August 2007

Furcal’s Running on Empty

5X5 11 team vanilla league

I traded away Rafael Furcal and Aaron Harang for Jose Reyes and Greg Maddux.
I also need an OF to replace Soriano.  Which D-Back should I play more frequently?  Chris Young or Justin Upton?

Kevin in Newport Beach


If this were last year, I’d say that you shouldn’t do the deal.  But it’s 2007, and Rafael Furcal has been arguably this season’s biggest disappointment.  Furcal’s slow start appeared to be over in May, when he hit .371.  Since then, Furcal owners have been receiving total inconsistency from the former fantasy stud.  And we haven’t even gotten to the biggest concern.  Where are the steals?  After swiping at least 29 bags in each of the past three seasons, Furcal’s on pace for just 17 stolen bases this year, which would mark the first time in his career that he’s failed to reach 20.  Reyes, easily the top fantasy shortstop, is nothing short of a HUGE upgrade.  Losing Harang hurts, but piecing together quality pitching outings is a lot easier than recovering from Furcal’s lost season.

Of the two D-Backs’ outfielders, I’ll take Young for the time being.  He’s got almost a full big league season under his belt, and while the .229 average isn’t pretty, Young can very easily post a 25-25 year in his rookie campaign.  Watch Upton closely though!  A few more multi-hit games and I might have to reconsider.

Zach Steinhorn,   

Vickrey Bidding Strategy

Here’s the e-mail from Mikkel concerning Vickrey bidding strategy.  I’m including my answer, but really want as many listeners as possible to weigh in.  Either post your responses as a comment to this blog entry or e-mail us at  Your thoughts will be shared on Monday’s 411!

Hi again!

Refining my argument:

First of all, when bidding for free agents, yes, you are looking at true value: True value means ALL things considered – that is, also scarcity, needs, and everything. It doesn’t mean draft day value.

Okay, you bid $14 for a $10 player. Three things can happen:

1) The next-highest bid is higher than $10: I already discussed this in the previous mail. Conclusion: not good.
2) The next-highest bid is lower than $10: You get the player at a discount, but you would have anyway if you had bid $10.
3) The next-highest bid is exactly $10: You either get the player or you don’t, depending on the rules of the league. But it still wouldn’t have been a better idea for you to bid, for example, $11, because then you would lose on the acquisition of the player (since you estimate his value to be $10).

If you’re still not convinced (and it doesn’t sound like it), can you please open a blog post so it can be discussed in detail?  Thanks guys!

Mikkel from Denmark

I’m not convinced, Mikkel!  Here’s why.  I think you’re underestimating the power of competition.  Even if you estimate a player’s    “true value” to be $10, there’s a good chance you’ll bid a few dollars higher due to the fact that you really want the player.  At that moment, you’re looking to make your team better.  It’s not going to matter if you pay $14 or even $20.  All that matters is whether you give yourself the best possible chance of obtaining him (and keeping him away from your competitors) without ridiculously overspending.  And what is “true value” anyway?  How do you calculate it?  Doesn’t “true value” depend as much on the other league owners’ evaluation of the player as on your own?  These are the factors which lead me to prefer a fairly aggressive approach when it comes to Vickrey bidding.

Zach Steinhorn,      

Strength Loves Certainty…

I’m a big fan of the show.  PLEASE help!

League is 12 team vanilla mixed non-keeper

1) Should I trade Ty Wigginton for Justin Upton for my DH spot?  The other guy could use Wiggy’s flexibility; I just want the best numbers.

2) I’ve got Renteria, Soriano, and Hunter Pence on the DL.  How would you rank these guys for the rest of the season?  Which would give me the best value in a trade for a healthy 2nd tier player now?

I was in first place for the last six weeks but have fallen to second from injuries and a lack of recent wins.  And I REALLY want to get back to first.


Keith from Toronto (home of Simcoe day)


Despite Upton’s hot start, I’m not so sure I’d deal Wigginton for him in a non-keeper league.  Upton obviously has loads of talent, but counting on a 19 year old to consistently put up difference making type numbers over the final two months of the season might be asking too much.  Wigginton is quietly having a very nice year, hitting for both average and power.  Even though he’s tailed off a bit since joining the Astros, when it comes to avoiding prolonged slumps, I’ll always have more confidence in the veteran player.  That’s not to say that making this trade is a mistake.  I just tend to lean on the conservative side more often than not.

Moving on to your DL trio, it seems Renteria could be the closest to returning, but that’s not saying much considering that all of these guys will likely be sidelined until the end of the month.  In terms of perceived value, I’ll rank them Soriano, Renteria, and then Pence.  I think Soriano’s name still carries a lot of weight, and Pence is the only one in this group who’s definitely out until September.

Zach Steinhorn,

Tricks of the Trade

Hey guys,

As everyone’s trade deadline draws near, I wanted to get your take on an idea.  Do you think it is a better plan to make your strongest offer first, or make a weaker offer in the hopes that by improving your first offer, you’ll get the deal that you were originally OK with?

Also, just curious…if you’re involved in a 3 for 1 deal, which end of that deal are you, generally speaking?

Liam in Boston

Great questions, Liam!  I tend to initially make a weaker offer and gradually improve upon it until I’ve reached my limit.  That way, you’re giving yourself a chance to scoop up a player at a lower than market value price.  Just be careful not to propose something too lopsided.  You don’t want your trading partner to get so angry that he/she puts an end to the negotiations!  Also, make sure to give yourself plenty of time before the deadline to exchange offers and ultimately come to an agreement.  Waiting until the final hours is not advised.  As for your second question, my answer really depends on the players involved, but I generally prefer quality over quantity.  Give me the best guy in the deal and I’ll almost always take it, provided of course that he fits my needs.  The other nice thing that comes with being on the 1 end of a 3 for 1 is that it opens up two roster spots.  While the other team is forced to drop two players, you can hit the waiver wire and restock your roster.

Zach Steinhorn,

Chasing Saves Is No Fun

Hey guys,

I’m in first place in my AL-only league and can gain the most points in saves.  Do you think it’s possible to make up an 8 save differential over the rest of the season with a closer committee of Baez, Embree, Street, and Chris Ray?  The 4 teams ahead of me are as follows:

Team A – 8 saves ahead (Putz, J. Walker)
Team B – 8 saves ahead (K-Rod)
Team C – 5 saves ahead (T. Jones, Benoit)
Team D – 5 saves ahead (Papelbon, Okajima, CJ Wilson)

Thanks for the knowledge,

Scotty Mac
Seattle, WA

The nice thing about your “problem” is that between Street, Embree, Ray, and Baez, you get the production of two full-time closers.  All four of the teams ahead of you in saves do not have the same luxury.  That’s why I think you’ve got an excellent shot at making up the 8 saves.  With the recent news that Baez will take over the closer’s role in Baltimore until Chris Ray returns, thereby eliminating Walker from the picture, it’s unlikely that Team A will maintain its lead.  And Team B would need a truly remarkable final two months from K-Rod.  As for the story in Oakland, Bob Geren was recently quoted as saying he’ll stick with Embree in the ninth inning for the time being and won’t rush Street back into save situations.  Since returning to action, Street hasn’t exactly impressed, giving up four runs over 6 2/3 innings.  But the good news is that while most Street owners are panicking, you can relax, as both Street and Embree happen to reside on your roster!

Zach Steinhorn, 

Two For One Simply Too Much

I have been offered Harang for Joe Blanton and Ian Snell.  Is this a good deal and how is Harang’s back?

Thanks, Sean in Belleville, Ontario Canada


The latest news coming from the Reds is that Harang is set to start either Tuesday or Wednesday vs the Dodgers, so it looks like the back soreness which forced him out of his last outing after just one inning is nothing serious.  That being said, no way do I pay this high of a price to acquire him.  Harang is only a bit more valuable than Blanton this season, thanks to a higher strikeout total.  But by throwing in Snell, who also has a solid strikeout rate (117 K’s in 142 2/3 IP), you’re throwing away the gain from Blanton to Harang.  And it’s Blanton who plays his home games in a much more favorable park.  The only scenario in which I’d even consider this trade is if I was approaching the innings limit and wanted one slightly more reliable pitcher as opposed to two less accomplished hurlers.  Otherwise, hold onto Blanton and Snell.

Zach Steinhorn,   

Nats’ Lack of Runs Cordero’s Gain

Hey guys…In my vanilla league, I got C. Cordero for Swisher and Snell.  I could afford both since my OF is filled and I would like to open a spot to pitch-or-ditch.  My other pitchers are Gallardo, Bedard, Escobar, Carmona, and Pettitte.  Thanks.

Jordan in Cali


Looks like you’ve got a pretty solid pitching staff, so I don’t have much of a problem with this trade.  On face value, you may have given up too much, but that’s still debatable considering Snell’s shaky month of July (1-4  6.52 ERA) and Swisher’s huge power dropoff from last year.  For a closer, Cordero’s strikeout rate is low (38 K’s in 52 IP).  That’s the only factor keeping Chad from the upper tier of fantasy stoppers.  Even though he pitches for a bad team, Cordero gets a lot of save opportunities because the Nationals are never leading in the 9th by more than three runs!  My only concern is that you’re making this deal simply to pitch and ditch regardless of your closer situation.  In that case, I’d take Snell over most waiver wire starters.  Otherwise, a fine trade.

Zach Steinhorn,   

Hughes More Than a Rotation Phil-er

Hey guys,

Finally got out of the cellar in my 10 team mixed head-to-head money league thanks to stellar help from the 411.  Just prior to the 31st I pulled off a Gagne for Thome trade, so it’s looking better and better.  I’m pushing for a playoff spot, so that’s eh…good.

Anyway, I sometimes have trouble determining player value in a 10 team league and need your help.  I really like my team but I want to scoop up Phil Hughes before anyone else in the league gets wise to his return from the DL (as I’ve done with other players this season).  Would you drop Joe Saunders for Hughes?  I’m actually wondering if it’d be smarter to drop Roger Clemens.

Dan in Los Angeles


I’d definitely drop Saunders to pick up Hughes, whose upside is just too great to pass up, even in a 10 team league.  Saunders has actually pitched really well this year after failing to live up to expectations last season.  But the biggest difference between Saunders and Hughes are the strikeouts.  Saunders is averaging under 6 K’s per 9 innings in the majors while Hughes’ big league strikeout rate, though in limited action (11 K’s in 10 2/3 IP), not to mention his minor league track record, bodes well for continued success.  It’s funny that you ask about Clemens as I’m writing this just minutes after watching the Rocket implode vs the White Sox, but how can you drop him?  Dumping Clemens would invalidate the two plus months you spent reserving a roster spot for him.  Roger’s still better than any pitcher on the waiver wire.  Make the move for Hughes.  And as Cory often says, do it now!

Zach Steinhorn,    

Rios a Keeper for Present and Future

5X6 (complete games is extra category) head-to-head league, with 4 unrestricted keepers.  I am on the fringe of the playoffs and considering making one last push.  I’ve been offered Ken Griffey Junior and Dan Uggla for Alex Rios, who is my only real 4th keeper.  Griffey would fill the hole left by Rios and Uggla would take over 2nd from Julio Lugo.

We have a late trade deadline (August 19th) so I was thinking that I could make a run for a couple weeks and then if it’s looking bad, sell off my team to try to find a 4th keeper.

Thoughts?  Is that not enough to risk not having a solid 4th keeper?

Jim in Chicago

I think you’ve got the right idea, Jim.  There’s nothing wrong with holding onto Rios as your 4th keeper, but there’s also nothing wrong with aiming higher.  Before making a deal, wait until either a better trade opportunity comes along or until you’re more clearly out of the playoff picture.  This year, Griffey is comparable to Rios in value.  That likely won’t be the case for long.  And while Uggla is certainly an upgrade over Lugo, you’d be losing a lot of steals by accepting this trade.  Lugo’s also racking up the hits of late, batting .313 over the last month.  Simply acquiring Uggla just isn’t worth the loss of Rios’ current production and his status as a potential keeper.

Zach Steinhorn,