never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut

Friday, March 23, 2007

Transitioning from Draft to Auction

The transition debate is what I imagine will be the most problematic. All I can say at the outset is that baseball is generally unfair, and if we develop a system that is good enough for this one time transition of a maximum of 70 players (7 keepers x 10 teams), then we'll be all set.

The first problem, though, is to decide what to do about second-year keepers. I, personally, think the "highest available pick the second time around" rule is dumb, and I wouldn't mind rescinding it for something like "his round position jumps 7 rounds the second year." This is a conversation, though, that we need to have TONIGHT. That and to decide whether we will do a draft or auction or auction/draft next year.

Luckily, the second problem—translating draft position into auction prices—can be done outside of a decision on the above problem.

Last month, I proposed taking the league budget b and breaking it down into SUM(x = 1 ; x = 25) xn, thereby using n as a sort of basepoint by which the inverted round of a player is multiplied to figure out his contract price. So a first rounder would cost 27n, a tenth rounder 18n, and so on. However, using the numbers from my head, b = $265 and the league minimum is $1. As such, I propose making n = 1. Hence, someone picked in the last round this year but kept would be under contract for the league minimum. Someone drafted in the first round would cost $27. According to BP's Player Forecast Manager, using the parameters of our league, there are only 8 players worth more than $27—and two of them are between $27 and $28, so it's a pretty good deal for first rounders. Otherwise, it's not a good deal until you start getting into the late teens / twenties, which just means that the keeper market will be scarce in transition.

So next year, seven players from each team would automatically go under contract at prices determined using the a scheme like the one above. Second year keepers would obviously have their round values augmented before it got translated into a price.

Ruleset discussion

I'm going to walk through the ruleset and describe the thinking that's going on.


1.1 I've expanded the roster. This is done mostly to avoid in-season acquisitions. Even though many of us in this league live and die by the waiver wire, if we have to start considering salary implications, etc., of every waiver pick up, it becomes a TON of work for someone. I'm willing to play the role of accountant, but I shouldn't have to be doing piles of calculations every week. Hopefully a 40-man roster will help this.

1.2 I suggested in my head a budget of $265: $10 per UC, and $1 per draftee. The league minimum, therefore, is $1. I think it's worthwhile to have bonuses for performance--top five finishers get some kinds of scale of rewards, and we could have other rewards, like, say, for "most-improved" or something.

Also, I think the money should be delivered in two sums so that owners have money with which to play toward the end of the season--say blowing half their budget on late-season acquisitions, at the risk of not being able to keep those players under contract the following year.

1.3 I can imagine that auctioning 400 players would take a whole weekend. As a result, I came up with the idea of two types of players: auctioned contract players and drafted "free" players. The idea is that one drafts players who are young or who are serious reserves--third catchers and the like. Basically like whom you would expect to find on the 40-man of a real team.


2.1 This part is clearer. Obviously players' status shouldn't change over the course of the year.

2.2 Also clear. In my head, I think there should be a 10% raise for players, but that can be discussed--we could have escalators based on length of contract (10% a year, but a 50% hop in the fourth yeah, say), but I like a blanket 10%, since it makes accounting easier.

2.3 I think that the draft is where we can hide prospects who might not even be in the yahoo system or players who aren't full-time yet, etc. As such, they should be "free" to the owner. After three years, though, the owner has to decide what to do with the player--and if he wants to keep him, then he needs to promote him by putting him under contract (and retroactively paying him $1 for his third year).

I somehow worry, though, that owners will abuse this system and ride players raw for free :) As such, any drafted player can be put under contract by a different owner during the auction. In other words, no drafted player is safe at auction time. That encourages the draft's remaining a place for RESERVES, not starters. Starters should be under contract. That's why, on the flip side, a drafted player can be promoted to UC at ANY time by the owner... So say you draft Papelbon, and he kicks ass. You know he'll be nominated by someone the next year at the auction, so you might as well promote him and put him under contract yourself for $1, thereby avoiding having to auction for him.


This should be very clear.


Also clear. I know that the keeper system seems busted (forfeiting your lowest picks, instead of your highest), but considering that any drafted player can be auctioned off the next year, it's unlikely that there will be much value in the draft at any time. I could be wrong.


Hopefully with a 40-man roster, there won't be tons of mid-season acquisition, but if there is, I think this sort of three-day auction is a pretty good way to do things--it's like a waiver wire claim period, but with cash instead of waiver position. I imagine these will get much more exciting during the second half of the season, once the all-star break cash dump is made.


I've been thinking about this for a while, and here it goes... my candidate for a cash-based auction league. I'm going to not use numbers here, since when I do, everyone always freaks out and focuses more on the numbers than on the ideas ("Howie Kendrick isn't a 13th rounder!").

I'm going to follow this up with a discussion of the ideas that went into this, but I want it out there.


1.1 Our league is a 10-team league with a 40-person roster.

1.2 Every owner receives an equal annual budget in two lump sums: one at the All-Star Break, and one at the end of the season. The owner's budget is supplemented by awards for performance and leftover money.

1.3 Of those players on the roster, 25 are acquired via auction/contract, and 15 via our supplemental reserve draft.


2.1 Players are either under contract (UC), drafted, or free agents (FA). During the course of a season, the only way a player's status changes is from FA to UC. If a player is UC or drafted at the start of the season, he stays that way until the last day of the season.

2.2 A player becomes under contract from either the auction (FA to UC), promotion (drafted to UC), or in-season acquisition (FA to UC).

2.2.1 The full sum of the contract must be paid. If a player is traded, the trading owners can decide on how the contract is to be paid. If a player is cut, the cutting owner is responsible for the contract in full, unless the player is later picked up by a new owner, who pays a pro-rated sum for the time spent on the new team.

2.2.2 A player can remain UC during the off-season, but the owner must pay the player a raise. Otherwise, the player becomes an FA until the next year's auction/draft.

2.3 A player becomes drafted via the 15-man supplemental player draft.

2.3.1 A drafted player remains on the roster at no cost to the owner for three seasons, unless an owner nominates him during the auction. After three seasons, the player returns to the FA pool unless the owner promotes the player to UC by paying him the league minimum for his third year of service.

2.3.2 Drafted players can be cut and traded like UC players, though the only way for a player's clock to promotion to be reset is to have him be redrafted.

2.3.3 An owner may never have more than 15 drafted players on his team. If an owner acquires a drafted player via trade, and that would put the owner's total over 15, one of the owner's drafted players must be promoted to UC.

2.3.4 An owner may promote a drafted player at any time during the player's service. At that moment, the player becomes a UC with a league minimum contract, paid in full at that season's end.

2.4 Free Agents are everyone else: UC players who don't have their contracts renewed during the off-season, unkept draftees, etc. FAs can be acquired at the auction/draft before the season, or via mini-auction during the season.


3.1 The auction takes place before the season begins. Owners announce before the auction what contracts they are renewing for UCs, in order to establish the FA pool (everyone else, which includes drafted players and FAs from the previous year).

3.2 Players can be put on the block at any time by any owner. Bidding starts at the league minimum.

3.3 The auction ends when every owner has 25 UCs (renewed contracts + new acquisitions). (NOTE: though the auction ends with each roster having 25 UCs, over the course of the season that number can change, of course.)


4.1 The draft follows the auction, using the thereby reduced FA pool.

4.2 The draft order is determined by team position at the end of the previous season.

4.3 If an owner is keeping drafted players from the previous two years (who have remained unnominated at an auction), then the owner forfeits the lowest available draft picks for those players.

4.5 The draft ends once every owner has 15 drafted players (kept draftees + new acquisitions) or 40 total players.


5.1 The mini-auction is for acquiring FAs during the course of the season. An owner nominates a player for the league minimum on the yahoo! msg board. Over the next three days, other owners can outbid the nominator by posting higher bids on the board. At the end of three days (using the board's timestamp), the owner with the highest bid signs the player.

5.2 Signing a player, of course, means that there is an extra player on the mini-auction winner's roster. The owner must, then, cut a different player, who maintains his UC or drafted status for the rest of the season.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Another Example - Pete's League

I'll try to comment on the two systems I've described in the past few posts in a more meta post later today, but I just wanted this second example out there. The point here is to have a candidate system--or at least a framework for a candidate system (maybe better described as guiding principles more refined) before the draft. It has become increasingly important to me in terms of everything I do starting with the keeper list this year to know, generally, what will happen next year. I mean, this isn't even whom I should keep, but whom I should even bother drafting.

Pete gave me the rundown of his league on Friday—his NYC league that has the points equation. They have, from my understanding, a salary cap and auction players willy-nilly. I didn't ask about cost-of-living adjustments to contracts, but I imagine there may be some. I was more interested in how his league handled stuff during the season.

He said that, first, trades don't take into account dollar value; you just have to square up the money before the next auction (from what I gathered). Second, there is no free agent acquisition budget. If you pick up a player off waivers, you get him for free. The caveat, however, is that you can't keep him into the next year without submitting him to the draft. A player, in other words, can only be kept if he already has a contract, which means that if a team waives a player and another team picks him up, he can be kept into the new season. Someone who appeared out of the blue, on the other hand, cannot.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Red Sox

Excited Red Sox Fans Eagerly Await Debut Of Matsuzakas Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion

The Onion

Excited Red Sox Fans Eagerly Await Debut Of Matsuzaka's 'Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion'

BOSTON—Now that Manny Ramirez has reported to camp and the spring-training opener against Minnesota is in the books, Red Sox fans are turning their attention to the awesome power rumored to dwell within much-touted off-season pitching...