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Rule Changes for 2003

Benchwarmer Baseball Rules Index

Inactive Owners - Minimum Roster Size - 2003 Season

From time to time, a league may have an inactive owner.  There may be several legitimate reasons for someone not to pay attention to their team, but in order to guarantee that the team is ready for a new season, some actions may need to be taken on their behalf.

Roster Size

If a team is not able to field a complete roster after the final transaction period of the off-season, the League Office will take these steps to fill the roster.  (Remember, minimum roster size is 26 players - 14 hitters, 12 pitchers - PLUS, a team must have a valid player for every field position).

  • As long as the team has 12 pitchers, the pitching staff is complete.  Relievers might fill starting roles and starters may appear in the bullpen.
  • If the roster is missing 1 player, the Office will calculate the remaining salary cap money and buy the highest price free agent that the team can afford to fill that position - regardless of whether or not that player is injured or will be in the minors.
  • If 2 or more players are missing, the remaining cash balance will be divided by the number of players needed to determine a maximum signing salary.  At that time, the Office will assign players that are the highest price free agents BELOW the maximum signing salary.  The first priority will be to make sure all field positions are manned.
  • If several players are at the same cash level (for example, if a team must sign a player at the minimum salary) a random draw will determine which player(s) they get.
  • For purposes of filling the roster, pitchers will be assumed to be playing at their published role (SP or RP) and will be selected based on the need of the team.
  • If a team does not have enough money to complete the roster, the team will FORFEIT all games until they can complete the roster.  This will guarantee an 0-6 start to the season.
  • Money used for all the above steps is prior to the distribution of 2 million Benchwarmer Bucks to all teams on Opening Day.
  • If a team is not able to have a complete team on Opening Day and, after receiving the extra cash, still does not participate in Week 1, the League Office will again attempt to perform the above steps to fill the team.

Note: If more than one team needs to have their roster filled and are competing for free agents at the same salary level, the transaction order for the most recent signing period will be used to alternate the signings.


Using the two sample free agent lists below...

Example 1: Team has only 13 hitters, but has a player for every field position.  They have a cash balance of 1423.  In this situation, they would sign Herbert Perry for 1408.

Example 2: Same situation as above except they are missing a shortstop.  Now, in order to fill the SS spot, they sign Deivi Cruz for 1367.

Example 3: Team has a balance of 1640.  They have only 11 batters and 11 pitchers, and need someone to play catcher.  Dividing 1640 by 4 yields a maximum signing salary of 410.  The team is completed this way:

  • Henry Blanco, to fill the catcher role.
  • Abraham Nunez and Orlando Merced (highest FA hitters under 410)
  • Chris Holt to fill the remaining pitching spot.

Example 4: Team has only 11 pitchers, but has only a cash balance of 40.  Since the minimum salary is 100, no players can be signed.  The team will forfeit all games in the first week of the season.

Example 5: Team has only 8 pitchers but just a cash balance of 320.  Needing 4 pitchers, this yields a maximum signing salary of 80.  Since this is below the minimum salary, no players can be signed, and the team forfeits all games in Week 1.

Free agent batters list:

B8595   Young             Kevin           Pit  1477      1B                        
B8284   Perry             Herbert         Tex  1408      3B, 1B                    
B8363   Tucker            Michael         KC   1405      OF                  DL    
B9072   Singleton         Chris           Phi  1381      OF                        
B8133   Cruz              Deivi           Bal  1367      SS                        
B8578   Glanville         Doug            Tex  1336      OF                        
B8365   Simon             Randall         Pit  1336      1B                        
B1023   Uribe             Juan            Col  1287      SS                        
B8576   Bennett           Gary            SD   434       C                         
B8426   Shumpert          Terry           LA   427       2B, OF                 m  
B8294   Goodwin           Tom             ChN  421       OF                     m  
B8089   Cordero           Wil             Mon  415       OF, 1B                    
B8147   Palmer            Dean            Det  412       DH                        
B8606   Nunez             Abraham O.      Pit  394       2B, SS                    
B8371   Merced            Orlando         Hou  392       OF, 1B                    
B0273   Buchanan          Brian           SD   387       OF, 1B                    
B9080   Liefer            Jeff            Mon  384       1B, OF                    
B8498   Blanco            Henry           Atl  383       C                         
B8352   Williams          Gerald          Fla  382       OF                     m  

Free agent pitchers  list:

P2054   Puffer            Brandon         Hou  433       RP                        
P9504   Smith             Dan             Mon  433       RP                        
P8258   Patterson         Danny           Det  432       RP                        
P2090   Sosa              Jorge           TB   428       RP                        
P2128   Roa               Joe             Phi  418       SP                        
P1033   File              Bob             Tor  412       RP                     m  
P8435   Holt              Chris           Col  410       SP                     m  
P8429   Magnante          Mike            FA   404       RP                        
P0260   Mercado           Hector          Phi  403       RP                        
P0063   Maduro            Calvin          LA   401       SP                  DL    
P0163   Kinney            Matt            Mil  400       SP                        
P8148   Walker            Jamie           Det  397       RP                     m  
P1077   Williams          David           Pit  395       SP                        
P8421   Elarton           Scott           Col  389       SP                     m  


Inactive Owners - Opening Day Lineups - 2003 Season

Should a team not fill out a lineup form for Week 1, the League Office will automatically generate a lineup in this manner:

  • Players known by the Commissioner to be on a major league disabled list will be placed on the team's taxi squad, providing that they are otherwise able to fill the other roster spots.  If more than 2 players are injured, a random draw will determine which ones to place on the taxi squad.  Any remaining injured players will be placed in the lineup as outlined below, as though they were not injured.
  • Starting rotation.  The five pitchers with SP position designation with the highest salary will fill the top 5 rotation spots (in descending order of salary).  SPs #6 and #7 in salary will be the spot starters.
  • Bullpen.  The five pitchers with RP position designation with the highest salary will fill the 5 bullpen slots (in descending order of salary).
  • Remaining pitching roles - leftover SPs may be used to fill the bullpen or leftover RPs may be placed in the rotation or spot roles.
  • Fielders - the player with the top salary at a position will play that position in the starting lineup.  Of the remaining hitters, the one with the top salary will be the DH.
  • Bench - the remaining batters with the five highest salaries will be placed, in descending order of salary, on the bench.  This will be done without regard to position.
  • Taxi squad.  All unplaced players at 250 salary or below will be put in the minors.  Any leftover players will be put on the taxi squad.  If there are too many minor leaguers, the ones with the highest salaries will go to the taxi squad.
  • Batting order - a random draw will produce the batting order.

Note: Pitching designations will use the player's published position, which may not necessarily be how they will be used in the new season.

Playoff Games - 2003 Season

Previously, the first round of playoff games used random games from each 10-game span from games 1-70.  The second round of playoffs used a similar pattern from games 80-150.  (See Rules - Season Schedules for details).  While this provides a very clear picture of when players will be available, many people commented that a hot player in the second half of the season does that team absolutely no good in the first playoff round.

So, sacrificing a little predictability for a better chance of using those second-half performances, the post-season schedule will be modified in this way.

Note: Games 1-7 indicate the first round of the playoffs.  Games 8-14 are for the second round.

  1. Game one will be a random game drawn from major league games 1-160.
  2. The ten-game span including that randomly picked game will be recorded.  (For example, if game 54 is picked, the 10-game span is 51-60).
  3. Pitching performances will be selected from that ten-game span in this manner:
    1. A random number: 1, 2, or 3, will be picked, indicating which start from that span to use for the scheduled starter.  If 3 is picked and there is no 3rd start, a random selection of 1 or 2 will be used instead.
    2. Using the same random 1-3, relief appearances will use games 1-6, 3-8, or 5-10 of that span accordingly.
  4. Once a given 10-game span is used, it will no longer be available for use throughout the playoffs.

Thus, the playoff schedule still adheres to a season-long approach toward games, but allows for some variation in when those games are used.


Transaction Deadlines - 2003 Season

There's a double bind in setting the transaction dates.  By conducting the transactions at the beginning of each Major League week (starting with Opening Day), early-season off dates and rainouts cause the Benchwarmer season to be delayed at times.  The effect is that the gap between when lineups are issued and when they actually count grows pretty large.

On the reverse side, to start transactions a week later would mean that at the end of the season, by the time the Major League games catch up, Benchwarmer lineups would be due after the actual games that they use are already played.

To try to be more fair to owners at both ends of the season, the 2003 season will see an experiment in transaction deadlines.  The first week's deadline will be on the Friday of the first full week of the Major League season.  Some pitching performances will already be known, but that shouldn't have too much of an effect.  The deadline will remain on Friday for the next four weeks.  Then, for weeks 6-10, the deadline will be on Thursday.  For each fifth of the season, the deadline will move one day earlier until, in the final five weeks of the season, Monday will be used for the deadline day.

See Transaction Deadlines for more details.

Trade Review - for 2002-03 Off-Season and beyond.

Note: Despite the confusion of the trade review process in early February 2003, this system will continue to be used this season.  Special emphasis is placed on the fact that this is a review consultation, not a voting system, and the Commissioner retains authority for all trade decisions.

Beginning with the transaction periods after the January 2003 Redistribution Draft, the Trade Review committee will no longer be used.  Instead, each trade will be reviewed by the entire league.  Once a trade is agreed upon, the details will be sent to all team owners.  They may vote yes or no about whether they believe the trade is balanced and fair.  Owners will have 48 hours after the trade is announced to make their vote.

If 50% or more of the remaining owners vote "no," the trade will receive an automatic review from the League Office.  That is, seven or more "no" votes.   The more "no" votes that are received, the higher the likelihood that the trade will be overturned.  However, it is still not a guarantee and the Commissioner may still allow the trade to stand.

Additionally, the League Office still retains the right to overturn trades that do not meet the 50% threshold.  Owners that disagree with a trade are encouraged to vote and provide their opinions.  Trades that still receive a few "no" votes may be reviewed by the League Office  more closely.

If an owner does not vote, then they are giving a tacit "yes" vote.  But the number of conscious "yes" votes will be taken under consideration.

Owners are asked to consider these factors before voting "no" on a trade:

  • There are no huge prizes or cash rewards for winning this league.
  • Please vote on the merits of the trade, not how it affects the prospects of a rival team.
  • Salary levels may be seen as a general basis of equity, but might not be the only measure.
  • Some trades may be seen as unbalanced, but allows a team to free up salary dollars this season or next.
  • Players on multi-year contracts might need to be considered a little differently.
  • There are long-term implications in this league, so a team may appear in the short term to be giving up too much, but there may be future benefits.

This is not to say that every trade should be given a free pass.  We may find that more trades are disallowed now that all teams can be heard.

Trade Logistics - for 2002-03 Off-Season and beyond

In the past, trades were not announced (even to the review committee) until the weekly transaction deadline.  With the start of the league-wide review of trades, they will now be announced immediately after the teams reach agreement.

All approved trades will still be officially executed at the transaction deadline - at the same time as all other cuts and free-agent signings.  Players will continue to remain on the original rosters for that week's lineups and will not change teams until the following week.

All trades approved by both teams before the transaction deadline will be included in that week's transactions.  All trades still have 48 hours for league review, however, so a couple days might pass before they receive official approval.

Salary Formula - for 2003 Season

Last year we modified the higher-end salaries.  This year, we attempt to increase the number of middle-class players available and to prevent late-season callups from ranking too high to be in the minor leagues next year.  In the calculations for salary from a given season, if a player does not have the statistics to qualify as a rookie - 130 AB or 50 IP or 45 days on a ML Roster (which might be harder to come by) - his maximum salary will be 250.  Keep in mind, that the final salary level is still an average of the results of the current season plus the previous salary.

There may also be some minor tweaking with the mid-range salaries in the 250-1000 range.

Post-Season Playoff Expansion - for 2002 Season

Starting immediately with the 2002 Season, there will be two yet-to-be-named post-season tournaments that will include all teams in the league.  See additional rules below for the financial benefits of winning these tournaments.

Runner-up Tournament

All four second-place teams will compete in a separate tournament.  The four teams will be seeded from 1-4, regardless of conference.  Each series will be best-of-seven games, which will correspond to the same random-game schedule as the championship series.  Between rounds, the winning teams will have the opportunity to change their lineups.

Also-rans Tournament

The eight remaining teams will be seeded 1-8 by regular season record, regardless of division or conference, and compete in a separate tournament.  The teams will be re-seeded between each round.

The first two rounds will correspond to the same random game selection as the Conference Championships.  These series will be best-of-three and will follow a home-away-home format.

After the first round, no roster change will be permitted.  The games for the second round will start with the FOURTH pitcher in the rotation, regardless of whether the teams played two or three games in the first series.

The championship round will be best-of-five (2-2-1) and will follow the same random game schedule as the League Championship.  The two teams will be able to change their lineups before this set of games.


Financial Rewards for League Performance - for 2002 Season

Something I missed in the written version of the rules is that teams would receive financial incentives based on how they finished in their division.  I also want to give teams something to play for even in a season where the division title is wrapped up early.  These changes will take place immediately for 2002.  Since this is a new factor, the dollar amounts will be small in 2002, but will increase in 2003 (which will also provide a way to counteract the fact that you can't take as much money into the season).

Division Position or Playoff Finish 2000 - 2001 2002 2003
1st $1 million $1 million $2 million
2nd 0 $500,000 $1 million
3rd 0 $250,000 $500,000
4th 0 0 0
League Champion* $4 million $4 million $4 million
League Runner-up $1.5 million $1.5 million $2 million
Second-Place Tourney Winner N/A $500,000 $1 million
Second-Place Tourney Runner-up N/A $250,000 $500,000
Also-ran Tourney Winner N/A $250,000 $500,000
Also-ran Tourney Runner-up N/A $100,000 $250,000


* Note - Currently there is no change for the league champion, but that might be modified before the start of the 2003 season.

Financial Rewards for Player Performance - for 2003 Season

Since teams will be allowed to carry a smaller amount of cash into the season, these changes will provide a way to get extra in-season cash.

Player of the Week - Currently, winners receive a $5,000 bonus for their team.  In 2003, that will increase to $10,000.  There is no change for Player of the Year awards.

Benchwarmer All-Stars - No benefit in 2002, but starting in 2003, each team will receive $10,000 for each player on the Benchwarmer All-Star Teams.

Major League All-Stars - No benefit in 2002, but starting in 2003, each team will receive $10,000 for each player on the Major League All-Star Teams.

NOTE - All-star teams and bonuses will be selected and awarded based on Week 15 rosters.

Available cash for Transactions - for 2003 Season

Currently, a team can technically use cash earned through the week prior to the current transaction period.  For example, in Week 14 Transactions, it may appear that a team is short of cash to sign a free agent or extend a contract.  However, the current financial balances usually are a week or two behind in adding cash earned for wins and position.  So perhaps a team's current financial position only reflects games played through Week 11.  The current rules allow for the transaction to occur pending the money added for Week 12 and Week 13 games.

Rule change: The available money for a team to conduct transactions is the balance displayed on the web site on the deadline date of the transactions.  This is for game finances only.  If a previous week's salaries and rebates have not yet been processed, those must be figured into the team's financial balance.  There may be some weeks during the season where the previous balance is not updated on the web in time for the next transaction period.

Tiebreakers for Waiver List Order - for 2003 Season

Current Process

Players will be awarded in a reverse-order manner each week.  A team gets one of its picks, and then goes to the bottom of the list, until all picks are chosen.  The order is determined in this manner:

  1. Team with the lowest winning percentage at the end of the previous week
  2. Team with the lowest standing in its division at the end of the previous week
  3. Team the most games behind the leader of its division at the end of the previous week
  4. Team with the most money remaining at the end of the previous week
  5. Coin flip (Commissioner's team always loses coin flip)

New Process in 2003

  1. Team with the lowest winning percentage at the end of the previous week
  2. Team with the lowest standing in its division at the end of the previous week
  3. Team the most games behind the leader of its division at the end of the previous week
  4. New - Team the fewest games ahead of the team directly behind it in the standings*
  5. New - Team with the worse head-to-head record (2-way ties only)
  6. Team with the most money remaining at the end of the previous week
  7. Coin flip (Commissioner's team always loses coin flip)

* Note: If tied with another team, the value of this is "0"

Off-Season Redistribution Draft - for 2002-03 Off Season

There will be no changes to the overall process of the draft. However, the draft order will be determined as follows:

  • Teams will be ranked in reverse order of their winning percentage in the previous regular season following the redistribution draft, with these exceptions:
    • The league champion will be at the bottom of the list
    • The runner-up will be in the 15th spot.
    • The other two division winners will be 13th and 14th, based on regular-season record.

Off-Season Transactions - for 2002-03 Off Season

Rather than handle free agent signings first-come, first-served, the off season signings will utilize a waiver list.

  • Teams will be ranked in reverse order of their winning percentage in the previous regular season following the redistribution draft, with these exceptions:
    • The league champion will be at the bottom of the list
    • The runner-up will be in the 15th spot.
    • The other two division winners will be 13th and 14th, based on regular-season record.
  • The team at the top of the list will get the first pick of that week, and so on.
  • Each time the team selects a player, it moves to the bottom of the list.
  • The order of the waiver list at the end of the transaction period is carried over into the following week (through the final tranaction date before Opening Day).

Transactions - First 2 weeks of the season - for 2003 Season

This just formalizes how it's been handled before

  • Transaction order for the first two signing periods after Opening Day will be in reverse order of their finish in the previous season, with the following exceptions:
    • The league champion will be at the bottom of the list
    • The runner-up will be in the 15th spot.
    • The other two division winners will be 13th and 14th, based on regular season record.

Relief Pitcher minimums - for 2003 Season

Just some minor tweaking for the next season after some major changes in 2002.  Essentially we're dropping a third of an inning at the #1, #3, and #5 positions.


Relief Pitchers Used Current Minimum IP New Minimum IP Reduction
R1 2.7 2.3 -0.4
R1-R2 5.7 5.3 -0.4
R1-R3 10.0 9.3 -0.7
R1-R4 13.0 12.3 -0.7
All 5 16.0 15.0 -1.0


See the Scoring Formula for more details on how this is used.

Maximum Cash Balances - for 2003 Season

Intentionally or unintentionally, it is possible for owners to carry over large sums of cash into the next season.  Over the course of a few years, that could lead to a huge imbalance and allow an owner in a given year to assemble a "super team".  One week before the beginning of a new season, all teams that have cash balances over $5 million will have those balances reduced to $5 million. (Was 10 million in 2002)


Owners can still accumulate cash after that time - with the $2 million Opening Day cash distribution, salary rebates, and financial gains through wins and position in their division.


The spirit of this rule is to attempt to maintain competitive balance.

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