Non-Roster Race 2012 - Opening Prices

Spring training is here! I always like to write a post for the start of spring training, but I've always struggled to come up with an interesting angle.

Not so this year.

Well, maybe interesting is a stretch. Unique is certainly an appropriate word. This is one of the nerdiest things I've done, but I am excited to see how it plays out.

I present to you the basis for fantasy spring training. It is built off the concept behind fantasy sports stock market games, but with a couple twists.

To me, the most intriguing part of spring training is the battle for roster spots waged by non-roster invitees. These are players who come into camp with no spot, and work their way onto the opening day roster. For me, it wreaks of the classic American dream. Non-roster invitees must outwork and outperform their competition, to beat the odds that are stacked against them. The reward is a slot on a team's opening day roster, which is a pretty sweet prize. At the very least, they will be announced as a member of a Major League Baseball team with all the pomp and circumstance that comes with opening games.

Why not make a fantasy stock market out of non-roster invitees?

Keep that as a hypothetical question. I'm sure many people reading this can come up with oodles of reasons that human beings should not turn a list of non-roster invites into a fantasy stock market. But I did, and you're reading this post, so we shall carry onward.

Every weekend, until the Mariners set their 25-man roster, I will update the "stock prices" of Mariners non-roster invitees. The prices will be determined by the number of news stories and blog stories written about the given player in the previous week*, combined with their previous price. My premise is that the more interesting players will have more written about them (and more interesting will likely have a correlation to being a more likely roster candidate, but we'll see).

*Number of stories/blogs will be determined using Google search data for the given time frame.

As non-roster invitees are cut, they will be removed from the market. However, instead of their value disappearing from the market, their value will be re-allocated equally to all non-roster invitees remaining. In other words, the longer a player hangs around, the more they will be worth, guaranteed, even if nobody writes about them, because more and more players' money totals will be divvied out to the few who survive cut after cut.

For the opening prices, I used story and blog totals for the whole offseason, since when a player signed has an impact on when they are written about. Here are the opening prices for the Mariners non-roster invitees (players listed in alphabetical order, according to last name):
  • OF Vinnie Catricala: $10
  • OF Darren Ford: $17
  • RHP Matt Fox: $53
  • INF Nick Franklin: $34
  • LHP Steve Garrison: $7
  • RHP Jarrett Grube: $1
  • INF Carlos Guillen: $57
  • RHP Aaron Hielman: $9
  • LHP Sean Henn: $2
  • C Ralph Henriquez: $1
  • DH Luis Antonio Jimenez: $11
  • SS Munenori Kawasaki: $16
  • RHP Josh Kinney: $2
  • RHP Jeff Marquez: $14
  • RHP Kevin Millwood: $34
  • RHP Scott Patterson: $20
  • LHP James Paxton: $28
  • LHP Oliver Perez: $23
  • RHP Stephen Pryor: $9
  • C Guillermo Quiroz: $3
  • RHP Erasmo Ramirez: $13
  • INF Luis Rodriguez: $57
  • RHP Forrest Snow: $8
  • C Jesus Sucre: $2
  • LHP Philippe Valiquette: $2
  • RHP Taijuan Walker: $26
If any of you make a game around these prices, I want to hear about it, either via e-mail or the comment thread. Regardless, this is the most entertaining way I've thought of to track spring training intrigue. How awesome is it that there is a list where the most expensive players are Carlos Guillen, Luis Rodriguez, and Matt Fox?

That's another hypothetical question. Don't answer that one either.

I am setting my personal budget at $100, and I will tweet and Google+ out my team. You are more than welcome to join me in this miniature fantasy game of remarkable Mariner geekiness!