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

5/31 - It was a long weekend of many “almosts”.

Danica Patrick almost won the Indy 500.
Justin Leonard almost blew an 8-stroke 3rd round lead.
Brian Jordan almost had a game-tying home run.

In the final analysis, we weren’t playing horseshoes, and almost doesn’t matter.

Perhaps the biggest punishment of the weekend was the 2-hit shutout thrown by Roy Halladay. Those who dumped him early in week in the TSN game avoided a string of big financial losses, but those who persevered got a very nice reward. Is a 182 TSNP game worth a $500K loss? Hard to say. But those who moved into Erik Bedard, or Mark Prior, or even Ty Walker would probably be happy to reverse history and eat the loss.

5/27 - The top TSN Ultimate price gainer turned out to be worth it last night. Jake Peavy threw a 2-hit complete game shutout in Arizona. He only struck out 2 batters, but needed only 94 pitches to finish. And the game took only 2:19 to play, even though the Padres scored 10 runs.

The top gainer among hitters fared less well. Craig Counsell was the apparent winner in the “Who do I get to replace Brian Roberts?” sweepstakes. Although the price swing between the two was $260K, Roberts enjoyed a 10 TSNP advantage, when he started and led off the game with a single. It looks like around 15% of Roberts’ owners pulled the plug over the past two days. Of course, even though he returned to action last night, it’s too early to know whether the injury will have any lingering impacts. If you kept him, you’ll obviously want to continue to hold. If you sold, it’s probably too soon to reverse the move.

We’re entering a 3 day weekend in the U.S. When I was but a wee lad, Memorial Day was often marked by a single admission afternoon doubleheader. Clearly, those days are long gone. But it still boggles me that 10 teams have an off day scheduled on a national holiday. It just doesn’t seem right.

Regardless, enjoy the long weekend!

5/26 - The pitching vs. hitting seemed reasonably balanced yesterday. Seven teams scored in double digits, including one loser. Fourteen teams scored 3 or less, including 3 winners. Seven starters produced 3-digit TSNP scores. Seven hitters had 60 or more TSNP. With the right choices, you could have had a pretty decent result. And if you had Joe Blanton,… well, after all … tomorrow is another day.

Brett Myers has been pitching really well this year, well enough to make him the most widely owned pitcher in the TSN Ultimate game. Still, more than 1000 teams dumped him yesterday, many of them (including mine) due to the expected 6-day layoff between starts. But now, Philly has decided to skip the start of Vicente Padilla and move Myers up to Sunday. Argh. I’d have most likely held if I’d known that. Now it will be interesting to see how much follow through there is on selling. He only dropped $40K yesterday, helped in large measure by the much greater sells of Halladay and Clemens, and comparable sells of Turnbow. Still, there seem to be a fair number of managers who get skittish at the sight of any value losses, particularly for pitchers, where the losses tend to persist for at least a pitching cycle.

The NBA playoffs take a 2-day hiatus now. What’s up with that? Are they bicycling from one city to the other? I assume it’s TV that dictates, but 4 days between games seems like an absurdly long wait. Of course, Phoenix is probably happy to have anything to break the momentum.

5/25 - Last night may have been defined more by the injury report than by the stat sheet:

  • Roger Clemens exited the game after 5 IP with a strained groin.
  • Roy Halladay didn’t pitch, but the Jays announced that his next start will be at least pushed back, and maybe skipped, due to a strained oblique muscle.
  • Javy Lopez broke a bone in his right hand, and will be sidelined for about six weeks.
  • Brian Roberts was hit by a pitch in the knee, and left the game shortly thereafter. His status is still unknown.
With TSN pitching trades newly available, the tides are likely to be shifting in pitcher ownership, particularly given the news on Clemens and Halladay. Use ‘em wisely. There aren’t any dominant price trends to be chasing right now in the Ultimate game. In fact, yesterday was the first day this season that no player - pitcher or hitter - had a 3-digit price gain.

5/24 - It’s been awhile since we’ve had a dominating pitching performance from Santana, but we had a 5-hit, 7-K complete game shutout last night – although this was Ervin Santana. Santana now has two major league starts, and the results were more than 200 TSNP apart.

It was another one of those moving-day Mondays, when pitchers definitely had the upper hand. There were only eight games, but six pitchers produced 3-digit TSNPs, and only one winning team scored more than 5 runs. Throw out the Mets-Braves 8-6 “slugfest”, and the other 14 teams averaged only 2.5 runs apiece.

In golf, it seems that no one wants to play in this week’s FedEx St. Jude Classic. Since the field was announced, eleven golfers have already withdrawn. If you set your GuruGolf lineup early, you’d better check it again.

5/23 - It was a rather disastrous fantasy weekend for some of my teams.

In GuruGolf, I had seriously considered taking Kenny Perry this week. Instead, I opted for the “safer” choice of Chris DiMarco. As it turned out, DiMarco missed the cut, and Perry had a better score than my entire foursome, of which only one made it to the weekend. A week like that can really knock you back in the standings.

Then, on Sunday, I was prepared to shift from Derrick Turnbow to Javier Vazquez. Before making the move, though, I checked the weather in Detroit, and saw that rain was likely. Fearing a short outing, or maybe even a 4 inning washout in which I’d completely lose the start, I decided to hold Turnbow for another day, rather than risk it. As it turned out, the game was delayed for more than 3 hours. But Vazquez ended up throwing a complete game shutout, and Turnbow blew a save. Nice call.

There was no change atop the standings for either best or worst ball scoring in GuruGolf’s Spring to the Open constest. Still three weeks to go, however. And it only takes a week to collapse.

5/20 - According to the calendar, the season passed the one-quarter pole last week. But according to the schedule, we don’t get there until tonight. For a full season, there are 2430 MLB games, and game #608 is played tonight.

In the TSN game, two of the three most widely owned pitchers (among active managers) pitched last night. Neither started strong, as Roger Clemens surrendered 3 runs in the first inning (2 earned), and Brett Myers gave up two long balls in the first three innings. Each recovered and ended up with a similar stat line, except that the Phillies scored seven while Houston managed only one, so Myers got a W to Clemens’ L. Meanwhile, the dominant pitching performance was the shutout by Minnesota’s Joe Mays. Congrats to the 103 teams that had him. More than 1600 TSN Ultimate teams picked up Clemens yesterday; 15 picked up Mays.

Tonight we begin interleague play. Except for Colorado at Pittsburgh, all games are between leagues.

5/19 - Following today’s limited slate (most of which takes place in the afternoon), we embark on a brief foray into interleague play. From a fantasy perspective, you need to be aware of the implications for American League DHs in National League parks, and this weekend, those teams are Anaheim, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Oakland, and Tampa Bay. After this weekend, the next interleague play doesn’t occur until June 6th.

The field for this week’s PGA tournament, the Bank of America Colonial, is smaller than usual. Most events feature a field of around 150 golfers, but this week’s field numbers only 114. As a consequence, more than 60% of the field should make the cut, instead of the usual 50%.

Thanks to Gurupie Challenger for suggesting today’s quote.

5/18 - In the TSN game, it used to be relatively easy to identify the “don’t miss a start by” pitchers. Five years ago, it was Pedro and Randy, when “Randro” was a dominating pitching approach. Then Curt Schilling emerged as a third option, which was especially helpful when Pedro inevitably wore out each summer. Last year, Johan Santana was virtually automatic, once May had passed.

So far this year, I haven’t been able to figure out the answer. In April, I generally didn’t have Santana, mostly for price considerations. But as I gained in value, I decided I needed to fit him in. Two starts later, I have -12 TSNP to show for that inspired decision, including last night’s -38 vs. Toronto. The last time he had a negative outing was last May, when he had three of them. Maybe he’s just not suited to pitch in the spring.

Meanwhile, this season’s top pitcher to date, Dontrelle Willis, survived a shaky first inning to post his lowest result of the year. He did follow up the 4-run 1st inning with five shutout innings, so the damage was contained. Still, as the highest owned pitcher in the game, coming off his weakest start on a day when pitching trades are plentiful, I expect it’s time to look at other pitching options for a start or two.

Now if I could only figure out who the “must have” pitcher is.

Regardless, half of today’s schedule is being played in the afternoon, so I don’t have a lot of time to ponder. Maybe I’ll just wait until tomorrow to work out the details.

5/17 - ‘Twas a good night for Byrd watching.

Paul beat the Indians for the sixth time in his career (against no losses), and newly traded Marlin went 3-4 with 3 RBIs for Washington.

After playing at half strength last night, MLB returns to a full slate of games. The weather outlook is pretty favorable from coast to coast, so I’d imagine we’ll get them all in. It is raining in Minneapolis, but unless the roof springs a leak, that’s of no consequence.

5/16 - I could have picked up Tino Martinez on my TSN team a few days ago, and the fact that I mentioned him in Thursday’s blurb suggests that I at least thought about it. But I figured his power streak was a fluke, and passed. Oops. Apparently, many others felt similarly, because his gains haven’t exactly been rocketing. Not like the ball off his bat, at least.

The golf news over the weekend was not so much about who won the weekly tournament, but who wasn’t around for the last two rounds. Not a good weekend for a Tiger or a Goose. But 22 GuruGolf teams were Purdy satisfied.

And we now have two new leaders in the “Spring to the Open” contest. Hole in the Head posted the top (best ball) score of the weekend, and surged into first place after five events. In worstball scoring, two teams are tied for the top spot, but 30 teams are within 10 strokes of the lead, so that contest is clearly wide open, especially with four weeks still remaining.

5/13 - There were only 6 MLB games scheduled, yet three of them featured players who went deep twice. No pitcher produced 100 TSNP or more.

But Jon Garland came as close as you can, racking up 99 TSNP against Baltimore. It was only the second time a starter had gotten more than 50 TSNP against the Orioles in the last 16 games. Makes you wonder whether Garland is actually good this year, and not just lucky. Probably some of each.

Although the MLB slate is full tonight, the weather looks iffy in a number of venues, particularly in the Midwest and Mideast. If your roto team allows for last minute substitutions, you may want to react to postponements or delays – although I didn’t see any forecast that looks definitively bad, and even those have been wrong on occasion. The two coasts appear to be safe, in any event.

With 2 courses being played in the first two rounds of the Byron Nelson Championship, opening round GuruGolf scores are a bit hard to assess. That will work itself after today’s round. The Cottonwood course was playing a bit easier, yielding net scores about one-half stroke better than the Four Seasons course, and producing an extra 22 birdies and one extra eagle.

5/12 - I’ll bet Jason Giambi was drafted more often than Tino Martinez on fantasy teams this spring. It was true in the RIBC. Who knew?

To show how dominant Dontrelle Willis has been this season, consider last night’s “below average” outing: 8 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 W, 5 K. His ERA rose, his WHIP rose, his K ratio dropped. But I doubt if the sub-par performance will touch off a dumping spree.

Today’s baseball action is limited, with one day game and six under the lights. The one most TSN managers will be tracking is Baltimore at the White Sox, where John Garland faces the birds. Baltimore has been wreaking havoc on just about everybody lately. In the last 15 games, 8 of their opposing starters have posted a negative TSNP, and yesterday, uber-stud Johan Santana could muster only +26. If I can get a positive number from Garland tonight, I’ll consider it a great escape.

5/11 - Who was that pitching for the Cubs last night? No runs and 10 Ks in 6.2 IP. The boxscore says it was Greg Maddux, but those 10 Ks make that hard to believe. After all, he’d only fanned 21 in his first six starts. The last time he struck out 10 or more in a game was in June of 2003.

Aside from Maddux (or whoever that was), the only other pitcher to top 100 TSNP last night was Roy Halladay, who pitched his third complete game of the season. It was a marked contrast to the night before, when 10 pitchers found 3-digit TSNP territory.

Most of today’s baseball action is under natural light. Of the full slate of 15 games, 12 have afternoon starts, so you’d better get your lineups set early today.

In GuruGolf, you have until 9am Eastern time to set your lineup for this week’s Byron Nelson Championship. The first two rounds will be played on two different courses, allowing for a modestly later start time than usual. GuruGolf scorecards for those two rounds will be matched by course, rather than by round number.

5/10 - Don’t tell Tim Hudson, but it was generally a pitchers night. Ten starters produced 3-digit TSNPs, headed by two in the 160s. But Hudson took a -80 TSNP in his first career appearance in Coors Field. He had never faced the Rockies in any previous interleague games. At least the Braves have no more trips to Colorado this season, so he should be safe to start the rest of the way.

Boston was the only team to crack double digits in scoring last night. There were three shutouts, and 10 of the 15 games had a winner which scored 4 runs or less. Several years ago I had noticed that Monday’s tended to produce better pitching results and correspondingly worse hitting. That could be nothing but happenstance, but at the time I surmised that it might relate to the travel fatigue that many teams experience on Mondays.

In golf, Chris DiMarco withdrew from this week’s Byron Nelson Championship. If you set your GuruGolf lineup early, you may need to reload. He’s probably not a guy you want to replace with a provisional golfer. Brett Quigley also withdrew, and a handful of teams had both of them last week. One team with DiMarco had already set up Quigley as the provisional golfer for this week. I’ve always encouraged people to make roster moves early in the week, just to protect against midweek amnesia. But it’s always a good idea to revisit those lineups before the freeze.

5/9 - The bats were working on Sunday. Three winning teams scored 15 or more runs, two had 10, and another two had 9. Still, some of the days most notable performances were from the mound. Mike Hampton tossed a complete game 3-hitter (winning 16-0), Kevin Brown pitched seven shutout innings for the Yanks, and Carlos Zambrano and Brett Myers hooked up in a 2-1 pitchers duel, each going the distance. Still, with all the runs scoring elsewhere, ten hitters topped 50 TSNP, including two in the 90s.

The PGA Tour event turned out to be a compelling drama, with Sergio Garcia blowing a six strike lead, then pulling ahead, then finishing third in a 3-way playoff with Vijay Singh and Jim Furyk. Little M extended his lead in the “Spring to the Open” best ball contest, while lockhart2 took a 3 stroke lead in the worst ball competition. Interestingly, Little M ranks 5th in worst ball, and has a shot at taking both prizes with the same team! That would be a remarkable accomplishment!

5/6 - Earlier this week, the Mets announced that they would insert Kris Benson into the rotation on Thursday, and push everybody else back a day. That would put the next start for Pedro Martinez on Sunday. I’ve been arranging my TSN team affairs with that in mind. But this morning, I see that they are skipping Aaron Heilman instead, which means Pedro will start tomorrow. (Heilman actually worked three innings in relief of Benson yesterday, getting the win.) So I’ve just spent a good deal of time (too much, candidly) trying to figure out if I can still work in that start. At this point, I think I’ll probably just skip it on most teams, barring any more unforeseen developments. But it’s still annoying when the best laid plans are foiled.

Twenty-two players were added to the TSN game yesterday. Most (17) were pitchers, none who I find compelling. Ambiorix Burgos was one of them, if you’re interested. Among the five new hitters, the only current starter is Robinson Cano, and at a price of almost $2500K, I think I’ll pass, too – at least until he shows anything. Through his first three games, he’s averaged 1 TSNP/G.

5/5 - I guess it’s time to start paying attention to Erik Bedard. His last three starts have totaled more than 400 TSNP, and all were in excess of 115. Two of those starts were against Toronto and the third was against Tampa Bay – but those two teams rank in the middle of the pack as opponents, so it’s not like he’s been beating up on weak sisters. His next two starts will be vs. Minnesota and the White Sox, both of which rank among the four most difficult teams to face (in terms of TSNP surrendered by starters). So buyer beware – and remember that he averaged less the 20 TSNP/start in his first three outings this year.

I figured I’d take this opportunity remind you that the RotoGuru sortable stats provide data by team for opposing starters. So far, the easiest team to face has been has been Pittsburgh, against which opposing starters have averaged almost 66 TSNP per start. The toughest has been Boston, holding opposing starters to 15.6 TSNP/start.

There are only 9 games on today’s MLB schedule, and 5 of those start in the early afternoon. If you have roster moves to make, don’t overlook the early starting times.

5/4 - You can bash the Yankees for buying championships if you wish. But they certainly aren’t getting much value for the $15+m they’re paying Kevin Brown. They also pay a little over $25 million to the combo of Jason Giambi and Bernie Williams, neither which is regularly starting. Those three players have a combined salary that is about the same at the Cleveland Indians, and more than four other teams – Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. At least the Yanks have more wins than any of those teams. But not many more. And the way they are playing, not for long.

Yesterday, I mentioned several pitchers who had produced more than 50 TSNP in every start so far this year. Mike Hampton just missed being on that list, as his worst start of the year – until last night – had been +42 TSNP. He did manage to hang on for six innings, in spite of surrendering 5 runs in the third. The end result of -12 TSNP would have been much worse if he hadn’t survived that inning.

Jose Reyes drew his first walk of the season last night, and it was a productive one, as the bases were full at the time. It’s pretty unusual for a leadoff hitter to be so walk-resistant. His OBP is under .300 as a result. He’s only 21, so maybe there still a chance that he’ll learn a more disciplined approach at the plate. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on it this year.

The Wachovia Championship tees off at 7:15am tomorrow – maybe. Chances of rain in the Charlotte, NC area is 70%. Friday’s forecast is a little better, though still iffy. Could be a slow start once again.

5/3 - At least as measured by TSNP, pitchers have had the upper hand so far this year. Maybe that’s usually the case in early May – I don’t recall. But if you sort all players by total TSNP, 20 of the top 25 are pitchers. And none of those five hitters are outfielders! After the top 25, things even out, as the next 50 are evenly split between pitching and hitting.

It’s pretty early in the season to be doing any statistical analysis on pitchers, but hey – that’s what I do. One thing that isn’t obvious in the totals is a measure of consistency. How often does a pitcher produce a bad outing? If you hold a pitcher over a long cycle, it doesn’t really matter (from a point perspective) whether you get individual games that are volatile or stable. But when you are moving in and out of pitchers, you obviously want to avoid a bad result.

So far this season, there are a lot of starters who have yet to hurl a negative TSNP outing. But among pitchers with at least 5 starts, there are three who have yet to have a result under 50 TSNP. So far, Mr. Consistency has been Jake Peavy, who ranks only 6th in total TSNP, but who has never had a start below 78 TSNP (or one higher than 116 TSNP). Similarly, the worst start for Dontrelle Willis was a +72 TSNP, although his high game was much loftier, at 168 TSNP. The other starter to keep all games above 50 TSNP is Johan Santana, whose worst result was a +55 TSNP in his season opener. There are two other starters with similar results (Matt Morris and C.C. Sabathia), but they each have only three starts so far.

Among full time closers, there are only four who have avoided an outing in red figures. That short list includes Joe Nathan, Billy Wagner, Octavio Dotel, and [gulp!] Jose Mesa. Mesa, who I would never consider to be a model of consistency, notched a +28 TSNP in his opening appearance, and since then has never produced less than 40. Go figure!

As I said, it’s too early to ascribe much, if any, meaning to these limited results. For example, if I had written this two days ago, Danny Graves would have been listed. It may be that all I’ve managed to do is to highlight those pitchers who are due for a bad outing. But that’s a valuable service as well!

5/2 - Some of the marquis pitching duels this weekend panned out as advertised. For example, Roy Halladay bested Randy Johnson 2-0 on Friday night, combining for more than 250 TSNP. Yesterday’s Colon vs. Santana produced a combined 241 TSNP. At the other extreme, Prior/Oswalt combined for -11 TSNP, and Mulder/Hudson eked out 31 between them.

There are no afternoon games today, so you have until this evening to figure out what, if anything, to make of all this. John Garland appears to be the man on the move right now, with a 4-hit complete game shutout over Detroit yesterday. I’ll bet he wasn’t even drafted in many roto leagues this year, including the RIBC. So far, he’s 5-0 in five starts, with a 1.38 ERA, a 0.79 WHIP, and a .185 BAA. Not too shabby.

If it seems to you that roster value inflation is higher than usual in this year’s TSN Ultimate baseball, you are probably right – but perhaps not to the degree you think. You can compare the Gurupie Standings reports for May 1st of 2005 vs. 2004. This year, of the teams listed, the wealthiest 20 teams have an average franchise value of $63.2m. Last year, the corresponding average was $61.2m. That’s only about a 3% increase. I realize this isn’t a very scientific sample, but it does suggest that, while roster values seem to be higher so far, the gap isn’t dramatic. Based on a very superficial comparison, it looks like total TSNP are also up this year, perhaps by something in the 5-10% range. How that relates (if at all) to the value inflation is difficult to assess, but perhaps player prices are somewhat lower this year, allowing the same amount of 2005 dollars to buy a better caliber roster than in 2004. Or maybe it’s just a random quirk.

Switching sports… It was a tough weekend for many GuruGolf foursomes this weekend. The most widely owned golfer, Joe Oglivie, failed to make the cut, and quite a few foursomes were down to 2 golfers or less for the weekend. If you managed to keep at least three active, you probably made a nice move up the standings.

In the overall standings, team Liters seems to have a commanding lead. But for the “Spring to the Open” contest, which includes only the 9 tournaments between the Masters and the U.S. Open, the current leader is Little M, with more than 20 teams within 10 strokes of the lead. The corresponding worstball competition is almost as tight.

2005: April . . . March . . . February . . . January

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2004: December. . . November. . . October. . . September. . . August. . . July. . . June. . . May. . . April. . . March . . . February . . . January

2003: December . . . November . . . October . . . September . . . August . . . July . . . June . . . May . . . April . . . March . . . February . . . January

2002: December. . . November. . . October. . . September. . . August. . . July. . . June. . . May. . . April. . . March . . . February . . . January

2001: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

2000: December . . . . . November . . . . . October . . . . . September . . . . . August . . . . . July . . . . . June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

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

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

RotoGuru is produced by Dave Hall (a.k.a. the Guru), an avid fantasy sports player. He is neither employed by nor compensated by any of the fantasy sports games discussed within this site, and all opinions expressed are solely his own. Questions or comments are welcome, and should be emailed to Guru<>.

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