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Go forward to more recent blurbs.

6/30 - John Rocker sure screwed up some teams last night. Not only did he surrender 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, but he cost a win for starter John Smoltz, who probably appeared in a number of rotation trades yesterday.

Actually, there were several 9th inning comebacks last night. Cleveland scored twice to overtake the Twins 5-4, while Cincinnati plated 3 to beat Arizona 5-4. Baltimore tied the Blue Jays in the ninth, but lost in the 10th. Tough night for closers, I guess.

If you haven't been following the message forum in the last few days, you've missed out on a lively discussion about the likelihood of (of lack thereof) of a big Jose Jiminez payday. Two Gurupies contributed some classic verse on the topic, which I thought warranted exposure here. Thanks to Jessica and "biliruben" for sharing their talents (with apologies to Francis Scott Key, who's dead, so why should he care):

(from Jessica)
It's Jose, can't you see.
A million bucks, come to me.
Though the lemmings aren't smart,
I must still fol-low their start.
Who'd have thought that one day
A guy who costs 500 K
Would pitch his heart out.
Can there be any doubt
That he's got a fan club.
Hero, he has been dubbed.
Diamondbacks bowed to him.
Ignoring him would be a sin.
Oh, say does that rookie
have one more game left in him.
If he don't, he'll be dropped out.
But for $1 mill, I will not pout.

(from biliruben):
It's Jose can't you see
By the ball's lengthy flight
what a pitcher once hail'd
left LaRussa now steaming
Whose walks and gopher balls,
thro the perilous night,
over the ramparts we watched,
The 'stros' bats send a'screaming
Though a few bucks might be there,
It is for points that I care,
My wallet is light,
But good trades are too rare.
Jose it's for you that the lemmings do rave,
But Hampton gets the win and Wagner the save.

6/29 - The best pitching matchup of the night failed to produce a win for either of the starters, Paul Byrd or Kris Benson, who combined for 17 innings with no earned runs. It was also a night for the old men, with Mike Morgan falling just shy of a complete game shutout, Bret Saberhagen throwing 7 shutout innings, and even Charles Nagy picking up his 10th win - second best in the AL.

Well, OK, at age 32 I suppose Nagy doesn't qualify as old (at least not from my perspective), although until lately, he was pitching like it. But this year, he's making a strong bid for All-Star team consideration.

I updated the SW and CNN team rankings last night. My SW team shows up with the second best point total over the past week, a consequence of an all-star hitting lineup and a week-long "stud" pitching rotation. Barring injury, that's the plan from here on. I don't know how much I'll ultimately gain in ranking, but I've moved up from 8000 to 3500 in the past week. I suspect when I get beyond the 1000 mark, the climb will slow down. But it's nice to see the plan working, in spite of my relatively weak start.

Based on recent appearances, quick price gains in the hitting slots are looking more and more unlikely, presumably as more teams get their hitting lineups locked up. I suppose the cheaper hitters could get a boost of activity when Smallworld's mid-season baseball game is launched, assuming that the pricing for that game is consolidated with the full season game. According to the home page for SW Sports, the mid-season game will be launched on July 1st. I'm anxious to see the ground rules for that game. If it's just a mid-season clone of the full season game, it could introduce strategy ramifications for the full season game as well. We'll see shortly.

6/28 - Manny Ramirez finally returned to action last night, a full week after getting plunked on the index finger. Robby Alomar celebrated by getting hit on the elbow, his second HBP in two days. According to the Akron Beacon Journal, he's likely to miss a game or two. Hopefully, he's not going to follow the same interpretation of "day-to-day" that Manny did. Oh well...

Bobby Witt was the surprise stud pitcher of the day, with 239 SWP topping his production from his prior seven starts combined. Meanwhile, Greg Maddux fired his best outing of the season.

Ken Griffey gave the Kingdome a rousing sendoff yesterday, not only with a 3-run homer, but also with a circus catch to rob Juan Gonzalez. It will be interesting to see how the new Safeco Field plays for Griff. Although it is supposed to be more of a pitchers park, there are reports of a breeze blowing out toward right, and it's unclear whether any park can really hold down Griffey's numbers. Time will tell. In any event, the new park should help the Mariner pitchers.

The Reds improved their major-league-best road record to 26-10 with a four game sweep in the Astrodome, just enough to climb percentage points ahead of Houston in the standings. They still need to ldearn to win at home, though, where they are 6 games under .500. In fact, no other team with an overall winning record is below .500 at home.

6/26 - I don't always prepare a blurb on Saturdays, but with the end of the NBA season and a no-hitter last night, it just doesn't seem like a day for silence.

I managed to climb up to 26th in Hoops, which I guess I'm satisfied with, especially given my slow start. I was helped last night by having both Sprewell and Houston. Contrats to Midgets2, which qualifies for the RotoGuru Hall of Fame for its first place finish in the RotoGuru rankings (and 4th place worldwide). Will the manager of that team place send me an email, so I can arrange for the enshrinement?

I'll update the final playoff rankings later today, and then we can stick a fork in Hoops until next October.

Although the NBA crowned a new champion last night, only minutes later it was old news, as ESPN was showing Jose Jiminez complete a no hitter vs. the Diamondbacks. Quite a feat, especially against a great hitting lineup, and against the Big Unit, who was also tossing a gem. I hear that the top ranked team (worldwide) in SW baseball had both of those pitchers last night. Now that's impressive!

6/25 - If you picked up a "stud" starter yesterday, you probably did well. Schilling, Smoltz, and Mussina all produced admirably. Mussina and Smoltz would really have chalked up big points if they could have booked the win. If you didn't have the cash for one of those three, even Hampton or Ashby would have been good alternatives. Omar Daal was probably the most widespread disappointment yesterday. And if you happened to pick up either Ron Villone (vs. Hampton) or Mark Portugal (vs. Mussina), then you must be clairvoyant.

Jose Mesa seems to be getting comfortable in Seattle. After successfully converting 14 save opportunities, he's now blown two straight, showing he can fit right in with the Mariner bullpen traditions. Perhaps his recent return to Jacobs Field helped him recall how it was done.

Going into last night, only one team in each league had avoided being shut out this season - Cleveland and Houston. Both went down in flames, by identical 3-0 scores. Pretty unusual for the Tribe to give up only 3 runs and lose.

6/24 - Busy night, and morning after.

My latest Hoops trades didn't accomplish much. I dropped Avery Johnson, Chris Childs, and Sean Elliot, and added Houston, Sprewell, and Malik Rose. The three new guys outscored (in SWP) the three dropped guys, 59.5 to 57, thanks mostly to Childs getting -1. I did move up from a ranking of #48 to #38, so maybe other managers got hosed by just doing the Houston for Johnson trade.

In baseball, it was a tough night for some of the more popular pitchers. If you had them, you know who I'm talking about - so I won't rub it in any further. (Little did I know how prophetic yesterday's Ortiz comment would turn out to be...   oops, I said I wouldn't rub it in!)

No one quite maxed out in price change yesterday, up or down. Pedro Martinez once again demonstrated the risk of being heavily rotated, and pitching only on the weekend. He was also hurt by the lower total number of trades for the week. There were only 268,575 total sells last week vs. 301,494 buys. That's about a 10% decline from the prior week. And it produced $100,000 of price change per each 571 adjusted net trades (with gross buys reduced by 11%). Heavily rotated pitchers will probably continue to see heightened price volatility, as trade flows wane and pitcher rotation trades dominate more and more.

Jose Lima turned out to be the most heavily traded pitcher last week, probably because some teams bought him twice. Pedro was second. Beltran and Dye were the only two hitters in the top 20 actively traded players, at 17th and 19th. Overall, 64% of sells involved pitchers, 18% outfielders, and the rest were spread around the infield.

SW and CNN RotoGuru team rankings were updated late last night. If you were disappointed with your team's change in value yesterday, you can atleast see that you had plenty of company.

6/23 - I've probably got the exact wording wrong, but there's a saying (or is it a Chinese proverb?) that goes something like "A man with one clock always knows what time it is, but a man with two clocks is never sure."

With the expanded data now available in the sortable stats tables, it can be more confusing to assess which moves to make. People who rely solely on the game site for their stats have only the top 50 lists to guide them, and while those lists obscure a lot of good information, if that's all you have to go on, it does tend to simplify decisions. On the other hand, if you can break out more recent performance, or look at averages, you can come to decidedly different opinions.

Take pitchers for example. Looking at YTD points, Russ Ortiz ranks in the top 15, and there's no pitcher with more points at a lower cost. In spite of his heavy ownership, he still looks like a bargain, doesn't he? But check out the last 30 days in my sortable stats tables. Over the last 30 days, Ortiz ranks only 98th in total SWP among pitchers! That ranks behind a lot of cheaper, but more obscure pitchers, like Jim Parque, Dave Veres, Mike Trombley, Mike Thurman, Jaime Navarro, Wayne Gomes... you get the picture. If Ortiz hadn't started out hot, many of you wouldn't even be thinking about him. And if you were positioning your pitching staff for the long haul, you'd probably think twice before adding him. But, if you're focusing on price performance, you have to consider what the masses are looking at. Having more information makes the decision tougher.

The same is true on the flip side. The extra data can lead you to guys who are performing way above their price peers, but if Gurupies are the only ones to figure this out, don't expect your research to pay off in price appreciation.

Of course,as the season progresses, price gains will be less critical, and the extra data should be more valuable then. For now, though, it often feels like you're looking at two clocks showing different times.

Be that as it may, I added a new item to the stats tables yesterday: Weighted Net Trades. Last week, I added YTD net trades, which was simply the cumulative total of weekly buys less sells for each player. This was supposed to help identify those players with more or less relative price upside or downside, since a heavily bought player has less potential to rise, and an ignored player has minimal price downside. It became apparent that this information had a distorting bias, though, since it failed to consider the impact of teams which have become inactive. If a player was a big buy in the first week, but roughly half of the teams have become inactive since that time, then a simple cumulative total overstates the current ownership among active managers (since the player is likely to appear on a lot of dormant teams).

To address this, I used the total buys and sells for each week to estimate a team mortality table. While the rate of decay varies from week to week, it appears that roughly 10% of the previously active teams "die out" each week. I estimated the number of active teams each week by dividing the week's sells by 4.5 (assuming the average team made 4.5 trades during the week), and adding the excess buys divided by 14 (representing the new teams formed during the week). There are a number of refinements I could have made, but I didn't think the situation warranted too much refinement, since I was only looking for a ballpark estimate. The other simplifying assumption is that the teams that die out have previously been buying and selling the same players as the teams that persist - which may or may not be an accurate assessment. In any event, once I develop the weekly "survivorship" factors, I simply weight the net buys for each week by the number of teams still surviving since that week to get "weighted net trades". If my assumptions are reasonable, then this should give a more realistic picture of the cumulative net trades for just the teams that are still trading.

I realize this is a bit complex, and frankly, for many of you I'm sure it's unnecessary to understand how the stat is calculated. I'm pretty confident that it's of much more value than the unadjusted net trades. Bear in mind that weighted net trades are still subject to most of the limitations of the underlying trade data, namely that initial draft data is excluded, as well as first week trade info for IPOs. But, at this point it's the best indicator or relative ownership that I've come up with. And when you consider that recent trade data suggests that there are roughly 70,000-80,000 active teams, I think the weighted net trade numbers make better intuitive sense.

Now go confuse yourself!

6/22 - So we've still got at least two NBA games left. I've slid a little in the rankings the past couple of days, so I retuned my lineup this morning. Fortunately, at this juncture it's as tough to lose ground as it is to gain it, but I would like to preserve a top 50 finish, and that's looking precarious after last night.

On the baseball front, last night was a pretty slow one, with only 8 games on the docket. Oakland and Detroit had the beer league softball score for the evening, 13-11. Hideo Nomo continued his return to respectability, averaging slightly better than 150 SWP/G over his last three starts. Also coming back from the scrap heap is Ricky Bottalico, with his 4th save in the last week.

In an attempt to squeeze some extra speed into the baseball Assimilator, I lopped off about 100 players. They were all guys who are currently inactive and who had accumulated less than 150 fantasy points YTD, so it's unlikely that any of you will discover anyone on your roster AWOL this morning. If you notice a name dropping off a watchlist, though, that's why.

Time to figure out what late week SW trades to make. I'll probably have my hitting set for the season - barring injuries or sustained slumps - by tomorrow, which will just leave pitching to diddle with. There are a number of cheap pitchers who show some real promise, including a handful who are priced at less than a $million. Some of these guys will probably continue to do well, while others will no doubt turn out to be flashes in the pan. While none are currently on the SW top 50 lists, a few could get there before too long if recent trends persist. A crystal ball would sure come in handy about now.

6/21 - Stats were posted late this morning because my stats source failed to update any NL players - so I had to splice in NL stats from a different source. That means that there is a greater likelihood that a few NL players will show incorrect points for yesterday's games, since different stats services usually differ in YTD totals for a handful of players. If you see someone that looks to be wrong, just send me an email.

A lot of the "stud" pitchers started yesterday. Pedro and Kevin Brown lived up to that billing, while The Big Unit had a miserable outing. The biggest kahuna, though, was David Wells, who celebrated his new contract extension with a complete game 4-hitter.

Tony Fernandez, who singled in the winning run for Wells, raised his average to .411, and surpassed Julio Franco as the Dominican-born career leader in hits, with 2,178. Fernandez now ranks fourth overall in YTD SWP, and fifth in BPP - at second base, even though he usually plays third this year. His totals may a bit depressed because he's only started 62 of Toronto's 70 games, though the occasional rest is probably helping him as well. He's been hitting .447 since the 1st of May, with a .494 OPB during that time. Now that's en fuego!

In the Smallworld games, some of you have asked when it's the right time to switch from trading for gains to trading for starts. The answer isn't an exact science, since some trades for starts also gain dollars, while some trades for gains can also increase your point accumulations. The way I prefer to evaluate the tradeoff is to consider the expected point gain of trading for a start. To do this, you need realistic estimates of the points per start, as well as an understanding of the number of extra starts you're getting per trade. If you are typically rotating among three pitchers, for example, you're only getting two extra starts for every three trades. As to points per start, you can now get a handle on that by using the new stats tables, selecting games played as the denominator for the average points columns. Over the past 30 days, only three pitchers have averaged better than 150 SWP per start - Pedro, Big Unit, and... Jamie Moyer (who probably hasn't factored into many of your rotation schemes!) Just looking at the averages, it's probably realistic to assume you're effectively getting about an extra 100 SWP per start trade. If you're swapping among three pitchers, you'd need 150 per start to reach that efficiency. If you're rotating among 5 pitchers, you'd need to average 125 per start. If you're doing better than that, you're probably experiencing better than average luck (or skill) in selecting pitchers.

So if a pitcher rotation trade is gaining about 100 SWP on average, what sort of gain is required to have the same projected point value? Assuming that the extra point production you can buy costs about 2 SWP per $million (a round number that varies considerably, depending on the players involved), and assuming there are about 90 games remaining in the season, you need to generate a little more than $500,000 per trade to have an expected pickup of 100 SWP over the remainder of the season. That's still doable - but the scales are getting more and more balanced.

By the way, it seems only right that the Padres should win on Father's Day, doesn't it? They did win yesterday, but I wonder how their historical record has been on that date?

6/18 - Since Smallworld hasn't updated the worldwide leaders in Hoops Playoffs since prior to the end of the previous series, I updated my team rankings again last night. For the "Delta SWP" column, I show points for just game one of the Championship Series. The best result of the posted teams was 242 SWP, which required slightly more than $75 million to achieve. However, I did find a roster worth just under $75 million that would have scored 245 SWP in that game. I'll let you figure it out for yourself.

On to baseball. Total SW trades for the most recent week were about the same as the previous week. There were 354,310 buys and 314,759 sells. The sells were actually up 1% from the week before. Trade price sensitivity was also virtually identical with the prior week. Pedro Martinez was the most heavily traded player, with total trades (buys plus sells) of 29,545. Randy Johnson was second with 25,314, and no one else topped the 20,000 mark. The only non-pitchers in the top 20 actively traded list were Carlos Beltran, Benny Agbayani, and Chili Davis.

Today's new poll is patterned after one I did in early March (see poll #51). Now that baseball is in full swing, some of you thought it would be interesting to take a recount.

OK, today's big event is the unveiling of new and improved baseball stats tables. I've gotten a lot of suggestions over the past couple of months, and I've considered them all. I decided to add items based upon my assessment of their usefulness, understandability, and ease of maintenance. Here is the list of the enhancements:

  • The price change column now has three options. In addiition to the last price change, you can show total price change (current price minus draft price) or you can show YTD net buys (Smallworld only).

  • The center section now lets you show total points YTD, or for the last 30, 15, or 7 days. Averages are based on the period selected. You can also express averages over games played, rather than eligible games. (This might be useful for comparing starting pitchers.)

  • "Column B" now lets you select an alternate period for pts/EG. In addition to the other periods listed, you can alaso show prior year averages here. This column is only available using EG as the base.

  • In the right hand column, I show how many days since the last game played. Again, this may help identify pitchers due to start, and also players who haven't been playing regularly.

  • I also inserted line numbers on the left hand side for the top 99 players, just to help you keep track.
I'm expecting that most of you can access the features you want without explicit instructions. The basic table that pops up when you first enter is essentially the same table you've seen before, and if you don't want to use any of the new features, then just leave the extra selection boxes unchanged.

While I think I have most of the data and features debugged (thanks to those of you who did some test driving for me last night), it is quite possible that a few bugs remain. Please let me know if you find any.

Also, if you have other ideas for data to add, let me know. I won't promise to add it, but I'll at least consider the possibilities. I also hope to make a few additions to the individual player pages (like adding point totals), but beyond that, formats should be pretty well set for the season.

6/17 - Looks to me like the keys to last night's Hoops success were Tim Duncan and Kurt Thomas. The Admiral also performed well, but I suspect just about every team has him, while the other two are probably scattered.

I've got 18 holes to attend to this morning, so I don't have the time for a full blown blurb. With late repricing yesterday, and no buy/sell updates posted yet, I haven't had a chance to fully evaluate yesterday's SW repricing. I did update and post the SW and CNN team rankings late last night, so you can see how you fared vs. the RotoGuru competition.

With an overdose of stats and prices to look over this morning, you don't need me to entertain you anyway. Start poking around on your own.

Be sure to stop in tomorrow, however. Assuming buy/sell data has been posted, I'll comment on that. But the big event will be the unveiling of new and improved sortable stats tables. It'll be worth the trip.

6/16 - Depending on who you had starting last night, you probably did very good or very bad. Of expensive pitchers, the best were Pedro, Glavine (and you've got guts of you had him!), and Cone, while Kevin Brown was notably "crappy" (his term, not mine). Among cheap pitchers, Todd Ritchie and Jose Jimenez were the stars, while Chris Brock garnered the pitching booby prize for the day.

Vinny Castilla sat out last night, ending his consecutive game streak at 307. Cal Ripken celebrated by banging another HR. Now the longest streak going belongs to Cal's teammate B.J. Surhoff with 225, so Cal can keep tabs on this one much easier. Just think, if B.J. can keep it going until about May of 2014, he'll.... uh, never mind.

Yesterday (and today) there are two polls at the ESPN site which are virtually identical to my current poll. On the general ESPN home page, the results show 58% picking the Spurs to win in 5 or 6 games. But on the NBA Finals page, that poll shows only 47% with the same picks. The Knicks in 5 or 6 garnered 12% in one and 23% in the other. The two polls have 42,000 and 27,000 votes cast, so the difference doesn't seem to be related to a small sample. In my poll, the Spurs are stronger favorites, with 63% picking the Spurs in 5 or 6, and only 10% picking the Knicks in the same time frame.

Sounds like Larry Johnson will sit out game 1 tonight. Should be interesting to see how NY handles the twin towers. Or perhaps I should say "if" they handle the twin towers. New York may be the team of destiny this year, but destiny is really going to have to step up bigtime to pull this one off. Of course, stranger things happen all the time...

6/15 - After a fast start, St. Louis has fallen on hard times. They've dropped into fifth place, and while Mark McGwire has recently heated up a little bit, with doormat Montreal coming into Busch Stadium on a Monday night, you'd expect more than a few empty seats to be evident, right? Wrong....   Sellout!   The reason?   Beanie baby night. Go figure.

No hitting performances rivaled the Baltimore lineup's production from the night before. Jose Canseco and Gabe Kapler came the closest, with two dingers apiece. Chili Davis also enjoyed his return to AL ballparks, with more AB last night than he'd had in the past six games in Florida and Philly.

The Giants turned a triple play last night, the 3rd in the NL this season (vs. none in the AL).

Don't forget to update your Hoops roster for the first game of the championship series. You've got to go into this first game without any more trades than you already have, but by Friday, you'll have five more to complete any unfinished business. This probably makes tomorrow's game the biggest potential swing game in the standings. After that, rosters will pretty much have converged. In fact, Tim Duncan may be the key player in this series. With his hefty price tag, if he produces like he did in the last few Portland games, then Duncan-free teams could have a material advantage. But if he regains form, I suspect you've gotta have him to succeed. I suppose Larry Johnson is the other wild card. He says he's going to play, but even if he does, the quality and quantity of his minutes could vary considerably.

6/14 - There sure were a lot of fluky things going on in Atlanta last night. John Smoltz gave up 5 runs in the first inning, and was a spectator before the 3rd inning was complete. Cal Ripken Jr. went 6-for-6, with 2 homers, 5 runs, and 6 RBIs. The O's pitchers knocked in more runs over the weekend than the entire Atlanta Braves team. Go figure.

By the way, Ripken's point total was not the highest single day hitting performance of the season. He fell a few points short of Magglio Ordonez on April 28. However, Ordonez got his points in a doubleheader, so Ripken's is the highest single game hitting point total in the last 2 seasons (and I don't have records prior to last year.) It also increased his YTD points by almost 30%.

Some of you have asked me how points for the suspended Astros/Padres game will be processed. I'm fairly certain that yesterday's points will count for yesterday. I don't know how the points for the continuation of the game will be handled, however. I assume that if the game ends as it stands, Shane Reynolds gets the points for the win on a "backdated" basis (based on who owned him yesterday.) We may have to wait until July 23rd to know for sure.

It's been a tough week for pitching. Smoltz probably qualifies as the most spectacular meltdown, but some of the other "stud" pitchers haven't performed up to standards either, like Schilling and even Pedro. If you've been having pitching problems this week, I think it's safe to assume you have lots of company.

6/12 - Don't have time for a blurb today, but I did update the stats, the quote, and the poll. Enjoy the weekend!

6/11 - A slow day for sports - particularly Hoops and baseball.

June 2-9 SW Trades by Position
Pos Buys Sells Pct
P 209,155 193,721 62%
C 16,244 12,917 4%
1B 15,300 12,036 4%
2B 16,234 12,982 4%
3B 12,775 9,569 3%
SS 15,943 12,686 4%
OF 69,999 57,700 19%
All 355,650 311,611  
Gurupie Scott White asked whether there were any patterns in SW trading volume by position. An interesting question. I summarized the trades for the past week, shown in the table to the left. Note that just over 3 out of 5 trades were for pitchers, another fifth were for outfielders, and the rest were spread pretty evenly among the other slots. The trend over the course of the season has been toward pitching trades, as only one-half of YTD trades are for pitchers, vs. 62% in the most recent week. I suspect that trend will continue, as more hitting slots get locked up with stars, and pitching rotations dominate more and more. Unless someone in the infield gets noticeably hot, it's going to be tough to make a fast buck in those positions.

By the way, if you work out the distribution of the excess buys (buys minus sells) in the table above, you get the exact distribution of the position slots, further evidence that the excess buys are the creation of new teams. There really wasn't any other viable explanation, but it is comforting when the numbers support the foregone conclusions.

I'm heading out to the links this morning. (I'm writing this blurb on Thursday night.) If I can get the basic baseball stats posted before I go, I'll try - though with only two games to digest, your morning paper probably suffice. I'll finish up mid-afternoon. Have a good weekend.

6/10 - Just when many of the pundits were starting to write the Knicks off, they came up huge in Indianapolis last night. I wonder which Knick team will show up at MSG on Friday? I'll bet I know who NBC is rooting for - though they'd probably like the Knicks to win a game 7 on Sunday, rather than wrapping it up Friday night.

On to baseball. SW repricing seemed reasonably predictable, with a few obvious choices dominating the gains, and everyone else struggling to be noticed. Recent hot streaks and favorable top 50 positioning made Steve Finley, John Rocker, and Scott Williamson relatively easy to forecast. I was a little surprised at the strength of the Pedro Martinez showing, especially since he was pitching on the same night as Randy Johnson. Pedro didn't follow through on the field, although his 80 SWP showing wasn't exactly punitive - just not what you expect from Pedro.

Finley was the only hitter among the 18 most actively traded players last week. Curt Shilling topped the list, with 15,471 buys and 13,986 sells. I'll bet some teams bought and sold him twice - which didn't pay off very well pointwise. The rest of the top 10 actively traded (buys and sells added together) was Martinez, Ortiz, Johnson, Williamson, Lima, Clemens, Rocker, Finley, and Brock.

Total trading activity for the week: 355,650 buys and 311,611 sells, down about 7% from the prior week. I can reproduce all of the actual price changes by first reducing the buys by 12.6%, calculating the resulting adjusted net buys (ANB), and then applying a ratio of 671.14 ANB per $100,000 gain. (You don't really need to know that, but I know some of you like to know the nitty gritty, like me.)

Some of you have been asking for an easier way to follow the cumulative trade totals for each player. I'm planning to add that info to the sortable stats tables before too long, but for now, I slapped together a quick list that you can refer to until the data is integrated with the other stats. (Remember that these trade counts ignore preseason drafting, and they also exclude the first week of trades for IPOs.) The player with the most net buys continues to be Ortiz, at 61,000 (down 12,000 from the prior week.) The 2nd-5th ranking in cumulative net buys may surprise you, though: Jermaine Dye, Carlos Beltran, Chili Davis, and Chris Brock. All four of them had net sales last week, but are obviously still quite pervasive. It's interesting to see not only who is near the top of the list, but also who is near the bottom - principally players who were heavily drafted, but have fallen from grace due to injury or inferior price-adjusted performance.

It's already afternoon, so I guess that's enough rambling for today.

6/9 - I guess some "watched pots" do boil!

Cash data has been restored to the "Other Manager" statement page at the SW site, so I will be able to continue to track change in franchise value after all. I'll also add a column to the team rankings showing trades remaining.

Last night's Yankees-Phillies game was quite remarkable. The matchup was Schilling vs. Irabu, and the Yankees, with a revised lineup (e.g., Knoblauch batted 8th) were able to knock out Schilling after 5 innings, leading 5-0 at that point. Irabu tired in the 6th, but the Yanks' bullpen has been quite reliable this year. Final score: Phillies 11, Yankees 5. As Dorothy might say, "I don't think we're in 1998 any more, Toto!"

I reorganized the message forum into several distinct topics. I'm not sure whether I like it better this way or not. We'll see whether people actually follow the plan.

Both Pedro and Randy pitch tonight. It will be interesting to see who has the upper hand in this afternoon's price sweepstakes.

Game 5 in the NBA Eastern finals tonight. With the series guaranteed to go at least six games, the start of the championship series will definitely be next Wednesday, June 16. If you'll need next week's trades to get your final lineup in order, you'll have to wait until after that first game, since new trades are doled out after the roster freeze.

6/8 - Smallworld giveth, and Smallworld taketh away.

If you visited the game site late yesterday, you may have noticed that the "manager statement" page was reformatted. The good news is that you can now see the number of trades available for other teams. The bad news is that you can no longer see the total franchise value (including cash). This means that I'll no longer be able to provide the franchise value information on the Smallworld Team Rankings. Too bad, as that was probably the most interesting information on the page. Bummer. So far, the comparable page at the CNN site has not been changed, so I can still provide that information for the CNN game.

[Note: After posting this, I heard from Smallworld that the elimination of the franchise value data was inadvertent, and would be added back shortly. Thanks guys!]

Russ Ortiz made a nice recovery last night, after his debacle at the beginning of the week. I know a lot of you are nervous about his price prospects for this week, but if you hung in there, you got a nice reward. On the other hand, if you went after Ken Griffey hoping for some Coor's Field magic, you'll have to wait at least another day. Suffice it to say that you'll find Griffey's daily point total way down at the bottom of today's point listing. The saying about the "watched pot" comes to mind.

On the hardwood, Indiana evened the series without much help from their marquis players. The three Pacers with SW prices above $10 million averaged just under 12 SWP last night. The Davis tandem came up big instead, combining for 73.5 SWP. And Marcus Camby continued to fill his share of the Ewing void like a man possessed. I didn't see much of the game, but when I was watching, Camby was everywhere. Good time of the year for him to turn on the energy.

My ability to keep my Hoops roster fully engaged paid dividends last night, as my ranking improved from about 190 down to 98 - double digits! I should have another good showing on Wednesday, since the new trade allocation won't be useful until Friday's games. I suspect those of you who are similarly positioned had similar success. Unless, of course, you squandered a lot of cash on Miller, Smits, Jackson, and Sprewell. If so, just hang in there. Maybe Wednesday will be your day.

6/7 - Did you "easternize" your hoops playoff rosters this morning? I was able to restrain my trading earlier on, so I've got a pretty good lineup in play for the rest of this series, and will also be able to get my championship round roster appropriately configured in time for its start. Hopefully, I can make up some ground on the leaders now. I still ranked only #184. (Not bad, but not up to my standards.)

Today's the day to unveil the results of the "best draft" contest. I received entries from about 25 Gurupies, and many of them submitted more than one category. So, here are the best submissions:

Smallworld $50 million Draft

   Name            Draft Price 5/31 SWP
P  Brock, Chris        500,000     998
P  Rocker, John      1,360,000   1,015
P  Ortiz, Russ       2,030,000   1,304
P  Suppan, Jeff      2,160,000   1,116
P  Martinez, Pedro  13,640,000   1,976
C  Sweeney, Mike     1,700,000     666
1B Casey, Sean       2,960,000     862
2B Febles, Carlos      500,000     730
3B Williams, Matt    4,720,000   1,009
SS Bell, Jay         4,970,000     961
OF Beltran, Carlos     500,000     769
OF Dye, Jermaine     1,010,000     784
OF Mondesi, Raul     5,670,000   1,051
OF Green, Shawn      7,570,000   1,138
   Totals           49,290,000  14,379

   (Value on 6/6 is $76,940,000)
This roster was submitted by the following people: Sam Lubchansky, Rich Mahan, David Greenstone, Merwin Siu, Josh Kaye, Philip Naglieri, Kurt Denke

Smallworld $75 million Draft

   Name            Draft Price 5/31 SWP
P  Brock, Chris        500,000     998
P  Ortiz, Russ       2,030,000   1,304
P  Martinez, Pedro  13,640,000   1,976
P  Johnson, Randy   14,150,000   1,860
P  Schilling, Curt  14,440,000   1,840
C  Sweeney, Mike     1,700,000     666
1B Casey, Sean       2,960,000     862
2B Febles, Carlos      500,000     730
3B Williams, Matt    4,720,000   1,009
SS Bell, Jay         4,970,000     961
OF Beltran, Carlos     500,000     769
OF Dye, Jermaine     1,010,000     784
OF Mondesi, Raul     5,670,000   1,051
OF Green, Shawn      7,570,000   1,138
   Totals           74,360,000  15,948

   (Value on 6/6 is $99,690,000)
This roster was submitted by the following people: David Greenstone, Rich Mahan, & Kurt Denke. (These three guys also had the best $50 million roster.)

Ball Park Dreams $17.5 million Draft

   Name            Draft Price 5/31 BPP
P  Appier, Kevin       313,258     904
P  Rocker, John        322,162     671
P  Brock, Chris        453,718     765
P  Ortiz, Russ         896,241     998
P  Bottenfield, Ken    910,945     886
P  Martinez, Pedro   2,318,571   1,543
P  Johnson, Randy    2,455,589   1,564
C  Flaherty, John      766,502     697
1B Casey, Sean       1,367,945     983
2B Bell, David       1,113,658     962
3B Williams, Matt    1,542,328   1,192
SS Bell, Jay         1,448,298   1,145
OF Cedeno, Roger       755,298     826
OF Davis, Chili      1,032,900     945
OF Mondesi, Raul     1,788,336   1,223
   Totals           17,485,749  15,304

   (Value on 6/6 is $26,044,500)
I came up with this roster, and no one beat it. I'm not at all convinced it is really the best possible, but until someone tops it, it stands.

What's all this mean? I'm not sure - I haven't really digested it all. But it was kind of fun to work on. I forgot to save the worldwide standings as of 5/31, but based on the 6/2 standings, it looks like both the Smallworld and CNN rosters would have ranked in the top 10 - without any trades used! The Ball Park roster wouldn't have been ranked quite as high, but it looks like it still would have been in the top 25.

The new message forum has gotten a good workout in its first couple of days. I can see the potential to waste a lot of time there, if I care to. More than 200 messages were posted in the first 48 hours.

6/5 - First of all, a number of you have already emailed me this morning to report scoring errors at the SW baseball site. So far, I've heard that points are missing for Chris Brock and Mike Barrett, so I suspect there are other omissions as well. I've notified Smallworld of the problem. I'm sure it will get corrected eventually.

I'll bet a lot of you got to watch Pedro Martinez throttle the Braves last night, since it was on TBS. It was the highest scoring game pitched so far this year on both the Smallworld and Ballpark point systems. En fuego!

I've added a new feature today - a message forum. The link is in the upper left, just under the feedback link. I've been thinking about doing this for awhile, but was always a little gun shy about the potential for managers to use it to promote SW trading collusion. However, now that we've seen the dimensions of the trade counts, it seems unlikely that any trading activity prompted by messages would have a material impact, so let's see where it goes. I'll continue to use the feedback page as before, but you may all use the message board directly to communicate directly with other Gurupies - without my editorial "censorship". Just keep it clean and relevant. I'll delete any messages which are inappropriate or offensive. We'll see how it goes.

On the Hoops front, I fell asleep during the 3rd quarter last night. When I lost consciousness, San Antonio had about a 2 point lead. When I awoke, it had become a rout. A Duncan-free rout, no less. Fortunately, I don't have Tim on my roster - that would have been an expensive 17.5 SWP (just under one SWP per $million).

6/4 - A slow day on the sports front. I even found some time to watch some of the National Spelling Bee in ESPN2 last night.

I also took the opportunity, as promised, to put together a graphical analysis of Ball Park Dreams pricing. If you're involved in that game, please read "In the Ballpark". Once again, a picture points out some things that might not otherwise have been obvious.

This weekend shapes up as an interesting one for New Yorkers, with a subway series in the Bronx and a Ewing-less playoff series just a few miles south.

6/3 - Although it was an off day, the biggest news of the day came from the NBA, when it was announced that Patrick Ewing would miss the rest of the playoffs. If you saw him hobbling in Tuesday's game, this was not a big surprise. I doubt that many people had Ewing on their roster, given his borderline-injured status for the past month and his reduced playing time. The bigger fantasy impact will be the ripple effect on the rest of the Knicks, since there will now be an extra 25 minutes of playing time to go around. Although Chris Dudley probably seems like the most obvious beneficiary, I suspect guys like Marcus Camby and Larry Johnson will also see more action. With five new trades in the hopper, I wonder how many managers will take the opportunity to redeploy their assets?

OK, back to baseball. Yesterday's SW repricing was surprising in a few aspects, and noteworthy in a few others. Here's my take:

  • No one maxed out on the upside. I think this is the first time that's happened. Kent Bottenfield did clobber people on the downside, giving back last week's gains and then some.

  • Total trades reported for the week: 383,681 buys - 335,867 sells. That's about 6% below the prior week, which translates into a ratio of 725 adjusted net buys to produce a $100,000 gain.

  • The top 15 players in total trading volume (buys plus sells) were all pitchers: (in order) Martinez, Lima, Brock, Johnson, Bottenfield, Ortiz, Garcia, Avery, Clemens, Hampton, Byrd, Appier, Schilling, Snyder, Suppan. (The most actively traded hitter, Jermaine Dye, ranked 16th.) So many of these pitcher trades were "rotations" that a lot of the price action cancelled out, which explains why the total price changes look more subdued than a 6% decline in total trading would seem to indicate.

  • Cheap pitching seemed to be the goal of the week. Looks like my article yesterday was more of an after-the-fact confirmation for many, rather than a leading indicator.

  • Breaking the established trend, Ken Griffey was the first expensive hitter to make a big weekly gain this season. His total trading volume ranked only 24th for the week, but as you would imagine, almost all of his trades were buys. (Question: what were the 392 managers who sold him thinking about?)

  • Russ Ortiz held up, posting a slight gain. He didn't fare as well on the field, however, as he produced his first negative outing of the season. If you held on to him last week, this week might be a good time to take the money and run. He still looks pretty attractive on the list of top pitchers, but it won't take much more than 1-out-of-10 of his managers to sell him this week to produce a $1 million loss.

  • Juan Pena provided some interesting feedback on the processing of IPO trades. He actually dropped below his IPO price yesterday. Seems to me like this amply demonstrates that first week trades for IPOs are just ignored altogether, rather than being carried forward to the second week.
On the field, Steve Finley continued to crush the ball last night with four extra base hits (3 doubles and a triple), 4 RBIs, and 2 runs. If he had done this early in the season, he'd have really stuck out in the player rankings. In early June, it's much harder to notice. It'll be interesting to see whether his price responds next week.

Tomorrow starts the first round of interleague play. From a fantasy perspective, the most critical issue is probably the reduced playing time for full-time DH's, like Chili Davis and Edgar Martinez. Be alert to AL teams that are playing in the NL parks. (I am looking forward to Griffey in Coor's Field, however!)

6/2 - So far, I've gotten a handful of entries in the "best draft roster" contest. I haven't checked any yet for validity, but in the SW contest, there are several entries which purport to have more than 14,300 SWP, so if you don't at least achieve that level, you're probably too low. Only one entry has come in for a Ball Park Dreams team so far. And I'll also open up a $75 million category for the SW contest, since that's how much the CNN game allocated for the draft. It will also be interesting to see how the best $50m vs. $75m rosters differ. Keep those entries comin'. See yesterday's blurb for the links to the basic data files.

I posted a short "Base Advances" article this morning (called What's the Point?) which shows a scatterplot of SW price vs. SWP/EG. It's not very deep, but I thought the picture was enlightening, and worth publishing for your illumination and feedback. I'm still not sure the conclusion I reach about spending on pitchers vs. hitters is valid, but it's the way I'm positioning my team for the time being, at least. I'll do a comparable graph for the Ball Park game in the next few days.

Steve Finley has really been hot the last few days, with more than 200 fantasy points (both scoring formats) accumulated over the last three days. It's been enough to push him into the top 25 outfielders in YTD points - again in both scoring formats.

On the Hoops front, we now have a two day hiatus before the next game Friday night. With today's new trade dole, I expect there will be some roster repositioning before the weekend. I've had a fully productive roster going since the start of the current round, and my ranking has improved several hundred spots during that time (from 551 to 208), causing me to suspect there are some highly ranked teams that have been less than fully productive during that time. I'll update the team rankings before Friday.

6/1 - June already!

Now that we have two months under our belts, I thought it was about time to assemble the best baseball teams that money could have drafted. So here's your challenge: Using preseason prices, and assuming no trading since opening day, what is the highest scoring team (thru 5/31) that could have been assembled with $50,000,000 (Smallworld) or $17,500,000 (BallPark)? To help you with the data, I've assembled two text files which list names, positions, draft prices, and points through 5/31, one for Smallworld and one for Ball Park Dreams. There are no prizes - just your name in "blurb lights". Email your roster(s) listing the player names, the total value, and the total points. To give you ample time to fiddle, you have until Sunday noon (June 6) to get 'em in.

After having been released by the Mets, and declined by the Cubbies, Hideo Nomo just pitched his fifth consecutive respectable outing for the Brewers. Go figure! Meanwhile, El Duque took full advantage of scoring idiosyncrasies yesterday by surrendering an unearned grand slam to Jim Thome. Orlando dropped a toss to first base which would have been the third out of the inning. Two batters later - "'s deep, and I don't think it's playable."

After a long weekend, I'm having a tough time getting my creative juices flowing again. I can only imagine how it must be for those of you with "real" jobs.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

1999: 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<>.