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Daily blurbs from the Guru

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Go forward to more recent blurbs.

5/31 - With Dan Quisenberry inducted into the KC Royals Hall of Fame yesterday, it seemed appropriate to honor him with today's quote. I have some more good Quis-quotes, too, so he'll probably pop up here from time to time.

The season is almost one-third over already. Can you believe it? So far, what do you think are the biggest stories or surprises of the season? Obviously McGwire is a big story, but not necessarily a big surprise. How about others, though? Shoot me your thoughts and I'll post the best of them on the feedback page.

Orel Hershiser just keeps cruising, winning his 5th straight start after a dismal start in April. At one point, there was talk that maybe he had tried to come back one year too many. I guess not. And if his pitching arm gives out, he's also looking like he could make it as a hitter.

As I'm writing this, Jim Thome just hit a homer measured at 483 feet, but it stopped traveling when it entered a restaurant in the upper deck of the Skydome. Thome currently leads the American League in strikeouts (58), and is only one off the lead in walks (36). The last player to lead the AL in both categories for a season was Mantle in 1956, and the only other American Leaguer to do it was Babe Ruth, who did it 4 times in the 1920's. McGwire has a shot at the same record in the NL this year, although he trails Jeromy Burnitz by 6 strikeouts at this juncture.

5/30 - I feel like I dropped the ball yesterday. I meant to comment on Barry Bonds remarkable feat on Thursday night. If you missed it, Arizona intentionally walked him in the bottom of the ninth - with the bases loaded!. Yep, with an 8-6 lead and two outs, they chose to walk in a run and pitch to Brent Mayne, who rewarded the move by lining out on a 3-2 pitch to end the game. According to Rob Neyer at ESPN, this hasn't happened since 1944.

While my team only increased in value by $650,000 yesterday, it was actually a pretty productive trading day for me, as I would have dropped by almost $2.5 million if I had done nothing. My two biggest losers were Kerry Wood and Vinny Castilla, both of whom I held on to, and both of whom rewarded me with good games yesterday. Some of my new player pickups didn't do much in the way of gains, but at this point, I'm trying to differ from the crowd a little more in an attempt to try to make up some ground in the standings. My roster value currently stands a bit over $110 million, but my SWP total is only 9347 (as of 5/27), good enough to rank only 3245th. BTW, since most of you can't see my roster now anyway, my team name is "Species 8472". Those who have been trying to figure it out may note that I even provided a few unannounced clues in my blurbs over the past few weeks, including actually mentioning the team name on May 14th. Now, for those of you who like a mystery, I also have a team in the CNN/SI version of the game. Frankly, that team is doing a bit better, with a franchise value of $113.7 million, and a ranking of 1572 on 9816 SWP. The two teams differ in five player slots.

Finally, I read that the Royals signed a new shortstop named "Ben Slammer" and assigned him to their single-A farm team. What a perfect baseball name! Hopefully, he'll make it to the "bigs" some day.

5/29 - The article in this morning's paper (from which today's quote was taken) said that although Mo Vaughn's words said one thing, the tone in his voice said another. Can you imagine being upset because you were moved into the cleanup spot? Get real!

Trade day again. This will be an interesting week, as both Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez had their first "stink-o" outings of the year. Coincidentally, I recall a game last year at about this time of the season, when Schilling was charged with 8 earned runs in a short outing, causing his ERA to balloon by roughly a full point. Then, the official scorer changed a hit to an error, and suddenly, all 8 runs became unearned, leaving his ERA unsullied. I doubt if this game's official scorer will repeat that charitable act - especially an official scorer at Wrigley field.

On the MLM front, I changed the last column on the tables to show trading volume for the previous day. For some reason, Matt Whisenant was the most actively traded player yesterday. So what's up with that? Interestingly, his price didn't change, so maybe someone was just experimenting by buying and selling him over and over. As far as I know, that's a losing strategy.

After three quiet days, I added a couple of new letters to the feedback page yesterday.

5/28 - I don't know if I fully grasp the implications of today's quote - other than to note that it is undisputably true. Frankly, Roger has been beat up more than Pedro this season.

I was watching the Yankees-Chisox game last night - an ugly 12-9 event (actually, the fact that the Yankees lost wasn't ugly, though I never like to see the White Sox win) in which the Yankees at one point had scored 5 runs on just 2 hits. Anyway, at one point the Yankees announcers (at the time it was Jim Kaat and Ken Singleton, I think) were discussing the White Sox as the embodiment of "Who's on first?", given the number of "regular" first sackers they sport, including Frank Thomas, Wil Cordero, and Greg Norton. Then Kaat made the classic quote of the game: "What would you expect from a team with Abbott and Castillo on their roster?" He'd probably been working on that one for awhile - but even so, it was one of those great one-liners that I wish I'd thought of.

I added a new feature to the MLM ratio tables. When you click on a ticker symbol, a window pops up with the last 14 days of that player's price, delist, and trading volume history. The downside to this new feature is that the table now takes longer to load initially, as the HTML page tripled in size (to roughly 180kb - still not an outrageous size). I think I can streamline this eventually, but for now, if you want to save download time and access just the summary tables without the popup feature, then call up
The popup links will still appear, but you'll get a JavaScript error if you click on them.

5/27 - In the midst of the Mets' 9-run 6th-inning outburst last night, reliever Brian Bohanon singled, drove in a run, and scored. He is now 6-11 in hitting this year, for a .545 batting average. Maybe the Mets should be using him as a pinch hitter as well.

Mark McGwire was stopped last night, though it took a scheduled off-day to do it.

I posted a new Base Advances essay called Pitching Rotation. It's short.

5/26 - I heard on SportsCenter last night that almost half (49%) of Mark McGwire's hits this season are home runs (25 out of 51). He's not just hitting for power, either. His on base percentage is .493. In fact, he's got more walks (55) than hits - and only 7 of the walks were intentional. Speaking of which, did you notice that the Giants walked him intentionally this weekend with two outs and the bases empty? It was during extra innings, and McGwire had already gone deep in the 12th inning to prolong the battle.

Hideki Irabu now leads the majors in ERA, dropping his to 1.13 after shutting out the White Sox. Maybe all he needed in order to succeed was lowered expectations.

5/25 - Know who the hottest SW shortstop has been the past two weeks? It's not A-Rod. And you might have trouble guessing the name, because he doesn't even play shortstop in real life. Check out Damion Easley. He's produced 400 SWP in the last 15 days, which ranks second only to McGwire among all hitters. If he were listed at second base, where he probably rightfully belongs, he'd be pushing Biggio.

By the way, if you missed Easley, it appears you have lots of company. Based on his price changes, hardly anyone has noticed him. A-Rod gets most of the attention at short, with Jeter next. And no one thinks of looking at the SS category for a DH.

5/24 - I watched a couple of bullpens implode last night. First, Kerry Ligtenberg failed to nail down a record tying win (for Latin born pitchers) for Dennis Martinez. Then, in very predictable fashion, the Mariners' bullpen wasted a 7-inning, 11-strikeout, 3-hit shutout performance by Ken Cloude. And Heathcliff Slocumb wasn't even involved! Seems to me like the Mariners should go after Ricky Bottalico once he returns. The Phillies seem to be doing well with Mark Leiter, and the Mariners HAVE to do something. They've already got 11 blown saves, and it's still May!

Meanwhile, David Wells did better than I expected on the field yesterday, and worse than I expected in price movement. On yesterday's radio broadcast, I heard that Wells was only 6-16 lifetime vs. the Red Sox - but make that 7-16 now. I'm glad I didn't bother to pick him up, because a $540,000 price gain wasn't enough to make it worthwhile. Still, my team barely went up in value yesterday - only a few hundred thousand. However, I wasn't expecting much. I made only two trades, and I didn't figure either would have much price upside, at least in the short term. My focus now is on getting more points, rather than on chasing hot players. Easier said than done.

5/23 - Those of you who are too young to recall Bill Lee and Mark Fidrych missed two of the game's more colorful characters. "The Bird" was a real piece of work on the mound, and Bill Lee uttered many a quotable quote - many of which I'm sure will pop up here from time to time this season. But enough of this historical digression.

The latest Piazza trade can't hurt his market value, it would seem. Although the Mets don't sport a lineup with much more offensive firepower than the Marlins, Mike will probably thrive on the attention from the media in the Big Apple. And inserting Piazza's bat in the lineup may give guys like Huskey and Olerud a shot at some better pitches to hit.

After being dormant for several days, the feedback page has picked up in activity once again. If anyone else wants to do some analysis on the top 50 teams, be my guest. Although SW has restored the ability to look at these rosters, I haven't figured out how to automate the process (which I'm sure is intentional), so I will need to rely on more of your help in providing a glimpse at what's going on at the top.

5/22 - Have you noticed that, after a relatively slow start, relief pitchers have now reached parity with starters near the top of the SWP leaderboard? After Schilling and Martinez, 4 of the next 5 (when ranked by total SWP) are relievers. And in general, the relievers tend to be a bit cheaper per SWP. You could have picked up Tom Gordon at the beginning of the season for only a shade over $5.5 million. What a bargain that turned out to be!

I'm nearing completion of a short article on efficiently managing your pitching rotation. As I've been working on this, I've become less enthused about using trades solely to pick up extra starts - although I do think there is a time and a place for that strategy. But it seems to me that at this point in the season you can still get more potent point upgrades by focusing on the long haul, rather than just the next start. I think one of my next tasks will be to look at the relative merits of various trading approaches.

Jose Canseco has certainly been "busting out the whipping stick" lately. The big question there is, is this a good time to pick him up, or has the proverbial horse already left the barn? If most of the horse is already out the door, you know what part of the horse you're left with! I guess I need to crank up some research on hot streaks as well.

5/21 (later) - CBS Sportsline stats are still not updated, but meanwhile, I developed a backup routine using USA Today stats to produce yesterday's numbers. USA Today's tables do not include sacrifices or HBP data, so players who had any of those yesterday will be missing their impact. Also, there are probably a few minor discrepancies between the YTD stats of CBS.Sportsline vs. USA Today, and if so, the daily points will include the impact of those differences. Assuming CBS.Sportsline does get updated sometime today, I can rerun an "apples-to-apples" set of numbers, but what you have now should be "good enough for government work".

5/21 - Statistical updates will be delayed this morning. CBS Sportline has not updated their pages. (Although they say they are updated thru 5/20, the stats are the same as yesterday's. For example, Gaetti and Lofton should each have 4 HRs. As of noon EST, the table still shows 2 and 3, respectively.)

MLM tables now include commodities as well as stocks. Commodities can be identified by their ticker symbol, or by the description field. For example, the commodity with the best value on the basis of delist/price ratio is RBECS, "Beck saves".

I've received a few inquiries about my expectations for David Wells' price this week. Frankly, this is a difficult call. I do expect Wells to rise in price. But will his price increase enough to be worth using a trade, especially if you don't plan to keep him for very long? The Yankees play the Bosox in Fenway Park this weekend, and Wells is only 3-4 vs. Boston over the past three seasons. Events like a no-hitter certainly command enough attention to attract buying interest, but David Wells is no Kerry Wood. Had this happened in mid-April, buying Wells would have been a no-brainer. Today, with dampened price volatility, it is reasonable to question whether he will rise enough in price to be worth consuming two trades (one to buy him, and one to sell him). Make your own decisions. Bottom line - could go either way.

5/20 - Thanks to Vin who correctly noted yesterday that Blowers' cycle was the 218th in major league history. Our source was the same, so I must be getting dyslexic, since I evidently converted 218 into 81. (Actually, I guess that would make me dyslexic with a short attention span!).

So what's up with Randy Johnson? For a guy who's about to become a free agent, he's not doing much to enhance his market value. Although he's been victimized a few times this year by the Mariners' bullpen problems, the last few debacles have been of his own doing, including last night's 3 inning, 6 ER outing, which pushed his ERA up to a Slocumb-like 6.83. (Actually, Slocumb would love to get his ERA down to 6.83!)

My cable modem got fixed this morning. Woohoo!

Here's something spooky: Check my blurb from Monday morning. I commented that perhaps a no-hitter should earn some bonus points, but that if they did that, then there should be some bonus point opportunities for hitting too, such as a 3 homer game, or hitting for the cycle. So what happened? Blowers hit for the cycle that night, and then McGwire whacks 3 dingers the following night. Hmmm.... I think they should also award bonus points if Cleveland wins the World Series! (Worth a try, isn't it?)

5/19 - Oakland beat the White Sox by two touchdowns yesterday afternoon, with Jimmy Haynes tossing a shutout. Haynes was the player that Baltimore traded for Geronimo Berroa last summer. (Wonder if the O's would like a "do over" on that one?) Mike Blowers hit for the cycle in the game, getting the hardest leg, the triple, last. I saw on ESPN's site that players have hit for the cycle 81 times in major league history - not quite as rare as a perfect game (Wells had the 15th), but similar in rarity to a "normal" no-hitter, I suspect. I wonder how many times a player has come to the plate needing the triple to complete a cycle, and actually gotten it!. I can't find my baseball record book right now, but I doubt it would have that sort of stat anyway.

My cable modem still isn't behaving, so I'm still somewhat crippled when it comes to extra analysis, like producing an estimated distribution of franchise values. Just pumping out my regular stats is enough of a chore. I'm supposed to have a service call tomorrow morning, so I'm hoping to be hitting on all cylinders again shortly.

5/18 - David Wells was the big story yesterday - even bigger than the 20,000th airing of ESPN's SportsCenter. Interestingly, the 230 SWPs that it earned make it only the second best game of the year, with Kerry Wood's recent 20-strikeout monster piling up 267 SWPs. Maybe there should be bonus points for a no-hitter, similar to the triple-double bonus in Hoops scoring. I suppose if SW had done that, they also should have added some sort of bonus for an exceptional hitting day, like 3 homers, or perhaps hitting for the cycle. Oh well, no big deal. I suspect not many SW managers even owned Wells yesterday, given his volatile performance so far. That may very well change. The ownership of Wells, that is. I suspect the volatility will remain. It's been a characteristic of his for many years.

I posted an essay on the implied risk-free rate in MLM this morning. Those of you who play that game should find it instructive.

There were a number of well pitched games yesterday, which is somewhat unusual. Kerry Wood and Terry Mulholland combined for a total of 243 SWPs. Of course, 40 of Mulholland's points were for the save, which a starting pitcher couldn't ever get credit for, so it's not quite fair to compare their 243 to Wells' 230. Still, a masterful combined effort. Meanwhile, John Smoltz got torpedoed, with his first bad outing of the season. That was particularly painful for me, since I had picked him up last week. He was essentially my "sleeper" pick. I guess I'd have been better off if he had actually overslept!

5/17 - I just don't feel a blurb in me today. Pardon me for taking a day off.

5/16 - Today's quote no doubt reflects the sentiments of Sheffield, Bonilla, & the other player traded from the Marlins.

I lost the Mussina gambit yesterday, as you probably noticed. The evidence this week strongly suggests that Friday morning trades were factored into the pricing. Not only did Mussina sales get included, but it appears that early reaction on the rumored Marlins-Dodgers trade was reflected, as Piazza took a hit, while Sheffield went up. While it is certainly possible that some of this would have happened anyway, I don't think it would have happened on this order of magnitude. And from what I hear, the earliest rumors of a trade weren't out until the wee hours of Friday morning - although I also heard that the players involved were held out of Thursday night's lineup, which had to be an indication that something was in the works. Ah well, maybe Mussina won't even miss a start. And maybe Piazza will be out to prove something. Maybe.

For those wondering, my franchise value went up about $2 million. Considering that Mussina and Piazza combined to cost me more than a $million, I don't feel too bad about it.

My primary internet connection - which is via cable modem - has been down for most of the past 36 hours, and I don't know what the prognosis for a resolution is. So, I've been using my backup system, a telephone modem, which has hampered my timeliness a bit the past day, and will continue until I can get my cable modem connection restored. So give me some slack in the next few days, if you please.

5/15 - Last night, I thought Mike Mussina might have ascended to front-runner status for "hard luck story of the year" award, after he used his face to stop a line drive off of Sandy Alomar's bat. Fortunately, the diagnosis appears to be only a broken nose, and while he might miss a start or two, the effects shouldn't be nearly as severe as when Willie Blair performed the same trick against Julio Franco last season. (Why is it that the Indians always seem to be the team using the opposing pitcher's face for target practice?)

Then I saw in this morning's RotoNews listing that Randy Velarde re-injured his elbow last night, and could be out for the season - if not forever. This happened in just his second game back after being out for more than a year. And he had hit a home run in each of those two games! Yikes! Sorry, Mussina, but you're going to finish a distant second at best.

At least Velarde won't cause any SW managers a problem, because he wasn't even available yet - though he probably would have appeared as an IPO pretty shortly. Mussina, however, poses a delicate problem. I had figured that he would attract a decent number of buys this week, especially on the heels of a 200 SWP outing in his previous start. Since the injury occurred late last night, it's unlikely that many managers would have reacted in time to influence today's price change. Given the speed at which new prices are available in the afternoon, I'm pretty sure that Friday morning trades are not incorporated in the current repricing. So, I opted to hold Mussina for now - especially since the pitching prognosis is still uncertain. But it's not without some degree of risk.

As is customary for Friday's, individual and summary stat pages will not be posted until late afternoon, so that new prices can be incorporated. Yesterday's points and the Assimilator have already been updated.

I'm in the midst of some very interesting - and relevant - analysis on risk free rates of return which are implicit in the broad MajorLeagueMarket (MLM). I hope to have a "Base Advances" essay ready to post within the next day or so. For those of you who play that game, it will be "must" reading.

5/14 - As far as I know, there are no users who cannot currently run the Assimilator satisfactorily. I thought I might find at least one "Species 8472" out there (this is the only known [Star Trek] species which is resistant to assimilation by the Borg), but if so, they are remaining silent. That's good news, because I would like to expand my usage of JavaScript to some of the other reports, since that can provide greater report flexibility, as well as faster downloading and execution. So, if you can't get the Assimilator to work, please notify me soon. Otherwise, I'll assume the technology is universally acceptable.

Both Jeff Bagwell and Nomar Garciaparra went on the disabled list this week. These injuries will probably have material implications on this week's price changes, not only from the likely declines for these two guys, but also from the subsequent buying. You should think about which other first basemen and shortstops will be the likely beneficiaries, and to what degree.

5/13 - Early feedback on the Assimilator is very positive. However, there are a small number of people who seem to be getting a blank screen. A possible reason is that you need to enable JavaScript in your browser. In Netscape 3, you do this in the Options/Network Preferences/Languages menu. In Netscape 4, use Edit/Preferences/Advanced. I don't see a place to do it in IE 3, so maybe it's automatically enabled. I'm not sure about other browsers either. Beyond that, I'm stumped. If anyone is still unable to run it, tell me the browser you are using and the operating system (Mac, Win95, WinNT, Unix), and I'll see if there are any common threads that might suggest what the problem could be.

Who would have figured that Andres Galarraga would have had this kind of start after leaving the rarified air of Colorado? He's even one dinger ahead of McGwire.

And give Justin Thompson the "close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades" award for last night's tough loss to the Mariners in Tiger Stadium. He had a perfect game through six innings, and had a 2-1 lead on a one-hitter with 2 outs in the ninth - but then lost the game on three straight hits.

5/12 - (mid-afternoon) - Assimilator update:
There are currently two bugs which I am aware of:

  1. If you are using Netscape 3.0 on a Macintosh computer, when you select a player from a drop down window, any player after the 256th listing is getting "confused". This would occur for any pitcher selected who falls after Pat Rapp (alphabetically), and will also occur for names after Shane Mack in the DH listing. This bug has now been fixed!
  2. The other bug relates to the inability to save a revised roster by overwriting the prior roster. This has occurred for someone using Netscape 3 on a Unix workstation. If anyone else has this problem, or has any knowledge about the idiosyncrasies of cookies under this configuration, please advise.

5/12 - It is a great thrill for me to introduce my first dynamic internet programming effort - the Assimilator. This original JavaScript program will allow you to enter and store one or more 14-player roster(s), and tally daily Smallworld points for each of the past seven days. No more need to scan up and down the yesterday point listing looking for all of your players. The Assimilator will turn your roster of individuals into a coherent collective. Try it out!

As with any new software, there are undoubtedly some bugs to be worked out. I've tested it using several browsers, but I'm sure there are some operation sequences that I haven't tried. (There was a problem for Netscape 3.0 users earlier today, which I think I have fixed. If you still have that problem, try clicking "reload" to make sure you have the new code.) I'm counting on you to help me debug this. And, of course, if you have suggestions for enhancements, I'll consider those too.

I know you'll enjoy using this new tool. If you want to give me an "attaboy", just click on an advertiser's banner on any RotoGuru page. Thanks!

Meanwhile, back on the ballfield, I see (from RotoNews) that Marquis Grissom hasn't started any of the last five games due to a "strained buttocks muscle." Now I'm no medical expert, but doesn't that seem like an odd reason to have a player "sit out" a game? (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

And finally, CBS.Sportline double-counted all National League games in today's summary stat tables. I developed a workaround to restate them, which I think worked correctly. But if you notice anything bizarre in yesterday's SWP values, let me know. (You should have seen the first cut - which showed Stottlemyre with a 430 point game!)

5/11 - I never got around to posting a blurb yesterday. I spent the better part of the afternoon working on my JavaScript roster point calculator - and it's coming along. I'm trying to make it compatible for both Netscape and MSIE browsers, which is a royal pain, since MSIE lacks some of the useful functionality of Netscape. I'm hoping to have something ready to field test later this week. Maybe.

I took a fresh look at changes in franchise values over the weekend. I estimate that the average team increased only $1.4m in value on Friday. So if you picked up Kerry Wood and the rest of your roster broke even, you were ahead of the field! Here is the new distribution:

  • 99th percentile - $103 million
  • 95th percentile - $92 million
  • 90th percentile - $84 million
  • 85th percentile - $79 million
  • 80th percentile - $74 million
  • 75th percentile - $71 million

5/9 - It's raining all over the northeast today, and supposed to continue through the early part of next week. Fortunately, the Yankees and Red Sox are on the road this weekend. The Mets are at home, however, which makes today's quote particularly germane (since Kiner is one of the Mets' announcers).

Yesterday's price changes were pretty interesting. Obviously, the general magnitude was smaller than the early weeks, and I think it's safe to say that this will continue. Also, I feel vindicated by my decision not to post seven day stats on Thursday, as the relationship between those stats and this week's price changes was pretty weak. I think there are several reasons for this:

  1. Since SW doesn't post a weekly SWP total at their site, this is not a factor that is easily reviewed by most managers.
  2. Unless a player's recent week's performance is so strong that it is noticeable in the YTD point totals (which are posted by SW), that recent performance is likely to be missed by many. For example, Michael Tucker and Albert Belle both had very big weeks, but because they started the season so much weaker, their recent performances were difficult to spot for most managers.
  3. The hot performers who did have good price action this week were noticed for other reasons. Kerry Wood was hard to miss in the news. Mark Leiter was noticed because of Bottalico's injury. Darin Erstad may have been helped by playing in a large metropolitain area, but mostly (I suspect) because his year-to-date SWP total ranked him 4th in the outfield, making him look cheap on that basis.

I was surprised by a few prices. I thought Mike Mussina would be a hotter buy. He may have just been crowded out by Wood and Leiter, or it may simply reflect his mediocre season totals, which again makes him hard to pick out solely on the basis of numbers. Playing in Baltimore (instead of NYC or So. Cal) probably also doesn't help him. I also thought Jim Thome might do better, since he now ranks third in YTD SWP among first baseman. But Galarraga, Travis Lee, and Cecil Fielder all got more action. This reemphasizes the point that it's not only important to consider what a player has done, but also what other players at his position have done. First base also gave up some price to catcher and outfield, indicating a slight shift in the positional makeup of the DH slot.

I ran a correlation test between price change and 7-day point totals for the prior Wed-Wed (7 day) period. The correlation was positive, but not very strong at 26%. If I throw out Kerry Wood, the correlation for the rest of the players was only 19%. And if I excluded all pitchers (since 7-day totals are more distorted based on # of starts), the correlation was only 23%.

One other reason that there were so few big price moves may have to do with this week's inability to see the trades that others were making. It was essentially "every man for himself" (sorry, ladies), when you couldn't rely on others to point out some of the more popular moves. Thus, the trading activity was probably more spread around as a result. Again, I think this is a positive development (although I do hope that the ability to see other rosters is restored at some point, even if on a limited, or lagged basis).

So it looks to me like the strategy theme needs to shift from value gains to point production. That's probably good. And more difficult.

5/8 - As I listened to a bit of the Red Sox game in Kansas City last night, I heard the announcer mention that Dan Quisenberry was soon to be inducted into the Royals' Hall of Fame, which led to my selection of today's quote. It would appear that he was stupid enough, indeed.

As is usual for Fridays, I will defer posting updated summary and individual stats until after new prices are announced. Yesterday's game results are up now.

I took a fresh look at the worldwide leaderboard last night. The average number of trades is now 49, with the average franchise value just over $84 million. Although you can't see rosters or roster moves, these numbers imply that the trades have been used more for rotating starters than for profit generation. The team with the fewest trades is the Ky Wonders, with only 9. Their roster value is on the low end of this group, at $69 million. At the CNN/SI site, the average trades among the top 50 teams is 47, while the average franchise value is only $79 million. One of the CNN/SI leaders has used no trades while generating 6787 SWP with a franchise value of $67 million. Two other CNN/SI teams have also been stingy with trades, using 1 and 6. Nice drafting!

5/7 - I received even more requests to revert back to 15-day SWP totals than I received in gripes about pricing last weekend! A few people asked me to provide both, which I'm not going to accomodate, for reasons I mention in a new feedback response. This was a very interesting experiment, I must say.

Today I want to devote the rest of my "blurbspace" to Erik Barmack, Smallworld Baseball's "commissioner", who sent me a notice last night. Here it is:

To Guru and Gang:

As the executive producer of Small World Sports, I enjoy interacting with communities such as this, comprised of loyal SWS game-players. Many of the issues that you raise on this forum are relevant to SWS's future plans, and it's helpful for us to know what YOU think.

Because many of you have played all of our games over the last year, I feel obliged to give you a sense of where we're headed and explanations for what we are now.


We are a five-person company with three employees and two founders. We are still small, we work our butts off to make our games as good as they can be, and hope to beef up with more resources as we grow larger.

We have built online, statistic-intensive games and communities for Baseball, Hockey, Hoops and Football. Over the next year, we will build games for the World Cup, College Football and, hopefully, several other sports.


Our #1 priority over the next few months is to scale our games with our audience. This is why, for example, we have avoided ranking-based systems: they can work for an audience of 26,000 (SWB '97), but DON'T work for an audience of 350,000 (SWB '98) and certainly will not work in the future if we continue to grow. We are also investigating major technological shifts ranging from new servers to multiple-player trading.

Our #2 priority is to make our games easier to understand and more specific to the sportsfan. Changing the pricing module to weekly updates was one such attempt that had mixed results. For our World Cup game, we won't have pricing at all! This will emphasize the actual game statistics. And for our fall games, we will look at a pricing module that de-emphasizes the buyer's market while still allowing player prices and roster values to change.

We will also be de-emphasizing "wildcard" rules, which confused many and didn't add to the competitive spirit of the games. Also, no slight to Guru intended, we want to make scoring more intuitive and easier to understand. Requiring stat percentages for die-hards is a great idea, but it's tough for the "average" user to understand!

Our #3 priority is to build out the SWS community. Some of you have e-mailed me about the Fan's Column for Baseball -- this is something that, quite frankly, I can do only when we're firing on all (or at least some) cylinders. With each game, we go through growing pains that make it hard for us to keep our "personalized" focus. Baseball, during which we took in 200,000+ new managers, has been our most difficult game to manage to date.


We want all SWS managers to care as much about our games as Guru and the rest of you who frequent his site. Reading boards like this is how SWS gets better.

We are also, as you know, small. We WILL make mistakes EVERY SINGLE season -- from updating stats to price updates to rule changes. It is my goal, then, to let you know that we're listening, we're improving and we're growing in a direction that we hope will keep you interested . . .

Thanks for sticking with us and keeping your passion for SWS games,

SWS Commish

Thanks for the feedback, Erik. I'm sure most of us "know-it-alls" have no realistic appreciation for the technical challenges that come with running a game for hundreds of thousands of players. I certainly pledge to do my best to continue to support and advance the best free fantasy sports experience on the internet. I hope you'll continue to keep us apprised of your developments from time to time. You can use my "blurbspace" anytime.

And let me make one suggestion to all SW managers. Remember, this is a free game for you. But staffing and technology resources cost money. If you want to do your part to accelerate Smallworld's growth capacity, you need to support their advertisers, who are their primary revenue source. Don't forget to click on those ads! It really does help!

I guess I'd be remiss if I didn't make one final - and admittedly unrelated - comment today. So here goes: There was a pretty good game pitched yesterday afternooon. 'Nuff said. Happy trading.

5/6 (later) - I think I figured out how to get feedback. Change something first, and then see how many people complain. I've started receiving pleas to revert back to a 15-day lookback period everyday. If you have a strong preference, let me know tonight, because if there is no support (other than Jeph) for a 7-day lookback, I'll use 15-day tomorrow.

5/6 - As promised, today's summary stats show SWP's for the past seven days. Now that I've seen the data this way, I'm even less convinced that it adds value (vs. a 15-day lookback). For pitchers, sorting by 7-day production tends to highlight the pitchers with two starts vs. those with only one start. And for hitters, it doesn't appear to have sorted players much differently than in yesterday's 15-day table. In any event, I'll stick with the 7-day table tomorrow as well, and then revert back to 15-days on Friday. If anyone has strong feelings about the usefulness of one period vs. the other, let me know.

5/5 - Jose Mercedes surrendered 11 earned runs and 12 hits in 3-1/3 innings pitched, which was good enou...... er, bad enough for -199 SWP, which is actually only the second worst outing of the season. On April 14, Scott Sanders gave up 11 runs and 16 hits in four innings, a -204 SWP effort. In fact, Sanders was dropped from the roster shortly thereafter. I doubt if many teams have either of these hurlers, but if you do, I extend my heartfelt sympathy.

Several people reported to me yesterday that CBS Sportsline shows projected starting pitchers 7 days in advance. See the favorite links page for directions to get there.

I've decided to show trailing 7-day SWP totals in my stat summaries posted on Wednesday and Thursday this week. On Friday, I'll revert to 15-day lookbacks. This should cover the need for those who are looking for the hottest players just prior to the pricing deadline, while providing a more meaningful time period the rest of the week. I'll probably continue this approach throughout the season. I've also added a 7-day SWP total to each player's individual stat page. Just one more attempt to be "all things to all people." Hope this solution is satisfactory. If it's not, tough noogies!

I've been asked by some to update my estimate of the distribution of franchise values after last week's repricing. Here's my best shot:

  • 99th percentile - $100 million
  • 95th percentile - $89 million
  • 90th percentile - $82 million
  • 85th percentile - $77 million
  • 80th percentile - $73 million
  • 75th percentile - $70 million
In general, values in the upper end of the competitive universe rose by roughly $4 million over the previous week, although the top 1% gained more like $6 million. I was also asked how many teams are active. Without knowing exactly how to define "active", I think a fair number to use is about 65,000 active teams at the Smallworld site, and about 145,000 at the CNNSI site. Quite a few, eh?

5/4 - Streaks. It seems like baseball is the streakiest of all sports. Hitters will go on a tear for a couple of weeks, and then just stink up the joint for awhile. Ditto for pitchers.

Some people have remarked that the best strategy in fantasy baseball is to buy the players who are hot, and ride the streaks. But how realistic is that? How do you know when a streak is starting? By the time you've identified it as a streak, how likely is it that the streak is about to end? Are some players more prone to streaks than others, or does it just seem that way?

These are all questions that I hope to research this season. I sometimes wonder whether chasing the hot streaks is actually a counterproductive strategy. If any of you have thoughts on this subject, drop me a note.

Meanwhile, I've abandoned my search for Grudzielanek trades. I'm also going to defer posting a summary of your various gripes. I'd rather not fan the flames - or inflame the fans... whichever.

5/3 - Today marks the gala opening of Guru's Hall of Fame, where winners of my various contests will forever be immortalized. The first two enshrinees are Joanna Brock, winner of the March Madness Contest, and Doug Taylor, winner of the Hoops 2nd Chance League. Be sure to stop by and pay your respects. Like Lou Boudreau says, "This is reaching the top."

Curt Schilling must often wish he was on a better team. Look at his linescore from yesterday: 7 innings, 5 hits, 1 walk, 1 earned run, 13 strikeouts - and a loss. His ERA is a 1.80, and his won-loss record is only 3-3. I guess he needs to pitch no-hitters.

Still no reported sightings of Grudzielanek. If nothing else comes of this, at least I have learned how to spell Grudzielanek.

5/2 - First, my processing of this week's IPO players was flawed. Yesterday, I had some of them at the wrong position, and I also see that I have price changes showing for them, even though their prices did not change. I'll fix this today. Sorry for the false alarm... there were enough goofy things happening yesterday without me adding to the confusion.

This Grudzielanek issue really has me puzzled. I would have suspected that it is just some sort of data error, except that it looks like Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Elster have incurred the flip side selling activity - implying that there really are a lot of trades out there. The only thing I can think of is that some hacker has found a way to register teams and execute trades programmatically, which I presume is technologically possible. It is implausible that a sufficient number of trades could have been entered manually unless an awful lot of people were involved. Bear in mind that to produce a price increase of greater than $1.5 million, you would need to have net buys falling between those for the two Kennys - Lofton and Rogers. That puts the number of net buys well up in the thousands. No one has yet found any of these trades, but I still think they must be out there somewhere. Maybe on the CNN/SI side of the game? If we could find some of these trades, I think we'd have a better understanding. And if there was "tampering" associated with the Grudzielanek trades, could there have also been tomfoolery associated with some of the other players?

I'm very disturbed that the integrity of the game has obviously been compromised - but until the "Grudzielanek paradox" has been explained, I think it is premature to jump to conclusions about what is really going on. Something is rotten in Denmark (but not in Uruguay, I assure you). Let's see if we can sniff it out, all you Sherlocks!

Meanwhile, this seems like a propitious time to introduce a new feature to my baseball arsenal. Starting today, I'm providing price ratio support for the MajorLeagueMarket baseball stock market simulation. I've been dabbling there for a month now, and I have learned a lot. Recognize that it is still a relatively new site, and is clearly in the development stage. But there is significant promise, I believe. This sites biggest challenges today seem to be the building of critical mass and enhancing the availability of technical data. Hopefully, my price ratio analysis, which I plan to update daily, will help MLM players to better evaluate the market. I know many of you have already been active there, and I encourage the rest of you to check it out. Over time, I hope to expand my coverage to team stocks, commodities, and other instruments (such as options) as they become available for trading.

5/1 (post-thinking) -

I've read all the "venting" emails, and "I feel your pain." I'm still considering how best to respond - to you and to Smallworld - so pardon my reticence while I take some more time to reflect.

I'll try to condense your various points into a consolidated feedback letter. If I printed them all verbatim, there would be a lot of redundancy, and a lot of ink. I will try to capsulize everything over the weekend. (BTW, the latest feedback letter - just posted - actually arrived this morning, before today's pricing debacle.)

5/1 (post-pricing) - Don't ask! I have no idea!

(an hour later) Woowee! My emailbox is filling with Smallworld "hate mail". Fortunately, people seem to realize that I am just an outside observer in all this.

I didn't realize how ironic my choice of today's quote would turn out to be! Obviously, in order to do what they've done, Smallworld obviously couldn't have kept doing what they've done in the past. (Follow that?)

While I'm reflecting on this latest bizarre turn of events, let me do some detective work. If anyone can find a team that bought Mark Grudzielanek this past week, would you please email me that team's name. There are evidently thousands of them lurking out there somewhere.

5/1 - Mayday! There seems to be some "venting" going on in the feedback pages. Three letters were received and posted yesterday, all pining for the "good old days" of last season. I imagine I'll get more on this topic, too.

In addition to the book of baseball quotes, I also bought a JavaScript book this week. I think I've figured out how to build a page that will look up and tally SW points for a roster of players, and I think I can let you save that roster in a cookie file, so you won't have to input it from scratch each day. It will still probably take me a few weeks to get it written and debugged, though, so please be patient while I work this out. I'm sure this is an exercise in which the only way to learn how to do it right will be to screw it up a few times first.

I ended up making eight trades this week. Three of them were complete "no-brainers", and another three will probably work out well from a price standpoint. The other two were primarily to use some idle cash to pick up better players that I'd prefer to own longer term. Of my 14 roster slots, 7 are now filled with guys that I think I'll be happy to hold for the entire season, barring injuries. My point ranking is only around 7000th place right now, so I need to get to work on piling up some points. I don't recall ever being this far back in Hoops.

I'm going to wait for new prices before updating the player pages and summary stats. Yesterday's points are already posted.

Click here for prior daily blurbs, by month:

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<>.