Play Like the Pros: Iwamura Bidding Frenzy

Something a little strange happened this week, and it wove two worlds together in a way that I could never have imagined.

First, Carla Gugino joined the cast of "Entourage," and at 10:31 p.m. this past Sunday, pretty much half of my personal entourage was texting, commenting on how hot she is, as if Carla Gugino had suddenly burst onto the acting scene. It was like she hadn't been around since "Son in Law", never did three "Spy Kids" movies, and didn't pull off the unique feat of appearing in both "Spin City" and "Sin City."

Then, on Tuesday, Joakim Soria -- who I had kept tucked away in my subconscious since a slightly-inebriated Tom Herrera sang his praises on the eve of Tout Wars as we downed pints of Irish brew together at a dingy pub in New York -- got a two-inning save, and Buddy Bell said shortly thereafter that Soria would be seeing more save situations until Octavio Dotel returns. That, of course, is Bell's nice way of saying, "Octavio, you may want to take a look at Francisco Cordero's 2006 season."

So in 72 short hours, two of my most cherished unknowns -- Carla Gugino and Joakim Soria -- were unleashed on the world. And people who have no business thinking Gugino is hot (I own Spy Kids 3-D, dammit!) are drooling over her on reruns of the Season 3 premiere. As for Soria, one save and a vote of confidence from his manager, and he's the hottest pickup in fantasy sports right now. I wish them both luck in future endeavors, as their places in my "undiscovered goodness subconscious" are now being taken by Mia Kirshner and Chin-hui Tsao.

Another strange coincidence tying together the world of fantasy baseball and pop culture occurred this week when, the day after this column promised to explain the "Vickrey Method" for free agent bidding, the U.S.S. Vickery made a cameo on "24", aiming fictitious nukes at Fayed's fictitious country. Granted, the ship and the method are spelled differently, and there is no relation on any level between the two, but it did teach me one important lesson: thinking, "Dude, that ship has the same name as the bidding I use for my expert fantasy baseball league," is cause for the show to be paused, and a time to step back and reassess what is important in life.

Like Carla Gugino.

Still, the Vickrey Method needs explanation, as all three Tout Wars leagues use it to pick up free agents. It's basically a way to prevent unnecessary over-bidding on players. Think of eBay. You are bidding on an unopened MadBall, the horror-themed bouncy ball from the late-'80s. The current bid is $7. You are willing to go as high as $14. So you enter "14" as your bid, but you end up winning the ball for $9, a buck more than the next-highest bid. This is the same idea as Vickrey. Hilarity ensues in fantasy baseball, however, when two owners both bid the maximum - usually $100 -- and one actually has to pay the entire amount. That hasn't happened yet here, but it's still early and I'm keeping my fingers crossed. In the meantime, check out Ron Shandler's excellent article explaining Vickrey, to get a better perspective on the bidding process.

Now, on to the bids.. and our first trade!

ESPN Expert League (ESPNX)
ESPN Standard League

Akinori Iwamura: David Young $5
Aaron Hill: David Young $4
Joe Blanton: Matthew Berry $1


David Young wins the surprisingly speedy Tampa Bay third baseman, as well as the hot-hitting Blue Jays second baseman (who also happens to be eligible at shortstop), while Matt Berry throws a dollar at the perennially-frustrating Joe Blanton.

2007 Mixed Tout Wars

Mixed, 12-team, 23-man rosters

Akinori Iwamura: Leshen $20 (Leshen $22, Schecter $19, Salfino $11, Cushing $10, Zaleski $5)
Kip Wells: Cushing $7 (Cushing $8, Leshen $6, Hoyos $4, Adler $0)
Joakim Soria: Di Fino $5 (Di Fino $27, Schecter $4, Adler $4)
Aaron Hill: Leshen $5 (Leshen $6, Cushing $4)
Shawn Green: Leshen $4 (Leshen $6, Salfino $3)
Ramon Ortiz: Leshen $1 (Leshen $6)
Carlos Ruiz: Hoyos $0 (Hoyos $0)
Luis Gonzalez: Hoyos $1 (Hoyos $4)
Micah Owings: Hoyos $0 (Hoyos $0)
Jason Hirsh: Cushing $1 (Cushing $6)


Iwamura had five bids in the mixed league, which should tell you that he is now a "must-get" free agent pick up in every format. The surprisingly effective Kip Wells received four bids.

Soria, Hill and Shawn Green also received multiple bids, while Luis Gonzalez -- who has heated up considerably this past week -- managed to assert himself as a legitimate addition in this format. John Hoyos may have landed a bargain with this addition. On the other hand, Gonzalez could break down and be a horrible waste of $1. The move could come back to haunt Hoyos in the middle of September, when all he needs is one dollar to complete a trade that -- in another plane of existence where he never bid on Gonzalez -- would win him the Tout Wars Mixed League Championship. Instead, the trade is never made, Hoyos goes into a free-fall in the standings, and eventually quits fantasy baseball to run www.miakirshnerfanclub.com. Only time will tell which path Luis Gonzalez takes Hoyos down. I, personally, think he'll be a steal at $1.

2007 NL Tout Wars

NL-only, 13-team, 23-man rosters

Rick Vanden Hurk: Wood $6 (Wood $21, Becker $5, Wilderman $1)
Joe Smith: Wilderman $1 (Wilderman $2, Hertz $0)
Jason Bergmann: Walton $1 (Walton $2, Wilderman $1)
Ryan Franklin: Walton $1 (Walton $8)
Tony Gwynn Jr.:Lombardo $1 (Lombardo $2)
Rob Bowen: Collette $3 (Collette $3, Hertz $2)
Wandy Rodriguez: Walton $4 (Hertz $3)
Wilson Valdez: Becker $0 (Becker $0)


Rick Vanden Hurk received a $21 bid from Trace Wood, the man who has won two of the past three AL-only leagues and is now attempting to conquer the National League. In deep mixed leagues, Vanden Hurk might be worth taking a flier on, and don't be surprised if you see him in the Mixed Tout bidding for next week. Joe Smith and Jason Bergmann ignited a mini bidding war, in which Phil Hertz just had to bid $0 and ruin the "all-W-last names" bidding frenzy.

2007 AL Tout Wars

AL-only, 12-teams, 23-man rosters

Josh Rabe: Wolf/Colton $3 (Wolf/Colton $5, Wilton $2, Peterson $2)
Brandon Duckworth: Siano $2 (Siano $2, Peterson $1)
Kevin Thompson: Peterson $1 (Siano $1, Wolf/Colton $0)
Brian Bannister: Siano $1 (Siano $1)
John McDonald: Walker $1 (Walker $40)
David Aardsma: Walker $1 (Walker $4)
Jason Ellison: Wolf/Colton $0 (Wolf/Colton $0)
Jeremy Guthrie: Peterson $1 (Peterson $1)
John Parrish: Peterson $1 (Peterson $1)
Jason Smith: Siano $0 (Siano $0)


Sam Walker may have reached a little with his McDonald bid, but William Vickrey saved him $39, so expect to see "Fantasyland 2: How I Learned to Love Vickrey" in stores soon.

Josh Rabe received three bids, Brandon Duckworth got two, and the Yankees' call-up, Kevin Thompson, produced our first tie of the season, with Dean Peterson whisking the reserve outfielder away from MLB.com's Mike Siano.

The most interesting win here, though, is David Aardsma. And not because of any pitching stats, or the fact that he shows up first alphabetically on any list of players. David Aardsma has a hot sister. Really. Look up Amanda Aardsma.

We also had our first trade of the year:

Rotoworld (Wolf/Colton) traded Ross Gload to Baseball Prospectus (Sheehan) for Reed Johnson

Glenn Colton summed it up best in an e-mail to the league immediately following the trade:
"Who knew Reed Johnson would immediately go DL before one at-bat for the Rotoworld squad?"

And this is why we play the game ...

Nando Di Fino is a fantasy analyst for TalentedMrRoto.com and ESPN.com. You can e-mail him at Nando@TalentedMrRoto.com