Zach’s Mixed Tout Recap
Heading into my second year in Mixed Tout Wars, I was determined to not make the same mistake I made in my inaugural campaign, overpaying for mid-tier talent which in turn limited me to $1 bids down the stretch. There were far too many guys on last year’s squad who I didn’t even want but was stuck with by default. I would be more patient this time around, draft a few high-end players but also wait for bargains and afford myself the opportunity to land some of my targets in the endgame. Unlike last year, when I exited the SiriusXM studios in midtown Manhattan this time around, I was happy with my roster and was actually looking forward to seeing how the season will play out. Of course, there were a few exceptions, as is always the case in any auction, but on the whole the team I ended up with looked a lot like the “ideal” group I had sketched out when doing my draft prep. Listen, I’m far from an auction veteran, but my general approach is to assign dollar values to each roster slot with certain players in mind and list a bunch of fallback options. Should the price of my top choice at a certain position exceed my expected value by more than a buck or two, I’d move on to my backup choices and use the saved money to secure an upgrade at a different position.
Alright, enough suspense. Here’s the team I ended up with. Keep in mind that this is a 15-team mixed league with OBP replacing AVG.
C Jonathan LuCroy ($11)
I had budgeted about $12 for my #1 catcher and LuCroy was my main focus. A broken hand limited him to 96 games last year, but the Brewers’ backstop put up some nice numbers in those 96 games. At just 26 years of age, there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Would I be surprised if he makes a serious run at 20 homers to go along with a strong OBP? Absolutely not.
C Brian McCann ($6)
McCann was not someone I had planned on drafting as I tend to shy away from players rehabbing from significant injuries, but the value here was too good to pass up. Even if he misses the entire month of April, as the latest reports suggest, five months of McCann is well worth the six bucks. I actually purchased McCann before taking LuCroy but still felt the need to go after LuCroy to stabilize my catcher duo. I had allocated $3 to my #2 catcher slot so I overspent by a little, but no big deal.
1B Adrian Gonzalez ($28)
Exactly the price I predicted for A-Gon. Prince Fielder was my #1 target but Adrian sat at the top of my second-tier price range list. At the time, I gambled that Fielder would go for more than the $35 I set aside for him. And I was right, as Tim Heaney bought Prince for $38. The home run total was really the only disappointing part of Gonzalez’s stat line last year, but I expect a rebound in his first full season back in the familiar NL West. Even if he hits 25 homers, 100-plus RBIs, roughly 90 runs and an OBP in the .360 range are all reasonable projections.
2B Dan Uggla ($16)
My least favorite pick, and if I knew at the time that Jose Altuve would go for only $17, I would’ve bowed out on Uggla. But I figured that the switch to OBP neutralizes the main risk attached to Uggla, that is his batting average. In a career-worst season, the Braves’ second sacker still managed to swat 19 homers, drive in 78 and score 86 runs, so the counting stats were there. He did post a quality .348 OBP and sports a career OBP of .343. On the other hand, should he get off to a brutal start, the Braves might reduce his playing time, as his defense is dreadful. So I’m just hoping he hits well enough to avoid that scenario.
SS Jimmy Rollins ($15)
I honestly don’t understand the negativity surrounding J-Roll. Yeah, he’s getting up there in age and he won’t be of much use in the AVG/OBP department. But how many other shortstops can realistically turn in a 20/30 season with 90 or so runs scored? I can’t think of any. And for 15 bucks? C’mon!
3B Aramis Ramirez ($16)
Like McCann, A-Ram is another guy who I never expected to be on my roster. There is some age/injury risk, but there’s no denying that Ramirez is one of the more consistent hitters in the game. And I consider $16 to be excellent value.
CI Kendrys Morales ($11)
Continuing on the value theme, I was very surprised to land Kendrys at this price. He went 22-73 in only 134 games for the Angels last year and now with Seattle, he won’t have to deal with a platoon situation. Oh yeah, and the fences are moving in at Safeco.
MI Jhonny Peralta ($4)
Not much to get excited about here but I had budgeted $5 for my MI slot and Peralta was one of the players I predicted would fall in that range. I’m expecting something in between his 2011 and 2012 production. If nothing else, he provides me with some cheap power.
OF Justin Upton ($34)
I wasn’t going to leave that draft room without grabbing a legitimate #1 outfielder, and over the past few weeks, I had a feeling that Upton would be that guy. He played a key role in ruining my Tout season last year, but I’m willing to give him another chance. 34 bucks seemed like a fair price to me considering the costs of fellow outfielders Matt Kemp ($37), Jose Bautista ($37), Andrew McCutchen ($37), Carlos Gonzalez ($36) and Giancarlo Stanton ($34).
OF Desmond Jennings ($20)
Jennings was my top choice to fill my #2 OF slot, so I was thrilled to get him for a dollar less than my projected value. He needs to improve his OBP skills but at 26, the best is yet to come. He’ll provide me with tons of speed and even some pop.
OF Jason Kubel ($7)
He faded badly in the second half last year but seven bucks is a fairly small price to pay for 25-plus bombs and 90 RBIs. I’ll take Kubel at $7 over Andre Ethier at $12 or even Nick Markakis at $9.
OF Denard Span ($5)
This was towards the end of the draft and realizing that I was weak in speed, I singled out Span as the player I had to have. Luckily, I was able to snag him for $5 because I would’ve gone as high as $9 for him. I like Span a lot this year as he’ll be batting atop a loaded lineup and should score a boatload of runs, and I’m hoping that all the talk about him upping his SB attempts is more than just talk. But I wish I didn’t have to rely on him so heavily to keep me afloat in the swipes category.
OF Ryan Ludwick ($2)
This pick was kind of by accident, as I was convinced that someone would raise my opening bid and the last thing I needed was even more power. But as a fifth outfielder he’s fine. Are 20 homers and 80 RBIs really too much to ask?
UTIL Cody Ross ($4)
I had four bucks left at the time of my final turn and right after throwing out Ross’ name, I regretted not nominating Michael Brantley, who would’ve been a better fit in my already homer happy lineup. I’ll immediately look to add some more speed to my roster and will probably end up benching Ross to start the season.
SP Adam Wainwright ($21)
This guy is going to have a big year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes home NL Cy Young honors. Looking at his overall 2012 numbers doesn’t tell the whole story. In 15 second half starts last year, Wainwright pitched to a 3.28 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. Entering his second season removed from Tommy John surgery, I’m expecting him to pick up right where he left off. Being that the price tags of starters like Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, David Price and Stephen Strasburg were all in the upper 20’s, I’ll gladly take Wainwright at a discount.
SP Ian Kennedy ($13)
This was a tad more than I had planned on paying for Kennedy but I’m very high on him as a guy who you can draft as a third or fourth starter and get back SP2 caliber production. I didn’t afford myself a ton of room for profit here but I think $13 is a fair price and I’m a sucker for the K/BB ratio. While 2011 looks like an outlier, I fully expect Kennedy to bounce back from a disappointing 2012 season that still saw him post a 1.30 WHIP to go along with 187 strikeouts.
SP Doug Fister ($9)
The beauty of following the “patient” auction approach is that it can lead to bargains like this one. I normally prefer a higher K option for my third starter slot but playing in a pitcher-friendly ballpark, Fister should provide me with a strong ERA and WHIP. And factoring in the stacked Tigers’ lineup, there’s plenty of wins potential as well.
SP Ryan Vogelsong ($6)
I wasn’t about to chase Vogelsong but I wasn’t about to shy away from him either. There are still plenty of skeptics when it comes to the 35-year-old righty, which is keeping his price down to the level where he can once again return a substantial profit.
SP Wandy Rodriguez ($4)
An underrated starter at a bargain basement price. I’m not too concerned about the drop in strikeouts. Maybe his 175-plus strikeout days are over, but even if he gives me 150 punchouts to go along with a solid ERA and WHIP, this will prove to be a wise investment.
SP Felix Doubront ($1)
A pure lottery ticket. His control needs work but I love the strikeout upside, and he’s only 25. Maybe I could’ve waited until the reserve rounds to draft him. Whatever.
RP Joe Nathan ($15)
I always try to draft at least one elite-level closer, and figuring that Craig Kimbrel would be too expensive, I narrowed down my choices to Jonathan Papelbon, Jason Motte or possibly Mariano Rivera. When the news broke that Motte would open the season on the DL, I narrowed my list to Papelbon or possibly Rivera. Then the bidding on Rivera got to $16 and I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. Then the bidding on Papelbon went through the roof. No way was I paying more than 20 bucks for him. So I snatched up the next best thing for what I consider to be a great price. Nathan proved last year that he’s still an elite stopper despite enduring Tommy John surgery. Yeah, he’s old, but I’m convinced that he has plenty left in the tank.
RP Steve Cishek ($10)
Banking on a closer with such a limited ninth inning track record is risky, but Cishek has the luxury of job security and, as he demonstrated last season, he can clearly get the job done. By drafting Cishek, I accomplished my goal of securing two closers so that I won’t need to fork over a ton of FAAB dollars early in the season on speculative saves sources.
RP David Hernandez ($2)
J.J. Putz has grown very fond of the DL over the past several seasons and Hernandez is one of the more dominant setup men in baseball. See where I’m going?
Ricky Romero – Will probably be my first cut. Sounds like he might not even make the rotation.
Franklin Gutierrez – If healthy, his decent speed could be useful.
Zack Wheeler – Expect a big league arrival sooner rather than later.
Kurt Suzuki – Will hold down the fort as my second catcher until McCann returns.
To sum everything up, while homers and RBIs will not be an issue, I’m a little short in steals and my OBP will probably be no better than middle of the pack. I’m also somewhat concerned about my team’s age, as the majority of my players are over 30. Improving my speed will be a priority in the early going and I might need to swing a power for speed trade fairly soon to avoid falling too far behind in the category. I’m pleased with my pitching staff and am eager to find out if this more balanced spending approach compared to last season will lead to a higher than 10th place finish.
All comments are welcome, but please, don’t be too harsh!
You can view the complete auction results here