Monday, February 23, 2009

Sportsline A.L. Team Review: CBS Madden

Sometimes you notice something crazy about another owner's auction and can't help but to comment.
Peter Madden (CBSSports) took Kerry Wood, Jon Papelbon, Joey Devine, and no pitchers that are locks for their teams' starting rotations. Does this league have no minimum number of innings pitched?
As I was compiling the draft rosters to figure out the hypothetical (predicted) standings, I noticed this right away. Madden has the following pitchers:

Jon Papelbon $31, Joey Devine $22, Kerry Wood $19, Justin Masterson $3, Hideki Okajima $1, Rafael Betancourt $1, Dustin Moseley $1, Damaso Marte $1, Jeremy Accardo $1.

Sportsline's own projections say that this staff will put up 645 IP, which is well short of the league's 900 IP requirement. This also assumes 110 IP for Masterson, which I suppose could happen if Masterson wound up starting for the Sox mid-year. But that seems unlikely. On the other hand, the projections also say that Moseley is only good for 77 IP this year.

For the sake of argument, let's say that Kelvim Escobar doesn't come back this year, Nick Adenhart continues to stink up the joint at AAA, and Moseley throws up 140 IP. Let's then bump Masterson down to 70 IP. That gives Madden 668 IP.

If he hurries up and flips Wood or Devine for a 200 IP starter before the season starts, that gives him 803 hypothetical innings. He's still light, but now he can troll the free agent pool for a starter and mix and match until he finds someone who works.

What's even odder is that he's through six rounds of seven of our reserve draft, and has grabbed four hitters, a reliever, and only one possible starting pitcher - Jeremy Sowers - in Round 6.

Without an innings requirement, this could work as a two category (wins and strikeouts) dump. However, in that case going cheaper on the three closers and spending closer to $200 on offense than the $180 that Madden ultimately spent would have worked better. His team projects to 36 out of a possible 60 points on offense, is strong in batting average and steals but middle of the pack in the other three counting categories.

With a 900 IP requirement, going with mostly relievers could work. But you'd need at least two starters to start with, and since your goal would be to sweep ERA/WHIP/Saves, you'd probably have to spent at least $25 on one ace...or gamble at $20 on that ace. You could then try to fill in cheaply on your second starter, hope to get a league average pitcher, and hope your relievers pushed you up in ERA/WHIP. Assuming you went with two cheap closers, you could probably spend $25-30 there.

But if you're trying to sweep hitting too, you'd need to spend at least $200 on offense - and you'd probably want to spend more if your goal was to truly dominate.

I can't say I recommend this strategy. There's too much variability in your ERA/WHIP when you only have two starters, and too much variability in closers period, but particularly when you start skimming the bottom of the pool.

I'm not sure that Madden went in with this as a strategy or not, though. I'd guess he was as surprised as I am by the pitcher prices early on. In the first round of the auction, he got Wood at $19 (3rd player called out), Matt Holliday at $37 (4), and Papelbon at $31 (9). Then in the second round he got Ian Kinsler at $44 (15). That left him with $129 for 19 players. Then at the beginning of the 3rd round, he got Devine at $22.

I have to imagine that Madden was just price enforcing on Devine, that he didn't want three closers but couldn't believe that Devine was going at what to him was such a good price. But I definitely would have laid off in that situation, no matter how tough it would have been in the moment.

Getting Devine might have stunned him, because there was a 31 player gap between Devine and his next buy - Kevin Youkilis at $32 and then a 46 player gap between Youk and Jed Lowrie at $12. Whether Madden didn't like the pitching prices or was actively deciding to simply spend money on offense I don't know.

I like the relievers he bought, but I might have bought a few starters as fliers and picked up relievers later. In 5x5, middle relievers are always sitting out there for the taking, and often get dropped mid-year to make room for the latest flavor of the month young pitcher in the free agent pool.

3 comments:

Eugene Freedman said...

I just joined a second league, after my previous second league imploded. The roster I was granted only had closers and middle relievers and a few hitters. I decided to accentuate the positive and made a trade to add another two MR (Shields and Rodney) plus Delmon Young for Alexei Ramirez ($12). There is no Minimum IP, so it's a different animal altogether.

As an aside, the league is 5x5 with OBP instead of AVG and it's AL only plus the Washington Nationals as the home town team.

I'm planning to keep the following pitchers:
Rafael Perez $1
Octavio Dotel $2
Fernando Rodney $3
Scot Shields $4
Joel Hanrahan $1
George Sherrill $6

That means I'll have a $20 pitching staff that should do well in ERA/WHIP and saves, tanking Wins and Ks. I'm only adding more MR so as not to spoil the ERA/WHIP with a bad starter. I'm hoping for 30-32 points in pitching.

The offense is a work in progress, but I've got tons of money to fill it out.
C Barajas 2
3B Lowell 14
CM Crede 9
SS Aybar 1
OF Del Young 6
OF Ry Sweeney 2

I've never been in a league with no Minimum IP, so this is going out on a limb for me. I love drafting underrated starting pitchers to go with an ace and second tier starter. Should be interesting being in the bidding for every top hitter, trying to grab at least 5 hitters in the $35-40 range.

Anonymous said...

Eugene,

Tell the truth! Your old league most certainly did not implode. You quit! Good luck in your new one.

DM

Anonymous said...

I did a similar strategy two seasons ago in my mixed league, except I started with a few starters and dealt them at the deadline for quality closers and MRs. In this case, my strategy worked.