. This stems mostly from the fact that I'm confident in my ability to buy a good team on Auction Day, or replace some of my borderline guys with better value. However, not all owners have the same level of confidence in their skills that I do.

My favorite trades are finding guys I'm lukewarm on and trading them to another team. Ideally, I like to get a player I'm going to keep. But I'll even make the trade for a player I know I'll throw back for a few reasons:

First, the player I acquire will automatically generate interest from other owners, even if he's not much of a freeze. Psychologically, other owners think that a player worth trading for is a player who might be worth freezing.

More importantly, though, I'm doing two things by moving a non-freeze off my team. I'm clogging up another team with what I feel is an overpriced player, but I'm also opening up my roster for a more talented or equally talented but cheaper player later on.

Finally, adding a player who is overpriced to another owner's roster will actually reduce inflation. This is generally a good thing (though not universally, which is what some touts mistakenly teach) and will probably help me out in the auction by reducing the price of my team by a couple of dollars.

By all means don't limit yourself to these types of trades. But look for the opportunity to make these smaller deals, and subtly add value to your team by subtracing value from one of your opponents. Trust me, it's not that hard to do.

1 comment:

Toz said...

An excellent next step in the preparation phase. Knowing your team and preparing it for auction is the key component in a successful draft.

Mike certainly has more confidence in his drafting abilities than I do. I find more confidence in my ability to trade into a winner than to draft one. Therefore, I tend to hang onto some borderline guys at value, or attempt to trade them.

There are really two strategies as I see it. First, you can keep guys who are only undervalued. This, of course, makes sense, as it is many times difficult to find significant value in the draft (or value more than a $15 player at $10 - you will never find the $40 player for $15 in the draft).

Second, you can combine your undervalued player with what I call a "stat freeze." For example, a couple of years ago, I agonized over whether to trade for Alex Rodriguez (back in the $45+ days). I was happy to hold him because I had very few freezes and I knew I needed to get $45 in stats from somewhere. I also knew that inflation could drive him up several dollars above his actual value. Therefore, freezing ARod and his $45+ in stats made sense (don't ask me how that turned out).

Either way, my first and foremost priority is to make sure I have value on my freeze list. Putting less value on someone else's freeze list is an excellent side effect.