Work That Wire | The Golden Sombrero Baseball Blog | MLB, Fantasy, College & High School Baseball News

Work That Wire

April 6, 2010

Working the waiver wire; who wants to worry about that?  Not many people work the waiver wire correctly.  Too often I hear people talking about, “Oh I don’t need to worry about that.  My guys are doing just fine.”  Or, “Who could there possibly be that is better than anyone I have on my bench already?”  Sure, you might not need a guy, but why not take a flyer once in a while?  Find a guy on a hot streak to replace that cold bat.  Or how about finding that arm for a quality spot start?
Working the wire is all about timing.  More often than not, if you are willing to take a risk, an educated one, it pays off big time.  Me, I have three different times where I try to use the wire to my advantage; spot start SP’s, a bat due for a good streak, or just to horde a guy before anyone else in my league can grab him.  Let’s take a look at spot starts.
Spot starting a pitcher is an excellent way to take advantage of quality matchups to help boost your pitching stats.  Before I go grab just anybody off the wire though, I always check trends.  The first trend I check is the pitcher’s home/road splits.  Don’t check just for the current season though.  Make sure to view career trends.  Obviously, the larger the sample size, the more accurately you can make your decision.  I like to use Baseball-Refernce.com for this.  They have a vast amount of data that can be used for just about anything you want.  If a guy has a huge difference in is home/road splits, let’s say road for this example, then take a look at his next couple of starts.  Who is he facing?  Where is the game played?  If you like who the pitcher is going against, i.e. the Pirates, take a look at line-ups.  How many lefties/righties is he facing?  What are the pitcher’s splits there?  Also, I recommend taking a look at what the pitcher has done over the past two-three years.  Two years ago, I was able to grab Cliff Lee off the wire after two starts.  Most people in my league laughed, and told me he was a fluke.  What they forgot to recognize was that only two years prior, Cliff Lee was being called a future Cy Young candidate by scouts.
What about hitters?  How do you find the guy that nobody is talking about?  I like to take a bit more risk with these type of guys, because if it doesn’t work out, so what.  It’s not like you’re losing much if you drop a guy from your roster that never plays.  Once again, I like to take a look at the next three or four pitchers that said hitter is facing in the coming days.  What type of success rate has he had over his career versus these guys?  I especially like to look at a hitter’s isolated power in this scenario.  That tells you a lot about how often the guy squares up balls, and that is the most important.  Even if he has a multitude of K’s, I am always willing to take a chance if the majority of balls hit are hit hard.  I also always take a chance on a guy riding a hot streak.  He’s 9 for his last 15?  Fuck yea I can find a spot on my bench for that guy the next few days!
The last reason I like to scour the wire is a simple one.  I want to prevent the other teams from getting something that I could potentially have.  Even if he just sits on my bench and I don’t record his stats, at least I know that nobody else is going to either.  This comes in handy late in the season when a few SB’s or RBI’s means trading spots in the standings.  Once again, don’t be afraid to subscribe to the theory of, “Even if I get nothing out of this guy, I didn’t lose anything in the player I dropped to clear roster space.”
All in all, working the wire can turn out to be pretty fruitless.  I easily make more than 100 transactions a year.  I may only keep a guy for a day and turn around and drop him for the guy he replaced the previous day.  With bench players, there is never a reason to fret over dropping them.  Most importantly, don’t be afraid to take a risk.  So go out there, find that diamond in the rough, and turn it into a thing of beauty.  One.

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