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.

Open Comment Thread for Potential Rule Change - Put more established players into the off-season free agent pool with transaction order based on salary cut

Suggested to me this year:
I just wanted to offer one possible idea that may increase a "rebuilding" team's incentive to retain big money studs rather then trade them to a short-term super team.

As the system sits now, the team with the worst record gets first crack at the top 3 picks in the redistribution draft. That alone Is a huge incentive for teams to tank, Along with the top weekly picks they receive along the way. This may help parity since it allows them a mechanism for gaining assets, but it also may diminish the in-season competition. In short, what if the redistribution picks were ordered as a result of total dollars of players released to free agency at the time of the 28 man roster crunch?

It seems this could possibly incentivize struggling teams to think twice about trading a 10 million player for future salary relief. It may still be practical to do such a thing, but it think it would help some. Last year was a huge haul with Tanaka and others I remember. Also, I think it would make the redistribution draft a huge event if suddenly guys like Miggy or Kershaw were floating around. Doubtful the top redist picks would net a bigger haul then trading one of those studs, but it does seem increasingly difficult to move high priced talent in the off-season.
Your thoughts? (I'm personally in favor of no change as this would be something difficult to track and I do feel there's importance for teams that finished at the bottom one season to get first crack at the draft list)

Also note this change is as much about preventing dumping of players for salary reasons and for tanking late-season to get a better draft position (leaving some teams even more non-competitive during the last few weeks of the season).