Tuesday, March 15, 2011


posted by Scootron
This week I'm offering up an idea to help get those last minute trades rolling, plus a look at how to make your post-auction reserve draft a success.

Tentative Freeze Lists. This is an exercise I always try to initiate in any league I am in, at least two to three weeks before freezes are due. You simply invite every owner to post a non-binding list of his anticipated freezes, and you start off by proposing your own. Most owners will respond favorably to this, even if they are not yet certain as to which players they want to freeze.

The exercise doesn’t always provide a great deal of information. If you’ve done your homework you should have already projected most of the freezes. But frequently an owner will list a keeper you didn't expect, or will indicate an intention to drop a certain player who appeals to you. Accordingly, the exercise can serve some very important interests, and create an opportunity to improve your own keeper list, even if you have already gone through the process of predicting everyone‘s freezes.

One benefit is that it tends to get owners active. Even though you may have been studying in earnest since January, there will be some owners who have given their squads very little attention since the end of the previous season. The idea of submitting a tentative freeze list will often spur these owners to get in gear and analyze their rosters.

Perhaps the most important function of the “tentative freeze list” exercise is that it can dramatically increase trade conversations and opportunities. I believe this adds enjoyment to the league, while giving you a chance to improve your freeze list. Owners may realize an area where they are weak, and look for trades to shore up that area. Owners may indicate that they won’t freeze certain players, giving you the sign that these players are available for the right offer. The mere increase in league activity can lead to trades.

The “tentative freeze list” and the trades that it promotes can allow you to establish better relationships with your fellow owners. This can come in very handy during the season when an opportunity arises for you to help each other by a trade.

In summary, it’s a great gambit…fun for all, educational, and helpful in maximizing your freeze lists going into the auction.

The Reserve Draft. Many leagues have a reserve draft after the primary auction, where owners are allowed to fill their reserve rosters in a round-by-round draft, often in a serpentine format. Some leagues have a small reserve roster, maybe five players, while the “ultra” leagues generally have a minimum of seventeen players on their reserve list. How can you best use this reserve draft to your team’s advantage?

Players picked in reserve drafts usually carry the salary of the round in which they are picked. Typically, first round picks have a salary of $15. Rounds 2 through 6 are $10. Rounds 7 through 12 are $5 picks. Rounds 13 to 17 are $2 rounds, but they still hold some treasures if you look closely enough.

My belief is that you should use your first round pick to find someone who can help you right away. Since these players carry a price tag of $15, few owners will use a first round pick to select a minor league prospect. So what should you look for in a first round draft pick?

There are almost always some valuable players who were missed for one reason or another during the auction. If you have kept up carefully with who was taken and not taken in the auction, you’ll have this information at your fingertips. You can sometimes improve your roster substantially, as this overlooked player may be better than one of the players you purchased.

For your picks in rounds 1 through 6, it is a good idea to back up players from your active roster. For example, if you bought Joel Hanrahan as one of your closers in the auction, and Evan Meek is available in Round 2 of the reserve draft, you might do well to add him to your squad. Likewise, if another owner has a shaky closer, you might be wise to use one of these picks to grab the pitcher most likely to pitch the 9th if that closer were to lose his job. Such a player might make a good trading chip, or he might turn into a full time closer.

Rounds 7 through 12 are where you pick up your prize minor leaguers and other prospects with the potential for substantial value in the future. These players will only be $5, so they will start their tenure on your team as a relatively inexpensive commodity. So, grab your favorite minor leaguer here, but know that the other owners will likely have the same game plan.

This is also a good time to pick up an injured player who may miss most or all of the year. You can add that player here without it costing you a roster spot or any budget dollars. Last year, Joe Nathan fit into this category in some leagues. Keep in mind that Round 7 holds the most strategic picks, since this is the first of the $5 rounds and where most owners look for future keepers.

Rounds 13 through 17 can be difficult. Here you can reach way down into the minors and pick up a player with great tools but a long way to go. Often, leagues do not start the clock running on minor leaguer salaries until they are activated, so you may be able to wait a couple of years for these flowers to bloom. In my experience is it noteworthy how many future stars were originally selected as long-shots in rounds 13 through 17.

The reserve draft moves extremely fast. You call a name, you get that player. For this reason, it is absolutely critical that you have a reliable method for keeping up with who was frozen or purchased in the auction, and who is left over for the reserve draft.

Well, that’s this week’s article. If you have any questions about the article, about specific player issues, or just want let me know what you think, please feel free to use the “comments” portion of the page, found below.

Good luck, and have fun!

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Blogger Andre said...

Long Time Jon! How goes it? Been working on day and night on a big TV project but still in for three leagues this season. Here's a draft conundrum for you...

6x6 12 team mixed keeper - standard 5&5 + OBP and QS
Kept Pujols (in exchange for my 1st round pick), Dunn (4), Hamels (5), Gardner (22), Carlos Santana (25)

My leagues doing an email draft because we're all crazy busy and my first pick (4th overall) was Ubaldo. Next pick I traded down for multiple later picks. So a few rounds later and I'm on the clock for two picks out the next three.

With the league parameters in mind, who would you take?

These are the guys I'm looking at:

2B - Prado, Kelly Johnson
SS - Drew
3B - Michael Young, Aramis Ramirez, Casey McGehee, Panda
OF - Alex Rios, Chris Young, Colby Rasmus
SP - Liriano, Gallardo, Oswalt, Buchholz, Scherzer, Billingsley
RP - ALL RP still available

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:41:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Andre said...

My mistake... Gallardo and Drew just came off the board. I'm leaning towards Liriano and Rasmus. If Rasmus is picked, who would you choose?

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:55:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jon Williams said...

I think you have it right, Andre. Liriano is a bit of an injury risk, the safer pick is probably Oswalt but we don't play that safe stuff 'round here!

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 1:46:00 AM EDT  

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