Ask the Expert samples (2006)

You mentioned I could drop any of my non-closer relievers (in a previous question). My league is 4 X 4 without using Strikeouts. It seems most of the successful team use 4 starters and as many stoppers as they can get…Then fill in with quality setup relievers who help their whip and era more than a 5th or 6th starter would? Is this pretty common in 4x4 leagues?

It is a very good strategy with the right combination of pitchers. But if you think your starters are doing ok or you expect them to perform well in the second half, there is no reason to cut them. The more quality innings you can build, the quicker your ERA and whip will drop. At least two of your relievers are not pulling their own weight.

I am playing for next year in one of my leagues.  It is an NL only 4x4 league.  I've been offered Chris Young (SD P) for Aaron Rowand.  Young is $16 while Rowand is $27.  Is Young worth keeping at $16?  He will get about 12-14 wins and has both a good ERA and ratio.  What do you think?

I think it is a very good offer but Young is no bargain at $16. Not that he wouldn't earn it but I like to get young pitchers a little cheaper. It also depends on the makeup of your roster. If you have a lot of cheap keepers, then do the deal. It also depends on how many starters you will retain and how many will be available. If you think starting pitching will be at a premium next year, do the deal. You might want to shop Rowand around the league first. If Young is the best offer and the factors above point in his direction, do the deal.

Sorry to bother you and I don’t know if this is part of your service but can I ask your opinion about the fairness of this trade?  As commish in our league I’m charged with approving trades that are “not collusive” and that are “in the best interest and fairness for the league.”  Pretty vague guidelines!  We are a 9-team, NL-only, 5x5 league, starting 8 pitchers, 13 hitters (1B, 2B, SS, 3B, two-c, two-utility, 5 outfielders).  It is an auction league with a $390 salary cap and teams have bench/reserve/farm teams totaling about another 14 players.  We use a FAAB pickup system until July 31.TradeWinds trade Khalil Greene and Jason Isringhausen to Brandons Brew Crew for Edgar Renteria … There is no chance of collusion.  It is just a question of whether the trade is fair and in the best interest of the league.

I would say this is a lopsided trade, but probably not enough to be vetoed by the commissioner. If it were the first week of the season, I would have said definitely veto it.  But at this point, Renteria's hitting .327 to Greene's .217.  (Their other numbers are pretty comparable.)  I would believe Greene will bounce back and bring his average up to a more expected level, while Renteria should cool off a little.  But you can't fault "TradeWinds" if he needs help in the batting average category and is concerned Greene may not increase his average much this year.  (After all, Greene is still relatively young and doesn't have a long track record for batting average.) Izzy is a big price to pay for the upgrade to Renteria, which makes me wonder does TradeWinds have an abundance of closers?  If so, I could understand them feeling like they can easily give one away. Also, there's a little concern that maybe Izzy is hiding an injury, due to his 23BB in 25IP.  Most likely, it's a mechanical issue that he'll work out.  However, I could understand if TradeWinds is a little concerned about it. (Or maybe he thinks the Cardinals won't win more games than KC now that Pujols is out?)

I'm in an 11 team, 5x5 experienced keeper league and Unit is killing my ERA and WHIP. Is he washed up or should I hang on to him? There is no trade interest. The following starters are available: Westbrook, Wang, Cain, Ervin Santana, Janssen, Jamey Wright, Koronka and all Colorado starters. Is it time to cut the cord with Unit? If so, how would you rank the pitchers listed?

Dennis LePore – “The glory days are obviously over for Johnson as his strikeout rates have been dropping the last two years with his hit rates rising. But he is still winning games and the Yankees claim his back, right knee and arm are fine. Bottom line is that, if he can tweak his mechanics a bit to improve his control, he should rebound in the second half. The only pitcher I would consider would be Westbrook because if you can catch him on a hot streak he can carry you. I also like Cain, Santana and Wang but they are young and unpredictable. Good pickups for the future though.”

Steve Goldman – “Hard-throwers usually lose effectiveness sooner than a Jamie Moyer type. While Johnson has done well to do so well for so long, it would be a lot to ask to keep dominating at age 42. I do think the ERA will come down from 5.89, but I don't think he'll do better than his 60% win percentage (which of course is aided greatly by his offense), and my guess is it will end up between 50 and 60. I think his K/BB ratio, which is still very good for an average human being, will probably stay about where it is. If the ERA comes down, still not bad overall stats for an average pitcher, but no longer one of the elite hurlers in the game.”

Larry Schechter – “I agree.  He should bounce back some, as he learns to pitch without a 98 MPH fastball, but he will not be dominant anymore.”

Bob Radomski – “Big downside, he will have his games, but few and far between.  Randy is all about ego, now that the fans and press are against him he will not be the same.  The problem with the ‘learn to pitch and location theory,’ is that all of Randy's pitches are based on power.  Now batters let the slider go in the dirt for balls he is at their mercy.”

Bob Radl – “The Big Unit has had his better days. He may learn to pitch smarter and still be effective. I do not see him being dominant again. The ERA should come down some, as I truly do not think he has slipped that much. Playing for the Yankees, he should get more than his fair share of wins with the strong lineup.”

I have a question, which may well be subjective, but I'd really like to know your rationale for this. Looking over the projected value of the closers, specifically the 4x4 value, I understand that this value will be the very maximum for the player and that it is foolish to get to this figure in actual bidding. When I compare each of the closers in the cheat sheet, yes, all are less money than the projected list. But it is in the degree of difference that I have the question: of the top 15 closers, the difference is minus 5,5,6,6,3,4,3,3,7,7,3,5,3,3,2. The disparity at #9-Turnbow and #10- Gordon is minus 7, whereas no other player in the first 15 deviates so much and this is especially true for all players 5-15 who are all minus 2's, 3’s and 4's. Question made simple: Why are these 2 players downgraded so much more than the others, yet maintain their respective ranking on both lists?

We get this question every year in various ways and it is always a very valid concern. First of all, the stat values (formulated) and the bidding values (subjective) obviously differ. The stat values are derived from precise mathematical formulas that give us a starting point as to what we should value a player. From there we take those values and play with them all spring long, juggling them as per the player’s tendencies and the news from the camps. And remember, these are guidelines for your draft, not the final word on prices. Anyway, a lot of factors might come into play when deciding on a final bidding value. On our end, we consider injury history, role, team strength, 3-year stat scans, etc. On your end, you should take these values and then adjust them further as per individual owner tendencies, positional scarcity, money allocation, etc. In Turnbow’s case, we are hesitant because he came out of nowhere last year and we want to make sure he doesn’t turn into another Danny Kolb. Gordon, a veteran, is a little safer but has faltered in the closer’s role before and has been injury-prone in the past. In other words, we are bumping them, as well as others, down a little into a safety zone, so to speak. You’ll find most of the discrepancies will be found in the pitcher’s lists (relievers first, starter’s second) as they are the players that are the most inconsistent and toughest to project.