Friday, December 9, 2016

Open Comment Thread on Possible Rule Change - Changes to Roster Size and Carryover limits

I continually try to look at ways to keep leagues competitive, although that doesn't mean we make a lot of rule changes.  One move a couple years ago was to make multiyear contracts more expensive, but that's a slow change that may be starting to take effect as some cheaper long-term contracts begin to expire.  I don't want to necessarily penalize really good teams and keep them from contending for repeats.  And I know that in some cases, the quality of competition within some divisions over the years has allowed some long strings of repeat division winners.  Still, it's a bit discouraging to watch - and I'm sure it is for teams in these divisions - when some pennant races appear to be over after 3-4 weeks.

Over the last few years, I've received a couple of seemingly conflicting requests from multiple people:
  • "Maybe we should limit the number of players teams can keep so that it promotes more good players going back into the free agent pool"
  • "How about if we can keep more of the younger players to allow time for prospects to make it to the majors?"
I used to think these were exclusive options - but as I thought about it through the 2016 season, I think they can be done at the same time.  This would be a major change in the roster composition that has largely been in place since BWB began in 2000.

As I talked to one of BWB's original players this summer, the "if it's not broke, don't fix it" phrase came up - so I am doing this with some caution.  And I don't think it's necessarily broken, but might be made better.

So please provide any feedback you might have toward this option.  We're already baseball nerds playing this game instead of just a simple roto game, but it shouldn't be too complex.

IF this were to happen, it would take effect after the Redistribution Draft - it will not affect your current carryover of 28 players.

Please comment to this post if you have any feedback.  It's not really a vote, but if there's significant leaning one way or the other that will help me.

More details to be fleshed out if the rules actually take effect, but here are the basic ideas:

40-man roster changes to a 50-man roster with this breakdown:
  • 14 active hitters (9 starters, 5 bench)
  • 12 active pitchers (5 SP, 5 RP, 2 spot)
  • 4-man taxi squad, increased from 2 - provides a bit more flexibility for injuries and minor league demotions for players with salaries 251 and higher
  • 10 players, down from 12, in the minor leagues - must have salary 250 or lower
  • 10 players in a new "Low Minor Leagues"
  • plus the one IR spot that doesn't count against the roster

The Low Minors work this way:
  • After the Redistribution Draft and at any time during the season, players can be designated for the Low Minors with these conditions:
    • 100 salary only
    • Can never have played in the majors (at the time of designation)
    • There is a non-refundable charge - probably 100 - for moving a player to Low Minors - let's call it "player development costs"
    • Move is permanent for the current season - cannot be moved out of the low minors until after next season's Redistribution Draft, but can be traded or cut.
    • Players in the low minors do not count against the total number of players carried over in December (though can be cut at that time).

Roster Carryover:
  • Players in the Low Minors are not counted against carry over numbers.
  • Maximum number of players that can be carried over from the 40-man section of the roster into the next season is decreased from 28 to 20
  • Teams must pay for the salaries for the next season for all the players they keep at this time

Redistribution Draft:
  • Players in the Low Minors do not count against roster size
  • Draft proceeds as it currently operates, with maximum roster limit for drafting new players remaining at 40
  • After the Redistribution Draft, the players in the Low Minors are moved back to "Regular Minors" and the process starts over to move players into the low minors for the next season

The "40-man roster" would still be a consideration during the regular season for transactions/trades.  To sign a player, there would have to be room on that 40-man portion - so corresponding moves of eligible players to the low minors may be needed.  I would plan on providing a new signing option - to allow eligible players to be signed directly to the Low Minors so that rosters don't have to be torn up when signing new prospects.

There would be a time after the Redistribution Draft where there might be more than 40 players on the "40-man" roster.  Before Opening Day, teams would need to move players down to the Low Minors - and would not be able to acquire any new players at all during the time the roster is above 40.

To cover an extra 10 roster spots of players at minimum salary, an extra 1000 would be added to the salary cap.  But the transaction cost of 100 per move to Low Minors would NOT be added to the cap.

New leagues would draft with a roster limit of 40.  The moves to Low Minors would open when the league moves to weekly transactions.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Rule Change Aftermath - Comments on Redistribution Draft

A lot of the comments regarding the idea of breaking up the Redistribution Draft into weekly submit/post parts delved into changing the structure - to not give 3 picks at a time...

Those comments are taken seriously - and may result in changes in the future - but that's not up for a change this time.  This is a holdover from Robot Baseball that I like - it's a method for instant improvement if done correctly (and if guesses are correct).

It's communism.  It's socialism.  It's welfare.  Whatever - and I am aware of the fears of "tanking" to get the first draft spot.  There are some other pieces of the game that hopefully are in place (or can be strengthened) to provide incentives for keeping teams improving through the season (post-season tournaments, cash for each win - just increased, etc.).

But the idea here is to try to provide quick turnarounds with some effort so that there's hope from one season to the next (or maybe within 2-3 years).

What's the history in BWB?  Here's a check about how 90-loss teams do in the next season, two seasons later, and three seasons later.  Then how about 90-win teams?

Category # of Teams Avg wins first year Avg wins next period Avg change in wins # of Improved Teams % Improved Teams # of Division titles % of Division titles
90 Losses - 1 year later - Total 368 53.54 69.42 15.88 309 84.0% 50 13.6%
90 Losses - 1 year later - Same owner 248 54.40 68.33 13.93 205 82.7% 27 10.9%
90 Losses - 1 year later - Different owner 120 51.80 71.67 19.87 104 86.7% 23 19.2%

90 Losses - 2 years later - Total 298 53.43 71.95 18.52 269 90.3% 55 18.5%
90 Losses - 2 years later - Same owner 164 54.65 70.29 15.64 147 89.6% 27 16.5%
90 Losses - 2 years later - Different owner 134 51.93 73.98 22.05 122 91.0% 28 20.9%

90 Losses - 3 years later - Total 233 53.22 73.24 20.02 212 91.0% 46 19.7%
90 Losses - 3 years later - Same owner 108 54.23 71.63 17.40 94 87.0% 23 21.3%
90 Losses - 3 years later - Different owner 125 52.34 74.64 22.30 118 94.4% 23 18.4%

As comparison, what about teams on the opposite end of the scale - those with 90+ wins:

Category # of Teams Avg wins first year Avg wins next period Avg change in wins # of Same or Improved Teams % Same or Improved Teams # of Division titles % of Division titles
90 Wins - 1 year later - Total 350 94.99 84.48 -10.51 63 18.0% 175 50.0%
90 Wins - 1 year later - Same owner 332 95.10 84.80 -10.30 61 18.4% 168 50.6%
90 Wins - 1 year later - Different owner 18 92.94 78.50 -14.44 2 11.1% 7 38.9%

90 Wins - 2 years later - Total 284 94.85 81.08 -13.77 43 15.1% 106 37.3%
90 Wins - 2 years later - Same owner 249 95.00 81.83 -13.17 36 14.5% 95 38.2%
90 Wins - 2 years later - Different owner 35 93.74 75.74 -18.00 7 20.0% 11 31.4%

90 Wins - 3 years later - Total 216 94.75 79.26 -15.49 38 17.6% 84 38.9%
90 Wins - 3 years later - Same owner 166 95.11 80.38 -14.73 30 18.1% 68 41.0%
90 Wins - 3 years later - Different owner 50 93.52 75.54 -17.98 8 16.0% 16 32.0%

So...whether or not it's the Redistribution Draft doing it or some of the other mechanisms designed to allow losing teams to improve, it looks like one of the goals of allowing that instant improvement is being met...84% of 90-loss teams have a better record the next season and it's up to 90% of teams with better records than that low point in years 2 & 3.  But even then, the average record 2 years later is still below .500.  It's also encouraging that teams are able to go worst-to-first, but it's not so overwhelming (still fewer than 1 in 5 teams) to make me think the scales are tipped too far in their direction.

Meanwhile, the teams that win 90 games still continue to do well in following seasons.  90 wins is pretty high - and when the average of those teams hovers around 95 wins, then the measure of "same or improved record" may not be a great measure for these team.  They are dropping 10-to-15 wins over years 1-3 after 90 wins, but half the teams still win their division the following season and around 40% are still winning in years 2 & 3.  If anything, that leads me to want to make it even harder for those top teams...but not at this time.

Comments welcome - fire away - and in the future I'll do a similar history check with the absolute worst records and with league champs and see how the extreme parts of the draft fare in future seasons.  There was also worry that breaking up the Redistribution Draft into multiple weeks will completely tip the scales in favor of the bad teams.  Yes...the team with the worst record will essentially be guaranteed all their top picks each week.  However, the multi-week format should benefit teams 2-16 in the draft order as well.  The league champ should be able to get more than the 3-5 players they typically were awarded in the past...

But at this point, no change.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Host of Rule Change Discussions

I've got a number of things under consideration for rules changes.

Some of these might happen, some of them definitely won't (or so I think) ...but I'm always curious to get feedback from owners on what they think.  This is a better forum for me to collect opinions (and hopefully for some intra-owner discussion too) than just to collect emails.

They're all in the posts below, but here are direct links to the call for comments/opinions:
Some things I like to hold to the tradition of the original Robot Baseball rules - or maybe "that's just how it's done here."

Some changes suggested make the rules more complicated...with different conditions for different parts of the season and I like to keep things simple when possible (though I know we do have different rules at different times already).

Changes that revolve around lineup usage - it's always easier to look at one or two games and consider how you'd do the lineup differently if you were doing it by hand.  It's another thing to have a rule in place to check the starting lineups/bench usage (and the computer code to do so) for the 328 unique games that are scored for each BWB game.

Some things may just have no easy technical or web implementation.

Beware of unintended consequences...

Some things may make sense to change...

Chime in where you have opinions - and not just if you desire a change.  The squeaky wheel here is usually the push for a change - I'm interested in hearing as much from the defenders of the status quo to get an accurate feel.

You don't have to do this all at once - none of these changes would likely be announced until at least October - and the history here will also be useful to check back on in another year or two.

As always, thanks for your input....

Open Comment Thread for Potential Rule Change - Trade Deadline

Is the trade deadline too late in BWB?

Deadlines for contract extensions (last transaction period in July) and trades (last transaction period in August) have been calendar based since we started.

In 2014, the trade deadline is the final one in August - Wed, August 27.

This is Week 22 and traded players hit new rosters/lineups for Week 23 and just 3 weeks of the regular season plus the playoffs.

Do you think that's OK or do you see any problems with this?  (Whether that's in the balance of competitiveness so late in the season, possibility of collusion, salary dumps so late in the season after there are no rebates for releases, etc.)

For example, would a better trade deadline be, say, Week 20 - regardless of calendar date?
This year that deadline would be August 14.

I'm not leaning one way or the other - just trying to see where people stand on this.

Open Comment Thread for Potential Rule Change - Cash Trades, Good or Bad?

What's your thought on cash trades? ...that is, player(s) given up and the only return is cash

I don't want to get rid of them entirely, but have some concerns in implementation - largely in the "Player X is available for $100" broadcast message types types of trades.  Or even absent the email broadcast, there end up being some trades with minimal cash trading hands.

This isn't to demonize the people who do it - they're playing within the rules and it's a smart move on their part.  There are reasons to do it, including helping the team's bottom line financially.  But my concerns are:
  1. This turns what I like to be a game you can check in on once a week if you prefer into a first-come, first-served situation.  Yeah - all trades are first-come, first-served to some extent if a target team likes the first offer - but the announcement of taking the first $100 to come your way is a little different.
  2. It's a glorified cut - and the trade to the first team to pony up a small amount of cash circumvents the waiver order system that would come into play in attempting to sign that player via free agency if he was cut instead of traded.
  3. It's an unintended loophole to allow salary rebates after Week 15.  Rebates for cut players end on Week 15, but prorated salary rebates for trades continue as long as the trades do.  That in itself is a good thing - I want that to be available to stimulate trades.  But for the "glorified cut" style of cash trade, this kind of circumvents the general spirit of the salary rebate.
  4. You could argue also there are collusion concerns, but that's not my general feeling.
I finally figured out the post-Week 15 proliferation of bargain-basement cash trade offerings a few years ago - getting that late salary rebate for a guy you'd actually be cutting for no return.  But this year I noticed a lot of it coming in the early part of the regular season too - and I think again the rebate structure comes into play...from Weeks Zero through 5 the maximum salary rebate is 80%, but the trade rebates cycle from 100% down to 80% - so there's added benefit on a $100-trade for a player rather than cutting him.

In a game where cash limitations are a prime concern, I get the need and the strategic value for cash/salary relief in the late season.  However, I think overall cash balances are out of whack (and too high) and I'm looking for ways to tighten the finances.

This may or may not be one of the ways to do that.

I'm interested in hearing your opinion on this - whether you see it as a major problem, you strongly defend the status quo, or fall somewhere in between (or don't even care).  Maybe you have some other reasons that what I've outlined above.

For the purposes of this comment thread, I would just prefer you to comment on the situation of cash-only tradesWe'll discuss alternative strategies in a different post and I'd rather see your comments or suggestions there in one spot on potential changes.

Open Comment Thread for Potential Rule Change - Cash Trades: Fixing It

Let's say in the thread about cash-only trades the overwhelming sentiment is that change needs to be made (or regardless of comments, I decide to change it unilaterally).

What would be a good fix?

Things to keep in mind:
  • Avoid as many different rules for different times of the season as possible
  • Avoid unnecessary difficulty and complexity for the website and general administration of the game
  • Avoid a lot of extra steps on the part of owners
  • Maintain options for teams...including how to get some extra cash if needed.
Some possibilities, with one or more of the above concepts in simplicity violated in each suggestion:
  1. Eliminate cash-only trades altogether.
  2. Disallow cash-only trades after Week 15.
  3. A pass-through-waiver system for cash-only trades after Week 15 - or maybe all trades for the last few weeks of the trade season. (But the weekly free agent pickup process is our real implementation of a waiver system).
  4. An auction system for cash-only trades after Week 15 - Team puts up a player on the blocks within the first 1-2 days of a transaction period (kind of like our current flurry of broadcast email messages) - and teams have until the transaction deadline to submit a blind bid - highest bid wins.
  5. Some minimum fixed cash amount required to be sent in the trade - say, $500..or $1000 (pick a number).
  6. Some minimum cash amount required to be sent in the trade based on player salary - say 10% or 25% of the player's salary must be offered up to get the player.
The auction system goes to the highest bidder...but provides no control to the team trading away the player - you might prefer to trade him outside your division or conference.

Either minimum cash proposal actually funnels even more cash back to the team dumping the player, but perhaps limits the pool of possible buyers or makes them think a bit more about it (pay more cash + pay the pro-rated salary).

Other suggestions?  Or thoughts on these?

Open Comment Thread for Potential Rule Change - Larger Roster Sizes

Suggested to me this year:

"How about adding 5 more minor league spots.  These extra spots will help teams that are low in the standings to build a stronger farm system and also help teams that know their prospects well.  The catch though would be that once a team assigns a minor leaguer to one of these 5 special spots, they CANNOT be moved to until the end of the season (September call ups)."

Your thoughts?
I'm personally in favor of maintaining the 40-man roster - largely to keep more players in the pool - one of the "constraints" in BWB is roster size and a choice in the late season to keep a prospect or cut him loose to make room for an injury replacement is a big decision.