Monday, March 26, 2007

Arbitrage Opportunities -or- Dicking Friends for Profit

Saturday was one of the greatest days of this or any year: the drunken live draft, for our eternal (keeper) league. The rules are simple: you can keep up to 5 each year, and these take the place of your corresponding pick in rounds 1-5 . . . after that, it's a snake draft and a 5x5 head-to-head weekly league. One caveat: the batting categories are SB, RBI, R, HR and OBP - the inclusion of OBP over AVG or OPS changes more than you would think . . . for instance, a player like Howie Kendrick is probably worth considerably less in this league than a 'standard' 5x5 league.

The day started pretty standard for me: I was about a half-hour late to the draft, and had to repair my laptop because I'd drunkenly attempted to jam the battery back in the wrong way. While there was definite damage, it was completely cosmetic - needless to say, we drank until about 5am. During this point, I was so intoxicated that I somehow managed to NOT win President in Asshole with a starting hand of (2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, K, K, A, 9) 5-handed. This spun me into drunken life-tilt, and it's somewhat amazing that I didn't do more damage. Anyway.

This is important because the role of alcohol is important - drafts often have a 'texture', and it's important to realize where value can be had. This sets up a sort of pseudo-arbitrage market, where players will be MUCH more valuable than usual rankings, either because of scarcity, bad picks or future needs for other teams. With six bench slots, I had a great chance to abuse these.

I kept 5 players (Howard, Wright, Bay, Mauer, and BJ Ryan) - Mauer and Ryan weren't really my favorite keeps ever, but Mauer will probably be valuable in trade in the offseason and this group tends to overrate closers, so wasting a 5th rounder on Ryan didn't hurt. Also, most were overvaluing their own guys, so it would be hard to get value for dropping dudes.

Here's my draft:

Cory's My Copilot

Round Pick Player Position
K. (8) Ryan Howard 1B
K. (13) David Wright 3B
K. (28) Jason Bay OF
K. (33) Joe Mauer C
K. (48) B.J. Ryan RP
6. (53) Adam Dunn OF
7. (68) Bill Hall 3B,SS
8. (73) Prince Fielder 1B
9. (88) Curt Schilling SP
10. (93) Billy Wagner RP
11. (108) Brett Myers SP
12. (113) Rickie Weeks 2B
13. (128) Dave Bush SP
14. (133) Jered Weaver SP
15. (148) Anthony Reyes SP
16. (153) Curtis Granderson OF
17. (168) Brian Giles OF
18. (173) Kelvim Escobar SP
19. (188) Ian Kinsler 2B
20. (193) Chad Cordero RP
21. (208) Chris Ray RP
22. (213) Brad Penny SP

I think it's pretty obvious how my strategy unfolded: closers were going at bizarre points, including Wagner going really late . . . in a 10-team league, every team will be able to find 2 serviceable relievers, but guys will often panic and ship struggling closers early. Since closers went way late, I was able to snag two of the remaining guys in the 20th/21st, which should close the market. Another drafter was obviously doing the same, so we were able to pull a cooperation play here - while Cordero and Ray are very borderline, combined we have a great opportunity to drive up prices on traded relievers (especially with some savvy waiver-wire work) - especially if Cordero is moved to a contender.

Additionally, 'name' starters were moving fast, but younger guys and high-risk/upside injury guys were all in play. Dave Bush and Anthony Reyes provide me great value in their slots, and when the older, 'name' starters die, I'll be moving from strength (again, waiver-wire work can buttress this plan), especially if someone like Krispy Kreme Escobar can put up some early numbers.

Past that, Kinsler gives me a modicum of protection against a total Rickie Weeks collapse, and my OF situation gives me viable options against any sort of team. On the whole, I'm pleased with my team - just like last season, I should be looking at a top-3 team coming out of the draft, and my injury tolerance is fairly high (and my risk low).

By the way, Sammy Sosa was drafted in the final round. I stood up, ripped up a beer can into the shape of a syringe, and injected myself with Bud Light in protest, then lit myself on fire.

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