Gurney's Inn
July 12, 2006

Fantasy Sports

Inside Information

It's a mistake to think you're smarter than your opponent.

Yes, you may have an uncanny knack for spotting good young players before they have break-out seasons. Yes, you may have a history of getting the best of your rivals with shrewd trades. But there is only one sure way to get a leg-up on your opponents: inside information.

A case in point: about a month ago I was listening to WFAN talk radio, 24-hour a day sports talk. Mike and the Mad Dog were doing their regular weekly interview with Willie Randolph, the Mets' manager.

Meanwhile, in my rotisserie league, there was an interesting offer on the table: Tom Glavine, my ace, for Eric Gagne, the Dodgers' spectacular relief pitcher who had just come back from surgery. I was desperate for Saves, and Gagne had just retired the Mets in order the night before to earn his first Save.

"How'd Gagne look?" Dog asked Willie.

Usually, in these spots guys say a complimentary thing, but Willie suddenly blurted out, "Not too good. The guys were saying it looked like there was something wrong with him."

Bingo! Inside information! Almost immediately, Randolph realized what he had done. "Jeez, I hope it was OK to say that," he said.

I called up and cancelled my deal and within a week Gagne was back on the disabled list.

Most of us don't know any ballplayers personally, so the next best thing is to listen to sports radio and bury your nose in the hometown newspapers. Don't forget, the beat writers travel with the team and they are often aware of the little nagging injuries that might hurt a player's performance.

Here's a tip from Mike Fransesca from the Mike and The Mad Dog Show: Mike says he has been told that the Phillies are enamored with Shane Victorino, their rookie outfielder, and plan on trading a regular outfielder (Bobby Abreu or Pat Burrell) to free up time for him. Go ahead and grab him on spec.

Inter-league Trading

Which brings us to inter-league trading. If you're in a regular fantasy baseball league, players traded from one team to another continue to accrue stats. But if you are in an AL only or NL only league, the July 31 trading deadline can make or break you. Consider the case of Alfonso Soriano, Washington speedster/slugger. Soriano is a fantasy monster, but he could also be a fantasy nightmare. In my league the Tommy Johns are peddling a package headlined by Soriano and Roger Clemens (Yes, regular readers will remember we discussed him last week and yes, the TJs bid $51 to get him) and others for my young, dynamic slugger, Ryan Howard, The problems are many: For one thing, Soriano is a free agent after the season, meaning the Nats could get something for him now or get nothing at the end of the season. What's worse, Washington is a thrifty club and Soriano draws a healthy salary.

You have to assume Soriano will be traded, which means I have a 50 percent chance that he'll be traded to a National league team and thus still eligible for our league.

Once again, this is where inside information rules. I heard on the Yankees network that Washington had scouts out watching Philip Hughes, a Yankees' minor leaguer. It doesn't mean the Yanks will trade Hughes, but it does mean Washington is looking to make a move.

Conclusion: Soriano is too iffy to pull the trigger on the deal.

Update: NARL update: Skippy is still in second with 64.5 points, trailing the Runaway Bandits (80). The North Albany Rotisserie league is one of the oldest in the country.

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