Before the start of the season, I had a chance to go to the launch of this year's edition of Bloomberg Sports' Front Office fantasy baseball software. I've been checking out the Front Office 2011 the last few days.
The Bloomberg software enables you to sync up your fantasy league if you play Yahoo!, ESPN or CBS Sports. There are a variety of sites, both free and pay, where you can look up players from your team, but even if they allow you to maintain a roster, you have to manually update it when you make changes.
With Bloomberg, however, I set it up to sync with my ESPN league whenever I logged on. So the first thing I see is a league dashboard tailored to my team and my league.
The dashboard features a bar graph (the product launch emphasized how Bloomberg is big on graphical representations of data) showing how my team compares to the rest of the league in each statistical category. Below the graph are recommendations for free agents and lineup moves. The default is for all statistics, but clicking on an individual bar in the graph brings up specific recommendations for free agents and lineup moves to help that statistical category.
When I checked the recommendations yesterday, I was surprised to see my top two suggested free agent pickups were Rays first baseman Dan Johnson and Blue Jays outfielder Juan Rivera. These players are barely owned in my league. At the start of the week, both were hitting under .150.
But Bloomberg has a proprietary "B-rank" that ranks each player, and they rank these players higher than most other places.
Perhaps they are on to something, because Rivera had three hits and his second homer in three games last night and has raised his average to .210. Johnson went 1-for-2 with two walks, which at least moved his OBP over .200 (his BA is .143).
I'm not sure how helpful the lineup suggestions are - most of the ones I've gotten tend to be along the lines of "bench so-and-so because he is not playing today." I also keep getting encouraged to put the Cardinals' Ryan Franklin in my lineup, when he is on my bench for a good reason - he's lost his closer job and is much more likely to hurt my team than to help it.
One feature that wasn't available at the start of the season but is now operational is the trade analyzer, which recommended several trades for me. One trade would have me deal Nationals' starting pitcher Jordan Zimmermann for Rays' SP James Shields. At the moment, Shields is doing a lot better and he has a bigger name, so I'm not sure why the other team would want to make this deal. But the two pitchers are not far apart in B-rank, and in Yahoo! at least, Zimmermann's overall ranking is higher.
Bloomberg is offering free five-day trials of Front Office 2011. A season subscription is $19.95. You can check out their software here.