Courtesy of Mike Lombardo
Once our drafts and auctions have been completed, for better or worse, we are confronted with the equally important task of managing our rosters for maximum effect.
Iâ€™ve listed the activities that each team is confronted with during the course of the season, in no particular order. Before I begin, however, it is necessary to make distinctions between shallow leagues, defined as such because each team can have a full-time player at every offensive position, and deep leagues where they cannot, such as AL/NL only leagues.
While FAAB bidding is important regardless of league size, it is especially so in deep leagues where the talent pool is exceptionally thin. Scanning the waiver wire must become instilled as a weekly ritual whether you have immediate need of a player or not. Such diligence can sometimes provide that one player or two that can be difference makers.
Once identified, the next decision (and the one that causes much anguish) is what to bid. As a general guideline, you need to bid more if the player you are seeking is needed to fill a roster spot in which you have either no player or a weak backup. You should also consider bidding more if you believe that the player will be the target of other teams. Be a bit more aggressive early in the season when all teams have ample FAAB. The converse is also true. However, resist the temptation of overbidding, a common occurrence in the seasonâ€™s first month. Bid less if the targeted player is replacing someone on your reserve squad. Also bid less if you believe that the player will not be on other teamsâ€™ radar.
Special consideration must be given in AL/NL only leagues where players coming over from one league to the other can be impact players. You must make a conscious decision whether to hoard your FAAB for such eventualities or not. My experience tells me not to be a hoarder. Players acquired in April and May can be especially valuable because theyâ€™ll spend more time on your roster than trading deadline acquisitions. Besides, thereâ€™s no guarantee that such impact players will even materialize. And, even so, they will not likely help teams that already buried in the standings.
Playing matchups is a luxury confined to leagues that have large reserves. I define matchup as a situation where you place (or remove) a player in a situation where he is likely to excel (or fail). Itâ€™s also known as skimming. For example, you start your Rockiesâ€™ OFâ€™er because heâ€™ll play seven games at home after spending the prior week on your bench while his team took on San Diego and San Francisco on the road, two notoriously strong pitcherâ€™s parks. But, more commonly, itâ€™s most popular when used with pitchers.
One obvious example occurs when one of your benched starters is pitching twice against favorable opponents. Another might be when one of your starters is pitching at Coors, so you bench him for his start that week. In order to avail yourself of these possibilities, it is necessary to construct your reserve squad with skimming in mind. In that case, having an additional pitcher or two on reserve will give you the depth to make skimming a true possibility.
Many a season has been salvaged by making a judicious trade or three. However, because of the potential for collusion, some leagues either ban or heavily restrict it. Most commercial leagues, like NFBC, belong to the former, with good reason.
Personally, I much prefer leagues where trading is permitted. Whatever success Iâ€™ve enjoyed as a trader is predicated on some simple rules. Iâ€™ll enumerate them:
1.Â Â Make your team an asset to the league.Â Maintain friendly relations with all teams. Doing so creates a positive atmosphere which engenders trading.
2.Â Trade value for value.Â While it might be possible to acquire Pujols for one of your second line pitchers from a less sophisticated team, it is really poor tactics. Aside from the certainty of the trade being vetoed, it is sure to incur the wrath of the other teams in the league that werenâ€™t involved in the trade. And thatâ€™s a clear violation of the first rule, above. Receive value, but also give it in return. Doing so further promotes additional trading opportunities.
3.Â Â Do your homework.Â You can only benefit from a trade if you can extract more value from it than youâ€™re giving up, or, at least trade an overstocked asset for a need. Doing so requires that you evaluate the players in question as well as the potential benefits to your team. Always ask a team offering a trade to give you a window of opportunity so that you can evaluate it properly, even if it seems like a no-brainer. Perhaps an injury was just announced or other negative news regarding the player(s) being offered. Youâ€™ll need some time to see how the new player(s) slot onto your roster and the potential gain they offer verses the losses suffered from the departed players. When proposing a trade, look for teams that are most likely to use what your player(s) offers.
4.Â Â Â Look ahead.Â It is sometimes beneficial to do some trending analysis. If youâ€™re about to get back a solid starting pitcher from the DL and you are in the top half in Wins, it stands to reason that offering pitching for a needed offensive category, such as speed, makes sense. However, you might not see how obvious that trade is if youâ€™re focused on the current standings.
5.Â Â Carefully monitor the health of your players.Â Itâ€™s sometimes possible to see signs that a player may be having health issues before heâ€™s actually DLâ€™ed. By spotting such situations, you may be able to make a pre-emptive trade before the full extent of the injury is known.
6.Â Â Â Offer trades with full disclosure.Â Trying to peddle an injured player in hopes of dumping him before the injury becomes general knowledge is the surest way to piss off your opponents and not be asked to return to the league for the next season.
It goes without saying that you need to constantly monitor your own players in terms of health, playing time, or changed circumstances. This information should then be the basis for setting your lineups for the following week.
Managing your team well will most likely lead to an additional bank deposit in October.