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5/29 - Russ Ortiz sustained his worst (barely) outing of the season last night, good for "only" 68 SWP. Actually, he didn't pitch badly at all: 8 hits and 4 ER in 7+ innings. In fact, if the Giants would have just scored 5 runs for him, he'd have won the game, and collected 118 SWP. So, it hardly qualifies as a "bad outing". We'll have to see how his legions of managers deal with him, though. The fact that his next start is Wednesday will probably promote some staying power.

Shawn Green left last night's game with a broken bone in his hand or wrist, hit by a pitch from Andy Pettitte. (Amazingly, he is listed as day-to-day, so the pitch must have been quite "petite".) A few days off will probably allow Griffey to overtake him as the leading hitter in YTD fantasy points.

Meanwhile, Freddy Garcia pitched well enough last night to barely climb back into the top 50 pitcher listing. The mid-week timing of his ascent isn't good for trading purposes, and he's only got 25 SWP to spare, so he may not hang in there for long, but since I was evidently premature in picking him back up several weeks ago, I'm happy to seem him lurking on the brink of visibility.

In the Ballpark Dreams game, several managers have complained that if you didn't nab the cheapest hitters on opening day (guys like Todd Hundley or Chili Davis), you have no chance of catching the leaders. Not so. There have been plenty of new bargains emerging throughout the game. Just last night, I noticed Ryan McGuire, who's risen from $362,000 to $855,000 in less than two weeks, and Kevin Millar, who has gone from $757,000 to $1.1 million in just 8 days. I've also done pretty well with recent pickups like Homer Bush and (earlier in May) Herbert Perry. Clearly, one of the keys to that game is to load up on as much "dirt cheap" hitting as you can, so you can afford to rotate the best pitchers without sacrificing too much on the hitting side. It just takes a little diligence to ferret out the emerging bargains. The necessary tools are at your disposal!

5/28 - The playoff schedule for the Western Finals is now announced, and it will make trade management somewhat tricky. The first five games will alternate between West and East, but games 6 and 7, if necessary, will be played on the same days for both series. So, if both series go the distance, the last opportunity to use trades to pick up extra games will be the fifth games, which will take place a week from Tuesday and Wednesday. If you use all your trades prior to the sixth games, you will have a new dole of 5 trades to work with from that point forward, but those trades will probably also be needed to position for the Championship Series. I'm getting a brain cramp just thinking about the possible approaches. Fortunately, I have until tomorrow morning to get my lineup in order for the next round.

In baseball, I did some tallying of the buys and sells for the most recent week. In total, there were 408,647 buys and 357,490 sells, which is pretty comparable with the prior week. After factoring down the buys, the price sensitivity was roughly $100,000 in price change per 781 net trades.

There is strong evidence of widespread trading of pitchers for starts. Eight of the ten most heavily traded players were pitchers. Casey and Dye were the two non-pitchers. Roger Cedeno, who also maxed out with a $1 million gain, ranked #11.) The player with the most trades (buys and sells) during the week was Randy Johnson, followed closely by Pedro Martinez. In spite of having the 5th worse price decline for the week, Martinez also had the 5th most buys. And Johnson's gain was the 8th best, even though he showed the second highest total of sells for the week. Clearly, there were a lot of managers flipping back and forth between the two. Schilling was left out of the mix, since his start coincided with Pedro's, as will also happen this next week. If Clemens is inserted into the rotation this week, he would seem to have the best scheduling, although his start on Tuesday is against Cleveland. Draw your own conclusions.

5/27 - From a gains standpoint, I picked a bad week to upgrade my outfield. Two of yesterday's three $million gainers were cheap outfielders. On the other hand, it did pay off in the points column. The two outfielders I picked up last week produced 98 SWP last night, while Cedeno and Dye combined for -1. Almost the equivalent of an extra pitching start.

That is, unless the start was by Kent Bottenfield. Fortunately, I didn't have him either.

Pedro Martinez suffered his first price dip yesterday. Now, I wonder how much of that was people who were really dumping him, and how much of it was scheduling. Randy Johnson, who pitched on Tuesday, fared much better. And so did Bottenfield, who hurled (so to speak) yesterday. I suspect Pedro's problem was more attributable to pitching rotation cycles, since his trade counts show 10,000 buys vs. 13,000 sells. This may be a classic example of how the factoring down of the buy totals can hurt a player's price change. I haven't calibrated the price change factors for last week, so I don't yet know how much of his decline resulted from that influence.

After watching the sports news last night, it seemed like balls were really jumping out of ballparks yesterday. But only one team reached double digits in runs scored, and five different teams won while scoring only three runs. In fact, there were four games with a final score of 3-2.

Looking ahead in the schedule, I see this weekend features the immovable object against the indestructable force, when Pedro Martinez starts against Cleveland at Jacobs Field. The conventional wisdom usually holds that good pitching stops good hitting. But are you willing to trust that enough to swap into Pedro? I'm not. Besides, I don't want the conflicted rooting interest. (I've got Pedro on my ESPN team anyway, and I won't bench him, either. Sometimes, a manager's gotta do what a manager's gotta do.)

5/26 - If you told me in advance that one of the starting centers would produce 24.5 SWP last night, while the other would get only 6.5, I'd have gotten the names reversed. Go figure.

So Utah forces a game 6. From what I heard last night, if Portland wins on Thursday, then the Spurs-Blazers series will begin on Saturday. If so, then there may be a gap in that series next week too (like the Eastern Finals), presumably to get a weekend game 4 for TV. If not, then Utah-Portland will be on Saturday, which probably means the Western Finals would be scheduled for M-W-F-Sun. Just an educated guess.

Vince Carter won the NBA Rookie of the Year award. I looked back at the rookie poll we took at the beginning of the regular season. Carter only finished tied for 4th, behind overwhelming favorite Paul Pierce (who got 50% of the vote), and also behind Mike Bibby and Jason Williams, while tying with Antawn Jamison.

In baseball, Randy Johnson was "The Man" last night, topping 200 pts. in both scoring systems. He also knocked in a run with a double, demonstrating that those Nike-documented sessions in the batting cage are starting to pay off for the "Long Unit".

After mentioning this year's poor pitching yesterday, only two teams exceeded 10 runs scored last night. Excluding those two games, the average score of the winning team in the other 13 games was under 5 runs. Chalk one night up for the pitchers, I guess. Of course, those other two games were 17-1 and 15-5, so the winner's average overall was still over 6 - although even that is still probably better than most nights.

5/25 - NBA teams are dropping like flies. Only Utah and Portland remain in action for the rest of the week, and unless Utah gets its act together, they could soon be toast as well. Meanwhile, the schedule for the Indiana-Knicks series was released, and not only does the first game not take place until Sunday, but it also includes a 4-day gap from next Tuesday through Saturday. If the series lasts at least 6 games, you'll have 15 more trades to work with between now and then. And the finals may start another 5 trades later. We still have to see how the Western Conference finals will dovetail with the Eastern schedule, but it looks like there will be opportunities to switch back and forth from series to series, especially if games for both series aren't scheduled on the same days. (Perhaps Game 7's would coincide on the last Sunday, but other than that, I'll bet they all fall on separate dates.)

The winning team in half of last night's baseball games (5 out of 10) scored in double digits. The ERA for the entire American League now stands at 5.08, while the NL weighs in at 4.66. Seattle and Colorado both have team ERAs above 6.0, and Baltimore and Texas are both lurking nearby. Eleven teams have an ERA north of 5.0. To put this in perspective, last season (which was not exactly a pitcher's year), the AL had an ERA of 4.66 while the NL posted a mark of 4.24. Only five teams had ERAs of 5 or higher, and the worst was the White Sox at 5.24. In other words, pitching really sucks this year - in case you hadn't noticed.

Did you see the end of the Cubs game last night? With 2 outs in the 9th inning, Kevin Millar (Marlins) hit a fly ball that sent Sammy Sosa back to the ivy covered wall. The ball hit the wall over Sosa's head, then bounced down next to the ivy at the base of the wall several yards to his left. Poor Sammy couldn't find it, and Millar circled the bases for a game ending 3-run inside-the-park homer, spoiling Rick Aguilera's Cub debut.

Sosa's difficulty reminded me of an event which occurred to one of my sons about 5 years ago in a little league all-star game. Jason was catching, and a wild pitch bounced past him to the screen. The grass near the backstop was just tall enough to obscure the ball, and two runners scored (the eventual winning runs) while poor Jason scurried around trying to find it. What a helpless feeling - not only for Jason, but for Dad on the sidelines, too. Baseball can be a cruel game sometimes. Fortunately, the emotional scars are fading for both of us.

5/23 - Two of the NBA quarterfinal series have been sweeps, and the Knicks threaten to make it three tonight. Only the Jazz and Blazers have been able to trade wins, and even the Jazz are hanging by a thread. According to ESPN, even if the Knicks win tonight, their series with Indiana won't start until Sunday, so it looks like there may be only one "game in town" for most of this week. That certainly reduces trading flexibility. But assuming the next round doesn't start until Sunday, that'll also help those who could use a few more trades to get set up for Conference finals, since the next dose of new trades won't be far behind.

So what's the strategy at this point? I think the key is to figure out how you want your next round's roster to look, and then plot a course to get there by the weekend. If you have more trades than you need, then consider an interim swap - probably from the Jazz/Blazer series. Points are still very compacted. My team is ranked around 1000, but only about 150 SWP out of the top 50. So positioning for the next round would seem to be critical.

In baseball, I "cracked the code", so to speak. I've figured out the SW repricing formula. See my latest Base Advances article, Peeking Behind the Pricing Curtain, for details. While this certainly helps my understanding of how price changes have worked, I'm not sure it will help in anticipating future changes, however - which is probably why SW was willing to divulge the buy-sell details.

I didn't have any inside information to figure out the formula, by the way. The only missing ingredient was the weekly trade flow data, which is now publicly available. (I'll admit, I'm probably better than most of you - but not all of you - at collecting and consolidating that data.) To facilitate your ability to monitor the information, I've added a new link to each of my individual player pages. This links directly to the new trade info page for each player at the Smallworld site. I may also add some summary information somewhere. For example, after six weeks, the "most added" player has been Russ Ortiz, who has experienced 69,331 net buys since the start of the season. I doubt if he was drafted onto may rosters, so that is also probably reflective of his total ownership.

Player Cumulative
Net Buys
Price Change
Russ Ortiz 69,331 $4,110,000
Carlos Beltran 49,097 $2,800,000
Chili Davis 48,790 $2,490,000
Chris Brock 47,288 $2,700,000
Jermaine Dye 38,285 $1,230,000
Freddy Garcia 31,157 $1,160,000
Carlos Febles 30,702 $2,460,000
Tony Phillips 29,799 $2,240,000
Adrian Beltre 26,658 $1,770,000
Pedro Martinez 25,594 $1,710,000
The table at the left shows the top ten players, ranked by net buys over the first six weeks. While this shows some correlation with total price change, you can see some clear exceptions. For example, Freddy Garcia is the 6th most added player, but his total price change ranks only 22nd overall. Data on initial drafting is not available, so this chart only ranks changes in player ownership since the start of the season; it doesn't reflect total ownership. I'm sure some (but not all) of these players appeared on a fair number of opening rosters.

How does 69,000 net buys for Ortiz compare to the overall number of active teams? Hard to say. The ranking data at the SW and CNN sites indicate a total of just over 500,000 teams. But I'm sure many of these are inactive. For week #6, there were approximately 360,000 players sold. If the average team sold 4 players during the week, that would amount to 90,000 total teams trading. On that basis, Ortiz is on roughly 75% of all rosters. But that's only an educated guess.

I'm sure some of you will have good ideas on how to best use this new information. You know where to find me.

5/22 - I'm still doing my analysis on the new price changes information at the Smallworld site. After further review, I'm reversing my initial call from yesterday. I now think there is no carry-over effect for players which hit the $1 million weekly cap. Although there were some examples that seemed to indicate its existence, there are more examples that refute the carry-over hypothesis, and I have another plausible explanation for situations like Freddy Garcia'a slight decline last Wednesday. But, before I say something else that I might have to retract, I think I'll finish my initial analysis. Come back on Monday for more insights.

Meanwhile, in Hoops. It's looking like we're about to lose another of the bargains. In Round 1, Terrell Brandon only lasted three games, and now Eric Snow appears to be nearing the end of the line. It's going to be tougher and tougher to find cheap sources of points.

5/21 - New information!

For those of you who haven't yet noticed, Smallworld added a new link on each individual player's stats page which provides the week-by-week prices (which you already have here) as well as the number of buys and sells for each week. This latter information should allow us to figure out a few things, among them:

  • How is the price sensitivity calibrated?
  • Is it the same week to week, or does it change (as new teams are added, or as total trade volume scales up or down)?
  • Is there a carryover effect when prices hit the weekly max?
I haven't had much chance to drill down yet, so I'm not going to relay any preliminary thoughts, other than to say I've seen some evidence which strongly suggests there is a carryover effect. But I've also seen some anomalies that I can't yet explain. I'll try to do a more thorough analysis over the next few days. By the way, this new feature wasn't available on the CNN site this morning - only the SW site.

Did you all pick up Roy Halladay for yesterday's shutout? I thought so. Seems as though when he's good, he's very, very good, but when he's bad, he really stinks. And I'm sure you all had Robin Ventura and Benny Agbayani as well. (If you really did, then nice call!)

In Hoops, Atlanta appears to be gasping for air, after dropping their first two home games. That series is starting to look like it may be the first to end, even though it won't reach game 4 until Monday. Meanwhile, Portland-Utah is looking like it could easily go the distance. Tonight, we get to see whether L.A. or Philadelphia have any home court resilience.

Enjoy the weekend!

5/20 - If you haven't seen it yet, check out the boxscore from yesterday's game at Coor's Field. Pretty Amazing. Reminds me of my slow pitch softball "beer league" days.

My thoughts on yesterday's SW repricing:

  • I had two of the three $1 million gainers - missing Paul Byrd. I'm a little surprised that he maxed out this time, since he only pitched once last week.

  • Russ Ortiz is getting to be the Energizer bunny. He's now up more than $4.1 million from the start of the season. I wonder how much of this gain was a carryover from prior weeks.

  • Too many catchers are doing well (vs. their prices) to have any focus there. Ditto at second, where David Bell and Carlos Febles are reminscent of Matt Williams and Fernando Tatis in recent weeks. Just as well. I picked up Robby Alomar a few weeks back, and I'll probably just leave that position alone for the duration, barring injury (perish the thought).

  • Looks like a good number of managers swapped John Jaha for Wil Cordero.

  • Some recent downtime for Fernando Tatis seems to have pushed some managers toward Matt Williams' hot bat. Williams has always been a streaky hitter, and I keep wondering whether he's about due to cool off. On the other hand, he could be putting together a season like 1994, when he had 43 dingers by August, as I recall. (Did he break his hand that season, or was it just the strike that did him in?)

  • No significant flight to A. Rod yet. I pulled the trigger early on that one. I'm pretty comfortable that will work out sooner than later.

  • Luis Gonzalez has been kind of hard not to notice lately. But he had to share the wealth, too.

Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but weather permitting, I have 18 holes to attend to this morning. (I love this job!)

5/19 - There were some pretty decent pitchers starting last night. The marquis matchup pitted Pedro Martinez against David Cone. We also had starts from Mussina, Lima, Appier, Alex Fernandez....   So who turns in the pitching masterpiece of the night? Doc Gooden?! Go figure.

Meanwhile, Luis Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 30 games, and Edgar Martinez cranked out 3 home runs (tying the ML record of 5 in two consecutive games).

Gurupie Mike Vivian sent in an interesting musing this morning:

  • "When was the last time the average team:
    1. doesn't have, and doesn't want, a Braves starter,
    2. has at least one Royal,
    3. and wouldn't consider an Oriole?"
The interesting thing is that Atlanta's pitching woes really haven't hurt them in the standings. And I'll bet some decent teams have had 4 or more Royals this year (Beltran, Febles, Dye, & Appier immediately come to mind).

Continuing with the "truth is stranger than..." theme, who would have thought that Yankees would be only 5 games over .500 (after the first week of April)? Or that there would be a non-Yankee team on a pace to win 119 games as of mid-May? Or that McGwire would rank 30th in homers (both leagues combined), having hit only half as many as the leaders?

Or that Portland would score only 5 points in the entire fourth quarter of a playoff game!

Since the "theme du jour" seems to be strange happenings, I might as well tell you about an unusual email I received yesterday. It was from a travel agency in Germany, asking when next year's NBA schedule would be posted, and how they could go about ordering tickets for games next year. I wonder if they were using one of my schedule pages as their reference this season? Fortunately, it was in English. (It's been 23 years since I've been in a German claß, and I doubt if I could have deciphered it.)

5/18 - Nobody really burned up the nets or the boards in last night's NBA 2nd round openers.

The remainder of the 2nd round games have now been scheduled, and are included in the Assimilator. If these series go the distance, they won't finish until a week from Sunday. Game 5's will be played next Tuesday and Wednesday, so we'll all get another dole of trades in time for game 6, which is probably about when they'll be useful. Good timing.

I updated the playoff team rankings as of the end of Round 1.

It's interesting to see how spread out the early poll results are. San Antonio is the only team with more than 25% of the vote total, and only 2 of the eight teams have less than 10%.

Turning to baseball, Curt Schilling momentarily passed Pedro Martinez in this morning's YTD point rankings for both covered games. If Pedro survives a few innings tonight, though, he'll reclaim the top spot. I'll be there's a lot of Schilling for Martinez swapping going on this morning in both games.

The biggest story in baseball, though, may be John Smoltz going on the DL. Just a couple weeks ago he was quoted as saying he's feeling as good as ever, at which point I grabbed him for both my SW and CNN teams. So, I get to use up a trade apiece this week to fix that problem. Bummer.

Speaking of SW trades, I'm having trouble finding any barnburners this week. I suspect the best strategy may be to pick up some guys who are well positioned for gains next week.

All of the baseball team rankings were updated yesterday afternoon as well. I know that a number of you gauge your progress by comparing your ranking to mine. If so, a lot of you should be feeling pretty "progressive" today. My last week hasn't been very productive. Not only was I "Smoltz'd", but also "Garcia'd" and "Avery'd". Since Wednesday, they've accounted for 2 missed starts, a mediocre game, and a trip to the DL. I did do pretty well last night with my Ballpark team, where my two pitching pickups for the day turned out to be the two top producers. Maybe the tide is starting to turn for that team.

5/17 - My weekend NBA playoff trades weren't very productive. I could've picked up Mutombo, but went with Mourning. Picked up a few other guys for the extra game, but none really produced much. At least I had enough trades after Round 1 to be able to field a fully active roster for tonight's start of Round 2.

By the way, where did Greg Ostertag disappear to? He produced 46.5 SWP in game one, and then couldn't amass that total in the next four games combined. I guess sometimes you get what you pay for.

Updated playoff schedules have been loaded in the Assimilator. As far as I can tell, only the first four games of the next round have been scheduled so far. The playoff stats tables are now much shorter as well, with only the remaining active players listed.

In baseball, Brett Tomko was the unlikely pitching star of the day Sunday. Doubt if many (or even any) of you had him, since he had just been called up from AAA to fill in for Steve Avery (who many of you probably did have)

Before you write me to rub it in, I'll admit my John Snyder avoidance strategy failed miserably. Oh well....

5/14 - Today I'm pleased to introduce a new sponsor for While the highly coveted job of RotoGuru isn't available, there are plenty of other sports-related career opportunities. Could be just the openings some of you would find ideal.

Today I'm also announcing the Hall of Fame enshrinement for the winners of the two regular season NBA RotoGuru team rankings. In both cases, the winners were not only the best from the RotoGuru universe, but the best in the entire universe. Nicely done, gents!

There were more NBA games last night than there were MLB games. That may never happen again this season. And there were a lot of big NBA performances as well. On Wednesday night, only four players topped the 40 SWP mark, and none of them exceeded 50. Last night, 12 players surpassed 40, including three in the 60's. Especially notable was Iverson setting a new playoff record of 10 steals.

In baseball, it looks like John Snyder won't have to face the Yankees and the Indians this week. With Wednesday's ChiSox rainout, everyone is being pushed back a day (assuming my morning paper is accurate), which means that Snyder will pitch against the Yankees on Saturday, and then his next start will be against...   the Yankees again! Given that the Yanks have been shutout two straight games, maybe this is the perfect scenario for Snyder owners. The unfortunate aspect is that it will spread out his starts. Instead of getting two starts in this trading period, his second start now won't occur until next Friday.

Switching gears: Given the hot start of Pedro Martinez, I wanted to compare it with one of the greatest pitching years ever - Bob Gibson's 1968 season, when he had an ERA of 1.12. Unbelievably, Gibson lost 9 games that year (while winning 22)! Excluding hit batters (I couldn't find his HB total for 1968, but I'm sure he had some, given his reputation), his 1968 season would have produced a total of 6746 SWP, for an average per eligible game of 41.6, and an average per start of 198 SWP. If Martinez continues at his early pace and matches Gibson's 34 starts, Pedro's projected total would be almost 400 SWP shy of Gibson's mark. Possible? Sure. Likely? You decide.

What makes Pedro's start particularly remarkable is that it is occurring in a year when balls are flying out of ballparks. Gibson's impressive year happened during a period when pitching dominated hitting.

I posted a bunch of new feedback letters late last night. Check 'em out. I'm not totally caught up yet, but I made some good headway.

5/13 - So Jason Kidd is among the first to exit the playoff stage. Meanwhile, Utah surprisingly has their backs to the wall.

I adjusted the playoff stats tables today so that the YTD points now include only the playoffs. The last 2 week averages will still overlap into the end of the regular season, but not for long. If you want to see a player's regular season stats, you can still find those averages broken out on each player's individual stats page.

Pedro Martinez strikes out 15, surrenders only 2 ER on 4 hits, and doesn't even have the top game of the day. Some pretty solid pitching all around yesterday.

Yesterday's SW prices changes had a few interesting results:

  • Russ Ortiz posted his third consecutive $1 million gain. His total gain over the season is $3.4m. We'll have to see if he holds up better than Freddy Garcia, who has now given back $1.6 million of his initial $2.8 million in gains. I think the deck was stacked against Garcia somewhat since he was probably on a lot more draft rosters than Ortiz, which made it tougher for him to sustain his rise, and easier for him to suffer some excessive sells. Is Garcia now a good pickup once again? Hard to say. On a fundamental value basis, there's no question that he's attractively priced. But, who knows what excess sells may be carried over into next week.

  • The only other $1 million gain yesterday belonged to Carlos Beltran, once again demonstrating the powerful combination of a low price on the top 50 lists. Meanwhile, Gabe Kapler showed how difficult it is to be noticed when you're not on the top 50 lists.

  • Unless I'm forgetting someone, I think Michael Barrett was the first player to sustain a loss immediately after a maximum weekly gain. Admittedly, a decline of $50,000 isn't much of a loss, but it just goes to show that maxing out one week doesn't mean the next week is a sure thing.

  • At second base, it looks like David Bell and Carlos Febles got in each other's way, reminscent of Tatis and Matt Williams over the past few weeks. The magic formula seems to be a low price, a top 50 listing, and being the only one with those characteristics at the position - especially for the infield positions.

  • As I expected, I left some gains on the table by avoiding John Snyder. And Kent Bottenfield was probably hurt mostly by his previous week's poor outing. Had traders waited until the end of the week to react, he'd have probably held up better.
Gurupie Mike Vivian sent in a quick summary of the post-price-change franchise values of the top 50 worldwide teams at the Smallworld site. The evidence strongly suggests that these teams are relying mostly on trading for pitching starts. More than half of the teams (28 out of 50) are worth less than $64 million, and only 5 teams are worth more than $67 million. Meanwhile 25 of the 400+ RotoGuru teams are now worth more than $80 mil, while a value of $64 million only ranks around the 25 percentile in that universe. So, I think there's still plenty of hay to be made! Don't despair if you think your ranking is too low to recover. My team has improved from a rank of 30,000 up to 10,000 in just the last week.

On the Echelon side, I've noticed a few unusual price trends lately that cause me to suspect that price changes may be based on a trailing point average over a period as short as ten games. For example, look at Doug Mientkiewicz. He started the year hot, and had the maximum price gain of $50,000 each day following his first nine games, including days which followed games of 0 and 3. Then during the latter part of April, he started to leak, in spite of the fact that his production during that period seemed relatively consistent with his price at that time. On April 27, after a 14 BPP game, he gained only 5,000. Then his next game was only 4 BPP, but this triggered a $50,000 gain, and the next day's 13 BPP had the same impact. The second week of April has been a real price debacle for him, though, which again suggests that his good performance during much of April is forgotten. I haven't done a lot of digging or analysis on other players, but on the surface, some of the apparent anomalous price drops seem to occur roughly 2 weeks after a hot streak. If any of you Echelon managers have any insights or observations to share, I'd be curious to hear your views. Observations on pitching price changes is probably even more useful than for hitters, since pitchers are more actively traded.

I got quite a few thoughtful emails yesterday, and I'll try to get them posted in the next day or two. If you sent one in, please be patient.

5/12 - I heard on the radio this morning that Yogi Berra is 74 today, so it seemed like a Yogi-ism was in order for today's quote.

I hope you Hoops playoff managers didn't all go out and chase that lineup I posted yesterday. Although that roster produced 416 SWP in its first game, its second game generated only 260 SWP, right on its recent average. And in spite of the second game pullback,.the best "no trade" roster for the first four days still has eight of those players on it. If you had Barkley and Jalen Rose instead of Avery Johnson and George Lynch, you'd have a cumulative total of 694 SWP. (If anyone can find a better four day roster than that, let me know.)

Unfortunately, my roster backed off from its first game standard as well. Although I had 308 SWP after the first round, the next two days produced only 235, well below average. Today, we may see the first teams exit the playoffs, with Phoenix and Detroit both on the bubble tonight. If so, tomorrow will probably see some heavy trading activity, especially with 5 more trades to be doled out later today.

Meanwhile, I stewed a lot over my SW baseball trading possibilities during the past 24 hours. I had been prepared to dump Mondesi, but after cranking out four homers in the last two games, I decided maybe I should hang on. Some of the guys that I think will be today's bigger gains were guys I just wasn't convinced I wanted to own this week. For example, John Snyder looks like a good pickup at pitcher, especially with two likely starts in the next week. But, those two starts will be against the Yankees and Cleveland, and I just didn't think I wanted to go there. (He'll probably throttle them both, now.) Also, I suspect a lot of managers are scrambling to find a way to afford Pedro Martinez, but he's been pitching at a clip that just seems unsustainable, and I didn't want to get suckered. Last year's best pitchers would have averaged only 30 SWP/EG using the current formula. Pedro has been averaging around 45 so far. If he does crack, I'd just as soon it be while everyone else owns him. Of course, I may have to wait a long time for that. (Gurupies with good memories may recall that I avoided Sosa for the entire month of June last year - same reasoning. What a mistake that turned out to be!)

Also, some of the guys that I wanted to pick up may not produce the best price gains. The pitching wealth seems to be much more spread around this time, and the best trades at pitcher may be more of a function of who is dropped, rather than who is added. Some of the hitting positions also seem to have multiple opportunities, which generally lead to mediocre gains. And, I hate to jump on a hot player's bandwagon just in time for him to cool off. That's presumably what I've been doing so far, given the difficult time I've had building points while still producing decent gains. So, I'm trying to pick up players that seem fundamentally cheap, rather than simply chasing the latest flash in the pan.

Anyway, I finally pulled the trigger on a few, so we'll see. (By the way, I waited until after the trade deadline to post these thoughts, just to avoid the appearance that I was coaching you for my own benefit.)

By now, you've probably heard that last night's Bobby Jones vs. Bobby Jones pitching matchup was the first such event in a little over 100 hundred years. Sounds like it may be one of those phemenona to look for in any year which ends in "99". Actually, while listening to the Yankees radio broadcast last night, I heard that in 1870-something, there was a pitching matchup between two George Bradleys. The remarkable aspect of the story was not so much the coincident starts, but rather that one of the George Bradleys started every single game for his team that year! Talk about your rubber arms! (As I recall, they played a 64 game schedule that year - not 162.)

5/11 - Let me follow up on some items from yesterday.

First, I take back my comment on the reseeding of prior NBA playoffs. My memory is failing me in my advanced age, I guess. The NBA playoffs have always used the traditional playoff bracket, with no reseeding after the initial brackets are established. I must have been thinking of the NFL in recent years. My bad.

Second, the best scoring roster for the first round of the NBA playoffs would have accumulated 416 SWP. The same roster was sent in by Jason Zaikov and Steve Houpt:

Pos Name                   Price    SWP
C   Mutombo, Dikembe     $13,260   58.5
C   Ostertag, Greg        $5,840   46.5
F   McCloud, George       $4,480   27
F   Lynch, George         $7,030   39.5
F   McKey, Derrick        $4,180   31
F   Long, Grant           $3,190   39.5
G   Rider, Isaiah        $10,030   40.5
G   Fisher, Derek         $6,630   36.5
G   Brandon, Terrell      $8,920   53.5
G   Johnson, Avery       $10,310   43.5

Total                    $73,870  416.0
The would have been a pretty inspired draft, since this team averaged a total of 225 SWP/G over the regular season, and only slightly better - 255 SWP/G - over the last two weeks of the regular season.

I posted playoff team rankings after the first two days. Of these teams, the best result for a team with no trades was 349 SWP. All teams with more points used at least one trade. (I can't tell how many trades - I can just tell that the current roster doesn't produce the point total for those teams.)

On the baseball front, Nomar Garciaparra set a new single game point standard (for hitters) with his 3 HR, 10 RBI monster. But while he was beating up the Mariner pitching staff, a few other pitchers were spinning strong games, including Houston's Mike Hampton, who tossed a complete game 5-hit shutout. And Russ Ortiz Continued his strong start, besting John Smoltz, who pitched well enough to win on most nights. Finally, Kent Bottenfield complicated his SW trade situation this week by following up last week's weak outing with 8 strong innings against the Phillies.

One final request - if you are sending in your team id for the RotoGuru rankings, please specify the game. I've gotten several the last few days that just say "Smallworld", and I'm left to guess whether they are baseball or hoops playoff teams.

5/10 - I feel like my trading in SW baseball has been pretty successful so far this season, with a current roster value of $73.5 million. My point ranking is way back, however. When I look at the worldwide leaderboard at the SW site, most of the leading teams seems to have significantly less value, and I assume that they've attained their lofty rankings principally through trading for extra pitching starts. But then I look at the top teams on the SW RotoGuru rankings, and I see two teams ranked in the top 1000 with franchise values north of $75 million, implying that you can get the value gains without a significant sacrifice in points. Another five teams in the top 1000 have values between $70-75 million. So, methinks I may have already put myself in a hole, and I'm not quite sure how I got there. I still have my cake - but I haven't gotten to eat it yet. Some of you seem to be able to have it both ways. My hat's off to you - some of you are setting a pace that will make you tough to catch. (I'm not conceding anything yet, however!)

In the Echelon game, my ranking has improved a lot in the last few weeks. After a very rocky start, I've climbed to a ranking around #200. The basic strategy, as I suggested at the outset, has been to put pitchers in my wild card slots, bringing my roster total to seven pitchers. I've then been actively swapping these pitchers every 6-7 days, thereby maximizing exposure to starts. As long as I don't have horrendous experience picking starts (and sometimes I do), this seems like the optimum point generating strategy. My hitters are all locked in at discount to their market value, and will probably remain there as long as they perform consistently. Unfortunately, I can see a number of your teams above mine, and I suspect your strategies are similar, so it may be tough to make much further progress up the leaderboard, but at least I feel like I've got a viable plan that seems to be working.

We've now passed the first Hoops playoff game, and I'll try to post a team ranking later today, so you can see where you stand after the first game. I've accumulated 308 SWP so far, which is good for a ranking of around 2000. I suppose that some teams may have used their first five trades after Saturday, picking up an extra 5 games in the first two days, so the highest rankings today may be a bit skewed. (I wonder what the best possible score would be as of today, assuming no trades? I may take a crack at it, but if any of you want to tackle that as well, I'll post the best submission in tomorrow's blurb.) Incidentally, while I'm pretty sure that in recent years, the NBA playoffs have reseeded the teams after each round (rather than using a preset bracket throughout), it appears that future round matchups are already locked in this year, as I see the brackets posted that way at a few sites. With all of the trades we currently have available, I'm not sure that this is particularly useful information, but it could be as the next few rounds unfold.

One more thought on Hoops Playoff strategy. The first two rounds may be the most critical. As the tournament wears on and the number of teams dwindles, it's likely that rosters will show a great deal of convergence. And, once we reach the finals, it will be impossible to use trades to pick up extra games. The only benefit of trades at that juncture will be to solve injury problems, or to adjust for hot streaks. So, you probably don't want to have too many trades left over going into that final round. In fact, since you'll continue to get 5 per week, you probably want to burn as many as possible prior to the finals. Something to think about as the early rounds progress.

5/7 - Baseball stats were partially missing again this morning, so report anything that looks unusual - especially for Baltimore, Boston, New York, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.

I golfed pretty well (for me) yesterday. Thanks to so many of you for asking. Broke 100 (on the favorable side), in spite of leaving way too many putts short (with 100% of them failing to drop). I consider myself a decent "bad golfer" - meaning if I can flirt with a round of bogey golf, I'm having a great day.

I finally completed the regular season updates for all Hoops games. Playoff schedules are now included in the Assimilator. I see that the SW Playoff game is also being offered at the CNN site now. At that site, they have Haywoode Workman and Jeff Sheppard listed at guard (where they belong) rather that at Center (where they are still listed at the SW site). So that's why you'll see those guys listed twice, in case you're wondering. The playoffs start tomorrow, so get your squad drafted. If your team was preregistered at the SW site, then you don't need to submit your user_id for my rankings, since I already have it. But if you're playing at the CNN site, or if you entered a new team, then I'll need it. The first draft of rankings should be up early next week.

5/6 - I'm writing this blurb on Wednesday night. I have 18 holes awaiting me in the morning, and I'll barely have time to get the basic stats up before heading out.

First of all, congrats to the winners in the Hoops games. As has become the custom, the top ranking manager in each of the RotoGuru rankings earns enshrinement in the RotoGuru Hall of Fame. So, if you won either the Smallworld (in this case, SW & CNN rankings count as only one consolidated contest) or Full Court games, send in a brief bio for your Hall of Fame blurb. No imposters, please - I know who the winning managers are!

I'll post final regular season Hoops stats later today. Then, it's on to the playoffs. The Assimilator is loaded, and prices tables are up, so get your rosters worked out. There's not much time to dally.

SW Baseball prices pretty much followed the pattern once again:

  • Low prices continued to be where the action was. The average starting price of the top ten gainers was under $2.5 million. It looks like the best way to remain competitive while going for gains is to barbell your roster, with a combo of cheap players and a few higher priced ones. And from the looks of things, Pedro Martinez is the favorite expensive player.

  • Only three guys maxed out (going up), with Russ Ortiz doing it for the second consecutive week.

  • Two guys maxed out going down. Brantley's was obviously injury-induced. As for Todd Greene - just look at his performance the last two weeks, and you'll understand.

  • Once again, Matt Williams and Fernando Tatis got tangled up. I stayed away from them just because I figured the buys would be split.

  • Among the top gainers, I thought the biggest surprise was Torii Hunter. Just goes to show what a grand slam can do for a sub-$1 million player.
SW and CNN team rankings were updated last night, so you can see how your gains stacked up vs. the competition.


5/5 - I thought maybe Greg Maddux was going to skip his traditional April "stinker" this season. In each of the past two seasons, his worst game of the season (in fantasy points) has come in April. In a sense, I guess he didn't really skip it this year - he just pushed it off a few days. Last night he got shelled by the Cardinals, almost bad enough to be the worst pitching performance of the day. But that honor belonged to Roberto Hernandez, who failed to convert the easiest of save opportunities, entering the ninth with a 3-0 lead. That game probably stung a few of you, since Hernandez has recently shown up well on the list of pitching leaders. I expect he'll get a decent SW price uptick this afternoon. If it's big enough, maybe you won't care so much about his blowup. On the other hand, with a backward slide, he won't look nearly as attractive for next week's early trading.

I found a mistake on the printable 4 week AL schedule yesterday. Toronto appeared to be playing St. Louis' schedule next week. I fixed it. But if you have a printout posted near your computer (like I do), you may want to reprint it.

We're down to the last day of the regular NBA season - if you can call this season "regular". Karl Malone did his part to keep alive Jazz hopes for home court advantage, with a triple-double. I didn't see Malone on too many leading rosters, however, since his recent schedule has been light. Meanwhile, Elden Campbell and Eddie Jones dispelled any notion that Charlotte might be on autopilot for the last few meaningless games. Too bad the Hornets started the year so poorly, because they've been outplaying a number of playoff-bound teams since their big trade.

I put the SW playoff prices into the Hoops Assimilator today. Once the opening round schedules are announced, I'll include them as well. While I won't be putting the playoff schedules in the Sched-O-Matic or updating the separate schedule pages, I will try to keep the Assimilator as current as I can. Speaking of the playoffs, I see that trades will continue to be doled out on Wednesdays, so you'll have the chance to completely turn over your initial roster before the first round is even completed, since your first five trades will only have to last for five days.

5/4 - The SW Hoops race is still up for grabs. The Bethesda Panthers lead the RotoGuru rankings, and are #2 worldwide, while the 94 Crawfishers are close behind. These teams differ in 6 different slots, so it could still go either way. And Bethesda differs from the #1 worldwide team in 8 slots, so even though they trail the top spot by 113 SWP, the fat lady hasn't yet sung.

Last night, the Knicks and Sacramento locked up the last two playoff slots, so the 16 teams are now determined. The relative seedings are still in play, however. George Karl must be chuckling. His new team, the Bucks, are in the playoffs. His prior team, Seattle, is not. Who would have guessed that?

I posted SW Hoops playoff price tables last night. I'll work on eliminating the teams that are no longer in contention. Be aware that there are three new players listed: Earl Boykins, Jeff Sheppard, and Haywoode Workman. While all three are really guards, they have been listed at center. I pointed out the gaffe to Smallworld, but don't know whether they'll correct it or not. I think the first playoff games will be on Saturday, though I haven't even seen a tentative schedule yet. I suppose nothing will be announced until all the pairings are finalized.

In baseball, Freddy Garcia dealt a cruel blow last night to all of those who were hanging on, posting a negative outing. Between Garcia, Halladay, and Jiminez, I've taken a real beating in my pitching this week, with my SW team's ranking dropping all the way down to 30,000. Ay carumba! At least I also let Jose Jiminez start his second game for me as well, and he managed a respectable performance in a losing cause, at least recovering.his lost points from earlier in the week. I'm also letting Halladay throw again today before making my final trade decisions, so the week's carnage may not yet be complete.

I used the occasion of adding the Hoops playoff tables to flip the baseball and basketball menus. I'm pretty certain that baseball activity now dominates basketball activity, so it seems appropriate to give baseball top billing.

5/3 - Only 3 days to go in the NBA regular season. While the worldwide rankings for the Full Court game have been pretty stable down the stretch, the Smallworld Rankings are anything but, with significant day-to-day movement among the top ten teams. Looks like it will be a barnburner right down to the final game.

Mookie Blaylock had yesterday's only triple double, but Grant Hill was the best fantasy point producer. Probably just as importantly, Alonzo Mourning returned to action, and while his point production wasn't quite up to 'Zo standards, it was far better than his recent zeros. I also see that Sam Cassell returned to action for the Bucks this weekend, and could turn out to have some value in the playoffs.

On the baseball front, some "Yahoo!" forgot to include yesterday's NL stats in today's feed, so I had to develop a backup plan. I ended up using USA Today for today's NL stats. I think everything dovetails OK with the prior stats, although there is always a risk of discontinuity when I switch from one source to another. So if you notice someone in the NL who appears to be incorrect today, please let me know and I'll make the necessary adjustments.

It took so long (2+ hours) to develop my statistical "end run" this morning that I haven't had a chance to fully digest all of yesterday's activity. However, I did note that Larry Walker pounded his 6th homer in his last 15 AB. Also, I failed to note last week that Walker's output last Wednesday of 114 SWP was more than any hitter produced in a single day throughout the 1998 season. But wasn't even the best hitting output of last Wednesday, as Magglio Ordonez punched out 123 SWP. The best 1998 hitting performance was by Jose Valentin (on April 3rd, no less!), whose 3 HR's contributed to a 113 SWP day. In fact, there were only eight 3-digit hitting games for all of last year. So far this year, there have been five! (Bagwell, Salmon, and Ivan Rodriguez had the other three.)

I should have Hoops playoff price tables posted by tomorrow morning. I won't put the playoff prices into the Assimilator until Wednesday.

5/1 - No time to write a blurb today, but Friday's stats are now posted. Enjoy the weekend!

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

1999: April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

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

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