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

7/31 - Back at the home computer again after a 10 day hiatus.

So, what's been happening over the past 10 days? The Dodgers have been winning, and by the looks of the top hitters, they must be scoring runs. The top two hitters (in SWP) over the past 10 days have been Shawn Green (281 SWP) and Gary Sheffield (279 SWP). As a team, the Dodger hitters provided a grand total of -214 SWP to opposing starters over the period.

Chan Ho Park was also among the top 5 pitchers. Randy Johnson was the top pitcher, however, with 253 in 2 starts, one in which he didn't even get the W. The second best pitcher was Mike Mussina, with back-to-back starts totaling 250 SWP. The top reliever was (gulp!) Esteban Yan, who notched 3 saves and a win for 175 total SWP.

Who's been cold? Toronto certainly hasn't been hitting, as opposing starters racked up an average of almost 90 SWP/game. The coldest hitter has to be Montreal's Mark Smith, who posted negative SWP in 9 straight games. (He did, however, post +6 Swirve points in one of those games.) And the pitcher to avoid was Jamey Wright, who hurled (appropriate term) starts of -74 and -72 SWP.

And while on the topic of recent production, Tim Hudson's wife delivered a daughter over the weekend. Meanwhile, Melvin Mora's wife delivered quintuplets. Ay Carumba!

SW/TSN launched the pay version of their fantasy football game. The free game(s) should be released shortly, although I notice the previously announced "July" time frame has been modified to "Coming soon".

7/20 - If you couldn't figure out whether to pick up Randy Johnson before yesterday's roster freeze, now you know the answer. With uncertainly about roster eligibility, and with a maximum likely outing of seven innings, it was reasonable to take a bye. On the other hand, with a line-up stacked with left handed hitters, this was probably a match-up worthy of taking a risk. Kudos to Bob Brenly for exploiting the Padre lineup which had been set up for righty Schilling.

While Johnson easily took the day's pitching honors, there were several other excellent outings, including five others who cleared the 100 SWP threshold. But the day was not without some significant disappointments as well, including negative SWP outings from Barry Zito, Freddy Garcia, and Andy Pettitte.

Jim Thome had the most bombastic bat by a long shot - or should I say by 2 long shots. He's really been en fuego the past two months, taking over the league lead with 30 HRs. As of May 14th, he had hit only 4!

I'll be traveling & vacationing for the next 10 days, most of it on Long Beach Island in NJ. As usual, I'll have my laptop in tow, and I should continue to have stats updated by the usual time each morning. However, midday price updates will sometimes be delayed until evening, particularly on weekends. If you usually rely on my data for prices, be sure to doublecheck the price date before finalizing any trade plans. (That's good advice for any day, but particularly in the near term.) I may also skip a daily blurb or two, depending on the day's activities and whether or not I have anything to say.

7/19 - I guess you could legimately say that the roster management issues resulting from yesterday's activity resemble a train wreck.

It was a confusing day to start with, as there were 2 day-night doubleheaders on the docket. When Roger Clemens surprisingly started the first game of the day on just four days rest, the chaos had begun. By day's end, one game had been cancelled because of a train wreck, and another suspended in the 3rd inning due to a light blowout. And so far today, the first game of the rescheduled Texas/Baltimore doubleheader has already been unscheduled. (This must be the first time that three games have been postponed when the only thing raining was confusion.)

I don't know how Small World will handle the completion of last night's Arizona/SD game. The most recent precedent that I can recall occurred two years ago, and that time, all stats from the resumed game were attributed back to the roster on the original date. If that is the case, it has dramatic implications for Randy Johnson owners. Hopefully, SW will provide some clarification sooner than later (it's disappointing that they haven't done do so already as of 11:30am today). Rather than belabor the possibilities and issues, please see this thread in the message forum.

It was a rather remarkable day on the field as well. The top pitcher was Chan Ho Park, with a complete game monster of 182 SWP and 206 SvP. But perhaps the more noteworthy result was the -55 SWP implosion of Roy Oswalt in a nationally televised game from the gridiron at Enron Field.

Even bigger, however, was the hitting output of Roger Cedeno. He had 124 SWP in the Yankees/Tigers nightcap, which ranks among the best SWP hitting games of all time. But when you add in his 55 SWP in the opener, he had a single day total of 179 SWP (and 186 SvP), which I'm sure is a single day hitting record. Ay carumba! And of course, nobody had him on their roster, in all likelihood. His SW price did dip below $1M the previous day, so he would certainly have been an inspired pickup for a $500K team. Who knew?!

7/17 - Cheap pitchers really reigned supreme last night.

Part of that is because there were a limited number of higher priced pitchers starting, mostly because this was the fifth day after the All-Star break. But last night's top 9 pitchers in SWP all had SW prices of $710K or lower, and 6 of them had the minimum price of $500K. Not until Mariano Rivera at #10 did the 7th digit appear in the price. The situation was similar in Swirve, where the average price of the top ten pitchers was less than $20m.

The night's top pitcher wasn't even listed in the SW game. Cincinnati's Lance Davis threw the only complete game of the night, good for 182 SvP, and it would have been worth 141 SWP. It was the first complete game for a Reds starter this season, making Cincy the last team to get a CG.

Among SW-eligible pitchers, Steve Trachsel was tops, with 140 SWP (and 151 SvP).

Not only did Cincinnati have the top pitcher, but they also had the top 2 hitters, Aaron Boone (75 SWP, 73 SvP) and Ken Griffey (73 SWP, 78 SvP). The only other hitter in the 70s was Robbie Alomar (70 SWP, 77 SvP), giving Ohio the hitting sweep.

We're in the thick of what might be the densest part of the season schedule. Over the next 13 days (through 7/29), no team plays fewer than 12 games, and 22 teams play at least 13 games during that stretch. Two teams have 14 games scheduled in 13 days - Cleveland and Houston. (Given the number of productive hitters on those two teams, that's something to take note of.) Then, Monday, July 30th is a scheduled off day for all teams, and as far as I can tell, no postponed games have been rescheduled for that day, either. Following that, every team plays for the next 6 days again.

7/16 - There pitchers hurled games exceeding 150 SWP over the weekend. Tops was Todd Ritchie's one-hitter on Friday, which not only natched 173 WP< but also reached the 200 SvP mark. Saturday's gem was from Glendon Rusch, who also surrendered only one hit, but gave way to Benitez in the 9th, thereby earning only 170 SWP and 175 SvP. And last night was Aaron Sele's turn. He gave up as many hits as the first two combined, but did manage to complete the game, producing 165 SWP and 192 SvP.

Hitters were not as prodigious. The top weekend hitter was Jose Vidro with 141 SWP and 148 SvP, homering once in each of game. Jason Giambi posted similar results (140 SWP and 149 SvP), also going deep in each game.

Do you know which team has been the "kindest, gentlest" opponent for starters over the past 7 games? Arizona has surrendered an average of 108 SWP to opposing starters over the past 7 games! The Dodgers have been almost as futile, giving up an average of 94 SWP/G. (L.A. does venture into Colorado later this week, which might be just what the doctor ordered.) Besides being NL West teams, there's one more distinctive commonality between these two hitless wonders. Both teams faced Mulder, Hudson, Zito, and Sele during those 7 games. Think they'll be happy to get back to National League pitching?

7/6 - I don't have any stats to back it up, but it seems like there were an unusual number of blowouts last night. Three teams put up double-digit run totals, with the average margin of victory in those three games exceeding 10. Two other teams won by a score of 7-1. ... OK, so maybe it's not that many, out of a 15 game slate.

Pedro Astacio blew everyone else away in last night's pitching derby, with a 3-hit shutout in San Diego. That worked out to 161 SWP and 193 SvP. His last quality start was on June 3rd, when he had 141/183 in a Coors game vs. San Francisco. In between, he had 5 starts totaling -112 SWP. He's a nice pickup if you know when to get him. But he's awfully expensive if you're wrong.

Five other starters cracked 100 SWP, including three with 124. Among the leading price gainers yesterday, only Roy Oswalt was among the 3-digit producers. His last three starts have been 119, 124, & 124 (SWP), and at a sub-$1m SW price, he's definitely someone to consider for cash strapped teams. He's even been more effective at Enron than on the road, although the stats are still quite limited.

No fewer than six hitters were in the SWP 70s. The list certainly doesn't coincide with the All Star rosters: Ron Coomer, Corey Koskie, Rafael Palmeiro, Brian Jordan, Geoff Blum, and Jose Cruz. I don't expect any major buying surges, although with 2 games above 70 SWP this week and a "Bruised left rib cage" next to Chipper's name today, Koskie could see some activity.

SW announced that there will be no daily price changes during the All Star break. Next Thursday's change will reflect trading over the period from Sunday noon through Thursday noon. Keep in mind that this doesn't imply that Thursday's price changes will be quadrupled. Price changes are always based on the proportionate trade volume for each player, not the absolute number of buys and sells. So next Thursday's price changes will probably look much like any other day's.

The lack of any SW price action during the break will give me a very rare opportunity to take a brief hiatus. While I'll still need to update points on Monday, next Tuesday and Wednesday will not require any statistical updates of any kind. So I plan to go blurbless over the break as well. Enjoy the break! And don't forget to draft your midseason team(s).

7/5 - Some fantasy managers prefer to own National League starting pitchers because they get to pitch to the opposing pitcher several times per game. But as Randy Johnson owners can attest, that's a double edged sword.

Randy had fanned 13 batters through 6 innings, although he had also surrendered 2 runs, and the score was tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh, when manager Bob Brenly lifted RJ for a pinch hitter with the go-ahead run in scoring position and two outs. The strategy worked, as pinch hitter David Dellucci singled in the game winning run, and the Dback bullpen was solid. But Randy earned only 104 SWP in a game that had much bigger potential. ("Only" 104 SWP.)

So as it turned out, Randy ranked only 8th in SWP among yesterday's starters. The top four were each priced at $500K, headed by Oakland's Cory Lidle, who shut out Anaheim for 7-2/3 innings to earn just his second victory of the season. Part of his success is probably attributable to slumping Anaheim bats, as the Angels have surrendered an average of 85 SWP/G to opposing starters over the past week. Only Milwaukee has been kinder to opponents lately, as they have provided an average of 96 SWP/G over the same period, and in their last 8 games, opposing starters have only twice been held under 99 SWP.

Brian Giles continued to wield the hot bat, banging out 86 SWP and 91 SvP against Cincinnati. Right behind him was Dante Bichette (79 SWP/85 SvP), who almost hit for the cycle against Cleveland, settling for a double in the ninth inning when a triple was needed to complete the feat. (Even a triple would have left him a point or two shy of Giles, however.) Only four other hitters broke 50 SWP.

7/4 - The list of stud pitchers without a negative SWP outing got shorter by one name yesterday, as Curt Schilling posted a -21 against Houston. He's been flirting with red numbers in alternating games for the last six starts. Here is his game-by-game point progression for the past month: 149, 16, 111, 7, 105, -26. Bodes well for his next start, I suppose. Meanwhile, Pedro, Park, and Clemens are now the only starters (with at least 10 starts) to have avoided red.

As an aside, the pitcher most likely to post a negative SWP is Gabe White, a reliever on Colorado. He's been negative 16 times in just 34 appearances. Among starters, Dave Mlicki has the lead with 11 negatives in 17 appearances, of which 16 were starts. Albie Lopez is right behind with 10 negatives in 17 starts. Even more remarkable is that Albie's first 5 starts were all positive, when he averaged almost 84 SWP/start. Since then, he has 10 negatives in 12 starts - and one of the positive outings was a +2. Yikes!

Ryan Dempster was the top pitcher, with the night's only complete game producing 141 SWP and 175 SvP. It was Dempster's 3rd 3-digit outing in the past month, but his other 3 recent starts totaled only +15. You never know what you're going to get when he takes the mound.

Chipper Jones led all hitters with 93 SWP and 96 SvP. He's starting to pull away from Pujols in YTD points, and his SW price is also reflecting a recent "flight to quality" at third. Across all hitting positions, Chipper still only ranks #14 overall, but he has also been the #5 hitter over the past month.

7/3 - The top two pitchers came from the same game last night, even though neither was credited with the win. Tim Hudson and Jarrod Washburn locked horns for 8 innings of shutout ball, with very similar stat lines. In fact, they had identical Swirve points of 126. Hudson took Washburn in SWP, however, 118-107.

The hitting power came from the 3rd base position, where Aramis Ramirez nipped Corey Koskie in SWP, 72-71 (and 80-77 in SvP). Only four other hitters even made it into the SWP 50s.

I did a quick comparison of the relative prices between Small World's free and pay ("Hardball") fullseason games. While there are some differences in trading patterns, it appears that the repricing algorithms are different, too. Certainly the price gravity component differs, as the free game generates daily gravity losses of $30K while the pay game equivalent is only -$20K. But it seems likely that the price sensitivity for active players is also greater in the free game.

For example, my roster in the free game is currently valued at $78.6m (excluding cash). That same roster would be valued at just $71.5m in the pay game, which is roughly 10% cheaper. Some players show a gap of greater than $1m, while others are virtually identical across the games. The comparable difference for the top ranked team in the pay game is about 5%. So if you are comparing roster values across the two games, you need to recognize the significant discount in the pay game prices.

Looking at individual differences, the biggest gap is for Scott Brosius, whose free game price of $2,430K is $1.6m greater than his Hardball price of $800K. This appears to reflect a gravity difference, as his Hardball price has been pretty consistently gravity bound, while his free price has remained rather stable. It's hard to guess whether this is attributable to trading differences or formula differences. At the other extreme, Pedro Martinez is $670K cheaper in the free game. I don't really have a good explanation for that, although I'm pretty sure that gravity has nothing to do with it.

7/2 - Sometimes this game can be so maddening.

Last week, I was looking at the possibility of swapping out of Todd Helton from my SW team. He had been slumping, the team's homestand was ending, his immediate schedule was light, and he was scheduled to face Randy over the weekend, never good news for a lefty. And his SW price was leaking, although that was a minor consideration at this point. I had plenty of hitter trades stashed away, so although I expected to add Helton back at some point, a temporary flip into someone else seemed like a reasonable tactic. And my short list of potential first baseman included Bagwell, Sweeney, and Giambi. I finally decided on Bagwell, based on his recent performance, and the thought that he ought to be about due to start producing like the Bagwell of old.

Four days later, here are the player points since the trade:
Sweeney: 250 SWP
Giambi: 41
Helton: 15
Bagwell: -1

And to rub salt in the wound, Sweeney did most of his damage against Cleveland.

I still think it was a non-stupid decision. But seldom do trades produce such abrupt point swings. Who knew?

(By the way, this is an excellent example of why you should never take this game - or yourself - too seriously.)

The weekend's top pitching performance came in the last game of the weekend, as Kevin Appier pitched eight shutout innings against the Braves on the ESPN Sunday night game, and then held his breath as Armando Benitez made it exciting in the 9th, as usual. Appier earned 148 SWP and 159 SvP for his effort. Randy Johnson matched that SvP total on Friday night, but his SWP total was 8 below Appier's.

The top hitter? It's too painful to even look up, but it has to be Sweeney. If not, someone can correct me.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

2001: June . . . . . May . . . . . April . . . . . March . . . . . February . . . . . January

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

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

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

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