If you are in a league that allows for FAAB (Free Agent Acquisition Bidding) then you are probably having a lot of fun right now.
Well, OK, maybe not if your league is mixed, but for those of us who play under rules where there are weekly blind bids for free agents -- and that means un-owned prospects promoted (like Josh Phegley the last cycle), or intra-league trade victims (like Scott Feldman the last cycle) -- it means allocating your remaining funds carefully, spending accordingly, and most important, ideally outfoxing your league mates.
Garza: next arm up for grabs?
To wit, let's use Mr. Feldman as an example, for there was a bit of anticipation regarding just how much the new Oriole's FAAB price tag in the Tout and LABR leagues would be (we all start out with $100 at the start of the season).
In fact in AL Tout, my mates Glenn Colton and Rick Wolf noted to the league that they controlled the FAAB board with $87 (I am second at $84) and that they were willing to bargain some of their wealth for an appropriate player (no takers).
What was surprising was that Tout leader Larry Schechter won the rights to Feldman for just $16 (Larry actually bid $29, but Tout uses Vickrey rules, which allow the winner to roster the player in question for $1 over the second highest bid), thus beating out Jeff Erickson who bid $15, followed by Ron Shandler's $10, Matthew Berry's $5, and Colton and Wolf looking at a $0 chance.
Larry also nabbed Feldman in AL LABR, for $23 (no Vickrey, or trading of FAAB money, in that league), over Greg Ambrosius and Shawn Childs' $17, Dave Adler's $13 attempt, and Nick Minnix's $12.
This is a startlingly low amount for a starting pitcher, going to a contending club, with a 7-6, 3.46 record.
I think there are two explanations for this: The first is the owners were all holding out for a bigger trade deadline swap and even more impacting player; or, they thought Feldman was overachieving, and would be a bust back in the AL.
It is true Feldman was torched Monday, allowing seven runs and nine hits over 5 1/3 innings.
However, before completely dismissing the former Cub, and Ranger, let's look back to Feldman's 2009 second half.
Feldman had a 3-2, 3.72 mark in July over five starts, then a 5-0, 2.89 record over six more in August, finishing September with a more earthly 3-4, 5.45.
And, those are numbers that helped me win the Tout title that year (I traded for him just before the deadline).
So, the FAAB gamble is can Feldman contribute as he did that 2009 season when he went 17-8, 4.08?
I think he surely can, making the acquisition a steal to the already leading Schechter.
But, Larry will have a hard time making any more trade deadline moves since his funds are now so low.
The rest of us, however, are anticipating movement potentially around Matt Garza, Michael Young, Alex Rios, or even the injured Jake Peavy (look at his last month in 2009 as well, for Peavy was a deadline FAAB pickup for me that year, too).
So, what it boils down to is timing. As in who will be available, roughly how much that player will cost, when he will be available, and whether anyone else in the league is willing to spend what it takes (whatever that amount is).
That means not just selecting the players who will make a statistical difference, but making your bid at the right time, for there are still three more weeks of trade deadline deals lying ahead.
And, if this year is as much fun as last (remember, the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Hunter Pence, and Zack Greinke were traded) two final months of impacting players could indeed make or break a team.
But, since the floodgates for deadline deals have already been opened, the question becomes when do I act?
Because to win, it does no help leaving FAAB on the table any more than leaving any of your salary cap dollars on the draft day table after the auction.
You can bet my $84 will be gone: maybe even more, if I can scrounge it.
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Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.
Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.