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Daily blurbs from the Guru
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Go forward to more recent blurbs.

5/31 - Two pitchers with 6-digit SW prices came up with 3-digit point totals last night, including the top producer, Osvaldo Fernandez. Mark Redman was the other. Kris Benson rebounded nicely from his previous outing, as did James Baldwin. And Rick Ankiel had his 3rd 100+ game in his last four starts. Unfortunately for many of us, the other one was a -85, and that prompted many of us to jump ship at the right time from a price standpoint, but the wrong time from a point perspective. At least those of you who took the price bath are getting a nice reward.

Shawon Dunston had the best night among hitters, with a triple and a grand slam. But I doubt if many of you benefited from his outburst, other than from its assist to Ankiel.

The long awaited SW IPO of Pat Burrell arrived yesterday afternoon. At a SW price of $4.25m, it doesn't appear that he'll attract a lot of buyers, although those who still own Erubiel Durazo will have to make some move, as Durazo injured his wrist and will be out for several weeks, according to RotoNews. Burrell will undoubtedly get some of those buys. But unless he starts putting up better numbers (he averaged only 11 SWP/G during his first week), he won't attract swaps out of just about anyone else. And even Durazo sellers will have to come up with an additional $1.8m if they want Burrell.

5/30 - It appears that most major league bats observed a moment of silence yesterday. Six winning teams scored less than 5 runs yesterday. Four complete games were hurled. And for only the third time this season, total SWP for all pitchers exceeded the total for all hitters.

Garrett Stephenson led the pitching parade with a complete game shutout over the D-backs. His SW price of $3.07m is still $100K below his draft price. I suspect that relationship won't hold for long. Greg Maddux had the other shutout of the day, a 1-0 masterpiece over the Cubs and Jon Lieber, who pitched almost as well.

Marquis Grissom led all hitters in points, although Todd Helton made a bit more noise, with 2 long balls.

Speaking of Helton, he's giving some managers a reason not to chase after Pat Burrell in this afternoon's highly awaited IPO offering. Helton has produced 195 SWP in his last 3 games, and that's pretty hard to walk away from. In fact, there are several first baseman who have been hot lately, and although Burrell has had a good first week, he wouldn't even rank among the top dozen first basemen over his first 6 days. I'm sure some teams will add him regardless of his IPO price, but unless he heats it up (or unless he's very cheap), he may have trouble sustaining the protracted price uptrend that many managers are hoping for.

In the current advice column at the SW site, the question of proportionate spending on pitching vs. hitting is raised. I found the following comment interesting: "I'm sure that you will spend more per player on pitchers than on hitters, since only 5/14 (36%) of your players are pitchers, and you'll certainly be spending more than 36% of your budget on pitching." I wasn't sure that my top team would satisfy that condition, so I checked... and sure enough, I have less than 30% of my total dollars invested in pitching. That team just climbed into the top 100 yesterday, so it is possible to succeed with a lean pitching budget. Just make sure you have a cast iron stomach if you decide to follow that route.

5/29 - For those of us in the U.S., today is a national holiday - Memorial Day. Most businesses are closed, and many teams will be playing day games. Surprisingly, though, six teams have off days (including the 2 Canadian teams).

I hope you got to watch at least some of the pitching duel on ESPN last night. It's not often that you see opposing complete games, with the only runs scored in the 9th, and the final out made with the bases loaded. Even the final out - which should have been a routine groundout - was exciting, as Jeff Frye did his best Knoblauch imitation on the throw to first.

As expected, the top two pitchers of the day were Pedro and Roger. For Pedro, it was expected. For Roger, it was not. But until the ninth inning, Roger actually had the better linescore going.

The biggest hitting news over the weekend was the inevitable Jeffrey Hammonds injury on Saturday. Although he is officially listed as day-to-day, the selling started quickly, as he dropped $50K on Sunday. Hammonds was one of the most heavily owned players, and that - along with overall light trading - spells price trouble. Today, he and Pedro will probably help each other a little, but if you own them both, it won't be a pretty day for you.

5/26 - I almost forgot to add today's blurb! Chalk it up to a "senior moment", I suppose.

After a $710K bloodletting, Rick Ankiel at least rewarded his holders with a 110 SWP, 11K performance yesterday. But James Baldwin suffered the first chink in his armor, with a -45 SWP shelling at the hands (bats) of the Yankees. Baldwin's price is $920K above its low point, when he escaped gravity on April 8th. Today will probably not be a pretty one for him. And supposed safe-harbor Kris Benson didn't do his new owners any favors with his -5 SWP outing.

Small World has introduced a new poll at their message forum, asking for your preference for next fall's football repricing frequency - daily vs. weekly. If you have an opinion, you should register your vote.

Speaking of the SW site, I see that one of today's featured submissions on the community page references the trade-offs of the "Randro" strategy vs. the "Two headed monster". I think both of those terms were first coined at the RotoGuru forum. More evidence that the RotoGuru "satellite" site is having an increased impact on the home world.

5/25 - Too bad for Shawn Estes that pitchers don't get hitting points as well. Not only did he pitch a complete game shutout, but he was 2-4 at the plate, including a grand slam and 5 RBIs. He'd have had 76 SWP to add to his pitching total of 160. And if it weren't for an 80 SWP night from Bobby Abreu, Estes would have been the top SW hitter as well as the top pitcher!

Speaking of Abreu, his 2nd homer capped a Phillie comeback from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Astros, marking the second time in the past 3 days that Houston has blown a 7 run lead. Yikes!

The Phillies brought up highly touted Pat Burrell to debut at 1B last night. Burrell is listed as a first baseman in the Echelon game, but is not yet listed at SW. Expect him to emerge as an IPO next week (recent SW IPO's have been introduced on Tuesday afternoons). With all of the hype, he probably won't come as cheaply as most IPOs, but you may want to hang onto at least one hitter trade to give you some flexibility if the price is right.


5/24 - It's been a tough week for SW teams using the "two-headed-monster" pitching strategy. They've had $24 million tied up in two slots which have produced only 135 SWP in the past 5 days. That works out to roughly 1 SWP per $million per day, which isn't a stellar return on investment. Granted, those who are swapping back-and-forth haven't gotten a point bargain either. But by using 4 trades to go Randy-Pedro-Randy-Pedro-Randy (referred to as the "Randro shuffle" at the message forum) over the past week, the strategy has produced a cash bonus of $1.43m, while T-H-M managers have seen the combined value of those two slots increase by only $90K. If you can convert that extra cash into 2 SWP/G/$mil, it will produce about 300 extra SWP over the balance of the season. So for the past week, at least, I think the shufflers had the winning tactic - although that also depends on what else was happening to those teams. If they gave back most of that value by holding on to other losing pitchers (and I'm sure some did just that), then the comparison is not so clear.

Managers who were patient with Darryl Kile were rewarded with the best outing of the night. I doubt if this will turn him back into a big price gainer, but it should be an effective tourniquet against his recent hemorrhaging. Over the past several starts, Kile has dropped $600K from his peak price, but he's still $1.2m above his draft price.

Two of biggest SW price beneficiaries from among last night's pitchers will probably be Stan Spencer and Carl Pavano. Osvaldo Fernandez also had a 3-digit outing for his minimum price, but I think he'll need at least one more of those before he jumps ahead of some of the other cheap alternatives.

On the downside, Ryan Dempster, Bartolo Colon, Kevin Millwood, and Roger Clemens each had crappy nights. Dempster has the most price risk of the four, as he hasn't had a single daily price loss since April 16th. Expect that to change today - although he may be moderately cushioned today due to selling competition from Pedro & Ankiel.

No one had a significant "bust out" game on the hitting side last night. Mark McGwire continued his hot streak, and has been the biggest hitting point producer over the past 7 days, just ahead of Jose Vidro, who seems to have stepped up as the preferred Adam Kennedy alternative. McGwire has plenty of competition at first, but Vidro looks like a good bet to continue his recent price trend. If you're still hoping for a Kennedy comeback, it's looking pretty unlikely in the near term.

5/23 - Not a good day to be an Astros fan.

Noted in Rob Neyer's column yesterday: Russ Ortiz surrendered 10 earned runs on Sunday, and still got the win. That hasn't happened in the major leagues since 1954, when Pittsburgh's Bob Friend did it in an 18-10 victory over the Cubs. Which means that it's probably only the second time it has happened in my lifetime, and I'm sure it's the first lifetime occurrence for many of you. (And I'll bet you almost let it get by without noticing!)

Statistical surprise: If you check the team pitching stats for the AL, you see Boston on top with a team ERA of 3.35. The suspicion is that this is mostly Pedro's doing. But here's a surprising fact. If you remove Pedro from the team stats, the team ERA jumps up to 3.85, which still ranks 1st in the American League! Which I guess helps to explain their current standing.

I did some tallying of the worldwide top 100 teams listed at the SW site yesterday. The results are shown in this thread at the message forum. I found it particularly interesting that at least 17 of these teams won't have Pedro Martinez for his start tonight, as they don't own him now and are out of pitching trades.

As you can see, some positions are highly concentrated in a single player (Melusky, Lamb, Long, and Hammonds appear on 90% or more of these rosters), while others show significant variety. Also, 36% seem to be carrying the "two-headed monster" (both Randy and Pedro), while the rest are presumably doing their best to rotate them to the extent possible.

This type of snapshot only tells us what these teams look like now, but not how they got here. Still, it's interesting to see the similarities and differences. Clearly, there is no single strategy being followed.

5/22 - It was bound to happen sooner or later. Randy Johnson was bound to drop below triple-digits eventually. Before yesterday, his worst outing this year was 130 SWP (128 EBP), and he was averaging 160 SWP/start. Steve "The Source" Houpt recently put that average into historical perspective, noting that Bob Gibson, in his amazing 1968 season when he finished with an ERA of 1.12, averaged only 138 SWP/G. Even with Unit's "dismal" 65 SWP game yesterday, he's still averaging 150 SWP/G after 10 starts.

The weekend produced a few other notable events:

  • Rich Ankiel triggered on run on the bank with a -85 SWP stinker against Pittsburgh. Ankiel is still the leading money gainer (at pitcher) for the year, but that may change shortly, as he and Darryl Kile are engaged in some furious price backpedaling to rejoin the pack. "The higher they go, the harder they fall."
  • Cleveland's Paul Rigdon shut down the Yankees for 7 innings in his major league debut. Although Rigdon isn't yet listed in either covered game, his effort would have produced 115 SWP and 127 EBP. This was the first time an Indians' starter had made his major league debut against the Yankees since Luis Tiant in 1964. Believe it or not, I recall listening to that game (as a 10 year old). If I remember correctly, Tiant won a 4-0 shutout.
  • If you're looking for a cheap Ankiel replacement, there were a number of good games authored by cheap pitchers this weekend. I'll let you look 'em up, lest I be accused of promoting my own players.
  • Six grand slams were hit yesterday, a major league record. Sunday's biggest stick was wielded by Brian Jordan, though, who wasn't among the six, although he did homer twice while knocking in 7.
Today's schedule is very light, and includes a make-up doubleheader with Houston in Milwaukee. Looking ahead, the hitter's parks have a good run coming up. The Rockies start a 9 game homestand tomorrow. And after today's twin bill, the Astros begin a 15 game stretch with 12 at Enron Field and the other three at Coor's. If Jeff Bagwell is ever going to heat it up, this seems like a good opportunity.

Looking even further ahead, interleague play begins a week from Friday. This has the most significance for AL teams in NL parks, since the DH can't be used in those games. Edgar Martinez survives the first period intact, as the Mariners play six at home. But teams (and some of the more notable DH's) that will be on the road include Toronto (Fullmer), Tampa (Canseco), Yankees, Minnesota, KC (Quinn), Detroit, ChiSox (F. Thomas), Cleveland (Sexson/Justice), Boston (Daubach/Stanley), and Baltimore. If you own any of these players, you probably need to factor this into your trading plans, although interleague play does start on a Friday, when SW hitter trades will be conveniently refreshed.

5/19 - It is an unusual night when a hitter tops the fantasy point list, but Big Mac did just that, with his monster night. The season is roughly 25% complete now, and in spite of his recurring back problems, he's on pace to hit roughly 70 again. Amazing!

Greg Maddux led all pitchers, but Stan Spencer gets the "best bang for the buck" award, with a near minimum SW price, and a rare 4-digit Echelon pricetag. Also noteworthy was Byung-Hyun Kim, who needed only 2 innings to produce the 3rd best pitching output of the night.

In reality, I guess the weather was really the big winner last night, as five games were washed out. Today may bring more casualties, as the Pennsylvania weather outlook looks iffy, and the Pirates and Phillies are both scheduled at home. Rain is also forecast for New York (Arizona vs. Mets), Boston (vs. Detroit), and Cleveland (vs. the Yankees), so consider your pitching plans accordingly.

For you college students who may have been too busy studying for finals to keep up with message forum lore, check out aiko aiko's visually entertaining Bizarro Week in Review thread.

5/18 - Pedro was outpointed by five pitchers last night (OK, only 3 topped him in EBP...). John Halama did the best Pedro impersonation, spinning a complete game shutout over Minnesota, during which he faced only 29 batters and threw only 87 pitches. The only reason it wasn't a total monster is that he only fanned two. Carl Pavano was close behind, with his best outing of the year. Pavano has been pretty consistent all year, with no games less than +35 SWP. He now ranks in the top 25 pitchers in total SWP, and at a price just below $3 million, he's the cheapest among those top 25. That bodes well for his near-term price outlook.

Early season phenom Scott Schoeneweis got stuck with his third consecutive negative outing. Those remaining managers who were still hanging in there will probably be hard pressed to hang any longer.

Only two hitters topped the 60 SWP mark, and both did it on the strength of 2-HR nights, including a grand slam for each. "Crime Dog" was the top producer, with "Burn-baby-burn"-ie Williams close behind.

If you're running thin on pitcher trades, be aware that Pedro and Randy each have another start before new trades are allocated. Some of the projection services list Pedro's next start as Wednesday, but that is not the current Red Sox plan. Brain Rose will skip his next turn, and Pedro will start on Tuesday, weather permitting (which has not been a given this year).

5/17 - The top two pitchers last night opposed each other. Randy Johnson certainly pitched well enough to win, but Javier Vazquez shut out the Dbacks, and cost RJ at least 45 fantasy points (and perhaps more, if Randy would have remained in the game for the 9th inning). Of course, since most teams have him, his points don't make a lot of difference in the standings.

Phil Nevin was the big kahuna on the hitting side, stroking two long balls. Ditto for early-season bust Juan Gonzalez.

SW pitcher trades have been replenished, and with Johnson starting last night while Pedro starts tonight, I expect a lot of teams will be making the obvious swap. For some reason, RJ seems to have weathered the price effects of rotation much better than Pedro so far. As of yesterday, Randy's SW price was almost $900K above its starting level, while Pedro was down by $1.3 million. They both started the season at the same price, but there is now a differential of more than $2 million. If you're actively swapping the two, then the price difference probably doesn't matter much, but if you are looking to hold just one, Pedro sure looks more attractive at a price in the low 11's. Randy does benefit from the fact that he throws every fifth day, while Pedro generally works every fifth game, so that over time, Randy will probably lap him. In fact, Randy already has one more start, but that has mostly to do with the weather.

5/16 - There's a good forum discussion underway on the relative merits of alternative strategies for owning Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson. For example, do you use one slot (and most of your pitching trades) to flip back and forth between the two "super-studs"? Or, do you tie up $24+ million and lock them up in two slots? As I mention in post #30, I don't think there is a clear-cut answer to this question. But the thread lays out many of the pros and cons of each, should probably be on the required reading list for any serious SW manager.

With only 5 games last night, there weren't many points up for grabs. One of my SW teams produced a total of -7 SWP with no pitchers going. My other team produced 70 SWP, and moved up 50 slots in WW ranking. Tonight may see the opposite end of the spectrum, with all 15 teams in action, including starts by Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown, Tom Glavine, as well as consistent producers (so far) like Shane Reynolds & Robert Person, and also stud-killer Steve Trachsel (who may be off his "A" game since he's only facing Mark Clark).

Someone suggested that I could have added a 4th option to the current poll. It would read something like "both leagues should use the same rules, but I don't care which rules are chosen." In a sense, that's like #2 and #3 combined, without forcing you to pick which system to use. I think I'll leave the choices as they are. If you would opt for #4, I'll just make you pick a system as well.

5/15 - The Rockies set a record by scoring double-digit runs in seven consecutive home games. They even won the last six of them. That's more than can be said for the Cubs or the Dodgers, yesterday, each of which lost yesterday while scoring in double figures.

Not every team was scoring on bunches, however. Mike Hampton had the best pitching start of the day with a complete game over the Marlins. It was Hampton's second straight strong outing, suggesting that maybe he's shaken off his early season problems. David Wells was right behind Hampton in points, picking up his seventh win and his 3rd complete game. And at the southern end of the point listing, Carlos Perez rewarded those who picked him up for his cheap price tag with a -105 SWP stinker.

On the hitting side, there was no shortage of big days, as 11 players topped 70 SWP, and another four were in the 60s. The cheapest of the whoppers came from the Giants' Terrell Lowery, making the most of his first opportunity to play, with Burks and Bonds both sidelined. Gotta love that 77 SWP/G average!

The top hitter so far this year (in both Smallworld and Echelon scoring) has been Todd Helton, so I'm sure many managers are anxiously awaiting the prognosis after he left the game with a strained right hamstring. The Rockies are off today, and begin a one week road trip starting in New York tomorrow. Todd has been superhuman at home so far, batting .533, and homering 8 times in 16 Coor's Field games, while averaging 1.5 RBI's per game. On the road, he is a mere mortal, batting .319, with "only" 5 homers and 17 ribbies in 20 games. If you decide to drop him for now, save a trade to get him back next week, when the Rockies begin a 9 game homestand.

5/12 - Stud-killer Steve Trachsel won his second consecutive 1-0 game last night, although this time he had 2 innings of relief help from Albie Lopez. Al Leiter had the best night, with a complete game victory over the Pirates. And Chad Durbin brought up the rear, taking the brunt of the Indians' attack.

Manny Ramirez and Jason Giambi got 91 and 88 SWP respectively, vaulting them both over Sammy Sosa as the biggest hitting producers for the past seven days. Jason's brother Jeremy is also in the top ten for the week, but is still struggling to escape the clutches of gravity. Today he may just break free. And teammate Ben Grieve ranks #6 for the week, putting three A's in the top ten hitters.

The list of last night's pitching points looked rather lean to me, so I decided to probe a little deeper. So far this year, the average game has produced a total of 121 SWP for pitchers, and 235 for hitters. Those totals are for both teams combined. Last night's schedule produced an average of 94 pitching SWP per game. It was the seventh time this year that the pitching average was below 100 SWP, so that appears to be happening about once per week. The worst day for pitchers was April 5, when the average was only 62 SWP per game. Many of us will remember that as the day we got "Ramoned". Not surprisingly, that was also the best day for hitters, when an average game produced 291 hitting SWP.

The best days for pitchers were April 17 and April 24, both times with an average pitching output of 173 SWP/G. Those were also the only two days when pitchers outproduced hitters (and, not coincidentally, were the two worst hitting days overall). Both days had light schedules (5 games on the 17th, 8 on the 24th), and interestingly, neither day featured Randy or Pedro.

5/11 - On a night when Randy Johnson went head-to-head against Kevin Brown, and neither surrendered more than one run, the top pitcher was ... Robert Person, who tossed his first complete game, a 4 hit shutout over the Expos.

With Randy and Pedro now pitching a few days apart, it is likely that their actual production won't matter much in the standings, since they'll be on almost all rosters for each start. It's the rest of your roster that'll have to make the difference. Does that suggest that it makes sense to go without one of the top two pitching studs? Only if you're clairvoyant enough to foresee their off-nights, and even then, a Randy off-night is still better than most pitchers' "A" games. The primary difference among teams will be how they manage to have both Randy and Pedro. If they use one slot and rotate, there won't be many pitching trades left for the rest of the staff. If they lock up two slots full time, that eats up a lot of dollars that could otherwise be spent elsewhere. I don't think one strategy is clearly better than the other, and different situations may dictate different approaches from week to week.

The best injury of the week has to go to Ricky Bones, who will miss his next start because he injured his back while watching TV! (He must be a very active remote clicker!) The most worrisome injury belongs to Terrance Long, who sat out last night's game after being hit in the face by a ball during batting practice. In all likelihood, it isn't serious, but Long's SW price has risen more than $1.3 million, and even a minor injury must be watched carefully.

Speaking of cumulative gains, only 9 SW players have experienced total gains of $1 million or more, and Scott Schoeneweis is perilously close to falling off that short list. The top gainer is Adam Kennedy at +$3.02m, but his price seems to have topped out recently, and if any other second baseman ever steps forward, even casual selling could cause some Kennedy price problems.

The biggest losers? Mike Hampton trails the pack, and although he certainly has disappointed, his biggest problem was that the opening series in Japan landed him on a lot of opening rosters, which provided a lot of early selling opportunities. The second biggest price loser is Pedro Martinez, who has probably been hurt more by shifts into Randy Johnson than anything else. At a price of $11.2m, has he bottomed out? Maybe, but as long as he's being actively rotated, there will be a lot of volatility, and probably still some slight downward price pressure, since sells tend to be worth slightly more than buys.

5/10 - I must confess, I hadn't been taking the early success of James Baldwin very seriously. But when I heard that he has more victories since last August 1st than any other major league pitcher, it makes me wonder. There have been plenty of instances when a pitcher toils in mediocrity for a number of years before achieving consistent success. Rick Reed, for example, was over 30 when his success began. Baldwin is only 28, which is not old at all. Is he for real? Or is this just a massive tease?

If you're looking to gamble on a real cheap starter, minimum priced Jeff D'Amico has now averaged 115 SWP per start since 1998. Of course, last night was his only start during that period. Nothing in his 1996-97 history suggests that this will continue, but the same could be said for James Baldwin.

And speaking of teases, Jeff Nelson bagged his 6th victory last night. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! He currently leads the Yankee staff in victories. And at a SW price of $1.6 million, he's been a bargain. If you're considering him, just be aware that over 40% of his points so far have come from those 6 W's. Can that pace continue? Sure it can. Is it likely? I'll let you decide.

As of yesterday, the wealthiest team among the 500 listed in the message forum rankings is worth just over $75 million. About 14% of the teams have passed the $70 million threshold. I was curious to see how this compared with last year's progress, so I dug out an old spreadsheet. As of last May 12th, the wealthiest ranked team was worth almost $84 million, and 6% of the teams were already worth more than $80m. The median value was just above $70 million. This year's median is just below $67 million, so the gap between the rich and the middle class is much narrower this year.

In looking at last May, I recalled that my worldwide ranking was as low as 21,455 in late May (May 25). I finished the year ranked #10. So if you're worried about your ability to make up ground after a slow start, history suggests that there is still plenty of potential for improvement.

5/9 - Thanks to Gurupie Don Merry ("Donky" for forum users) for suggesting today's quote.

After yesterday's exposť on closer risk, Rocker "dropped the ball", although it cost the Braves more than it cost Rocker in fantasy points. The big loser last night was not a c-loser, but just a (previously) hot reliever, Matt Herges, who somehow managed to destroy five weeks of (19) shutout innings by surrendering 7 earned runs in less than 2 IP, earning him -95 SWP (and he didn't even get tagged with the loss!), and raising his E.R.A. from 0.00 to 3.00. His strong start and low price was just starting to attract some SW buying interest, just in time for his sudden reversion to the mean.

I occurs to me that the way many cheap pitchers are being managed by SW teams is essentially a loser's game from a point perspective. In most case, these pitchers are bought after one or two strong outings (or weeks, in the case of relievers), and held until they have a bad day. Admittedly, this is a reasonably efficient way to make some money. But it seems to be a terrible way to generate points, since you tend to jump in after good performances, and hold through the bad ones.

Statistical gurus (and there are a number of them who frequent this site) will probably point out that if you are churning among fairly comparable cheap pitchers, and if the result of each game pitched is an unbiased random number with a similar mean, then this trade tactic really doesn't have a negative bias, since the next pitcher you pick up is just as likely to have a good or bad outing as the last one. (By the way, my statistical understanding and explanation of this may be just strong enough to make me certifiably dangerous.) But in real life, it sure seems like you are more likely to generate a sub-par average with this approach. Of course, even if that's true, the dollars gained may be adequate compensation. Perhaps someone will take up this topic at the message forum.

5/8 - Last month, when a number of cheap starters were getting pummeled, some message forum users mused whether it made sense to pick up some closers, since they were unlikely to sustain large negative outings. The past few days have probably killed off that philosophy. The weekend's landscape is littered with closer wreckage:

Aye carumba!

The top two pitchers on Sunday - Ryan Dempster and Joe Mays - evidently had it figured out. Pitch a complete game!.

On the hitting side, Jose Cruz Jr. has been the hottest at any position over the past 7 days. Only once during the past week did he have a game with less than 30 points under either scoring system, and he's now among the top ten hitters in YTD points, ahead of such hitting studs as Bagwell, Vladimir Guerrero, Bonds, and Arod. He's starting to live up to the hype from several years ago, when he was part of the poetic Seattle outfield of Junior, Junior, and Buhner.

5/5 - The Phillies were the only team to score in double digits yesterday. I haven't been tallying this, but I'll bet that's under the average, although I suppose the fact that there were only 9 games played had something to do with it. The first victim of the Phillies' scoring outburst was starter Pete Harnisch, who lasted only one-third of an inning while surrendering 6 runs. That raised his season ERA to 9.95, and lowered his cumulative SWP total to -125, an average of -21 per start. Last year, he averaged 56 SWP per start (using this year's formula). So he' behind last year's pace by 77 SWP per start! Is that the biggest year-to-year shortfall? Hmmm.... Wait... how about Jose Lima? Last year +73 SWP/start, this year -17 SWP/start, a decline of 90 SWP per start. That must be the winner,... err, ... loser!

A quick tally shows that there are 41 listed pitchers who are currently active with negative total SWP this year. Five of those pitchers have only one appearance thus far. Seven are in triple digits, including the two mentioned in the previous paragraph. Brian Bohanon has the early lead with -155 SWP, but he's got an unfair advantage in this sweepstakes, getting to pitch in Colorado half of the time.

Is there a point to all this bottom searching? Not really. It's just where my stream of consciousness led me this morning.

I'll be out of the "office" until early afternoon today, so I won't have price updates posted until a bit later than normal. I've been getting the stats posted pretty efficiently of late, with the point updates usually up by 9am EST (sometimes even earlier), and the price updates usually up by 12:30pm. I think I'm starting to get the hang of this! Now, if I could only figure out how to avoid those negative pitching outings....

5/4 - When you hear of high scores at Coor's Field, you figure that baseballs were flying out of the park with regularity. So it is unusual to hear of 16 runs scored by the Rockies without a single long ball. Can that still be attributed to the Coor's effect?

The unlikely pitching stud of the day was Brian Meadows, with 135 SWP and 146 EBP. It's the kind of outing that, had it occurred a month ago, might have touched off a SW buying frenzy, given his <$3m pricetag. But I don't expect that sort of after effect now. The cheapie of the day was recent call-up Horacio Estrada. I see that his price went up $10K (to $510K) yesterday, so a few managers had 20/20 foresight! The top SW$ gainer yesterday, Greg Maddux, produced only 20 SWP, even though he tossed the only complete game of the day.

The lack of Colorado power resulted in only one position with a Colorado leader, which was Jeff Cirillo, and he only had 40 SWP. Shawn Green was the top SW hitter, while Miguel Tejada eclipsed his EBP total by two to take the Echelon honors.

A new toy arrived at my house yesterday. I got a new desktop computer, a Dell 750mz Pentium III, which will soon replace my "antiquated" 200mz Pentium Gateway, which is more than 3 years old, I think. I started setting up the new machine last night, and boy does it fly! It will take awhile to transfer all of my files and programs to the new machine, and I'll probably need to do some tinkering with macros, since the new computer has MS Office 2000, while the old machine had Office 97. So, time for me to get busy...

5/3 - Three widely owned cheap pitchers hurled last night. Owners of Glendon Rusch probably feel like doing likewise this morning. Rick Ankiel escaped relatively unscathed (although he did have to throw 116 pitches in only 6 innings), as it was the bullpen that allowed the majority of the Bucs' 10 runs. And Scott Schoeneweis would have fallen just short of 100 SWP if Troy Percival hadn't blown the save for him. Troy took a -75 SWP hit. So much for the notion that closers don't get saddled with big negatives.

The new message forum was been reconfigured on a new server, and returned to action last night. So far, it seems to be running faster than it did on the previous server, which is good, because I wasn't thrilled with the old server's performance.

It was an unfortunate time to be missing the forum, as a few interesting themes and related threads have been propogating. Starting last weekend, a statistical analysis of the SW Baseball Pricing Model started. Interesting reading, although some of it is definitely not for math-phobes. Among the demonstrations so far are that there was a distinct change in the price model (reducing the sensitivity) which occurred in early April. It appears that price changes were reduced by approximately a factor of 5 beginning on April 8th. Other than that, the model appears to be configured the same as last year's (which I described in a Base Advances article last May), with the exception of the introduction of gravity, which did not appear in SW pricing until October, 1999. There seems to be some ongoing data sampling with the aim of further exploring the gravity formula, so stay tuned for new developments.

The other forum excitement was the revelation of a trade allocation error that affected a small number of SW baseball teams, including a team managed by one of the SW forum moderators. These teams were mysteriously allocated extra trades above and beyond the weekly allowance of 3. Perhaps the most noteworthy fallout of this tale of intrigue is that Don Mathis, the COO of Small World, has started a healthy and candid dialogue on the RotoGuru message forum, and has promised to develop a closer relationship with Gurupies in diagnosing problems and developing solutions. I must confess that, with the need to turn my personal focus toward getting the forum back up and running, I haven't read through all of the dialogue, which appears on my forum as well as the old forum. I'll try to copy some of the threads over in the next day or so. I certainly welcome Don's "coming out", and hope we can work to improve the games and restore some trust in the integrity of SW operations and communication.

I have gotten woefully behind in responding to emails over the past several days. Reported forum glitches are getting my top priority, and other issues will have to wait until the dust clears. Thanks for your patience.

Finally, there were a couple dozen IPOs announced at the SW site last night. I have included all of those players in this morning's updates. Be careful, though, as I've posted their positions as announced without first checking to see whether they were properly coded in the SW database. You may recall that the last set of IPOs included a few hitters that were input as pitchers. So, as always, caveat emptor.

5/2 - This will be a short blurb, because I'm busy transferring the message forum to a new server. I don't want to take the time to go into the gory details now, but I hope to have it fully restored and operational within 24 hours, and if all goes well, maybe even later today. I'll post a notice here and at the old forum when it is ready.

There aren't many days when the top SWP producer is a hitter, but Todd Helton almost did it. Only Millwood and Dotel surpassed Helton's 118 SWP, both my a scant 7 SWP. Sounds like it may have been Jeff Manto's most important contribution to the Rockies. Manto is currently playing for Buffalo. I wonder whose bats he's using?

5/1 - Pedro's ejection in the eighth inning almost cost the Red Sox the game, but it didn't. And it could cost him a suspension, but that seems unlikely. But, it DID cost him the #2 spot in the YTD SWP rankings, as Tom Glavine passed him by 5 SWP. I realize that Pedro has one less start - thanks to April showers. But Glavine has been putting up points with Pedro-like consistency this month, including 5 consecutive 3-digit outings. And with Glavine, you get an extra $4 million to use elsewhere. Looking at his (Glavine's) recent price upticks, it's clear that he's gaining believers.

The biggest weekend news on the hitting side is probably the injuries to two different position leaders. Mike Piazza was knocked out of Friday night's game with a sprained wrist and a hyperextended elbow. Bad timing, as he went 0-for-Coors for the weekend, and Pac Bell is also looking iffy for Mike. Then, on Saturday, Fernando Tatis had to be carried from the field due to a groin injury. The talk is that he'll miss at least 3 weeks. If you had either of these guys on your SW or Echelon rosters, you can fix the damage at the cost of a trade. If you have them in a standard roto league, recovery is generally more challenging. I've got Piazza on my ESPN team, and I'm rooting for a speedy recovery, for sure.

It appears that the SW baseball server suffered a similar weekend injury, as access on Sunday was ridiculously slow. I'm sure more than a few teams missed out on some of yesterday's good pitching starts because of it. It took me more than 8 hours to download all of the updated prices, a process that usually takes less than 8 minutes. Let's hope that their newly hired technical guns, Akamai Technologies, can quickly figure out a way to overcome these slowdowns, which seem to be a weekly phenomenon so far this season.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2000: April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

1999: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

1998: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March

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