Final Decisions in ottoneu

The clock is ticking ever closer to the ottoneu keeper deadline and you now have less than a week to make your final cuts. By the end of the day (midnight ET) on January 31, your rosters need to be at or below 40 players and you have to have at least $1 in cap space for every open roster spot.

I know I am still making some hard choices – should I trade a $14 Jason Kipnis for a $32 Paul Goldschmidt? Which of my five $20+ pitchers and three $30+ OF should I keep? – and that is just in one league. So I thought I would take a look at those choices and hope that it can help you make your last cuts, as well.

A couple housekeeping notes, before I dive into my original ottoneu league team. First, the deadline is above, but just one more reminder – you need to make your cuts before the calendar turns to February. Trades need to by completed by then, too. Your roster organizer tab doesn’t actually do anything – it helps you analyze your roster (and you should definitely use it for that purpose) but players you mark to cut there will not be automatically cut. To make your cuts, you go to the Teams tab and click the Cut Players link.

With that, let’s look at my process for answering the questions I asked in the intro and see what lessons can be learned.

Should I trade a $14 Jason Kipnis for a $32 Paul Goldschmidt? This is basically an offer that came to me yesterday (I was asked to include a $5 Dan Straily in the deal, but we’ll leave him out for now) and I turned it down. There are basically four factors that I considered in evaluating this (and any off-season) deal: first and foremost, I look at team needs. I plan to be in a position to win this year, and that means maximizing production. If the season started today, my MI would be Kipnis, Ian Desmond and a Stephen Drew/Scotter Gennett platoon. Losing Kipnis creates a big hole. But my starting 1B would be Victor Martinez. I like Victor, but boy oh boy would that be a big upgrade.

The next factor is production of the two players. Based on FanGraphs Points (which I often use as a rough proxy for 4×4), Goldy was the #2 1B; Kipnis was the #4 2B. I am high on Kipnis and expect him to end up in the top 3 next year (I see him passing Matt Carpenter), and he could even move up more than that. At 1B, as much as I love Goldschmidt, I expect him to fall behind Joey Votton in 4×4 and some others (Edwin Encarnacion, for one) could chase him down, too. Even so, I have a hard time calling Kipnis a better fantasy producer than Goldschmidt, particularly in 4×4 where Kipnis’s stolen bases don’t add value. But you are still talking about two guys both expected to be top 3 or so at their positions.

Third, I look at value. When you are looking to win, I always recommend focusing on production over value, but you win by maximizing the production you get from $400 spent. and that means finding value. And this is where Kipnis for Goldschmidt falls apart for me. Let’s assume I have $50 to spend on 1B and 2B (which is about what I have budgeted). Kipnis and $36 provides much more value than Goldy and $18. When you add in future years – Kipnis will be a good value for a long-time, or will take on most of my arbitration allocation dollars for another year or two.

Finally, you need to look at your alternative options on the free agent market. Right now, if I don’t want to stick with Gennett at 2B, the following players are free agents: Dustin Pedroia, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Phillips. Robinson Cano might join that group, but I doubt it. At 1B, the options right now are Eric Hosmer and…not much else. But at 1B I see at least two more players I expect to be out there. Prince Fielder is the highest paid 1B in our league, and I can’t see him being kept. $40 for Adrian Gonzalez is a lot, especially for an owner paying $48 for Votto. I also could platoon Martinez with someone like Mike Napoli (who I think may get cut), Ryan Howard, or perhaps someone else.

At the end of the day, my options to fill either position are limited, and as a result, it is crucial to have cash on hand to fill either one. And for that reason – the much lower price at which I can sit on an elite 2B – I am sticking with Kipnis.

Which of my $20+ SP and $30+ OF do I keep?
I rank my five expensive pitchers in terms of expected production as: Max Scherzer, Zach Greinke, Matt Moore, Jordan Zimmermann, Matt Garza. But in terms of value, while I think they are all keepable, I would say they rank: Scherzer ($33), Zimmermann ($20), Moore ($32), Garza ($20), Greinke ($46). I can definitely keep two of these five, and maybe three. I would say Scherzer is definitely being kept, but after that, do I take the production of Greinke or the value of Zimmermann? And does Moore make the cut? Or does keeping a third player mean taking the cheaper Garza? Right now, I am leaning towards Scherzer, Zimmermann and one more, but I really have no idea who. Probably not Greinke, due to budget, but we’ll see.

As for the OF, I’d project their production as Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Heyward, Jay Bruce, but their values as Choo ($32), Bruce ($36), Heyward ($40). That makes it pretty clear that Choo is a keeper, but the other two? Heyward is probably too expensive, and therefore probably a cut, but Bruce provides a lot of power for a reasonable price. Right now, my plan is to keep him.

The key thing to take away here is that values don’t exist in a vacuum. In both these cases, my ability to keep the expensive players is based in the fact that I have cheaper, productive players filling out those positions, leaving me with cash to spend. At the same time, just because a player is worth their salary does not mean they fit on your team. All eight of those players (except maybe Heyward) are keepable in this league, but I can’t keep all eight.

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11 Responses to “Final Decisions in ottoneu”

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  1. Bartender Jack says:

    I pretty much know who I’m keeping in all my ottoneu points leagues at this point, one tough decision I’m facing is on a $48 Cargo.

    If I keep him I’ll only have about $35 to fill 13 roster spots
    BUT my only holes are 2 reliever spots and a SS.

    I could pick up two relievers for under $8 total, go with a couple crappy $1-2 shortstops and have about $25 for 8-9roster spots.
    Cutting it close, but I do think Cargo will provide a lot of production and if he reaches this auction, he will not go for less than $48 due to other teams with big money to spend and not a lot of elite players available.

    I’ll take this decision down to the wire, but right now I’m leaning towards keeping the safe player and going cheap at short (where the free agents are looking dismal at the moment anyway)

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    • Chad Young says:

      With $35 to fill SS and 2 RP slots, I agree I’d spend no more than $2 on each RP (you can almost always find relievers during the season if the guys you take a shot on flounder), leaving you $31 for 11 spots, including SS. I’d spend like $10-$15 to get a solid starting SS, leaving you with $16-$21 to fill the remainder with $1-$2 guys. If you have a solid all-around offense and can afford to be weak at SS, taking two cheaper guys could work, but it is more risky.

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  2. Jonathan Sher says:

    I’m not sure what thought process or methodology you are using to make decision. In my main league, a traditional roto league with 12 owners, 40-man rosters and A.L. only, I calculate values for each unit of production and its variance with replacement value in our league, then project production and calculate a value for each player. That plays a critical role in deciding who to keep in a league that allows up to 15 keepers.

    If you are employing any method at all, could you let us know what it is? I can look up Otteneau points and come up with a value for the number of points per dollar spend and see that last year Jordan Zimmerman was worth four times as much per dollar spent than was Garza, for example.If I were to expect similar production in 2014, the gap so enormous it wouldn’t be worth discussing.

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    • Chad Young says:

      Last year’s performance is only part of the equation and I tend to focus more on projections for 2014, as well as my own inclination towards whether a player will improve or fall off. For example, Garza back in the NL will, I think, be far more valuable than he was last year. And I think that on a per inning basis, the Garza-Zimmermann gap is less than it looks at first glance. With the same price tag, I definitely go with Zimmermann over Garza, but I am not sure I can see the argument for calling him 4x more valuable.

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  3. Kris says:

    This is an interesting point in the calendar. It often pays to wait until quite late for cuts on high priced stars to see what else is going to be out there in the auction. If there are 2 or 3 other SP aces thrown back into the pot, maybe it’s worth throwing one of your own in as well. But if your own high priced ace is the only guy worth bidding on, the scarcity might drive up his price and backfire on auction day.

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    • Chad Young says:

      That depends on what your goal is. If I don’t see some SP getting cut soon, I may cut Greinke to do two things – 1) to make sure there is a SP (who I don’t really need) out there to drive up bidding early in the auction and use up dollars and 2) to try to convince a few other owners to drop high priced SP, too. That may create enough supply that I can stick with only two of my five expensive SP and then sit through the early SP in the auction until someone slips through at a lower-than-expected price.

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  4. byron says:

    Trades have to be accepted and pending by the 31st, not completed, right?

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  5. jfree says:

    Question re vote-off arbitration players. Can they be traded and does the $5 discount go with the trade? And is that timeline the keeper deadline or did it already pass on the arbitration/vote-off date?

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    • Chad Young says:

      Voted off players cannot be traded. They will be automatically cut at the deadline (actually, they may have been removed from rosters already) and the discount will be automatically applied (if applicable) at the auction.

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      • byron says:

        Small correction: a little clearer to say the discount is applied AFTER the auction, to indicate that when you bid, you’re bidding pre-discount prices.

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