Wednesday, February 25, 2009

CBS Sportsline A.L. Recap III: Strategy and Tactics

I've talked a lot about the players that I bought in the CBS Sportsline expert auction and I thought I talked a little bit about strategy. But Frank says maybe not enough.
You clearly took a different approach this year compared to last when, I believe, you went heavy on hitting and cheap on pitching. I presume this was intentional and not the result of what was going on in this year's auction. Perhaps you will share the thinking behind this strategy with us. I recall you got burned by Bedard last year. Your staff is so strong this year that, even if one arm flops, you will still have a great staff. You had to take some risks on offense, though, in order to afford those pitchers. You got two great catchers but seem particularly weak at the infield corners.
BirdWatcher definitely thinks I have offered a lot of information but not necessarily a lot of insight.
Thanks Mike for the recap. I don't disagree with any of your player assessments, but please give us some insights into your overall strategy. You spent 45% of your budget on pitching which pretty well puts you behind the 8-ball, since you just don't have enough bucks left to assemble a respectable hitting/stealing team.

On top of that, your 45% only gave you one closer. Weren't guys like Rafael Perez, Ziegler/Devine, Ray, Balfour/Wheeler and Rodney/Zumaya available as potential sleeper/closer candidates ? You also went with 2 high-priced and injury-risk catchers (another 16% of your budget). That means less than 40%of your budget went to non-catching hitters. I have never seen that sort of allocation before. Did you actually plan it that way?
As Toz outlined in his recap of the N.L. auction, he went in planning on allocating $200 for his hitters and $60 for his pitchers. I might do this in an auction with freezes, but in a start-over auction, I try to allocate my money somewhere between 65-70% for hitters and 30-35% for pitchers. I came up with something in the neighborhood of 69% for hitters and 31% for pitchers, based on the spending trends I saw in 2008's three expert auctions. Money was slowly tilting toward hitting in the expert leagues, and I wanted to adjust to this reality when I put my bids together.

It didn't matter, because the top hitters were still sailing past my prices early on, while the pitchers I got early were falling under my sheet prices. Forty-one players into the auction, I had purchased four pitchers for $88. At this point, I could have stopped price enforcing pitchers, but John Lackey came up three players later, and I grabbed him for $20.

Now I did have to adjust, because as both Frank and BirdWatcher point out, I wasn't going to have enough offense without making specifically targeting certain types of players. I decided to buy one more starter late, lay off another closer, and fill out my offense with a modified Sweeney Plan (i.e. no power strategy).

So how did I do?

Quite well.

According to the CBS Sportsline projections, I drafted an 84 point, first place team, 12 points ahead of the projected second place team (CBS Sportsline's Peter Madden). The Patton software projections give me 83 points, but put me in 3rd, two points behind Krause Publications (Greg Ambrosius' entry) and one point behind Baseball HQ.

Both sets of projections say similar things about my offense, though. I'm dead last in HR in both sets of projections, but slot in at fifth in runs, seventh in RBI, 3rd in SB, and first in batting average in the Patton projections - for 37 points out of a possible 60 on offense. The Sportsline projections are a little less generous, showing me 4th in runs, steals and batting average and eighth in RBI. That's good for 32 points.

Do Frank and BirdWatcher's objections make sense?

They do - in the sense that I'd rather have better corner infielders, a more balanced offense, and a better flier for my second closer. However, my main goal was to buy the best team that money could buy. To do that, I pay less attention to stats and more attention to the ROI I'm getting on the players I'm buying. Since I did that, my offense projects out to about $190 worth of value despite the fact that I only spent $144 on it. Is it the best offense in the league? No...but with the pitching I assembled, 32-37 points is hopefully all I'll need to win.

Don't forget that your goal is to buy the best team possible - not to adhere to a formula that says you have to spend A on hitting, B on pitching, C on closers, and D on middle infielders. To that end, I think I had a very successful auction. Two projection models tell me that I bought a team in the low 80s and that I'm either the favorite or - at the very least - one of the favorites. Since my goal is to win, I'm very happy with that.

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