Thursday, September 13, 2007

Interview: 2006 MLB.com gamedayritual Attendance Champion

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to ask a couple of questions to the owner of Carr's All Stars of the East Coast Dynasty league - the team that won the 2006 MLB.com gamedayritual Attendance Championship. As we burn down to the end of the 2007 season, we take a look at Jamie Carr's (gdrlogin: jamiecarr) perspective on winning the 2006 MLB.com gamedayritual Attendance crown.

GDR: Your team, Carr’s All Stars, won the East Coast Dynasty league (12 teams, 2 divisions, playoffs) and the 2006 MLB.com gamedayritual Attendance Championship with a 99% capacity. How long have you been running the All Stars?

Jamie: I started up a league as commissioner in GDR’s inaugural 2005 season, so 2006 was the second year for Carr’s All Stars. I have been playing Fantasy Baseball in some way, shape, or form since 1992.

GDR: What are the name and dimensions of the All Stars home field, and is it a hitter’s or pitcher’s park?

Jamie: The home field is called the Hubbardston Diamond. The shape of the field is a dead ringer for the shape of my hometown of Hubbardston, MA, which looks like a diamond. So it is quite a poke at 400ft to center field and only 320ft and 300ft down the left and right field lines. In 2006, the park was designed to provide very slight bonuses for both hitters and pitchers, since I seemed to have a balanced team. For 2007 I raised the walls and made it a dome to heavily favor hitters ( +28% for lefties and +22% for righties). Well, so far my hitters have been underachieving (compared to 2006 anyway), and my pitching staff has been very solid.


GDR: What would you say was the core of the All Stars in 2006? Balance must have been a key, but was it the bats or the arms that got it done for you in the end?

Jamie: My pitching staff was very solid, but I managed to assemble a murderer’s row of bats for my lineup. Many Ramirez was generally batting 7th or 8th, and I had the top total FP hitter at all 4 infield spots, the top OF in Carlos Beltran, and the second best C. Vlad and Manny rounded out the outfield, and Ryan Howard was the DH.

GDR: Did you make any key deals during the course of the season? Or did you stand pat? What about key Free Agent signings?

Jamie: A made one blockbuster deal just after the All Star break, acquiring Albert Pujols, Brian McCann, and Scott Linebrink for Derek Jeter, Paul Konerko, Stephen Drew, and Yovani Gallardo. That trade was key, as it plugged in a hole in the bullpen and at catcher.

GDR: Have the All Stars been able to take advantage of the Prospects Draft to date? Any solid prospects in the pipeline that you hope will make a contribution in the near future?

Jamie: Definitely. This is a big part of the game. The original rules for 2005 hurt a lot as I lost Philip Hughes and Brandon Wood from that draft- they were not called up in 2005 or 2006 so I could not sign them to contracts. I traded away Drew and Gallardo to help me for the stretch run last year, and though it hurts to lose their high ceilings and cheap salaries I can’t complain about the way it has worked out. Joel Zumaya, Jeremy Sowers and Hunter Pence are the other key players I’ve acquired in the prospects draft.

GDR: Do you tend to play your opposition – for example L/R match ups and pitch around – or are you more inclined to take care of your own team, and let the winning take care of itself? Did you use the four-man rotation at all?

Jamie: My basic strategy is to set my own team to the lineup I think will do best. Then, if I have any close calls or can make any adjustments that make sense in terms of match-ups vs. my opponent, I’ll tinker with those. My belief is that the four man rotation should not be used until after the All-Star break (if at all), where the net gain can outweigh the rotation fatigue that is imposed. I would hate to move into the playoffs and lose a squeaker based on rotation fatigue. However, some situations, such as a team with one ace on a poor staff, or a big match-up vs. an arch rival team, could alter this strategy.

GDR: A litany of sports players and managers have emphasized the role of luck in their Championship seasons – what would you say were your lucky breaks in 2006?

Jamie: My lucky breaks were the cheap contracts I signed in 2005 that panned out in 2006: Garrett Atkins, Jose Reyes, Ryan Howard, etc. Also, I saved money until the end of the 2006 FAB. I had my eye on Carlos Beltran, and waited until other teams were out of cash so I could sign him to a 3 year deal at the minimum after coming off that abysmal 2005 season. It was a good strategy, but it was luck that he had such a monster 2006 and made that contract such a bargain.

GDR: As a result of winning your league, you earned a team in the Champion’s League for 2007 – how have you found the experience and the competition to date? You managed to carry five of your hitters forward from your 2006 East Coast Dynasty Championship (Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez, Brian McCann, Garrett Atkins, and Jeremy Sowers) – was the investment worth it in the Champion’s League?

Jamie: The competition has been similar, but admittedly a bit stiffer in the champion’s league. One simple difference lies between 12 and 14 team leagues, where it just becomes that much harder to control a single position, predict what teams will have $ left, and sneak a young player through on a cheap contract. If I can make it out of year one in the champs league, I think I’ll be able to have pretty good success in years two and three. The competition for talent in the Champs league led to what I believe are a lot of bloated contracts that will really weigh down those team as we move past year one. I already waived Jorge Cantu (3 years/ 3mil.; but that 1.5 mil looks to be my only dead money). As far as those specific players:yes, and no. I would argue that I underpaid for Pujols and Garret Atkins (15.5 and 6.5 million, NT, 3 years for each) and paid fair value for the other 3. However, Manny (8.5 mil) and McCann (5.5), and Sowers (3.5) have not produced like I thought they would, so they’re not looking like bargains at almost any price.

GDR: For both real baseball and fantasy baseball: DH or no DH? And why? For real baseball, no DH. For fantasy baseball, yes to the DH.

Jamie: As a Red Sox fan, I love the AL style of baseball, and I love having David Ortiz penciled in as the DH every day. But I have to say that the added strategy and style of NL ball seems superior. I mean, I think I could manage the Red Sox (or Yankees) pretty well (at least in terms of in-game strategy!). Just manage your bullpen, hit and run once a month, and you’re looking good. There are just no tough “pull the pitcher for a pinch hitter” type decisions in the AL. I’m not saying I like the Tony Larussa style of management where you bring in a different reliever for every batter in the 7th and 8th innings, but I like the extra strategy that the NL game brings. In fantasy terms, the DH position is great as it allows teams with extra hitting depth to take advantage.

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